To the Man A Floor Below

I have a story that I have oscillated between sharing or not for a couple weeks now. But this story is something that I have grown and learned from tremendously. Hence, I think it may be important to record so I do not forget these lessons that have been on my heart.

After Church two Sundays ago, I walked downstairs into our lobby to head out for a run. There was a group of people surrounding a forty-something year old man who was sitting on the ground, back supported against the wall, barefooted, eyes closed, and head rolling. Immediately, those nurse instincts kicked in full force. Once I confirmed 911 had been called I sat next to the man and began a rapid assessment. He was conscious, AOx4, but had slurred speech and not able to keep his eyes open. He was showing signs of tardive dyskinesia. He told us the drugs he had just took and clearly was overdosing on benzos before our eyes. I was just praying the EMTs showed up with some Romazicon soon if he were to lose consciousness. I was itching to get a blood sugar, a pulse ox, an EKG… but all I could offer was my presence. I asked him about how he was feeling; he told me he didn’t want to live anymore and was afraid he was going to kill himself. He had come downstairs into the lobby to get help. When the people around me asked if I was a nurse and I confirmed, I noted the relief in their eyes. I felt I didn’t deserve this trust put in me, and suddenly realized the responsibility I had in this situation I had stumbled upon. Yet, the training and experience I had was nearly robotic. I now understand why they say nursing is a calling; it’s knit into the fabric of who you are at all times, on or off duty. I assured him we would stay with him until help came. I think it was what he wanted at this moment. He expressed such gratitude. Finally, the team came and he was off to the hospital in a flash.

Something that has loomed in my thoughts is the fact that he was a resident in our apartment- only one floor below us. I probably had rode the elevator with him before, I probably had passed him by the mailboxes or in the parking garage. Yet, I had no idea that there was someone only a floor below fighting for the will to survive. While I propped my feet up on the couch and turned on some silly reality show, someone a floor below was counting pills. “How many might it take?” he contemplated. While I counted the stressors in this year to come, someone below was counting if the stressors of his life were worth living another day.

It woke me up a bit- the reality that we don’t know what those around us are truly going through. It’s cliched, I realize, yet it carries a visceral weight. If we recognized that every single person we encounter is going through something, has a story, has a painful anecdote that formed them or is currently molding them would we all be kinder? Would we smile a bit more as we pass perfect strangers or look the cashier in the eye when we are checking out? I understand that we can’t solve everyone’s problems in this world, but what if we all lived more intentionally. Maybe taking our heads out of our phones and our eyes off our own lives for a second and simply asking, “How are you?” or “How was your day?” to the stranger next to us on the subway, the train, or in line at a grocery store can make all the difference. It’s simply saying to another human- “I see you, you matter, and you are not invisible” that can make or break a person’s day, their life. I know I’ve been there. I’m still there many days. I have battled a long stream of mental health battles my whole life, yet most of the people in my life have no idea. Why didn’t I realize this sooner- that many others probably aren’t wearing their grief and heartache on their sleeve as well?

This man just wanted to be seen. He came downstairs and sat against a wall in the lobby because he knew he would be seen. How can we see the pain around us if we refuse to look up and see? I know we have heard this probably a hundred times, I’m not bringing any type of sage wisdom to the table, but for some reason for the first time this idea, this reality, hit home in a new way. The plague of our society is the acceptance of facade and the taboo of authenticity. Our interactions with one another may be short, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be meaningful. Our words may be few, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be powerful. Our own time may be precious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be shared. I pray that Jesus will give me His eyes to see those around me the way He does, that he will give me the courage to ask the tough questions, the patience to listen, and the heart to love.

And to the man the floor below, I need you to know, you are loved more than you can imagine. You are worthy. You are the most valuable. There is One who sees you and knows you better than anyone ever could. There is someone who knows your pain so intimately, and He died for it so you don’t have to. There is someone who conquered the grave so you can live. You are never truly alone. I pray for you each day, and I pray that our paths cross again.

Los Angeles- WEHO Part Two

I thought my traveling/exploring was done for the year, and yet I have one of my ALL-TIME favorite ever travel posts to share with you! This reminds me you just never know what adventure lies around the corner. The first part was a joy to write, but I’m especially excited to share part two!!! (You can check out that first part here).

Sunday morning, I woke up and went for another nine-miler. I turned up my worship music and listened to it the entire time I ran. My favorite worship song is “In Christ Alone”. What’s your favorite? We wanted to try out a church in the area like Hillsong or C3 LA, but with the driving/activity we had planned for the day it would have been hard to do it all. Next time for sure!!!

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We had been looking forward all weekend to trying out Jessica Biel’s restaurant Au Fudge. This is designed for couples/parents with kids, but we couldn’t resist. Everything about it screamed “Basic girl’s paradise”.

Basically how it works- you can choose to drop your kids off for the duration of your meal and au pairs watch them in the cutest little daycare center. They have tons of activities year round and if you want to dine with your kiddos, there is a precious list of delicious choices for them too. The menu options  for adults (especially the drinks) are hilariously witty & cute. Go check out that link above to see their adorable list of momma friendly options!

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The food was fabulous as well. And incredibly photogenic!

  • Bacon Breakfast Sandwhich: Cheddar, avocado, rosemary digonaise, fried egg, brioche bun served with breakfast potatoes & melon
  • Chicken and Waffles: Buttermilk Waffles & Crispy fried chicken nuggets, spicy maple syrup
  • Vegan Hash: Potatoes, spinach, avocado, & fennel “sausage”

For drinks: Dani tried their bloody mary, I tried the grapefruit mimosa and coffee, and Tammy and Dani tried their green tea matcha latte!

For dessert: We couldn’t resist the vanilla birthday cake milkshake. Tell me that is not just the most darling dessert you have ever seen! They even gave us a couple pieces of complimentary fudge after which I found to be the sweetest thing ever (PUN TOTALLY INTENDED!).

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After Brunch, Tammy took us to Runyon Canyon Park. This is where a lot of celebs will go hiking. See, this is why it’s great to go with someone who knows the area, because I would have never known this place even existed!!!!

* We didn’t actually spot anyone, but we speculated those covered with scarves, hats, and sunglasses on a cloudy day were probably “someone”.

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It was an AWESOME hike. The views of LA were insane. The clearness of the skyline was apparently a rare sight. Even though we were a bit unlucky with the rain, it meant we were able to see this beautiful overlook! But HINT: go to the bathroom before because there are not many options (meaning none) on the hike. I was doing the potty dance the whole way down the mountain.

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The pups we saw were SO. CUTE. I had serious puppy fever after the hike. I’m pretty sure Tammy was considering kidnapping a french bulldog at one point too 😜hahaha.

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After our hike, we went back to the Air bnb and got ready for the rest of the day. I am a neat freak right before I go to bed (like all dishes must be done, all rooms must be clean and picked up), but throughout the day the rooms in our home look like this- especially the bedroom/closet/and bathroom. DJ says, “Tornado Mack went through” . Dani kindly snagged this picture for her snap story- HA. I swear it was clean 20 minutes before she took this!

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Once we were ready for the day we headed to Melrose Place!!! We saw Fred Segal’s (the original department store), and tons of other infamous shopping locations!

We had to stop in Magnolia Bakery, just because it’s too darn cute. Tammy grabbed an ice coffee while we were in there, and we just snagged a whole bunch of pictures! I hear their cupcakes are divine, and I’d love to try them sometime!

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And of course…. we couldn’t leave West Hollywood without getting pictures by these famous  walls…

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Or stopping in D A S H! (prices were not quite as bad as I had expected!!)

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It was a bit chilly and I was craving a coffee or a pick-me-up by this point in the afternoon. All the coffee shops were out the door so we stumbled across Alfred’s Tea. This is apparently a super famous place, but we just wanted some coffee or tea gosh darnit. It was a long line, but Tammy had stopped in another store and said to take our time getting something to drink. Dani had her first bubble tea and I tried the kamboucha! By the time I got up to the cash register, I was feeling the cold drink more than the hot. It was crowded in there!

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Such a sassy little tea shop!

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For dinner, we had reservations at PUMP (another of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants). We didn’t hit Villa Rosa- the third and last, but maybe next time! I can’t describe truly in words how spectacular PUMP was. I swear, it was easily the most stunningly decorated restaurant I have ever been to. Think- garden oasis, chandeliers, fairytale all wrapped up in one place. Plus, the menu wasn’t outrageously expensive. (Yes- expensive, but not like you would expect somewhere like this to cost!). The food was divine.

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AND GUESS WHO WE BUMPED INTO!?!?!? That’s right- Conrad Ricamora (Oliver from How to Get Away With Murder). I think I freaked out more about seeing him than the Bachelor contestants. Ok, it’s a toss up. But he was SO sweet about getting a picture with us. I always hate to be that person, but come on, CONRAD RICAMORA!

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For dinner, they start you off with artisan bread with salted butter and chives with olive pieces in the bread. I’m such a big olive fan, so anything with olives…send it my way! I think I ate half the bread myself (thanks for helping a little, Dani). Tammy- next time, I’m making you try it. 😜

ALSO… SALTED BUTTER! See! **If you didn’t hear my rant in a previous post, basically I think salting your bread and butter is the BEST and only way to eat it, and apparently Farallon and PUMP agree 😉

While waiting for our table, they offered us drinks from the bar, but I didn’t finish mine and had to resort back to good ole’ red wine. This place and the ambiance demanded it!

Tammy and I had the Tiger Prawn and Farro Salad. This included tiger prawns tossed with farro grains, baby arugula, dried fruits, scallions, cucumbers, micro cilantro, and candied pecans in a light lemon citronette. This may be one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. I am definitely going to try to recreate it at home.

I also ordered a side of the wasabi cauliflower mashed potatoes. Not gonna brag, but I think the ones I make are a bit better 😎

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Dani tried the chicken milanese with lightly breaded chicken breast, pan-fried with fresh lemon, served with Lisa’s homemade potato salad with scallions and turkey bacon and a small arugula salad with pine nuts, tomatoes, and red onion.

I have to say- Lisa’s homemade potato salad may be the best potato salad I have ever had!😋

On Monday morning, I ran about six miles at 6:30 AM then we scrambled to get the air b n’ b clean before getting on the road. We stopped into Urth Caffe one last time to grab some quick on-the-go fuel.

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I tried their green tea matcha muffin  with their green tea match latte (JJ, I know you’re freaking out, girl- yes, it was the muffin was as good as it sounds!). Like I said in my last post, it would be DANGEROUS if this place was nearby. I would probably live here!

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At 9 am we were on the road and heading to Warner Bros. studio!

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Lucky for you, I’m going to take you on the tour with us! We were able to see the back and front set of the studio- and it was MAMMOTH! I had no idea this studio was so huge. You see the staircase at the very back of the alley? That’s where the famous spiderman kiss was filmed!

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Look familiar?? Luke’s Diner!

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How about this one? Miss Patty’s dance studio! 

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Mona’s House from Pretty Little Liars

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THE GILMORE GIRLS’ HOUSE!

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The famous Gazebo from Gilmore Girl’s is below too!

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This is the ladder autographed that Lady Gaga jumped off of from the Super Bowl this year!

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I loved seeing the Dexter chair and the Full House “house”. Although, we have the real painted ladies right here in SF!

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We were able to see where they stored all the bat mobiles!

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Dani and I did the green screen for Harry Potter and were incorporated into a video- it was so much fun and the nerd was just oozing out of us!

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Here is my imitation of Phoebe’s famous run right where she did it!

And our favorite- getting this picture on the Friend’s set ❤

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It was about a three hour tour, and so worth it. I can’t begin to even cover all the epic knowledge you learn about the pure magic of creating a movie/TV show. My mind was blown! Hands-down worth your time!

We were super hungry after but didn’t want to take too long to get lunch. Tammy found this darling cafe called Olive & Thyme, and we ordered food to go! Tammy said it may have been the best tuna sandwich of her life and the avocado toast with poached eggs that I had was absolutely superb. The coffee was not so great though. If you go, get a latte instead of just plain ole’ joe!

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On our way out we spotted Katie Holmes. We walked right by them and I took about a million photos secretly and to my elation (and surprise) a couple turned out!

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We then headed back, leaving behind the marvelous City of Angels, but taking some unforgettable memories home with us.

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We hit some horrible weather on the way home and it reminded me of gripping the steering wheel as I did so many times in Ohio. I was under the impression this didn’t happen in California? We looked on the news the next morning and the route we had taken home was impassable and entirely flooded. We got out of the thick of it just in time! (We also made it home for Bachelor just in time).

Truly I could not have asked for a better first experience of LA! I can’t wait to go back. Thanks for sharing in our adventure with us!!!

xo ❤

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BIG NEWS!

I have some news….. part of me is super nervous to announce it because I’m afraid it’s all just a dream that will disappear once I bring it to light…

BUT, GUYS! I was offered and have accepted THE DREAM JOB! This “dream” entailed being a part of a special new grad nurse program. You know… the one I talked about here, and here, and here.

THE JOB!

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But there is something so cool that I have to share surrounding this process. I don’t mean to get preachy, but I just can’t contain myself.

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Lemme back track a bit. Our church started the New Year off with a series on prayer. This TRANSFORMED the way I pray and the way I think about prayer. It is such a powerful tool we have been given, a direct line to the Creator of the Universe. I think growing up in the church I sometimes take for granted the beauty and immense power of it. And prayer isn’t just about asking for something, solely. No, it’s beauty is in the relational element of it. It’s crazy how God will change your perspective, bring you peace, bring you solutions when you just ask! Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”. Now, I’m not saying that Corvette you prayed for last Tuesday will show up on your doorstep (But who knows, maybe!). The thing is, when you are in this relationship with Christ and go to Him, your Father, in prayer, He will transform your heart, your thinking, and your life to be more aligned with His. Your capacity to forgive will be expanded. Your love for this hurting world will be deepened. Your ability to see a situation with wisdom will be sharpened. The desires of your heart and what you ask for will be more aligned with His will, and He wants to give the best to His children. Yes, I realize this life brings so.much.pain. How does that align with this same God? That’s another topic completely, but presently I just want to emphasize His love is incomprehensible and all He wants is to be in relationship with us. He became man and died so that we could have eternal life. He cares that much about us, so why do we think He doesn’t care about the small stuff sometimes? He cares about every detail. He wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. We just have to let Him in, we have to talk to Him, we have to confide in Him.

Anyways, I’m trying to keep this short. So let me just turn this back to the interview right quick!

When anyone asks, “What field of medicine are you interested in?” My answer is always the same: Oncology or neurology. I aspire to be a nurse practitioner one day in one of those fields. Why? These are fields that heavily rely on loving and encouraging patients-hard prognoses are not strangers to these areas. All areas require compassion, all areas are incredibly noble,  but I particularly gravitated toward these areas personally. I have a long way to go on my technical skills, but I can give love. I’d also love to do research one day in these fields to help contribute to the solutions for some of these incurable diseases. I have a heart for both dearly, but I only have clinical experience in oncology. However, if someone were to give me the choice between the two, I probably would choose neurology- I find it incredibly fascinating, and it also has personal ties close to my heart.  But I’ve never expressed how much I wanted to work in neurology to anyone, not even DJ. The choice just didn’t seem to exist for new nurses. When a chance to interview for oncology opened up, I jumped on it, because, like I said- I have experience there, and it is a field I truly have passion for and would be honored to work in. Neurology just wasn’t an option.

The morning of the interview my phone lit up with texts from so many friends and family filled with prayers. I wrote 1 Philippians 4:6-7 on my bathroom mirror and repeated it over and over to myself on the drive to the interview. Understanding the power of prayer, I felt peace. I shouldn’t have felt peace going into a panel interview for crying-out-loud with three other candidates (yes, all candidates are interviewed in the same room at the same time). Our answers were timed and we had five people in front of us to answer. I shouldn’t have felt peace considering I was competing against girls with far more clinical experience, ivy league educational backgrounds, and personal connections to the hospital. But He was with me, He helped me think clearly and articulate out of compassion. I shouldn’t have felt peace based on the situation, but I just felt the Lord’s spirit with me, and He is the Prince of Peace. I couldn’t have done that on my own, but I did it on His strength.

When I received the phone call the day after my interview, the HR director said, “I have an offer for you.”

My heart leaped with joy!

“But…” she said, “It’s not in oncology.”

I grew confused. But that’s what I interviewed for? 

“It’s on a neurosurgical unit”.

Wait… hold the phone. Neurology?! NEUROLOGY? I didn’t even interview for a neurological position, I didn’t even tell a soul that this was truly my heart’s foremost desire, but God knew. Why do I ever put Him in a box? Thinking He operates within the rules we place on Him? Our God is so big, He loves us more than we can imagine. He will give us our hearts desires if we just ask, “give me YOUR desires, Lord, let YOUR will be done.” He will align our hearts desires with His plans for us.

And in case it’s not clear- our God is a God of the impossible.

I also want to say a massive thank you to all of you for your prayers, encouragement, and love throughout this long process.

I have no words to express how excited I am to care for my future patients, love  others in Jesus’ name, and be part of the extended hand of healing.

xo ❤

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a BIG celeb, a BIG Cinnamon Roll, and a BIG Interview!

Hey friends! This morning (Wednesday while I’m writing this), I had “the” interview. I think it went well! Yesterday was officially the longest day of my life; waiting is probably the hardest part of it all. But this morning listening to worship music, reciting scripture, and receive a tremendous influx of encouraging texts made me feel so at peace. Thank you ALL for your love and support and encouragement. It has made all the difference! Regardless of what happens, I have confidence that the Lord was with me in that room, guiding me what to say, and ultimately guiding me to the best position to glorify Him- rather that’s with this hospital or another.

Anyways, this last week I have been dropping the ball on blogging. And once again the blog-cravings are STRONG as ever. Like I am getting mega-anxiety that it’s been a hot tic since I’ve been able to go over to your sites (my girl, JJ, knows what I’m talking about), AND I am so behind on comments which is definitely not okay.

However before it gets too far past,  I’ll do a little (Lol, just kidding it’s not little) recap of our past week!

But first, I will do blog awards! You guys know I am the actual worst at responding, but they mean the the world to me, and I still want to say a massive thank you. I honestly do have intentions to respond to these, it just might have to be in a slightly unconventional way or a bit late. BUT even if I don’t get around to that soon, please still check out these LOVELY people’s blog!!!!!!! Seriously some of my faves here!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

One Lovely Blog Award from my brunch beauty  Chrissey and the journalist fashionista  Ciarra Lorren!

The sweetest makeup goddess McKenz, fabulous Miranda, genuine and lovely Terri, my dose of Florida sunshine Jenna, & the sweetest southern beauty at the Whimsical Pineapple for the Blogger Recognition Award.

& lastly, the Versatile blogger award from the ambitious, articulate, and thought provoking Diwakar Kumar!

 Wednesday (1/25)

On Tuesday night DJ and I decided we had a massive donut craving. We looked up some spots in the area that we could go to in the AM and found this super hole in the wall donut shop that had glowing reviews on YELP.

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I swear, the voice changers on snapchat never get old

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Our review: Overall we like Happy Donuts better (for me their maple was just not cutting it), but their sprinkle cake donuts were AMAZING. So, if you are going maple or glazed go to either Stan’s or Happy’s, if you are going sprinkle/cake, go to Donut Wheel. Still the best donuts we’ve had to date are Krispy Kreme and Patio’s at Lakeside’s (Lakeside is a community of cottages on the lake- one of our favorite places in the world). Just in case you missed our last donut spiel, I have to ask again- FAVORITE DONUT?!

Later that day I went to Tea Annie’s with a friend. Man, oh, man it was so needed in the thick of the stress I’ve been feeling. She is one of those people I just clicked with right from the get-go, and she encourages my heart every time I see her. So thankful for you, Jenny!

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Tea Annie’s is known for their tea (particularly bubble tea- which is SO yum), and their massive crepes. Like tell me that’s not the most delicious looking thing you’ve ever seen?! Also, who here is a bubble tea fan? Tapioca pearls- aye or nay?!

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Wednesday night DJ and I had an opportunity to lead our Bible Study group – actually I prefer the word “facilitate”. Everyone was super interactive and the conversation was phenomenal, it basically led itself. I am continually reminded how blessed we are to be surrounded by such genuine, loving, and Christ-seeking individuals. Something I absolutely love about being apart of a small group is that it’s a safe place where we all discuss the good/bad/beautiful/sad going on in our lives without judgement. We don’t expect perfection from each other and we don’t have to put on a facade when we are with one other. It’s refreshing. It’s an atmosphere of acceptance, and exactly opposite of what Christianity can often be portrayed as- hypocritical. Some of my deepest relationships since we have moved here have blossomed from these groups. If you need a community in the SV area- I can get you the hookups 😉 I promise that was not intended to be a shameless plug, even if it is!

Now Thursday. This was a serious finish-up day of prep for me. Just reviewing everything, coming to a place where I felt confident in speaking without my notes and guidelines, and just taking some deep breaths.

For dinner, I needed some therapeutic cooking (meaning attempting something kinda gourmet). I looked at all we had in our fridge and decided to make creamed spinach with bacon wrapped scallops over wild rice. I had the same, just minus the bacon. DJ said, and I quote, “This is out of this world.” I think I almost choked on my spinach. I have never received an “out of this world”. Like I don’t even care if I get this job anymore- I got an “out of this world” referring to my cooking. I don’t know if DJ realizes how much that made my life right there!

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Friday

We didn’t have any particular plans set Friday night, but our parents gave us their tickets to go to Bob Saget at SJ Improv!!! Uh yeah… THE Bob Saget! Thanks again guys (if you happen to read this). Right before we decided to grab dinner at an Italian Restaurant. We haven’t had Italian in a blue moon and were both craving it.

We found this little treasure called Il Fornaio. It wasn’t horribly pricey like many of the other italian restaurants we were seeing. The waiting staff was some of the friendliest I have ever encountered at any restaurant. Them Italian folk-gotta love them. I sometimes wish that I was born Italian, or Greek. Greek seems fun too.

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Naturally, we filled up on way too much bread before. Where my carb junkies at? HOLLA!

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I had the rustichella which is flatbread topped with goat cheese, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olive, basil and oregano and baked in the oven. It HIT the spot. I don’t usually drink white wine, but it sounded like it would pair well with this- it definitely did!

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DJ ordered the Pennoni Alla Vodka with large pasta tubes with bacon, vodka-cream-tomato sauce, and Grana Padano.

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Then it was off to see Bobby in Improv!!! Ok- I have got to say- it was quite raunchy. By quite I mean really really raunchy. Don’t expect Danny Tanner up on that stage. He actually mentioned that. He said, “People wonder why I’m not more like Danny Tanner, what would I do- clean your glasses and mop the floor?” Lol. That was one of his cleaner jokes 😉

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Technically we couldn’t take pictures, but I needed just one for proof and all that jazzz.

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Saturday morning I had some errands to run while DJ went to play basketball. In the afternoon we watched his little sister play in her All-Star game. I have had so much fun attending theses games, I don’t want them to end!

In the afternoon I did some marathon training! I randomly signed up for one on the 11th of February  yesterday so I decided I should make sure I could actually go thirteen miles. I also am signed up for the Big Sur marathon, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to race that due to the job uncertainties.

**When I get stressed out I sign up for races like people do retail therapy- is that normal? Anyone else do that?**

By the time I was finishing up my run the sun was setting. It was gorgeous out and I soaked up every second of that run. The picturesque landscape continues to take my breath away (or maybe that was the running?)

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SUNDAY! 

Wow. Sunday was one for the books! It was another beautiful day. I don’t know what this thing called “sunshine” is that decided to come back to California, but it made an appearance and I wasn’t even upset about it.

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Below is one of my dear friends named Kim. She is pretty much the cutest human on planet earth. Love her so much!

It was one of my favorite Sundays of ALL TIME. Our church presented for the first time VIVE people. Miracles do still exist. I’m telling you- they do, and this story is proof of that!

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If you don’t read the rest of my post please check out that video. But grab tissues first!

After Church I went and had brunch with my friend, Sara. She grew up in Los Gatos and knows ALL the good spots. (She’s who I went to Santa Cruz with a couple months ago).

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Allow me to present… the most epic cinnamon roll of all time. She told me this was necessary to get if you go to Los Gatos Cafe. I understand why. I’m not a big cinnamon roll person, but this blew my socks off. I took a bundle of pictures because this is too insanely incredible not to share.

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The lesson is… if you come to Northern California, stop by Los Gatos, particularly Los Gatos cafe and order there cinnamon roll. Before this the only cinnamon roll I really loved were Cinnabon’s. Now I am convinced that these are better. DJ says it is a contender when I brought him home some leftovers. That’s huge!

Oh and that’s not all…

We also ordered actual meals because one giant cinnamon roll is just not enough on a Sunday Brunch. I had their seafood benedict with scrambled egg whites (instead of eggs), served over an english muffin with avocado and hollaindaise (on the side). This was fantastic, but my favorite part may have even been the potatoes. Such great breakfast potatoes. Not sure what they use, but good heavens.

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After, we went on a quick walk around the neighborhood. The surrounding area is super eccentric, so it was fun to see the houses and decor. It also was a lot quieter than where we live so it was nice walking around a suburb like that- it felt a little bit like Ohio to me!

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Love her ❤

Monday and Tuesday were filled with trying to stay calm, coffee, trashy reality shows, and the Bible… which do not go hand in hand, but I’m just being honest with ya’ll.

Now today and tomorrow and probably a good chunk of this weekend I am going to try and catch up on some blogging! We also have dinner plans with my brother tonight in the city and tomorrow night we are going to some friend’s for dinner. I should hear tomorrow or Friday if I got the job!!!! I will certainly let you all know!

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Blog Birthdays:

No birthdays this week BUT we do have some big ones coming up next week that I am very excited about!

xo ❤

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Today I’m Terrified. But…

This is probably pretty elementary for most… but it’s just something that is ringing true in my life today. I know by recording these thoughts I can look back in the future and see how God has been faithful through this time. 

Sitting here on this rainy day, I have an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. When most people jumped for joy ringing in 2017, I had a part of me that dreaded the turn of the year. This may shock many of you… considering I tend to optimistically embrace change in life more often than not.

So why the dread of the New Year? In 2016 a lot of good developed in me as an individual. The person you see is not the person I have always been.  I used to live life with anxiety about the next day, rather than embracing the present. I’m always a work in progress, but I see 2016 as a time of growth. That season of transition , although initially a frustrating waiting period, developed into, perhaps, my favorite time of life. I learned to live a life of balance (well at least more balance), I started embracing life in a way I never have before, I started doing things that brought me joy for their own sake, I traveled, and I found my faith again. Up to that point I let school, studies, schedules, and deadlines dictate my life.

Now, in this first month of 2017, I am faced with boot-shaking interviews, hefty decisions regarding my career path, and the end of this season. I feel like I am grieving a stage of my life that I so loved. I’m afraid that I will give up on the “extra” things that have brought me immense joy- blogging, exploration, baking, reading, writing, traveling, hiking, etc. and get lost in the tangle of the day to day again.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be a nurse, don’t get me wrong. I have a zealous passion for this career path, and I truly do feel called to it. I am beyond excited to get started. I even have an interview with my dream employer- I am ecstatic about this opportunity, and truthfully in disbelief that I even made it to this point. At the same time, I know the chances of getting this job are slim, statistically. For a long time I didn’t want to admit that I really want this job. But I can’t deny it: I really want this job.

But… what if I fail? What if I choke in the interview? What if I do get this job, but I disappoint? What if I am not good enough?

Having these thoughts I felt convicted, because, oh, they are so not what our Father in Heaven wants us to be thinking.

Philippians 4:6– “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Those “what if” thoughts reap anxiety and worry. They are lies. These are seeds of insecurity that are not in line with Christ. 

When I am being fed these lies and begin to believe them, there is only one thing that combat them: TRUTH.

Isaiah 41:10“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

God promises to be with us in these times of life that bring trepidation. He will strengthen us and help us. He will be with me and help me in that interview.

2 Timothy 1:7“For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control”

God’s Spirit is not of fear. He promises His Spirit of power. I can have the assurance that I have His power helping me, even when I feel weak in my current abilities.

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

He promises us peace. I can have peace in any circumstance, because He has given us this gift. I can have peace walking into this field even knowing there are endless challenges coming my way.

1 Peter 5:7“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 

Wow…we can simply just give our worries to Him. Because He cares for us, He promises to carry our worries. I don’t have to worry about being good enough, about having the right words, about my inexperience, or about having time to continue to do the random things I love- because He’s got me.

Matthew 21:22“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Cowabunga. I know He promises to give us what we ask for in His name with an expectant hope. Something I am working on this year is praying more confidently in Jesus’ name. If I truly believe He is who He says He is, how drastically different my prayers should look!

I know He will come through on His promises. I know He will place me in the nursing job that will allow me to bring healing to my patients and love them each deeply in His name. I know He will take care of me, because He promises this.

And if I truly believe this, then what do I have to fear?

Something our pastor recently said has stuck with me with great gravity: “Two opposing options reside in the unknown: Fear and Faith. Which will you choose?”

I want to choose Faith.

So rather than my “what ifs” of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear, what if I choose faith. What if I choose to trust in God’s promises, what if I strive for what seems impossible in His name? What if I no longer ask “what if” and rest in His promise?

Going forward, I am going to change the way I have been thinking this first week of January. I am going to be excited and expectant for the future. I am going to lean on Christ and rejoice in His blessings each day.

I choose to give my fear to Him and rest in His beautiful name.

View More: http://julinamarie.pass.us/bettingerwedding

Our Engagement (12-22-14)

On December 22, 2014 my life changed forever. This day holds within it a joy that surpasses even some of my most fondly reflected upon moments in life. It was the day DJ asked me to be his wife.

He was in Puerto Rico when the sun rose that day with his college basketball team. They had traveled there for a tournament, and I hadn’t seen him for a couple weeks. I was missing him fiercely. He was coming back that very day, and I was thrilled that we would just be able to talk again.

My family and I were in Traverse City, Michigan at this time for the holidays- the place that formed me and molded me through my life, created some of my most treasured memories, and was a home and safe haven if I could identify any. My beloved and I had also fostered great memories there from climbing the world-renowned Great Bear Dunes to whipping our way through the ice cold waters in various water sports to strolling downtown with ice cream cones in hand to placing our own footprints in the beached sand of generations before.

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It was our special place with endlessly treasured memories.

I knew we were going over to my Aunt and Uncle’s for dinner that night. I looked forward to spending time with my family in their beautiful home that overlooked the bay.

On our way there I was texting DJ. He told me he was back in the U.S., and I was nothing short of ecstatic. I longed to see him, but I knew that it would still be a few days. I asked him what he was doing on this first night back and he responded, “Just having dinner with my family.” I didn’t think much of it.

We arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s. I walked up to the door and stepped inside. Music filled the air that tugged on a string on my heart. Our song. DJ and I’s song. Then I saw the candles and the framed pictures of him and I from five years ago when we started dating that littered the foyer.

I soaked it up, mouth agape. Slowly everything started coming into focus more clearly. My heart raced with a mix of bewilderment and exhilaration.

DJ stepped out from behind a corner. I was elated to see my love. My family was all smiles, all knowing. He took my hand and led me down their stairs that winded into a beautiful open living room.

The pictures of us that lined the walkway showed us growing up together in a pictorial timeline as we walked along, hand in hand. From teenage kids to young adults, the pictures told stories, and those stories told stories, and those stories brought us to the place we stood today.

He led me outside the basement door, down their mesmerizing stone walkway lined by candle votives to a trellis. Next to the trellis was the bay. The bay that held petoskey stones, my feet in their infancy, and my favorite memories from childhood. Next to the water’s edge was the most recent picture of us on the table, the culmination of our current journey, soon to lead into a future that neither of those people in the propped frame could have foresaw the true beauty of.

He told me many sweet things. Oh so many sweet things that I cannot recollect. Then he was on one knee and in a whirlwind, in a moment, my heart cried a definite “yes” so uncharacteristic of my indecisive nature.

He placed the ring on my finger. Physically gorgeous, yes, but the symbolism was more profoundly beautiful than anything I could express. My love grew in that moment. Words truly cannot describe those depths of the heart.

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We were engaged.

That night he did have dinner with his family, his soon to be family. We chatted about how he drove seven hours from the airport that day, about his trip, and about our future. 

Nine months later  we were married and two years after him getting some dust on his knee we are happier than we have ever been. 

I love you DJ. Thank you for asking me to be yours and demonstrating unconditional love to me each day.

Here are our engagement pictures from the next April 🙂 All photography to follow is by Julina Marie Photography .

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 Thank you all for being supportive of our relationship, and thank you to our Lord and Savior for guiding our steps and directing them toward one another.

xo ❤

Mack

 

An Emotional RoLleR-coAsTer of a Week and So.Many.Updates.

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Halloween weekend and start to your week! This past week has had so much good with a side of a bit of bad.

Shall we?

Wednesday– I had a rough day. Ya know- one of those hump days- where Wednesday disguises itself as Monday. I couldn’t shake the cobwebs from my head and I felt like I was moving like a snail. Three cups of coffee and counting were NOT doing the trick.

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But once dinner rolled around I got to sample out another Blue Apron meal! If I am having a bad day, usually cooking and having a solid dinner can turn it around for the evening. 

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This was so simple. I think it’s probably the easiest meal I have made yet from this company, and I will definitely be recreating it. The homemade tartar sauce was too good, and I never knew endives could be so tasty?!

Wednesday after dinner we went to our first session of the Winter group meetings through the church. You all know how thankful I am for the people we have met through this church, and if you live in the Bay area and need somewhere to call home PLEASE contact me! God was tugging on my heart to share during one part of the discussion. I was NOT intending to “get deep” on the first night with mostly strangers. But naturally, like He always does, He pushed me out of my darn comfort zone. May I get an Amen?! I know this group is going to be such a blessing, it already is, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Thursday– Chores & Such. Totally necessary to waste your time by writing that- huh? OH, I did find out that I passed my nursing exam on this day and received my license in the mail! Thank you a million for all the sweet words on the last post. They seriously touched me ❤ ❤

Friday– I wanted to Fall. It. UP. Since I had been studying most of October, I didn’t get to go into full on fall mode besides eating massive amounts of candy corn. Which is fine, it’s probably the best part, but regardless, my pumpkin-laced-female-DNA was screaming “get yo self to a pumpkin patch!”

We started the day in San Pedro Square at the Farmer’s Market. I love Farmers’ markets, and every time we pass this one I say I want to go. Finally! I love all the fresh food, produce, unique gift ideas, and general atmosphere of a good Farmers’ market. This isn’t necessarily DJ’s idea of fun, but one of those things he will do with me because he knows it makes me happy. San Pedro Square is a happenin’ place and a foodie’s paradise. We wouldn’t know any foodies, now would we? 😉 DJ and I have exhausted Main Street Cupertino and Santana Row, so I think this will may be our new Friday Night date place for a while!

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That afternoon we saw a vibrantly contrasting rainbow against a gray backdrop outside the window of our apartment. I haven’t seen a rainbow in a while, so naturally, I had to snag a picture of it.

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We also headed to pickup our box springs for our bed for the master bedroom! It’s coming along! While we were waiting for the pickup we messed around on Snapchat.

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** Side note: DJ gave me permission to announce he is no longer doing law school. He was originally doing the JD-MBA combined track, but now is just sticking to the MBA which starts this Spring. I am truly proud of him for doing what he knows is best for him. Plus it means I get to see my man more often!

Friday night I got out all my pumpkin patch wiggles. This place had abounding options for the average pumpkin picker. There were pumpkins here like I have never seen before!

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Fun fact: My step dad’s name is Pete, and his best friend is Tom… Mom- can you show him this? I bet he will get a kick out of it. So cute, so corny. Had to share. I tried picture messaging it, but my service is  glitchy- as you know.

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Friday night we decided to take it easy. I whipped up some Blue Apron meals. For myself I had Roasted Acorn Squash with Couscous Salad and Dressed Pea shoots. This and the coconut curry catfish are my two favorite meals so far from Blue Apron.

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For DJ, I made the Spiced Pork Burgers with a “side” of coleslaw. The “side” took two leftover large Tupperware to fit it all. But I don’t mind- we love us some ‘slaw!

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After dinner I received a call from the credit card company that my purse had been found at the pumpkin patch. I went into full on panic mode. While carrying my pumpkin from the patch, I must have dropped my purse on the way out. I called the cell number of the people who had found it (and currently had it). They were the SWEETEST couple in the world. I thanked them profusely for their integrity and kindness. I heard a little, young voice in the background go, “Is that Mackenzieee?!”. “I want to talk to Mackenzieee!”. The mother put the cutest little girl on the phone and she innocently, but matter-of-factly, inquires, “Hi Mackenzie- why did you leave your purse at a pumpkin patch?” Through nearly previous tears I started laughing and replied, “Great question! I think I was just too excited to carry my pumpkin and get home to carve it, so I dropped it without noticing!”.

We planned on a public meeting spot (Peet’s because where else?!), and I ran out the door with DJ. We tried offering them compensation for their troubles, but they refused. They said they just wanted to do the right thing. Then the husband asked, surprising us, “Are you believers?”. We quickly exchanged information about which churches we attend and a bit more small talk. Then we parted, perhaps never to see them again (well not never again 😉 ). What started as a traumatizing, panic ridden moment turned into an heart-warming experience. I still have no idea what led them to ask us if we were also believers, but how stinking cool. She messaged me that night to let me know her sweet daughter had prayed that I wouldn’t leave my purse at the pumpkin patch next time! Lol.

After this crazy day, DJ and I decided one thing was necessary: Cookies.

Break and bakes to be specific: What is your favorite brand/type?!? DJ loves the Pillsbury Chocolate chip ones and I love the Pillsbury S’mores (but they are hard to find). I firmly believe in cooking 1 minute under the recommended cooking time. We decided to save the Pumpkin Carving for another day.

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DJ is the chocolate milk KING. Like he knowwws his chocolate milk. One time we had a blind taste test of about six different brands of milk. He nailed each one of them. He has a list of tiers on his phone where he rates the best of the best. Shamrock Farms is at the top! DJ probably would be embarrassed if he knew I wrote this… so quick read it before he makes me delete it!  Anyone else love a certain brand? Milk and cookie discussions are paramount to life.

NOW: Here is the meat and potatoes of this post!!!! To celebrate the NCLEX, I wanted to do something CRAYYY! So I looked up “Haunted places in the Bay area”. I don’t believe in “haunted”, but still in lieu of this time of year I thought this would just be interesting… I want to say “fun” or “festive”, but when you hear what happened to lead to this story, those words do not seem to fit. We contemplated touring the Winchester house, but I recently went through it, and it takes a while for the tour. We decided to save that for another time. I found a haunted road, Marsh Rd., and a haunted restaurant, The GrandView, that were within twenty minutes of one another. I made reservations at the restaurant and planned out so we would have enough time to explore the road.

Time for the spooOOooky stories:

Marsh Rd: “It’s become almost a rite of passage for Milpitas high school kids to seek out the ghost of murder victim Marcy Conrad, who was killed by her boyfriend on Marsh Road. Unlike the back stories of most urban legends, this murder was real and well-documented.” – SanJose.com

They actually had to close the road for a while because it was getting a bit out of hand with people going to the bridge and ravine where the ghost supposedly wanders.

While DJ and I were driving down this road, all we could talk about was how stunning the mountains and scenery were. It was probably one of the most charming places I have been since living in California. And yet, still it felt strangely unsettling. Now, knowing the background of the story and what actually occurred here, my heart was beating a tad faster than it should have been. I think the fact that we felt so isolated was what made the drive eerie more than anything. There was no one in sight. Nothing in sight. Then all of a sudden something stepped out into the road. My breath caught in my throat. A big pitbull-terrier mix type dog was giving us an ominous stare down with eyes outlined by dark circles. DJ slammed on the brakes, and we waited for it to get out the way. My breath started coming back to me slowly and my heart rate slowed. I calmed myself down. DJ laughed at my reaction, and we kept going, further and further down the road. Finally we came to the bridge and ravine… My stomach knotted thinking about the story surrounding this place. We turned the car around after taking a quick look around and began driving back up the road.

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As we drove back up the road, DJ made some quick remark about the puppy coming after us. As soon as he said this, the same dog ran out into the road again, way further along than where we originally saw the beast. He stopped and stared at us just like before with large, dark knowing eyes. I was like, “Ok that’s it, let’s get out of here!”

Next stop: GrandView Restaurant.

The GrandView: “The lights have been known to flicker or even come on by themselves at this restaurant, even when no one is in the building. Also, the ghost of a young girl has been reported standing on the balcony that looks out over Silicon Valley.” – Hauntedplaces.org

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Okay, despite the stories, and the alleged “haunting” of this venue, I felt like it was nothing but magical. Even the bartender that greeted us laughed at the notion of it being haunted. The view of Silicon Valley was ….. well even now… it’s leaving me speechless. We came at the perfect time to witness one of the most incredible sunsets. It was beyond romantic and DJ and I dined over delectable halibut and lobster carbonara. I probably do not even need to describe the flavor. Ya’ll need to come and experience it yourself.

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I felt like we were dining in heaven. It was surreal. I could not have imagined celebrating any differently. Also–I begin applying for jobs next week- YEEK! 🙂

Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind, in the best way! We have have begun volunteering at church in the mornings, so we get there around 7:15 (DJ) and 8:00 (myself). It has only enhanced my whole feeling of belonging, relationship with Christ, and perspective of the body of Christ. Right before the first service, I received a message from a friend I went to college with. DJ and I have been wanting to get together him and his wife for a while, and I suggested they come to our church sometime. They have plans to move back to Indiana, but I recommended they swing before they did! Sure enough, they said they were on their way for the 11:30 service! I was both shocked that they were coming, but also thrilled. They drove two hours to us from Modesto and we grabbed lunch at the Farmer’s Union together afterwards. It was fantastic to catch up with them and see how God is moving in their lives. They said they felt like the message was tailored for them- it even led them to make some pretty big life decisions.

Because my blog tends to just run on food fuel as much as we do, and this post is a lengthy one, it needs a snack! A smoked Mozzarella & Cabbage Pizza with a Romaine and Apple Salad should do the trick… (And ya’ll didn’t think I could get any dorkier).

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Monday was a SAD day. DJ gently woke me up to tell me that our dear, beloved Spanky had died. Guys- I was a mess. I loved that freaking fish so much. And it was just a fish?! How could such a little guy take up such a big piece of my heart?! DJ was also certainly upset himself. We were both pretty down the entire day. Cyranny certainly helped me feel better with her helpful blog counseling, hehe. She is a GEM. Anyway, we just kept busy, as you will see. We don’t have any idea how this happened, but we hypothesize it had to do with the water. We followed what the people at the pet store told us to a T, but I think they very clearly missed some instructions (no I’m not pointing the finger, OK maybe I am, I am a mother in mourning!). When we looked online they said they should have at least a 5 gallon tank, it should be 1/3rd original water, and it should be 78-82 degrees. They told us it was fine with the tank I bought and recommended to keep the water at room temp.

Our other guess precipitating the tragic event is Clinton or Trump took him out because they caught onto our #SpankyTomforPresident hashtag. I don’t know which it was, but gosh dangggg it was rough. People with beta fish- care to share some tips?! Anyways, I was going to do an update post about Spanky- how he was becoming more brave and spending less time in his barrel, how he loved me more than DJ (but DJ says Spanky was warming up to him), how we joked that he was too good for us….Perhaps he was and that’s why he went to fishy heaven.

We may get another in the future… but for now.. we are certainly not emotionally ready </3. (yes, I have a fancy for the melodramatic).

Naturally, I did what any normal girl would do to feel better: Retail therapy. Usually I don’t care for shopping all that much, only when the shopping bug really bites, but I always loooove thrifting. I went to a thrift store on Monday and went in for sweaters, but came out instead with this gem. I actually do not have a big purse, so this was great and had a Kate Spade-esque look to it! It was only $22 and it’s a Kenneth Cole Reaction. I think that’s a good deal?! I know I have some fashionistas out there- is this a good deal?

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Had to share this beet hummus because it’s super unique and you just can’t beet it!

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Once again, I attempted my pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. I seriously love it, but it’s not quite perfect yet to share. No worries- third time is a charm. I am determined to per-fect this little boogar. I also plan on making my Pumpkin French Toast this weekend- and so stay posted for that sometime next week!

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Monday night DJ and I decided to carve pumpkins. Keeping with theme of the night, I made a pumpkin pie. *The crowd all groans*.

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I also tribed, I mean tried, my hand at chief Wahoo. Please don’t remind me how that one ended 😦

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DJ’s pumpkin was being stubborn. We won’t talk about it. 😉

Pumpkin seeds are always a must. I made cinnamon sugar, ranch, barbecue, and plain salt and pepper.

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Tuesday morning I went running on my favorite trail- San Antonio Open Preserve. Due to the recent rainfall in this area, Thank Jesus, the trails have such whimsical beauty about them. Moss climbs the trees, the rivers are purring again, and the dampness of the mud adds a little spring to each step. It was an incredible run. Each breath was deliciously filled with the taste of nature and it reminded me greatly of Ohio.

Ohio:

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California:

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Tuesday night I whipped up a grilled cheese with mild cheddar&muenster cheese for DJ with tomato soup and cilantro (I try to make things “normal” but it’s just so hard when there are so many herbs- OK?!), and then I made a giant garden salad for myself to finish up the produce.

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Today (Wednesday), I met with a friend for Lunch and we had the MOST wonderful conversation. Later, DJ and I watched the game with the fam. 😦 😦 :(. If you are a Cubs fan, I am glad that billy goat curse is broken, just not at our expense!

Also- did you guys see that tweet?

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Like come on. That’s freaking crazy. We were losing our minds over it!!!! It predicted exactly what happened… Minus the apocalypse. Lol.

On another note, it’s November already- can you believe it?! We have family coming in town tomorrow, and we are PUMPED!!!! Hope you all are doing so well. I’m thankful for this community and although I began this blog to update fam and friends and have a place to write down our memories, I treasure each one of you here and the friendships that are forming along the way ❤

Wishing you a weekend CARVED with joy

xo ❤

Mack

Doubt.

This post is a bit different than my usuals, but I feel something on my heart that I want to share. I am about to get vulnerable with you all, but I am learning more and more that sometimes the most freedom in life can come from a place of vulnerability. I also want to make the disclaimer that no matter what you believe, what religion you are, where you are from, I do not disregard you- I’d love to hear your thoughts. I additionally truly hold firmly to loving everyone, no.matter.what.

The keyboard in front of me daunts me. I have so much going on in my head that it intimidates me. I am afraid that my simple words will not do justice to the joy that consumes me. This past season of my life has been one of growth that compares to none other. Before I begin attempting to articulate in my own human capacity, I pray that the hand of the Lord guides and directs these words to speak to what He wants to say. This is my current story, my current testimony, and it has been seven years in the making, and continuing.

Let’s back up. I was raised in the church and surrounded by mostly believers. I accepted Jesus as my Lord at a young age and was living zealously for Him for most of my life.

But at a certain point there was something I was lacking- an essential element: Faith.

The first time I recall experiencing my first wave of doubt about Christianity and what I believed was my sophomore year of high school. I have a skeptical mind, and I like proof. Then proof behind the proof. I like the “whys” and the “hows” behind every single little thing. But sometimes this yearning for proof can leave little room for faith and a lot of room for doubt. This phase of doubt, however, was short-lived- I talked with people I trusted and respected about these questions and felt settled and at ease with the answers they had given me. For now, at this time, I was satisfied. I believed.

Shortly after wrestling those first doubts, my dad passed away. The first words I barely choked out when I was told of his passing were, “I just need God.” My mom handed me a Bible and I just held it. Not absorbing the words, but just holding it. Surprisingly, this moment further corroborated God’s existence to me. In that desperate of a moment, how could God be what I reached for, almost instinctively, if He wasn’t there?

I didn’t struggle with any additional doubts until I went to college, a Christian university nonetheless. This is not at all a reflection of the University itself, but of my personal circumstances. Slowly, and I can pinpoint just a couple instances, I had become so jaded toward the Church. By the Church I mean by the very people of God. I became resentful. I resented the people that were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I resented the atmosphere of a worship service. I resented basically anything that had to do with Christ. If I were to see what I am writing right now I probably would have rolled my eyes and stopped the minute I knew it dealt with Christianity. Everything and anything that once touched me as perfect and awe-inspiring began to morph into something superficial, hypocritical, and false. I am not blaming others for this- I myself stopped pursuing God. I put too much stock in my experience of religion rather than focusing on my relationship with Christ. People fail, Christ never does.

Here is the crazy part. During this time others probably perceived me as a “good Christian girl” for the most part- fitting the outward mold of “that type” to a T. I knew how to talk the talk. I told people I would pray for them, but rarely ever did. I encouraged people that “God had a plan”. I said the right things; I had been trained well. I slept walk through the motions, I did religion, and man, I did it well. That is not to sound cocky, and I am not bragging. Quite the opposite actually. I became the very facade that I so severely resented in others.

This place of resentment allowed the doubts to creep in stronger than ever. As I promised to pray for others, as I said the “right things”, as I worshipped in Church, in the back of my mind I thought, If there is a God, If He is even real, If I even truly believe this over and over again.

The Ifs consumed me, my mind, my everyday. That is a very uncomfortable place to be; it terrified me to my core.

I have heard all the arguments for Christianity- and let me tell you, they are strong. Lest we not forget at the root of any belief is an element of faith- even those who choose to believe nothing exists. My mother encouraged us to explore other religions because she was so sure of our faith. I took a class in high school looking in depth to each major world religion (and other streams of existential thought) back to Zoroastrianism. I was given historical, logical, natural, scientific data even pointing to a Creator and Jesus being Lord. This is not to mention my own personal experiences that supported the evidence. I found myself multiple times throughout life thinking, This proves it, how can anyone deny this evidence? Yet I did, in the face of the best of it.

It was not about a lack of evidence, but a lack of faith.

My heart fiercely wrestled the “ifs”. I was so engrossed in the uncertainty. These were some serious doubts as I mentioned above. I wondered if we were truly just animals with nowhere we were going, only destined to live our lives for a few years on a wasting planet. I pondered upon these doubts in my mind; only consuming a small part of my thinking at a time, but soon becoming monsters that overcame me. I realized, if none of it was true, if Jesus was not the One true God and if there is no such thing as “God”, then what the heck was I doing with my life?

I would have no identity. No hope. No purpose. No future. No promise. No life. I would have nothing. I would be nothing. And just because I desired for this to not be the case, it became a possibility before my eyes, before my soul.

I begged. I begged God on my knees for removal of that doubt. I begged the Lord to take it from me and allow me to believe with unwavering belief I used to have. I begged for days. I begged for months. I begged in utter desperation for over a year.

But then I begged less. Instead, I busied myself with my studies, with my responsibilities, my job. I prayed less. I sought out God’s Word less. I’ll deal with it another day, became my everyday. I was on the spiritual “tomorrow diet”. I was putting the most fundamental aspect of life on hold for anything fleeting. I worshipped anything but the One whom deserves our worship: my to-do list, my responsibilities, my day-to-day superficial desires, myself

Silence. Doubt.

I told hardly anyone of these doubts I was facing, but I did tell my husband. He was beyond encouraging. He responded to everything perfectly. These doubts of mine didn’t scare him or cause him to even blink- He knew that God would be faithful. But still, the questions made themselves at home in the back of my mind, and the uncertainty caused my heart to ache with a chronic pain that I had become so familiar with. At this point, after living with these doubts for nearly two years, they didn’t shock me or shake me like they used to. I had grown numb, apathetic, and lifeless in my soul. I told my husband that I was fearful of moving somewhere that I was wrongly convinced hardly anyone had a relationship with Christ. I was fearful that I would be further pulled into the depths of these doubts and completely turn away from whatever speck of faith I was haphazardly clinging to, if any at all.

The time for our move came this past summer. We packed up and began our road trip toward the place that would become our new home. Every second of that trip was filled with awesome memories that I will treasure forever, however, two specific stops stand out to me. The first was the Grand Canyon- seeing that majesty, the beauty, the awe-inspiring tapestry- it stirred something within me. Driving up Highway One and Big Sur had the same impact. I began to have that thirst again, I wanted to rejoice God in my soul for whom He is, I wanted to believe it in my soul, and not just have a longing for Him to exist; I wanted a longing for Him. The doubt was still there, but I had a rekindled urgency to face it.

The second Sunday that we were here my husband announced that we were going to Church. I agreed verbally, maybe even excitedly (reaction formation), but I put up slight protest in my heart. I didn’t want to put on a show. I didn’t want to be surrounded by hypocrisy. I didn’t want to be the hypocrite.

The first Church service we attended shook me. I remember leaving thinking how can they worship like this if it isn’t all real? God was working on me, but I had no idea the monumental changes that were about to occur.

We began attending groups within the church- Bible study groups, hiking groups, community service groups, etc. I clearly began to see the way these individuals live. It is not a superficial knowledge that drives them. It is not a duty or obligation. It is a relationship. Look, these people are in deep, undeniable relationships with Christ. They have zero judgment. They are not brain-washed. They are intelligent, wise, and beautiful individuals who know the real thing when they see it. They aren’t “Bible thumpers” with their heads in the clouds. They are some of the most authentic individuals I have ever met. They do not claim perfection, and they only boast in Christ. The seed of resentment began to disappear from my heart. From these relationships I was motivated to repair relationships from the past, and dig out the root of bitterness that had entangled me so deeply. I began to crave the fellowship of other believers. I began to desire that freedom that comes with worship. The doubt began to wither away.

Sunday after Sunday we went back to this Church. Each time, my heart was softened. Each time I opened my Bible I grew more and more enamored with Him. I began praying again, thanking God. I thanked him for his faithfulness, for his future faithfulness too; I knew that He was going to be faithful, even if the doubts were still there, He was greater than them.

During a particular worship service, I found myself overwhelmed in the best way. I felt enraptured by the Holy Spirit in a way that is nearly indescribable. This moment literally took my breath away. In the middle of worship that still, small voice in my heart that I had not heard for so long said, I’m here, I’ve got you. It was not my emotions speaking- This was undeniably the Holy Spirit.

Whatever doubt had been there was replaced. It was replaced with a fire, love, passion, desire, yearning, and an assurance of the One True Living God.

I know many would say that this was perhaps an emotional connection to the desires I had- grabbing onto the first illumination of something to believe in. But it was not that. For every second of doubt I had, it was as though a confidence now overwhelmed my soul, washing away those uncertainties. And ever since then, He has continued to confirm again and again His presence in my life. I just had to seek Him. He has always been there.

Romans 8:38-39 declares, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Nothing can separate us when we are in Christ. Nothing. Not our doubts, not our fears, not even ourselves.

He never left me. He was with me through every single step of this painful process. He did answer my prayer, in His time, better than I could have ever pictured. I don’t know why He didn’t help resolve these doubts earlier. This is not a stance on Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but I do think He was waiting for me to seek after Him fervently, to give up the resentful, hateful seed that had been planted so deeply into my heart. And if I ever face this again throughout my walk, I know I can face it with the assurance of knowing Christ will see me through. I also will not stop in my pursuit of objective truth- I just have a confidence now that it will point back to Christ. After all, He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Moreover, I know despite my flawed human imperfection, His timing is perfect. My heart is set ablaze as I enter this new stage of life, a stage where I am more available to do whatever He calls me to than ever. I have confidence far surpassing what I had even early in my walk before the doubts set in. I have a fire and passion to share this love with others. I realize the selfish life I have been living for so long and have a desire to truly turn away from it. Everything that seemed so important of this world seems so foolish now. I have a thirst for more. I have a thirst for something real. All glory to the One True God.

From this time I have also taken away this: Doubt is okay, it’s natural. Doubt is not something to be ashamed of, in fact it can be so good. It is a season, that most, if not all, people do face. God uses all seasons to sharpen us, to mold us, and to grow us. It’s nearly a cousin of faith, but tackling our doubt deepens our faith. He doesn’t want blind followers. He wants us to pursue Him and praise Him with a confidence and assurance.

Isaiah 41: 10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand.”

So to any brothers or sisters struggling through the tangles of doubt, I just want to whisper this piece of truth from my heart to yours..

He’s got you. He is real. He loves you more than you can imagine. He is with you, and He will be victorious over this season.

Happy Birdd-Day

This day is a big deal day. I mean a BIGGGGGGGG deal! It is DJ’s Birthday!!!! This truly is one of my favorite “holidays” because it means my favorite person was born on this day! Thank you DJ for gracing the world with your presence, but also for allowing me to have dibs on you for my hubby. We love birthdays because it is an excuse to say “Happy Birrrrdday” over and over again. Who can spot the reference? Also- Happy Birthday to Amy (his twin sister!). Today DJ is happily spending his day meeting with friends and getting a few tasks done, while I am taking a tiny respite from studying to record some fun stuff from this past week!

We received this amazing Cheesecake Factory sampler from djs mom on Thursday! holy yum.


We made quite a dent! The caramel de leche was our favorite!

Thursday night I whipped up, yet another, Indian-fusion-esque type dinner. Who really knows what it is. But it was edible! It included okra, cauliflower, shrimp, a tikki masala sauce, every spice that I thought could possible compliment it, and some siggis yogurt. I accompanied it with some naan bread and a gigantic salad. This my friends, I call “everything but the kitchen sink”.

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Friday we went to Lazy Dog on Main Street Cupertino. We were feeling tired after a long week of studying and what could sound better than going to a place called Lazy Dog? It was super relaxing and nice to just spend a nice long dinner together rather than the rushed ones that usually take place during the week. It’s hard to truly enjoy your food when you have six hours of studying still staring you in the face for the night!

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I ordered their Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna. This was one of the  most original dishes of ahi I have ever tried. It makes my mouth water just reminiscing about it. It was served medium-rare on house-made cauliflower mash with roasted vegetables and a coconut curry cream sauce. It was also topped with some fresh cilantro. I tried to recreate the cauliflower mash, which I share later on! This dish was fish-alicious.

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DJ went for their signature burger for which they are known for! He ravenously ate it up. Now, I don’t know if the boy was just really hungry, or if that was a sign that he hasn’t had something that good in that long! I may have been too afraid to inquire.

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Also! I pulled out my first sweater for the season! This is one of my favorite fall colors- anything dark purple or maroon. The weather here is surprisingly perfect for the sweater life. I think I expected it to feel warm year round, but it still has a fall feel with the leaves falling and a crispness to the air.

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Saturday I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to go on one last BIG hike with my hiking group. I absolutely love this group of people. If you wanna get to know people, go on a hike with them. Within seven miles hiking up a mountain you end up talking about pretty much anything and everything. One thing that surprised me was one guy who grew up here (in California) could not understand why someone could possibly enjoy a thunderstorm. Me and one other girl from the midwest tried to explain the ominous excitement, smells, and wonder of an awesome midwest thunderstorm. It was interesting to me that he had never experienced something like that.  We also came past the most beautiful dog I may have ever seen. It was a bright white husky with sky-blue eyes. I am not always one to run up and ask to pet a random dog, but I could not help myself with this one. The owner even let me get a picture with it. I told DJ that we need to get this type of dog and a Beans soon (three-legged dream dog from the pound). He personally prefers French Pitbulls and Chocolate Labs. We both also love Vishlas! We had a friend who had one and fell in love. Anyone own any of these types of dogs?

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After an amazing hike, that my hips are still recovering from, we went to the Vine in Niles. This cute little town is quite a hike from our place in Cupertino. OH MY WORD- I did not intend that pun, I swear. I know I usually do intend allll the puns, but that one was not intended. Anyway, Niles is just the most darling little town with the strips full of unique boutiques, food trucks, and the luminous mountains cradling the whole surrounding area.

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After that hike I needed a big ole cup of joe! I think my favorite part of this whole place was the fact that I had my coffee served in this mug.

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HELLO to the most delicious sweet potato tots I ever did taste. They were served with a garam masala aioli. SO GOOD. I got them “for DJ” but ate half of them (or more than half) before I made it home. Like I said, it was a hike back- a good 50 minute drive is long enough to get hungry again.

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I had a tasty, filling salmon salad with craisins, goat cheese, walnuts, and a honey curry vinaigrette over arugula.

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SUNDAY! Oh Sunday was a much needed day. We are currently re-evaluating some choices and direction in our lives, but Sunday was just what we needed for some ease and clarity. I think right now DJ and I are realizing more than ever that our life “plans” on paper do not, and will not, always reflect reality. But that is okay. We are both at this point where we just want to be used by God, love others, and see how we can make a difference in the SV area each day. God has shut a lot of doors on our plans, but we are watching something unfold that we could not have designed ourselves. In the past, we have always filled our schedules and days with commitments and do not make ourselves available for anything that we have not designated important ourselves. But God, in His sovereignty, has shut many doors and we are finding ourselves available to do His work in a way we never have been. We are ecstatic to see what unravels, where this time of our lives takes us, and how he will use us. Our current situation can be described as this (….). The big ole’ dot, dot, dot. We have no idea how the next few years will unfold, but I think both of us could not be more excited to see how it will look.

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So why was Sunday so great? First we attended Church, and if that can’t rejuvenate ya, I don’t know what can. After, we met with the Pastors from our church for lunch as this rustic, yet modern, place in San Jose called The Farmer’s Union. They provided a great deal of encouragement to us. They gave us soo much to think about as well and sparked some thought-provoking conversation between DJ and I throughout the week leading to some of the open-ended conclusions (oxymoron?) I mentioned above.

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I have been fighting something of a cold this week and this Echinacea and Cranberry tea has been a lifesaver. I am a FIRM believer in herbal and vitamin supplements to prevent a cold. Load up the vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc to halt that nasty tickle in the throat from becoming a full on monster. But always talk to your healthcare provider before taking them 😉

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Here are the Cauliflower mashed potatoes that I tried to recreate (inspiration from the Lazy Dog!). These were sooo simple and I have a feeling that I may be entering into a new food craze stage.

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I also made these little Cauliflower wings with the leftover half of a head. I have the recipe posted here if you missed it 😉

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The next night I used the leftover cauliflower mash and combined it with some curry hummus to try to achieve that Indian cauliflower taste. I added a Morningstar Garlic and Quinoa burger with some fresh basil for a super easy and delicious meal.

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I had some kale that was about to go bad too, so I whipped up some kale chips to dip in the buffalo sauce too! Snacks for dayzzz.

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Throughout the week I have been studying at Peet’s nearly everyday.

I have loved studying at this little coffee shop and am beginning to develop friendships with the baristas. They are the kindest folk. One day they came up to me and gave me a coupon for a free coffee. They also told me that I am overstudying. Now when essentially strangers are telling you this, it makes you wonder!

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This is what “leave me alone I’m watching the game ” looks like One night during dinner I realized I had forgotten a couple things at the store. DJ, the sweet husband he is, ran out to grab them for me. He returned with this gem- edible cookie dough. Yes, all of your dreams have now come true. You can bake it or eat it straight out of the container if you wish. It is dairy and egg free too. We love our Pillsbury break-and-bakes, but I think we have a new favorite.

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Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache. I think I have just had so much rolling around in this head of mine and have been drained by the studying. I stopped by and picked this up from the store. GOODBYE tummy-ache! Ginger is one of the greatest things to help with nausea and aid in digestion. Kombucha also has some terrific probiotics too. I am really going full blown nurse on ya’ll, this post aren’t I?

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You didn’t think I wasn’t going forget a Fine Cooking recipe now did you?! This week I wanted to make something with meat. I make a lot of seafood naturally being pescatarian, but I felt that I haven’t tried my hand at a good meat dish in a while. I whipped up a Pork Tenderloin Provencal Tuesday night. I have never made pork, but was pleased with how it turned out. I accompanied it with rosemary roasted veggies and wild rice. It was surprisingly easy, and DJ said it was one of the best meals I have ever made. I think it would be an excellent meal for a Christmas eve dinner or special occasion! Tastes fancy without all the work 😉 .

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Now for birthday festivities. I maybe should not post this, but I seriously can’t help myself. I LOVE the goofy cards for birthdays (or any occasion). I spend wayyy too much time looking at all of them and take more pride in the card than the gift usually. We have tons of fun with them in my family. I stay away from anything with the actual age on it though… One time I got my brother a “Happy 30th” birthday card, ready to make a big deal about the big 3-0. He actually was turning 31. They never let me live that one down. In fact the next year, I received the same card from him and he crossed out the thirty and wrote 20 (the age I was turning). Anywho, DJ LOVES animals, so I always make sure to get an animal one. This was this years pick. Like I said, maybe this is inappropriate? But I promise this is as PG-13 it will get around here.

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We were planning on going out for a momentous pancake breakfast for his birthday, but he was meeting with a friend at 10 am, and decided last night he wanted to sleep in. I woke up early to figure something out, because everyone has to have a delicious birthday breakfast! I had some 90 calorie reduced fat pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and decided to try to make apple roll-ups. These are way healthier than a breakfast pastry and just as tasty. DJ couldn’t believe how relatively healthy they were.

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Last night I was having a moment of I NEED TO BAKE. Anyone else get that? The baking bug hits me hard in the fall. I load up on cans of pumpkin filling and end up just trying to create whatever I can, whenever I can. Baking is very therapeutic for me and since we were just eating leftovers last night, I decided to bake instead during my usual dinner prep time. I made a healthy pumpkin cheesecake with an oatmeal crust. This little guy is about 150 calories a slice and about 10 grams of protein. I am working on getting the recipe absolutely perfect, and then I will share it.

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Tonight we are going to take it easy per DJ’s request. I think we are going to grab dinner somewhere local and then relax at home. I am going to try to squeeze in a bit more studying before the day wraps up. I am also attending a women’s conference this weekend and am incredibly excited for that!!!! DJ will be taking the weekend pretty easy. Sunday night is when we are actually celebrating his birthday with a nice night out.

Lastly, but most importantly, our thoughts and prayers fervently go out to all those affected by hurricane Matthew .

Wishing you an icing on the cake kind of day,

xo ❤

Mack

Family, Friends, and Food: A Recipe for a Perfect Weekend

Wow! I have taken quite the hiatus from blogging the last couple weeks and it simply is because I have been busy making some incredible memories <3. Sometimes when such wonderful events occur I feel like I can’t get them written down fast enough. I’m afraid they will leave me if I don’t record the small details. It’s the small details that seem to sneak out of the memory the quickest, but also the small details that make each memory personal and unique. Hence, I want to make every effort to hang onto them.

My mom came on Friday August 26th. DJ and I picked her up from the San Francisco airport and headed straight into the city! As I mentioned in my last San Francisco post, I spent time with my dear friend, Annie, who lived with us in high school. My mom was an eager beaver to see her. Friday night we had tickets to Eat/Drink SanFran (get ready for picture overload!). It started at 7:30 pm, which is an awkward time for “dinner”, so we decided to lightly graze at the Slanted Door to tide us over. Yes, “lightly” is a subjective term. Naturally while waiting for a table we had to do a photo shoot…

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What is this “Slanted Door” you ask? It is a modern Vietnamese fusion restaurant experience that guarantees to take your taste buds on an adventure like never before. No, they did not ask me to promote them, but while I’m waiting for my nursing license to get approved maybe I could work for their marketing department? Hehe.

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First up on the menu for the evening was Vegetarian Spring Rolls. But, oh, they are not just your typical vegetarian spring rolls (which are fantastic in themselves); these are the BEST. They contain tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint, and a peanut sauce that will blow your mind. Would you judge me if I just drank it? Right out of the bowl? Would you judge me if I told you I’m not kidding?!

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Next up on the menu was the vegetarian Banh bot loc- aka mung bean tapioca dumplings, scallion oil, and thai chile soy sauce.

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BRB, need to get a napkin for the puddle of drool I have on my laptop after thinking about them…

Next on the list was Crispy Imperial Rolls. These included gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, vermicelli noodles, and roasted peanut. The meat eaters at the table gobbled them up like it was their last supper. You use the lettuce leaves to make a wrap with the crispy rolls and noodles and then dip in the sauce. It took us a moment to figure that one out 😉

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Last, these barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs were the fan-fave. I didn’t try them, but they smelled heavenly and in the time they left the plate I could tell they were darn tasty!

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They even gave us some hot washcloths for the ribs (or was it for the beverage spill? whoopsies!) Now- that’s some service! img_9423

After this “appetizer” (aka first dinner), we decided to walk to the venue and take our time sight seeing the bay. This never gets old for me, even if it was my third weekend in a row there!

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Below is a picture from “Off the Grid”. This was taking place the same night as Eat/Drink SanFran and definitely something I will want to do in the future! It is a gathering of a bunch of food trucks from the area with music and a big carnival feel!

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The building on the right at Fort Mason is where Eat/Drink took place.

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I was so glad DJ decided to take a break from studying to have a night out for some fun. He works so hard every. single. day.

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Walking up to the doors I felt like a giddy child again. I feel like those “giddy” feelings bubble up less and less the older you grow, but when they do sneak up on ya, you know you are doing life right.

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Just a little overview about Eat/Drink SF: It is organized by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and represents the best of the Bay Area’s  cuisine. It goes on for four days at the Fort Mason pavilion (Thursday to Sunday). You pay a flat fee for one of the days (we did Friday) and then have unlimited access to over 36 food vendors and over 70 beer, wine, and spirits makers once in the building. They also have a VIP option as well. I am not sure exactly what that entails, but you do get early access to the building and more exclusive options. Here is the formal description of the whole event:

“Enjoy unlimited pours of wine, beer, and cocktails and tastes from the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Mingle with the personalities that make this a world-class dining destination. Watch cooking demonstrations and learn in classes taught by renown tastemakers”

We did not sit in any classes this time because we were too busy eating, duh. We agreed we would make this an annual thing and next time partake in one of the classes.

When you enter, you receive a glass that you keep with you throughout the entire tasting.

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Every venue has a unique set up that quickly allows the consumer to know what their cuisine is all about! There were corn hole games set up near the Straus Family Creamery Ice Cream and Super Duper Burger stand. It felt like you were at a barbecue, but then two steps over you entered an Italian oasis with Pizza Antica. It was intoxicating (no pun intended).

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The Morning Star pizza was one of my favorite flavors of the night. It was a vegan barbecue pizza and they even handed out recipe cards to make it at home. I will be making it- no doubt!

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The Glenlivet Dram Room was a hard liquor tasting room. None of us were interested in actually trying any of the liquor, but the room itself was really neat!

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Here you could sniff different scents that were used in the production of their products. I loved that!

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They certainly had some unique food to try- and you know I was all about that! For example, I have heard quail eggs are tasty but never have actually had the chance to try one. It was- all together now…- AMAZING!.

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Hehe- got to love the candids.

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The displays were truly enticing. It was exciting to be feet away from such incredible talent as well.

For example, below is Emporio Rulli with Gary Rulli. The dessert I have posted was one of the greatest desserts I have ever tried. The three of us were drowning in all good things sugar. It was a pistachio creme brulee. I am not a huge creme brulee fan, so I probably would have never ordered this on a menu. However, if when I go to Emporio Rulli, this is a MUST.

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The smoked salmon mousse above was one of my favorite things of the evening. It was tediously intricate the way they made them too- Each one was given the utmost attention. I have never seen an appetizer so doted over!

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One of the strangest tries of the night was foie gras ice cream. I know this is probably not vegetarian, but hey, when you are somewhere like this go big or go home. This was from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. We have tried foie gras in the past and weren’t particularly blown away. However, this foie gras ice cream was surprisingly delicious. If you like salty and sweet combos, this little treat had the pair perfected! Unfortunately, I have no picture of this little nibble!

After we walked rolled home, we slept soundly with dreams of all SanFran food. My recommendations based on the evening:

Everything was absolutely fantastic, but those are just some of our favorites.

The next day my mama and I had some homemade parfaits with dried apple chips out on the balcony. We love sitting out there in the fresh cool morning air and enjoying our hot coffee and reading our Bibles.

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We then did the big walk to the store to pick up some necessities for the day. We stopped by a chinese bakery on the way back and saw the most interesting “sweets”. Chinese dessert is not knowing for being super sweet, but they certainly are creative!

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We jump started the next part of the day with an insanity workout, and I was impressed by this tough little cookie! She killed it. I was so proud. She has been working hard over the last few months to get into shape and it is showing.

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During the day we had one task: Hang up some living room curtains. I saved this task for my mom because I honestly do not have the first clue on how to hang rods, use a drill, etc. My mom is a pro at all this and even makes her own curtains. Well we ran into a little hiccup with where the studs were in the wall. Long story short we had a very frustrating afternoon and could not figure the darn thing out. After covering up the gaping nail holes we decided we needed a break and met DJ for sushi. He studied the entire day in the library and suggested a sushi place he went to with a friend. He claimed it was the best sushi he has ever had (which says a lot considering the sushi in Bora Bora was out of this world). It lived up to the hype. Oh shoot, now I’m craving it again.

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We headed back to the house and decided that we would give the curtains one more go of it. We found a little loop behind the paneling and were able to use canvas wire to hang the pole. We did it! Despite how frustrating the project was, it felt awesome to conquer it.

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We topped off the night with a visit to Cupervino. Cupervino is located super close to our apartment and I have wanted to give it a go ever since we moved here. The atmosphere is fantastic. We decided to split a wine flight and a glass. The pours were supposed to be three-oz. flights. I am doubtful that this was accurate. These were full on glasses.

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In the morning we headed to church. Gosh, I was so ecstatic for my mom to meet all the new incredible friends of ours and experience the most authentic worship. She loved it!

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After church we went to Santana Row while DJ went to study land 😦 He is doing so well, but never stops studying.

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We walked around the row and stopped by a cute little band of youngsters playing in the square. It was adorable! They were probably in their early teens and the girl had a beautiful voice.

For brunch we stopped at left bank . The craziest thing was it hit my mom that the last time she was in the area this was the restaurant she went to with a friend. Kind ironic considering just how many restaurants there are in the area!

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We tried the salmon hash with red onions, tomatoes, parsley, yukon gold potatoes, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauced. We paired it with a delectable goat cheese salad. It was THE quintessential brunch.

After walking around Santana Row for a while, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous day (Oh wait- everyday is gorgeous here?!), and go for a hike. This was the Tony Look trail that opens up into Fremont Older Nature preserve.

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This was one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend. Such great conversation is sparked during hikes, and we had seven miles to just chat. It was so nice to enjoy the views and talk about life.

For dinner we whipped up some green chef meals! Green Chef is just like Blue Apron! We had two meals left from the first package (I made the first meal in my last post 😉 ). It was a blast cooking together and DJ came home just in time to enjoy the meal with us. My mom and I shared the Tuna Burger and DJ had the Steak over orzo. We left out the walnuts and walnut pesto and just used regular pesto because DJ is allergic. I probably should have looked closer at that before ordering it! There have been several times in the past where I have almost accidentally “poisoned” DJ as he calls it. Exhibit A is posted below: I packed a trailmix in his lunch that had walnuts. Big WHOOPS.

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Sadly, my momma had to say goodbye Sunday night. But we were all so thankful for the time we had. It worked out that she was taking a red-eye that Sunday so we had the whole day to enjoy!

I have about a week of additional blogging to do that I will be working on the next couple days! There is a TON of fun stuff that went down while my best friend was in town, so stay tuned!!!! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful labor day weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

xo ❤

Mack