Ready To Love

Okay….I’ll admit. I watch The Bachelor on ABC every Monday night and it is my guilty pleasure.  I know, I know, it is probably a total waste of my time. I say the word “guilty” because I totally understand how produced the show is and it honestly is a very odd and abnormal concept of a dude dating 30 girls to find one he wants to propose to in the end. HOWEVER, with that being said, I still watch because I think I just like to watch other humans interact  and fall in love because I always say that I love love. 

Love is something that I think our culture has taught us how to obtain the complete wrong way (this includes dating shows haha!). When talking to the ladies here, the hook-up culture and the Instagram DM’s have changed the way that we expect a man to treat us. Ladies want to be ready for when the right guy comes along, but I see women all the time allow men to barely even treat them like a girlfriend… let alone a potential wife. When watching The Bachelor with some of my girlfriends, the conversation of “being ready” for marriage has come up a lot and I’ve thought a lot about what that means.  I make no claim to know everything about dating and marriage, but with the mistakes I made while dating and with what I know now about how my husband treats me and loves me, I have a few thoughts about “being ready” that I think might help some of my single lady friends. 

My first piece of advice is don’t give a guy the privileges of having what only a husband should have. Know that until there is a ring on your finger, YOU OWE HIM NOTHING. Jumping around from guy to guy, relationship to relationship, allowing yourself to jump right into acts of what sometimes could feel like ownership of each other before even building a  foundation friendship and trust can be so destructive to the heart. So many women get hurt because they let a guy into the places of their hearts that only a husband should have access to. Don’t ever let a guy make you feel like you HAVE to do something. This could be a huge life decision, moving in together, having sex, changing careers, paying each other’s bills, etc. Be careful of the power you give away to someone before marriage. A guy worthy marrying one day will show that he is trustworthy to do all of those things with. Also let’s be real, getting drunk all the time and sleeping around with a different guy each weekend… a magical man isn’t going to fall out of the sky and get down on his knee wanting to get married. It just isn’t going to happen, and if it does, it would be a very unhealthy marriage guaranteed. Set the bar for how you want to be treated and don’t give away too much too fast.

This leads us to the next topic: old-fashioned courtship is still cool

I remember when Matt and I were dating and we were about to have to spend over a month without seeing each other because we were both traveling a lot for work. We were dreading it. The day that we had to say goodbye, we went to a coffee shop in Nashville called Crema, and he had something to give me. What I received was 46 (FORTY-SIX) letters wrapped in twine that he put in individual envelopes…talk about a romantic!! He wanted me to have something from him to open each day we were apart. I will always remember that gift because it showed how much he cherished and valued me. The idea of pursuing each other in dating is not cheesy/ lame or unnecessary. Dating is such a sweet season of life that is exciting and can be so fun building a best friendship with the person you love. Again— set the bar for how you want to be treated. Make him pick you up for dinner, open the door for you, and get you flowers and in return tell him how amazing he is and how appreciated he is (most guys love words of affirmation!). I’ve never heard of anyone who has regretted courting someone they see a potential future with so go all out!

I think most of us would say that getting to know yourself and loving who you were created to be before getting into a serious relationship is a good idea. This is my third piece of advice: work on being the best version of yourself so that you can one day make your future spouse the best version of himself. Before I met Matt, I feel like I allowed myself to date other guys for years, but then went through about a 6 month period of literally not dating anyone so that I could just enjoy being single and focus solely on my career at the time. That season I learned more about God and about myself than any other time in my life and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I felt like it gave me the clarity to enter into dating Matt with confidence and excitement. Being in a committed relationship does take vulnerability, so you can’t expect for that to come naturally until you are in a healthy, vulnerable place with yourself. Even when you are married, it takes time and effort taking the steps to be a healthy you, inside and out. Seek wisdom in older women, read books, focus on building solid friendships, pray.

Again, I don’t claim to be an expert, but what I do know from the almost 4 years I’ve been married makes me want to share with others. Marriage is incredible. It is hard. It takes humility DAILY and serving each other. It is NOTHING like The Bachelor tv show. Entering into dating and then a marriage thinking that the other person will bend to your needs/wants constantly is just a false reality. My mom always told me growing up that “marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100” which is so unbelievably true. Unless both partners are constantly serving each other (helping build each other’s careers, cook/cleaning for each other, loving each other’s families and friends, taking care of one another when sick, etc etc.) there will always be disappointment and unmet expectations. A person cannot “complete” you, but what they can do is bring more joy than you knew was possible. 

I hope this little bit of insight and advice helps someone in their thinking about relationships. Love is more important than anything in this world, which is why I get so frustrated when I see people who desire to have more love in their lives doing things backwards. I pray this world would have more strong marriages, more loving families, less divorces, and more women who support each other in their relationships. Love is so much fun so go out there and love harder than you ever have before! Cheers!

New Year & a Joyful Tuesday

It is a new year. THANK GOD. Last year had some good moments for sure, but it was honestly a very hard year for me on many levels. I experienced way more “oh crap” moments than I would have liked. Financially. Emotionally. Physically. 

This year I have decided to set the bar high as far as my overall joy is concerned. The reason being is that circumstances are ALWAYS going to change, whether I like it or not. But JOY doesn’t have to change. Joy is something found in something deeper which ultimately comes from my relationship with God. I’ve decided on 3 practical ways that I can focus my attention on joyful things: 

  1. Spend time in prayer and reading each morning for 30 minutes. For some of you that may seem like a really long time. Maybe for you it could be just starting out with 5 minutes, but for me I determined I needed to be spending a lot more time in this meditative state. I’ve been setting my alarm about an hour before I normally would wake up to ensure I have enough time to brew some coffee (important step for me) and sit down to focus. 

  2. Every Monday send encouraging messages to at least 3 people. For me I started doing this to take the focus off of me because I need the reminder that life REALLY isn’t all about me. It is so funny how focusing on others actually brings YOU so much joy.

  3. Medicate myself with laughter. I really believe that laughter is the best medicine. I want to watch funny shows, surround myself with hilarious friends, and listen to funny podcasts. I want to follow more accounts online that make me laugh instead of make me fall into the comparison game or political conversation spirals. And in return, I want to make other people laugh. Laughing causes me to focus on the positive and to live life more joyfully.

New year new me. Now let’s go and have a joyful Tuesday. 


Coffee Snobbery

 

I try to make myself believe that I am not addicted to it, but if I don’t have a freshly brewed cup of coffee by around 10am, I’m not the most pleasant of people to be around. I’m not talking cream and sugar kind of stuff. I’m talking single origin, freshly brewed, hand-poured coffee. I started drinking coffee when I was in high school (mostly sugar drinks that had “a shot” of coffee in them), but really didn’t start my journey to snobbery until about 3 years ago.

I was the typical Nashville musician who worked at Starbucks and lived at her parents house, and shortly after I quit Starbucks, I got a job at The Well Coffeehouse in Nashville where I really took this hobby to a new level. I now no longer work in the coffee industry, but I still believe that coffee will always be a part of my life in one way or another for the rest of my life. It is so fun and I feel like the more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know about it. This is why I want to share with you guys my favorite brewing method, my favorite shops in the U.S., and show you how to get as nerdy as me in your own kitchen!

First off, my favorite brewing method is the Chemex. I use this brewing method every morning in my own kitchen. For those of you who have NO clue what I’m talking about, this is a brewing method that is a manual hand-poured style method that is with an hourglass-shaped container and kettle. I know, I know… some of you are thinking “Just give me my sugary latte or Keurig. That takes too long and I hate the taste of black coffee”. I used to think the exact same thing until I tried my first cup of a fresh, hand-poured coffee in Nashville. When used with quality beans (in my opinion a light roast single origin), the Chemex has roughly a 20-30% thicker filter than a lot of other brewing methods, so your cup of coffee will be almost tea-like and very light in body. I also like that I can brew about two 12oz cups of coffee in one batch, whereas a lot of other brewing methods like the V60, Kalita Wave, Aeropress, etc. are typically only good for a single cup at a time. This brewing method is actually really hard to screw up and very user friendly!

In the U.S., coffee has seen a tremendous increase in popularity over the last few decades, thanks to companies like Starbucks. Now in 2018, the specialty coffee shops are on the rise. Cities like Seattle, L.A., New York, and Portland are among the leaders of high-quality, specialty coffee shops. I believe that the health trends definitely are impacting the way people are eating and drinking, so more and more people are becoming passionate about brewing their own coffee and supporting local coffee shops that roast their own coffee beans. I have traveled a lot so I’ve been to some of the most famous shops around the country, but I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites in my home town of Nashville, TN. I love the way my city’s coffee culture has exploded over the last few years and continues to rise. So here you go!

in no particular order…

Crema: This was one of the first specialty shops I went to in Nashville back when it was a grungy hipster place that not a ton of people knew about. My husband and I had our first date here;) I love their hand-poured options and even their drip coffee is amazing. Their almond/coconut milk is my absolute favorite in an iced latte if I am wanting something sweeter and craving their awesome espresso!

Sump Coffee: Originating in St. Louis, their pour overs are my favorite with their selections changing frequently but usually having a killer Ethiopian. Seriously my favorite cup of coffee right now in Nashville. I can’t emphasize enough how if you are in Nashville you need to go here.

The Well Coffeehouse: The Well is a non-profit coffee house with amazing selections of pour overs and lattes. I love The Well because they give 100% of their proceeds to building water wells around the world for communities who don’t have clean water. Great place to hang!

Honest Coffee Roasters: This shop is in Historic Factory in Franklin, TN which is a quick drive south from Nashville, but is such a cool space. The Factory in general is a great place to visit while you are in Nashville, but this coffee is also worth the experience. They have amazing pour overs with coffee beans roasted freshly themselves, all while in a really cool part of town that you could also do a little shopping while you are in the area!

Steadfast Coffee: This is a shop for those wanting to try new things including their seasonal selections of coffee cocktails. I love the simplistic vibe here. They always have great pour-over selections and coffee soda. It is also in Germantown which is a great area of Nashville to explore.

Barista Parlor Golden Sound: I feel like I couldn’t make a list of coffee shops in Nashville without mentioning this one. This coffee shop has become a household name for tourists in Nashville, and I’m not gonna lie, I love coming here because of their pour-overs being awesome and their breakfast game being strong. They have 3 locations, but the location in the Gulch is my favorite. If you go here, order one of their pour-overs with a Moto biscuit…you’re welcome.

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If you want to take your coffee brewing to the next level, it really isn’t that hard! The main essential products you will need to buy are:

  • Chemex or other brewing method
  • filters
  • scale (Acaia will change your life: https://acaia.co)
  • kettle (I’m obsessed with anything Fellow makes: http://fellowproducts.com)
  • coffee beans of course;)
  • grinder (optional but HIGHLY recommended)

 

Steps to brewing:

  1. Heat kettle of water (ideal brewing temp about 200-205F).
  2. Weigh and grind coffee.
  3. Insert filter into Chemex; once water is warm, rinse filter and discard the rinse water in sink.
  4. Add ground coffee inside filter.
  5. Bloom coffee: pour enough water to saturate all the grounds. This releases any carbon dioxide from the roasting process which you can read more about here: https://www.roastycoffee.com/coffee-bloom/
  6. Pour the rest of water. Pour very slow and low, and try not to get too close to sides or middle. You can usually try a 16 or 17:1 ratio of water to coffee grounds and be pretty satisfied!
  7. Remove filter and serve:)

I really liked these brewing guides if you want a more in-depth guide to brewing at home:

 

Happy brewing and I hope any of you who were wanting to try a few of these shops in Nashville have a wonderful experience. Also, I apologize if this blog caused any of you to also become coffee snobs as well;)

 

No Foothold

“for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help”

I’m not sure if you are like me, but when I read this quote from one of the psalmist in the Bible, I can totally relate. In fact, I had a meltdown just this morning because I felt exactly this way. Emotions of weariness, feeling overwhelmed, and guilt. I’ve always been a huge dreamer so at times throughout my life, the dreams I have just seem way too out of reach. They don’t make sense. They can feel like jumping into the middle of the ocean because of how beautiful and mysterious it is, but then at dusk realizing it’s hard to swim when land is so far away and it is dark all around you. The night does not bring clarity, and the next steps are never outlined or given to us, so we must swim…and swim…and swim some more into the unknown and into greater depths. I ask God sometimes “Please take away these desires, because life would be SO much easier if I didn’t have dreams or didn’t live in great expectation. OR at least if I keep chasing these dreams of mine, please give me a foothold a.k.a. a boat so I don’t have to keep treading with my head barely above water!!”

Trusting is hard. It is against our own nature. Just take the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. They were given EVERYTHING. Life was literally set up perfectly for them…but they still didn’t trust. They thought that “more” would make them happy and that self-reliance was greater than trust in their Creator. Oh how I am still fighting this curse that has been instilled in all of humanity since the beginning of time!

the longing for more…

the overwhelming feeling we get when life’s circumstances make us doubt God…

the curveballs that life throws our way that bring out the worst in us…

Here is what I’m getting at: This morning felt overwhelming to me, but God really just wanted my TRUST. I’ve never gone without, and, based on my past, I know He is faithful to give me my hearts desires as long as they align with His. For me, it is music that has been healing and has brought me so much joy throughout my life. For you, maybe it is another dream or another passion, but I know I’m not alone in feeling discouraged from time to time. So today I am reminding myself of what I do know, and letting go of the things I don’t. I’ll tread if I have to tread, and I’ll float if I have to float. All because in the end, I know if I never jumped into the deep blue waters of the ocean, I would never know the true beauty that comes from letting go.