10 Years.

10 years with this man.

I remember when I was getting married at the ripe old age of 19, I was asked by a lot of my friends - "How do you know that he's the one you will want forever? What if you both change?" It was a good question, since I was obviously so young and he was, too (he was 23). The question made me think, but it didn't scare me. I knew in my gut Stevie was the right one for me, and always would be.

I am wrong about a lot of things (don't tell my kids), but I was right about him.

After having spent the past decade together, I can honestly say it's been the best season of my life. Our marriage is far from perfect - we've experienced highs and lows in our connection with each other - but I am more convinced than ever that he is the one I want to work through issues with, celebrate victories with, and share my life with. He's absolutely amazing.

I've been thinking a lot about that question, though. How can you choose to be with someone forever when you don't know how you (and they) will change through the years? I think this is one of the big reasons why people don't get married - they want to be so sure about the choice.

But you can't be so sure.

Because you will absolutely change. And so will they.

I don't know how other people do marriage, and I don't claim to be any kind of expert, but I have definitely learned my fair share of love lessons over the past ten years. Choosing to marry someone isn't about remaining the same together. It's about choosing to grow together. Choosing to allow each other to grow, and choosing to let your spouse have the freedom and independence to continue to evolve. You have to trust that they will evolve in a way that continues to put your marriage first - that's the kicker. And the only way to ensure that they will put you first is when you model it by putting them first. It's counter-culture in so many ways. Our society tells us to put ourselves first, especially in this age of women coming into their own power. I love female empowerment and I am so grateful to be living in this time when I can dream and achieve anything in my heart, but the thing is - that's not the way it works in marriage. The best thing I can do in my marriage is sacrifice, and put Stevie first. Trusting that he's doing the exact same thing for me. When we are both sacrificing for each other, both of our dreams have the freedom and support to flourish. It's like this spectacularly fragile and balanced dance of giving.

An example: When Stevie and I got engaged, he was dreaming of going to get his MBA at a top school. I knew that it was something in his heart, and that if we got married, at some point he was going to want to pursue that path. I loved that about him - his drive and brains and heart to actually want to take tests. I thought he was a dork, but a good-looking one. His journey of applying and getting into Harvard was one of the most exciting experiences for us - and those two years we spent in Boston were phenomenal. They were hard, fantastic, sometimes awful, almost always freezing cold, and completely wonderfully bonding. And I am so proud of him, that he really went for it. I did everything in my power, changing around my college schedule, taking classes in Boston, adjusting my job at Chick-fil-A, finding a new job downtown, everything I could, to make his dream possible. And it was totally, totally worth it. Not only was it an amazing experience for us as a couple, but we made some of the best friends of our life. We are forever changed by that path.

He's done the same for me. When we were living in Atlanta and I was in college, I was spending my weekends and week night margins acting. I was taking late-night classes, practicing scenes with my partners, making short films and commercials, performing at showcases and conventions - wherever I could get experience and resume-builders. Stevie was always supportive, making me dinner so that I could eat at midnight when I got home. He was front row with flowers when I was performing. He was the one giving me constructive criticism when I asked for it (even though I didn't really want to hear it). We moved to New York City after he graduated with his MBA so that I could pursue my dream of acting as a profession. I spent so much time on the subway, going to and from auditions, classes, networking events, more auditions. Stevie was my biggest fan, running lines with me, whole-heartedly investing in gear and headshots and classes and whatever else I needed to go for it. He has put me first throughout our 10 years together, and I am so thankful that he put my dreams first, too. I would always regret it if I hadn't really given it my all in that season of life, when I had those opportunities before me.

Now that we have kids, we are living another dream. I am so grateful to be raising my two little boys with this man that I so respect and love. I know we have a lot more dreams that have yet to come into fruition, a lot of seasons ahead of us and so much more to learn in our journey together. I am so excited to pursue those things with him, because I trust his heart for me is good. He's safe and yet wildly adventurous. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

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Marriage is a choice of faith - having faith in that person. Faith that they will make the best choices for themselves and for you. I am so grateful to share this life with him. It's not easy (marriage counseling, y'all - everyone should get some!), but it's one of the things I am most proud of. Thank you for loving me so well, Stevie! You're a keeper! There is no one else I would rather travel with, cook for, make babies with, laugh at or dream with! I loooooooove you.

P.S. Tonight we are going OUT. #parentsgonewild

A Mad Hatter and a Rolls Royce.


Outfit Details:
ASOS Floral Bardot Maternity Dress, Pink Hat (borrowed from my Mom's hope chest, similar here and here), Charming Charlie Clutch (old, similar here and here), Banana Republic Wedges (sold out, similar here), Anthropologie Stud Earrings


It was all just so British.

The cobblestone streets, the rare London sunshine and the hat atop my head. Coming out of the whitewashed hotel we stumbled upon these flowers that freakishly matched my dress and then a Rolls Royce just appeared out of nowhere. Beckoning me to it, really. Not only is this is the stuff dream blog posts are made of, this is the stuff that dreams are made of! I can't say enough gushing things about this particular experience, because Stevie and I were literally so giddy, relishing the most British experience of our lives (except for maybe the time we did high tea at Fortnum & Mason). We even rode on that red bus you see in the background (up top!), across town to the loveliest of weddings. It was an experience friends, one that I will never ever forget.

I was a little bit wardrobe challenged when I received the invitation to the suite of celebratory events for this wedding. How in the world does one plan for so many maternity outfits? Well, ASOS Maternity ended up being a lifesaver, because the prices are so reasonable and the options are so stylish and sassy. The problem I've found with most maternity sites is that all the dresses look very classic and alike (and let's be honest - bland), which is sort of understandable, since women want to be able to wear their maternity clothing throughout several pregnancies. But that makes it really hard to find trendier, or even colorful options, especially when it comes to occasion-wear. That's what really sets ASOS Maternity apart - I found so many options that I loved, and actually ended up ordering about ten dresses, trying them on at home, and choosing between them. Obviously ASOS is known for it's non-maternity clothing, but if you're a pregnant lady in need of a nice dress, their maternity line is the go-to. And as for that hat, well, what can I say. My mom is my style icon, the original fashionista in my book. This thing was just laying around in her closet.

And there's my date. Oh, and there's Stevie, too. JUST KIDDING! As much as I loved that bus ride, I loved experiencing it with him even more. It was sightseeing and transporting and Kate Middleton stalking all at once. :)

P.S. - More from our London trip here - inhaling rose lattes around Notting Hill and wearing a sari on Queen's Gate Road.

My Sister's Beach Wedding, in Photos.

All photos by Sarah Massie of  Mint & Honey Photography

All photos by Sarah Massie of Mint & Honey Photography

Happy Thursday, friends!

I just saw a mess load of incredibly gorgeous photos from my sister's Nov. 1 beach nuptials and I wanted to share a few quick ones. With her permission, of course. They celebrated in a private ceremony with just a few friends and family around, right on the ocean in St. Augustine. You can read my weepy, big-sister-y letter to her here. I had personally never been to a beach wedding before. Well, I had never been to a beach wedding that hadn't been rained out :) But this one was fully of sunny skies and treasured memories for this sweet couple.

I'm wearing  this dress  from Free People :)

I'm wearing this dress from Free People :)

I love these dear family photos of the three of us, even though Everett's leg was still broken at the time. Many thanks to the crazy talented photographer Sarah Massie of Mint & Honey for capturing a few of our family, along with the bride and groom! If you would like to see more photos (you know, of the actual bride), you can check out her post on the Mint & Honey blog.

You know, I can't remember seeing a bride that wasn't stunning. My sis was absolutely no exception :)

My Dear Sister.

All photos on this post were taken by the talented, highly esteemed Sarah Massie, Mint & Honey Photography.

My Dear Sister. The Bride.

I have so many hopes and wishes for you. I hope you don't mind.

I wish for you all the happiness.

That your heart and your home would be effervescent with silly amounts of joy and laughter, all day, everyday, for all the days of your life.

That your dreams would remain in the forefront of your periphery and on the tips of your fingers. That every possible investment will be made into those dreams, which will turn to plans, which will turn to present, which will turn to experience, and crescendo into your most impacting memories.

That you would learn the patterns of a powerful partnership.

That you would invite Jesus to saturate this union of souls.

That you would, holding hands with your beloved, take risks that make you sweat.

That you would know when to not risk it all.

That you would be imaginative, free, overcome with the ease of being yourself.

That you would listen, always.

That your words would be gentle. Gentler than mine.

That you would know the elegant intimacy of only one other.

That you would allow your character to be challenged, vulnerable to his input, and therefore sharpened. Sharpened by questions, sharpened by encouragement, sharpened by a great many calls to action.

That your heart would remain intact, ever and always open. Don't hide it away, especially if you're hurting. Lay that wound open and figure out, together, how to help it heal.

That you would give everything you have. Give it all away. It's counter to our culture, but please dear, be counter to this culture we live in. Don't let today's ever-shifting society norms define this lifelong covenant.

May this wild, precious life of yours be marked with a legacy of wisdom, truth, generosity, joy, dreams fulfilled and a momentous partnership that looks to the Heavens for guidance.

My hope is that you will be given to, completely. That you will be honored. That you will be equally safe and challenged. That you will be well loved, celebrated in your best and worst moments, calmed down, cheered up, smiled at, embraced, cherished for who you are, pushed forward into your dreams, pushed even more forward to face your fears, and laughed with. I hope you laugh so much.

Make his happiness your priority, and may he do the same.

I am proud of you both. I believe in you both. I trust you both.

And it goes without saying, but I love you.

Love,
the sister of the bride.

P.S. - I love our sisterhood. May it blossom into the strongest, fiercest, tenderest support system for your new partnership to fulfill and flourish. And while I'm making some declarations, may I still be able to dip into your closet every now and then. Oh, may it be so. :)

All photos by Sarah Massie,  Mint & Honey Photography

All photos by Sarah Massie, Mint & Honey Photography

Nashville for the Night.

Stevie and I took the quickest road trip ever to Nashville two weekends ago for our friend's wedding. It was our first time leaving Everett over night, and I was super nervous about it, but we all did GREAT! In fact, Everett was so happy the entire time that I'm thinking we need to make some more plans to leave him again soon. Not too soon, obviously, since his leg incident. But in the near-ish future, when everyone is healed and happy. :) My parents were amazing to watch him for the evening, thanks Mom and Dad!

So, Nashville! I wish we could have had more time to explore! It felt a little bit like a tease of a trip, because we were only there one evening, and we spent that evening at the wedding. We had the most whirlwind experience but SUCH A BLAST. I'll share the few things we did, but honestly, my list of things I wanted to see/do/eat is longer than ever. I guess it just leaves lots of hunger for another trip!

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The wedding was at Vine Street Christian Church (such a lovely spot - an enormous wall of sun-lit windows!) and the reception was at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden, which I hate to say, but puts Atlanta's to shame. It was SO STUNNING. And I tried to be a good wedding guest and not tote my enormous camera along for the evening, so all I've got are a few shots of us all pose-y, pose-y. Needless to say, we had a ridiculous, almost epic kind of time. This wedding was bonkers fun. Congratulations, Justin & Jade!

The next morning, we took a hike for wake up java, which we found at Just Love Coffee. We wished we could have been crazy late-night party animals and hit a few of the rad restaurants/bars on Demonbreun Street the night before, but you know, Intentional October has me falling asleep like a grandma these days. Mental note - come back! We pranced around The Gulch, a newer LEED-certified development, gawked at the line outside of Biscuit Love, decided not to join the crowd, and just kept walking.

I heard Sambuca is cool. But I've only heard it.

I heard Sambuca is cool. But I've only heard it.

We wanted to drive by Vanderbilt on our way out, and we couldn't resist getting out on the open lawn and pretending we were students. I don't know what it is about big campus lawns, but I just love them. I want a book and a blanket and I want to lay out there reading Steinbeck all day, bettering myself just because I CAN. Actually, I can't. We illegally parked, jumped out of the car, checked out the central area of the school (we think?) and then jumped back in the car and blazed outta town before anyone could nab us for being STUDENT IMPOSTERS. Vanderbilt is just lovely in the fall, sidenote.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was actually just the road trip part. I know that might seem silly, but to have like 4.5 hours in the car with Stevie BOTH WAYS was just such a decadent, rich amount of time to talk and laugh together. We don't get that kind of time when we're just doing day-to-day life, and it reminded me of our road trip days when we were in ministry school in California. We drove back and forth from Atlanta to Redding four times, and there is just nothing like a multi-day cross-country road trip to give you an opportunity to really get to know your person. This little trip to Nashville was a sweet reminder of "the good old days", and the thing is, I think we are still living in the good old days. I know I will look back on this season of life with a smile and the warmest kinds of memories, because even though life was freer before we had Everett, it's immensely better with him.

The views of the Tennessee countryside on the way home were stunning. There weren't words. We got out a few times and just stared at the mountains and the water. Because when do I ever take the time just to stare at mountains and water? I feel like they are always telling us something, if we're listening.

So Nashville, we might not have seen your fine bars or listened to the next big country star or toured your epic distilleries - but we had a refreshing, meaningful, ridiculously fun time. Thanks for giving us a night of your time. xox.