Tuesday, July 29, 2014

matron of honor diaries | a DIY engagement gift

one thing that i love doing is putting together cute little packages! when i asked my bridesmaids to be in my wedding, i put together a package for them in order to ask them! i love giving gifts & so this was a super fun way for me to give them something & ask something in return! 

in the package:
green wooden hearts - i wanted to use my wedding colors (yellow, green, brown) so i painted the hearts green. on the wood heart, i put a picture of a sunflower bouquet (that they would have at my wedding) and a picture of the dress i wanted them to wear! under that, i put "will you be my bridesmaid/maid of honor?" 
double picture frame - i printed off a picture of me with each bridesmaid (pre-wedding obviously) and put it in a double frame. on the other side of the frame i put a poem telling each one how much i enjoy our friendship & love them! 
candy - i put all of this into a cute little box & filled it with their favorite candy!

i told you that to tell you this! i had loads of fun doing that & have been dying to do something similar again. so, when Jenna and Ryan starting getting pretty serious & talking about marriage, i secretly started a "yay you're engaged" package to give to Jenna when she got engaged! i had this package ready for a few months before Ryan popped the question. i am not a very patient person, so i think the day after Jenna got engaged [Memorial Day] i took this over to her house! 

one thing that i had such a headache figuring out when i was engaged... was how to get my name changed after the wedding & what order i needed to do it in! so, i thought i would save Jenna some frustration & share what i know! 

for instance, you have to change your name on your social security card before you can change it anywhere else. it will take the card about 2 weeks to get mailed back to you, so you have to do this first thing! sometimes there is a time limit to change your name on insurance, your job, etc., so getting the new social security card is priority!

i printed off the instructions & name change form for the social security administration & added a few helpful tips on post it notes! i also printed off the name change form & new license form for the SC DMV because that is the second step! then, once she has a new Drivers License she can change her name everywhere else!

for the rest of the package, i did a wedding theme where i gave her something old, something new, something borrowed & something blue! 

something old a photo of me & her at my wedding in May of 2013 
something new newly married tips that i have gathered from various blogs & books
something borrowed "31 days of praying for your husband" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (that i love so much!)
something blue a letter to Jenna from me (on blue paper!) telling her how happy i am for her, sharing a few challenges for the time of engagement, & sharing a few tips i learned from planning my wedding!

& to go with the poem theme since i wrote my bridesmaids a poem with their packages... i found & tweaked a poem to the bride to be since we have now switched places where she is the bride & i am supporting her in her wedding! 

what is your favorite thing to do for newly engaged friends?!

Monday, July 28, 2014

week recap

for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black 

highlights from my week:
- the beach trip with my mom & sister was a lot of fun! my 2 year old nephew went & it was his first time at the beach! it was a lot of fun to see his reactions to the ocean and sand - he loved it! if you have ever been to the beach with a 2 year old though, you know it is a very busy trip! i am still recuperating! :)

- Albie has been enjoying his new home! we let him hop around in the backyard a few nights a week & he really loves it. he will randomly stand up and stick his little arms up in the air! he's the cutest bunny ever! he has also started using his litter box which is a good thing since i want him to be an inside bunny! :)

- there is a peach shed & market on our 50 minute commute home from work. we stop there every other week to stock up on peaches & fresh veggies! i am really enjoyed grilled squash right now, so we eat squash multiple times a week! :)

- Dixie really hasn't bothered the rabbit much, but she is definitely vying for attention! i thought she would sniff the rabbit's cage more since she's a hunting dog, but she doesn't seem to care much that the rabbit is there. she really pays attention when i am holding Albie though. she is being a diva again now that there is yet another pet to compete with for attention!

- i've been working on some fun decorations for Jenna's shower on August 2! i can't post any pictures because i want it all to be a surprise to her! :) there are others helping with the shower, but i am the main decor girl! i don't really have a huge budget, so i am going with a simple but fun theme! i think she will like it & i will be posting pictures after the shower!

you may have missed:
you are lovely [a guest post i did on Amy's blog]
a bunny named Albus
real talk // embracing the other

favorite reads:
- i love Susannah's thoughts on what being blessed really means & what it does not mean.
- this is a great post about communication with your spouse & how daily communication is so important!
- this post about Christian introverts was pretty spot on. we don't love Jesus less, just differently. :)
- & i stumbled upon this post about how there's no such things as "i used to be a missionary" and it is a wonderful read!

& a huge congrats to Vivian who won the $35 Starbucks giveaway! :)

how was your week?!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

real talk // embracing the other

this is an installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

catch up on past posts here: 
  the secret of marriage | the power for marriage | the essence of marriage
the mission of marriage | loving the stranger

everyone enters marriage with expectations of some kind. whether you expect certain gender roles for household chores, or you expect your husband to behave a certain way towards you. 

Kathy, Tim's wife wrote this chapter. she uses the analogy that a marriage is a great dance. the husband & the wife are gifted for different steps of that dance. and together, it is whole and beautiful! Jesus voluntarily submitted Himself to His Father when He died for our salvation. He assumed the role of a servant and we are asked to do the same. when we die to ourselves, we are able to love and serve the other.

in marriage, the differences between men and women become apparent in a way that they may never have been before. we must accept and fully embrace the other sex, but we will still struggle with the differences at times. through these struggles, however, we grow in ways that we never would have otherwise. 

it is natural to despise someone who is different than us, someone we don't understand. but when our identity is found in Christ, and we know who we are in Him, that frees us from this impulse. 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.
Ephesians 5:22-29

we were created for certain roles. the husband was created for headship and the wife was created for submission. but both are called to be like Jesus. that's why the husband's authority is ultimately servant leadership and the wife's submission is ultimately a strong helper to the husband. this works when both spouses submit to Christ first - which is why Ephesians 5:21 is before the famous husband & wife passage. 

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 

submission is a sign of greatness, not weakness. and while the general roles are what we were created for - leader and helper - the particulars, as Kathy points out, such as household duties are not discussed in the Bible. these can be different for each marriage, but the important thing is that our differences are honored. 

the thing i love about our marriage, is that we both split up the work. if something needs to be done, we generally work as a team to do it. we don't expect one person to always do laundry and one person to always vacuum, etc. instead we go by *a need known is an assignment given and do what needs to be done. some weeks i work a lot of overtime & Thomas keeps up with the house work. it's been such a help to me & something that i appreciate a lot! 

*our pastor told us this quote during marriage counseling & i've remembered it since

how do you view gender roles in your marriage?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a bunny named Albus

you may have picked up on the fact that i am an animal lover if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time. for example, the picture collage of me with a myriad of animals, gushing about our two dogs, playing with puppies in pet stores, stalking the groundhog who lives under our barn, or saving turtles from the road. 

for years i have wanted a little fluffy bunny. it all started when i was in high school & got to hold a dwarf bunny on one of my many trips to Petland. the bunny's coat was super soft and velvety, it's personality was so laid back, and it would cuddle you for hours. i vowed to myself right then & there that i would someday own a dwarf bunny!

9 years later & that dream has finally come to fruition! we now own a little bunny named Albus Sirius Black! i knew i wanted to name him Albus because, hello Dumbledore! i love the name Albus & although it's not a great dog name, i love it for a rabbit. since our last name is Black, i just knew we had to sneak Sirius in there as well! :) i just end up calling him Albie most of the time though! 

[if you haven't read/seen Harry Potter you probably have no idea what i'm even talking about! but just rest assured that this bunny is named after some awesome characters!]

i can't even remember how the conversation started, but Thomas agreed that a bunny is very doable for us! we talked it over & realized that a bunny would fit well in our lifestyle & budget. bunnies don't require vet visits, shots, etc. like a dog would so that is a huge cost saving! the only time we would have to go to a vet would be if the bunny got sick. they are pretty low maintenance and yet a ball of fun! 

the bunny is actually my birthday gift this year & my birthday isn't until August so it's a tad early. but it isn't everyday that Thomas agrees that i can get a new furry pet to love, so i took him up on the offer while i could! he kept stressing that we were just going to look around at bunnies, but i knew in my heart of hearts that we would be coming home with one! :)
Thomas has been married to me for over a year now, so i'm pretty sure he knew this deep down too!

i really like adopting animals that have been rescued so we actually looked around at different humane societies to see if they had any rabbits. we found one that did have a rabbit about 40 minutes away & we drove up to look at it. this rabbit was so big & Thomas was a little unsure if we could house a rabbit that big. to top it all off, Thomas got a really bad allergic reaction while we were playing with it so we had to leave. we are pretty sure that his reaction was to the kittens in the room next door because he is so allergic to cats, but either way we were uneasy about this rabbit. 

unfortunately, there aren't many rescued rabbits so we struck out there. we visited a few pet stores in our city, but none of them sold rabbits! i knew Petland had them, so we googled the nearest Petland & called them. they told us that they did indeed have dwarf rabbits, so to Petland we went! i walked in, saw Albus, picked him up, & just knew this was our bunny. we got some food & a box to cart him in while we drove home & we were off!

Albus is actually a Dwarf bunny mixed with a Mini Rex so he is double awesome! he is a hypoallergenic breed so we are safe with Thomas's allergies! he will not get very big at all, most adults only get to be about 4-5 pounds! Mini Rex rabbits are one of the most popular pet rabbits in the US! and i can see why - they are small, soft, and so friendly!

Albus lets you hold him for hours & he will just sit completely still! i lay on the couch & he just lays on my shoulder completely content! he is so cute! he has really warmed up to us quickly also! we can stick our hand in the straw hut to grab him and he won't bite or scratch at us. some bunnies do this because they are scared, so it would be completely normal if he did this at first. but he has trusted us since the very first time i picked him up & that is the kind of bunny you want!

where the cage is going to go (outside vs inside) is still being debated, though. since we have two inside dogs, we talked about Albus living in his cage outside. but bunnies are really sensitive to overheating & summers around here are really hot. plus we live in the woods so there are a lot of animals that come in and out of our yard. so my view is that he can stay inside in the cage. our dogs sniff around the cage, but don't really mess with it too much. of course we would never let him out of the cage with them in the same room, but they are used to be locked out of the living room while we eat & when we put them up for bed. when the weather turns cooler we may move the cage outside, but for now Albus is an inside bunny.

i actually had two pet rabbits when i was younger that stayed in an outside cage & so did Thomas. the ones i had were sortof friendly, but it was harder to play with them. and everytime we let them inside they chewed up everything! Albus is still a bunny, so he will chew & we will have to keep a close eye on him, but he is also such a cuddle bunny! he really does have the best temperament & we both love him so much already!

have you ever had a pet rabbit?

Monday, July 21, 2014

week recap

for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black 

highlights from my week:
- last weekend Thomas & i just hit a brick wall. it's been a very busy & stressful few weeks and it kinda just hit us. Thomas felt horrible all weekend & we were both just dragging. we laid low & tried to get as much rest as we could. i ended up taking an inadvertent 5 hour nap on Saturday afternoon. Thomas woke up while i was still sleeping & made dinner for us! he even set up dinner on the table on our front porch & we ate outside! it was a nice date night at home!

- we have been eating pretty healthy lately & only allowing ourselves one sweet treat a week. we hadn't had a sweet treat in a while, so after our outside dinner Thomas took me to Starbucks for a cake pop!  i love cake pops because they are sweet but they aren't too much! they are just a few bites & the perfect size! i love the plain chocolate pops, but they were out so i got salted caramel & it was delicious!

- speaking of how awesome my husband is, he got me a bunny for an early birthday gift! my birthday isn't until late August so it's a really early gift! we now have a little bunny hopping around the house & it is the best thing ever! i'll be sharing more about him tomorrow!

- this past weekend, my mom took me, my sister, & my nephew on a beach trip to Isle of Palms! it is in Charleston county & is so pretty! this was Jonah's first trip to the beach so it was a lot of fun seeing him explore everything! we also haven't taken a family vacation in years because of everyone's school & work schedules so it was fun to have a mini family vacation!

- last week i told you that my grandma had a stroke & was in the hospital. we went to visit her on Tuesday night and she is doing alright. her mind is as sharp as ever but she didn't have much feeling or use of the left side of her body. we were told that the first 10 days after a stroke will give you a good grasp of how recovery will go. she has been moved to a nursing home to do rehab & recover some skills she may have lost. she is in her 90's so this is probably more difficult for her - please keep her in your prayers.

you may have missed:
Jack of all Trades link up
real talk // embracing the other
Q&A // summer drinks
$35 Starbucks giveaway! (still time to enter!!)

favorite reads:
i loved this post about how to find peace in the journey
most of the time God's answers to our prayers are very unexpected
it is interesting to realize how women & men have both believed one huge lie
this post about how God loves like a storm is so very powerful!
i love this advice on adoption for when people you know adopt

p.s. today i am over at Amy's blog talking about what it means to be vulnerable & lovely!

how was your week?!

Friday, July 18, 2014

$35 Starbucks Giveaway!

i am on my way to the beach today with my mom, sister & nephew, but i have a little treat for you! i have teamed up with some awesome ladies to give you the chance to win a $35 giftcard to Starbucks!

if you win - you need to try a blended strawberry lemonade! it is not on their menu, but it's in "the book" of drink recipes and they will make it for you! it is my favorite drink at starbucks & i promise you won't be disappointed! :)

the giveaway is run via rafflecopter & will be open for one week. it is open internationally - i will mail the giftcard anywhere! you may enter as much or as little as you like! if you already follow, you are entitled to a free entry! enter using the rafflecopter below & good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

what is your favorite Starbucks creation?

p.s. i am answering some super fun questions over at Sarah's blog today! check it out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

the wholehearted wife

by Erin, Greg, and Gary Smalley

i am always drawn to books about the Biblical role of a wife. i have so many books on my reading list & about 5 of them are about being a wife. i have only been married a year & so i know that i have so much growing to do in this area. i love that women who are so much further on the road are sharing their experiences and perspectives. it is really great to learn from people that have already been there!

i first heard of Dr. Gary Smalley when my dad gave me his book The DNA of Relationships which was a great read! well, The Wholehearted Wife was written by his daughter in law! Erin Smalley and her husband, Greg, also work at Focus on the Family! i grew up on Adventures in Odyssey and my family even visited there once when we were in Colorado! i always think it's fun to make connections like that!

this book focused on where i have the most influence in my marriage - myself! so it was definitely an interesting & challenging read! my marriage, of course, is made up of me & my husband, but the only part i have control over is my attitude and my commitment.

as a wife, i am created to be the helpmate of my husband. the best way to help him & be a good influence to him is not with my words, but with my actions and my life. of course i pray that my words will be an encouragement to him, but i also pray that my life will be a godly example to him. because, as i'm sure we have all heard, actions speak louder than words.

our character is fleshed out in our actions & so when i focus on being a godly woman & godly wife, then my actions will reflect that. and since Thomas is the closest person to me, he is the one most impacted by my actions and life choices. so although i strive to be a wholehearted wife for my own good, i also strive for that for my husband's good. even though the husband is the head, being a wife is also a lot of responsibility. both spouses can build up or tear down the other. 

i'm reminded of a quote i've often heard, i'm not sure who actually said it because i've heard Oscar Wilde and Albert Einstein, either way the quote is dead on. "Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed." i love this quote because when it comes down to it... i can spend all my time hoping that Thomas will change OR i can spend my time focusing on changing & growing myself...becoming a wholehearted wife.

there is so much truth in this book that i wish i could unpack it all and maybe someday i will. but for the sake of the length of this post i will just stay general. one of the biggest takeaways from this book for me was when Erin talks about honoring your husband. she says the best way to honor your husband is to choose to view him as a gift from God, a valued treasure. and when you see him as priceless, your attitude and actions will reflect that. i believe the way that i choose to view my husband has a very large affect on our marriage. 

i could choose to focus on what Thomas doesn't do or i could choose to focus on what he does do. i could choose to focus on qualities he doesn't have, or i could choose to focus on qualities he does have. i have that choice. i can choose to dwell on who he is, instead of dwelling on who he is not. as a wife i am supposed to be an encouragement to my husband, and i find it easier to encourage & honor him when i am focusing on what he adds not what he lacks.

another thing i have found helpful is to pray for my husband. every day. there is something so intimate about lifting up my husband to God through prayer. it helps me to think of him as a child of God and it helps me to better sympathize with his role as a husband and all the responsibility that carries. it helps me to see him through God's eyes and treasure the person he is.

when i think about what it means to be a wholehearted wife, i ultimately think of Proverbs 31. this chapter defines what a Biblical woman & wholehearted wife looks like very well. so to all of you wives out there, may we strive to be the best wife we can be to our husbands. may we strive to help and encourage him throughout our life together. may we turn him towards Christ with every word we speak & every action we commit. may we do him good, and not harm, all the days of our life. [Proverbs 31:12]

i am linking up with Rachel & Madison for Community Brew!

Tyndale provided me with a copy of The Wholehearted Wife in exchange for my honest review. regardless, i value authenticity & all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 14, 2014

week recap

for frequent highlights, follow me @robina_black 

highlights from my week:
- i started reading The Wholehearted Wife & it is such a good read so far! i think i have about 5 books on being a wife & i've only been married a year! i collect books, you guys, but also i just love reading about my role as a wife because i know i have so much growing to do!

- Rachel & Madison are hosting a blog retreat in October! i signed up for it & am so stoked about this! so many of my favorite bloggers all in one cabin & discussing Jesus, life, and blogging! :) it's going to be an amazing weekend retreat!

- for all of you Harry Potter fans out there, are you on Pottermore? there was a certain article in The Daily Prophet by Rita Skeeter that i am so excited about! for the first time since the books ended, JK Rowling has written about Harry - giving us a peek in to his life at this moment! even though it was just a few paragraphs, any new writing about Harry makes me happy! (and even though it's a long shot, i am secretly hoping that there really will be a book about Dumbledore's Army!)

- next friday, i am headed to the beach with my mom, sister, & nephew! he is 2 and this will be his first time at the beach so it should be super fun! on thursday we went out to dinner & went shopping for beach stuff! at dinner, i snapped this cute photo of Jonah! it's so funny because as soon as you pull your phone out he knows it's a camera!

- last night my grandma was taken to the hospital, she had a stroke & is being kept for testing and evaluation. my dad also is having an outpatient surgery this morning, so if you pray, please pray for both of them, the doctors, and my mom who is overloaded right now. last week it was Thomas's family and this week it's mine - with all of the things that can go wrong, it's a wonder any of us are healthy! God really did make our bodies so incredible!

you may have missed:
passport to fun // Rome, Italy
real talk // why i have tattoos
the circle | what's in your bag?
soap nuts giveaway (still time to enter!)

favorite reads:
such a neat adoption fundraiser! the story isn't over yet!
this is exactly how i have been feeling lately about this blog.
i think i need an awesome craft room like this one!

how was your week?!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

the circle | what's in your bag?

Kiki and Meg are hosting The Circle link up for July and it is such a fun topic! this month's prompt is "what's in your bag?" which is very fun for those of us who are nosy! this was really fun to do because i honestly had forgotten everything that i have thrown in there! plus since i had already pulled everything out, i got to clean out everything that's been piling up for months!

i got this bag on sale at Kohl's and it's my favorite purse i've ever had! i love all the colors & it really goes with anything i wear! it's got a zipper pouch & two open pouches inside! i love having a few small pockets because they come in really handy for things like my phone & gum! instead of digging around for 10 minutes trying to find my phone, it's easy access right there at the top!

PHONE - i just recently got an iphone because there was a deal where it was $1! so i have an iphone now & just love this camera! i have always used my cell phone for pictures but never really liked them. the camera on this thing is unbelievable! 

NOTEPADS - you always have to be prepared! i actually use the spiral notebook as a check register because those they give you at the bank fill up too fast! the patterned one i keep to jot down ideas that come to me! plus, if i ever need to leave a note on someone's car i have paper at the ready!

KEYS - my husband & i carpool to work so normally i don't have to use my keys. he uses his to drive & unlock the house when we get home. but i do have my desk key on here & it's always good to have a second car & house key with us! just in case! my mother-in-law gave me the "B" keyring for Christmas the year we got engaged & it's my favorite! 

POUCH - this came from Elah Tree and is my favorite pouch ever! i also use it as a clutch sometimes when i don't want to carry around my whole purse! when it's in my purse it's used as a pen holder & other random things like bobby pins & hair ties. 

PENS - even though i have a lot of pens in the pouch, there are more all over my purse. i like to be prepared with different pretty colors and enough pens incase all the ink decides to run out at once! plus, if you have enough pens, you can always find one when you're digging around in your purse!

HEADPHONES - because you never know when you just may need them! i have a set in my desk at work also, but these come in handy if i just want to listen to music or if i want to drown people out with white noise! when i went to the library in college, i would always use white noise in my headphones so i could concentrate to study!

MEDS - i keep headache meds in my purse because me and my husband constantly have headaches! i mainly keep this in my purse because the bottles seem to disappear all over the house! i also have lactaid because i just may get a cheese or ice cream craving! :)

WALLET - i just got this wallet & absolutely love it! i carry it to work so i don't have to carry around my huge purse! i just stick it in my bookbag & go on my merry way! yes, i have a bookbag that i take to work! everyone at my office does, it's not weird! :) this wallet has everything though! it even has a place to put your phone & then you can open it up to use your phone without taking it out of the wallet!

CHAPSTICK - you can never have too much chapstick! i am not a lip gloss or lipstick person so i love cherry chapstick because it gives a little bit of color. i actually have chapstick in 5 strategic places - in my purse, beside my bed, in the bathroom, in the car, and in my desk at work. i'm a horder.

GUM - i chew gum like it's my job. i actually broke myself of the habit for a while when i did whole 30, but i just love gum so much! i keep packs all over the place also just like my chapstick! i basically buy everything in bulk so i don't have to keep moving it from one place to the other! some may call it lazy, i call it efficient! ;)

TIDE TO GO - i am pretty clumsy when i eat & so is my husband. this tide to go pen has really come in handy for us both & saved quite a few shirts from stains! it's pretty much a necessity!

FINGERNAIL CLIPPERS - i am the worst at cutting my fingernails. they will drive me crazy & i'll think all day about how i need to cut them, then when i get home i forget all about it. so i stuck these in my bag so i'd always have them if the need should arise! 

looking at this post, i've realized i'm more of a practical person than a fun person! but i am okay with that! :)

now you tell me... what's in your bag?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

real talk // why i have tattoos.

i grew up my whole life hearing that tattoos are bad. tattoos defile your body. if you have a tattoo you are a devil worshiper. (ok, maybe not those exact words, but sometimes it came across like that) and i guess i just don't understand it. well, i understand a little bit - most of those people have been older than i am and from another generation. and you just didn't have tattoos when they were growing up. so it's new and different and they don't understand it.

but what gets me is that some people by seeing a tattoo assume you aren't a Christian. they hand you a track & don't say a word to you. or they tell you that you're disobeying the Bible. it doesn't really offend me, but if i wasn't a Christian, then that would completely turn me off from Christianity. so it's just a thing i like to be conscious of with other people.

but this post isn't about that. this post is just about why i have tattoos. i don't think i've ever talked about my tattoos on this blog before. so a lot of you may not even know that i have them. but i do. i have two actually.

i got my first one at 18 just because i wanted one. i like cute things & penguins are cute. i didn't necessarily want it visible, so it's on my back. i do realize it's permanent and that it will eventually stretch. but i like it! it's something unique to me & it's a fun random fact when you meet new people!

i got my second one at 21 and i was a little more intentional with it. i wanted the tattoo to be about my faith and i wanted it to be visible. i did think ahead about working in a business environment and have it where my sleeves can cover it for future jobs if needed. the company i work for actually doesn't make me cover it up so that's nice. 

i understand that some people still don't agree with them, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. there are other people that just don't want to get a tattoo, and that is completely okay. but i just wanted to explain the reasons that i have them & my thought process. this post is probably more for my sake than anyone else's, but i just like to process through things like this.

5 reasons why i have tattoos

o1 | my salvation does not depend on whether i have tattoos or not.
there are verses in the Bible that say not to make cuts in your body (Leviticus 19:28) and that your body is a temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and i do not negate that. but i believe the Bible needs to be taken into context and that cannot be done when you look at just one verse.

Leviticus tells us lots of things - like not to cut the hair on your temples, not to eat the fruit of a tree for 3 years, not to wear clothes made of two materials, etc. but what is important is the context. the purpose of this book is not a checklist to see if we are a good little Christian, rather the point is to point us to Christ. just like the 10 commandments, it's not really about the list, it's more about realizing we can't save ourselves and we need a savior, Jesus. He wants our hearts, not a marked off checklist.

the Old Testament is when we were under the old covenant. but when Jesus came, everything changed. we are now under the new covenant (Romans 10). but you will notice that i referenced a verse in the New Testament as well.

in context, the second half of 1 Corinthians 6 is speaking about sexual immorality and that we need to honor God with our bodies by not engaging in sexual immorality. but it can be applied to everything we do with our bodies, including tattoos. so if you had a tattoo that said "God is dead" or something along those lines, you would not be honoring God with your body. but if you have a tattoo that does bring glory to God, isn't that honoring Him with your body?

i know that we could argue over semantics all day. but i will dare to say that semantics don't matter with this, because it's an open handed issue. what does matter is Jesus. if you never drink alcohol, never look lustfully at another person, never shout in anger or keep bitterness in your heart, if you never have a tattoo, whatever it is on the "list" - even if you check off everything on your list, if you don't have a relationship with Jesus then none of it matters. my salvation is dependent on Jesus and not how i do on a checklist, and that is the best news of all!

o2 | it is a way for creative expression.
i like color. i like expressing myself. i like expressing myself through writing. and music. and clothes. and accessories. and tattoos. and i like having something unique about me. both of my tattoos are pretty unique. well, someone may have a penguin tattoo, but i'm fairly certain no one has my fish & stars tattoo.

fun fact: after i got my arm tattoo, my roommate & i discovered that the outline is in the shape of South Carolina! it also looks like a heart, but i prefer the SC reference! and it was completely unintentional so i think that is really neat!

o3 | it is a conversation starter.
you would be surprised how many people see a christian fish on my arm and ask what that is. it leads me into a conversation about my faith without even having to awkwardly start one. people are curious and i have an opportunity to talk to them about it - an opportunity that would be more rare without the tattoo.

o4 | it is not harmful to my body.
i would go so far to say that eating an entire pack of oreos in one sitting is more harmful to my body than having a tattoo is. (not that i have ever done that) there is a possibility that you could get an infection from a tattoo, but you can also get infections from a lot of things. i don't think tattoos fall into the category of "defiling" (to make unclean, pollute, taint) but that is my opinion. 

o5 | it is common ground with people i otherwise wouldn't have anything in common with.
there have been many times that people have spoken to me because they like my tattoo. and these are people that i don't believe would have otherwise spoken to me. that, of course, is just an assumption i am making. but it's an observation that i believe is true. people who have tattoos instantly have a connection with someone else who has a tattoo. there is an easy way to connect and start a conversation.

if i just walked up to someone and started talking about Jesus they would most likely walk away. but once we've connected over something we have in common there is a start of a relationship there. and they are more likely to continue talking to me when i bring up Jesus. because relationships breed a sort of trust, and i think they are the most effective way to share the gospel.

disclaimer: i am not trying to tell you what your opinion on tattoos should be. i am not saying that not having a tattoo is wrong. i am not saying you have to agree with me 100%. i am just saying because i have them, it does sometimes give me an extra opportunity & i love that!

what do you think of tattoos? do you have tattoos? why or why not?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

passport to fun // Rome, Italy

two weekends ago we did our Passport to Fun date for June! this time around we went to Rome, Italy and it was such a blast! for this date, Thomas picked everything that he wanted to do & i have to say he picked a fun day!

for lunch, we went to a pizza & pasta place called Sidestreet. it's in North Carolina, but it's not a far drive from where we live. his family used to go to Sidestreet a lot when he was growing up so he loves the place & swears it's the best pizza place around! the first time i went there with him, i had to agree! it's so good! so we cheated a little bit on the Italian food & just got pizza - but i am confident in our choice!

after lunch we headed to a vineyard in the area, but first we stopped in a little mountain town to explore. we walked around some of the shops & enjoyed all of the handmade items! we stopped in the little general store & got a glass bottle ginger ale & root beer! i'd like to think there are cute little mountain towns in Italy, too!

when we got to the vineyard, we did a wine tasting and got to try out 5 different wines! that was the first time i had ever done a wine tasting & it was fun! although it was a little awkward because we had no idea what to do. and the lady kept asking us if we had any questions after each wine we tasted. i'm not really sure what questions to ask other than "can i have more wine?" haha!

after the tasting, we decided to enjoy a glass out on the patio overlooking the vineyard. it was so gorgeous out there! we also got some homemade truffles & that was probably my favorite part! we enjoyed the wine so much we bought a bottle to take home with us! it really was a fun "taste of Italy"!

have you ever been to a vineyard or done a wine tasting?