thirty six hours

Monday afternoon, we left my very pregnant sister's house in Montgomery and headed to SC.

After a day and a half of shelf lining and grocery shopping and thunder storms, I answered a 1:45 AM phone call that instantly [meaning, in the middle of the night] brought me back to Montgomery.

Which is now the home of the perfect and wonderful Anna Morgan Stone.

Unpacking, bed-making, landscaping will have to wait. I've got a baby to kiss on!

Isn't life beautiful?!


pack and go

They wrapped and packed each and every one of the picture frames and candle holders whose placement I had toiled over in hopes of stretching our newlywed budget to make that apartment a home. My main aim being to strategically place them to cover the corners where the ancient wallpaper was peeling back.

After they took the last mattress and latched the truck door, we bleached and vacuumed and remembered what it was like to unpack the kitchen the day we walked off of the cruise ship. And what it was like to sit next to the glow of our perfectly short Christmas tree before work in the mornings. And as we [impressively] loaded the rest of our things into our two small cars, we talked about all that we've learned and how we've changed and that we couldn't believe that our time there ended so quickly. I loaded boxes of things too precious to let the movers take [like dried wedding bouquets and art work] and cried. Cried because of a sentimental attachment to our first home and because my brain began grasping the fact that we really are moving far away. And as I steered my way out of the Baton Rouge city limits, I did what any conditionally independent Southern girl would do. I called my mom. And cried some more.

Now we've begun our little journey to this brand new state with our first stop being the in-laws. I'm finding comfort in fresh tomato sandwiches and blueberry picking and old Louisiana roadside stores and grilled squash from the garden. And in the knowledge that this seemingly huge hurtle and change will soon be one of those times in life that is over in a flash because of the Lord's intricate plan and strong guiding hand. Just like everything else.


the goodbyes

Almost three years ago to the day, we gathered around a different table with, I'm sure, great plates of food - something consisting of bread and cheese and sugar. We faced our first change - Hannah was bravely moving to Nashville. In between bites, we told each other pretty much everything we loved about one another, wallowing in tears and encouragement and nostalgia and promises of keeping in touch.

We did keep in touch. We stood in each others' weddings and watched graduations and kissed Natalie's baby and prayed for direction in each others' lives. We took road trips and set up group texts and met for lunch on Saturdays.

On Sunday, we reconvened for a wonderful going away party generously thrown by these friends. The scene was different - a home instead of an apartment, pacifiers, new husbands and boyfriends, different styles, needing to go home to get up for work the next morning. But there was good food - bread and cheese and sugar - and an even greater time spent together.

Earlier that afternoon, Dustin went to his last Pastor Search Team meeting. Meaning he left me alone with my emotions and thoughts and over-producing tear ducts. We had tearfully said goodbye to our church family that morning. A church family that will be irreplaceable but who lovingly commissioned us to a new part of the country and a new part of life. Once D got home, I was a nervous wreck - nervous to face the goodbyes of that night.

I shouldn't have been nervous. Once we had all filled the seats in Nat's new living room, we laughed and talked about old trips and funny stories. And then we laughed some more. Even though I shed some tears while walking to our car that night, I was so thankful for how it had turned out. Thankful that we were able to relive some of our best nights together. Thankful that it felt so normal and so right. Thankful that it didn't seem like an ending. It was, I believe, a proper goodbye.

This night should be kept in a completely different drawer than my lunch with Hannah the next day. Bistro Byronz tasted better than ever as our conversation tiptoed around the fact that, simply, I'm moving far away. Once out of public we silently sobbed the full length Government Street and then some in the capitol parking lot. I have not felt that heart broken since the catastrophe of 2007:

I'm incredibly thankful for both - laughing and crying - and how they bring closure and companionship and care. I'm thankful for the Lord proving time for both. And, as always, I'm thankful for the promise of long distance friendships.

After a wonderful lunch and party at the office yesterday, I think the goodbyes are winding down. I feel my heart shifting to the next set of hopes and concerns. I'm wondering if the timing will work out with the movers and if Molly will go into labor mid-move and how we'll find another church community without comparing them to our CP family and when we'll find friends and if they'll be quiet or funny or sweet. But right now I'm thankful for those who love us enough to remind us that God has a sovereign plan and, no matter what that turns out to be, that it is for our best. I'm thankful that, though this is new to me, there are friends that have gone ahead of us and now offer advice and comfort of understanding

And I'm thankful for Dustin. For his talents and his organization and his care to detail and his deep love. And I'm thankful that I know that this will become even more true in our lives because of this move:

To those walking through this goodbye time with us, I want to thank you for your hugs and fellow tears and prayers. You have made this time, which I feared I would fly right through, incredibly special and meaningful. You mean the absolute world to us, and we look forward to finding out what this relationship looks like long-distance. We love you.


congrats to my grad

The morning after, the first thing out of D's mouth was, "Meg, I'm an LSU alumni."

Yes you are, babe. Yes you are!

Though I might be a little bias, I can't imagine anyone more deserving. Or anyone who has worked harder. All while sacrificing so much of his life for his community and his wife [that's me].

I hope he felt properly celebrated. He'd be satisfied with a McDonald's ice cream cone, so I have a feeling he felt like King for the Day.

Which he deserved.

Times one million.


i'll love ya, tomorrow!

So this is happening tomorrow...

It will be a diploma earned by blood, sweat, and tears. And I mean that literally. I feel privileged to have always been surrounded by friends and family who accomplish great things and reach incredible goals that leave me beaming with pride. But I have never been so proud of a person in my entire life. And I am so honored to call that person my husband! I really am going to do my best to hold it together. But we all know how great I am at that.

In knowing what D would enjoy and in the wake of a multi-state move, I really am doing my best to keep this graduation partying as simple as possible. But oh my goodness I cannot wait to par-tay!

[banner, cookie, water, caps, punch, diplomas]

On a slightly more serious note, I encourage you to check out Shauna Niequist's commencement speech. A favorite [and applicable] line:

If you are a graduate, I hope you eat two slices of cake. I hope you throw your mortarboard the very highest. And I hope, even though you feel lost in a sea of equally unflattering graduation robes, that you know you have achieved a rare and celebratory and ever-so-difficult goal. My sincerest congratulations.


lunch for moms [and some coon too]

When it comes to gifts, my mom and grandmothers are always saying that they don't need anything or don't want anything or are just happy to have us home. Well, I'm sure that's true. But everybody's got to eat, right? RIGHT. For Mother's Day, Pops and I (who I lovingly referred to as my sous chef) put together a pretty ladies luncheon for our ever-so deserving moms. Who doesn't love a little lace, flowers, stemware, and silver?

Pre-church breakfast which we ate in my mom's ginormous cloud of a bed. I shamelessly stole the skewer idea from Pinterest.
Recipes below!
My new go-to cake. It was that good.
It seemed like dinner was a hit! They thanked me for a break from butter beans and chicken and cornbread which, as we know, can never ever ever be replaced. Its like going on vacation. You always have to come home. And home is fried chicken.

Mother's Day Lunch Recipes:
Strawberry Salad [don't skimp on the fresh basil]
Pimento Cheese Scones [next time I'll use half of the salt]
Asparagus with a Balsamic Reduction
Roasted Corn Grits
Almond Sheet Cake [I can still taste this]

Our other but completely unrelated excitement for the weekend was waking up to these babies on Friday morning:
At first we spotted one. And then two.
And then three more!
I wanted to keep every last one of them. I bet they had a proud mama on Mother's Day. I mean, look at those adorable faces! We'll add "baby animal siting" to the list of reasons why I love visiting my hometown.

And fried chicken.


on regrets and being present

Between bites of salty chips and our favorite Cajun-inspired Mexican food, we talked about moving details and  building a new budget and our inability to wrap our minds around the fact that we'll no longer have a zip code that begins with the number seven. Instead it's a new five-digit number that I have yet to memorize. And while watching the sunset over the Mighty Mississippi, we talked about what changes we were ready for and which ones we couldn't bare to face. D had spent his last evening working with his group and turned in his report and notebook, his last engineering undergrad assignments ever. I think I asked him three or four times what it feels like to never have to study on campus again in the hopes that he might attach words to the feeling swirling inside my head and my heart. He couldn't. But there was certainly a rumbling excitement underneath that conversation's surface. And a small but expected heart pang.

Being honest, this is the time that I have been waiting for. The time when I proudly watch D walk across that graduation stage and when we get to begin spending time together in the evenings and when I end my job which I'm very thankful for but also sure it is not what I was created to do forever and ever. And I have certainly been waiting for it. Stubbornly. With frustration and an unsatisfied heart.

You see, I had originally intended to write about my regrets. Regret for not having everyone we wanted to over for dinner. Regret for not exercising more or being a better coupon-er. Regret for not being able to meet with Rebecca weekly as we had hoped and planned. Regret for how little time we spent with our neighbors. With a whole lot of "poor pitiful me's" and "guess I'll just have to move on's" thrown in. But I've been taught and reminded, by a loving and pursuant God, two very important things:

1) God gave us late nights and early mornings and impossible schedules because He has a sovereign purpose woven in and out of every hour, minute, and second of our lives.

2) The only regret I should take away from this year is how I responded to those impossible schedules. Again - stubborn, frustrated, unsatisfied.

When I think about my attitude throughout most of this year, I picture myself sitting on our hand-me-down couch, arms and legs crossed, staring blankly, lips tight. Choosing not to accept what this day to day life has turned out to be. Choosing not to talk to my Father about it. Choosing to stick it out, bad attitude and all, until we can move on. Though it becomes a perfect personification of my heart, the truth is that I wasn't just sitting. I was working late and waiting up for D and crying because I was weary of being alone until eleven at night. Or sometimes five in the morning. It is also true that this wasn't an every day situation. There were plenty of exciting and funny and encouraging moments. Probably more so than not. But all the while I felt my heart slipping into that stubborn, waiting attitude. Even if I didn't show it.

As I think on it and talk to God about it, that blinding sense of regret seems to deflate while the memorable lessons sink their way deeper into my heart and mind. This is one of those moments when I am overwhelmed by the grace that He gives by His ceaseless teaching and by His power to overtake my ugly attitude. If I were Him [and let us all take a moment to offer up a few Hallelujahs that I am not], I'd feel as though  I was an exhausting waste of time. Yet, in His presence and through His eyes, I am His beloved. What a staggering fact.

Moving forward [which is simply what grace allows you to do], I'll hope to do a few things differently. I'll be better at time management instead of letting these new work schedules spin my college-freedom-lover of a self into clamoring ball of exhaustion. And with that time I will not neglect spending time in the God's Word and talking to Him and, most importantly, listening. You would think I would have grasped this one by now. But I am thankful to have experienced the starvation that comes from separation from my Bread of Life. It is not something I want to relive. And a constant, positive attitude and outlook is not something to be conjured.

I'll also, because of God's grace-filled lessons, be better at living in the present. A present filled with life and energy and dimension whether its spent at home with my husband [who I love so much more than when we married that it doesn't even seem possible] or at dinner with friends or in a grey cubicle. I think that will have a lot to do with a satisfied heart. A heart filled with the Spirit because of time purposefully spent with Him. A heart very opposite of my depleted version from this past year. A heart that doesn't depend on an earthly situation. I also think loosening my grip on the overly premature to-do lists will help while purposefully keeping this crazy brain of mine focused on today. Because today is good, and today is a gift.


mother's day gift giving

The other night, D and I had a conversation on how interesting it was to him that I thought about upcoming holidays and occasions where we would want to purchase gifts so far ahead of time. I didn't think a couple weeks before Mother's Day was all that early. I also didn't tell him that I'm already toiling over what to do for Daddy's big 6-0 in January. I think it best to ease him into the Crazy Land portion of my brain as slowly as possible.

As we know, I'm a fan of the gift thing. Some would call it a love language. I would agree. For this fabulous Friday, I leave you with a little mom-gift inspiration:

[bracelet, pajama pants, soap dish with soap, photo mugs, dish towel, garden tools]

P.S. D and his group received constructive criticism, lots of "good jobs," and a solid round of applause! Thank you to those who have prayed for that seemingly impossible mountain of a project. We could never express our gratitude!


done and done

This afternoon, Dustin and his three teammates will present their senior design project. A project full of nine months worth of sweat and steel and brain cells and sleepless nights. This morning, over our very rare breakfast of homemade waffles, I felt as though I couldn't tell him enough how proud I was of how he has balanced so many responsibilities and accomplished this seemingly impossible [to me] project. But it's done! And it's incredible!

Since I know that he has done his very best, I want him to feel such a sense of accomplishment and relief and completion. So if you think of him around 2 o'clock this afternoon [or right now, of course] please pray for calm nerves, clear speech, good communication among their team, no technical difficulties, and favor in the eyes of the [purposefully] critical panel. We appreciate it more than you'll ever know!

P.S. Yes, this means we might actually get to see one another in the evenings! So incredibly exciting!

P.S.S. Some people have asked me what this is exactly. [I think] it is a model of a soot blower used in Georgia Pacific's mills which their group has built [from scratch] to be able to simulate common failures on command so that GP can use it as a tool to train the operators. I think. It took me nine months just to learn how to describe the thing. 



Stop crying after church and home group. Make myself stop drinking Diet Coke. Spend tonight preparing for the movers to assess our amount of belongings on Thursday. Make sure I can go to Ruston next weekend. Stop worrying about the movers sorting through every single thing we own and if they'll destroy my dried wedding bouquet in the process. Get the girl from HR to respond to my "I'm leaving the state so tell me what I need to do" email. Celebrate the completion of D's life-consuming senior project. Develop my "what to do when Molly goes into labor" plan. Catch up with Meg Hope. Stop Googling furniture wants and stop watching the YouTube video of our house. Find time in our impossible schedules to meet with Rebecca. Plan the biggest graduation celebration imaginable for the most deserving graduate imaginable. Make Molly a baby wreath. Purge our belongings. Don't forget to pray for B's job search. Figure out the meaning of a "proper goodbye." Stop eating my feelings. Spend time with the Jenkins clan. Keep future-job-dreaming. Help Abs brainstorm company names. Don't give into my anxiety. Pass on job responsibilities. Attend Cait and Eric's house blessing. Quit playing phone tag with my best friends. Help D send his graduation announcements. Buy wedding gifts. Start dealing with leaving emotions. Let Noah fall asleep on my shoulder again. Stop running out of breath when walking upstairs. Celebrate Mother's Day. Clean every inch of our apartment. Find replacement for our spot on the church's nursery rotation. Stop re-reading the May issue of Country Living. Make South Carolina feel like home.

All of this and more is standing between us and our May 27th move to South Carolina. As much as endings and graduations and new houses and weddings and tiny babies tend to shower me with nostalgia that I absolutely love to swim around in, I feel as though I'm being hurried through those moments by all of this other stuff. All of these other technicalities

As someone who loves to feeeel [and who loves to make others feel as well], I'm currently fearful of not having enough time to really figure out this heart roller coaster of mine in time to be present with my emotions during the move. At the same time, I'm slightly terrified of actually allowing myself to face those emotions because, as excited as we are, saying goodbye to certain faces is going to be nothing short of traumatic.

What I absolutely don't want to happen is to let only what I feel be stress and anxiety over boxes and schedules and not having enough shower curtains. And when I expect my sinner-of-a-self to automatically rest in the Lord, I want to yell "what does that really mean?!" at the redundant, church-girl voice in my head. I should learn what that really means. I'll add it to the list.

For now, I'll remember that my seemingly out of control life is controlled by the One who controls the ticking seconds and the ever-rotating planets and each and every person's blinking eyes and beating heart. He's the same One who knows my crazy brain's need for a "proper goodbye." He's also the same One who knows what we really need and provides it. And the One who can intimidate the heck out of my ginormous very small to-do list.