Marriage Update: 6 Months

I absolutely cannot believe that its already been 6 months since Michael and I promised to love and support each other for a lifetime. Our first 6 months of marriage have been filled with adventure. In this short timeframe we’ve managed to deal with long commutes, go to Hawaii on the honeymoon of our dreams, move into our first home, get a puppy, and start numerous new family traditions.

We are so lucky, our first 6 months have been a “cakewalk.” Before marriage, Michael and I never fought, except for that one time, but I’m not going to go there. So many people said that would change when we moved in together, and it didn’t. They said it again when we got married, and thus far, still no fighting. PRAISE the Lord! I do not want to be married to someone I’m constantly fighting with.

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So on our 1/2 anniversary, I asked Michael to help me come up with some advice, tips, etc to share with all of the other newlyweds out there. Also, look at these beautiful roses he surprised me with! What a guy ūüėČ

What we’ve learned:

  • In 6 months we’ve learned that living with your best friend is easy when you’re in love.
  • We’ve learned to appreciate all gestures of love (whether its roses, coffee, or packing lunch).
  • With our opposite schedules, we’ve learned the importance of making time for each other, no matter what night of the week our date may be.

 

Our Advice: 

  1. Make time for each other: With Michael having a normal work schedule, and me working mostly nights, we have to consciously make time for each other. In our lives this looks like me getting up to see Michael off in the mornings, maybe meeting him for lunch, and him staying up until I get home from work to enjoy a TV show together. It is so important to us to make time to catch up with one another, and to just enjoy the time we have together.
  2. Share the Chores: Nobody likes to clean, but everyone has the chore they would prefer to do. On the weekends, Michael and I divvy up who is going to vacuum, mop, and dust. We tackle it, and then get to enjoy the rest of the day in a clean house. During the week, small tasks like dishes, trash, and laundry are pretty routine. Michael typically does the dishes, I do most of the laundry, and we both take care of the trash.  Nobody gets burned out on cleaning, because we share the responsibility.
  3. Find small ways to make each other’s lives easier: For us, this is mostly evident in our morning routine. Michael has my coffee ready for me when I come downstairs, and unless I accidentally fall back asleep (like this morning) I typically pack his lunch or at least some snacks to get him through the day. Other things we try to do include getting the mail, and tidying up the kitchen. Michael knows that a messy kitchen stresses me out, so sometimes when I get home from work, he has a glass of wine, and a clean kitchen waiting for me. What a keeper, am I right?
  4. Respect each other’s feelings: This is something we are still working on. Our friends like to joke around a lot. And sometimes this gets carried away. We are learning to make sure that when we are around others that we don’t begin to treat each other the same way we do our friends, and remember that this is our partner. If our horseplay is starting to offend the other, we need to tone it down. Horseplay to an extent is okay, but we should take it too far.
  5. Make God a priority: This is my favorite thing to watch blossom in our relationship. Michael and I make sure that we make time for Church on Sundays. If we’re sick, we don’t “skip” we simply watch the live stream to make sure we don’t miss a message. We incorporate prayer before our meals. There is something so vulnerable about holding hands and praying for a meal in public. When we have “big stuff” going on, we also pray together at night before bed. I always tend to get emotional listening to Michael pray over us. He was my answered prayer, and listening to him pray for our friends and family always reminds me just how much he cares about others.
  6. Justify all wants vs. needs: Budgets are hard. We are trying with every purchase to justify the cost. Right now I am spending more money on clothes than normal, because nothing fits me. BUT I am justifying it by selling my old clothes to help alleviate the costs, and to make sure my closet isn’t too full. We also have decided together that costs for the gym, supplements, and healthier food options are warranted because our health is important to us. (So if anyone wants to tell Michael that this includes those cute Dunkin Donuts running shoes by Saucony, please do so! Your girl wants a pair)

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Our first 6 months of marriage have been filled with nothing but love, laughter,  and living life to the fullest. All I can say that if the rest of our lives are anything like these last 6 months, I am in for a big treat! Does anyone have any tips for us for these next 6 months?

xoxo, Mrs. Z

Sundays are my favorite

Every week, you see snapchats, Facebook posts, and everything in between saying “TGIF” or “Saturdays are for the boys.” But in all reality, Sundays are where its at. Whether you consider it the beginning or the end to a week- Sundays always end up being the BEST day. Here is a breakdown of the little things that bring me the most joy on a Sunday!

Since moving into our home, we have developed a pretty standard Sunday routine. Our morning starts like any other- dogs, coffee, breakfast. But then we go to church. We LOVE our church. The worship team is outstanding, the pastor always delivers a God-filled message, and everyone in the congregation is so nice and so welcoming.

After spending some time in worship, we typically go to the gym. During the week, Michael and I don’t get to workout together (mostly because I am not going to wake up at 4:45) but on the weekends, we love being able to go together. Sunday’s are also grocery days, and we frequent Lowes Foods. (FYI with a student ID you get 10% off on Sundays– you’re welcome).

Our afternoons are never the same, but we have the same goals in mind- do  a little cleaning, and do something fun. There is something so relaxing when you start your week off with a (somewhat) tidy home. We typically identify our problem area of that week (whether its the floors, kitchen, or a junk pile), and we tackle it.

You can’t spend your whole Sunday doing chores, God said we have to have a day of rest! With the weather getting warmer, we are spending more time outside, and yesterday we played basketball in our driveway. To be honest with everyone, we are terrible, but check back in later after we practice more! Not too mention, there is a new ice-cream shop not too far away, so now we have something else to look forward to on the weekends.

Sundays are our day to recharge, and to make sure we start the week off right. We get to spend (practically) the whole day together, doing the things we enjoy most. So let the boys have Saturdays, I’ll keep my quiet, peaceful Sundays.

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P.S. If you ever find yourself near downtown Gibsonville, check out this little ice-cream shop. Fresh ingredients, great employees, and an adorable atmosphere!

 

xoxo, Mrs. Z

God’s Purpose > Our Plan

Like many of us do, when I went away to college, I struggled with my faith and my convictions. I didn’t regularly attend church, I didn’t commit to reading my Bible, and I only managed to squeeze in a quick prayer when I REALLY needed it. I’m ashamed that I put God on the back burner of my life. I thought I was in control, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of managing my life. Well, we all know how great that’s been going.

Over the past two years, I have felt convicted. I knew I needed to get back to church, to begin devoting more quiet time, and to make an effort on my relationship with God. I’m proud to say that I have now began regularly attending church, and reading the Word more than just Sunday mornings. And I’m so glad I have my priorities straight again.

Recently I have heard of Annie F. Downs, and her book, “100 Days to Brave.” I knew that this daily devotional would help me to find my fire in my faith again, so when I found it on sale at Target this past Saturday, I had to have it. I almost waited to start the journey to bravery until April 1, I thought that would make more sense- but something told me to start Sunday, so I did. Now before I get into the meat of today’s post I want to preface you with this- the timeline is important, it may look like I’m writing in a diary, but for you to read and understand the power of this post, I need you to know the timeline.

March 4:

Day 1 of “100 Days to Brave” is pretty run of the mill, introductory to the devotional. The overarching theme of this day is simply that you are brave for even beginning this journey. And I thought,¬†alright cool- this is going to be a good way to digest the Word and get motivated all in one. (I’ll give a full run down after my 100 days have reached its end.)

That night, Jordan Dooley (the amazing Jesus Warrior and voice behind of Soul Scripts) posted a video on Instagram about Romans 8:28, a verse I memorized time and time again throughout school and youth group.¬†And she spoke about HIS purpose, and the weight that we can lift off of our shoulders from trying to find our purpose. Our purpose is His, we don’t control it. I needed to hear that, but it was late, so it didn’t resonate with me to the fullest extreme, at that time…

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

March 5: Morning Devotional 

Day 2 on my 100 day journey to bravery took place while my dogs played outside and I drank my coffee. Downs based Day 2 on 2 Timothy 1:8-9. Again, this passage reminds us that we have NOTHING to do with God’s purpose, it is by His will and His grace that we live our lives. I read that, and didn’t fully digest what I was reading. Clearly I was missing a very important message, but with the dogs going crazy and job application deadlines, I didn’t fully evaluate the words I had just read.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace.

2 Timothy 1:9-8 (ESV)

March 5: Lunch Reading

I don’t typically read books for fun. I used to, but college got in the way of being able to read for the fun of it. This year, I have time to, so I began reading Emily Ley’s “Grace not Perfection.” The overarching theme of the book is to find joy in the simple things, to give up control of the chaos, and to move on when life isn’t perfect rather than dwell on the imperfections. It is ¬†a powerful read, I highly suggest it.

So yesterday while eating my lunch, I pick up where I left off weeks before- Chapter 5. Now Emily doesn’t start her chapters the same each time, she opens with quotes or Bible verses, whichever is relevant for that chapter. Chapter 5’s opening remarks contained Proverbs 19:21. The moment I read that verse, it hit me, God had been trying to remind me of His purpose for my life for 2 days straight. I couldn’t even finish the chapter, I was truly swept away- God had been trying to get a message across to me for 2 days and I kept brushing it off.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

God’s Purpose for Our Lives

We are mere humans with all of these plans we think we are supposed to be following, and when they don’t pan out, we get frustrated with ourselves. All 3 of these passages of Scripture highlight that while we may have many plans, and those plans may fail, there is hope because God’s purpose for us will prevail. In order to allow that to happen, we need to be patient and understand that whatever happens, when it happens, is going to be far greater than anything we could have planned on our own.

I hear you God

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All of those inspirational ladies wrote (or spoke) of God’s purpose at different times, only for me to stumble across them, and find myself swept away by the power of Christ. There was no clearer way I could’ve truly understood that the purpose of my life, my plans, aren’t mine to make- its by God’s purpose.

I mean WOW right? The Lord spoke to me yesterday and instantaneously I experienced a feeling of peace and comfort about my life and my future. I was fired up about the power of Christ, His assurance of my future, and all of my worries and frustrations of my job search were swept away.¬†I am at complete peace with where I’m at right now and comforted in my future because I have been reminded of His will for my life.

The Lord spoke to me on the second day of me incorporating a daily devotional. I repeat SECOND day. Imagine all of the things we miss when we don’t give God the time He deserves. All of the things I’ve missed over the years? I don’t want to think about it. Now these devotionals are 5 minutes. In that short time frame, over the course of 2 days, my life has been changed. I have the peace I had long been searching for, but never found because I didn’t look in the one place that mattered.

I am truly in awe of the work and convictions that are happening in my life the more focus I put on worshipping Christ. He is all knowing, all powerful, and the only one who can truly know what my future holds. Why did I ever doubt Him?

I hope that my testimony of returning back to a life of dedication and devotional will inspire you to pick up a Bible today, a devotional, anything. It’s truly amazing what simply 5 minutes a day can do in your life. Please share my story of trusting God’s purpose with anyone you feel may need to hear it this rainy Tuesday.

-Mrs. Z

 

Lessons From a Puppy

If you follow me on Instagram (mrszblog), you know that a little over a week ago, I adopted a third dog. A 2 month old Hound mix to be exact. Why would I do that to us? We already had 2 dogs relatively young & energetic. Well, my in-laws are wanting a puppy. So I went with my mother in (love) to the shelter for her to adopt an adorable collie puppy. Much to our surprise, 10 other people also wanted a dog from the same litter, 4 of which slept in the parking lot of the shelter overnight. It was like black Friday shopping for puppies- sheer madness.

Even after the collies were adopted, we decided to go look at the other puppies. As soon as we walked into that fluorescent- lit, creepy back room, my eyes locked on a scared and adorable black & white puppy in the farthest back corner. She was petrified. Shaking, and stiff when I tried to pet her, which I would be too if I just watched 10 other people choose a dog that wasn’t me. We had to pull her out of her cage, and as soon as I held her she immediately became calm, trusting me, in that moment, to show her love and attention. My heart melted. In a matter of 5 minutes, we watched that shy puppy in the corner become full of life and pure happiness. I was sold, she had to be mine.

Soon after, we realized that my sweet little puppy was spunky- full of character and did everything with a little sass (even more proof she was meant to be my dog). And so, with a personality like that, she became “Minnie Pearl.”¬†Going into week 2 with Minnie Pearl, and she has taught and reminded me of so many of life’s greatest lessons. Cheesy I know, but puppies turn your life upside down, and with the right mentality, it is always for the better.

Life lesson #1- Be PRESENT

When you have a new puppy, you do everything with one eye on it, making sure there aren’t any accidents, and nothing destroyed. This leaves little time for much of anything else. Because of that, I’ve been more unplugged from social media for the past 2 weeks. Focusing my time on myself, Michael, and our dogs is much more rewarding than skimming through staged pictures of people I don’t even talk to. I’m living in the moment, not staging it to appear perfect and “goals” worthy. I could go on a whole social media rant, but I’ll spare you. Point black, puppies make you analyze your priorities, and become more present in your everyday life, and the beauty it can have.

Life Lesson #2- Stay CURIOUS

Curiosity drives the mind. Before Minnie Pearl, I was okay with doing the same day to day activities- clean, work, entclix, etc. Over the past week, I have watched Minnie learn from our other dogs and pick up some of their (annoying) habits. She stares off into the backyard, mesmerized by the leaves blowing or the birds flying. And funniest of all, Minnie watches TV. I’m not sure what life was like for her before the shelter, but Minnie is curious about everything. Over the past week, I’ve began spending more time outside, quietly reflecting, praying, and enjoying nature’s beauty. I’ve began reading more, something I used to love, but quit making time for. I’m making time for morning devotionals again, and catching up on the news. Staying curious through life will help stimulate your brain and make you a more well-rounded individual.

Life Lesson #3- LOVE unconditionally

Yes, everyone knows to treat others how you would want to be treated, but how many of us allow prejudgements to determine our interactions with others? I know I have. In my small restaurant, there is new family drama every day- Susie did this, John said that. At first, I was allowing the gossip I heard determine my thoughts on that person, without knowing anything else. We do this all the time.

Puppies love unconditionally, no matter who it is, they are going to show affection and happiness to whoever they come into contact with. Why then is it so hard for humans to do the same? Two of the easiest things to to is to spread joy and show compassion. Yet we allow judgements, based on little to nothing, to cloud our ability to love unconditionally.

 

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Yes, our life is now way more chaotic with 3 dogs. Yes, all of our friends think we’re crazy. But the joy, love, and entertainment Minnie Pearl brings makes it all worth it. Michael and I are learning how each of us handles more responsibility, training, and less structure, all of which will better prepare us for when we do decide to start a family.

xoxo, Mrs. Z

What’s Cooking Wednesday

Wow, has it been a hectic week! If you don’t follow me on instagram (mrszblog), I adopted another puppy! I know, I’m a crazy person. I am planning a full puppy detail post for later this week, so follow me in order to get the inside puppy scoop!

Today’s meal was determined by my need for comfort. I have been battling a cold/ allergies for 2 weeks now, and I am DRAINED. Yesterday, I took a 3 hour nap, and still went to bed before 11 o’clock last night, not a normal Sam thing to do. But it was a much needed time of restoration, and I feel so much better today.

So today, I wanted spaghetti! Working at an authentic Italian restaurant while being gluten intolerant is torture. All of the pizza and pasta smell and look delicious, so today I needed my Italian fix. This spaghetti was nothing fancy, no homemade sauce or meatballs, but it is a great gluten free alternative for those of us who love pasta! I basically follow the directions on the packaging, while adding my own flavor into the mix.

Having a gluten free dietary restriction does not mean that you have to give up on the foods you love. I have spent the last 2 years testing products and today’s spaghetti highlights a few of my favorite pantry necessities.

 

Easy GF Spaghetti & Meatballs


Ingredients:

  • Ancient Harvest Spaghetti
  • Classico Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • Mama Lucia Italian Style Meatballs
  • Rosemary
  • Tony’s More Spice ¬†Seasoning
  • Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning

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The pasta:

  1. Fill your favorite large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil (I love my copper chef pots and pans!)
  2. Once boiling, add the whole box of gf spaghetti noodles- broken in half. You can choose to cook half, but I wanted leftovers for lunch for the remainder of the week.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, pour sauce into a medium sauce pan
  4. I choose to doctor up my sauce to add the flavors I like- today I chose Nature’s Seasoning, Tony’s More Spice, and rosemary
  5. Next, add your frozen gf meatballs to the sauce and allow the meatballs to heat (on low/ medium heat, your meatballs should be heated in the same time as your noodles)
  6. Once everything is cooked, drain your noodles and replace into the pot, mixing in your sauce and meatballs
  7. *optional* top with an excessive amount of parmesan, like I did, as well as Texas Pete for some added heat

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Patience: My Lesson of the Year

If you know me, you know I have very minimal patience, in traffic, with stupidity, and (the topic of this post) life events. Now for super honest time… I wrote this post a week ago. I couldn’t bring myself to publish on the topic of patience when I was still struggling with it. Today, I remembered why I created this blog- not to highlight a perfect life, but to illustrate the¬†real obstacles I face.

So here goes:

They say if you want to make God laugh, to tell Him your plans. If that were true- I know I’ve given God a good chuckle the past 6 months.

I have been looking, and applying, for jobs for the last 6 months. My ideal start date- January 1, right after we moved into our house. Well, January 1 came and went, and still no job. Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn (BEEP BEEP), but I have an outstanding resume. Great experiences through internships, jobs, and volunteer work. I have held countless leadership rolls, starting in high school. Not to mention I graduated from college an entire year early and pursued a master’s degree. I’m a prime candidate right?

So I didn’t understand, and quite frankly, I still don’t. The entire month of January, I moped- embarrassed of my misfortunes. Constantly compensating by making jokes about my unemployment, deflecting my emotions. I mean honestly, I never thought I would be the one who would have a hard time getting a job. Most of my friends had worse grades, less experience, and still found employment nearly immediately. WHAT GIVES?

Yes, I applied to a few jobs I’m overqualified for- and I reached a little too high as well, but I have learned a valuable lesson throughout this process… having a great support team can get you through anything. Michael, my mama, and my in-laws are a¬†constant reminder of hope. Michael’s parents send me new job postings nearly every week, my mom constantly reminds me to trust God’s plan, and Michael, well he reminds me of my worth.

I could’ve had a job a month ago. I nailed my interview, and she offered me a job within 24 hours. I would’ve been doing what I want, less than a mile away from our house… but the pay was less than what I made as a part time intern. And I¬†REALLY thought about it. Was it worth it? Michael knew I was overwhelmed, and reminded me of my knowledge, my background, and most importantly what that is all worth. Not monetarily, but the fact that with my expertise, I am qualified for dignified jobs with better titles and greater salaries attached.

Having someone who doesn’t want to see you settle is true love. Because let me tell you, we could use another income. Buying a house and only having one source of income is not a walk in the park. So for Michael to willingly sign up to continue penny counting vs. me settling for a job really illustrates his desire for my happiness.

So January 1 came and went, and I moved on to a new goal date in mind- my birthday. Surely I can snag a great job by February 13th? Well, I applied, followed up, and yet it still did not look likely. Knowing the financial burden Michael was managing, and how bored unemployment had become in just one month, I began seeking part time work.

And, on February 13th, my goal date, I began training as a server at a local restaurant.¬†HALLELUJAH! No, it wasn’t what I anticipated, it wasn’t some glamorous full time position, but the good Lord heard my cry (both figuratively and literally) and came through for me.¬†My hope has been restored, and now while I wait for my career to begin, I can earn a little income while meeting my new neighbors, a win-win.

Patience, as I mentioned, it is by far my biggest weakness. But this year, I plan on changing that, and this job search is going to hold me accountable. If you read my long narrative, maybe we have similar stories- reach out and tell me how you remain patient while looking for a job, because I am struggling.

~Mrs. Z

My husband is my SANITY

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

On this day of love, cards, and all things sweet- I thought I would give you a real & vulnerable look at mine and Michael’s relationship.¬†Have you ever thought about your partner? I mean REALLY thought about them & why they two of you are together? Well for the past month, I have been.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to join my best friend and her sweet family on a mini va-cay in Charleston. On the last day, I wanted to hear how each of her family members met their significant others. Who doesn’t love a good love story? This was my favorite conversation from the whole weekend. Often times when we have been with someone for years, we forget how magical our own love story is.

Our conversation lead to a word or phrase of how our partners make our lives better- through calmness, balance, and joy. This got me to thinking, what one word describes Michael’s role in my life? My answer…

He is my SANITY. Why sanity? Of all the more poetic words in the English language, why would I choose sanity? Let me go back to life before Michael to explain.

Michael and I met my first year away at college. I had just broken up with my high school boyfriend before moving, and I was out to “win” the breakup- which I totally did, I scored Michael! This desire to feel wanted, to prove that I could move on, and to find companionship led to a first semester of naive encounters with immature boys who were threatened by my goals, and the fact that I have a moral compass.

I’ll save the full how we met story for another day, but just know, Michael came into my life at the EXACT moment I needed him to. He put himself on the line VERY early on after we began talking. I thought, FINALLY! someone who isn’t afraid of commitment.

Like any other teenager, I struggled with loving myself. I was self conscience about my appearance, personality, and obsessed with how people saw me. Looking back, I probably wasn’t 100% comfortable with myself until my last year of college. And I would’ve never made it to that point if it weren’t for Michael. I learned who I was, became confident with myself, and found pure joy- not because of him, but because of how he uplifted me.

Sanity- “the quality or state of being sane; especially: soundness or health of mind”

~ Merriam- Webster

Michael completes me. When I get stressed or overwhelmed- he calms me. When I begin to think irrationally negative- he reminds me that the future is unpredictable. He makes sure that I don’t take life to seriously by reminding me how important it is to laugh and be silly. Truly, I don’t know how I would survive without his soundness. His calm and collected personality bring me back to reality.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m thankful to have someone who helps me be the best I can be. Someone who truly is my sanity, my better half, my rock.
What kind of balance does your significant other bring to your life? Describe in one word on my latest Instagram post, or comment below!

 

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