Friday, August 30, 2013

I Admire Him

My husband navigating us to a winery on our Napa honeymoon. Among many other things, I admire how this man knows his way around a map.

Today we've been married for exactly one year and eight months. I didn't actually plan this post to line up on the 30th, but it's nice that it did! In 20 months, my love for my husband has filled me and overwhelmed me and grown as sure and steady as the days go by. It's been wonderful and we've learned a lot and not all of it has been easy, but we continue to come out on the other side of the hard days with more love than we had before. 

But this isn't exactly what I want to write about today. I want to write about how in 20 months of marriage, there has grown in my heart a feeling about my husband that is wound up in my love but is also set apart and exists in me in its own right. That feeling is admiration.

Some of you might think that's rather an obvious thing to say. Of course you admire your own husband! You're proud of him, and want to show him off, and know he's just the best! But if you think about it, we rarely use this word to describe the people closest to us. We say we love them. We say we're proud of them. But we often save our admiration, or at least the word itself, for people we don't actually know. We tend to admire public personalities, people we consider to be role models, a person whose life we would like to emulate in some way.

And I think the reason for this is because admiration is tied up with awe. Mystery. Something intangible that makes us feel a certain person is special and worthy of our praise. I admire Kate Middleton because she is impossibly beautiful and feminine, immeasurably dignified and elegant (can you feel the admiration coming through the screen?). Of course I know she has flaws like the rest of us, but I don't know about them. Her flaws are a mystery and her attributes well-known, and I look up to her for her beauty and grace.

I think we often stop admiring, or forget to admire, the people closest to us because they are familiar. There's less and less mystery surrounding them as the years go on. We share everything with them and they with us, and we begin to know their minds perhaps even more intimately than our own. We are vulnerable with our husbands, just as they are vulnerable with us. The comfortableness of marriage, which is such a wonderful part of being husband and wife, might be the very thing that can make you forget your admiration.

I've been aware of this trap that is all too easy to fall into, and I'm thankful to be able to say that the admiration I have for my husband is alive and well. We, and my husband specifically, have been tested in extraordinary ways over the past year or so. I haven't shared much about why we're here in Alabama, how our plans have changed in dramatic ways, or the struggles we've faced, but I will say that it's been really difficult. We're at a point where we finally feel like we're coming out on the other end--and while aspects of our life-plan now look pretty different than they did a year ago, we couldn't be happier about how things are shaping up. Turns out that trusting in God's plan really is the best way to live.

In all of this--the stress and anxiety, the good news and bad, the acceptance and moving forward--I have admired my husband and the humility and grace with which he has handled things. Of course I feel love for him when he calms my fears and presents the positive way to look at things and just overall encourages and lifts me. But my heart brims with admiration, something a little different than love, when he sits across from me at dinner and calmly and excitedly talks about this new future we're making for ourselves, and how it will allow for the most important things in life to be at the forefront. I admire him in a way I can't describe when he tells me that he trusts that this is the path we are meant to be on. That God knows what he's doing. That even though he's had to give up one dream, there is another one swiftly filling its place, and I am in awe of his faith.

I think that losing a sense of admiration for our spouses, or even just forgetting to acknowledge that what we're feeling is admiration, is something we should adamantly try to avoid. Tell your husband you love him. Kiss him and say that you're so proud of all that he does. Hold his hands and tell him why there's no one in the world you admire more than him. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

If Ye Love Me

This gorgeous Renaissance choral piece is one I've been meaning to post on Something Ivory for awhile now. My blogging got off to a later start than normal this morning, and I think this is the perfect excuse to share some beauty in sound. I hope this beautiful music will bring a little extra meaning to your Thursday morning.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chasing Lasting Peace

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."
-Proverbs 3:5-8

Do you find that you worry most about the things that are largely out of your control? And do you find that those things are also, often, the things in life you most desire? I do. I've really been tuning in to my thoughts and worries lately and I've come to realize that the lack of control is what I tend to be afraid of, more than anything else.

I stumbled across this verse from Proverbs a few days ago and since then, whether by chance or not (I'm guessing not), I've been feeling a whole lot lighter. As I've written before, I worry. It's a fairly normal state for me. So I'm always especially thankful for the days and weeks when my heart is at peace and the worrying is kept at bay.

I so love this line: "Do not rely on your own insight." And this one, too: "Be not wise in your own eyes." Very often, we're told exactly the opposite. You can do anything you set your mind to. If you try hard enough, the world will be yours. With confidence, you will succeed.

And of course all of that is true and useful to an extent. Sometimes I worry over my own efforts, or I feel guilt over whether I'm doing enough, or anxiety about whether I'm on the right path. But working on myself and trying always to do my best just isn't enough. Not if I'm after lasting, inner peace, a true sense of self-worth, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing I am eternally loved. 

When it comes to those things I worry about most--those things that are entirely out of my hands--my insight and knowledge and work ethic alone won't get me through. Nor will the insight of my husband, or my parents, or my friends. They will help, but on their own, they won't get me through.

That's why I need God. Only through faith will I ever feel peace. Only by His Grace will I ever be truly free. Only by trusting Him and His goodness can I ever loosen my grip and just let it all go.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Gift Wrapping

We have a family wedding to go to in a few weeks up in Newport, Rhode Island, and we're so looking forward to it! My husband and I haven't attended a wedding since our own and we have a flurry of them coming up over the next year. It's really a joy to be a wedding guest, don't you think?

Something I always enjoy is picking out a gift for the bride and groom. Getting married is such a big, wonderful life change--there's nothing quite like it. And a wedding gift, as I see it, is more than just a material way of sending congratulations to a newly married couple--rather, it's a little token of support and love, a way of helping a newly married couple as they fuse their lives together.

After I picked out my cousin's gift (do you remember these tea towels from this post?), I decided that it needed some beautiful wrapping to go with it. 

First, I carefully folded the tea towels and tied them up with several bamboo spoons. A healthy mix of practical and pretty, wouldn't you say?

I found the perfect-sized white gift box at Walmart (it was sold as a "shirt box") which made for really easy wrapping and resulted in clean, smooth edges. I also picked up a roll of Kraft paper and a white paint pen.

As a little side note--after doing this project, I don't think I'll ever buy regular wrapping paper again. Kraft paper is not only very cute and rustic-looking, it's also ideal for DIY projects. What could be better than a blank canvas waiting to be dressed up? It's also much sturdier than regular wrapping paper and really inexpensive (I think I paid about four dollars for a large roll of it, which will last a long time). 

To add a little character to this paper, I decided to cover it in white polka dots. I had so much fun with this part. It was easy and foolproof to just dot randomly on the paper (after measuring and cutting the length of paper I needed), and I think the end result is quite sophisticated. 

I let the dots dry for a few minutes and then went on to wrapping. Since I was covering a box and had carefully measured the paper, the wrapping was pretty simple. The Kraft paper is so durable that it really doesn't wrinkle like thin gift wrap sometimes does, and I love the clean look of these wrapped corners.

I then used some white paper raffia ribbon that I already had to tie up the present, criss-crossing it in the back. A few stems of faux flowers (also available at Walmart, for less than a dollar) lends the gift just a bit of elegance.

Finally, I added a gift tag (another item I already had) and tied up the gift with a simple bow.

And that's all there is to it! I was really in my element as I was dotting and cutting and tying bows--I love simple DIY projects with a really lovely end result!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Favorite Pairing: Olive and Blush

I'm a big fan of complements. No, I don't mean flattery (although that's nice too), but rather duos, sets, pairings that work oh so well together. Things that complement each other.

I think balance is really important. In your home, your decor, your personal style, your wardrobe, in how you cook and prepare foods. So I thought it would be fun to start a series in which I share combinations that I especially love. My favorite pairings.

Today I'm starting with a beloved color combination--olive and blush. I've always really liked how these two colors play off of each other. Olive green, or army green, is a masculine color, rich and bold and strong. When it's on the sage-y side, it's earthy and rustic. Blush, which is sweet and feminine, makes for an ideal contrast. I'm not really much of a "pink" gal but blush I do love (as you can see from my blog design!). Whether it's a dusty rose or an almost-ivory with just a hint of color, it's a beautiful and versatile color.

First up are some gorgeous note cards and envelopes from my favorite paperie. I think solid-colored cards and envelopes are great because you can dress them up however you'd like. Mismatching the colors keeps things fun.

I have a pair of olive green linen capris from Banana Republic that I got ages ago. I still love them, and I don't think they'll ever go out of style. A dusty blush-colored v-neck is the top I always reach for when I wear them. Paired with a little gold jewelry, and I'm feeling chic and stylish.


Blush tee / Army green pants

Blush and olive work well in home decor too! I like how this throw pillow isn't too feminine, and I think it would look perfect on this manly, midcentury-style chair.


Arm chair / Throw pillow

I have to say, I don't think there's anything more lovely than light pink flowers. I carried blush garden roses down the aisle and they made me feel like a queen. I often see roses like the ones below in the supermarket, and I think this deep olive vase is just begging for them.


Vase / Flower photo source

Dark, bold nails, with a soft and subtle lip color? Yes please! This grey-green nail polish is moody and a nice color for fall, don't you think? And I can vouch for the beauty of this lipstick. I wore it on my wedding day and it's not only a perfect shade of pale pink, it's also really moisturizing (it almost feels like you're wearing lip balm, not lipstick). The best kind of balancing act.


Clinique "Pink-a-Boo" lipstick / Essie "Power Clutch" polish

What do you think of olive and blush? If you weren't convinced before, are you now? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Day Advice

Today, I'm linking up with Betsy Transatlantically, who is getting married on Saturday! She put out a call for wedding day advice and I couldn't resist. Betsy, have a beautiful wedding day.

When you first wake up, take a few moments to yourself to think about what this day is all about. It will feel a little surreal and so wonderful.

Take an extra luxurious shower that morning.

Save lots of time for getting ready. You don't want to have to hurry through putting on your dress, your shoes, your jewelry. Relish this time and make sure everything is perfect.

Allow your bridesmaids to do things for you (hold your purse, track down this person or that person, put your bouquet in a safe place at the reception). It will keep you from becoming frazzled and they'll be happy to help the bride.

Give your parents a few extra hugs and thank them--for everything.

Memorize the look on your groom's face as you walk toward him down the aisle.

Really savor the beauty of your vows, the beauty of the music, the beauty of your love being witnessed.

Don't spend too much time taking photos. It's more fun to be as present as possible and to enjoy each moment as it happens.

Show off your shoes.

Enjoy how the word "husband" feels across your tongue.

Notice your guests' smiles and laughter and bright faces and remember that it's all in celebration of your new marriage.

Remember how blessed you are to be marrying this man on this day.

Eat a full piece of wedding cake.

Find your parents again and hug them.

Most of all, fill yourself up with all of the love of the day. Your wedding day is about uniting two souls in love, and each moment will be beautiful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Serenbe, GA

Whenever I'm with my younger brother, I try to take advantage of his good eye and his steady hand by having him take some photos for me to use on Something Ivory. Our recent trip to the idyllic little town of Serenbe was a perfect excuse for him exercise his skills and I'm excited to share these photos of rural Georgia with you.

Since there are a lot of them, I'm going to let the photos do the storytelling today. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Six Things

Well, I'm still recovering from the oral surgery I had on Tuesday that left me four teeth lighter. I'm feeling better each day and my husband is taking good care of me, but these puffy cheeks and this sore jaw still aren't 100% back to normal. So I was excited to see that lovely Sarah invited me to participate in a "Six Things" post. She asks the questions, and I answer. I wasn't feeling up for blogging this morning, but Sarah has made it simple for me! So here we go.

(My Dad sent me these photos yesterday and said this is what I really look like with chubby cheeks.)

What book or movie best describes how you view life?

This is actually a difficult question (I take back what I said about this being easy!) because I find that most of the time, books and movies take us out of our lives and into a foreign experience or time period or perspective. I think I'd have to say Pride and Prejudice, though, mainly because of the purity and wholesomeness of the love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and because she can't imagine settling for anything less than head-over-heels passion in her marriage. She wants true love, and even though she lived in a time when marriages were often about things other than love, Elizabeth knew she couldn't be happy in a marriage like that. I've always admire the grace she maintained throughout the novel. 

Let's talk brunch. If we were to hit up one of DC's finest, what would you be ordering off the menu?

Eggs Benedict and a hot coffee with cream.

Tell us about a time you surprised yourself (could be in a good or bad way).

Another hard question! I suppose I surprised myself in a good way last week when I went to a new yoga class and opened up to a stranger about some of the things I'm feeling. I typically am more reserved than that. But it felt good and natural to talk openly with this woman, and I must have really needed the encouragement she offered.

If you could live in a different time period, what would it be and why?

I really do love living in the 21st century. Especially now that I've had my wisdom teeth yanked out and have allowed myself to imagine how horrifying an experience it would have been sans anesthesia. However, I think I would have fit in pretty well in Mozart's time, in Enlightenment-era Vienna or Paris. 

What gives you inspiration?

Lots of things! Lately, Tim Keller's sermons have been incredibly inspiring to me and my husband. 

Quick! What's the last thing you Googled?

"800 mg ibuprofen." I'm just about out of the painkillers from the oral surgeon so I'm going to be using over-the-counter meds until I feel better. Don't worry, I didn't take 800 mg of ibuprofen. I guess I just wanted to know my absolute limit? 

Thanks for inviting me to join in on the fun, Sarah!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thrift Shop Find: Vintage Wire Basket

Recently, we've been saving lots of glass jars that once held jam or jelly, spices and sauces. I've found that they're perfect for storing pantry items like sesame seeds, chocolate chips, flax seed, and shredded coconut, and recycling old jars makes so much more sense than buying new mason jars. I love the way these foods look in glass and it's easy to spot each item when they're crowded together on the shelves. Glass jars are also ideal for storing leftovers in the fridge. It's quite a bit easier to see through glass than tupperware, so we're less likely to accidentally let something go bad because we couldn't see it very well!

Because glass is breakable, I needed to find a way to store these jars in a place that was accessible but safe. Until now they were crowded in with the tupperware on a lower shelf and it was just an accident waiting to happen. And our jar collection was really growing, so it was time to figure out a solution.

I decided they would look really neat in some kind of a wire basket on top of the fridge. I was so thrilled to come across this fantastic vintage gym locker in a consignment shop in Serenbe, Georiga this weekend. I was hoping to find something with a worn-in, sturdy look to it, instead of buying a shiny new wire basket (which tend to look sort of cheap). This basket is just perfect and I love the number plate on the front too!

I love the way the industrial-looking basket looks against our beautiful, hand-carved wooden basket (a wedding gift from some Alaskan friends of ours). Rustic mixed with vintage is always a great combination!

What do you think? Do you save and use glass jars? I think they're perfect for gifts too. A little spray paint or fabric on the tops would go a long way in making them extra adorable and gift-worthy!

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