Category Archives: THINGS I DISCOVER

RINGING IN 2016

Oh 2015, the year of new adventures.

It was interesting for sure. I became an aunt, booked a few jobs, lived alone for the first time, and drove drove drove til my tush was numb – all while spending 1/3 of the year away from my husband. It was rough. But it was a good rough.

I mean, let’s face it. No one’s year turned out like they would have envisioned. May it be good surprises or tire-popping potholes, we all encountered something unexpected, and the same thing will happen next year. The best thing we can do is be ready to face the giants of 2016 head-on while paying attention to the little details along the way.

Today has been entertaining though. It’s the last day of the year, and everyone is reflecting on what happened the last 365 days. I could join in by listing what I did, who I met, where I went, and how I changed, but I’ll spare you the gag sesh. I know what I’m proud of. I’ll keep it to myself. Instead, I’d like to share with you some things I learned + precautions I will take in 2016. Feel free to take notes.

Lessons from 2015

Your hair can and will get stuck in a blowdryer. I’m not the exception to the rule.

Not everyone loves my dog as much as I do.

Selfies are ok as long as you use a tripod.

Ticks are real. Very real.

75% of what comes out of my mouth at home is completely ignored by my husband. I’m ok with it.

You should keep your eyes open at all times while singing in the car.

It may take buying seven or eight lip stains to find the right shade. Oops.

Living alone is fun. It only takes 3 weeks to stop crying!

You won’t ‘literally die’ from giving up a TV show or two.

And lastly, it’s ok to touch other people’s pets and babies. Just ask first.

Goals for 2016

Go on more hikes.

Eat less bread and cheese. And tator tots. No more tator tots.

Try my best to actually use the 100 bottles of nail polish I own.

Get more than two haircuts a year.

Give gifts and compliments often.

Wear more sunscreen – not because I need to, but because apparently it’s healthy.

Say yes to everything. But not drugs. Don’t do drugs.

Take more pictures with Morgan. 

Give away more clothes. Give away, like, all my clothes.

Love everyone. With all that you have. No matter what.

I hope you all have a blessed New Year. Be safe. Have fun. Keep my lists for future reference.

Love,

Lauren

Photos by Anna Grace Photography

EXPLORE MORE

Welcome to Owings Mills, MD, the last place on earth you’d expect to wind up in a scene like this one. And believe me when I say that my mouth hit the floor when I stumbled upon this little corner of the earth. It’s incredible. I’ve visited this trail a few times lately, and I find myself thinking about it all the time.

It’s pet friendly, too!

As I get older, I find myself wanting more of this – more adventure, beauty, solitude, peacefulness, and reminders of God’s love. It’s places like these that cause me to think of how big the world is and how small I am. But it also shows us how much we’re loved.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” Job 12:7-9

God is the only one responsible or capable of such beauty. It’s a beauty we should constantly seek and never stop giving thanks for.

So grab a friend and go exploring! You never know what you may find out there.

Jacket | Francesca’s

Sweater | H&M

Pants | Garage

Boots | Target

Hat | Under Armor

#thingsadored

CHRISTMAS ANTIQUES

I wandered the aisles looking for little trinkets to bring home and make my own. They were things that had been long forgotten by their original owners, but they were new to me. The Island of Misfit Toys had nothing on Sheffield Antiques. I had hit the jackpot and lost all self control.

If you’re old school like me, try wandering around an antique store near you for your next Christmas purchases. Macy’s is great, and Nordstrom has some really nice decorations, but nothing fills a home with Christmas cheer like the secrets hidden in an old ornament that once hung joyfully on someone else’s tree.

There are so many treasures to be found, but we always tend to draw to what’s shiny and new. Why not dust off that 1950’s Santa on aisle E that’s been waiting to cheer someone up for the past ten years? I think you’ll find he does a really great job.

#thingsadored

MY WILDERNESS

Solitude. I feel like I am in complete solitude. There are friends I can turn to and a city full of other people to be around, but I feel like all the times I really don’t want to be alone are the times no one is available. In the moment, it is depressing and lonely, but I’ve started praying about what it’s all for. Lord, are You doing this on purpose? How can I best use this time? What are You trying to reveal to me?

Growing up in the Bible Belt, knowledge of God was passed around like any other text book. You went to church because your family and friends did. You went on youth trips because it was fun and the boys were cute. You prayed before you ate and went to bed, and you would occasionally bow your head when you needed something. This wasn’t what we were taught by our pastors and youth leaders, but you tend to miss the message by playing tic-tac-toe in the pews; the blame is completely on us.

Before Christ pulled me back out of Laurenland, there were times I genuinely felt a strong relationship between Him and I; however, my life reflected none of the sort.

Being in California has opened my eyes to many things, but one thing that’s both inspiring and refreshing is that the believers here are stronger than the ones who have lived their entire lives going to church. Here, following Christ is a choice. You don’t go because your parents made you, and you don’t learn about the Bible because it’s forced. It is a personal decision each person has made. Some of the people I’ve met aren’t supported by their parents. Some have lost everything to follow the path Christ has given them. They are more in tune with what God has for them, and the strength of their faith far surpasses any other I’ve seen. Not a conversation with them goes by that doesn’t involve the Lord. I think back to all the times I spent with my friends growing up, and we didn’t talk like that with each other. Yes, we were ‘Christians’, but it was uncomfortable to bring it up in conversation. Instead of saying, “I feel like God has lead me here” or “Jesus has really made it clear that this is where I should be,” I would say, “Everything happens for a reason” or “I think it’s working itself out.” It was almost as if we were embarrassed to utter words concerning Someone we had apparently known all our lives. It makes me so sad to think of all the time I wasted and all the people I could have influenced if I had just stopped worrying what they would think of me if I said ‘GOD’. Why do we do that??

I’m halfway through a book called Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr. I would not recommend this book because his teachings are deceptive and molded to fit the New Age way of things. But he does, however, make a few points that at least got me thinking. He claims that we don’t allow ourselves to live past our shallow surface for fear of rejection and misperception. We are constantly creating rules and restraints for our relationships with others that are binding and unnecessary.

Those who rush to artificially manufacture their own identity often end up with hardened and overly defended edges. They are easily offended and are always ready to create a new identity when the current one lets them down. They might become racists or control freaks, people who are always afraid of the “other.” Often they become codependent or counter-dependent, in either case, only living in reaction to someone or something else. To them, negative identity is created quickly and feels sort of like life. Thus many people, even religious folks, settle for lives of “holier than thou” or lives consumed of hatred by their enemies. Being over and against is a lot easier than being in love.

This was me.  I was stuck in a surface life and letting every opinion around me decide how to live. I shut people out and passed too many by because I was afraid of everyone else’s reaction. My first response to anyone calling me to truth, greatness, goodness, or morality was overwhelming anxiety. Instead of recognizing the beauty in pushing myself to love, I put up a wall and reacted in terror because I was ‘too afraid to go there.’ Rohr points out that at the edges of medieval maps were frequently penciled in the warning: “Here be dragons.” We confront these dragons when we reach the edge of our comfort zone. If we aren’t trained in how to overcome these fears, we will just continue to feed them.

In the Bible, prophets like John the Baptist would live for years in the solitude of the wilderness in order to escape conformation of exactly what Rohr is talking about. By secluding themselves, they were able to remain at the simple core of life without exposing themselves to whatever might harden their surface. That way, their foundation was strong enough that it wasn’t influenced by what closes all of us up. They could resist the ‘boundaries’ we tend create, therefore, keeping their sight and mind clean. They could see things just as they are without all the rules and regulations hindering their organic perception. They hadn’t been given a chance to form this ego-agenda we all have, so they could see things as they are.

Oh.. It hit me like a blow to the head. My solitude isn’t punishment; it’s a gift. In this busy, self-worshipping world, it is actually a gift to be alone. How can we hear the Word of God when everything else is screaming for our attention? Phones, TV, kids, spouses, music, movies, magazines, vacations, nightlife, friends, enemies, money, clothes, cars, homes, family, etc, etc, etc. Everything wants us to stop and pay attention. It’s nonstop, but we don’t even realize it. I sure didn’t until I came to LA and had nothing to keep my mind busy. Yes, I’m staying active and have things to get done, but I come home to nothing. I come home to my books and my Bible and my scripts and my thoughts on what I’m learning from the people in this whole new world I’ve found. I think about both believers and nonbelievers. I see myself in the people lost without Christ because I’ve been there. And I see hope in the believers here because I know that’s the direction I want to go in. I pray for daily reminders of what my life without Christ was like, but I also pray that my thirst and hunger for Jesus is never filled. I want to always desire Him. I hope that after I leave LA, I still find alone time, and I hope it still causes me pain. We need pain. I want to be poor in spirit because if I’m not, and if I find satisfaction in the things distracting me from my faith, then I’m failing. Lord, keep me humble. Keep me searching for more. Don’t let me pull the thorn from my side, for it’s a constant reminder that only You can fix me. Only You can heal me. Only You can comfort me. And Only You can give me joy in times of sorrow.

This is my wilderness.

#thingsadored

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EXPLORE BALTIMORE – FELLS POINT

This marks my fourth year in Baltimore. I can’t believe I’ve been out of the South for that long! But, now that I’m almost a vet at finding the best hidden restaurants + mastering the terrible highways, I’ve spent time venturing downtown into what they call Fells Point.

Fells is a precious little cobblestone street neighborhood that’s got lots of secret beauty to it. Anywhere you look there’s architecture with charm & character that’s well deserving of applause. You get the feel that it’s been around a while, but it is still clean and inviting. One thing you MUST do down there is eat. Maryland is known for it’s awesome seafood.

Crab cakes and football. That’s what Maryland does.

The food is incredible. You can stop in a little hole in the wall wine cafe or Irish pub just about anywhere. They line the streets of downtown like they’re guarding them from any other distractions that might come along.

To start, order a drink (Natty Boh is their famous local beer) and some sort of crab dip appetizer, whether it be with bread, veggies, or pretzel — you’ll faint before you can even put in your meal order. Next, you’re going to want to try a soup concoction that’s out of this world. So they’ll have Maryland crab soup as one option, which is crab and vegetables; they’ll also list cream of crab, which is self explanatory. What you do is order a ‘half-and-half’, which is one half of each. It’s not too creamy because you’ve got the veggies in there, but it’s also not too light because of the thickness of the cream of crab. Heaven. Then, you finish off the meal with an outrageous entree and possibly dessert if there’s still room.

After that heart attack of a meal, take a walk around the harbor. You could wander for hours and still never see all the sights, but the buildings are beautiful and all on the water’s edge. The shopping is great so make sure you stop in a few clothing stores as well as the random, quirky shops. You’ll find lots of treasures in there for yourself and your loved ones.

And let me know when you make plans! I’ll be there xoxo

#thingsadored

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– W H E R E – T O – E A T –

Kooper’s Tavern

Riptide by the Bay

Waterfront Hotel

Bertha’s Mussels

Tapas Adela

V-NO Wine Bar

MY PLACE

Someone once told me to find a place, a small corner of the earth, where you don’t mind being alone. Actually, it’s better that you prefer to be there alone. It should be an escape, a breath of fresh air when the world is crashing down, and you just need to get lost. I found my place.

Back home in Tennessee, just behind the last row of fences in my neighborhood, lies one of the most beautiful places you’ll come across in the South. I first discovered it as a freshman in high school. It was where all the kids would park their cars at night and stand around until curfew because, let’s be real, what else do you do in a little country town east of the Mississippi?

Once I got older, I started going there on my own. Half of the park’s trail is a wooden walkway leading back to a river, and the other half is just dirt pathways winding all throughout the woods. If you get there early enough in the morning, just as the sun is coming up to start the day fresh and new, you’ll find all kinds of animals rustling about — from deer to rabbits to tiny little lizards & even an old owl headed in for the day. Everywhere you look, there’s magic — water making music with the rocks it gushes over, leaves shaking hands as they’re blown into each other, spider webs doing a dance in the early morning light.

I swear, if fairies are real, this is where you’ll find them.

But it’s different in the morning. The woods don’t seem bothered by your presence. It’s almost as if you’re part of it, no different than the animals watching you pass by. You just sort of blend in, and it feels good. Innocent. That’s why I like it in the morning.

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This park, apart from it’s physical beauty, has an even deeper beauty to it. It’s got a way of pulling things out of you. I’ve discovered a lot about myself over the years just by spending my mornings running up and down the trails. Silence and solitude is good. Good for the mind + good for the soul. It gives you a chance to shut everything out and listen to what you’re heart is screaming at you while you’re too busy being… well, busy. Mornings there are also good for prayer. The words I present to God while I’m at this park are sincere + honest. I lose my selfishness for a time and am able to see everything more clearly.

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Do you have a place like this? If you do, spend time there. Learn what it is you love about it. Discover why it is you hope you can find just 15 minutes to spare. Then go.

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#thingsadored