Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: September 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marriage is Teaching Me... To Lower my Expectations

First off...
I'm not going to tell you that I'm learning to lower my expectations of my marriage and my husband, and that you should do the same.
That you should not expect him to fulfill all your desires or emotional needs.
That he's a sinner and a he will let you down.
That, to be happily married, you have to overall lower your expectations for your husband.

But I'm not, because, if anything, marriage has taught me to have higher expectations for my husband.

We can talk more about that later, but marriage lately has been teaching me more about lowering my expectations for myself.

Before marriage...

Like I mentioned briefly in my last post, I grew up with fabulous parents who loved each other and have been with each other for almost 30 years. My dad has built his own company and my mom has always been a SAHM who homeschools the kids and runs the cleaning of the house and the feeding of the family flawlessly.

Let that be a small glimpse of the expectations I had for what a solid family should look like.

Similarly, Jon was raised by two awesome parents, with a southern mom who cooks great meals and keeps a spotless home.

Take both of those examples, and what kind of wife do you think I felt like I needed to be?

After the honeymoon...

Fast-forward to our second week of marriage as we are getting moved in and settled into our new apartment. Jon started his online classes and went back to work (up at 5 am, home by 4 pm) and I started my college classes and my part-time job. We almost had the exact same work load, if you take into consideration that I worked less but had more schoolwork, and he worked more and had less schoolwork.
In addition to all of this, we were both determined to keep leading Young Life, which requires the same amount of time as a part-time job.

But that didn't change the amount of pressure I had put on my own shoulders to immediately be able to keep a clean house and cook dinner every night.

Not sure how I thought that was going to play out practically, considering I still didn't know how to cook and I wasn't home very often, but I was determined.

Hitting the walls

As you can imagine, this only lead to breakdowns, and not just hitting one wall, but hitting multiple walls.
(My stubborn head doesn't learn any lesson quickly)

And it wasn't until just a couple months ago when someone pointed out to me,
"Casey, do you realize how many times you say 'I should' or 'I'm supposed to'?"
That was when I realized that I was constructing my life around expectations I had put on myself.

Jon wasn't telling me I had to stress out about dinner every night.
My mom wasn't telling me to keep a cleaner house.
The marriage books I was devouring weren't telling me I needed to quit all my dreams in an effort to be a great wife.

These were all expectations that I had put on myself.
And because they were high, unattainable expectations, I was only letting myself down, over and over again.

Being a disappointment to yourself is one of the worst feelings, and this was a recurring theme throughout this last year.
Not only that, but I started to assume that God was always disappointed in me. That's when things got really serious. Not only were my expectations making me cranky and disappointed, they were also making me unpleasant to live with and also skewing my perspective of God.

The solution?

Unfortunately, there isn't/wasn't a solution. I wish there was!
Solutions are easy, and they can be checked off a list. (I love lists!)
But instead, there's a process.
Thankfully, it is one that God created and my husband is more than willing to help me with.

But it's a process that involves making sure I am acting on what I am actually called to do, not just what I think I'm supposed to do.

It's actually ok to ask Jon to fold the laundry while I finish an assignment, instead of feeling like I have to do all the house work on my own. (Even more incredible, Jon actually doesn't mind! He likes helping me!)
It's actually ok to order Chinese when dinner didn't work out.
It's actually ok that dishes in the sink pile up because it's midterm week for both of us.

Because I am not called to keep a flawless house and make dinner every night and look picture-perfect every evening when Jon gets home from work.
I am called to be a supportive wife who is a safe place for my husband, who respects him with her words, who does her best to create a home but not at the sacrifice of her own sanity.
I am called to love Jon and follow him and respect him and support him.

Sometimes, this involves cleaning part of the house or cooking dinner. But the point is, I am called to be a wife to Jon before I am called to be a housewife.
I am called to be a wife; not just do wife things.
They are two different things.

So now...

So now I am trying to focus on my relationship with Jon before I focus on the housework.
I am trying to focus on who a wife should be more than what a wife should do.
And I am trying to lower my astronomical expectations for myself to include this train of thought.

Because, at the end of the day, both Jon and Jesus love me even when the house is a mess! 
What other opinions matter?

Have you ever struggled with having high expectations for yourself?
Linking up with MomfessionalsSept-FarmBright on a BudgetThe Closet by Christie, & Two Thirty-Five Designs

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Modest Budget + Discovering the Wife I'm Created to Be

"How's married life?"
That has to be the hardest question I've been asked this past year.
How do I even say?
How do I even know?
But seriously, Jon and I are new at this... it's hard to even say, "We're doing great!" because we still don't know what we're doing!

I still love him and most of the time like him, and we're doing our best to learn what it's like to "dance" together in life. So, by that standard, I would say "We're doing great!"

Fighting the "The Good Wife Box"

But, while marriage is the best, it has also been an interesting personal process. I have always been a black-or-white, all-or-nothing kind of person, so when Jon and I got married I wanted to be "all wife." 

And, by that, I mean that I wanted to drop all my dreams and allow every thought, every feeling, every obligation, every schedule and routine be determined by what I thought being "all wife" meant.

When I say it like that it makes it completely obvious that that is wrong, but I didn't realize I was doing it. Because, believe it or not, that is exactly what I've been trying to do these last 13.5 months of marriage.

Marriage is awesome, and this first year has been both fun and challenging. But I'm still trying to figure out what it looks like to still be Casey and be "all wife" at the same time. 

But that's tricky! Because my personality instantly wants to fit in "the box" that is labeled "The Good Wife." 
I want the checklist, I want the definitions, I want the qualifications, I want to fit the label.

What I'm learning, though, is that I am not meant to be in a box at all, and that being a "good wife" means more than just checking off everything from the "Qualified Wife List."

I'm learning that my and Jon's marriage will be unique, and that there is not just one way to be a good wife. 
I'm learning that my expectations for myself can be some of the most dangerous expectations.
I'm learning that being a good wife to Jon is going to look different than trying to be like someone else (who is a good wife to their husband).
And I'm learning that being a good wife is not static, but adaptable to different seasons.

The wife I wanted to be, but wasn't called to be

I grew up in a home where my dad worked a steady 8-5 and my mom stayed home with all 10 kids, made the food, homeschooled the young ones, and ran all the errands. So, instantly, that's what my "all wife" perception looked like.
And it's a beautiful example! Why wouldn't I want to follow it? 
(My mom literally does wife life and motherhood like a superhero.)

But I'm realizing that I tried to jump into something before I was called.
No, I'm not saying I jumped into marriage before I was called (I know for sure I was called to marry Jon).
But I am saying that I tried to make Casey look like her mom when Casey wasn't called to look like her mom. 
or like that wife blogger who cooks every meal and keeps a perfect home.

I tried to be the wife I thought I should be before I even asked the Lord what being a wife to Jon in this season is supposed to look like.
And while my mom is an amazing example of what a traditional wife should look like, she is not married to Jon like I am. Which means that I will have to be a different wife than she is.
She is also in a completely different season of life than I am (obvi). 

Does this make sense?

The process...

Marriage is great. I love being married to Jon. I am called to be Jon's wife.
But I am backtracking to figure out how Casey - the song-writer, worship leader, ministry-loving, writer, blogger, singer, knitter, dreamer - stays Casey while still laying down her life in marriage. 
I am backtracking a little bit to figure out what kind of wife I am called to be.

Because if there's one thing I've learned this past year in marriage is that laying down your life in marriage does not mean becoming a door mat to your husband.
Serving your husband does not mean that you lose your personality!
Submitting to your husband is far from losing your voice.
And your marriage will sometimes - most times - look a lot different than everyone else's marriage.

Now the challenge is to let Him teach me how to be the kind of wife He designed me to be.
Because I am different, just like you are different.
I have a different personality than you do, and a different husband than you do.
No one can teach you or I how to be the women/wives we are designed to be except for God.

So maybe you've been trying to be someone you were not called to be, kind of like I was trying to be the kind of wife I wasn't called to be.
Maybe you've been trying to be a certain kind of student, or a certain kind of musician, or do ministry a certain way.
Don't lose heart. Drop the pressure, and let your Creator, the one who designed you, show you how you are designed to uniquely fulfill the purpose you are called to, because you are designed to look like no one else.
Have you gone through a process like this before?
Don't forget to enter my Fall Essentials Giveaway!! It closes on Thursday!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Keeping Up with the Capra's: Farewell, Summer; Hello, Fall!

Happy Friday!

Jon and I have had a great two weeks. I really like this time of year because it's full of end-of-summer things and beginning-of-fall things.

1) Smokin' Pork

My incredible husband (who is a better cook than I am, honestly) smoked a pork shoulder for 12 hours, and let me tell you... it was uhmazing. Seriously. And because it's only two of us, it lasted us 3 days! 
Just saying, I lucked out on a man who can do amazing things with food. 

2) Kennedy Wedding

Sara and Chris had beautiful weather for their outdoor wedding (lucky ducks!;) and we had a great time.
(AND, check out the outfit! Thrift store shoes, thrift store clutch, and a F21 dress that is 3+ years old!)

3) Knitting, Knitting, Knitting

I've been knitting up a storm, and considering listing some of my work on an online knitting shop. 
I need something to do with all of these washcloths and baby blankets!

4) First Fire of the Fall

Before So.Va. got doused in three days of rain, we had an evening with just enough whispers of fall to merit a fire! It was great, even if it was short-lived.

5) Farewell, Summer!

What better way to spend the first day of Fall than at the last summer country concert of the year! Jon and I listen to Brad Paisley all the time, and his music was a part of so many of our big moments (like our first dance at the wedding, and the song we danced to when he first told me he loved me!)

Latest Posts

What have ya'll been doing to say goodbye to summer and welcome in fall?

And don't forget to enter the Fall Essential Giveaway!! 
Linking up with More Pieces of MeElegantly Fashionable, & My Bows & Clothes

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fall Transition: 6 Cheap Ways to get Your Home Ready for Fall (+ A Giveaway!)

Happy First Day of Fall!!
It's been raining for four days straight this week, and the weather has still been very warm in our southern corner of VA. But even though outside feels like it is stuck in summer, doesn't mean your indoors has to feel the same!
Last fall Jon and I were still getting moved into our little college apartment and didn't get around to much decorating besides a few mums for the front porch. This year, though, I've tried to be a little more creative while staying just as cheap. Wanna know what I did?

1) Grocery Store Mini Gourds

I don't know what it is, but I think mini gourds are equally weird and adorable... which makes them one of my favorite fall decorations!
What makes them better? Harris Teeter is selling them for $0.69 each! Last year I was able to find packages of them later in the fall for a deal. But that price is so reasonable! I bought three for my kitchen table and three for my mantle, and they're subtle little touches for my favorite spots.

2) Edible Decorations

I sort of cheated on this one. But see the acorn squash assorted with the gourds on the kitchen table? Along with the tomato? Yeah, those are for dinner later this week;)

But if you're low on space like I am, don't be afraid to keep the pretty things out on the counter! Acorn squash was on sale so I snagged one knowing that I could decorate with it until we ate it.

3) Dishes as Decor?

In our Suffolk house, my mom had this fabulous wall of thrift store plate mounted on cheap plate hangers. But what made it really stand out was that she was always rearranging them or added different ones for new seasons! For Christmas she would incorporate more red and white, and fall might include darker reds and oranges.

That was exactly what I thought of when my friend bought me this adorable pie plate from the Target Dollar Section... it's just too cute to cram in a cupboard! I am now on the hunt for a plate hanger that will allow me to hang it in my kitchen for the next few months.

4) Target Dollar Section

Alright, I know I don't have to tell ya'll that the dollar section at Target was the best thing they've added to their store since Starbucks. But don't overlook their seasonal things! I've been eye-balling a few fall pillows and cute banners, but waiting until I know where I want to put them in my house first. A small, fall pillow might be just the thing your living room needs to tie in a little more fall! (I'll probably regret waiting; those Target dollar steals go quick!)

5) Candles

Ok, I'm going to talk about the Target Dollar Section for the third time, but for good reason.
I found this Blackberry Cider candle there a month ago, and I wish I had bought 6 more!!!
And the best part about candles? They don't go bad! I bought a giant fall Yankee Candle last year and only burned half of it to save the rest for this year.

So when you find those great candles for a deal? Stock up! Keep your eye out once stores start transitioning for Christmas too, because fall candles will definitely be on sale (and perfect to pack away for next year).

6) Fall Prints

I've been seeing Etsy prints everywhere. And most of them are downloads for only $5!!! You download them, print them yourself (typically customizable to whatever size you want) and hang them however, wherever. I currently have one from Rhiannon Skeens Designs, but I JUST purchased this fall print from Jessica at Sweet Little Ones Shop for fall! It is seriously so cute and only $5. But with the code 'CAPRA20' you get 20% off! (That makes the print only $4!)

Jessica's blog is great, and everything from her shop goes towards her beautiful family of 5 adopting another child. (She is also offering a FREE phone wallpaper on her blog for the next few days!)

On to the Giveaway!

Interested in some fall things that are FREE?
The winner of this giveaway will receive this fall candle, a "Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice" mug, $10 for Starbucks (maybe some real pumpkin spice?;) $50 to Shop Pink Blush, and three different dark fall shades of lipgloss!
The giveaway only lasts a week! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have any cheap tips for adding some fall flare to your space?

What are your favorite fall essentials?
Linking up with Home of MalonesPenniless SocialiteBright on a BudgetLizzie in LaceSept-FarmMomfessionalsMy Bows & ClothesElegantly FashionableMore Pieces of MeA Savory FeastPosh Classy Mom,  Classy Yet Trendy,  & The Red Closet Diary

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our First Year of Marriage

How crazy is it that I've been a wife a year, and I haven't even gotten used to calling myself that yet!
I know our anniversary was a month ago, but every time I sat down to write this post I just couldn't come up with the words. How do I talk about something I'm still in the throes of learning?
How do I describe to someone how hard and challenging and refining marriage is,
while also explaining how it is the most glorious and wonderful thing I have ever experienced?

Let me just tell you, in this past year I have experienced God in ways that I never have experienced him before. Both in the good and the bad (because who knows that God can sometimes feel the closest and teach you the most when you're in the middle of the fire? Can I get an amen?)
In this past year, Jon and I have been on a lot of adventures! We have
- both studied full time
- both lead Young Life
- worked part or full-time jobs
- travelled to 7 states (NC, SC, GA, FL, NY, MD, AK)
- and DC
- and the Bahamas
- by boat
- and by plane
- lived in 2 of those states
- and moved 2.5 times (commuting back and forth to Maryland made that hotel feel like home!)

Some of our experiences have been typical for the average married college students, like in-house date nights and using gift cards we received as wedding presents to buy people Christmas gifts.
But in other ways we have been blessed so far beyond my expectations. We were able to go to the Bahamas for our first anniversary!

We had a lot of funny arguments about stupid things, that typically ended up with us laughing about where the communication got sideways, and we have tried to laugh through the challenges of figuring out how to go from two individuals to one couple who lives in sync.

(Sometimes it's like living in a dance, but not like the beautiful finale, like the sweaty, stepping-on-toes, frustrating dance practice with a few glorious epiphanies now and then!).

If I could choose just one word to describe this year, though, it would be humbling.

Because I have made so many mistakes and Jon has handled them with a smile.

Because even though I still can't cook well, Jon always comes to my rescue.

Because even though I married a manly-man, he has embraced my girly-girl emotional moments like no one else ever has.

Because even though we have both seen the ugliest places in each other's hearts, the Lord has given us His Lover Eyes for each other.

Because I have learned just how endless Jesus' forgiveness is (and when you've been granted endless forgiveness, you can't help but give endless forgiveness!)

It has not been perfect, by any means. There have been moments where I thought I wouldn't be able to handle anymore of the hurt or the anger or the happiness or the confusion, and that I would simply combust from the pressure.
But with Jesus and Jon in my life, I am completely spoiled by love and convicted by my own selfishness (which is a really good combo, if you think about it...)

Jon makes me want to look more like Jesus, and I think that's the best he could pull out of me.
No one has drawn me to my knees at the foot of the cross just by being themselves in the way that he has this past year.
The anchor to my Anchor, I'm so glad I chose you, Jon!
100% the second best decision I ever made;)
Wanna see more pictures?

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Modest Budget: High School Casey

How do Monday's get here so quickly??
I've been looking forward to this Monday for a change. Monday's have started to hold a certain quality of "freshness," a day to be optimistic about what is planned and hoped for for the rest of the week.
This outfit felt right.
And what I mean by that, is before I left the house I worried more about what I wanted to wear than what I thought I would look good in, if that makes sense.
Something that is so important to remember in the realm of style is to "stay true to yourself," in all it's glorious cheesiness. Yeah, sometimes that means you won't be super trendy, and sometimes that might mean you try to bend the fashion rules a little bit. But your style should be different than anyone else's because you are different than anyone else!
 I was much better at this when I was in high school. I just didn't care what other people thought about what I was wearing. (Even though sometimes I'm sure my mom wished that I would care more, and stop wearing such weird clothes!)

And yeah, I made some fashion mistakes, and wore things that now make me a little embarrassed, but what I miss most is that my identity was so secure I had the boldness to just "go for it" and not be afraid to make a mistake (I'm talking about you, red pixie cut).
 These boots were actually shoes I wore all. the time in high school. A friend bought them for me from a thrift store for my birthday when I turned 16. They're a little too big, and they are totally an off-brand, but I was all about the bright color that they added to every outfit.
 I actually wore them because Jon and I and my best friend Allie were planning on a trip to Norfolk, but there were thunderstorms on the forecast. And to this day they are the closest things I own to rain boots, haha!
But instead of rain, we got this beautiful evening. The way the sun was setting and reflecting off the clouds, it actually turned everything a shade of pale pink! It was so pretty! It made for some funky picture lighting, but it was really fun.
 This flannel was a sale purchase I got from Francesca's and these shorts (that I have worn so many times this summer!) are H&M (pretty sure they aren't sold anymore though).
This shirt probably isn't something I would pay full price for (THRIFT HACK: YOU CAN ALWAYS FIND FLANNELS AT THRIFT STORES) but I've been purposely saving the remainders of a Christmas gift card for something like this. I got this shirt and a white dress on a "buy one get one 50% off" sale, so I felt pretty good about it.
Also, what a stud is this husband of mine???
I will never feel like we have enough pictures together.
What kind of outfits did you wear in high school?

Find any end-of-the-season sales?

Tag me in your modest budget outfits on Instagram at #TheModestBudget!