Accidents Happen

There is not much that makes me shake and have scared tears. Yesterday was the exception.

5 minutes prior to being at the intersection of shaky hands and refraining from crying was my mind saying “Wow, honey bee looks pretty today”. Who says that about their car? Who cares. Well to me my honey bee stands for hard work, dedication, and success. I drive a 10 year old car that runs like she is only 4 years old because I take good care of her. She is paid off which in itself was not easy and required sacrifice. Well yesterday left me with a less than pretty exterior of this worldly possession.Accidents Happen

And in those moments of shaking and scared tears I had to remind myself that it was just that- a possession and that no one was hurt.

Thank goodness.

But it still shook me up.

See not only moments earlier was I reflecting on how nice my car was, but I was also on a high of good emotions from great interactions with people throughout the day. You know the kind of interactions. The ones that leave you feeling great because of the encouraging words they share with you or that you just get each other. The interactions and conversations that leave you inspired that you ARE in fact on the right path.

And then just like that, a tiny accident leaves you scared of finances, scared that you are about to get beaten up because of the bully who just jumped out of his car and started screaming at you, or thoughts of anger pop into my head.

It is amazing what happens during a trial like this, but also how much perspective you gain.

I am grateful that we do in fact have an emergency fund for this very purpose. I am thankful we planned ahead and have good insurance coverage on our vehicles. I am thankful we have a second vehicle that we can drive before my car gets fixed. I am thankful I work from home so I don’t have to stress about the fact that the earliest appointment to get my car fixed isn’t until next week. I am thankful that when I called Conner he not only reassured me that everything is okay, but I showed up at home and he had a tall ice water poured for me waiting with a snack of fruit. Love him and how he loves me.

I am confident that everything happens for a reason but even more so confident that we do not go through this life alone. I am confident, just like Job’s story, that we do not go through life alone and the main reason trials happen in life are so that we will cling even harder to God. I am so thankful for my relationship with Him and how it continues to grow and expand.

Just like marriage, my faith is not the same it was on day one when I said “I Do”. “I Do” follow Jesus looked a lot different at age 13 than it does at age 26. “I Do” in marriage looks a lot different 2 ½ years later. So much has changed, so many things have grown my love and faith. I am so thankful for how we change and grow. Proof that you can’t hold judgment against people for wrongful things they did in the past. We all mess up. We all change. But the good news is there IS grace and every day we must choose to apply it.

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Working from home – everyone’s dream, right?

As of February 2014, Mandy and I both work from home. We are super lucky to have enough room in the Fox Den to each have our own offices, but this creates some unique challenges in our marriage. No matter how much we love each other and love to spend time together, spending every moment of every day together can drive anyone a bit nutty. We sat down when she transitioned to her new job to layout our plan for how our new routine would work.

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1) Work happens in offices
Our first decision was to be sure that each of us actually utilized the space that we have in our house. In order to create boundaries, we decided that we would keep work within our offices. At the end of the day, we could close the door and return to our personal lives. One of the biggest frustrations that I hear from other people who work at home is how easy it is to never really stop working. It’s so easy (and tempting, honestly) to bring your laptop with you wherever you are in the house. It has been really important to us that we set up boundaries in our own minds that the office is a place for work and the rest of the house is a place for life.

2) Take advantage of the freedom of mobile working
We are very lucky to be able to work from anywhere that there is an internet connection. In order to protect each of our sanity and peace in our marriage, we alternate working from coffee shops or restaurants with free wi-fi. Now this doesn’t happen every day – definitely not enough room in our budget for that much Starbucks! Probably about one or two days a week though you can find one of us working from somewhere other than the Fox Den. We both find that we are more productive when there is less of a chance for distraction and that being outside of our normal work environment gives us a creative and motivational boost.

3) Just because we work together, doesn’t mean we have to eat lunch together
During the first week of sharing our workplace, I would wake up and ask Mandy what she wanted for breakfast. Around 11:30 I would walk over to her office and ask her what she was craving for lunch. My natural inclination was that we would eat our meals together every day. Even before we got married, we decided that our family would eat dinner together around the table every night that it was possible. I just kind of assumed that the same would hold true for breakfast and lunch. I’m happy to admit now that I was wrong. I love to have lunch with Mandy, but with as jam-packed as our schedules are it ended up causing more stress to expect to share every meal. We still make breakfasts and lunches happen sometimes, but neither of us puts pressure on the other to sync up more than we realistically can.

The great Mike Sohn shared a quote with me a while ago that I really love.

“Don’t let work get in the way of life”

Our identities are not wrapped up in our jobs. We both love what we do and give it 110%, but we understand that work is a way of supporting our life and not the other way around. Our identity is in Christ and setting boundaries around work has been the single biggest decision in successfully sharing our home workplace.

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Pantry Remix

Each year we sit down and plan out our goals for the year and what we want to make happen. This year was no different. The list usually looks like a mixture of goals that are carried over from the previous year because they worked so well, equal parts new goals, places we want to travel, professional challenges we hope to take on, and family goals. One common goal from last year to this year is systems of organization. We function better when there is a system in place to help us be our best selves. One system we use is a virtual grocery list that we both can access any time from Google Docs. It simply states the meals coming up for the week and what groceries need to be bought. It helps us from asking the question “what’s for dinner” and let’s us each know what is on deck so that we can cook for the night. While virtual organization is important for us, especially in our calendar and meal prep, an organized house is just as vital. It helps me see what we are running low on and also helps us avoid the question of “where did I put the maple extract”. Recently I tackled our pantry in order to make it more organized and help us achieve our goal of “systems of organization”. Here is the before:

Before PantryI did a quick purge of the items that had expired or that had been in there since we moved. I then organized things by type and relabeled some of the existing baskets. In addition to the current baskets, I ordered a few more matching turquoise ones to hold onto all of the baking supplies and drinks.

Pantry AfterOverall, I think it was an improvement to get bigger baskets and reorganize where things belong in the pantry. It isn’t picture perfect but at least everything has a place now.

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Money Monday: Decorating Truths

I wish my home looked like the Pottery Barn Catalog. I wish I could snap my fingers and everything would be color coordinated, matching, and there would be brand new items throughout my house. But that isn’t real life. That is the made up fairytale that people post on their highlight reels of Instagram and Facebook. Real life is being on a budget, not buying unnecessary items on credit, and using items until they are broken. This past weekend we actually bought a new cutting board. Not because we wanted the latest and greatest cutting board, but because ours was over 3 years old (thank you dorm room kitchen gadgets). Slowly our house has become decorated over the years of our marriage. It has been a slow process, but required delayed gratification and saving to ensure we were getting exactly what we wanted. It involved a little elbow grease to sew pillows or paint furniture thrifted from our parent’s basement. In hind sight, I am happy our first couch was a yard sale score. It allowed us to move to three different houses and not worry about the well-being of the couch. It allowed us to save money for a new couch when we did move, and allowed us to realize what we really needed in a couch. (Hello optimal nap time location).Guest Bedroom

Sometimes when you end up using hand-me-downs, do a little DIY (like the headboard above), or forgo the latest catalog release, you appreciate what you do have and can decorate with meaningful items. We don’t have random art from Homegoods on our walls. Instead, we have pictures that give us a glimpse into our memories and travels. We have wall art that we created together or that has an actual meaning. So I encourage you to take the time to decorate. Don’t feel like you have to have your home looking Pinterest-worthy right off the bat because that will just induce unnecessary stress. The best home is one built up over time so enjoy the process. Unsubscribe from the latest catalogs if you have to! Find inspiration to create vignettes on a budget using what you already have. Maybe it is a vase from your wedding or candles from your reception that you can re-purpose. Maybe it is using that floral bedspread from your grandmother to create some framed art. Whatever it is, get creative and leave the walls blank if you have to. Don’t settle, but also don’t rush in to spending what isn’t there.

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Being Transparent

Right now I am being challenged with thoughts and feelings on fear. The fear of not being good enough, not having the right words to say all the time, the fear of not doing enough, the fear of not being transparent and the outside world looking in with the only view being perfection. The fear of even typing these words and pressing publish on these thoughts for all the world to see. I am far from perfect and want to be transparent. “To name your fears is to destroy them” so here goes.(Image via Making Things Happen Tumblr)

(Image via Making Things Happen Tumblr)

We feel God calling us in a specific direction right now. It is a scary direction but has us clinging on tight to God knowing that when it does happen, it is only from him. His plans are bigger than anything we could dream up for ourselves. The direction we are moving right now is not a direction I would have planned for myself or for our marriage. Nothing bad, just a bigger plan, a more public display of our lives than I would have planned on my own. But that is the beauty of it. It is scary to step outside of our comfort zone and completely trust the ultimate planner. My quiet time has been filled with studying the people who clearly put their fear out there. Moses, Jonah, Elijah. These well-known people in the bible who accomplished great things all had a period of self-doubt and fear. They all wanted to quit. They all were scared to keep moving. They cried out and faced a specific set of challenges, but ultimately God was with them the whole time and constantly provided provision. That is my prayer right now. For provision. The big scary things we are called to do right now require a lot of faith, pushing aside fear and doubt, and provision for the right person to come along to partner with the plan. Today I find comfort in “My heart will not fear, I will be confident”- Psalms 27:3. What great hope that is found in that verse! Note to self- be confident, embrace the scary direction and cling to God because that IS what matters most. Taking this weekend to feel the fear and do it anyways.

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Southern Weddings Feature

One of my favorite things that Conner and I do is make time to reconnect after busy travel weeks. With us both on the road fairly often for work, we make it a priority to spend precious moments together over a tradition we created called “Post Travel Breakfasts”. Simply put, it is just the two of us waking up early, eating pastry goodness or a few scrambled eggs, and rehashing what was missed during the time apart. Yes technology helps us stay connected when we are away, but nothing beats a little face to face time unplugged from the world.Mandy_and_Conner_015-3358351508-O

Recently Gracie Blue Photography captured one of our little traditions and today Southern Weddings is featuring it! Thank you for including us in your Southern Newlywed Feature.Mandy_and_Conner_034-3358361751-O

If you are new here and looking for other ways we get creative with our dates, check out these posts:

Envelope Date

Weekend Getaway Date

Volunteer Date

Strawberry Picking Date

Date Your Husband

Indoor Camping Movie Night

If you want to follow along with our daily married life journey you can find us on Instagram at @mandyandconner. If you are new here, leave a comment and say hello so that we can get to know you!

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Rim Hugger: Paris

We recently took a trip across the pond to visit our great friends in Ireland. During that trip, we took a little whirlwind hop to Paris and crammed about five days of sightseeing into less than two. We did some awesome stuff while we were there including walking up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, finding a perfect C & M lock on the Pont des Arts, and singing “Aux Champs-Élysées” with random French people at a cafe in Montmartre. We even napped on the lawn of the Louvre! It was a great trip, but you know that we couldn’t visit a new city without grabbing another places for the Rim Hugger list!

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We woke up early on our second day there and enjoyed a great breakfast from our AirBNB host. From there we hopped on the Metro towards l’Arc de Triomphe.

2014-06-17 12.22.28I had done some research and came up with a route that would take us by as many iconic Parisian sights as possible. From the Arc, we headed down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and past all of the mega stores like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Disney, and Lacoste. From there we continued past the Obelisk and through the lawn outside the Louvre.

2014-06-17 12.29.50Finally we crossed the Seine and finished our run at Notre Dame Cathedral. It was an awesome morning! We were able to grab lunch and coffee at a little cafe near Notre Dame and just soak in the city. Definitely one to remember!

2014-06-17 13.07.01-1Check out the rest of the Rim Hugger list and follow #rimhuggerlist on social media!


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