Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Monster in My Mind

{via Elissa Ewald}

Friends, I was so overwhelmed at the positive response to my last post on marriage. Thank you for your kind words. I figure even though I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, I might as well keep writing while I'm in the thick of it. A heartfelt thank you to those of you who are journeying along with me. Your readership means the world to me.

Expectations. Oh, how I loathe you. If there's one thing I've learned about marriage so far, it is that expectations can kill, steal, and destroy the life-giving qualities that you and your spouse most likely want to pursue together. Like an overdue oil change, they seem like no biggie, until you're stuck on the side of the road, broken down and confused. Expectations can come from myriad sources. Some expectations are positive- we expect that our spouse will be faithful to us- while others are negative or unrealistic. To expect your spouse to read your mind, for example, is completely unrealistic. Not that I've ever done that...


Me: Hey babe, I fluffed your laundry so it would be ready to fold.
Ror: Ok, thanks. (walks out of room)

Five seconds later, Rory returns to the room.

Me: Um, aren't you going to go get your laundry basket so your clothes can be folded?
Ror: Nope.
Me: Oh, I just assumed you read my mind and walked into the other room to get your laundry basket so that I could do my laundry, too.
Ror: Nope.
Me: So um are you gonna go get it now?
Ror: Nope.

In my mind, I thought it seemed logical (and kind, duh) to get the laundry basket so that the chores could continue uninterrupted. It. made. sense. Rory, unable to read my mind (geeze the nerve), was simply walking out of the room. It was not mean-spirited or rude, he just isn't a mind reader. Imagine that.

Expectations can creep up in the most unexpected places. The above situation is small and comical, but when expectations make their way into more serious situations, hurt feelings arise and there is suddenly a Situation instead of situation. Y'all feel me?

Here's what I've learned   I'm learning about expectations. Let. them. go. Just like Elsa. There is seriously no need to hang onto things, and it just kills the joy within a relationship when you do so. I cannot say that I've mastered this. At all. Friends, I'm right there with you in the thick of it. But I hope and pray that the Lord continues to show me when I have unrealistic expectations so that I can just let go and enjoy what is right in front of me, because honestly, it's pretty good. In fact, it's better than pretty good, it's great.

What have you learned/are you learning about expectations?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

on marriage so far

Well friends, I have been writing this blog post in my head for about a month now, so I figured it was time to put the pen to the paper, er, the hands to the keyboard and give you a glimpse into what has been going on in my heart and mind these past three months. (I know, I know, I'm a baby newlywed...)

Marriage is one of those things that people have a whole lot of opinions about- some good and some, well, not so good. Before we got married, people were telling me all kinds of things. Just in case you aren't familiar with our story, we dated, got engaged and were married in nine months, and it wasn't a shotgun wedding. This whirlwind romance invited all sorts of words from errybody in my life. It was almost like we were supposed to be scared about marriage because it was going to be the biggest change ever and we were going to be feeling all sorts of feelings and learning all sorts of things. And to that I say, yes. I am feeling all sorts of feelings and learning all sorts of things. And it is good, friends. It is really good.

Rory and I have had the conversation several times about why we think so many people told us that marriage would be hard. Is it because they were really young when they married and had to "grow up" together? Do they just like drama? Are we supposed to be fighting more?! There are myriad ways to look at marriage. We choose to look at it in a Biblical sense. Marriage is a covenant between a man, woman, and God. It is not to be taken lightly and is a portrait of the church as the bride of Christ. Marriage can depict true love to the world when two people commit to daily dying to their wants and choosing to live for someone else's happiness.

Here's the thing: marriage is hard. There, I said it. But you know what? Life is hard. I think we need to shift our thinking about life in general, not just marriage. Hard does not equal bad. Easy does not equal good. So when I see my sin before me for the umpteenth time and am reminded of my selfishness, do I get upset and whine that this marriage thing is hard and I want out? Or do I thank God for continuing to sanctify me and making me more like His Son? People get married for all sorts of reasons. Some people get married hoping that they will no longer be lonely. Others marry for hopes of financial stability. Still others marry because they want a family of their own someday.

Yes, marriage is hard, but it is also the best gift I have ever been given. Not only is Rory the best speaker of truth over me, swatting down the enemy's lies like the spiritual leader ninja that he is, he is also just really funny. We laugh about the dumbest things. Like I think we are ten years old sometimes. We have so much fun. every. single. day. So while communication is hard and awkward sometimes and I whine about silly things, this marriage thing is also really, really fun. For real, y'all. There's nothing better than coming home every day knowing that your best friend will be there.

We got married because we love each other and we love the Lord. He brought us together, and we love that fact. We believe that we are better together than apart and that our personalities and gifts work together to make one pretty great person. We were both doing just fine before we got married; we were whole. Neither of us "completes" the other. Because here's the thing about marriage: it shows you sides of yourself you most likely haven't seen and wouldn't have seen otherwise. Sometimes that is painful, at least when you resist it. But when you realize that the Lord gave you this person to walk alongside forever, then you are immensely grateful and do not want to imagine life without them.

I could live my life without Rory. I shudder to think about what it would be like, because he daily enriches my life and encourages me. He strengthens me and cheers me on, and he takes care of me. Plus he's super cute and it's pretty great to wake up next to him every morning. But I could live life without him. He's not Jesus. Here's the thing, though: I don't want to live my life without him. I love him beyond words. He is my best friend, my confidante, and my home. So I chose not to live life without him when I took his name, knowing that my life would never be the same. And each day, until death parts us or Jesus Christ returns, I will keep on choosing him. Because it's worth it.

{All photos by the lovely Elissa Ewald}

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Ten: Why I Love My Job

It is no secret to those who know me that I am currently working at my dream job. The Lord provided an incredible opportunity for me last year to join the staff at Downtown Academy, and I have loved it. I am so grateful to work with the people I do every day, and I am so glad to know that they are not only my co-workers, but my friends. So here's a little glimpse into why I love my job so much.

1. We get to talk to kids about Jesus. I love that a child can ask me to pray for him, and I can literally stop class and stand in the back of the classroom to pray with him. It is pretty special.
2. Our kids are incredible. The kids we serve just knock my socks off. They're hilarious and oh so talented in myriad ways.
3. Our parents are grateful. Conferences are a fun time for me, because I get to sit and talk with their parents about what their child has been up to and how they are growing and changing.
4. My co-workers are my friends. The staff at DtA has grown with each year, and I am so grateful for the relationships that I have with my co-workers, who laugh, pray and cry with me, sometimes all before 8:00 am.
5. We have a lot of fun. Each day is something new, and the kids say something ridiculous or a co-worker cuts up in a crazy way that has me in stitches.

6. Our boss is the most humbly amazing servant hearted leader EVER. Seriously, everyone needs a boss like Patrick Ennis. Every day he checks in with us and makes sure we're ok, grabbing water and coffee for us and consoling kiddos like. a. boss.
7. We are given unbelievable opportunities. Um, we just got back from a conference in NYC. What the dump? (More on that later this week.:))
8. The community of Athens is rallied around our school and Downtown Ministries. The whole Downtown Ministries family- football, cheer-leading, gymnastics, tennis, swim, Downtown Life, After School, Lunch Buddy Mentoring, it's all a big family of people who just want to love on some kids and tell 'em about Jesus. 

9. Our staff meetings begin and end with prayer. Nuff said.
10. Kids' hearts are changing, and it is so beautiful to watch God work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday Ten: Good Reads

{I need this shirt.}

Fall seems like reading weather to me. Does it to you? I mean, who doesn't love curling up with a good book on the couch or in the hammock? There's really nothing better. I haven't been reading as much as I would like, but here are some of my recent favorites and some that are on the docket.

  1. Grace for the Good Girl : Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life  by Emily P. Freeman
  2. The Unveiled Wife: Embracing Intimacy with God and Your Husband by Jennifer Smith
  3. Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle
  4. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin
  5. The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life by Melanie Shankle
  6. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker
  7. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 
  8. Shame Lifter: Replacing Your Fears and Tears with Forgiveness, Truth, and Hope by Marilyn Hontz
  9. The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You by Jessica Alba
  10. Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower 

Full disclosure: I've fully read numbers 2-6 and 9. I'm almost done with number 1. And I've read a chapter or two in 7,8, and 10. I never thought I'd be the kind to read a ton of books at once, but here we are. Thanks for reading along, friends. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Currently: October


Y'all. I absolutely love October. It is such a sweet month to me. Fall is such a precious time of transition, with the leaves changing and the temperatures shifting as we are reminded that things cannot and will not stay the same. October is special to me for so many reasons- sweater weather, leather boots, pumpkin spice everything, Georgia football, and the sweet crisp in the air. And last year, October brought me my hubby! Praise God for October! :) Here's what's going on around these parts. 

Eating: We are two days away from being done with our first Whole 30. Praise Him. So we've been eating a lot of meat, veggies, and fruit. I miss margs. Hard.
Exploring: Next week, our school staff has the incredible opportunity to travel to New York City for a conference on Christian urban education. To say I am excited would be an understatement. I went to NYC for the first time in high school about ten years ago (man, typing that made me feel old), and I cannot wait to explore the Big Apple again with grown-up perspective and appreciation. 
Wearing: As previously stated, I love fall. The last week or so, I have been layering up with cozy cardigans, and I am loving my tried and true military jacket from Gap. 
Admiring: I am so admiring the myriad women in my life that have spoken truth over me and am grateful for the examples that have been placed before me.
Collecting: Verses. A couple weeks ago, Ror and I went to see the War Room movie and loved it. It challenged us to remember the power of prayer, so I've been storing up lots of verses to recall each day. 

Joining in today with lots of other blogger ladies via Anne and Jenna!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Ten: Whole 30 Recipes


Y'all. Rory and I are almost done with our Whole 30 Challenge. For those of you who don't know what a Whole 30 Challenge is, it is a 30 day program designed to allow your body to detox and reset and feel what it's like to process and run on whole foods- no processed junk allowed. No dairy, sugar, legumes, corn (for the love of popcorn!!!), carbs, or alcohol (what I would give for a margarita right now). Lord help. I first brought this idea up to Ror on our honeymoon (I'm really great at timing) because I've wanted to try the whole natural thing. Well, friends, he finally succumbed, and guess who's been whining the most the past 27 days? Yep, yours truly. Don't judge, y'all. I miss my queso and my wine and my bread. I really miss the bread. But you know what? It hasn't been that bad. We've both lost weight and feel a lot better. This kind of diet is not sustainable for a long period of time, but we know it will establish some good habits for us. Full disclosure though? On Friday night we're going to get a pizza at Mellow Mushroom and a cookie cake from Insomnia Cookies. And we're gonna dominate them both without shame. :)

Here's a collection of the recipes  and snacks we've loved this last month.
  1. Crispy Baked Garlic Matchstick Fries- we literally ate these at least once a week. One week we may have had them three times. 
  2. Avocado Chicken Salad- a good alternative to the fatty version for those first few days when you wonder how you'll make it through this month of torture. 
  3. Taco Salad- again, another favorite we enjoyed several times. 
  4. Paleo Greek Salad- yummy yummy in my tummy.
  5. Cinnamon Pecans - so great when they first come out of the oven!
  6. Apples with Revival Food Co. Almond Butter- I met the founder of Revival Food Co, at the Influence Conference, and not only is she super sweet, her almond butter is seriously good.
  7. White Chicken Chili- I actually made a bunch of revisions to this, but it was super delish nonetheless.
  8. Chocolate Chestnut Chili- Again, I made a bunch of revisions here, but it was very satisfying and flavorful.
  9. Buffalo Ranch Stuffed Peppers- My brother-in-law made some amazing hot sauce that we used to make this dinner quite spicy and again, delicious.
  10. Fruit Smoothies- they actually advise against this with the Whole 30 rules, but we loved them for when we were fresh out of ideas or just wanted something sweet. We usually threw in some frozen berries, spinach, a frozen banana, and coconut milk or fruit juice. 
As promised via Instagram, I am including a bonus recipe! Ror and I made these wings on Saturday during our football watching marathon, and we pretty much inhaled them. So. much. deliciousness.

The Mathisens' Grilled Football Wings

Servings: 4
2-3 lbs. chicken wings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-3 large cloves garlic, depending on your taste
salt and pepper to taste

Combine seasonings and olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. (We were out and just used Pyrex; it worked great too.) Add the chicken wings, seal the bag, and shake it up! Chill for at least an hour, or if you're feeling really fancy, overnight. 

Prepare your grill for medium heat. (We have a grill/smoker, and Ror put it on 400 degrees.) Take the wings out of the plastic bag and place them on the grill, turning them occasionally. You want them to be golden brown and crisp. Grill for about 15-20 minutes. 


Additional condiments: hot sauce, salsa, guac, etc. :)

If you're thinking about doing a Whole 30, don't be afraid! You will be surprised at what your body can do when you treat it well. 


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