Just a few things I’m loving lately.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-upThe Jesus Culture Leadership Podcast.  A million thumbs up.  Plus a few extra.  I just recently got into podcasts (Elise’s podcast got me hooked!), and now I’m a podcast devourer.  Podcast.  Maybe I can type it again.  Podcast.  This *podcast* is geared for leaders of all types – church leaders/leaders in the work place/community leaders.  And it’s good.  Very good.  I’ve cried and laughed.  And since I generally podcast it up while mowing, it’s been a lovely site for my neighbors I’m sure.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-4Car knitting.  Mitten knitting.  Knitting in general.  It’s all good.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-2Sweater weather!!!  It’s here!  And I’m ecstatic.  But who am I kidding?  I wear sweaters year-round.  It’s the inner 70-year-old librarian in me.  She likes sweaters, historical fiction, wool socks, and hand work.  It’s pretty hardcore.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-1Steffany Gretzinger’s new album, The Undoing.  I like to play it in the morning at work when I’m still trying to make sense of the world.  She eases me into my day.  Then I can switch to shuffle.  And when the 1:30 blues comes, I can switch to Group 1 Crew and get pumped back up.  Music listening.  It’s a science.

BECOMING-_-thumbs-up-3A fresh new batch of laundry soap.  I posted about this quite a while ago, and in case you were wondering, I’m still its number one fan.  Here recently I had to buy a bottle of Gain because I ran out of the good stuff.  After a few weeks of using it, Timothy brought his work clothes to me and said that something was wrong, that the stains weren’t coming out like usual.  In a moment of heart swelling pride, I realized it was because I had switched from my homemade stuff to the store bought stuff.  And the homemade laundry soap beats Gain’s tail!  I felt very proud and cave womanish.  This is an amazing example of a homemade product that saves crazy money, isn’t too complicated to make, and is so much better than store bought.  Boom.

These are a few things I’ve been loving recently.  What about you?  Have you been giving thumbs up to anything recently?

On September 17, 2014 · 3 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

I have a soft spot in my heart for weeds.  Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to keep any other plant life alive?  Or maybe it’s because I feel sorry for them that they have been labeled too harshly.  I mean, who called them weeds in the first place?  One man’s weed is another man’s garden.  Stick that on a mug and call it a day.

Photo-Aug-11,-6-56-09-PMRecently one of our bushes died.  It was a huge bush – as tall as me – and seemed to be thriving.  Then it just shriveled up and died.  Am I supposed to water bushes?  Trim them in certain shapes?  Sing to them?  I’m obviously doing something wrong.  Anyway, my dad graciously came over and sawed it down.  A few weeks later when mowing, I noticed new life where the bush used to be.

Three baby trees were growing!  I was sure of it.  They were huge.  They had to be trees.  I let them grow for a few more weeks and then decided that I had to pull them down since they were so close to our foundation.  I felt so sorry for the trees that I clipped off the leaves of one and stuck them in a vase.  Poor Herman the tree could live his last days treated as the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.

As you can see above, he looked pretty sad.  But after a few days of love and attention, he perked right up.

Photo-Aug-13,-6-27-48-PMThen my dad bursted my bubble by seeing Herman on our table and asking why I had a weed in a vase?  Ummm, because he’s a tree?!  And I had to kill him?  He quickly set me straight and said that Herman was a weed.  Just a weed.  An unlovable weed.  When Timothy found out about it, he just laughed.  You mean you really thought the weed was a tree this whole time?  I thought you were joking.

Men.  It was probably a man who labeled the weeds of this earth.

But see how much Herman flourished when he was treated as more than a weed?

Photo-Aug-13,-6-27-59-PMThis is where we could spin this into some heart-warming moral of the story and declare that we should never label anybody as less than, or as a “weed.”  Treat them like trees and flowers, like they’re the most valuable humans of all, and they’ll thrive.  But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is actually about weeds.

Because my little shrub area is covered in weeds.  And I’m just so proud that they’re alive.  They’re my flowers.  These guys are tough.  They’ve grown through layers of plastic and rocks.  They’ve survived many applications of weed killer.  (I know, I caved into social pressure.)  They’re just trying to flourish.  Who am I to say they are less than roses or daisies or ferns?  I can’t keep any of those plants alive.  But weeds?  Weeds are my jam.

On September 12, 2014 · 7 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING WHITNEY | A Handmade Legacy

This week I went on a road trip with my mom and Bibi (my mom’s mom) to have a visit with my great-aunt Edith.  Great as in she’s my grandmother’s sister, but she’s still great as in wonderful.  Ha!

We spent all week chatting over coffee, finding treasures in thrift stores, and passing along stories that I’ll share with my grand-children and grand-nieces and -nephews some day.

I can’t describe how powerful it is to soak up your history and fill in all the missing pieces, to answer all the questions you didn’t know you had.  Like my great-grandmother for instance.  The pictures I have seen of her look just like my Bibi and my mom.  Dark headed, feminine, warm eyes, full lips, and great cheek bones.  But I just learned my great-grandma was 5’2″ – unlike my elegantly tall Bibi and mom, she was short like me!

I heard stories about how they survived the depression.  Coordinating how many bags of pig feed to buy at a time so my great-grandmother would have enough of the same fabric pattern to make a dress for her girls or a shirt for her son.  Watching as my great-grandmother pulled strings of thread from worn clothing and made her own chenille bedspread by looping the strings around pencils before sewing them down.  (I think she must have been half magic.)  Only having two dress shoes and taking turns on which sister could wear the cutest pair.  Holding newborn siblings that would only live a short while before going to Heaven.

I heard stories of pain and stories of triumph.  Stories of loss and stories of gain.  And stories that made me see that although my life now is so different than the life my Bibi lived as a young girl or the life my great-grandmother lived as a young wife, we are still the same.  We are still women that find strength through God.  We are still women that delight in family.  We are still women with goals and hopes and dreams.  We are still women that show our love by manipulating fabric and thread into clothes and curtains and blankets to warm our families.  Although now I can just drive down to Jo-Ann’s to pick up my thread.  Oh how my great-grandmother would have loved Jo-Ann’s!

BECOMING WHITNEY | A Handmade Legacy

My great-grandmother passed her love of the handmade down to her daughter, who passed it down to her daughter, who passed it down to me.

This is the power of handmade.  It instantly connects you to the maker and the story.  Whenever I want to curl up on the couch, I immediately reach for this quilt that my Grandma (on my dad’s side) made.  It’s out of a bazillion colors, doesn’t match at all, but it’s made from the scraps of dresses that I remember her wearing and it makes me smile.  Whenever I want to be reminded of how much my Bibi loves me, I can just pull out this huge, gorgeous, and insanely intricate cathedral window quilt that she hand pieced, stitched, and quilted just for me.  And don’t even get me started on all of the beautiful things my mom has made me.  You can go in any room in my house and find handmade evidence of love.

My Bibi and great-aunt told me of the time their mother made them white shirts for school and embroidered the names of all their classmates on them.  (See?  I told you she was magic.)  Both of them smiled and their eyes twinkled as they remembered the time she lovingly spent on each stitch.  My future children may never get a chance to say that I sustained them all winter long by canning 500 quarts of food each summer (again with the magic), but they will be surrounded by handmade quilts and booties and buntings declaring my love.  It’s how my 5’2″ great-grandmother passed down her love, and it’s how her 5’1″ great-granddaughter is going to keep on sharing the legacy.

On September 5, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING WHITNEY | Love is Shown

The other night I was cooking a late dinner, and all the power went out.  It was storming pretty violently outside, and the power didn’t even flicker.  It just turned into total blackness.

Greeaaaaat.

The meat was sizzling on the stove, the baked potatoes were more like “warm” potatoes, and the roasted veggies were still too crunchy.  So Timothy rigged up a system of iPhone lights and flashlights to help me get the mostly cooked food onto some plates and then we had a candle-lit dinner.

As in a legit candle-lit dinner.  Timothy played some music on his iPhone.  The candle lights were flickering with each passing of a dish.  The flames caught the sparkles in Timothy’s eyes.  Totally romantic, right?

Except not.

It had been a long week.  The longest of weeks if you ask me.  Timothy totaled his car and was achy and sore.  We had plans every night of the week, had been on the phone with the insurance people too many times to count, and said good-bye to the crunched up pieces of car metal that we used to date in.  We were tired.  Weary.  And there was no romance to be found.

Photo-Aug-23,-8-49-21-PM

It was almost laughable.  In what should be the ultimate of romantic settings, Timothy and I were eating food in near darkness and could hardly even keep our eyes open.  Let alone whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ear.

I finally said it.  ”Well, I’m not feeling too romantic.”  He agreed and we laughed about it and sunk back into our tiredness as we ate our crunchy green beans

I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment.  Had we lost the spark?  When we were dating, a candle-lit dinner would have been just about the most wonderful thing ever.  Here we were married and laughingly resigning ourselves to the fact that the candles were wasted on us.

After dinner we left the dishes and headed out to Sonic for some dessert and lights action, and came back home so happy to see the lights back on.  I sleepily got in the shower and told myself I would do my best to stay up and wash the dishes when I got out.  I quickly showered (as quickly as a girl with three feet of hair can shower. ha!), and then made my way to the kitchen to see … no dishes?!

The kitchen was sparkling.  Not a dish anywhere to be seen.  I quickly ran to Timothy and kissed him all over.  ”You did the dishes!!!”

See, the dishes are my job, and my sweet husband was probably even more tired than I was.  But he selflessly found a way to serve me.  To lighten my load.  To surprise me with romance.  What?  Romance in the dishes?  You bet your boots!  In that moment, those clean dishes meant more to me than if Timothy had given me roses or serenaded me at dinner.  (Unless he had the rose in his mouth while serenading me.  I’d pay to see that.)

Love is shown in all sorts of crazy ways.  Even if it isn’t always shown in the Hallmark commercial kind of ways, the stereotypical “romantic” ways, the candle-lit dinner and sweet nothing ways.  Love is shown.  Sometimes it’s just going out of your way to surprise someone with kindness.  I challenge you today – go out and show some love to some weary soul.  Go do some dishes!

 

*this post is part of the Love is Shown series.  For more information on this series, as well as a complete list of all the posts in this series, click here.

On August 28, 2014 · 9 Comments · In Mr. and Mrs.
 

Monday morning I was at work, just minding my own work business, when I got a call from Timothy.  ”I’ve been in an accident.”

When you hear those words, your mind immediately starts racing to all these crazy scenarios.  And when you’re a Whitney Gothra, those scenarios are especially not limited to reality.  But Timothy assured me that he and the other driver were alright – they were walking around in fact.  So I calmly told my boss/Pastor/Dad (he’s all three in one ha!) and drove to find Timothy.

The accident was on a state road that spans miles and miles, and I didn’t know exactly where he was, so I just kept driving and praying.  And then I got trapped in the traffic backed up by the accident.  That was terrifying.  I couldn’t see any sign of the accident up ahead and I didn’t know how far away it was.  I almost abandoned my car and just started running, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t help the situation.  When I finally made it to the scene, I saw Timothy standing there, computer case over his shoulder, and broken glasses perched precariously on his face.  And then I saw the car.

Photo-Aug-18,-10-40-27-PM

Ummmm.  How on earth Timothy was able to call me about the accident without flipping out on the phone I’ll never know.  How he SURVIVED this accident is just a miracle.

He and the other driver were in a head-on collision.  They hit and the force spun Timothy’s car around while the other car went into the ditch.  Timothy blacked out and the first thing he remembers when he woke up was all the people trying to pull him out of the car.  It was leaking and they were afraid it was going to catch on fire.  He looked up and saw the other driver walking around and talking on his cell phone and he immediately thanked God for His protection.

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The other driver had a cut on his head and went to the hospital with the EMT.  Timothy waited at the scene until everything was clear and then we went to the hospital.  They did scans, and miraculously, there were no broken bones.  Just some cuts and bruises and a sprained foot.

The next day we went to say goodbye to Timothy’s beloved car at the wrecker, and it was very emotional.  The car was damaged in places that we didn’t even notice previously.  Even the trunk was smashed on the inside.  I would know because I had to crawl through the back seat entrance to pop the emergency latch in the trunk.  I flipped out while in the trunk, thinking the car was going to collapse on me, and Timothy with his sore muscles had to pull me out.  I mean, he was the one who nearly died.  Surely I could crawl in a trunk without having a panic attack.  But no.  It’s like I have to feel all my emotions AND his since he’s been so calm and level-headed.  Ha!

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One of my dear friends mentioned that it looks like a wall kept the front of the car from just crashing into the driver’s seat.  As if God just put His hand there and prevented the engine and everything from colliding into Timothy.  I’m so thankful God chose to spare both driver’s lives.  Nearly all of the workers at the scene kept mentioning that it was a miracle that Timothy was able to walk away from this type of accident.  They kept saying how “lucky” he was.

But we know that luck has nothing to do with it.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning:  great is Thy faithfulness.

~ Lamentations 3:21-23

 

On August 22, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Lovely Life