Autumn is Welcome!


Michael and I have a habit of doing fun things together and completely forgetting to bring a nice camera. If it weren’t for the existence of the camera phone we would have absolutely no documentation of our first year of marriage – or much of our dating life for that matter. I know I must sound like a broken record because I’ve talked about this before!
This weekend was beautiful: temperatures in the low 70’s, sunny with gigantic white clouds, a cool breeze. It had to be celebrated. We did so by taking a long stroll along the nearby greenway and talking about the things we’re looking forward to in the Fall.
AND I TOOK A FEW PICTURES. This is noteworthy and I’d like you to celebrate these baby steps along with me. 🙂

It’s Spring and here’s an essay

Huntsville, Alabama was labeled “The Valley of the Sickness” by the Native Americans who once lived here: a factoid I was told recently while at the doctor. I’ve been very wrapped up in this new thing in my life called allergies.

Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

Perhaps you’re life-long enemies?

Well. They’re new to me and to be perfectly blunt — they are rubbish.

So there’s that for you. In other springtime news, the grass is green and trees are blooming! (See photo above if you don’t believe me.) I’ve been walking around with my mouth agape and my iPhone camera at the ready. It seems that the valley (of the sickness) is waking up after her winter hibernation and is proudly displaying all the beauty she kept pent-up within her for months. I love driving around town just to see what trees have changed in the last week and which fields are now brilliant with color. Witnessing seasonal changes is one of the delights of moving to a new place in my opinion.

Hey! Let’s completely bounce off the topic at hand. I’d love to share just a little bit of my inward life with you in the most rambling way possible. 😉 It’s how I do it.

Care to join me on a little journey of the memory?

It was spring and I was 22. I was putting the finishing touches on my degree in Public Administration, working hard to complete all upper-division courses in a shockingly small window of time. I held a 21 unit course-load, had two internships for government agencies and tutored students in English on the side. Life was full and I was just barely hanging onto my health and sanity. When graduation day finally arrived I was riding high on a cloud of glee (albeit zombie-like glee.) This was a time of triumph and confidence: I had persevered through a challenging season and made it to the finish line feeling more in love with my God and in tune with my self than I’d ever been before.

Just a few short months later and my mountain-top had turned into a basin. I returned to my parents’ home – of my own accord and for multiple reasons – and felt like my life had taken at least two steps in the wrong direction. I applied for countless jobs and was met with an equal number of rejections. I felt entirely alone in my struggle to maintain confidence in my value as a person. I began to doubt my abilities as a young professional as well as my desirability as a prospective employee. My faith went through a dry season. I had no grasp of the Lord’s direction for my life. Life was utterly blah. (Which is totally a legit psychological description according to the DSM.) And it stayed blah for a good while.

Fast forward two years! (You were getting depressed, huh? Don’t worry, we’re back on a mountain-top and the view is fiiiiiiine.) I was again in a place of strength: I had worked on my relationship with the Lord and was experiencing the awesome combination of head knowledge and heart feeling in my faith. I had worked hard at my job (Yes! I did eventually land a job or actually a job landed in my lap) and felt like I had gained plenty of experience and honed some of my marketable skills. I’d met my future husband and I was a bride, loved and pursued.  This was a really REALLY great season.

After a quick jump over one year we find ourselves in real-time. Like, this year, this month, today. Let’s call this season a valley – not a basin but definitely not a mountaintop. Yep, it’s a valley (of the sickness! Ha, just kidding. But also not kidding.) And gosh darn-it, if life isn’t kicking my butt right now. I’ve found myself in a weird state of insecurity about just what on earth I’m supposed to be doing with my life. What are my dreams again? What are my strengths again? I think maybe I’ve lost them. Where do I fit in here? And oh my gosh, I live in Alabama. I LIVE IN ALABAMA. Am I even okay with that?

This is Natalie, reporting to you live from the valley (of the sickness) with much sneezing and itching of the eyes, and much questioning of the spirit.

(And also with much thankfulness for a wonderful husband who is not only my confidante but also a veteran sufferer of the allergies.)

Home Sweet New Home

Alternate Title: Home Sweet New Home +  Our First Married Thanksgiving {and accompanying mishaps.}

Moving is great fun!
Sort of.
Okay, not really.

Perhaps it would be fun if everything was always as organized as the picture above! But alas… life is not exactly Good Housekeeping Magazine.

The last couple weeks have been somewhat of a tumultuous experience with our move from Kentucky to Alabama occurring over Thanksgiving weekend. We had plenty of loose ends to tie up before leaving Kentucky and several logistics to schedule for our arrival in Alabama; the result was plenty of hours on the phone or composing email correspondences, writing to-do lists, running errands, getting our carpets cleaned and packing. (And sneaking trips to bourbon distilleries!)

I’m glad to be on the other side of it alive even if I am slightly worse for wear. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic.

Kentucky gave us a beautiful but slightly unwelcome send-off with a display of weather on Wednesday night and into Thanksgiving day. On Thanksgiving morning we scraped the snow and ice off our steps and packed up our little apartment into one mid-sized U-haul trailer. The Engineer spent hours going up and down the stairs to our apartment and arranging the items around in the trailer to maximize space and maintain the correct weight distribution while I was a little bit of a pansy and claimed most of the inside work. (Though I did help with all the heavy, two-person items!) After plenty of manual labor we headed off to Denny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. Yep! You read that correctly: we spent our first married Thanksgiving at Denny’s. We’re all about making unique memories around here. 🙂

Friday morning at o’dark hundred we set off for Alabama with a healthy dose of motivation to conquer the hurdle of moving all by ourselves. We arrived at our new apartment mid-morning to find that the power had unexpectedly been shut off in our unit and we were unable to fix it due to the holiday weekend. This was a rather unfortunate piece of news, but we rallied quickly and managed to make short work of the unloading process to make the best use of daylight. The managers at our apartment community have been so gracious in allowing us to stay in one of their furnished model units because of the unforeseen power outage.

Life recently has felt pretty chaotic and full of emotion. The whole spectrum of emotion. I’m feeling all the feels right now. In light of this, here is an inconclusive list for which I should never cease to give thanks:

I’m thankful

  • That I am a chosen daughter of the God, made whole and redeemed by the sacrificial gift of His son who died for me on the cross that I may turn to His embrace and be found pure and lovely despite my sinfulness.
  • That I carry the new title of ‘wife’ and that I am convinced that the Lord shaped and molded my heart and Michael’s heart to live as one for life. What a crazy commitment that is!
  • That Michael and I have the opportunity and burden of branching out (as we are led) on our own, apart from anything and anyone we know to create a life for ourselves and any future little ones.
  • For wonderfully loving and supportive friends and family who have been there through a lot of “thick and thin” moments this year. It’s been a doozy. 🙂
Image above via: Good Housekeeping


Let’s Meet for Coffee

If I were to sit down with you — an old friend — and sip a cup of coffee while talking to you about life, one of the biggest points I’d bring up is TRANSITION.
Transition is the weirdest, right? I have to admit, I’m not always very cool and adaptable when it comes to life’s transitions: sometimes I see them as thoroughly exciting adventures to embrace and love while in other instances I look at them as daunting mountains to climb while on crutches. It really just depends on the day. Or the hour, really.
But all that to say: life is extremely transitional right now! Half the time I’m rejoicing in the excitement of it all and the other half the time I mostly just want to curl up in bed with a good book and escape it.
“Why is your life such a transition-zone?” You might ask. And that’s a valid question, friend.
Here’s the scoop in brief! My husband landed an amazing new job about 6 months ago and moved from California to Kentucky where the company is based. Then we got married and I joined him! The entire company will be relocating, however, to Alabama where we will set up our home for the foreseeable future. For now though, we live in Kentucky with a small bundle of necessities: two camping chairs, a mattress, a decently well-stocked kitchen (thankfully!) and a rather large houseplant named George. 🙂
“What’s the story behind George!?”  is probably one of your first questions. So I shall tell you! George was a one-week anniversary gift from my husband’s parents. He showed up on our doorstep in the arms of a kindly old man who may or may not have been smaller than the plant. He was left in my hands with no instructions other than “You might wanna water it.” I honestly don’t even know for sure what kind of plant George is. Based on some research I *think* he might be a Peace Lilly? Anyway, George is still alive by some strange miracle and I hope to keep him that way!
But George has turned into a loveable digression at this point – sometimes that happens when talking with a friend over coffee, wouldn’t you agree? Back to the transitional life.
I think the thing about transition that’s getting to me the most is that I don’t want the impending change to be something that robs me of the joy and contentedness of now. Because life right now is both sweet and savory. I am blessed with a new marriage and all the encompassing newness of a cross-country move. It’s a pretty fun time to be Natalie and I don’t want to miss it.