three years.

Three years ago today, I made an epic commitment to my favorite man.

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With friends and family by our side and Beyoncé lyrics in our vows (no lie), we promised our lives to one another. We had only 11 months and 16 days of dating under our belts, and it’s likely that people thought we were slightly crazy. Yeah, we were.

And I wouldn’t change a single ridiculous moment of our imperfect love, señor. You are my forever best friend.

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You believed in us even when I was scared. You pursued me with fervor and never let fear drive our decisions. You were a risk-taker. You used to tell me that big risks yield big rewards. You may have sounded like a businessman to some, but to me, you sounded like my perfect fit. I always prayed for a man who ran toward commitment and not away from it. You are that man, and I could not be more grateful. You are still my dream man.

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You often tell me that marriage is about holiness, not happiness. It’s never said in a way that triggers guilt or implies that marriage should be a drag; rather, it’s said in humble admission of our naturally flawed nature and desire to be like Jesus. You practice forgiveness in the most inspiring manner–a characteristic of pursuing holiness. Without realizing it, you embody Christ in your actions.

Your consistency in our marriage provides me with such security and safety. I know you aren’t going anywhere. Besides–who would love you with your beard as much as I do? But seriously, I trust you. Not only am I confident in your commitment, but I trust and respect you as a man. We always viewed marriage as a union of equal partners with equal voices. I feel so undeserving of the way you love me.

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There are serious things about you that I love–far too many list here. But if I could pick one part of you for which my appreciation has grown the most, it would certainly be your humor. You are completely hilarious, señor. Although my response to you generally involves a befuddled look, a snicker, and a head shake, I love your silliness. Thank you for helping me let loose when I get anxious or too serious. You make me smile, giggle, and laugh out loud at your antics. Especially your outlandish freestyle rap.

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And here’s to those of you reading this super mushy letter to your and my favorite 6’4″ bundle of hilarity and genius. Your prayers, love, intentionality, support, laughter, and presence are indispensable to our marriage. We live our lives in community on purpose. We value your input. We respect your opinions. Thank you for loving us well enough to speak truth when we need it–both individually and as a couple. Our marriage could not survive without you.

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Happy 3-year anniversary, Grant Thomas. I love you more now than when I walked down the aisle to you on that chilly December day. And I promise to love you (and your beard) until we’re old and fat.

all photos are © of the über talented Chris McGuire Photography.

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shell yeah.

Extreme couponers are nuts.

I do not need nor do I have the space to hold 1,200 rolls of toilet paper and half a million jars of peanut butter. Saving money–yes. I’m all for it. But not for the sake of sacrificing my living space. I like to use my home for other activities. Like, hosting people without making them feel like they have to sit on a throne of paper towels.

However, I credit the extremers with a great strategic move: stroking companies’ egos.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of extreme couponers, one of their strategies of saving money is to write a letter to a particular company raving about their product. The company’s ego is inflated, and they see it as an opportunity to keep a good customer. “Thanks, loyal customer. Here’s some free stuff.”

GENIUS.

Implementing a version of this strategy, I recently had my own extreme coupon moment. Well, it was more of a post-purchase thought.

Over Thanksgiving break, my family set out to make tacos. Not fancy, extravagant, pinterest-esque tacos. Just tacos, plain and simple. We thought purchasing some stand-n-stuff shells would be a nice break from our traditional flour tortillas. I know…wild, right?

So, imagine our absolute HORROR when this is what we saw when we opened the box:

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I mean, the audacity of Old El Paso. Every single shell was broken. Stand-n-Stuff? More like Break-n-Stuff (minus 30 points for that horrific joke). I was livid. And by livid, I mean I was mildly irritated that I had to make a taco salad instead of a normal taco salad. Gracious, life can inconvenience a lady.

As soon as my mother-in-law and I surveyed the carnage, I had a stroke of extreme-couponer-inspired genius. I was going to write to Old El Paso. I went online to fill out a pre-made form (this wasn’t their first rodeo), and proceeded to write my overly dramatic reaction to the shattered shells. I can imagine the customer satisfaction department had to have thought, “This pathetic woman needs help.”

Yes, I do, Old El Paso. Because your shattered shells shattered my heart. But who got the last laugh?! THIS GIRL.

Saturday’s mail brought nothing but smiles and sweet victory. Not only did they apologize, but they also decided that they might as well appease the whiny girl with some free merch.

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While I was hoping it was free taco shells for life, four coupons for free shells and discounted shells will absolutely do. I love this country. Shell yeah.

final-ly.

This week marks the end of our first semester in graduate school. I’m going to allow that to sink in for a moment.

Studying

I’m sorry. Where did the last 5 months go? Oh, right. The library.

Señor and I have sifted through pages upon pages of commentaries. Our hot Friday night dates generally consist of sitting across from each other in the student center. Want some cool suggestions of what to do in Denver?! Ask someone else. Because we are slaves to learning. We drink from the sweet nectar of books, lectures, and Biblical Analysis Papers. We are grad students. Hear us roar.

Let’s get real. This semester has totally kicked our little tooshies. In the midst of insanity, I am grateful to have learned a few lessons that should be helpful in the coming semesters:

  1. It takes approximately 3 cups of coffee consumed in a matter of 2 hours for caffeine to have an impact on me anymore. My tolerance is much too high.
  2. Sleep. I need more.
  3. When writing a paper that exceeds 1 page, it is best to start prior to the day before it’s due. In other words, start EVERY paper prior to the day before it’s due.
  4. Starbucks is a black hole of inefficiency. It is impossible to accomplish anything well or with focus. Especially when the choice of music is typically jazz that is played at a decibel sure to rattle the tables.
  5. Sabbath.

How’s that last one for a doozy? I cannot remember the last time in my life when I truly honored the Sabbath. Stopping for a whole day makes me anxious and guilty. I think, “I don’t have time to rest. I have things to do.” So, getting on Facebook for 30 minutes every day is top priority now? Solid life choice.

The truth of it: I cannot sustain my current lifestyle. It involves too much strain, not enough rest, and an incessant amount of homework that’s not going away. In fact, it is only going to increase. Excuse me while I go throw up, have a heart attack, and pass out from a nervous breakdown. *gulp*

I’m terrible at New Year’s resolutions…as is 99% of the population. Let’s be real. So, this is not a resolution. Rather, this is a commitment to have a day of total and complete rest. I need to be willing to surrender control and recognize my own limitations. If I don’t practice self-care now, how can I expect to do so when I’m in the thick of my profession?

Plus, I really want an excuse to sit on the couch, eat carby food, and watch TV without guilt for a day.

Jokes. I know Sabbath is about more than being lazy. There’s also sleep. Which is spiritual. Look. It. Up.

reality.

“There is no guarantee that life is fair. The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change. Complaining may feel good for a short time but it is a completely ineffective behavior. If complaining were effective, there would be a lot more happy people in the world.” – William Glasser, Reality Theorist

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There’s a theory of counseling called Reality Therapy.

I’m not a fan.

One of the core premises of Reality Therapy rests on the idea that we completely choose our own behavior and emotions. There is no mental illness; there is no psychopathology. If you are depressed, you’re actually “depressing” yourself. If you’re anxious, you’re actually “anxietizing” yourself. Thanks, Will. You just made me feel like a big, fat failure. I’m going to go “comfortize” myself with chocolate now.

Fundamentally, I disagree with Mr. Glasser. I believe there are certain mental illnesses and psychopathologies one cannot control. It’s biological, hereditary, or we are so susceptible to it that we can not help but fall prey to its power when triggered by an emotional disturbance. Give us a break, Will. My conclusion on Reality Therapy: I’ll only use it on clients I don’t like.

Jooooooookes.

The only redeeming quality of Reality Therapy is its focus on choice, personal responsibility, and freedom. The reality is that, in most cases, we can choose how we respond to situations.

I’m challenged by this notion. I like to blame my emotional reactions on external forces. I’m all like, “Gosh, if this person would just do what I want them to, I’d be so much HAPPIER” or, “This situation sucks. I just want life to be EASIER.” Ok, 12-year-old. Chill out and eat a bon-bon.

Selfishness is innate, is it not? Gracious, am I ever quick to think of myself before others. Before señor, before my family, before the Lord, before the homeless man in the coffee shop, before the hurting friend.  Everyone is in second place. Did you not get the memo?

SNAP BACK TO REALITY (oh, there goes gravity…sing with me…)

“The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change.” Ok, Will. I get it. You’re right. Life is about more than me. Complaining won’t help anything. Expecting others to change is generally an indication that I’m unwilling to change something in myself.

Like, oh, I don’t know…my attitude?

I’m ready for a change, friends. I’m ready to stop living with the expectation that others determine my attitude, emotions, and behavior. I am responsible for me. I am called to live accountable to my actions in accordance with God’s commands. I expect this process to be slow, like most long-lasting change does. I expect it will wreck me for awhile, humble me, and silence my complaining.

I am only capable of changing myself. And oh, how irrefutably God is reminding me of that today.

grown-up lincoln logs.

Señor is a man of many talents. He’s also hot. Note picture below.

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If you’ve ever met him, you know he knows a lot about a lot. Ever wonder how many licks it really takes to get to the bottom of a tootsie pop? Curious how they discovered jell-o? Are you dying to know the history of Djibouti? Not my booty, but Djibouti. Perhaps you’ve been wondering the secret behind why  why coconut oil is a miracle worker. For everything.

HE PROBABLY KNOWS. The man already has an MBA and loved learning so much, he’s back for another master’s degree. Genius. Absolute genius.

He’s also ridiculously handy. He can fix anything lickety-schplit. Seeing as I’m the kind of person who would call a mechanic, maintenance man, plumber, and maybe even the fire department if my microwave stopped working, he is a breath of fresh air. I’m grateful for such a competent man in my life.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, señor and his dad set out to create a beautiful and desperately needed piece: a maple wood bookcase. Seeing as we are both in seminary, we have accumulated an inordinate amount of books already this semester. And yes, we’ve totally skimmed read every page of them.

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The process was arduous and rewarding for señor and his dad. Luckily, I had his mom to keep me company during the week. There was lots of sawing, cutting, gluing, and other processes that probably would have resulted in the loss of a limb if I was involved. Thank goodness for a father-in-law who knows his stuff. I think we tried to help once. By “help,” I mean we brought out coffee and breakfast burritos. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!

I’m not sure what excites me more: having a place to store all our books, or actually having a decorative item in our home. I wish I could channel my inner Martha Stewart (minus committing crimes) and be a decorator. Help.

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I am so proud of their work, and señor will probably make a few more after the holidays. I can’t wait to sand and paint those bad boys. Color/finishing suggestions, oh masterful DIY-ones?