Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#weread2016: Undaunted Review



I remember so clearly the first time I heard Christine Caine speak. It was at my first Passion conference back in 2011. I was captivated by her strong commitment to the Gospel and the authority of God's word. Christine has an incredible story. She was adopted, but did not know it until she reached adulthood. Not to mention that she also has a difficult story that involves years of abuse and was unwanted by her biological parents, not even named as an infant, but rather given a number as just part of system. I remember being dumbfounded by her story and the source of her pain, but so encouraged by the passion and zeal with which she preached the Word. I watched on stage, and thought, "I want to be like that."

As a woman completely on fire for the Lord, Christine has taken the pain of her past and allowed God to completely remake and renew her for His glory. She and her husband, Nick began the A21 Campaign, a multi-national organization dedicated to ending slavery in our lifetime. Her story is incredible, but it only points to a God who is more than deserving of all the glory.

Undaunted: Daring to do what God calls you to do is Christine's powerful story of how the Lord brought her to a place of complete and total surrender, willing to serve Him in whatever capacity He saw fit to put her. She vulnerably shares her story, inviting you into the very real parts of her heart and allowing you to see how God has turned her greatest pain into her greatest ministry. While reading, I was astounded at how the Lord has done so much and has transformed her life as as result of her dauntless trust in Him.

She writes, "Because I was willing- not necessarily able, but willing- to take one step and then another, and another, God has brought me to the most interesting places. He too what I thought was broke and unworthy- my heart- and made it into something beautiful by giving it to others who are flattened by life and circumstance. This is God's nature. The very thing that the enemy uses to try to destroy your life is the very thing God uses to help others. God can heal every hurt and can turn your scars into signs of strength for his glory."

I've often heard it said that your greatest pain can be your greatest ministry. And to be completely honest, I've always resented that saying. But you know what? God is greater than our deepest pain. He is good within our heartache. And I've found that when we do our part by being vulnerable with others, He can do so much more than when we choose to keep our walls built high.

Undaunted is a book I would recommend to anyone who may feel stuck or scared about the next step God has for you. Christine's brave and honest writing enable you to take a good look at your heart and your life and invite God into changing your steps and guiding them, in spite of your fears.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Messy Marriage Mondays: From Selfishness to Selflessness

{Elissa Ewald Photography}

"The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator. " - Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

Selfishness. Oftentimes, we have picturesque ideals about how marriage "should be." These ideals are often influenced by marriages we've seen up close and personal or even in the media. We have ideas and expectations, and when these expectations are unmet, we find ourselves disappointed. In his book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas wisely states that marriage is not intended to make us happy. Instead, he proposes, marriage is intended to make us holy. It is the single most sanctifying tool that God will use in our lives, because without it, there are issues which we might not ever face, and flaws we might not ever recognize within ourselves. When living with someone 24/7/365, we are all up in each other's business. All. the. time. It can be super duper fun, because who doesn't want to live with their BFF? But it can also be vulnerable, scary, and exposing.

"Contempt is conceived with expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We can choose which one we will obsess over—expectations, or thanksgivings." - Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

When I set my sights on what makes me happy and the myriad ways I want expect Rory to serve me, then I end up empty. I am constantly on the search for happiness and joy outside of myself. I am looking to him to fulfill my needs and am selfishly hoping that he might not notice if I don't seek to serve him instead. 

But the flip side is that when I seek selflessness, my sights are on how to honor him. When I look to him as my best friend and confidant instead of my savior and fulfiller of every need, the pressure is off. My selfishness likes to rear its ugly head in so many ways- I want to eat what I want to eat. I want to go where I want to go. I want to buy what I want to buy. In short, I want it to be Planet Jessica. 

The word of God is clear on this, friends. In Romans 12:10, Paul writes,  "Outdo one another in showing honor. " That doesn't mean that you make service a competition, but rather that you approach each day looking to how to humbly serve your spouse instead of searching for opportunities for him or her to do something on your behalf. 

How can you pull the weeds of selfishness in order to sow seeds of selflessness? How can this bring joy and life to your marriage?

Don't miss any part of this series!

Messy Marriage Mondays
Pulling Weeds
Sowing Seeds

Friday, August 26, 2016

Infertility, miscarriage, and a sweet baby named Emory



So I haven't been married long, but people are always asking Rory and I when we are going to start having kids. The timeline is our business, folks. Haha. But here's the thing- I long and yearn to be a mom. I have wanted that for just about as long as I can remember. There are other women who share this same sentiment and desire- to be a mother and raise children to love the Lord. But sometimes life makes things just a little more complicated than we would like them to be.

When Rory and I first started dating, his older sister Julie was pregnant at the time. She was his first family member that I met, and we hit it off pretty easily. She's pretty awesome. Anyways, Rory had told me a little of their story and how they had struggled to get pregnant, how this baby was going to be such an amazing blessing and a big bundle of joy at just the right time. It was so fun to walk through pregnancy with her and to meet sweet little Emory when she came to us in March of last year. But the road was bumpy and filled with more than their fair share of heartache.

A few months back, Julie took the time to write out their story in several parts on her own blog. I've asked her permission to share it today, because I want to encourage others who are silently suffering or who just need a little bit of hope. Enjoy, my friends, and make sure you have some tissues nearby. And if you're a mama, hug your babies all that much more tighter.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part Last

Thursday, August 25, 2016

#weread2016: Giddy Up, Eunice



So you may look at the title of this book and think, "What the heck?" Let me explain. I was first introduced to Sophie Hudson through her podcast with another one of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle. Their podcast is called The Big Boo Cast because their blogs are entitled the Boo Mama and Big Mama blog(s), respectively. Y'all. These ladies are HILARIOUS. I do not say that lightly. I had heard about their podcast through the years, but since I am way behind the times, had not yet given it a listen. Y'all. It does not disappoint. It is literally two ladies just having a conversation. It sounds like their lunch date or late night phone chat. These women cover a lot of territory- from makeup and clothes to Netflix and church. They're wonderful. Give it a listen if you haven't already and you need a laugh. They will deliver.

So back to Eunice. This book, Giddy Up, Eunice, is not Sophie Hudson's first, but it was my first read of hers. I loved it. It made my laugh and cry, and it was oh so relatable. Her tone of writing is fun and lighthearted at times, but she also delivers truth in such a unique way by sharing anecdotes from her own life that allow us to examine our own.

Giddy Up, Eunice: (Because Women Need Each Other) takes a look at three different female relationships from the Bible. She first examines Mary and Elizabeth, then Ruth and Naomi, and lastly, Lois and Eunice. Sophie challenges us to look at the relationships within our lives and see whether we are 1) being pointed to Christ by other women, and 2) pointing other women to Christ. It takes a village-not only to raise a child, but just to live, I'm convinced. And Sophie reminds us of the amazing life transformation that occur when women decide to lay down their hang-ups and just love on one another.

“Are our spiritual eyes wide open as we look for our people? Or are we so programmed with a “same age, same stage” mentality that we’re missing the women who are ahead of us and behind us?...We need people of all ages in our lives who will listen, encourage, and pray.” 

Personally, my life has been changed for the better by women who decided that pouring into young women was a worthwhile step of obedience. There have been so many women, other mothers, as my mom likes to call them, who have walked alongside me in various seasons. And I want to do the same. Many women will make excuses as to why they can't mentor or be mentored. Too much time. Not enough Biblical knowledge. I'm not good enough.

LIES. Y'all. Mentoring does not have to be some fancy event in which you meet with a woman every week for two hours at a time studying the Greek and Hebrew meanings of every word in a passage of Scripture. If you want to do that, great. But what it can look like is going to get coffee once a month. Texts every week or so to check in. Praying for one another. Inviting someone into the mess and doing laundry together or making dinner. It's not that complicated, but we like to make it complicated.

“When the Holy Spirit gives you compassion for someone, it really doesn’t matter how many years stand between your respective dates of birth. All that matters is responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and recognizing that any opportunity to speak into someone’s life, bless them, pray for them, or minister to them—well, it is a privilege.”

So friends, take a look at your life. Are you being mentored by anyone? It doesn't have to be an official agreement, but is there a woman (or man for my three male readers) in your life that you can go to when you need wisdom and advice? Is there a younger girl who you are pouring into that you are praying for? If not, are there people in your life that are right under your nose who can fulfill that role? Pray for open eyes and an open heart, and just watch what God does.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Messy Marriage Mondays: Sowing Seeds

{Elissa Ewald Photography}

Friends, I am more than aware that it is Tuesday and not Monday. This past weekend, we were traveling (more on that later), and we got back in town pretty late on Sunday. Needless to say, I wasn't of the state of mind to be able to write much of anything yesterday. :)

Last week, we began a new series called Messy Marriage Mondays. We're taking a look at the things in our hearts that can begin to grow weeds in our marriages the things that choke the life out of our marriages and squelch our joy. This week, let's take a look at the next step after we begin to uproot the weeds we identify: sowing seeds. 

When we sow seeds, we are hoping that something grows. Seeds serve as the beginning of new life. The process of sowing seeds then produces a reaping- we see a product that comes from our hard labor. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:23

After we pull those weeds, we have to get to work. We are able to see the weeds for what they are, identify them, and then sow seeds that will replace the weeds and bring forth new life. As we work together through this process, we will look at the following weeds:

selfishness
pride
discontentment
anger

As we identify these weeds, we will replace them with a seed that will bring life. Selfishness becomes selflessness. Pride becomes humility. Discontentment becomes contentment. Anger becomes peace. 

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:18


Friends, I am excited to delve in deep and do this heart work with you. Next week, we will take a look at selfishness. Ew. Are you with me?


Don't miss a part of this series!

Messy Marriage Mondays
Pulling Weeds

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Bucket List Recap

Ok y'all. Even though the weather is still hot as blazes, summer as we know it is pretty much over. School is back in swing for just about everyone, and gone are the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Earlier this summer, I made a bucket list of memories I wanted to make. I am excited to report that I was able to do all but two of those fun things! Here's a recap of one the most fun summers yet.


Go to the beach with Ror's college friends.

- We were able to go to the beach at the beginning of July for a long weekend, and we had so much fun. With the threat of rain, we were nervous about not being able to enjoy the beach. However, the Lord provided some beautiful weather for us, and we were able to relax and spend some quality time with people we only see about once or twice a year. 

Read a fiction book just for the heck of it. 
- In the past ten years or so, my reading life has been comprised of mostly nonfiction work, but fiction is what stole my heart as a child. I read a couple Karen Kingsbury books this summer and really enjoyed them. The Chance and Divine both sucked me in and would not let me go!

Try a couple new restaurants in Athens while the college kiddies are away. :)
- Summer is always a good time to try new restaurants because the crowds are much smaller, which makes logistics much more manageable. We went to The Place and La Dolce Vita for some "fancy date nights," and our meals were delicious and our time together delightful.

Chicken and waffles at The Place with mashed potatoes. In-cred-ib-le.

Travel to Nashville for the Looking for Lovely conference and meet Annie F. Downs!!!
- I already wrote a mini-novel about the awesomeness of this weekend. :)

Walk through the book of Ruth with friends whom I have affectionately named the Watty Hotties. :)
- This summer, we chose to study Ruth using the Life Lived Beautifully study written by my friend, Gretchen Saffles. Since Ruth is only four chapters and the summer is typically unpredictable and full of travel, we met every other week and had dinner in someone's home. It was a fun summer getting to reconnect with friends and walk through one of my favorite books of the Bible with them. 

Welcome a couple friends' babies into the world and become an honorary auntie.
- Two of my dearest friends welcomed their babies to the world this summer. Both of them are first-time moms, and it has been a joy to watch them step into that world. Jackson and Leah, you are so loved!



Go blueberry picking at Washington Farms and make Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp recipe.
- So we didn't make it to the farm in time for blueberries. Womp womp. BUT. We did get strawberries earlier this summer, and while the blueberries were from the market and not the farm, I did make the blueberry crisp recipe one night for small group. It was devoured. 

Go to the pool with a friend at least once.
- I did not go to the pool this summer. Boo. I'm not American. 

Reconnect with friends I haven't seen in a while. 
- One thing that is really fun about my new job is the opportunity to see more people throughout the day. With a nifty thing like a lunch break, I have had people come and hang out with me at the office that I haven't spent a lot of time with lately, which has done my heart some good. 

Celebrate our first wedding anniversary with a tech-free, super fun weekend in Chatt-town. 
- I also already wrote a mini-novel about this adventure. We had so. much. fun. I am so grateful we got to take that trip together. 

Annnnddd a bonus item that was on our [life] bucket list but not necessarily a summer bucket list...get a puppy!!! We welcomed Tybee Mathisen to the family on Sunday, and we are in love. :)


What about you, friends? Were you able to make a lot of fun memories this summer?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Messy Marriage Mondays: Pulling Weeds

{Elissa Ewald Photography}

The other night, Rory and I did some yard work. Yes, you read that correctly, Jessica Mathisen did yard work. Truth is, our beds that are in front of our front porch were looking pretty ratchet. Weeds were growing everywhere and overtaking the walkway up to our door. It was a hot mess express. So we got some tools, some weed killer, and went to work.

As we were working together that night, the imagery just sort of struck me. Here we are, two broken people, each big fat sinners with agendas of our own, trying to make this thing called marriage work and doing the best we can at it. Sometimes, there are some weeds that need to be pulled from our hearts. And y'all, it is not a one-sided thing. No one is always the bad guy. We both have to diligently pull the weeds from our own hearts in order to live and work together as one in order to reflect Christ to a world that so desperately needs some hope.

So what are these weeds, Jessica? I'm so glad you asked.

Some common weeds that can choke the life out of a marriage:

selfishness
pride
discontentment
anger

These weeds can manifest themselves in so many ways, and if we are not careful, they can literally choke the life out of our marriages. We can begin to feel entitled as we let our weeds become overgrown with a life of their own, suppressing us and sowing lies that enable us to think that we are in the right when in fact, we are very, very wrong.

I know I haven't been married long, but God has taught Rory and I a lot in our first year of marriage, and I want to share what we've learned.

For the next few weeks, join me on Mondays for Messy Marriage Mondays, where we will take a look at some hard things and explore together how we can pull the weeds and begin sowing seeds. Are you with me?

Friday, August 12, 2016

#weread2016: Steadfast Love

{Image via The Influence Network}

Earlier this year, Rory and I attended a marriage simulcast at church called Mingling of Souls that was hosted by Pastor Matt Chandler and his wife, Lauren. This conference was so helpful to us, as it sparked great conversation and made room for increased vulnerability in our marriage. I remember being super impressed by Lauren; she had a calm and gentle spirit but also didn't take herself too seriously. So imagine my excitement when the Influence Network scored her book (for free ) for members! I had heard a little bit about it, and was grateful to get the chance to dig in and learn more about her and God's steadfast love. After listening to her interview on The Happy Hour podcast with Jamie Ivey, I was sold. I had to get into this book!

Steadfast Love was actually a book I had to take my time to work through. Lauren takes the reader through Psalm 107, dividing it into five parts: A Call to Worship, The Desert, Chains, Folly, and The Storm. She uses personal life experiences along with the truth of Scripture to allow us to understand the depth of God's steadfast love towards us in every season. 

One thing that I admire about Lauren's writing is that she made herself vulnerable before the reader. She shares about how she learned to be honest with the congregation of her church when she reached out for help, knowing that they could easily look down upon her or be surprised at her need as "the pastor's wife." Lauren reminds the reader that there is no one beyond help. There is no one who has "made it." Rather, we are all in progress and in need of a Savior. As she writes about her journey, she allows you to think about how you may need to get honest before the Lord and others in order to find freedom.

She writes,

In His steadfast love, He will...make the hurt sting. He will press His eternally powerful finger on that wound to show He's not done there. He will let you hit rock bottom with that substance or relationship. He will let you grow tired and weary of trying to get it right in your own strength. The "hard labor" will force us to look at the chains around our hearts, if we'd be willing to see. 

Friends, if you are looking for a book full of grace and truth, this is it. It comes highly recommended.


Monday, August 8, 2016

A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self



This weekend, Rory and I attended my ten year high school reunion. As soon as the Facebook group was created this summer and people starting talking and sharing memories, I knew I wanted to attend to be part of this special time. Looking back at high school, I can now say with complete acceptance that I was a nerd. I didn't really quite know it at the time, but if nerds are people who have goals and take their studies seriously, call me one. Cliques weren't really my thing; I did not have a particular crowd that I ran with all the time, but rather tried to make friends on all fronts- nerds, jocks, popular people, not-so-popular people. Because of that, I looked forward to seeing people I had not seen in a very long time.

High school was a lot of fun for me for the most part, and I had a positive experience, escaping mostly unscathed. About ten percent of my graduating class went on to UGA, with more transferring in over the years, so I saw Pope people all over Athens, and to this day, I still run into people around town. However, the people I keep in contact with now from that time in my life are all friends from my youth group. It was such a joy to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen and take a walk back to yesteryear! Thank God for people who will organize events like these that bring people together.

Seeing people ten years down the road from where we last did daily life together made me so reflective. High school can be a crazy time, so I thought I'd write a letter to my 18-year-old self including some things I wish I had known.

Dear Jessica,

I know you may not think it's true right now, but your life is pretty great, and you're so very loved. You may think that you aren't pretty enough because you haven't been on a real date. You may think no boy will ever love you because you're too much or not enough. But you're just right and you're enough. Just as you are. 

You are so incredibly smart, Jessica. Don't be ashamed to use the brain that God has given you to do great things and to help others by being a problem-solver. When you have an opinion, don't be afraid to share it. People need to hear from various perspectives, and you can help them when you share your own. 

You are so capable, Jessica. You may watch others around you and think that they are better, faster, smarter, and stronger. It's not true. God has given you an amazing repertoire of gifts and talents that you are just barely scratching the surface of right now. Take the time to discover them and know that God will not waste one of them. Not one. 

You are beautiful, Jessica. You are an exquisite young woman, molded in the hands of God. Don't feel like you have to be like everyone else around you. Don't be ashamed of your beautiful brown skin, your gorgeous curly hair, or your shapely figure. You are you. Don't let anyone take that away from you. 

Jessica, trust God with all of your heart. Don't be afraid to open up to others and be real with them about what you are thinking and feeling. Know that the dreams you hold in your heart are significant and beautiful, and God will continue to use them to influence the world around you. 

Above all, you are loved. So incredibly loved. So love God, love yourself, and love people. All of life stems from these three things. 

Your friend, 

Jessica

P.S. Do yourself a favor and listen to this song. You'll be glad you did. 
P.P.S. You're going to marry someone amazing! So don't give your heart away too soon; what God has in store is way better than all you could ever imagine. 
P.P.P.S HAVE SOME FUN!!!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

August Goals

Friends, August has arrived. I will forever be in school year mode as a result of my default teacher mindset and also by way of living in a college town with ebbs and flows. However, August has always meant new beginnings to me- new teachers, students, or classes. And even though I'm not in the classroom this year, it still feels that way. Summer vacation (sadly not the summer weather as well) is coming to a close, and it is time to restart!



Here's what I was working towards in July:

Monthly:
put the finishing touches on my devotional
organize the office/war room
tidy my papers and books using the Konmari method
meal plan for August
budget meeting
get brows done (self-care, peeps...gotta plan for it)
set up a prayer schedule with Ror
get master bathroom organized/decorated
catch up with Andrea

Weekly
work out/be active for 20-30 minutes 5 x a week
call a friend
call a family member
write someone a note
blog at least 2x
weekly gratitude with Ror

Daily
pray
read the Word
read James
encourage Ror
encourage someone else



The Nitty Gritty

July was a very full month. My goodness, it seems like we were celebrating the fourth of July eons ago and that our anniversary was a couple months ago instead of a few weeks back. July was great, though. One of the things that I was able to do in July was get the space of my office just about the way I want it to be. We were able to hang some things in there and organize my desk space, and I really like hanging out in there now. It is neat to have a little space of my own in our home. :)

I haven't been able to get to tidying my books and papers, but boy do I want to. Full disclosure: I was keeping a couple boxes on the floor that I wanted to tidy, thinking that I would get tired of looking at them and finally get them cleaned out. Not so much. I just put 'em up in our closet and resolved to tidy them when I have the time so that I could enjoy being in the room without the clutter!

It may have been a little late, but on Sunday night (yes, the last day of July, don't judge) Ror and I set up a prayer schedule for each week that we are hoping will help us be more intentional in our prayer life. Praying with him morning and evening is something that I am truly grateful for and hope that we continue through the life our marriage.

My mornings are still a lot of fun; I'm enjoying being able to work out in the morning and get some things done around the house before I leave for work. I'm also working on not being a slave to productivity and just enjoying. I think God wants us to to a good bit of that, too. :) I've been meal planning using my Purposeful Planner, eMeals, and the Skinnytaste cookbook, and it has become one of my favorite things to do.



What I Was Grateful for in July

Like I said, July was a whirlwind month. It was full of so. much. fun! I loved getting to celebrate our first anniversary in Chattanooga, and I sincerely hope that we can do a little trip like that each year just the two of us. We also had a blast on the fourth of July in our fort and kept it up pretty much all month. :) This past weekend, we hosted a bunch of kids from my class at Downtown Academy and their siblings/parents for a cookout, and that was an absolute blast. Hoping for more of that to come for sure. The Looking for Lovely weekend in Nashville was an incredible experience, and I got to make a new friend AND meet Annie Downs! God was good to me in July.



What I'm Working on in August

Monthly 
tidy books/papers
get brows done (it just didn't happen, peeps)
track my spending using the Every Dollar app
continue working on devotional
follow blog plan
follow prayer schedule

Weekly
workout/be active 5x a week
call a friend
call a family member
weekly gratitude with Ror

Daily
pray
read the Word
listen to/read/quote James
encourage Ror
encourage someone else

What are you working towards this month, friends?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Currently: August

Well my friends, summer is coming to a close, and I am a wee bit sad. I know that I am not teaching anymore, so I worked through the summer, but it is still sad for kids to be going back to school and for the summer vacation mentality to be ending. The actual season of summer is not over, as it is still HOT AS FIRE outside. Although summer flew by, I am excited about what is in store for fall. Since I am a girl, fall is my favorite season. ;) Here's what's going on currently as I savor summer and anticipate fall.



Hearting: I am loving some planning right now.  Meal planning. Blog planning. Basically planning all the things. Y'all. It is my jam. I love using my Purposeful Planner to help with all of this, and it has been so wonderful.
Watching: Ror and I have this lovely little compromise where some nights he will play video games while I watch Gilmore Girls as he half pays attention. Everybody wins. Plus I am preparing for the Gilmore Girls revival series on Netflix on November 25. Duh.
Exploring: Hmmm...this one was a toughie. I will make it a stretch and say that I have been exploring some new ideas for my writing, which is fun yet terrifying!
Creating: I have been loving my little office space that we continue to modify, so I've been creating some fun decor ideas that keep it a happy place.
Eating: Lately I have been trying to eat clean(er). It is hard to do since summer brings so many fun treats with it. Mainly ice cream. :) But I have been loving tomato and cucumber salad, plus I'm pretty much obsessed with La Croix sparkling water now thanks to my mother-in-law.

What are you up to currently?

Linking up with Anne and Dana today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Chattanooga Anniversary Weekend



A couple weeks ago, we were able to celebrate our very first wedding anniversary. It feels a little surreal to say that, because I cannot believe that it has already been a year. At the same time, I feel as though Rory and I have known each other for forever and that we have already been together for a long time. I look forward to the day when we have twenty, thirty, or fifty years of history together! We chose Chattanooga as our anniversary destination because it was in driving distance, and we had explored the city together for a few hours on the way to a holiday getaway when we were first dating. The city was so inviting, and we knew that we wanted to come back one day. That day came sooner than we thought!

On the way to Chattanooga Saturday morning, we were able to make a pit stop in Rome to see my best friend Teresa and her husband, Tribe. We got to eat some delicious Cajun food and enjoy time with them, which was so fun. We then made our way to Chattanooga, taking in the mountain scenery along the way. On this trip, we decided to use an AirBnB residence, and it was a great experience for us. Our hostess was super kind, and the little studio apartment was adorable and exactly what we needed. It was tucked away in the woods of Lookout Mountain, but it was only a ten minute drive from the heart of Chattanooga.

Saturday afternoon we had planned to go to Ruby Falls, because Rory hadn't been before. When we arrived, the line was crazy long, so we scratched that fast. Instead, we drove further up Lookout Mountain, enjoying the massive beautiful homes and taking in the breathtaking views. We stumbled upon a park called Point Park that had a relatively cheap entry and explored there. It was such a pleasant surprise, as we walked along beautiful trails and were able to see some amazing views of the city below and the mountains beside us. After our little spontaneous adventure, we ate at Tupelo Honey Cafe, which is always incredible.



Sunday morning we planned on doing several things around town, and it was overcast, so we were able to be outside without suffocating suffering heatstroke. For breakfast, we went to this adorable little cafe called Rembrandt's Coffee House. Dee-lish-us. Then, we explored the Tennessee Riverpark, the Walnut Street Bridge, and the Chattanooga Farmer's Market. The market was incredible- so many vendors with so many sights and smells. Food trucks, stands and the most amazing flowers you ever did see. We snagged a gorgeous bouquet of farm-grown flowers for ten bucks! I love flowers for all occasions, but especially for special occasions, and each time I looked at them, they put a smile on my face. All of the morning plans went by much faster than anticipated, so we went to a bookstore that Teresa and Tribb recommended to us. If you've ever been to a 2nd and Charles store, it was like that, but WAY BETTER. McKay's was huge. We probably spent an hour and a half in there, engrossed in the books, records, and Christmas CDs. Obvi. The sun decided to come back out and it warmed up considerably, so in an effort to beat the heat, we went to an IMAX movie called National Parks Adventure in 3D. The movie was incredible and inspired further travel plans. :)



Sadly, the restaurant we planned to go to on Sunday night for our "fancy special occasion dinner" was closed, so we had to come up with Plan B. Google led us to a seafood restaurant that was a little out of the way and not quite as "fancy special occasion" as we had hoped, but the food was good and it was on the water with a pretty view. On Monday, we were able to sleep in a little bit, and when we went to Ruby Falls, we were able to walk right in and jump on the next tour leaving! It had been almost twenty years since I had been (I. am. old.) but it was still somewhat familiar. The waterfall was beautiful, our tour guide was a trip and a half, and we did a touristy thing. So yay. On our way out of town we grabbed lunch at The Bitter Alibi, and OH MY GOODNESS it was so good. So. very. good. Probably our favorite meal of the weekend.



When we got home on Monday evening, we were greeted by our fur baby, and we ate a slice of our wedding cake along with some Chinese food. It was a great weekend, and probably our best trip we've taken so far together. It was our first non-family, non-friends, just-the-two of us trip since our honeymoon, and I am looking forward to more like it. I love to travel, and now traveling is all the more fun when I have bae by my side. :) Exploring new places and making memories is definitely one of my favorite things to do, and I hope we get to do a lot more of that as we journey together.

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