And to Forever



Our love, 
is a story.
A love story.
Not a simple one.
But one.

It took years to build.
For awhile we just walked
and walked
and wondered
and wandered
and walked

Sometimes toward each other
Sometimes in opposite directions
Sometimes on opposite continents.
Occasionally, holding hands. But rarely.

And then one day,
we saw it, 
a sweet path.
And we knew it was ours.
And we knew it was time to take a stroll,
together, holding hands. 
From then, and to forever.

Our love
is new, and yet very old.
It's new, and yet it's eternal.
It's old, and yet we still know so little.
It's old, but in ways it will always, 
be new.
Each day.
If we decide.

Our love
is silly. 
But, 
behind the silly giggles,
snorts,
and belly stitches
there is something serious.
A serious yearning to:

make each other laugh
lighten each other's load
smile through the struggles
keep each other young and youthful
be companions, always. 
From now, and to forever.

Our love 
is simply, comfortable.
Broken in.*
It's the relief you feel 
when you can crumble into a ball 
in a warm cozy chair 
and just stay. 
And just rest.
And just be.

Our love 
is a challenge.
A challenge to strip off our nature,
And to put on God's.
And to wear it daily.
And to carry our cross.
And to follow Him, with one stride.

"Our love 
is healing. 
It makes the bitter, 
sweet.
Warms the Winter to Spring again,
secures the cold's defeat."**

Our love
is unique, to us.
It's ours.
No one else can have it.
And we can't have anyone else's.
And it fits us, perfectly,
even when it's feeling stretched.
It allows us, 
to be us.
If we let it.

Our love 
is a story.
A love story.
And, it's been written.
And, it's being written.

And the moral of our story is this:

Our love 
Is

Because,
He,
first loved us.





*Lyrics from John Mayer, Comfortable.
**Lyrics from Brooke Fraser Sailboats.

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Can You Think of Anything Quite Like It?

There is nothing quite like a Saturday morning is there? I mean really, can you think of one thing that is quite like a Saturday morning? It's probably one of the best 12 hour pockets of time that exists in our 168 hour weeks.


What I need to be doing this morning is working tirelessly on my thesis which I have to give to my committee on Tuesday for the first round of edits. But, it's Saturday morning, so I'm blogging instead.


I usually eat very healthy breakfasts in order to get my body off to the right start each day. But, it's Saturday morning so instead we made homemade waffles and smothered them in butter and delicious mapley syrup.


I usually get dressed before noon. But, it's Saturday morning and my PJs are just more comfy. 


I don't even think our bed is made.


I usually hate clutter in my house. But, it's Saturday morning, and I'm just sitting here shrugging at the folded laundry on the couch that seriously needs to get put away. 


I am not a person who lives for the weekend. I really actually love the week. It's when I am most productive, meet the most people, learn the most, and have the most balance in my days. But, at the end of every week I do feel this little breath of fresh air, like the weekend is just a sweet surprise that I always forget is actually coming. 


And, when it arrives, it's like an unexpected gift every time.  


And it means I can have Saturday mornings. Lazy, yummy, syrupy, bloggy, Saturday mornings with my hubby. 


And this Saturday morning has a bonus treat attached--Duke game at Noon. 


Which I'll be watching in my PJs. 


Plus maybe a Duke shirt. 


Happy morning friends.





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High-Fiving

Wow, didn't I just do this? 
Time flies in thesis-writing land. 


Linking up with Lauren again and sharing the things that were high-five worthy this week! 


1. TJ's Pea Shoots on our salads this week. Also, just as munchies. Try, trust me.






2. Our double-date with my folks before they flew back to WA. Beginning, at our favorite restaurant, JUJUBE, and finishing at the Carolina Theatre with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Ice cream stop in between. 




3. Discovering a new game that we love and playing it with some fun friends. Also, winning once.




4. The pink trees that are already starting to bloom around Durham. This madness makes it feel like Spring has come in January. And, so what if it has. 


Soon it will look like this.




5. Redemption. And Mason Plumlee.

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Citizenship


I'm Elise and I'm American.
My brother in-law is Robert, he is Rwandan.
My friend Dominique, she's Canadian.
The precious girl I sponsor is Natasha, she is Zambian. 


Simple enough to say, right?


I've been working on this thesis thing of mine a lot lately. And in short, it has required me to tediously pour through the data I collected this summer in Nepal; reading, coding, and analyzing the life stories of Bhutanese Refugees. On a public blog like this, I cannot share much about their personal stories. But I'll share this: 


One concept that I really wrestled with as I got to know them, their lives, and their stories,

Was that of Belonging.

To Someone
To Something
To Some Place.


The ability to say, "I'm ____ and I'm [enter nationality].

These refugees were forced by violent means to leave their country, Bhutan. Stripped of their citizenship. Abandoned. Abused. Discriminated Against.

They've been living as refugees for twenty years in the Southeast of Nepal. Where, while they are provided their most basic necessities by various organizations, they are unwanted by Nepal and refused citizenship by the Nepali government. They share a language. A culture. Even a history with Nepal. But, they cannot be Nepali. They also can't repatriate in Bhutan because the Bhutanese government refuses them. They literally are just stuck. And they have been for 20 years. Just living in refugee camps. 


For 20 years.


But now, the camps are closing down. Within a few short years, all of the camps will be done, and the refugees are being resettled to six different Western countries.  Unlike the transition from Bhutan to Nepal, they will share few commonalities with their new countries. Not culture. Not history. And for many, not even language.

But there is one thing that this new country has to offer them that many of them have never had: Citizenship.

A sense of belonging.
But also, just actual, belonging.

Again and again we heard them speak of citizenship. Being allowed to stay somewhere permanently. Being accepted by a place, and allowed to make that place their home. Being legal to work for the first time in their lives.

Can you even imagine that?


Being a citizen of nowhere?


No country by which you can legally identify yourself?


To just be waiting, for 20 years, for a chance to someday become a citizen again. Somewhere. Anywhere. Even in a place that you have nothing in common with and have never been. Because it means that you no longer have to wear 


the tag of "refugee." 


I'd never really thought about what it would be like either, until I began to get to know the Bhutanese. I never really thought about the fact that simply being a citizen is not a given, not for everyone. Which makes me wonder, 


How many things really are givens? 


There must be far fewer than I even realized.


My eyes are constantly being opened.






I'm Elise and I am American. And that's something. 








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Goodness

I'm linking up with Lauren again for High Five for Friday, and sharing my top 5 goodness from this week.


1. Seeing Moneyball at the $4 theatre with my sweet husband and fun couple friends. Also, sneaking Cold Stone into the film.






2. Brunch at Watt's Grocery with the family on Sunday after church. Best brunch in Durham. I said it.





3. Our new bookcase that can fit all our books. And looks good doing it. 



4. This gluten, corn, soy, nut free pizza that I indulged in. My favorite from Whole Foods.





5. Last, but certainly not least...I'm a terrible person, but this made me so giddy. 
Florida State 90. 
UNC 57.
Baaahahaha.
See, terrible person.


Hope you found lots of goodness in your week too! What were some of your favorites? 


Happy weekend to you!





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Shout Out

I don't always do birthday shout-outs, but today, I just can't resist. Especially because this birthday girl is my dearest blogging companion and author of my favorite blog to read, The Glovebox. Duh. 


Also, she's just one of my very best friends. So why not show her some love and say a great big


Happiest of Birthdays to Stephanie Glover!!!!


Here are some reasons I love and adore this girl:


-She reached out to me and became my first Christian friend at UVA. 


-She is beautiful and tall and funny and sweet and basically just has the whole package.


-She is confident. I LOVE this about her. 


-She has the cleverest of all blog names. The Glove Box. Her last name is Glover. Her blog's tagline is "My randomness has found a home." Get it? Because you shove all your random stuff in your glovebox. I think it's pure brilliance. 


-She might deny this, but she is phenomenal at having balance in her life. She finds time to be committed to so many things and still finds time for friends, exercise, weddings, family, serving at her church, and picking up new hobbies like biking and photography. In college I remember being in awe of how she did it all. Particularly as a D1 athlete.


-Her spirit is infectious. Anyone that has met her once, wants to be her best friend. 


-She is a servant of all. 


-She's got serious style, but still looks comfortable and natural in everything she wears; From Rent the Runway $700 dresses, to jeans and a sweatshirt, to that fur vest she wore New Years (which she totally rocked.)


-She is loyal and persistent in her relationships. 


-She is persistent in her relationship with God and showing others who He is.


-She is just so FUN!


I love this girl, and sometimes when you love someone, you just need to tell everyone!!


Happy B-day Friend. 



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There's This Great Thing You Should Know About





Last Fall our neighborhood began participating in a program called "Porch Durham." It's one of the coolest programs I've ever heard of/taken part in, and I have decided that if I ever live in a neighborhood again in my whole life that doesn't do this, 


I'm starting it. Period.


But our neighborhood now, does it. And it's awesome. And it's easy. 


This is what Porch-Durham is:


Anyone in the neighborhood can participate. Each neighborhood has a director-type-person, and a pick-up-type-person. Every other Sunday, any participating home can leave food items on their front porch between 4-6 PM. Then the neighborhood's pick-up-type-person comes around and collects all the of the food. Then the food goes to one of several different schools in the area to support their backpack program.


Have you ever heard of a backpack program?


They're awesome too!


Last year I helped at one school's backpack program in Durham. Basically, they exist because some kiddos don't get enough food over the weekend. Yep. Some kids go home for the weekend and are hungry. This makes my heart heavy just to think about. This happens, really. More often than you think. Here, in the US, in Durham, and probably in your city too. And those little elementary school bodies are growing and learning and playing and, well, they need to eat. And they need to eat good, healthy, nutritious food. But, sometimes, they just can't. So, backpack programs have a pantry at the school from which they pack backpacks to send home with selected students for the weekend. That way, when they aren't getting school lunches, they can be sure to be getting plenty of food for those tummies of theirs.


So Porch-Durham supplies pantries.
Pantries supply backpacks.
Backpacks supply hungry kiddos with food so they don't have to be so hungry.


And how easy is it to leave a bag of groceries on your front porch??


It takes the "I would, but I don't know where/how..."


or


"I would but I'm too busy"


or 


"I would but it's just too much of a hassle to drive to the donation center when I have so much else going on..."


excuses,


and squishes them. And says, 


"What's your excuse now? You planning to go to the grocery store in the next 2 weeks? 


Yeah, that's what I thought." 


Seriously, I hope this porch program starts sweeping the nation. It's definitely going with me wherever I go. Inspired? Try to start one where you live. Charlottesville? Gig Harbor? Richmond? Bellingham? Hey, why not on a college campus?? Anywhere will work! 


Just a thought. 


It's a good way to show love to others and gratitude for what you've been given.





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God Says

As a young girl I can remember wondering that same thing that all young girls inevitably wonder:


Am I beautiful?
Am I even pretty?
Who says?


I used to sit in front of my mirror brushing my hair. It wasn't curly. But it wasn't straight. It was that in-between, frumpy, kind of texture. And I always wished otherwise.


I used to watch older girls who I thought were beautiful and wonder what they did to grow up to be so great. And so cool. And so popular. And so beloved. I should be embarrassed to admit to this, but I'm pretty sure every little girl-mind went there, wondered some of these same thoughts.


And now, every time I see a young girl, or group of girls, so many questions start running through my mind. I just wonder where they will decide to find their identity in their most formative years. Who will they listen to? What will they believe? And what will the consequences be? And I feel burdened about it. Every time. 


It's always by the grace of God alone, when a young girl can ask these questions, and slowly by slowly, as she grows up, learn the truest and best answer to them:



You are beautiful.
You are pretty.
God says.


And He created you.
So He knows.
He knitted you together,
He formed you,
And He didn't mess up one single step.


And he made your hair frumpy, 
Because that's His favorite on you.
And he made you that height because,
When he leans down and looks you lovingly in the eyes,
That's where he wants you to be.
And speaking of your eyes,
He picked those out too,
Just for you.
To Him they sparkle.


Your legs,
Your butt,
Your hips,
Your lips,
Your smile,
Your frown,
Your teeth,
Your ears,
Your toes,
Your nose,
Your waist,


Your personality,
Your voice,
Your laugh,
Your mind,
Your talents,
Your spirit,
Your EVERYTHING.


He made them all. He loves them all.
But ultimately, what makes you most beautiful, is when others can look at you,


And see His face.


Because He is the creator of beauty.
And He is the most beautiful of all.
And He knows best of all what beauty is.


Yes, You are beautiful.
Yes, You are pretty.
God Says.


But I'm afraid, not nearly enough girls listen to this voice in their lives.
Not nearly enough girls even hear it.
And too many girls grow up believing otherwise.
And too many girls grow up hearing it, but struggling so much to believe it.


And then they become women, and they still aren't sure.


And at times, we're probably all a little unsure.


Because we all have imperfections, and we magnify them. Don't we?


But I hope that we, especially women who know God's truth about us, can remember who


Created Beauty
Defines Beauty
Encompasses the very nature of Beauty.


And remember that He thinks we're beautiful.
And He wants very much for us to live beautifully.









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