how to be a better friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on

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Whether they’re the mac to your cheese, the Sookie to your Lorelai or the Anne Perkins to your Leslie Knope, true friends are the ones that stick by you in good times and in bad. They love you for everything you are and can be and despite the crazy person you’ve been sometimes in the past and let’s be real, will probably be again at some point in the future. They’re family and they love you no matter what.

I think we all know friendship is a two-way street but sometimes it’s tough to really invest and nurture friendships because well, life. We’re all busy and as my mother would say, we’re burning the candle at both ends. We’re building families and careers and sometimes taking time to connect with our girlfriends seems selfish or self-indulgent but I am here to announce WE NEED FRIENDS. They are vital to our well-being and overall sanity. So if you’ve been out of the loop with friends recently (work overload, got married, had a baby, THE HOLIDAYS) never fear! It’s completely doable to be get back in the game. Here are ways to be a good friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on.

Make plans
This may seem like a “duh” but for let’s be real, between careers and babies, life happens. None of us are immune to the busy day-to-day but something has to give if we want to find true connection with friends. Whether it’s a standing dinner date once a month or a quick coffee date here and there — create dates in your schedule for get-togethers based on everyone’s schedule and stick to them. When you are together be all there – silence that cell and enjoy face time with your people.

Use your phone
If you see something that reminds you of a friend, let them know. Shoot them a text to share a funny story or ask for prayers for something you’re struggling with. Make it a point to call them every once in a while during your commute from work to hear about what’s going on in their world. Use your phone to keep your friendship alive and thriving until the next time you get to be together.

Say thank you
How often do you take the time to tell your bestie how thankful you are for them? Tell your friend exactly how you feel and how much they mean to you – this will make their day and yours, too. Send them a fun card via snail mail to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome and value their friendship. I don’t know about you but some of my most cherished keepsakes are cards from dear friends.

Listen up
Being a great friend reaches far beyond verbal communication — it’s rooted deep in listening. Sometimes all we really need is to talk something through and get it all out there to a close friend just to do simply that, get it out there. We all love to talk (I’m raising my hand high here!) but sometimes the greatest service we can offer a friend is the gift of silence and quiet understanding.

Encourage
Oh man this is so important and something we all need, especially during all the changes life brings in different seasons. Maybe it’s giving a genuine compliment out of the blue or maybe it’s checking in and offering support when they’re training for a half marathon. Don’t make this hard! Some encouraging things to say: I understand. Me too. I’m so proud of you! How can I help? This too shall pass. Let me know how it goes – I’ll be praying. Well done! I’ll bring the chocolate! 

Asheville, NC

IMG_1256I recently traveled to Asheville with one of my dearest friends that’s more like a sister for a girls’ getaway over the long Memorial Day weekend. Even though the trip was relatively quick, we packed a lot of fun in, thanks to some amazing recommendations from friends. We stayed in the sweetest Bed & Breakfast and the highlight of the trip for us (history nerds, unite!) was the day spent at The Biltmore. Whether you’re planning your next girls’ trip or romantic getaway, here are a few must-do’s you might want to add to your list:

STAY

The Applewood Manor – One of the oldest B&B’s in Asheville, this place offered Southern charm with plenty of modern elegance. The innkeepers were so welcoming and the three-course culinary delight of a breakfast each morning was worth the stay.

SEE & DO

The Biltmore – If you love history and impeccable beauty, this is a must-see. We took our time with a guided tour around the house & grounds, a carriage ride, and of course plenty of shopping.

The Grove Arcade – Rich with history and full of unique shopping spots.

Wake Foot Sanctuary – This was the perfect way to relax before we headed home and the lavender soak was oh so good. The massage took it over the top! I cannot recommend this enough.

EAT

Tupelo Honey Cafe – The original, this place was perfect for a late night dinner and made all the more fun by sitting at the chef’s bar.

Village Social – Located in the Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village, this farm-to-table eatery had great ambience at sunset and an even better burger.

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Newlywed Life: A Running List

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I like to start my day alone, well Buddy is usually in my lap, with a glass of lemon water, my Bible, and whatever devotional I’m reading because sometimes I just need a minute to get my day going right. Currently I’m working my way through Waiting in Wonder, a pregnancy devotional/journal hybrid that tackles a new topic every day with scripture and encouraging words. This morning’s devo was all about the importance of building a strong marriage, especially before and when children come into to the picture since everything changes (or so I hear). The author tied in my favorite passage of all time, I Corinthians 13 aka “the love chapter” and pointed out how “love keeps no record of wrongs.”

My husband has taught me so much about what it means to love someone with your whole heart and as he says, despite. Despite all my flaws and mess-ups and less than glamorous moments he loves me unconditionally. He has taught me how to forgive annoyances and move forward with the kind of optimism only found in love.

If you love somebody, you don’t keep score of times they hurt your feelings or when they didn’t pick up their dirty clothes from the bathroom floor. You don’t remind them of the times they royally messed up and put their foot in their mouth or were short with you while hungry and tired. You don’t keep a record of wrongs to bring out whenever you feel like it because that’s not what love’s about.

Love is about keeping track of the good stuff – all the times they get it right and remind you of the million reasons you love them. So I keep a running list of all the times he makes me laugh until I’m crying. The way he holds my hand in his when we pray together. The look he gives me when I’m being ridiculous or overreacting. The hilarious sounds he makes when he eats something he really likes. The way he takes care of me and leads our family.

TIME magazine recently featured an article simply titled “How to Stay Married” in which they shared insight from 500+ couples who had been married 40+ years. Each couple polled agreed on two things: 1.) Marriage is hard 2.) It’s more than worth it. One couple went on to say the best thing they learned early in marriage was to communicate and not hold grudges. Such fantastic advice not only for marriage but for all relationships, right?

Love keeps no record of wrongs and I choose love. xo

Friday Faves

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[ the sweetest gift for Baby Annie from a dear friend ]

The sun is shining and it’s going to be a beautiful weekend! If you’re lucky enough to be able to spend some time with your Mom this weekend love on her and hold her tight! Have a good one, lovelies. xo

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[ progress at the new house ]

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[ 23 weeks and it’s getting real ]

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[ playtime with these loves ]

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[ ladies who lunch ]

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[ I love her lots and lots ]

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[ always so much fun with this girl ]

Everything Beautiful in Its Time

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One of my favorite experiences of studying abroad while in college was spending a day at the Louvre in Paris. Truth be told I got lost more than once because #maps but I loved every second of walking through the halls of incredible pieces of art, particularly the massive paintings. Sure seeing the Mona Lisa in real life was once-in-a-lifetime cool , albeit behind thick glass and surrounded by one million Asian tourists, but I gravitated towards the big paintings bursting with different colors and textures. I learned very quickly that with these big paintings it was best to not get right up next to it, but to take a few steps back and see the full picture in all it’s grandeur.

That got me thinking and has kept me thinking ever since of one of my favorite statements in all of scripture: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” [ Ecclesiastes 3:11 ]

We’ve all had those times in our lives – maybe you’re there now – where everything is such a hot mess. A complete junk show. Whether it’s a crazy day where nothing seems to work out or a season full of tough stuff that makes it hard to breathe, while you’re in it you can’t begin to imagine calling it a “beautiful time.” Luckily we serve a good God who is faithful full-time! He makes everything beautiful in its time, meaning these tough days/months/seasons are simply part of our story just as much as those times we feel at the top of our game. Once we look back on the good/bad/ugly times we’ll see God’s hand in every little situation and we’ll begin to understand.

Sure, my life may look like a mess up close some days, just like when you put your eyeballs right next to a massive painting – no bueno – but the incredible thing is that God is constantly working to make my mess something beautiful at just the right time. He may not always work as quickly as I would like but He’s constantly working to mold and shape me to be more like Him. To love more. To trust more. To serve more. One day I will step back, look at the finished canvas of my life with the Artist beside me, and see it in all its beauty and completeness. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing. xo

Be Still & Know: A Lesson Learned From Locking Myself Out of the House

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Yep, I definitely locked myself out of our house today. After I finished work for the day I decided to take Buddy for a walk to meet Taylor, who was finishing up at the office, and for whatever reason I didn’t bring my phone or keys. The church is right down from our house and Taylor would have keys, I thought. Well long story short he was upstairs and couldn’t hear me banging on all the doors so I walked back home and did the only thing I could do: sit on the back deck and wait.

If you know me at all you know that unless I am sleeping I am rarely still or quiet. I like to go go go and tonight I had “a million things to do” so I was annoyed that I was resigned to sit in silence. At first I thought about all the things I needed to be doing – laundry, start dinner, write that thank you note, send that email about that thing I forgot about earlier, etc. I was mad at myself for forgetting my phone because at least if I had brought that I could call Taylor or text friends or check my email/Instagram/all the things.

Then after ten minutes or so a magical thing happen – I stopped thinking about my to-do list and looked up. I noticed all the massive trees in our back yard are starting to fill up with the greenest leaves.  I soaked in the sunshine and sprawled my legs out. I watched Buddy’s ears flop with each big breeze and I listened as a bird sang the prettiest little tune.

Once I stopped fretting about how “busy” I was I allowed myself to see God everywhere. In everything.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” [ Psalm 46:10 ]

You see I’ve always loved that psalm but I’ve never been too good at applying it in my every day life. We’re all so busy with all the things – family, friends, church, work – and God wants us to be still? Sometimes, most of the time, it just doesn’t seem possible but it’s in those rare moments where we are still that we reconnect with our Creator.

We live such fast-paced, frantic lives so its no surprise that being still doesn’t come naturally for most of us. But by seeking stillness we are basically saying, “Nothing else is as important to me as You in this moment, Lord.” God wants to be #1 in our life because He loves us so much – we can make time for quiet time with Him despite our schedules. Tonight on the back porch without all the distractions I was able to simply be still and remind myself what’s most important…and suddenly everything on my to-do list didn’t seem so pressing. xo

Friday Faves

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[ the sweetest Easter dessert plates ]

It’s Easter weekend – can you believe it? I feel like it was just yesterday we had snow on the ground and now I’ve got the windows open with a bouquet of vibrant buttercups on our coffee table. After a loooong and challenging week, I’m thankful for the holiday weekend to unplug and rest. Of course I plan on digging into some of the Easter candy – those chocolate Cadbury eggs get me every time – as we road trip to Kentucky for my cousin’s baby shower tomorrow. How are we old enough to have our own babies? Funny how time sneaks up on you but as always, God’s plans are the best plans. For Easter Sunday I plan on attempting to fit into the Anthropologie dress I bought last summer, watching all the kiddos go nuts during the church Easter egg hunt and cooking up a big brunch. Have a beautiful Easter! xo

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[ love my devo & dessert girls and LOVED getting “egged” last night ]

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[ we may or may not tuck Buddy in every night ]

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[ fun Easter basket for my favorite little bunny ]

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[ at just 17 weeks old Baby Bell already has a jumpstart on her library thanks to my dearest friend ]