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.

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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.

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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
 

I turned around to Timothy and with my mouth hanging open and my eyes glazed over I could only utter, “I can actually feel my mind being blown right now.”  As in, I could feel parts of it igniting and then exploding and then leaving me helpless to do anything but just stand there.  Staring, drooling, and stooping with my hands almost to the ground.  It was attractive, I’m sure.

So, last week we went to the Jesus Culture Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was one of those perfectly orchestrated events in life that you have high expectations, but those expectations end up being blown into a thousand pieces.  I could write a thousand words trying to explain, but suffice it say, GET THYSELF TO A JESUS CULTURE CONFERENCE.  Do it.  You won’t be sorry.

And because I’m a blogger, what would a trip be without photo proof?

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-11It was about an eight-hour drive, but of course me managed to stretch it out into a muchhhh longer trip.  We stopped to get snacks, see friends, find some coffee, get some more snacks.  You know how it goes.  And can I just say – I hope our future children inherit Timothy’s complexion.  I thought my legs were the only blindingly white body appendages of mine.  Clearly I haven’t met my arm.

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-3We stopped at every great food place we saw.  Including this cupcake atm???!!!  I’ll take deliciousness coming out of an atm over money any day.

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-1We also stopped at The Varsity.  It’s apparently a tourist attraction and a must-stop if you’re in Atlanta.  I’ve been before and didn’t really “get it.”  I told Timothy I didn’t really think it was all that awesome, but he told me it must have been my imagination.  So while in line to give it another shot, this lady started chatting us up.  We asked her if it lived up to the hype.  “No way!” she said.  “The food’s not that great, but it’s just a place you have to visit!  The President was just here, so that’s something.”  Something, indeed.

Score one for me.

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-2And this shall be my last food picture, but MACARONS!  We each decided to get a treat while in Atlanta.  (Aside from the aforementioned atm of deliciousness.  We “shared” that one.)  I spent $20 on a box of dreams.  Best $20 ever.  Timothy spent the same amount of money on something that attaches to his dashboard and holds his phone.  Nerd alert.

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-4We finally got to the conference, and pictured here is the first stage of mind-blownage.  Look at our close seats!  Look at the stage!  Look at the lady modeling behind me!

Our first night we made a friend who was maybe pumped almost as much as we were.  Maybe.  She kept grabbing the person’s chair in front of her, shaking it, and saying “Jesus!!!  Come on, Lord!  I’m ready!”  Ha!

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-5The worship in the place was absolutely unreal.  I mean, you had to search hardcore to find one person not raising his or her hands.  The atmosphere was just charged.  No one cared about anything but worshiping God.

Aaaah.  You know those moments where you just can’t explain in words?  I’m having such a hard time right now.  I waited  all week to write about this conference because I couldn’t get the words to come.  Looks like I’m going to have to wait some more.  God used this conference, the worship and the teaching, in a mighty way.  He spoke to me.  He moved on my heart.  How can I sum up the power of that in a few sentences?  Impossible.

I have more pictures from the services I was planning on sharing, but I’ll probably post them later.  When the words come.

BECOMING-_-JC-Conf-6The last day of the conference was packed with sessions and services.  We got there at 9:00 in the morning and didn’t leave until close to 11 that night.  There were two breaks throughout the day that were around an hour each.  So we grabbed some food (of course) and wandered around the downtown only to find this going on!  It was Praise in the Park and had a music line up of Smokie Norful, Tamela Mann, James Fortune, and a whole host of amazing gospel singers.  So we ran to this park at both breaks between sessions and were able to hear James Fortune.

We were experiencing a day full of church, so we just started worshipping in the park to the music.  Then a man came up to Timothy and said, “I see you gettin’ your praise on!  Here, I want to give you this cd.  Be blessed!”  Leave it to Timothy to stick out in a crowd of people already known for their praise.  It was awesome. Ha!

BECOMING-_-JC-ConfOn the way home we were able to hang out with some of our favorite friends.  They treated us to coffee, ice cream, and a tour of their amazing city, including an art museum.  It was such a great way to cap off an amazing week!

We ended up getting home around 2 in the morning.  I headed straight for bed and Timothy headed straight for the piano.  His songwriting heart was stirred.  And my mind was too blown to do anything but drool.  Best week ever.

~Whitney

 

On August 8, 2014 · 1 Comment · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING | DIY curtains

You know those projects that are kind of a pain (okay TOTALLY  a pain), and then at the completion of the project at 2:00 in the morning you’re all … so not worth it!  But then the next day, after you’ve slept your grumps away, you’re back in love with it?  And the pain is a distant memory?

This was so that.

I had been saving some JoAnn’s gift cards since Christmas, and then JoAnn’s had their grand opening and my mom and I waited in line with coffee and donuts to be one of the first to enter and win a gift card.  We live pretty hardcore.  Ha!  All the fabric and gift card stars aligned and I fell in love with some curtain fabric.

BECOMING | DIY curtains

A quick pic text to Timothy, an hour at the cutting table (because some people need a lesson in fabric cutting.  YOU DON’T SLIDE THE SCISSORS ACROSS THE FABRIC LIKE YOU’RE CUTTING WRAPPING PAPER.  Get your stuff together.  You work at the best place on earth.),  and I had 12 yards of fabric in my arms.  No going back now!

I took some time to DIY two curtain rods because there was no way I was paying more for the curtain rods than I ended up having to pay for the fabric!  I’ll share the DIY with you soon – it was so easy!  Then it was on to sewing.  This is where things got complicated.  I didn’t want the curtains to look too formal, so I decided not to do pleats or anything and just hang them up with clips.  So this should have made the sewing process even easier!

BECOMING | DIY curtains

I kept running into problems.  Like I realized that I should try to make the placement of the patterns match on all four panels.  So I couldn’t just cut the fabric into even three-yard increments.  I had to use my brain.  Rats.  Then, after I had sewed the top and side hems on one panel, I hung it up to measure the hem length and saw dirt on the fabric.  See there wasn’t enough fabric on the bolt to get all my yardage, but there were three yards of the same fabric in the clearance section.  I should have realized something was fishy, but I didn’t notice it until too late.  There were dirty footprints all along the back side and you could see them from the front when the sun came through.

I had already sewn three out of the four sides, so I decided to sew the three sides on all the panels and then throw them in the washing machine so they would all do any potential shrinkage together.  While the fabric was all in the washing machine, I was trying to decide if I should drip dry or machine dry the fabric.  It was outdoor fabric, so I figured it was made to withstand all elements.  It was at that moment that I realized I should look at the fabric online to see the instructions.

Which basically said never touch the fabric with water ever! Dry clean only, spot clean with water free substance. Which makes sense for outdoor fabric.  Except not.

So I spent the five minutes that were left of the wash cycle in prayer.  Because God cares about my curtains.  Ha!  But miracle of all miracles, they seemed to come out of the wash completely fine.  No color bleeding, no wrinkling, and I didn’t even notice any shrinkage!

BECOMING | DIY curtains

I ironed the first panel and hung it up to measure for the hem.  This is when things got complicated again!  Somehow the sewn edges gathered a bit, not enough to see with the naked eye, but enough that it made a difference when it came to the hem.  The middle was nearly two inches longer than the sides!  Say what???  So either my tension was wrong and each stitch barely gathered up the fabric, or some shrinkage did occur in the wash and only affected the sewn sides.  I was in constant contact with my mom and even she had no clue what was going on.

BECOMING | DIY curtains

So I had to hem the curtains in a curve.  It was a pain.  See the above picture?  I should have been able to hem the fabric straight across.  But I had to curve it to give that much extra length on the sides so they would touch the ground.  I tried to lay out the first completed curtain and measure the hem onto the rest of the curtains, but it wasn’t happening.  The fabric wouldn’t lay flat at all due to the sides.  So I had to hang and hem each curtain individually.  Which was so fun.

The curve made the fabric lay really weird, and this was when I started crying.  Timothy hugged me, took me out for ice cream, and told me it would be boring to live in a house where everything was perfect.  Yup, he’s mine.  (Insert emoji with heart eyes here. Ha!)

But after a few days of the curtains hanging, I realized I loved them.  I love the colors and pattern in the fabric.  I love how much taller they make the room look.  And I love that our home is looking even more and more us.

BECOMING | DIY curtains

As for the crazy high outlets, I decided to just cover them with a thin layer of wall paint.  You can still see them, obviously, but they are a lot less of an eye sore.  I still have to finish the finials on the curtain rods, and our living room still has a ways to go, but isn’t that the nature of homeownership?  You do one project and it makes you want to do five billion afterwards.

BECOMING | DIY curtains

So that was the (unnecessarily) long saga of our curtains.  It started with excitement, continued with heartbreak, and ended with love.  It’s a curtain love story.  What about you all?  Have you all made any curtains?  Does anyone have any clue what that whole curvy hem thing was?  And can someone please tell me why an outdoor fabric would be unable to be touched by water?  The mystery of the ages.

~Whitney

On July 30, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Home, Sewing
 

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things.  It’s enough to drive one mad.  I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ~ Claude Monet

That, my friends, is my life mantra.  My husband and I were recently talking about the merits of becoming crazy skilled in one area versus being kind of okay in a whole bunch of areas.  I’ll give you one guess as to which side of the spectrum I reside.  Life is just too short not to try it all.  Ha!

One of the saddest things to me is when someone says that she has “always wanted” to try this or that but hasn’t because she believes she can’t.  I mean, sometimes I wish I could say that about dinner.  Sorry husband, I just don’t believe I’ll be really good at cooking dinner tonight.  Go figure it out for yourself.  I’ll stay here and knit.  Learning things takes work.  It’s trial and error.  And it’s super fun.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

In that spirit comes today’s post.  Recently I’ve been getting a few questions on Instagram about how I learned calligraphy or how one could get started.  Before I start a new craft or hobby, I usually spend an inordinate amount of time researching.  So, in the next few posts I’m sharing all of that info with you!  A beginner’s guide to starting calligraphy, if you will.   Now, I am definitely in no way, shape, or form a pro at calligraphy, but if you’re needing a little push or nudge to get started, here it is!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

At first, calligraphy seems like this overly complicated, refined art form.  And it is.  But it isn’t that scary and it is surprisingly one of the cheapest crafts to take up.  Here are the supplies that you should pick up:

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

First you will need a bottle of ink.  I started with the black FW acrylic ink. Then you need a small holder for your ink because you can’t really fit the calligraphy pen into the ink bottle.  These little bottles are perfect.  They are at Hobby Lobby in the paint section.  You’ll also need some washi tape to stick this ink bottle in.  It is a fantastic idea I saw at Blue Eye Brown Eye so you’re not in danger of accidentally knocking your ink over!

You will also need some paper. Of course.  Timothy had a ream of printer paper lying around so I “borrowed” it for my calligraphy.  You can order high quality paper and notebooks for calligraphy, but I think a ream of mid-range printer paper is the best for a beginner.  You’ll be using lots and lots of paper!

 

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Next you will need some pen holders.  These are the two long things in the above picture.  The wooden one is this straight pen holder.  The black one is this oblique pen holder.  The difference between the two holders is the position in which they place the nib.  I don’t really care for the straight holder, but I still included it because you should definitely see what works best for you.  I like the oblique holder because it really helps me get the right slant going on.

Then you shall need some nibs!  Nibs.  Best word ever.  I’ve tried a few and so far my favorite ones are the Hunt 101, the Zebra G, and the Nikko G.  Nibs are usually around $1-2, so you can try out a whole bunch of them!  They all give you a different feel and look. The Hunt 101 is my very favorite nib (so far).  I used it in all the calligraphy in this post.  One thing to be aware of is that nibs wear out with a lot of use.  If I spend an hour or so practicing a few nights a week, a Hunt 101 nib will last me two to three weeks.  So when you order nibs, be sure and order more than one at a time to save on shipping.

Some people only have a couple holders and take their nibs out of the holders each time they are done with a session.  But nibs are very delicate and kind of sharp.  They’re a big pain to get out of the holders.  So I just bought enough (cheap) holders for each brand of nibs, and I keep the nibs in the holder until they’re worn out.  Easy peasy!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphyThese are the rest of the supplies you will need, but you most likely have them around your house already.  You’ll need some Windex, paper towels, toothpaste, q-tips, and a small jar of water.  Easy peasy!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

 Once you have all your supplies, the first thing you will need to do is clean the nibs.  Nibs.  I love that word.  Nibs come with a coating of oil on them that will repel the ink, so you’ll need to get that off.  There are many ways you can do this, but my favorite way is to get a tiny bit of toothpaste on the end of a q-tip and rub both sides of the nib with it.  Then rinse it with some water and dry it.  Now you’re good to go!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Then you place your nib inside the holder of your choice.  Some nibs are more delicate than others, so treat them like they are baby butterflies.  Or else you’ll break them before you even get a chance to use them.  Not that I know this from experience or anything.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphyWhen inserting your nib into an oblique holder, just make sure it is at the angle you see here.  You want to be able to hold the holder flat in your hand and make sure the nib feels like it is in there straight.  Crooked nibs are bad.  They’ll ruin your life.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Now it is time to set up your station! Calligraphy can get a little bit messy, so it’s good to find a space large enough for you to feel comfortable.  I usually use our dining table.

 

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

You’ll need a spot for your writing paper.  I put my paper on top of a notebook to get a hard, stable surface.  Then, to the right of the paper if you’re a righty, you need your ink station.  For the ink station, fold a piece of paper in half, put your ink well on top of it, and your jar of water right next to it.

And, I said that calligraphy can get a bit messy.  Here is my work space before and after about thirty minutes of calligraphy practice.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

 

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

It is at times like this that I wonder if we built a dining table or a craft table. Ha!

Next comes the most exciting part – inking up!  This post has already gotten super chatty, so I’ll come back soon with Part 2.  If you go order your supplies now, they may be here just in time for the next post!  So go do it!  It’s a must.  Not that I’m an enabler or anything.  But if I were an enabler, I would tell you that calligraphy supplies are a budget necessity.  You can use your supplies to write out your grocery list!  To send a thank you note!  To label gift tags! To make art!  To write love letters!  If you’ve always been wanting to try it out, consider this your sign from the computer screen.  GO FOR IT!!!

~Whitney

On July 25, 2014 · 4 Comments · In DIY