Our Life

5 Things I've Learned In One Year After the Cap & Gown

One year. Can it really have been a year since I donned that black cap and gown and walked single file with all of my classmates to accept a diploma that officially ushered me into adulthood? photo 428429_4046212924401_413770630_n_zps2ef906e7.jpg

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In one year, I have gotten married, gone on a honeymoon, moved into our first apartment, started my first "big girl job," and bought our first home. I have made new friends and kept old ones. We have learned to balance a budget, pay bills, and make wise purchases. I have had identity crises and questioned my purpose. I have had days where all seems right with the world.

I heard someone say that "the days feel long, but the years feel short." Never has this felt more true. In some ways I feel like I am still a college student on a long, arduous summer vacation. In other ways, my time at Belmont University feels like another lifetime.

To all of my friends graduating this month from your respective universities, the knowledge I have gained over a year is meager, yet the glimpses of wisdom God has given me seem to beg to be shared. I'm sure in fifty years, ten years, even one year from now, I will look back on this and laugh at how little I knew at 22--just like I do now when I read through the journals of my adolescence, but this is where God has me now, and I am thankful.

Dear one-year-ago Chandler,

Here are a few tips of the trade I've picked up in a year out in the world.

1. No one really knows exactly what they want to do when they graduate from college.

My English professors would have told me not to make a universal statement, but for the sake of impact, let's just say that it's true. We enter college wide eyed and fresh out of high school. We barely know how to make easy mac in the dorm room microwave without burning it--much less what our forever plan looks like. We spend four years honing our skills and narrowing down our interests, and then we expect to graduate with a clear image of our dream job and exactly what we want to accomplish with our lives.

I am beginning to realize that I only touched the surface of my journey to self discovery in college, and all I can do right now is serve the Lord with my current circumstances and allow His plan for my life to unfold. I also realize that it will probably be years before I truly know what my "dream job" looks like. If I did have my life planned out for the next 25 years, the plan would probably be shot in five years anyway.

I am in a job that I love with work that challenges me and people that care about things that matter. I am grateful, and I'm taking one step at a time.

2. Twenty-somethings are really diverse people.

After college graduation, everyone changes out of their matching cap and gown, packs up the car, and moves on to the next stage of life. Jack and Jill get married and settle down in a nice suburban neighborhood. Jane moves home to save money. Jim goes to graduate school. Jen gets a 9-5 job downtown, lives with a roommate, and invests in her first tailored suit. John picks up odd jobs, couch surfs, and parties while he's young. Joe takes a year off to backpack across Europe barefoot and gain life experience. As I have witnessed my friends' transitions into this next phase of life, I have watched in amazement at the way that God's plan differs for everyone. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel that by the time people hit 30, the playing field begins to even. More people are married with kids, have purchased their first home, have found a job they plan on keeping for at least a few years, and have begun to establish stability. There are of course exceptions to every rule, and there is diversity among every age group, but for the young and the restless, there are so many paths to choose. It's okay to do your own thing.

3. I Still Have So Much To Learn

I make little mistakes and I don't understand things. I work so hard and try to do everything right, and then I find I left a trail of errors behind me. It is humbling and frustrating and embarrassing.

I spent 17 years of life actively learning. I listened to lectures, wrote papers, read books, and took tests to prove my knowledge. I scored well on my standardized tests and maintained a high GPA in college. I knew how to work the system.

Well the system changed, and now I am in kindergarten again at the school of life.

I am thankful that so many people are older and wiser than I am and can teach me what I need to know. I pray God gives me a teachable spirit and that I never think I am too old to learn a lesson.

4. Adult Friendships Take More Effort But Have Great Reward  photo 297524_10200173890340684_1281024255_n_zps36e6dedc.jpg

The flexibility of college schedules, frequency of social activities, and close proximity of living make for easy socializing in college. I have such good memories of late night study groups, spontaneous Waffle House runs at 2 a.m., lazy afternoons on the lawn in the quad, and deep theological discussions at the cafeteria. Socializing hardly took effort, and friends seemed to come naturally.

In the "real" world, friendships take cultivating. You must plan times to spend with friends and coordinate schedules. Intentionality is key. Especially for those of us that got married right out of the gate, relationships with people other than your spouse are easy to push by the wayside (and certainly ought to take second place).  photo 380602_10200256411123652_1400914135_n_zps16e17849.jpg

Despite the change, I have had some of my sweetest times with friends in this year. I have developed new relationships and started to realize who the deep friendships are that will last for years to come. As so many people I know navigate the uncharted waters of complete independence simultaneously, we find a common bond. Also, as I have moved into adulthood, the age gap between myself and those ten years older seems to have narrowed.

5. Growing up can be fun.

Peter Pan would certainly disagree, but I believe it. There are new responsibilities and stresses I have never experienced before, but I have loved the experiences I have had and the joys of figuring out what I believe and what life is going to look like. So, younger self, don't lose heart that your years of school are over. I believe the best is yet to come.

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Housewarming Party

On Saturday, we hosted a housewarming party to allow friends to stop by and get a tour of the new digs. Due to some yucky weather outside and everyone's busy spring schedules, a lot of friends were not able to make it, so here is a little run down of the night. I knew it was going to be a rainy day, so I put together a menu of some of our favorite Jeremy & Chandler comfort foods.  photo IMG_5625_zps58a56ff3.jpg  photo IMG_5624_zpsfc50d99a.jpg  photo IMG_5634_zps1005371a.jpg  photo IMG_5627_zps9805ba43.jpg

I might be biased, but Jeremy makes the best homemade burgers I've ever tasted. Seriously. They are amazing. He tried his hand at sliders this time. They were a hit.

I also tried some Mac & Cheese bites and my standard favorite of Apple Berry Salsa with homemade cinnamon sugar chips.  photo IMG_5635_zps34971aeb.jpg

There we are. Me and my little burger chef.  photo IMG_5639_zpse911d674.jpg

We also let people put a little personal stamp on the house. We have plans to paint the office, so I asked people to "Write On Our Wall" with chalk and leave their favorite scripture or a note to us.  photo IMG_5636_zps76639d1e.jpg  photo IMG_5644_zps967c0a81.jpg  photo IMG_5643_zpsd156b772.jpg

What You, Me, and Thrift Shops Have In Common

When I was a kid, my mom took me to a lot of secondhand stores. She is the master of all things thrifty, and she would spend hours looking through racks and digging through sale bins to find something with potential while I pouted in the middle of one of those round clothing racks. Remember those? They were the perfect hideout for a grumpy child. Undoubtedly, I whined and told her I was hungry and tired. Then she would hold some cute, barely used dress up to my shoulders and ask if I liked it, and I would say, "Mom. I don't want to wear something from a resale shop. Can we go to Limited Too?" (Apparently I thought the purple glitter jeans I was eying at the mall would be a better investment in the long run.) Case in point that my fashion choices weren't as good as I thought.  photo crazyoutfit_zpsa0924906.jpg

I have since wised up, and I now know that I can stretch my pennies the farthest and score the best finds at bargain shops, thrift stores, dumpsters, and classifieds. I am proud to say I am becoming more like my mother every day. She's incredible, so I hope that continues.

I have recently been pondering what it is about secondhand purchases that freak some people out, and why I love them so much. I came to one conclusion: potential. I love seeing the potential in something that is scratched up or just plain ugly. I can picture what it would look like with a coat of paint, and I love taking the time to make old things new. But sometimes it's hard to see potential in something, and we would rather spend a few extra bucks to buy something that already looks like it was plucked out of a magazine.

Now, here is the humbling part. Lately, my small group has been studying a book called The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. Last week we talked about sanctification, and the fact that we are all works in progress.

Brace yourself, it's about to get real up in here.

I am like the spiritual version of something God picked up at a thrift store. I am a hot mess with chipping paint, weird dated hippie wallpaper on one side, and an unstable foundation. I need a lot of work. I try to convince myself that I have arrived. That I am already at the "after" stage of a design show, but then I fall on my face and am reminded that I need God's help more than ever.

Sometimes I am in the middle of a renovation, and it's hard, and nothing seems to be working, and I can't see the end result. Sometimes I want to give up on this whole sanctification process and say, "I'll never be like Jesus anyway. Why even try?" And it's true; I will never be perfect, but Jesus has a design in mind, and if I let Him do the work, I know there is a beautiful ending on the other side.

Isn't that why we all love "Before & After" photos? Why we enjoy shows like The Biggest Loser and What Not To Wear? We love seeing something or someone go from rags to riches, from average to spectacular, but how many of us actually want to put in the work to get there?

I have been on a bit of a spiritual plateau lately--discouraged by a lack of growth and unable to see God's end result. As I work almost daily to bring new life to furniture and rooms in our little home, my prayer is that I work even harder to allow God to bring new life to my sad, little junk store self.

Am I willing to let God transform me into something He designed, or am I still like the little 10-year-old Chandler sitting in the clothing rack pouting because I couldn't see the potential? What about you?

Trust me, you don't want the glitter jeans.

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The First Week of Paleo: Recipe Ideas

We still have a lot to learn about eating Paleo, but I thought I would still share some links to the recipes that we tried last week. Eating healthy takes more time, but taking the time to plan and prepare meals makes them even more enjoyable. Dinners

Monday - Enchilada Chicken Stew with Avocado  photo enchilada-stew2-610x300_zps44f48f0f.jpg

Tuesday - Trader Joe's Pre-Seasoned Pork Tenderloin (This was delicious and so easy! Highly recommend it!) Oven Grilled Asparagus Mashed Cauliflower  photo mashedcauliflower_zpsef3fc0d0.jpg

Wednesday - Jeremy's Special Seasoned Burgers Without Buns (Secret Recipe. For now :-)) Cubed sweet potato with olive oil & seasonings Fresh Watermelon  photo 0B3CF586-2E67-4DF4-BE97-5724006759F7-2477-000002B0E2D89379_zps6cb189b6.jpg

Thursday - Spaghetti Squash & Italian Sausage Meatballs with Spaghetti Sauce Cubed sweet potato  photo spaghettisquash_zps7022db1a.jpg

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Burgers, sweet potatoes, and watermelon again. It was just so yummy the first time.

Sunday - Leftovers again.

Lunches -

For lunches, we mostly ate leftovers from our dinners and salads. I also boiled a few chicken breasts and we packed them with bbq sauce.

Breakfasts -

Most mornings, we enjoyed eggs and chicken sausage, and I made a smoothie with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Delicious AND nutritious. I also drank coffee with almond milk.  photo 2380F45A-D7DD-4460-8D0C-1CFE359DAB4C-2477-000002B0F18FFA91_zps7941802d.jpg

Snacks and other treats -

We satiated our desire for something sweet with bits of all natural dark chocolate and Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. We switched from cow's milk to almond milk months ago, and this dark chocolate version was the perfect way to satisfy our sweet teeth after dinner.

An easy and delicious salty snack to munch throughout the day is Vegetable Root Chips. We love the Trader Joe's version. It is a combination of vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, taros, and batatas.  photo CAA05C20-FA52-42E2-B1F7-3755170FECB0-2477-000002B0DF1F09DD_zpsed5da4a8.jpg

We also tried a recipe for Sweet Potato Chai Paleo "Muffins." They were worth the try, and not half bad, but also, when you are used to regular muffins, these don't make you want to jump up and down or anything. But they almost made me feel like I was eating carbs. And that says something.  photo sweetpotatochai_zpsb827240c.jpg

Thanks to all of the other bloggers who have experimented with Paleo recipes and made our week easier. I hope this helps someone who wants to go on the journey as well!

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The One Week Paleo Challenge: It's Only The Beginning

 photo 43E39E32-6C70-4387-9E66-D8191A70BC77-1320-00000212E9564BFA_zps2eceaac7.jpgWe made it for a week, and we don't want to stop! The week of Paleo was a success! Some of you warned me that I would love it, and that I would want to keep going, and you were right! Jeremy and I are going to be a little less strict from now on. We have weddings coming up, and you better believe we are going to have some wedding cake. I will probably even eat grains several times a week, put cheese back on my salads, and order a pizza every now and then, but I really have discovered that I enjoy Paleo, and I want to continue cooking Paleo meals, cutting way back on grains and dairy, and focusing our diet around veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts. Our goal is to eat (mostly) Paleo at home but be flexible when we are with friends and eating out. Today, I wanted to recap the effects we have felt from the diet, and I will be back later this week to share a few of the recipes we enjoyed so far.

A few of my revelations:

1. The first few days were rough. Our bodies were detoxing from carbs, and that translated to cravings, feelings of hunger, and a few short tempered spats. We were also learning what to eat on the diet. I used to be fine with just a fruit and veggie VitaMix smoothie in the morning until lunch, but since I wasn't snacking on carbs to "fill me up" between meals anymore, I realized that eggs and chicken sausage in the morning made a big difference in feeling satisfied throughout the day. I still made my smoothie and put it in the fridge at work as a snack in between meals.

2. Cooking Paleo at home is easier than it sounds. Every dinner consisted of just a good meat and two or three vegetables. We packed leftovers for lunches. It's amazing how much I didn't miss carbs in our dinners. Mind you, when I saw a billboard for cheese dip or smelled the fresh bread at the grocery store, that was a different story. But since all we had at home was things we were allowed to eat, winning was easy.

3. I discovered that some people eat dark chocolate on Paleo, and we indulged in a little bit every day. It kept us sane. Commence the judging :-)

4. Things I would miss the most if I ate strictly Paleo for the rest of my life: cheese, dinner rolls, cereal, rice for Asian food (Sushi and Hibachi especially), black beans, and peanut butter.

Things Jeremy would miss the most if he ate strictly Paleo for the rest of his life: sugary drinks like sweet tea and lemonade (good 'ol Georgia boy right there), ketchup, bread, cheese, pizza.

5. Shopping Paleo ain't cheap. Meat and produce are some of the most expensive things at the supermarket. I believe eating healthy is worth it, but it is something to consider.

6. We ended our week of Paleo with a date night to Cheesecake Factory and celebrated our success by breaking all the rules (bread, rice, cheese, and tortilla chips all included). I could automatically tell a difference in the way I felt after one splurge meal. Was it worth it for delicious food and a fun date with the hubby? I think so. Does it make me want to go back to eating that way all the time? No way, Jose.

Health benefits we noticed this week: 1. No more 3:30 slump. I used to get so tired in the afternoon at work, but I noticed more energy throughout the day. I didn't get tired until the evening when it was time for bed, but I would be ready to get up and go in the morning earlier than usual. It's like my body knew when to sleep and was on the correct schedule for the first time in a while.

2. I wanted to work out. The energy translated to a renewed interest in overall fitness.

3. Toward the end of the week, I started craving things that were good for me rather than things that would harm my body. I was running late and unable to make a smoothie before work on Friday, and all I could think about during the day was that spinach, grape, and pineapple smoothie that would be waiting for me at home, and that  is all that I wanted for dinner.

4. Even when I got full, I didn't feel a heavy fullness that carbs give, I simply felt extra satisfied.

5. Jeremy noticed an overall peace of mind and confidence knowing that he was putting good food into his body. I agree.

Thanks for following our little newlywed journey. Love you guys!

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The One Week Paleo Challenge

I feel a little wimpy. I know a lot of people take the "lifetime Paleo challenge." A big fist bump and a thumbs up to you. You are a stronger person than I. And perhaps I will get to that point, but for now, Jeremy & I are cleaning out our systems with a week of Paleo eating. Moving and a hectic schedule has added up to a few too many restaurant meals, frozen pizzas, and a carb heavy diet. My system is tired, and it's time to get back on track.

Next week, I will document the recipes I tried over the course of our strict one week of Paleo.

We are a pretty healthy couple. I don't buy many processed foods, we eat lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, free range eggs, organic foods, whole grains and very little dessert as a general rule. I try to keep our home pretty free of foods that are toxic for our bodies. We are not totally strict, and I have been known to indulge from time-to-time. I believe in moderation and not letting your diet (healthy or otherwise) run your life.

But, this week, we decided to be extreme and go Paleo or go home. For those of you who don't know what a Paleo diet consists of, here is a Paleo food pyramid which I found here.

paleo food pyramid

Paleo comes from the word Paleolithic. Think of it as a cave man diet. The overall concept is to eat foods that we were created to eat; things that we could farm or raise. No grains of any kind. Nothing processed. No dairy. Basically we will be eating fruits and veggies, meats, nuts, and spices.

Last night we feasted on the leftovers and foods that we can't eat next week.  Then I created a meal list and went to the grocery store.

I am hoping a week of eating like this will rub off on us, and we will be able to continue incorporating this kind of diet into our life with a little more flexibility. Be back next week with a recap of our adventures--and hopefully some recipes!

We Are Homeowners!

Today was a monumental day. I have been counting down for two months, and I am just over the top excited. Today we closed on our house. Jeremy and I are such novices when it comes to home buying, and I have heard horror stories, so I was holding my breath until we signed all of the documents because I was anticipating a loan issue disguised as a bandit to jump around every corner. But he never did. We feel so blessed, and we know this is where God wants us right now. That is a really reassuring feeling.

Warning: there are lots of really big, cheesy smiles in these photos.

Here is us in front of OUR house this morning.  photo 532842F2-4267-4DAF-8199-D8AB47DB06D3-2728-0000026185EE176D_zpsddb5eeaa.jpg And me squealing in the car.  photo 18330144-B6CD-470D-8B7D-D2485BE36F7F-2974-00000279CDD1F542_zps9e0b23b9.jpg  photo 0B7E5312-9280-41CE-9981-8A8C96853C50-3214-0000029519E701FB_zps652901b7.jpg And prepping to sign a million documents in the realty office.  photo 0AECC079-C326-4703-8061-084B60C86ABC-2974-00000279CE227E12_zpsdbea8fa7.jpg And Jeremy dangling the keys and then using them like mistletoe over my head.  photo C61AF0A5-A2FF-4908-88DC-D7A653FC7456-2974-00000279CF53AF06_zps8769e7bc.jpg  photo 1E70BD2B-3B00-4584-ADB1-74F31988D658-2974-00000279D2E04992_zps1dc33da5.jpg

We didn't get a picture of us actually signing the documents. But I promise it happened.

Now, excuse me while I go paint a few rooms. I will be back tomorrow with some photos of the new digs.  photo Signature_zps48867f61.jpg

P.S. Big shout out to our amazing realtor Allen Perry and the whole team at Nashville On The Move. I recommend them to anyone interested in buying a house. They made every step of the process a breeze and a blast. We could not have been in better hands! They also gave us this adorable housewarming gift.  photo C3A14687-6076-4BBE-A12E-E790449493B0-2974-0000027A8408D63E_zpsd9a74313.jpg