Monday, August 3, 2015

a week

Monday is for refusing to turn your brain on until you have listened to the previous night's This American Life in its entirety.

Monday is for taking your time.

Tuesday is for running to your local post office with a terrifyingly low Yelp rating fifteen minutes before it closes to ask questions about lost mailbox keys, but then being blown away by the kindness and helpfulness of the woman behind the counter.

Tuesday is for surprises.

Wednesday is for girding your loins and going to Trader Joe's despite your (self-induced) chocolate migraine because your fridge is flat out of all solid food items and husbands don't consider green beans with a side of almonds dinner.

Wednesday is for strength.

Thursday is for wearing a dress that shows probably a little bit more boob than necessary, but deciding to own it while making a mental note to not lean forward in front of anyone, just in case.

Thursday is for confidence (and sitting up very straight).

Friday is for cranking out reports, throwing things in to pivot tables, and sending emails to important people while holding your breath and praying for no typos. It's for managing to prep and bottle the week's kombucha in 20 minutes flat.

Friday is for efficiency.

Saturday is for sleeping in late then going out for waffles. For visits to new places, naps, and quesadillas. Maybe it's also for drinking margaritas and getting a little silly.

Saturday is for Sabbath.

Sunday is for grocery trips, a birthday batch of blueberry muffins, loads of laundry, and floors cleaned before AND after church.

Sunday is for quiet productivity.

And now we begin again.

Friday, July 31, 2015


This is about fertility, babies, and the deepest longings of my soul. Consider yourself warned.

Even though we're not trying, even though we have a plan, and even through I know the timing is not right, every month I feel a sense of failure sink in. And every month I try explaining this to Matt. I tell him about callings. I tell him about the feelings that are so core and so very central to my being. I try my best to articulate that while I am currently decidedly unpregnant, I feel like I should be pregnant. There's always a lot of pausing for deep breaths between even deeper thoughts. I sigh, stare at the ceiling, and struggle for the right words to say. I finally tell him what he already knows - his wife would like a baby please. After this display of emotion, I always find myself flopped on the bed. And in a display of spousal love, I always find Matt flopped next to me.

We discuss timelines. We discuss finances. We discuss waiting and agree that a bit of patience is best. But then we (mostly me) discuss the what-ifs: what if it doesn't work/what if it takes years/what if we regret these months of waiting? We (mostly Matt) discuss trusting God. We (I) discuss infertility and miscarriage and the dozens of things that can go wrong. We (Matt) discuss, again, trusting the Creator of the universe and our hearts, the One who put these desires in motion.

Then we (Matt) get up to brush our (his) teeth and get ready for bed, while we (I) go to the couch to do some thinking.

I think about the first time I realized I was made to be a mother - made to nurture and support, to tend to and love. I was six and my youngest brother was a few months old and starting to cry. I picked him up from his crib, sat cross-legged on the floor, put on my gentlest voice, and calmed him down. Something clicked. I sat there, watching him drift slowly off to sleep, feeling like I had both power and purpose.

I think about my heart and the hearts of women everywhere who share the same longing. How all of our hearts beat so strongly for this one thing that all this waiting, either intentional or unintentional, just seems throughly unproductive.

But then I think about God. I remind myself of His promises and His plan and of all of those little things that my impatient heart doesn't want to hear. How my God is the same God who remembered Rachel, who remembered Sarah, who remembered Elizabeth. Someday, somehow, He will remember me.

Then, in all of this talk remembering, I remember this doozy: God knows the exact date of each of my somedays.

And with that, I can finally go to sleep.

Monday, July 20, 2015

useless anecdote no. 1: Church vs. church

In our apartment, we do a fair amount of singing. Singing in the shower. Singing to the kittens. Singing the lyrics of one song to the melody of another (by yours truly and not even on purpose, I just happen to be musically challenged). Call me Maria Von Trappe.

Yesterday’s singing session took place between church and our Holeman & Finch reservation and was kicked off with me singing one of the morning’s hymns to the tune of Girl Crush by Lady Antebellum (again – not intentional). So Matthew, being the dream boat he is, pulled out his guitar to graciously aid me in my praising. We moved through the a few other hymns, but mysteriously ended up where we always end up these days - the contemporary classic “Shut Up and Dance.” (two-for-one tangent: I watch that little 20 second clip at least once a workday and it makes me grin down to my toes // I found an old journal during the last move and saw that I wrote about praying for a singing thank you Jesus.)

Around this time, our across the hall neighbor, who, unlike us, has age-appropriate hobbies like going to bars (this detail will become pertinant, I promise), had arrived home and was letting her cat roam the halls, heard our impromptu concert and was lead to tell us that we were really good. I was like, um, we? As in both of us? She confirmed. Yes! Both of us! And told us that we should preform places. Like Tin Lizzy’s or JCT. Matt mentioned that he plays at church about once a month. To which the neighbor said, “Oh I love Church! I go there all the time! Let me know next time you play!” We were like, "Yeah! Ok!" and then headed out for lunch.

As I walked down the stairs, I realized she was most likely referring to Church (also known as Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, a bar in Edgewood), while we were referring to church (also known as Trinity, also known as the House of the Lord, Most High).

We should have clarified.

But am I still riding high from the fact that someone thought my voice was something other than “different” or “not great”? Yes. And I will hold onto that white-lie of a compliment til my dying day.

Anyway. Holeman & Finch burgers deserve every bit of hype and are worth standing in line in the muggy heat for. Highly recommend.

Monday, June 29, 2015

let them eat cake

Sometimes you create grand plans of eating your wedding cake on your anniversary cruise, but sometimes cruiselines don't let you bring cakes aboard. So you adapt.

19262855210 from Mary Margaret Phillips on Vimeo.

(Matt's itchiness is a long story. Disregard.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

year one

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, a girl woke up unmarried for the last time. She spent the morning feeling butterflies, which surprised her, because she didn't think she was nervous. But they flew around her belly while she sipped iced coffee. They fluttered while her nails and hair and make-up were done. They did back flips and cartwheels while her dress was zipped up and sash was hooked, and when she danced around the bathroom, the butterflies danced with her. They spun and twirled as she hooked arms with her father and walked out the door. 

Then she saw him. And the butterflies stopped.

People love to tell you how hard the first of marriage is, but when I look back at our first year, I'm overwhelmed with a feeling of quiet peacefulness. Our first year was walks after dinner, belly laughing on a messy bed, sitting on the kitchen table singing hymns. It was going out into the world and, no matter what happened, knowing that you were coming home to your own little haven.

In my mind, this peacefulness comes primarily from knowing that we weren't required to be everything for each other. Knowing that your spouse is looking to an omniscient, all-loving God for fulfillment and meaning takes so much pressure off your daily interactions and lets you truly be free. Freedom to speak your mind, freedom to love with all you've got, and freedom to forgive quickly.

Secondarily, it comes from Matt. Matt Phillips is a rock. If we were climates, Matt would be the sunny Southern California to my unpredictable, ever-changing Georgia weather. He's stable and steady when I'm working myself up into a lather. He holds fast and strong to truth when I'm being tossed about by life. I can completely lose my mind about hypothetical scenarios, but I know that he'll be there, holding my hand and letting me know that everything is going to be ok.

Matthew David, thank you for being my calm in the storm. Thank you for leading me, praying for me, and being the best teammate I could ask for. Here's to grainy selfies and bedtime stories, to weekly spaghetti dinners and spending forever by your side. Happy anniversary, my love.

Friday, May 29, 2015

butter is my love language: four somewhat unrelated thoughts on food

Starting at about the age of nine, I would regularly grab a stack of old Southern Livings or Better Homes & Gardens from the basket in the office, seat myself at the counter, and flip about three quarters of the way back, past colorful maps showing when to plant your tulips and articles about Charleston restaurants til I found what I thought was the only redeeming section of the whole publication - the recipes.

It was poetry. A list of every day ingredients, sometimes with something exotic sounding mixed in ("Mom, what are bing cherries?"), followed by a step-by-step set of instructions, ending with a glossy, staged picture with a well-placed garnish, a structure which repeated with different combinations of ingredients for four or five more pages. It was from these magazines I learned how accessible cooking was. All you had to do was gather what's on the list, follow the instructions, and add a little something to make it pretty. 

As a wife and functioning adult, I get to experience this poetry in my life everyday, although now it's less "sonnet in iambic pentameter" and more "free-form hippie poetry with the occasional couplet". I borrow from the poetry of others and add a little something of my own. Roasted garlic. Browned butter. Raw sugar sprinkled for a crunch. I am the queen in this kingdom. If I choose to use a heavy hand with the vanilla extract or add a pinch of cayenne to the candied pecans for good measure, so be it.

I love people with the food I make. Through it, I get to simultaneously delight and meet a primal need. With pies and cakes, I am giving my time and gentleness. With soups and hearty dinners, I give my care and attention to detail in the form of a chopped onion, smashed garlic cloves and almond-crusted chicken breasts. With every chocolate chip cookie and oatmeal cream pie, I give my joy and and love. With any yeasted dough, I knead in a triple dose of my patience.

Cooking is a communion with the past, the most delicious form of memory. When browning ground beef, I see my mother, standing barefoot in the kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon. Cinnamon rolls smell like childhood Christmas mornings and with each apple I peel, I remember a Thanksgiving Day pie. While making sweet tea, I am swept back to a late-summer picnic in Grant Park with a boy I loved but hadn't told yet. Peanut butter pie reminds me of sweet roommates and how lucky I am for friendships that pick back up right where they left offA BLT on warm toast has me smiling at jokes told in ridiculous accents that have (somehow) only grown more funny with time. Corner brownies and crispy potatoes remind me of my dad. Whole roasted chicken tastes like triumph. Banana bread, home. Brie and green apples on a baguette, adventure.

I wonder what memories my children and their children and their children will have of me after I've had my ashes scattered in some great body of water (morbid, whatever). Will roasted sweet potatoes with broccoli or raspberries on oatmeal remind them of me? Will they hear my voice saying "boxed mixes are for quitters" as they rub citrus zest into sugar? I hope so. If I get to have any say in these things (which I don't think I do), I would like my legacy to be one of never measuring the vanilla extract, always encouraging a second serving of lemon cake and not skimping on chocolate chips. I want to be remembered with my oven mitts on and smiling, a barefoot queen in her kingdom. Take note, unborn children. Take note.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

gratitude on day 342

This morning, I arrived at the airport without my wallet for the second time in the last 12 months. Both times, I've called Matt in a panic and, both times, he's come and rescued me. As he pulled up, he smiled at me and handed me my wallet. No mention of the fact that I majorly threw off his morning. No mention of the last time I did this. Nothing but a smile, a "here you go baby," and a "it's going to be ok" as I ran back into the airport. 

We've been married for almost a year now. And each and every of those 342 days, Matt has treated me with a kindness and grace that blows my mind. He makes me laugh when I don't want to. He cooks dinner when I'm running late. He forgives me when I am selfish. He washes dishes always. He pushes himself everyday to make sure our future is as secure as it can be. He sings me songs while I put on my makeup and redo my hair for the 14th time. 

How can I begin to thank him? How can I begin to repay the debt I've accrued?  Even though I try, there's nothing I can do or say that will adequately translate the gratitude in my heart. The selflessness he displays daily causes something to well up within me. I am unworthy of this unconditional love. I am unworthy of his kindness and devotion. 

But he loves me nonetheless.

When I think about Matt rescuing me from my own stupidity at 6:54 this morning with a smile on his face, I see Jesus shining through. For every bit of love in Matt's heart, there is an infinite amount more on God's heart for me. Love that lead to death on a cross. Love that remains, despite my continual shortcomings, my messes, my bad moods and the accompanying chains of cuss words. Love that is patient, kind and keeps no records of wrongs. Love that overwhelms. Love that I can do nothing to diminish. 

Matt Phillips, I'm so thankful for you. Thank you for pointing me to Jesus and being such a reminder of his love. I admire and respect the heck out of you. How can I begin to thank you? An edible arrangement? An Apple watch? Chicken tenders for supper for the next 70 years? Chaining my wallet to my body? 

Even if I did one of those things or all of them, I wouldn't even come close to conveying the graditude in my heart. I'm so blessed to have a lifetime to limp alongside you, thanking and loving, loving and thanking. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

baseball as a metaphor for everything

(Like actual baseballs, not the game. Sorry Matt!)

Deconstructing a baseball is not a task for the faint of heart. You need patience, a comfy seat, and a blade of some sort. And, of course, an old baseball found from a walk in a park.

First you cut the red seams holding the whole thing together and tear apart the outer leather.

Two flat pieces of leather and shreds of red thread. That's not a ball.

Underneath you find a whole mess of sticky white string. You grab a section and pull. Unwind, unwind, unwind. You realize, for the first time, that this is probably going to take longer than you initially estimated. But you continue, wadding up the gluey thread on the table next to you as you turn the ball over and over again in your lap.

One mess of white thread. That's not a ball.

Much to your surprise/delight, the white thread gives way to a new fiber. A mostly gray yarn speckled with sprinkles of reds, greens, blues and golds. As you loop the yarn around your hand, you ponder the origins of the composite yarn and hope it comes from recycled sweaters. Unwind, unwind, unwind. You realize, for the second time, that this is definitely taking longer than you expected. The yarn gets more and more densely packed as the baseball shrinks before your eyes. Slowly, you see flashes of it - bits of pink rubber peaking out between the turns of the yarn.

One rather thick loop of gray yarn. That's not a ball.

You look around you at the mess you've made and you look at the little pink thing in your hands.

One pink rubber ball, much smaller than what you started with, but something that can not be stripped down any further. That's a ball.

In the quiet hours of the night, when Matt is fast asleep next to me and God and I are going over the day together, I've found myself remembering unwrapping baseballs. Both pre- and post-dismemberment, it's technically a ball. But it's covered with so much other sticky (slightly mildewy if we're being honest) not-ball stuff, that the end product is entirely unrecognizable from the starting point.

I push the metaphor further, because what else is 11:30 pm for if not pushing a metaphor anyway? I think about the two things I hold most dear - my faith and my marriage - and apply the baseball effect. How often am I more focused on the yarn and the string and the glue and the perfect little red stitches of life that I forget about the essence, the basis, the little pink ball that started it all?

In my faith, I often find myself focused on the thread and yarn. Putting the lion share of attention towards bulking up and filling out my faith, like finding a good devotional or figuring out which Sunday School class I should be teaching or memorizing my favorite psalms, rather than focusing on the core of it all. No amount of reading or prayer or singing songs with toddlers about about a man who climbed a tree (while all done with the best of intentions) will save us if we lose sight of reason behind it - that God loved us so much, despite our shortcomings, despite our continual disobedience, despite our every attempt to go against Him, that He became man and died the death we deserve so we can be with Him forever. Focusing on this, the fact that I am redeemed and loved more than I can fathom or deserve, makes the rest of the tangles and turns of faith fade into the background. Cling to Jesus. Cling to the little rubber ball of our faith. From Him all goodness and mercy, all grace and joy, flow.

In my marriage, I'm guilty of pouring way too much of my attention and energy into the leather and stitching - the day-to-day activities that hold our home together and make it pretty, the what's-for-dinner and the floor sweeping aspects of our lives - that I am prone to leave Matt neglected. I'll only half (or quarter, sorry babe) listen to the tale of his day when I'm really staring at the built-in shelves behind him thinking about succulents. See, decor and meal planning and other finishing touches, while important and/or essential to living, do not a marriage make. Marriage, at the core, is about love. It's waking up every day and making the decision to love someone. It's listening, truly listening, when fears and worries are confessed. It's providing a soft place to land, a dirty joke to raise his spirits, a kiss on the neck. It's giving and asking for grace even when it's hard. Focusing on the essence of our marriage means feeling my heart flutter when he looks at me; it means being more patient, more kind, and more gentle with my words; it means encouraging his dreams and letting him know that I believe in him and his abilities.

Spring has sprung and, much to the delight of my husband, baseball is starting back up. There will be home runs and NL East Championships mixed with lamentations about poor management and "we'll get 'em next year." But there will also be the reminder to peel back the layers on the things that are most important to me. Uncovering and holding fast to the little rubber ball in the middle of my faith and my marriage.

Everything else is just fluff.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I never feel it coming. 

I'm in the middle of something routine. Quietly working away on dinner, or driving home from work, when I'm hit with such wistful longing for my life just as it is. Nostalgia for right now.

Oh remember when? I say to no one in particular. Remember when I was twenty-three but swore to my brand new husband that I felt twenty-six, at least?

The swirly feeling continues. I see every aspect of my life through the lens of memory.

Remember when it was just the two of us? When we would up and decide to go across the country in a week and a half. When we could be utterly selfish with each other. When we would both wake up and go out into the world to labor and toil for a bit, come back home and reunite with a long hug and a kiss, then eat a simple supper. Maybe even on the couch. Because we didn't have to set examples for anyone. When our evenings and weekends are ours, and ours alone, to be filled with last minute dates, long walks, or absolutely nothing at all.

Remember when I worked outside the home? When I would wake up and talk to the cats while putting on my black pants and a cardigan. 
When my speech consisted of more three letter abbreviations than I ever thought possible. When I had bosses and meetings and sent lots of emails that made me feel all at once both terribly important and unimportant. When I would take deep gulps of fresh air the second I walked out of the building. When I spent my days surrounded by the quiet, comforting hum of a busy office knee deep in spreadsheets and graphs and nested formulas. 

Something always pulls me from my reverie. A ringing phone, a red light changing to green. 

I look around at the articles that make up my little life - my green notebook, a brightly colored spoon rest, an airplane shaped paper clip - and feel a sudden and deep affection for them. I promise myself to take more pictures, to slow down, to soak it all up. To let myself feel the longing and excitement for the next step, but not let it prevent me from seeing and appreciating the simple sweetness of my life. 

Because, right now, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

And one day, I'm going to miss this. I already miss this.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

meh-HE-co & life lately

February feels like dead week in college. You kind of just put your head down and try to get through it. All regular activities go by the wayside in an attempt to survive. Dinners aren't cooked, exercise certainly isn't happening, and laundry is the only chore that gets done consistently because we sadly have a finite amount of underwear. We're coping with it the best way we can: fresh flowers, burning candles 8 hours a day, and watching a whole bunch of Parks and Rec. 

Everyone should marry a Matt Phillips. They make you laugh when all you want to do is pout. They let you buy expensive candles even though you exceeded the "Home/Miscellaneous" section of the budget last week. They have never-ending hope in Georgia Tech athletics despite their horrible track record, which points to a heart filled with a bottomless grace (good news for wives who are prone to forgetting to turn off lights when they leave rooms). They tell you how beautiful you are when you have to wear a uniform of ill-fitting polos in the most un-pale-person-flattering colors for work. They can tell the second you walk in the door if you're in the state of mind to cook a meal, and if not, will suggest somewhere to eat, usually Mexican because they know the way to your heart is through chicken tortilla soup. They hold you and pray for your grandfather when you can't articulate the worry on your heart. They always hold open the car door for you and tell the best bedtime stories when you can't fall asleep, even though they themselves are very, very sleepy. They are patient and kind and unrelentingly cheery in a way that would probably drive you crazy if you weren't a direct beneficiary of all that positive attitude. And all you can do is say thank you and try and make sure there are always bananas and apples in the kitchen for them. 

We moved to our neighborhood in October, so we haven't really gotten the chance to go on the after dinner walks we became accustomed to over the summer. I'm itching to wander through Collier Hills and scheme up how to befriend/become the sole heirs to the millionaires who inhabit the homes of my dreams. As much as I love hunkering down in Nessie, I need some fresh air. (Heaven help me if I ever live anywhere actually cold. The melodramatics have already reached threat level midnight. Can you imagine the dire straits we'd be in if we left the deep south?)

Friday the 13th was 2015's best day on record. It was profit-sharing day at work (a day when a percentage of the prior year's profit is distributed amongst all employees), and, all thanks to me, obviously, we had a record payout. I was given a last minute invitation to help work a five-day award trip at an all inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen. Somebody who loves me sent me roses. I set-up for the department's profit sharing party (and pretended I was Pam Beesley), where I won a $50 Best Buy gift card in a drawing and ate a cupcake from the bakery that made our wedding cake. I left work an hour early and went to celebrate Galentine's Day with burgers and cookies and uterus discussion and selfies with some of my favorite ladies. Friday the 13ths are always the luckiest day. 

My workload in Mexico involved zero Excel but a lot of maracas and glittery ribbon. Matt got to experience how truly awkward I am around my coworkers. The virgin mojitos flowed like water and we had a jacuzzi! On our balcony! There were 11 restaurants at the resort and I lost count of how many pools there were. I never once wore the cardigans I packed or figured out the layout of the property. Our faces are freckled and legs a little sunburned. I got to meet the spouses/partners/significant others of my fellow employees and boss which has been a career-long dream of mine because I'm super nosy and fascinated by their personal lives but too shy/antisocial to ask about them. I would like to go back, please. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Perhaps Jacksonville Beach is not the most exciting place to vacation. But we had a three day weekend and needed a trip to a within-driving-distance-beach with a cheap AirBNB. St. Simon's and Amelia Island were a bit pricey. Miami was too far.

Jacksonville Beach, CONGRATULATIONS! You won by default.

Our little apartment was perfect. Minus a toilet in the shower situation (which Matt loved - and considered a feature). There was wood paneling in the living room that actually looked nice, creaky floors to remind me of Nessie, and french doors leading to the master. If there's one thing I know it is this: life needs more french doors.

We spent the weekend doing basically what we would do at home (minus kittens and laundry). Which made me feel guilty. I confessed to Matt that I felt like I was incredibly dull because we had had zero excitement in our weekend. Then he reminded me that 1. we were in Jacksonville Beach, which is the most average beach ever, and 2. we didn't particularly like age-appropriate things, mainly bars, because they tend to be a. loud, b. crowded, and c. expensive. And weren't we having such a marvelous time being dull? he asked. Answer: yes. Being dull is fantastic.

I'm so thankful for him. Marriage is never having to pretend to be cooler than you are, and your spouse will still think you're the greatest person alive.

And now, for a recap of our weekend, let's do the numbers (highest of fives if you mentally read that in Ky Ryssdal's voice):

$12.84 - amount we spent on two front row seats to see a guy named Louis Ramey perform at the esteemed Jacksonville Comedy Club, where he proceeded to verbally violate me and make me the butt of all his semi-violent sexual jokes.

2 - times Matt said "I told you this would happen if we sat there"

2 - times I replied "But the tickets were $6! Less than half the price of the rest of the tables!"

1 - lesson learned (by me): don't ever sit in the front where they can see you

2 - trips to Starbucks for coffee/lemon cake

2 - total trips Matt has now taken to Starbucks in his 23 years

$4.95 - spent on an awesome Jax Beach magnet from Walgreens

5 -  days of my "Bible in a Year" reading plan I read Sunday, because not even a month in and I'm already woefully behind

37 - verbal uses of our trip's hashtags: #loversretreat2k15 and #yojo (you only Jacksonville once)

63 - (+ dark clouds + wind) temperature on Saturday, our first beach attempt

25 - approximate number of minutes spent shivering at the beach on Saturday

72 - (+ light breeze + sunshine) temperature on Sunday, our second beach attempt

200 - approximate number of minutes we spent loving our lives at the beach on Sunday

1 - pair of running shoes forgotten at home

2 - blisters on my lover's feet from his barefoot beach run

46  - minutes I spent admiring Matt's thick eyelashes

3 - wishes made for a yard with a lemon tree like the one we saw in that bougie Riverside neighborhood

$590,000 - price of one of the many homes I coveted in the aforementioned neighborhood (yikes)

3.5 - stars for American Sniper, which we saw Sunday night because what else were we going to do...we didn't think it lived up to the hype

371 - pages read

2 - Sonic diet cherry limeades (aka heaven's sweetest nectar) I ingested in a 9 hour period

10 - number of Sonic chicken tenders Matt ingested in a 9 hour period

1 -  chicken tender stomach ache

13 - times Matt mentioned how awesome the toilet in the shower was

1 - regret: not visiting the Beaches Museum & History Park (Matt put his foot down on that one)

Thank you for such a lovely, albeit elderly, weekend, Mr. Phillips. I love you more than grocery store discounts, sensible shoes, and going to bed early combined.