Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sitting by the Fire with Donald Miller

Christmas this year just doesn't have the same feeling it usually does. I will spend tomorrow and Christmas Day with my 'new' family but my family is gone. The house is too quiet. We celebrated Christmas two weekends ago and it was great. Now, I just keep seeing statii (my designated plural for status) about everyone spending time with family. I'm not really in the mood right now. Am I having a little bit of a pity party? Probably. I've come to grips with that. I've looked several times online to find last minute flights so maybe I could be with my family. No such luck. Christmas time = permission to jack up prices.

In the meantime, I'm nestled on the couch by the fire with Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. Tonight though, I'm reading his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
I'm not quite halfway through the book and find the timing oddly coincidental. From the moment I finished the Author's Note, I knew this book would change things some how. Change me. The premise of the book keeps circling back to this statement: "The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, then it won't make a life meaningful either."

As a society, we spend so much time working. We focus so much on the money we need for bills or the money we want for the hottest new electronic. We forget that these are not the things that make life meaningful. When we read a book or watch a movie, we don't want to see someone working all the time in order to make the next mortgage payment. We want to fall in love with the characters, see them face conflict head on and watch them celebrate in the end. Our hearts break. Our eyes fill with tears. Our mouths let out cries of victory at the end of the films with which we are engrossed.

But are we taking the steps to have these moments in our own lives? If our lives were movies, how would we feel if the credits rolled at this very moment? Would we walk away feeling like the $10 we just spent was wasted?

This year, 2009, has been one of unbelievable changes for me. December 31st, when the credits roll for 2009, I will walk away feeling like I got a multi-Oscar award winning film at a dollar movie theatre.
So as I sit here tonight with Donald Miller and the glowing embers of a once brilliant fire, I am brought out of my self-pity. I move forward in quiet reflection and begin to think about the things that will make up my next story, the next role I will play and the next year's worth of stories to tell others. Because every year, on December 31st (and eventually on my last day when the credits really do roll), I want to feel like everyone I know got their money's worth to be part of this story.

My prayer is that you all have that same feeling.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009



So... I may not have been able to wear a bikini and look like the girls in Sports Illustrated - Swimsuit Edition. I did realize what it meant to wear a bathing suit and feel good in it.

First off, whether you are a size 2 or 20, spend the money to get a good quality bathing suit that is flattering to YOUR figure. I can tell you right now that those cute little string bikinis with the triangle tops are NOT flattering on me. I am not a tiny girl. In fact, I'm a little top heavy. All those little bathing suits do is show way more of the girls than should be seen by anyone except my future husband and make me realize that I am NOT a Victoria's Secret model.

What self-respecting woman would subject herself to that?! Definitely not me.

More than anything though, feeling good in a bathing suit is about feeling good about who you are. Being confident with the body that God gave you and saying "Hey, I'm a REAL woman. I eat three squares a day. I haven't shopped in the Juniors section of a store since I was a freshman in high school. I am happy with who I am." It is that attitude right there that makes a woman sexy. Not the clothes (or lack thereof).

If you aren't happy with where you are physically, then do something about it.Not because you feel the
pressure of the airbrushed society we live in. Get yourself to a place where you feel healthy, vibrant, energetic and confident. Because confidence is attractive to everybody!


(Below): With my step-brother, Reuben before we swam with sharks at Typhoon Lagoon (ooh. That should have been a bonus!)



I never would have thought when making this list in January that the Christmas cards I was sending out would also be "Save the Dates" for my wedding. WOW! Talk about full circle.

I remember imagining my Christmas cards as being some photo taken of me and the kids at some point in the fall. Definitely NOT the professional engagement photos with me, the kids, and my fiance. It seriously blows my mind! Can you tell?

I'm pretty excited because I've never sent Christmas cards in my life. My parents may have sent some when I was younger. If they did, I do not remember being a part of the process (e.g. no family photo taken, no placing of stamps or licking of envelopes).

Figuring out together which photos to choose, the layout of the photo card and the wording wasn't that stressful either. I love that we are a part of everything. We don't have just ONE person in charge of things. Each of us tend to take charge of certain things but we always run it by the other. True partners. :)

TASK #21 ... COMPLETED 12/2

Sunday, October 25, 2009



I had resolved myself to the fact
that I wasn't going to get to star gaze as it was beginning to get a bit cold. And after all the rain in October this month, I DEFINITELY figured this would be a big fat fail. Jason's original idea for his proposal was to take me star gazing at Little Mulberry Park (my little piece of heaven on Earth).

Turns out his proposal was even better since it was at the location of our first purposeful hangout. :)

My parents came in town for my birthday. This night, we asked my parents if they would "watch" the kids after bedtime so we could sneak off for a little bit. We grabbed a couple of blankets and headed to an undisclosed location. Armed with hats, gloves and jackets, we laid in the pitch black to see the stars in all their glory. We even caught a glimpse of a shooting star. I can't remember what wish I made but right now, honestly, it feels like any wish I could have possibly made has already come true.

TASK #97 ... COMPLETED 10/24

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


For the last six months or so, I have been thinking about one thing that I didn't put on my list for fear of ridicule or misunderstanding. It was highly debated among the committee (me, myself and I) whether #100 on the list should be "Fall in love".

For the longest time, I felt as though I would never find someone who I would want to spend the rest of my life with. The last four years it seems I have been surrounded by couples who were unfaithful or simply bored after 20, 30, even 40 years of marriage! It's not that the desire wasn't there. I just wasn't sure that I would find it. So it was fitting that "Fall in love" was a HUGE risk for me. I figured I would just keep "Fall in love" on my list of 100 things until the day it actually happened. And boy, would that be a great post. I didn't want people to think I put it on my list in an effort to force myself to fall in love. And I didn't want to explain myself every time it came up in conversation. So I left it off the list. Looking back, it seems like I should have gone with my instinct and kept it at #100. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, isn't it?

By now, you've probably read enough of this blog to know a great deal about my story. You know about some of my deepest hurts growing up and through my divorce. You've read some of my journeys to become unafraid. You've read my journey over the last several months about how my friend, J, became my boyfriend, my best friend and truly the love of my life. I remember my uncle telling me once in response to my question, "How do you know when someone is THE ONE?" that "You just know, Ana. You just know." That was in 2000. Nine years later, I can say with confidence, "I just know". But... I digress. You are probably wondering (some of you already know) what the BONUS is. It starts with ...

The very first time J and I hung out intentionally, just us, as friends, was a random night when he was having a craving for ice cream. We met at the Ben & Jerry's by my house and swung on the swings outside of it while we enjoyed our ice cream and talked... about everything. That was about this time last year (Nov. 2008).

Fast forward to Monday, October 12th. J was on his way back in town from a work trip and we had a date planned for Little Mulberry Park and hopefully, stargazing (trying to cross more off of my list). The weather has been pretty crappy and it was cold and wet that day and quickly turning into night by the time we got back up to Gwinnett from the airport. I had mentioned being in the mood for sushi so J asked if I just wanted to go to Green Tea (a sushi place by Ben & Jerry's) and swing on the swings. Of course, we had to get some ice cream first. Dessert before dinner? Heck yeah!

We grabbed the ice cream and got on the swings. Just like we did last year. He confessed that it was that night when he first began struggling with liking me. (I don't know what the struggle could possibly have been. I'm a catch. haha) After that, he mentioned a lady he spoke to at the airport and a cool story she told him...

The story begins with her husband's parents.

On their 25th wedding anniversary, the wife gave the husband a ring. A nice men's ring with a blue sapphire in it. The husband was grateful and thought the ring was nice but he was a guy. And guy's don't wear jewelry. So the ring sat off to the side until a couple of years later. The couple's son was turning sixteen. The father passed that ring off to his son and the son had the same thought. "This is a nice ring but I'm a guy. And guy's don't wear jewelry." So once again, the ring sat off to the side. Until the day a few years later when the son met and fell in love with a girl (the lady J was talking to at the airport).

Now, it's the 1950's. The son is in the Navy and fears he will get shipped out. He doesn't want to marry this girl and risk going to war and not coming back. So he takes the ring that his father gave him and gives it to the girl with the promise that he will marry her when he gets out of the military a couple years later. Well, the couple can't wait. They get married within the year. The son replaces "the ring" with a proper engagement ring and once again "the ring" gets set off to the side.
Until the day, more than 50 years later, when a young gentleman expresses his desire to marry their granddaughter. He wants to know whether there is a ring in the family that has an special meaning or story because he knows their granddaughter will appreciate that much more than a random ring bought at the store. So they think about this ring. This ring that has been set aside for all these years. The ring they thought over the years of turning into a necklace. So they take the blue sapphire stone out of the ring. Get it placed into an engagement setting, give it to the young man to give to their granddaughter and it looks like this...

I looked over at J. And he had a box opened with a ring in it. A ring with a blue star sapphire as the center stone. And he got down on one knee on the cold wet ground and asked me to marry him!

And it clicked. The son and the girl he fell in love with were my grandparents. The lady in the airport was my grandma talking to J on the phone giving him all the details so he wouldn't forget the story when he told me. After I cried, and said 'Yes', he told me one more thing...
"Your grandma told me when you were a little girl that you always used to sit on your grandpa's lap and ask him if he would wait for you, so you could marry him when you grew up. Now, you have an engagement ring from him."

It never seemed possible to love someone as much as I love J. What seemed even less possible than that was loving someone who loved me just as much and didn't have a problem showing it. It took four years that seemed so long but now, they seem to have passed by so quickly. I constantly see the signs along the way where the Lord was leading J to me and me to J. It was difficult at times to follow His lead but I'm glad I did it. And THAT'S how I "just know".

It was a great day when I said "Yes" and I am SO looking forward to saying "I do."
I love you ... more than all the seconds I had to wait for God to bring us together!

Friday, September 11, 2009



I originally sent out an email to people I knew took pictures I would like to see on my wall. After sifting through about 20 or so, I narrowed it down to seven that I wanted to hang up. It wasn't until I was shopping for the frames that I realized 4 of the pictures were taken by J. Two were taken by Lauren and the last one was one I took while taking a road trip to see the sunrise at the beach. I know it's not one that a friend took but I already had six others and this picture is one of my favorites anyway.

It is also the one picture on the wall that is a great reminder. The day I saw the sunrise on Tybee Island I had this unbelievable feeling of awe. The camera caught a glimpse of the beauty I got to experience that day. Whenever I look at the picture, I am reminded of it but can never quite get it back. It is a reminder that just looking at the pictures on the wall will never give me the experience I would get from being there.

I don't want to look at these pictures though and fantasize about what it would be like. The pictures should be motivation to save up and ship out. There is too much to experience in this life to just be okay with the community I live in. This summer I will get to make my first international trip. Details are not nailed down yet but I am so excited to take some more pictures of my own. Some more reminders of the awe I felt that day on Tybee.

TASK #45 ... COMPLETED 9/10

Monday, August 31, 2009



This weekend, I flew with J to Peoria (affectionately referred to P'town by J and his friends). It was my first trip there and first time meeting J's friend, Nuwan. A wonderful man with a brilliant English accent and a sweet BMW Z5 convertible.

I had been looking forward to this week for awhile knowing I was not only going to cross this off my list but I was going to be able to do it in such a sweet ride.

Our original plan was not just to cross this off the list. We traveled to this tiny little town in Illinois to celebrate the engagement of J's friend, Nuwan, to his fiancee, Niyati. I got to meet a bunch of friends that I had heard a ton about but now I finally got to put names and faces together. (And have been to P'town another time since Nuwan & Niyati's engagement party)

Nuwan and Niyati are getting married in December with two awesome celebrations in India and Sri Lanka, where they are from. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to make that trek but I know that J is SUPER excited to celebrate with them.

Congratulations, Nuwan and Niyati!!

TASK #68 ... COMPLETED 8/29