Pride Goeth Before the Ball

Outform: external appearance

A friend invited a group of us for a gathering at her house. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but since I lack a refined fashion sense, I threw on my Chacos per usual. (Because whether you go shopping or hiking, they’re perfect, am I right?)

I arrived at her house and walked down a cobblestone stairway before being greeted by a spacious, green backyard and some people playing volleyball in the distance. I was grateful it wasn’t raining, though I knew the mild weather would attract all the mosquitoes. (I’m such a mosquito magnet. UGH!)

I played volleyball for three months in high school, but that was almost seven years ago. And I didn’t grow up in an active, sporting family. I hardly go to the gym and my idea of “booking it” is lounging with a captivating read, so I Volleyball-Summer-Backyard-Friendswas interested to see if my old athletic chops wouldn’t fail me.

I was one of two girls on my team and the other girl clearly played volleyball regularly. She served exquisitely, volleyed every ball, and spiked a few times. I’m usually a pretty confident person, but I noticed I was shaking from adrenaline (or nervousness?). I HATE looking bad and sports always has a way of exposing me. Most of my serves veered off at an embarrassing angle. I didn’t hit the ball hard enough to go to the other side multiple times. I cost our team a few points. (Crazily enough, I managed to spike the ball and punt it to the other side during another play. Needless to say, I didn’t know what the heck I did. Not talent, my friends. Just blessings.)

After a few games, I was ready to go inside and nurse my mosquito bites (and, ahem, pride). I even squinted warily at some of the warrior, athletic beasts and had the audacity to think they probably weren’t as good at writing, dancing, or singing as me. Anything to make ourselves feel better. I may have seemed confident and even decent, but as the old adage goes, “appearances can be deceiving.”

How I managed to be on the winning team all three times, I’ll never know.
~Lina Marie





Be Brave When the Winds Blow

Mutable: subject to change; inconstant

The annual summer concert in the park, played by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, was in peril of not happening because of Georgia’s wavering weather!

A close friend and I had planned a day out in Atlanta to visit a cat cafe (that’s its own story. Haha) and stay out there for a summer concert at which we’d meet up with other friends. I mass texted several friends a few weeks prior, inviting them to the concert, but every time I looked up at the sky, my heart constricted in worry.

Why does there have to be so many clouds!? The weather forecast went from a 70% chance of rain to a 40% chance and now it’s climbing back up again! Was that thunder or an airplane? What if rains out and cancels our plans? Those clouds look really dark…

I’m not even a worrywart, but these thoughts kept plaguing me while I patiently listened to my friend share about her heart matters. I decided enough was enough and that we’d brave it.

After parking and making our way to the lawn where the concert would be, I was feeling optimistic. Granted, the sky didn’t look breezy and beautiful, but a lot could happen in two hours before the start of the concert.

A friend joined us 30 minutes later and with him, brought ominous looking clouds. The winds gained speed, the trees wildly danced, and my heart sunk. Mr. Friend annoyingly pulled out his fancy, virtual weather map and talked knowingly about the direction of the gathering storm. I looked out at the lawn where other spectators had arrived early to claim a spot; some were hurriedly gathering their belongings to flee.

It started to drizzle and then rained steadily.

*looks at phone* 6:15pm. A lot can happen in an hour and fifteen minutes…!

People were wrapping themselves in their picnic blankets and tarps. We jokingly discussed hiding out under the already set-up stage. Or watching the brewing storm through the window of a nearby building. We chose to stay and be brave.

After some time, the weather subsided and the concert wasn’t rescheduled after all. I looked up at the sky during the onset of the live music and noticed the left portion of the sky was blue with light gray clouds and the right side was cloaked in dark, stormy clouds. And you know what? It stayed like that the entire time.

The music played on and we had a blast!

I suppose it does pay to commit and be consistent when your circumstances seem undesirable and flaky, eh?

~Lina Marie


First Ski Trip

Indelible: not able to be forgotten or removed

The upside of having a part-time job with hours that differ each week is that you can go on adventures in the middle of the week when many others are confined to their desks or in school.

I road tripped up to Maggie Valley, NC with some friends to ski; it was my very first time and I was thrilled! The weather was chilly but temperate and the ski slope was the only area covered in white. Everywhere else was green or soggy with melted snow. It was not the best conditions for skiing but had its own charm and novelty.

The guy who drove us to North Carolina thought ski poles weren’t necessary (or cumbersome or something), so I learned without them. With a few short instructions and a”you’ll be fine”, I jumped on the lift with anticipation and watched as the distance between me and the ground widened and the people below loski-trip-for-blogoked small.

I finally got to the top and my heart was pounding. I jumped off and veered in a wide circle and stopped. (Yeah, this was going to take some getting used to.) I was glad I didn’t fall yet, but visions of wipe-outs and yard sales quivered my resolve.

Too late. Already up here.

I will-powered my way to the edge, feigning confidence, and slid faster and faster down the slope. Naturally, I didn’t have much experience controlling my skis and shifting my weight, so I was all nerves and “whatever happens will happen.” With the wind whipping my face, my eyes widened as I neared the bottom and I literally thought I would tumble down that hill and maybe get seriously injured. Or die.

Miracle of all miracles, I found myself in one piece and stopped at the bottom. With breathless delight and a release of tension, I penguin-walked to the lift once again. After a few more times skiing down the smaller hill, I went up to the steeper slope to conquer new levels of fear. I barely slid down the mountain when I was already on the ground and clenching my face in annoyance. (Whatever bits of pride you may possess will completely dissolve when you look like a two-year swaddled in Eskimo clothes on the ground and don’t know how to get up.) I was assisted but for some reason couldn’t control my speed at the level I desired.

I went back up on the ski lift with a nine-year-old little girl friend who gabbed in a chipper tone about how great it was for us to conquer our fears through Jesus Christ, and that after this we could conquer other fears (namely roller coasters) and how grateful she was to hang out. (Tears? PSH! No tears in my eyes. Only the wind coincidentally evoking some liquid from my eyes.) I fell down that hill so many times and my skis fell off FOUR TIMES, but she stayed with me the whole way down and I was overwhelmed by the kindness and encouragement of a girl twelve years my junior.

Even though the snow melted into slush and re-hardened into ice, even though I fell too many times to count (both accidentally and on purpose), even though my muscles felt like jello, even though one of my ski boots hit my leg the wrong way causing soreness, even though my best friend had only skied twice and didn’t fall at all and looked flawless, my heart was full and I was the most happy tired I had been in awhile.

~Lina Marie


Hotsy-totsy: about as right as can be; perfect

I turned 21 on January 24. A couple months ago, my mom asked me if I wanted to do anything in particular to celebrate  my “official passage” into adulthood. Up until this point, I’ve always had sleepover parties with my girls and often shared the weekend with my younger sister whose birthday is a week before mine. This year, however, I wanted to end the tradition and imagined I’d either work on my birthday. Or sit and read with a latte or glass of wine. Or sleep.

I wasn’t expecting or hoping for anything and quite frankly, nearly lost track of how fast my birthday zoomed into view. When I saw my work schedule for my birthday week, I was pleasantly surprised my boss took into consideration my birthday and didn’t schedule me the first three days of the week. Sweet!

Two days before my birthday, a Sunday, I had planned to go to my sister-from-another-mister’s house to hang out for my birthday, spend the night, and then go out with her sister (also my best friend) for another birthday outing. Super low key, intimate, and filled with quality time. My mom was to drop me off after church and that would be that.

On the way to this friend’s house, a guy friend of mine who had been at church contacted my mom for an address to someplace. I honestly didn’t pay that much attention and didn’t think much of it. My mom is a super resourceful person and enjoys assisting people in whatever the case may be.

Upon driving up to my friend’s house, I noticed there were a lot of cars parked in the driveway. At first, I thought perhaps house church was in session, but for one, it was too early, and I recognized some of the cars that wouldn’t have been part of the fellowship. My mom tried to distract me with some of the neighbor’s goats, but WHO FREAKIN’ CARES ABOUT GOATS WHEN THERE ARE SUSPICIOUSLY TOO MANY CARS IN THE DRIVEWAY. My heart pounded faster than normal, and I jumped out of the car, ran up the steps, the door was opened for me, and I was met with a resounding — “SURPRISE!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINA!”

They had pulled off a surprise party and I had no idea. (I guess that’s the ultimate hope for those sorts of things. Haha.)

I gasped in delight and shock and my hand flew straight to my mouth. I could not believe my eyes. Faces I had seen from anywhere to the day before to several months back were all in the kitchen, smiling at me, and there for ME. What in the world.

I’m a serial hugger, so I gave every person in the room a big ole hug, some a kiss too, and lots of laughter. The evening was perfect, filled with lattes, food, friends, Jesus, and thinking about the goodness of God. I’m still amazed that in spite of all my flaws and blunders, so many people would be there for me to celebrate our friendship and new seasons of life. That’s a gift.


Sparkling Holiday Formal

dress-picFallal: a bit of finery; a showy article of dress

Remember that blog post a few months back about my first few weeks of ballroom dance class? (Click here to get your memory dancing!) Thankfully, I’ve progressed greatly since then, in my dance moves and becoming a better follower (Hehe! The assertive, tempered Type A, first-born problems are real). It’s been a real ball and a couple weekends ago, I got to attend a post-holiday dance formal!

The beginning of each, monthly ballroom dance events start with a quick crash course of the basic steps to familiarize newbies to the basics and give more experienced dancers a brush up. Several dances were covered. Hustle. Swing. Foxtrot. Rumba (personal favorite). Waltz. The party-goers who’ve been attending classes were able to dance two-step, bachata, cha-cha, and other classics.

The great thing about ballroom dance events is the people you’ve built rapport with in class, you’re able to visit with and get to know better. Of course, there’s the inevitable happening of meeting new faces or vaguely familiar ones seen every week but never intentionally reached out to. There was older gentlemen in particular who dances competitively, and I had an opportunity to gain a few pointers about form and moves from him. Additionally, every dance event has an awesome dance performance from a different genre of dance, so we had a blast watching a two-step routine. The dancers were geared up in cowboy boots and denim!

Dancing (skillfully) the night away is one of my favorite activities. And which girl wouldn’t want to throw on a glittery, teacup dress to twirl around in?! (Even though it was under 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Hahaha.)

~Lina Marie

Mountain Memories

Respite: a delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing or trying; an interval of relief:

Last week, I took a few days off from work to visit the family of close friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mother (who’s also a grandmother) has Alzheimer’s, so visits are frequent by the daughter, but I got to accompany this time around. The road trip was mostly uneventful though it included a stop to Starbucks and watching the musical Carousel with only one earbud. On the day we left home, the weather graced us with an early spring of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Upon arrival, we hauled our things into the spacious, two-story house, almost reminiscent of a Bed and Breakfast. I met the mother, father, aunt, uncle by marriage, and two pooches initially wary of a new person, but they warmed up quickly. After supper was eaten and cleaned up, we all sat around on the sofas listening to the early election turnouts. Not one interested in politics (and forgetting that I’m not 12 years old anymore and actually can vote), I tuned out the chatter on the television and savored the newness of my location.

The next two days were filled with coffee, relaxation, laughter, and intimacy. We sifted through old family photos, visited a local coffee shop in town, swung by an apple orchard (though out of season) and sipped on apple cider, and enjoyed the unexpected outpouring of an afternoon snowfall.Snowfall Blue Ridge edited

For me, it was a commercial break from reality and obligations. Honestly, when I woke up in the mornings, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself, because I was so used to routinely being busy and having an agenda; therefore, when I didn’t have one, my brain didn’t know how to handle the rest. It was the first time in awhile that I felt guilt-free for sitting around chatting and absorbing the moment without feeling the need to jump headlong into the next task. On top of that, the home I stayed in didn’t have Wi-Fi which was actually pretty nice.

We’ve lost the art of good ole relationship building without being overly focused on productivity and time management. Yes, we have schedules, appointments, and plans that need to be met, but if you find yourself overly busy all the time, take a long look at your priorities and obligations and see what you must fulfill and what you can let go. I can assure you that years down the line and even on your deathbed, you won’t wish you stayed longer at the office or completed all those extra credit assignments. Relationships and rest are fundamental to life, happiness, growth, and satisfaction.

The next time you get the chance to frolic to the mountains, beach, or road trip, I’d encourage you to take it. Life has a way of dragging us every which way, and it’s important to stop and take some deep breaths. (Oh, and stay off your cell phone as much as possible!) Needless to say,  I was not ready to come home or be jolted back into the daily grind. However, those mountain memories, rejuvenating rests, and lessons realized will be cherished forever.

~Lina Marie