adventures in resting.

Paul and I had the loveliest getaway to the mountains last weekend. Seeking adventure, rest, and a chance to recharge, our little trip checked all the boxes. It was technically a belated anniversary celebration, but was mostly just a great excuse to turn off our phones and have some time together.

I LOVED that we had, quite literally, NO service in Great Smoky National Park, where we camped and spent the first day and half of our trip. As my job keeps me so tethered to my phone and the internet on and off most weekends, my priority was to keep myself removed as possible from social media, my phone, email, and work. I even had Paul take all of our pictures on his phone, so I wasn’t tempted when opening my phone when we spent an amazing two and half days in Asheville!

A few highlights of our trip, apart from space for conversations, dreaming and scheming sans phones were:

Climbing Chimney Tops in the Smokies!

 

Camping in the park and hiking Andrew’s Bald & Clingman’s Dome

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Catching Michigan Football in our Airbnb

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Wandering around Asheville, great food at Biscuit Head, writing in a great little coffee shop and finding a Champagne & Used Book store!!

Vortex Donuts & New Belgium Brewery

 

It was a delightful trip, and hard to return to real life. Adventurous rest.

I’m a huge fan of being married to Paul, but in recent months it’s been hard to prioritize one another in the ways we’d like to. Paul starting school shook our rhythm more than we’d planned. We have not been consistently doing church or pursuing God together. We’ve just been missing. There are a variety of reasons, but as we’ve begun to unpack it a bit we’re working on it. We’re walking it out and feel like we’re missing less often then we were. We’ve committed to calibrate, to recognize areas that we need to grow, and choose the other person when it’s not convenient or easy.

This little four days away from real life was just what we needed.

I think this is perfect summation of my life with Paul – found outside a hole in the wall gas station/gift shop/ice cream parlor in the mountains of North Carolina – picture credit the old woman who accidentally took a burst on my camera and gave us 25 images to choose from!

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A letter to my husband after 1,096 days of marriage

Paul Robert Vought,

Today I woke up as your wife for the 1,095th time. It has yet to get old. I love being yours. It is a name that I wear with honor. Despite that you are a furnace when you sleep, and the fact that you cannot be shaken from said sleep when you are snoring, I love seeing your face in the morning. I love the safety and security your presence has brought to my life since I met you.

The last 1,096 have been my absolute favorite days. Even when they weren’t. In the three years we’ve been married we have faced some treacherous, scary, and trying things. Through it all, it is your hand I’ve wanted in mine. I look back on the first year of our marriage with tears in my eyes. I am so very thankful for the man that you are.

Thanks for choosing me.

So many times I can look at our story and see that when I was not easy to choose – you chose me. You reminded me that I was worth the fight. When I fell asleep crying, scared of what the next day might bring, you held my head on your chest and promised to wake up choosing me. When we were both clueless, tired, and worn out, you chose to lift me up instead of yourself. You daily choose to see the beauty placed inside of me, and look past the ugly parts of me. When I doubted my identity, you spoke up and reminded me who and whose I am.

You have been pointing me back to my Creator since before you asked me to be yours. It is one of the reasons that I pride myself in being called yours, because you fully understand that we are both the others, first by being His.

I could spend the next three years describing the ways you have won my heart a new each day, something you promised to do three years ago in front of all our friends and family, but instead I will just tell you three simple truths.

  1. I have never loved another like I love you.

You have completely and irrevocably stolen my heart. You have shown me time and time again that you are a man of character and valor, and through your actions reminded me that I am worthy of such a mate, even when I doubted that I deserved you. You are an unfathomably mystery, and just when I think I’ve got you figured out, you surprise me, steal my attention, and consume me. It is in my failings that I find how very much I long to love you well, and how very blessed I am to get to love you each day. Few have what we have, Vought. Thank you for loving hard and recklessly with me.

  1. I have never laughed more than when I’m with you.

When you were stealing my heart I read a quote that said, “I will know he is the one when he makes me laugh.” At the time it made more sense than any poem or love song I had ever heard. You were and still are my best friend. There has always been an ease in my relationship with you. You have never asked me to be something I’m not, and I walk into my truest self when I’m around you. You get me at a level that no one else does, you think I’m hilarious, you dance like an idiot with me, and you know exactly what to say to make my heart lighter. Thank you for late nights, belly laughs, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

  1. I have never dreamed bigger dreams than when I have you in my corner.

You propel me to dream bigger. When I desire to sit, gazing over the precipice, enjoying the view, you grab my hand and pull me over the edge. You refuse to let me settle for mediocre or enough. You push me to dream beyond normalcy and become who I am destined to be. Even in the last few months, you’ve challenged me to think bigger, grander, and more impossible and each time speak over me with a conviction that sparks hope and expectations. Thank you for having full confidence in an insane, grand and impactful future with and for me.

Tomorrow will be a normal Thursday, but it will be another day to explore grace, choose love over the easy, and tackle this adventure we’re on. I am honored to be your wife. Honored to call you mine. And honored to serve alongside you. I’d do it all over again.

Happy Anniversary my love.

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Hiatus.

It’s been three months since I last blogged.

As I typed that sentence I imagined myself sitting in a confessional…it’s been three months since my last confession… And in a way writing sometimes feels like a confessional. An expunging of the thing inside me that NEEDS to be shared.

I feel a lot of shame having to start a blog post with the above sentence.

So let’s get it all out there. My blog has slowly, but surely, moved down the to-do list in the last three months…and really the last year if we’re being truthful. Writing is a risky, but strengthening place for me to turn. It’s often an experiment in creativity.  In the past I’ve used it as a way to verbal process – working through my emotions, deconstructing murky ideas about the world, delving into spiritual truths until they sink in – all in hopes of encouraging myself and maybe even encouraging others in the process. And you thought it was just a way for me to hone my pithy inner dialogue…

But the last six or so months writing has not seemed like a safe place. It feels more like an exercise in futility and insecurity. Feeling an impulse to write has been more ruled with obligation and a need to produce, than a desire to do something that feeds my soul.

AND in the midst of that Paul and I have been finding a new normal and rhythm in our lives.  So there has been a very real and justifiable excuse to push it to the background. We’ve been BUSY… Paul is almost six months and nine credits into his Master’s program. I am almost six months into my new position as my organization’s Social Media Manager. Both things are AMAZING answers to prayers, but change takes some adjustment. Paul LOVES his program and I love seeing him in his element. Seeing Paul walk in his calling is one of the best gifts God has ever given to me. I love seeing hIMG_9517.JPGis heart come alive. I, on the other hand, am loving the opportunity to engage with a new side of non-profit work, walking in several of my giftings as well. I love the challenge that each day brings and am finally getting a footing and strategy.

So there it is.

Mix together a few large life changes and rhythm disrupters, some fears of inadequacy and feelings of insecurity surrounding creativity,  and you’ll find my blogging hiatus sitting squarely in front of you.

But I’m owning it. No more fear. No more putting it off for more tangible and deceptively pressing things. Writing, here and elsewhere, is something worth prioritizing.


So to catch up on the last three months, here are three things I’m learning in this season

Number 1: I love feeding people. I do not like doing dishes.

Hard as it might be to believe, I am not the cleanly one in our marriage. Many of you may be gasping, my mother is not. For the almost three years Paul and I been married, we have had a pretty good thing going.

I fed us. He did the dishes.

When we got married I had a desire to grow in my cooking abilities. “Grow” is a generous word because I didn’t really have any ability to start with. It caught me by surprise, but I discovered that I really liked meal planning, experimenting in the kitchen, and inviting others to experience good food. I have found that one of my love languages is food. I love to love people through their tummies.

Enter grad school.

In the midst of our crazy last six months God has BLESSED us like crazy with amazing community! Bringing out the folding table, or just eating around the coffee table Paul and I have been able to host, feed, and love on lots of our favorite people. Being around a table with friends, swapping stories and enjoying food, feeds both our hearts and stomachs. We’ve loved it. But…the system fell apart. Paul’s evenings are full with school after work, and in order to also prioritize friendships and community the prep and clean-up aren’t shared as often. Please hear me, he’s incredible and helps A TON! The man is working full time and going back to school!  I just hate dishes and didn’t realize how spoiled I’d become.

Come to think of it, Paul has carried more than his fair share of “household duties” over our marriage. I didn’t realize how much of his cleaning went unnoticed by me. I’m noticing now….and stepping in. It’s an adjustment. And I hate doing dishes. I digress… new rhythms.

Number two: I love yoga.

Tuesday and Thursdays for the last few months at 6 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can find me at the East Nashville YMCA in yoga class. Now my mother really is gasping!

I’m learning to give myself grace when I reset my alarm for an hour later and skip out on my yoga class…like this morning…but mostly I’m loving this new routine and rhythm. It’s a great way to start my day and I’m slowly becoming more flxible and challenging my body in a new way!! It’s a far cry from the running, weight lifting, and other forms of exercise that I normally engage in.

#BigFan!

Number three: I am creative.

It’s been a buzzword in many of my conversations, and I blogged a bit about it here, but I’m slowly accepting that I am indeed, creative. About two months ago I decided to take intentional time to delve into the lies that I was buying into – the ones that say I’m not creative, I can’t do something new, I don’t have what it takes, etc. I was lacking vision and wanted to take it on full force.

My husband called it an existential crisis. I’m not sure what I called it. I just knew I wanted to take action.

I designated a journal with a sassy Tina Fey quote on the front, sent as a “just because” surprise from my Mother In Love a few weeks before, as my vision journal and got to work. I began asking God what He saw in me. He surprised me with a very long list of beautiful attributes that I told myself I would not argue. But to be honest, it’s been daunting. Throughout this exploration, the first thing that’s sinking in is the idea that I am made in my creator’s image. His first action, on page one of the Bible, is to create. He created everything from nothing, then breathed life into humanity. Therefore, creativity, I remind myself daily, is breathed into my DNA.

I’m still in process. But I’m excited to see where this leap takes me.


So there it is. I’m very thankful for all of you that made it to the end of this post. Thankful to get it out there. Thankful that I serve a God who takes my misses, my shame, and my fears at face value and promises to redeem them. Thankful that I am enough, just as I am, but called to more. Thankful for a husband who works hard and steps into purpose and vision. I’m still pretty amazed that I get to call him mine, and that he still finds time to win my heart anew almost every day. Thankful for grace, purpose and vision! Thankful for dirty dishes that remind me of fun nights with friends that are becoming family.

Make today great my friends! You are so very loved!

Where I turn when the world is heavy

One of my favorite things about marriage is having a buddy to take on life with. I love that as the waves rise around me, and my body tenses, I get to reach out and find someone bracing to swim alongside me. Much of our first almost two years of marriage has required a far amount of this companionship. I would not change it for the world. It’s beautiful and Biblical.

But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” -Mark 10: 6-9

Sound familiar? (hint, it’s the name of our blog and the words tattooed on our wrists.)

However, I have a tendency to err on the wrong side of that equation. I negate the “what GOD has joined together,” part. My bend is to call on my husband first when my world feels heavy. There is so much beauty in that. He is a safe place for me. He is the one who often catches my tears, and reminds me what is true, and together we take it to God. Sometimes the Lord is whispering to me, urging me to bring the heaviness to Him, but I refuse. Sometimes he urges, and I listen. I’m always glad when I do.

What a weird paradox it is. There are so many beautiful intricacies of marriage that allow us to experience the character and essence of God to a greater depth. But our flesh so often allows that beauty to be twisted and we miss the point.

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken -Ecc. 4:12

The point is that we’re stronger when we involve Him. I am stronger when I seek His will first. (Matthew 6:33). I am a better wife, help-meet, friend, daughter, employee, sister, etc. when I seek His face, His truth, His presence, instead of asking someone else to fill that void. My husband is a wise, humble and tender man. I picked him very intentionally, but his finite wisdom is sourced in the Lover of My Soul. Sometimes I forget that. 

Yesterday my world was heavy. I had one of those days where you see just one too many broken parts of the world. My job often has me on a see-saw finding the balance between redemption and hope, and brokenness and pain. It was one of those days, the scorecard I was seeing showed the other guys winning. My heart hurt, and the tears were on the cusp of spilling as a I felt the weight of it in my office. I began to hear familiar whispers:

[My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.] -Song of Songs 2:10

[Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.] -Hosea 2:14

I chose to ignore Him.

As I got in my car to drive home, I thought, “Maybe I’ll have a quiet time when I get home,” and I grabbed my phone to call Paul. As my phone began to dial I heard another whisper, [stop.]

I stopped.

[Why wait until you get home? You have an entire drive home. Talk to me.]

This is not what I wanted. I wanted to talk to my husband and let the tears I’d been holding finally fall. But I reluctantly agreed to drive home, no radio, and be.

Paul called me and I informed him that God told me I needed to talk with Him before talking to Paul and I was listening. My sweet husband responded, “Well okay. I’ll talk to you about it when you got home.”

The world did not drastically shift as I drove home half yelling and half whining to the Lord. I didn’t find the answer to my questions. I didn’t even really find resolve to the pain that my eyes were seeing all around.

Instead I began singing. (so glad that I was alone in the car!)

I don’t need all the details aligned.

I just need to hear that it’s going to be alright.

The world is heavy. My bent is to find a tangible place to find comfort. Sometimes when I listen to the One who breathed and sang me into existence, I find the peace that surpasses all understanding.


And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

-Revelations 21:4-5

Date Night

We’re big fans of the date night over here.

When we were “dating” in college, Paul and I set aside almost every Wednesday night for a date. Our weeks got crazy, and we are both social butterflies, so it was often the one time a week that we spent time with JUST each other. (don’t get us wrong friends…we loved and craved your company). We were college poor, meaning we somehow had enough to eat out occasionally, and get drinks on the weekends, but our bank accounts rarely went above $100. I remember hearing a quote from New Girls around that time by Nick Miller that categorized our lives…”I’d be rich, like fill my gas tank all the way up rich!” What can I say, our expenses were low and social engagement high. So our date nights were often movie nights, parking structure chats, or walks on railroad tracks. One of my favorites was our second date. We went to Salvation Army and each had $10 to buy anything we wanted!!

We continued the pattern when we got married. Paul and I tried to really prioritize continuing to have our weekly “date night.” But also, we were poor (the real kind) and in a new city, so it seemed like every night was “date night.” We got creative and still set aside each Wednesday. Silly as it sounds, because we had copious amount of time together, I really look forward to that. I knew that long term when our lives would inevitably get busy and we wanted it to still be a priority.

Lately we have gotten a bit out of the habit of date night. It seemed that our weeknights filled up and we’ve been going everyIMG_6380 weekend since the middle of April. So last week we took back date night!! Paul texted me part way through the day to suggest that we watch a foreign movie and make up the plot. It was so fitting for us- you see another thing Paul and I liked to do during our college date nights was get a coffee and sit in Starbucks making up stories about all the people around us. We’ve always been fans of a good story!!- While watching The Chorus  we made up a story about Pierre, and little Benito and their sad home lives. It was glorious. In addition we made S’mores in our cast iron skillet.

So here I sit again on our couch, taking back date night! We’re starting a new Netflix series and drinking gin & tonics. We’re still being budget conscious (we budgeted for a date night out…next week!!) but we’re committing to it.

Love,

The “smitten and not tired of one another yet” Voughts

A 2 day late Happy Birthday post

It’s 2 days late, but in all fairness my life has been hectic. So here it goes…

I (Mickenzie) would like to publicly acknowledge the 25th birthday of Paul Robert Vought! 25 years ago God decided it was time for little Pauly to make his entrance into the world, and I’m sure He chuckled. Paul has brought much joy, laughter, and excitement into the lives of everyone who knows him. I like to think that God waited for just the right moment to bring Paul into the world so that he could meet me and woo me. (well that’s not entirely how that went, but close enough!!) I used to joke with Paul and say I think God designed his shoulders just right for my head to fit. So you get it…I’m smitten with Paul!!


I thought it might be fun to post 25 things I have come to love about Paul to celebrate his 25 years:

1. He makes me laugh like no one else.

2. He can quote movies almost verbatim, after seeing them just once.

3. He has nice “man legs.” (he would agree)

4. He loves to write a good story.

5. He loves to live a good story.

6. He attempts to know me better everyday.

7. He snores when he sleeps.

8. He likes to be the master of his domain, and makes our yard look impeccable.

9.  He acts like a bit of an old man: he nurses coffee, he wears house shoes, and grunts when he stands up.

10. He loves sweets, and forces me to fight for my fair share (meaning at least 1/4 of whatever it is!)

11. He’s passionate.

12. He reminds me what is true when I am FREAKING out.

13. He dresses nice.

14. He has a nice beard. I don’t really remember what he looked like before he had it.

15. He is passionate about the purpose God has placed on his life.

16. He loves his friends incredibly well. He seeks people out, and makes them feel important.

17. He doesn’t back down from hard thing. He has led us well through many a crazy adventure.

18. He has a nice singing voice…and let’s me sing as loud as I want without making fun of my not so lovely voice.

19. He loves children, especially his little sisters and our niece and nephew.

20. He hates how I drive, but willingly let’s me drive the nice car.

21. He smells nice…most of the time. Well he smells like him.

22. He was my best friend before my boyfriend, so I don’t get to pull any tricks with him. He knows me too well.

23. He supports my dreams while often putting his on hold.

24. He loves our puppy.

25. He’s an amazing husband and is going to be a great father!

Well that was hard…I have so many more I could write


Lastly, I love buying birthday presents and celebrating birthdays!! For Paul this year I got him Whiskey glasses with a map of Nashville, an ice cube tray to make big whiskey cubes, and surprised him with a trip to the Jack Daniels Distillery. (I also like themes!!)

And then on his actual birthday we went to Burger Republic and had YUMMY burgers and milkshakes!

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Blessed to live life with this guy!

Love,

The girl Vought

It’s March again.

I’m reflecting. Feel free to come wade in with me.

When I think about the difficult season we found ourselves in last year, I always seem to trace it back to last March. I started a new job, the weight of all the change in our life hit, my anxiety went through the roof, Paul remained in a horrible job situation, and I struggled with my health. All of these events began one of the hardest season of my life to date.

It’s March again.

On March 1st last year, the first day of my new promotion, we had a humungous ice storm in Nashville. I was so anxious I forced myself to go to work, against the warnings of my boss. I felt compelled to go. Despite being one of the only 4 people in the office, I felt so shameful that I waited until 10, instead of 8. I couldn’t provide myself the grace to not go to work. I felt like I had to prove that my new promotion was warranted. If I was not able to go to work, I was a failure. I equally felt shame for disobeying my boss and going. I was a puddle of shame, obviously.

Shame is something that I have worked through a ton since last March. Perhaps I’ve only scratched the surface, but it’s like so many things in life, once you realize it, you see it everywhere. As I’ve shared on here before, I attended Christian Counseling for a few months to help me sort through my anxiety and deep rooted areas of shame. (side note, I’m a HUGE proponent of counseling…go!! If you need someone equipped to help you wade through areas of your life..go!! If you’re facing something you can’t make sense of…go! It is a sign of health and a desire to grow.) For a season, it was KEY in my life.

Here is a definition of shame that I have returned to many times as I begin to understand my motives, actions, and emotions. It has helped me shape my understanding of that all too familiar— knot in your stomach, everyone can see me, can I disappear, what was I thinking, I want to hide, something is not right, I have to be xyz,—feeling…the one I’m discovering we all often feel and can’t name: shame.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance or belonging.

-Brene Brown I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

That day at work, I had no reason to feel shame. It wasn’t warranted. The shame that I was feeling was not isolated to that incident. It was not even the cause. I had expectations for myself that I was not meeting. Shame is funny that way. I believe this moment one year ago is a prime example of the beginning of a journey to discover showing myself grace, expecting less of myself, finding strength in weakness, and being where I am. (Not that I have got it figured out)

I am in love with the author Shana Neiquist. A few weeks ago I was reading her book Bittersweet. I read a passage that simultaneous made me want to burst out in laughter, start bawling, and puke. It was one of those kick to the stomach moments, because her words related so well to my tendency. She shares about an experience of driving in the car with her husband discussing how she is so tired and incapable of thinking past her exhaustion, plagued with the comparison to those around her seemingly doing what she can’t. She asked ‘Why can’t I pull it all together?’ To which her husband gently responds,

you know, honey, just because some other people can do all that, it doesn’t mean that you can or have to. Maybe it’s too much for you.

It’s her response that makes me believe that I’m not the only achieving, shame-filled, and crazy person out there…

One tiny, almost imperceptible beat of silence. And then I yelled, viscerally, from the depths of my soul, as though possessed, “I’M NOT WEAK!!!”

As soon as the words came out, we looked at each other in alarm. It seemed, perhaps we’d hit the heart of something. One of my core fears is that someone would think I can’t handle as much as the next person. It’s fundamental to my understanding of myself for me to be the strong one, the capable one, the busy one. the one….

I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want to be incapable. I don’t want to not have it all together. But often holding on so tightly to these demands is the exact thing that produces shame in me.

It’s March again.

We had another ice and snow storm this week. I was tempted and compelled, again, to make my way to work through the snow and ice. Because, obviously, I could. My sweet husband challenged me as to why I felt the need to risk driving on the slick roads, with all the crazy Nashville drivers. I was capable of doing so. But did I need to? 

Assessing my motives I realized they were rooted in my fear that people would think I was weak, incapable, or uncommitted. I was afraid that one day away would undo the image I’d established. I was tempted to say I felt guilty for taking a vacation day, but the real word for it was shame. So instead, I took the day off.

And what a glorious day it was. Paul and I took Shilo to the dog park and went sledding with two of our favorite friends. We watched Braveheart, ate kettle corn and made calzones. We laughed, and hung up things in our house and rested. It was a peaceful day. One of those days that makes you sigh with relief at the end of it, while simultaneously trying to grasp onto the last few minutes of it.

Here’s my last quote for the day.

To fully acknowledge one’s shame is to give it to the one Person who smiles it away. He restores, forgives and replaces shame with peace.

-Jamie George Love Well 

It’s March again.

There’s something about the consistency of the way God designed time and seasons that brings redemption and reflection.

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Love,

Just one Vought