The Day the Sun Cried

A quick glance out the window assured me that the day was bright so the cold kerplunk of a rain drop on my nose caught me by surprise when I stepped outside.  A sunny rain shower is a rare phenomenon, even here in Southern California.

I’m an either/or personality.  You can have things either this way or that way.  Buy this or that. My favorite saying in college was, “You can’t have it both ways” which led me to cancel one of campus’ most popular events when no one volunteered to help put it on.  It’s also why most progressive political policies ultimately fail (but that’s another blog post entirely).

But here comes the sunny rains and every little teardrop falling from the clouds holds the promise of a radiant rainbow as the sun doggedly perserves in shining through the showers.

How many beautiful rainbows in my life have I missed because I don’t see the both/and moments?  Joy mixed with streaks of sorrow.  Bad days with sparks of hope.  The adrennaline rush of accomplishment tempered with a lazy afternoon. Having fun and investing in the future.

Both/and makes for messy spreadsheets and uncategorizable moments. I’m too quick to classify my days, weeks, and years with one predominent emotion instead of recognizing that it’s the mixture of many feelings that gives life its beauty.

It might not fit into my color-coded, tabulated life, but the next time life gives me the chance; I’ll take a little rain with my sunshine.

 

Meet Luke.

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this.  But it never felt right until today, which is Luke’s birthday.  Today is the perfect excuse to gush about my incredible husband, without having to apologize for it.

I’ve come to realize over the past 525 days that I have married the best man in the world.  I had my suspicions long before we were married, but I think 12,600 hours of observation and empirical evidence seals the deal.

Now you know why I couldn’t write this earlier. Telling the world that I have the best man is natually going to be disappointing to everyone else.  Men like Luke only come once in a generation and since I’ve claimed this one, it’ll likely be another 50-60 years before anyone else has a chance.

There’s not enough room on the Internet to explain each and every thing about Luke that makes him so incredible, so I’ll focus on the most obvious case study: myself.

Since knowing, dating, and marrying Luke, I am so much more myself in so many better ways.  He focuses my natural competitive nature, dislodges deep set insecurities, and keeps this prone-to-take-life-way-too-seriously girl laughing every day.

He’s taught me that it’s okay to slow down and rest while at the same time explemifying a hard work ethic and dedication to one’s responsibilities.

I have a slight allergic reaction to all Christanese but I’ll risk it to say that Luke truly brings me closer to Christ as we learn more about God together.  He’s also slightly allergic to Christianese which is great so I don’t have to worry about any pithy sayings cross-stiched on pillows showing up anytime soon.

Luke has woken up the brave soul inside of me. He’s taught me that life is the greatest adventure (and Hook is one of the best movies of all time) and that I do like a lot of foods that I’d been habitually avoiding for 20+ years.  He inspires me to run faster and lift more and actually stretch after a workout.

Luke is also good for the environment. He’s taught me that recyclying isn’t just for hippies (oops) and was the first in our family to pioneer the capsule closet journey (which in his case, is the same 5 grey t-shirts that he’s had since high school).

Luke has shown me how to be kinder to others, especially store clerks.  In return, I taught him how to avoid eye contact with kiosk people trying to dump lotion on you.

I could keep going, but if you’ve read this far, you’re probably going to have a sugar crash soon from all this syrupy sweet stuff.  It’s not my normal blog fare, but days like today only come once a year.

With a warm heart and cold toes,

Chloe

A Happy Weekend

As a social media specialist, I spend most of my working hours browsing feeds. And I’ll be honest, it’s a little depressing. I haven’t run any stats but it does feel like 87% of posts are predominately negative.

In an effort to balance out that ratio, I wanted to quickly share 3 wonderful things that happened this weekend and 2 silly ones.

3 Wonderful Things

1. I had a chance to read in a coffee shop and this sparked a conversation with a girl and her grandma about Russian literature and wedding planning. If you’re hesitant to start a conversation with a stranger, go for it. It might just make their day like it did mine.

2. I went into a local gift store where I had a gift card to use. The name of the store had changed and I found out when I got inside that the entire ownership had changed, and thus the current owners didn’t have the money that was paid for my gift card and would basically be giving me free merchandise so they couldn’t take it. As a business-minded person, I completely understood, we had a pleasant conversation, I said I would make the purchase anyway, went to grab my item and when I came back was told they would honor the gift card anyway. Customer service for the win.

3. My husband and I made our bi-weekly trip to the library used book store and realized once we got there that we didn’t have enough cash for the awesome new (old) classics that had come in. Before we realized what was happening, a sweet elderly lady pushed a $20 bill into our hands and told us to buy all the books we wanted. Since our bill was way under that, we passed the book money on to the girl behind us.

2 Silly Things

1. We went to Costco on Friday and the receipt checker said “Thank you and see you tomorrow!” as we departed. I died laughing but almost felt bad we didn’t come back on Saturday to say hi.

2. A man was brushing his teeth in the Home Depot parking lot when I dropped Luke off for work. Weird, but funny.

How was your weekend? What made you smile?

Marriage | The First Year

As of today, we’ve got 365 days of married bliss under our belts and while that doesn’t quite make us marriage experts, it does give me the authority to comment on the dreaded “First Year of Marriage.” Cue the dark lights and sad faces.

Real confession time: the first year of marriage was great.

I’m 100% speaking only out of my own experience so if you’re first year of marriage was the worst or just so-so, I’m truly sorry & hope things got better. But since I have so many friends that are getting married this summer (as evidenced by the growing number of bridesmaids dresses in my closet), I wanted to share this ray of hope.

The first year of marriage does not have to be horrible. Contrary to what every well-meaning marriage book and article will tell you, the first year of marriage does not HAVE to entail:

  • Fights over money
  • Time battles over friendships
  • Arguments over where you spend the holidays
  • General despair
  • No more fun
  • Battling over how you squeeze the toothpaste tube (does anyone actually fight over that? Buy separate toothpaste tubes people. Problem solved)

Those are the common issues that a quick Google search will show you. Or just read the first chapter of any marriage book. Most of the ones we read started with: “You thought marriage would be great. But it’s actually super difficult and painful. Say goodbye to happiness now.”

That might be a bit of an exaggeration and while I completely appreciate the effort to set realistic expectations, but I fear that going into marriage with this deluge of fear-mongering propaganda about how much you’ll fight, the dark secrets you’ll discover, and just how generally miserable marriage can be won’t exactly set you on the path to success.Thankfully, Luke and I were blessed with great premarital counseling, wise older friends, and an innate love of budgeting. I’d highly encourage you to read those marriage books because they have a lot to offer after the first chapter. Here’s my summary of the advice from books, the Bible, and mentors that helped us have an awesome first year of marriage:

  • Discuss as many unspoken rules as you can find before marriage.
  • Embrace the money talk. Budgeting can sound scary, but it also can be super fun to set saving goals and get creative with a food budget.
  • Over-communicate. Girls, we love to get offended when guys can’t read our minds. “But shouldn’t they know exactly what I want to eat for dinner without me telling them?” Or worse: “He should know that xyz would make me upset! By doing it anyway, he clearly doesn’t care for my feelings.” Actually, it’s pretty uncaring to get mad at someone for not being able to read your mind or your hints.
  • Don’t keep score. I learned this one the hard way, which you can read about here.
  • Know which battles to fight. If I wanted to, I could probably get annoyed with Luke about pretty much anything. But I don’t have to. I can choose to take a page out of Queen Elsa’s songbook and simply let. it. go. It’s beautiful. And my out-of-tune warbling rendition of this overplayed mantra always lightens the mood 🙂

I’m beyond excited to witness the many marriages that are forming this summer and have loved learning from the other newlyweds and not-so-newlyweds in my life. As I reflect over this past year and sentimentally sob my way through the many wedding cards, notes, and kind advice given to Luke and I, I mostly want to say: Thank You. Thanks to the family and friends that made our wedding day so special. Thanks to the new friends that helped us move across the country and settle down in the foreign land of California. Thanks to the old friends who have stayed in touch and encouraged us every step of the way.

Impossible Nostalgia

I just wish things were the way they never have been.  174984

It’s fall in Southern California, which means that it’s not fall at all.  Palm trees don’t change leaves, and over-priced cider from Walmart isn’t the same as freshly squeezed apple nectar from an orchard.

At first, I attributed my intense nostalgia to the lack of autumn here and a general homesickness.  Yet, as I attempted to self-medicate this heart sickness through Facebook crawling and copious amounts of decaffeinated tea (official sign of the end of college life), I realized that I was battling an impossible nostalgia.

1043516I have this idea that at some indeterminate point in my past, I enjoyed  quality time with my closest friends while attending a continual coffeehouse and the charms of my hometown.  The reality is, many of my closest friends from college graduated before I did.  School was stressful and cafeterias are inhumane and I was more likely to be serving coffee than sipping it in acoustic bliss. Not only that, but I have dear kindred souls from childhood and high school and none of them are ever in the same place at the same time.  And if I walked through the streets of my hometown, very few would remember my name or face.

It’s a feeling of impossible nostalgia that carries the hope of a reunited tomorrow.

I am not missing out on anything nor can I return to this rose-tinted moment that never existed.   And I have hope for my own Clapham group in the future.  Luke and I are so blessed to have such incredible friends from coast to coast.  Maybe, one day, we’ll all be within driving distance (or at least the same time zone).  I know I’m biased because the common denominator between you all is my husband and I, but I promise you it would be awesome if we gave it a try.  Because you all have already impacted our lives in so many ways for so much good.  Thank you.

Until next time,
Chloe

Layers

This is my senior year, last semester.  A multi-layer image of friendships made and lost or faded or stayed. Fun times and hard times, all dictated by the never-forgiving academic calendar and endless stream of lectures, events, chapels, dances, and the occasional game of bowling.  Everything I experience is held to the light of past experiences in the same place and time, just years later.

Things To Remember

Every once in a while, I make a list of the things in life that I hold strongly to.  Some of them are based on experiences and wisdom from those around me. Like many things in my life, a lot of them are rather arbitrary but I still cling to them quite tightly just to spite their lack of quantification.

I am not ultimately in control of my life or who I am.

Happiness is not our main goal here.

Life is not falling apart; it was never all together to begin with.

Life is an adventure.

It’s going to be okay.

Expectations will kill you.

So kill them first.

The times that I am the worst are the times that I am spending the most time thinking about myself.

We are never alone.

There is no point in needless sadness.

But it’s okay to be sad sometimes.

There are always decisions to be made, we just don’t take the time to realize we are making them.

There is much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Cheap Medicine

My professor today advised us to put our ideas up against the “laugh test”.  If you tell someone your brain child and they make a mockery of it, than it probably isn’t such a good idea.  I just looked at my friend and choked back a laugh of my own.

Laughter is a very common response nowadays  to our ideas.  I  definitely believe that some ideas should be released before they drag you down in impossible pursuits.  Yet if my friend and I had stopped when people laughed at us, we would have missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences.  Perhaps we would have a bit more sanity than we do now, but we would be having a lot less fun and a lot less laughter.  I usually laugh along with those who doubt us,  but I refuse to let laughter get in my way.  Giving someone a good time at my expense is fine, but letting them deprive me of being absurd is not.

I think a lot can be solved through laughter.  When you have a reached a point where you can laugh at yourself, you are never more than one act of mindless goofery away from a good time.  When you can zoom out enough that the overwhelming pixels merge together and become a coherent picture, you can laugh at the lack of perspective you once had and enjoy the birds’ eye view.  Of course, there are issues that must be dealt with and can’t be laughed away.

Still, I have determined to never let the laughter stop me, and instead never stop laughing at this marvelously quirky world we live in.

Strangers’ Smiles and Sunday Sweaters

I am consistently astounded by the friendliness of people I don’t know.  Today, I have pinpointed why a smile from a stranger can make my day when nothing else can.

That person I passed on the sidewalk had no obligation to smile when they saw me.  I wasn’t making awkward eye contact, I didn’t initiate the smile, and they didn’t feel a need to greet me because I’m their lab partner’s sister’s roommate’s neighbor.  We were strangers until the smile.

I am consistently delighted by Sundays.  Some of my friends have dedicated themselves to doing no work on Sundays in honor of the Lord’s day, and I respect them very much for it.  For me, Sunday is a wonderful day to not have the pressure of five meetings in the afternoon and two exams and one quiz during the day.  It is a wonderful day to start with church and allow myself to be by myself or with others or spend a few minutes doing nothing or getting work done so I can thrive and not just survive during the next week.  Rest is highly underrated.  I always insist on wearing a sweater on Sundays.

Sweaters mean comfort and peace and contentment.  Sundays are a good reminder of what every day should contain.

The Difference of 20 Degrees

There are some words that I consistently get mixed up.  Depends and matters.  Affect and effect. (does anyone get that one right?) 11 o’clock and 1’oclock. (I might alone on this one…)
Thermostat and thermometer.

It’s not that I don’t know that there is a difference between a thermostat and a thermometer, I just can’t remember which one is which at a moment’s notice.  The difference is huge though.  One sets the temperature to what you want it to be, the other just records things “as is”.  The same goes for joy and happiness.

Joy is not conditional on the test you just received, if someone looked at you funny, or if the weather is nice outside.  Happiness can be a conditional emotion.  It’s too variable and easily affected to be depended on for any type of self-evaluation.

Joy is a conscious decision.  It goes hand in hand in contentment but steps up the game a bit.

Joy is rejoicing in the things that don’t change (i.e. God’s love for us, salvation, undeserved grace,etc…)

Joy is built on a peace that is derived from God, not simply an absence of troubles or drama.

Joy is a gift and a goal.  It is not earned.  You don’t have to buy 32 boxes of cereal and mail in box tops to receive it.  It also isn’t going to be parachuted from a magical Joy Jet and land in your lap.  It must be pursued and sought after and protected, because joy is easily stolen.

It can be a daily struggle to be consistent in joy.  It’s far easier to keep checking the thermometer because there is nothing you can do about the weather.  Choosing joy takes intentionality and effort.

For me, consistency is more of a curse than a struggle.  There is always a large part of me that stays the same no matter what is going on around me.  This works greatly for me in my favor as it tends to neutralize the possibility for anger or disappointment or frustration or stress.  Yet being consistently apathetic is like setting your thermostat to 60 degrees and never changing it.  There is no value in that, unless you like wearing three sweaters at the same time all the time.

Today could have been a lukewarm day.  There was no reason for it to be a bad day, however.  Mediocre didn’t seem like a favorable option either.  Sticking with a good day felt like settling since I am alive today and have a God that loves me and am surrounded by so much beauty.  Today, I have decided to set my thermostat to 80 degrees and leave it there.

If I can be consistently unconcerned, than I may as well be consistently joyful.