#relationshipgoals : social media & relationship comparison

I’m going to paint you a little picture here:

Jillian and Bob have been dating for three years. It’s been a busy week for both of them, and they haven’t seen much of each other this week. In fact, they totally forgot about the anniversary of their first date—something they’ve always celebrated in the past.

Now pan to Jillian scrolling Instagram before bedtime when she sees a photo of her friend, Lucy, sitting across the table from her boyfriend Todd at an insanely expensive restaurant. The caption? “When bae takes you out for dinner, just ‘cuz.”

Jillian’s face gets hot. Bob couldn’t even remember the three year anniversary of their first date, and here Todd is taking Lucy out for expensive dinners “just cuz.”

Jillian is lowkey irritated with Lucy for flashing her perfect personal life all over Instagram, but she takes a screenshot and texts it to Bob, saying, “AWWWW how great is Todd?”

She waits, hoping Bob will understand the not-so-subtle hint to do something special for her.

He doesn’t. His response is “LOL.”

Stupid Bob.

img_0481Sound familiar?

Probably (unless you’re just an inherently noble human who doesn’t fall into the same petty trappings as me Jillian).

Over the past few weeks, my friends & I have had enough conversations about this topic for me to deem it worthy of a blog, so I want to pose a couple questions:

  1. What are the motives behind the information we share about our relationships on social media?

I’ll admit that on multiple occasions, I have drafted the perfect post about my relationship with Mark—the two of us sitting on a quilt watching the sun go down in our favorite park—only to delete it before I pressed the “share” button.

Why? Because I realized (in the words of the all-knowing Chris Harrison) I wasn’t doing it “for the right reasons.”

I deleted the aforementioned post because I knew it wasn’t coming from an effort to preserve a special memory on a digital channel—it was coming from a desire to play the PR rep. for my own image—to prove that I was in a fun, cute, romantic relationship.

I deleted it because even though I may have captioned that photo, “sunsets & this guy. conflicted because idk which i love more,” the honest caption would have been somewhere along these lines:

“Dear Instagram followers, I know this is an old picture, but here’s me with my boyfriend being really cute while we admire a beautiful sunset. I swear the only reason why I don’t have any recent posts about my relationship is because Mark and I haven’t even seen each other in over three months, but we are still crushing this long distance thing and still very much in love, so no need to speculate, carry on!”

Cute? Yes. Genuine? Not so much.

2. How does social media impact my satisfaction with my own relationship? 

Think back to the Jillian and Bob story at the start of this blog. Jillian became less satisfied with her relationship with Bob after she saw her friend’s Instagram post about a fancy date.

As a whole, we tend to evaluate the quality of our own relationships in comparison to the other relationships we observe (shout out to Thiabut & Kelley’s Interdependence Theory), so when you’re comparing your entire relationship (the sparkly side & the not-so-sparkly side) to someone else’s highlight reel, it’s not going to do wonders for your relationship satisfaction.

 Our Instagram couple photos^        60% of our real couple photos^

You’d better believe I’m going to Instagram the bouquet of hyacinths Mark gave me, but there’s no way you’ll ever know that we spent that same evening slumped over our computer screens after an unsuccessful search for reasonably priced plane tickets.

You’d better believe I’ll share the cute letters Mark mails me, but you’ll never see my not-so-subtle texts hinting that he should send me more.

See where I’m going with this?

Social media can be great for promoting positive moments and kind gestures, but if left unexamined, our #relationshipgoals will be defined by the couple whose relationship is the most Instagrammable (it’s a word, kay?).

Expectation                                                  Reality

It’s healthy to have expectations in a relationship, but let’s make an effort to center those standards around the depth of your respect for one another, the quality of your conversations, and the kindness that you demonstrate toward each other—not the price tags on your gifts or the photos on your social media feed.

Love,

Kelly Doles

5 Tips to Make Long Distance [Almost] Fun

If your immediate response to this blog’s title was,”THERE IS JUST NO WAY LONG DISTANCE IS EVEN REMOTELY FUN,” I don’t blame you.

Long distance relationships require a tremendous amount of effort and intentionality while limiting many of the “fun” aspects of the relationship. As someone who is currently in a long distance relationship (let’s call it LD for short), I can attest that one of the hardest parts is discontinuing many of the little things that hold couples together. When my boyfriend Mark has a rough day, I can’t drop by with a bag of sunflower seeds and a 7-11 cherry & Mountain Dew slurpee like I used to. I can’t hold his hand in the car. I can’t steal his french fries during dinner.

Can’t, can’t, can’t. 

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But I can have a good attitude. I’m no DJ Khaled, but I can tell you that a major key to success in LD is making a creative effort to adapt the relationship to distance. It’s about finding little ways to keep romance, friendship, and fun present in the relationship, and that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you. So, without further ado, I present to you, 5 tips to make long distance [almost] fun:

1. Snail Mail: Guys, one of the best parts of LD is that the mail person brings you more than just bills. There’s something so personal about seeing your name written in your boyfriend/girlfriend’s handwriting, and knowing that (s)he took the time to write you. I love receiving letters from Mark, because I can hear his voice in my head as I read them, and they mean more to me than the emails and text messages that turn to for the majority of our communication. 14570274_10207228640015927_6049331306920445897_n

Letters are also a great way to reflect on your relationship. Mark has a “letter wall” in his apartment, where he displays every note I’ve ever given him. These letters have preserved special moments in our relationship in ink. The letters are hung in chronological order, so you can see our story unfolding across his walls—letters saying “thank you for being a good friend,” “thank you for a fun first date,” “congratulations on graduating,” “good luck on your first day at your adult job,” etc. These letters allow us to reminisce on the past, and they make us imagine the future letters we’ll get to add to the wall.

2. Netflix ‘n chill Skype: Watching TV shows and movies together is a great way for couples to share something when they can’t share a city. Mark and I like to log onto Skype/FaceTime/Google Hangout, and play Kevin Hart comedy shows on Netflix. We start the shows at the same time and minimize Skype to a small box in the corner of our screen so that we can see each other’s reactions to the show. It’s the closest we can get to a movie date, and it gives us a giant cavalry of lines to quote as inside jokes.

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3. “Candlelit” Skype dates: Nothing screams romance like a candlelit date! Mark and I like to set aside time for “dates.” During these “dates,” I set a candle next to my laptop for some contrived romance, and we stay away from conversation topics pertaining to the stresses of work/school and talk about the things we’re grateful for as a couple. We daydream about the things we look forward to, like all the new songs we’ll get to blast in the car together during our next road trip (*cough* *cough* “Closer,” *cough* *cough*).

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4. Steal a sweatshirt: I like to kidnap Mark’s sweatshirts and spray them with a little of his cologne before I bring them back to Michigan with me. Slipping into one of his giant hoodies is the closest I can get to one of his hugs, and it’s the best cure to that feeling of homesickness that long-distance tends to induce.

5. Capture the moments you miss most: When Mark and I do see each other, we like to take lots of videos capturing the little moments that we miss most during distance. I have videos reminding me of the way he carries me over the puddles in the parking lot after it rains, the way he fumbles with his tie before work, and the way his face lights up whenever Miguel Cabrera hits a home run. We like to edit these clips into short videos that capture the general personality of our relationship, reminding us why we love being a couple, even when long distance is particularly challenging.

The list could go on, but the message is the same: long distance is challenging, but effort and creativity go a long way. While you may not be able to control the distance between you and your significant other, you can control the way you manage the distance—and while there might be miles between you, they don’t have to keep you apart.

Love,

Kelly

Pushing Harder Than Healthy

This is one of those blogs I’ve resisted writing for a long time, but sometimes God gives me little nudges to write, and today I decided to listen.

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I deleted my TimeHop app today, because I do what I can to avoid looking at photos from 2014. Looking back on the year, it’d be confusing why I’d do such a thing, because from the outside it looked incredibly successful; the throwbacks from my social media accounts and camera roll show daily runs and trips to the gym, multiple internships, a series of modeling jobs, the third year of a relationship, glowing report cards, and clean recipes made by my own hands.

But despite this glimmering facade, 2014 was the year I compromised my own health and happiness in pursuit of perfection.

2014 was a year I became obsessed with my own self-image. That October, my modeling agent invited me to meet with an agent from New York City. Another girl from my agency had been offered a contract, and the NYC agent wanted to meet other girls from the agency to check if he could use any of us in New York.

I was flattered and excited by the invitation to meet with a big city agent, so I put on a tank top, skinny jeans, and heels (as instructed), and drove down to the agency and waited in the lobby. I picked at my nails and fiddled with my hair until I was called into the back room, where I met with the agent. He smiled a charming smile with bleach-white teeth and snapped head shots on his iPhone. He asked me to walk, to 360, and finally, he took measurements.

After measuring around my butt and my hips, he asked me if I was a runner. I told him that I was, and he explained that if I would want to be considered for runway, I would have to stop running, squatting, and using the elliptical so I wouldn’t build my glute and thigh muscles, which were currently too big for sample sizes.

10300309_10201891968842483_1616362575456524003_nThe man told me that I had potential, but would have a better chance if I could go down about 10 pounds. With that, he handed me his business card and assured me I’d receive a call from him soon.

I never did.

That’s when the seed planted: “You’re not good enough.”

This thought process began to spiral into a constant internal war of comparison and pushing my body harder than healthy.

I woke up early every morning to do Pilates, ran to my classes, survived off salads without dressing, and went to the gym until it was dark outside, or I saw at least 800 calories burned off on the elliptical; whichever came first.

Within a few months, my clothes were baggy, my eyes hollow, and ribs visible.

But I couldn’t stop. Or maybe I just didn’t want to. When a couple of my close friends or family members expressed concern over my disappearing body, I blamed my shrinking weight on my ADD medication, “It kills my appetite.”

But it was so much more than that. It was a pattern of obsessing over getting smaller. Smaller. And smaller.

I couldn’t control how giddy I felt when I looked in the mirror and saw a thigh gap for the fist time since middle school, and I felt a rush each time I stepped on the scale and saw the numbers in rapid descent. By the time the spring rolled around, I hadn’t lost 10 pounds, I’d lost almost 30. Take that NYC talent agent.

At least, that’s what I thought.

I knew my mindset wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t want to admit it.

I may have been afraid of eating bread, but I got more “You look great!” comments on my Instagram photos.

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I may have felt panic if a single day passed without an intense work out, but more girls asked me about my fitness secrets.IMG_5009

I may have cried after treating myself to a couple scoops of ice cream, but I was getting more modeling jobs, making more money off of my appearance.

I may have almost skipped dorm events out of fear for whether a dress made me look heavier than I had wanted to look, but I had a doctor ask me not to lose anymore weight, and at the time, I interpreted that as the sincerest of compliments.

I may have had a BMI that rested decimals above the danger zone, but I was leaving Express with a pair of size 0 shorts in my bag, and that was what I considered the ultimate achievement.

IMG_1619But one morning, it all changed. I woke up to make some oatmeal before my morning workout, when the dorm coffee kitchen started spinning. I felt nauseous and stumbled into my room, finding my bed and leaning over my mattress before I passed out.

Not too long after, I awoke to a concerned roommate who found it unusual for me, an early bird, to be sleeping past when my alarm would have typically gone off. I told her that I’d passed out, and she quickly advised me to eat something and take it easy, handing me a box of Cheerios. I stuck my fist into the box and started eating, only to appease her, but what I didn’t tell her was that I was terrified of the idea of eating a “processed” cereal and taking a day off of exercising.

It was this very moment that I was able to realize that the way I was living WAS NOT HEALTHY. It began to hit me that the exercise and eating which I had always claimed to be “clean,” and “healthy” was harming my body and my soul so much more than it was helping them.

I lived for the compliments and the comments from others on how “thin” and “skinny” and “toned” I looked, and I realized that I was compromising my own health and happiness to gain this response from others.

It dawned on me that at even my smallest, I had stood in front of the mirror pinching back the skin on my thighs, my arms, and my stomach, thinking how much better I would look if that “excess” could vanish. And that made me feel sicker than the thought of facing my fear of eating ice cream.

So I got help. I talked to a nutritionist at school, and she helped me develop a meal plan to make sure I got the nutrients I needed. I opened up to a friend about my fears of weight gain, and I faced those fears as I started fueling my body again. I leaned on prayers and time spent in scripture to remind me that my worth does not come from my appearance, but from my identity as a child of God. And I started, slowly, to realize that less of me did not make me more valuable. 

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that a few visits to a nutritionist, a couple chats with some friends, and a handful of prayers cured every insecurity and brought me more confidence than ever before, but I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to heal. It’s possible to take the baby steps.

Baby steps like calling your boyfriend after stepping on the scale and saying, “I weighed myself for the first time in a year. It was more than I thought, but I didn’t cry.”

Baby steps like learning that putting on weight is sometimes in your favor rather than against it (spring 2014, summer 2016). 

Baby steps like going up a jean size at your favorite store, and not tearing yourself apart in the dressing room.

Baby steps like seeing an unflattering photo on Facebook and choosing not to untag yourself because of the way your body looks.

Baby steps to treat yourself with the same graciousness, gentleness, kindness, and respect that you would give to your closest and dearest friend.

You are more than a number on the scale. You are more than the size of your jeans. You are more than the number of compliments you receive on your social media feed. You are more than the food you eat or the workout you complete. You are more.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

Song of Solomon 4:7

Ps, this was not a blog I wanted to write, but a blog I felt that I had to write, in the hopes that even just one person will be comforted, encouraged, or positively impacted. Whether this blog is a message of hope to someone who finds themselves fighting a similar battle, or a message of caution to those who might be struggling with body image and see similar warning signs, please know that I am here for you. Feel free to reach out if you need any prayers, encouragement, resources, or accountability.

Love,

Kelly

Resources:

http://www.center4ed.org/resources.asp

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/eating-disorder

P.S.S, please keep in mind that the best resource is to speak with a friend, a family member, or a doctor. This is something I wish I would have done a lot sooner, and would highly recommend.

3 Long Distance Lessons

Long distance relationships *cue the violin screech from the shower scene in Psycho*.

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At first blush, the idea of distance dating can be daunting. Trust me, I know. Living in a different city/state/country than a significant other is challenging. It requires a lot of extra effort and sacrifices that same-city dating simply does not demand. However, in my experience, I have found that going the distance can teach you a few very powerful lessons that factor into a happier and healthier relationship in the long run. Here are the top 3 lessons I have learned from long distance dating:

1. Long distance dating improves communication:

Here’s the stone cold truth: long distance cannot work without solid communication. I won’t lie to you, communication is more challenging during long distance, and it requires more effort than a same-city relationship, but while this may seem intimidating, it can provide you with many opportunities to improve your communication as a couple.

Communication during long distance is all about going the extra mile (obligatory distance pun, sorry) to keep your significant other in the loop; it requires you to think from your significant other’s perspective. IMG_6758

Example: Mark works as a Sports Anchor for a TV station in North Dakota, which means he spends a lot of time driving to different locations to do interviews and get stories. I am subscribed to his station’s app so that I can watch his broadcasts, but this app also sends text alerts of the city’s breaking news. One day when Mark was driving a few hours, I got a notification that there was a bad car crash in the city he was driving through. This made me a little nervous, so I gave him a call to make sure he was okay.

Now, whenever Mark is driving significant stretches for work, he goes out of his way to text me when he arrives to his destination. This is something I never asked him to do, but he knows that it will give me peace of mind if he lets me know he has safely reached his destination. Mark views this as a kind action he can take to keep me in the loop, rather than seeing it as an unnecessary extra task. Distance dating teaches you to be aware of the other person’s thought process, and it coaches you to be considerate in the way you communicate with each other.

2. Long distance dating takes the focus off of the physical

Don’t sign up for distance if you don’t think you can handle cutting out the majority of the physical side of your relationship. There will be times that you will see a couple walking hand-in-hand as you drive down the street, and in that moment, you wish for nothing more than to have your significant other beside you in the passenger seat, holding your hand. There will be times that you just really want a hug or a kiss from your boyfriend/girlfriend, but you know you won’t be getting one for another month. And it’s hard. I won’t sugarcoat it for you.

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But it’s worth it. Long distance gives you a chance to build the emotional side of your relationship without advancing the physical. I believe that this is something that can really protect a relationship. It forces you to slow things down and build the trust, friendship, and emotional connection that a lot of people fast-forward through to get to the physical aspects of a relationship. When you date long distance, you know for a fact that the person cares about being with you for who you are as a person, rather than what you can give to them physically, because any expressions of physical affection are so few and far between. In the words of Chris Harrison, you know that they are in the relationship “For the right reasons.” Bonus: if you’re practicing abstinence, it makes it a lot easier.

3. Long distance tests your commitment to the relationship

In some ways, long distance is a sacrifice—you don’t get to spend a lot of time together in-person, which can be challenging, especially if your top love languages include quality time or physical touch. However, finding someone who is willing to give up some of the perks associated with same-city relationships shows a high level of commitment to making the relationship work. IMG_4163

I know that for me personally, doing long distance has strengthened the confidence I have in my relationship, because I am with a person who wants to date me, even though our circumstances are not ideal or convenient. Long distance is not for everyone, and not everyone will experience long distance, but doing long distance can test a relationship by showing you how committed you (and your significant other) are to the relationship. I believe that it gets a lot easier to tell whether or not you genuinely can see a future with someone if you know you are willing to put in the extra effort that distance demands, and take on the challenges that come along with it…and that is a powerful lesson that worth the extra mile.

-Kelly

Big Things

IMG_12482 years ago, I met Mark at WOOD TV 8. We were both interns, and we became friends at a community event when I saw him struggling to tie balloons [due to a pair of giant thumbs]. As I helped Mark knot his balloons, we chattered about why we had applied to intern for a TV station. It was then that Mark disclosed that he was my dad’s intern and explained that he wanted to be a Sports Anchor.

The first time I heard Mark’s career goals, I smiled and nodded. It wasn’t the first time someone had told me they wanted to become a Sports Broadcaster, and I sort of assumed that (like most), this was a temporary career goal that seemed fun but would take a backseat to more practical or attainable career options.

But that was before I really knew Mark Pearson.

IMG_8245Throughout our internship, I was presently surprised by Mark’s natural gift for his desired career path. One day, a camera came around to interview the interns; while most of us fumbled over some of our words or overused filler phrases (“like,” “um”), he was personable, warm, entertaining, and concise.

By the end of our internship, I knew that he was going to do big things; I knew he would attain the career he had told me he wanted—the kid was built to be a Sports Anchor.

But there’s something different about Mark which renders far more celebration than his natural talent on air or his vast sports knowledge-

when the cameras turn off, he’s just as incredible.

IMG_8247There are a lot of people who can turn on the charm for a camera or raise ratings. There are a lot of people who chase careers in television for the perks of the job. And then there’s Mark.

Mark is the kind of person chose his career path because he cares about people and he loves to learn and tell their stories.  He is someone who asks good questions and genuinely listens to the answers. He is someone who cares more about sharing stories than he cares about being on TV.

He is not chasing fame. He is not seeking the spotlight; he is a person who wants nothing more than to inspire others by sharing the stories of athletes. He sees beyond the helmet, behind the face-mask, beyond the superstardom of the players.

13339620_10205586740302610_3991983545110807796_nHe sees the years of hard work that these athletes invested and the families that back them. He lives for the moments Miggy tosses a pair of batting gloves to a child fan even more than he enjoys celebrating one of his homers.

This is why even it’s so easy to celebrate Mark’s new job, despite the states and miles and hours it temporarily places between us: Mark has combined his gift for connecting with others, his love for the game, and his desire to inspire others by showing the stories of courage and optimism that often take a backseat to our knowledge of an athlete’s payroll.

On the last day of Mark’s internship at WOOD TV, I shook his hand and told him, “You’re going to do big things.” This morning, Mark & I shared a teary hug as he left for the airport, and I recited the same phrase.
“You’re going to do big things.”

IMG_1199These “big things” have nothing to do
with his gradual increase of Twitter followers since the station announced his hire. These “big things” have nothing to do with the status of the athletes he will interview. These Big Things have everything to do with a person who has worked so hard to achieve his dreams, and done so with integrity and optimism. These Big Things have everything to do with a person who is using his gifts & his passions to make the world a better place.

Cheers to Mark. Cheers to his next adventure. Cheers to WDAZ for making the greatest hire possible (though I may be biased). And Cheers to big things.

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Celebrating Jack: The Father’s Day Edition

296274_2025131749545_1643466808_nMy earliest memories consist of watching my dad’s broadcasts with my mom—waving at the TV & blowing kisses to the screen.

Growing up, I was blessed with a father who—despite a busy schedule—was always there for me, and taught me many valuable life lessons through his example.10430414_10204139676313765_8611881629955207391_n

When he sent me to preschool with crooked pigtails after attempting to do my hair in the style I requested, he taught me the importance of trying my best, even if the task isn’t one of my strong suits.941119_10151513671013380_752853653_n

When he came home for dinner & consistently set down his briefcase to catch me as I lunged into his arms, he taught me that work never comes before family, and the importance of being attentive to loved ones.

When my siblings and I fought, and he pulled me aside and calmly reminded me to “be the leader,” he taught me to be patient and peaceful even when it was tempting to fight back or have the last word.428596_2707422966399_707458187_n

When he never let me beat him in Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, Clue, Boggle, or Go Fish, he taught me to play fair & helped me develop my ability to lose graciously. 

When his sleeve pulled back a bit during a broadcast to reveal the friendship bracelet I had made him, he taught me display appreciation for any gift I was given, no matter how small. 

When he let me choose his tie before work, he taught me that my opinions were valued.

When I fell and skinned my knees (which is a lot, if you know me), and he told me that I was tough, and never smothered me or made a big deal out of a bruise or a cut, he taught me strength and independence.1521257_10202876035483534_7212614879946963367_n

When he put a significant amount of his paycheck toward a Christian education for his children, I learned that faith and family remain priorities, even if it requires financial sacrifice.

When he comes home at midnight after a long day of work, and relaxes with a frozen pizza and an episode of Jimmy Fallon, he teachings me to enjoy unwinding with simple, quiet moments before drifting off to sleep.1450910_10200860033204737_163495517_n

When he rolls up the sleeves of his dress shirt at every family gathering and does the dishes before anyone even notices, he teaches me the importance of serving others without seeking recognition.

When he weaves my “challenge word” of choice into his broadcasts, he teaches me that work can be fun, and gives me a reason to look forward to the 10 0‘clock news.

When he consistently treats my mom with kindness and respect, he teaches me that my siblings & I deserve significant others who do the same. IMG_8212

My dad has [both intentionally and unintentionally] led by example to teach his children an overwhelming amount of lessons, both big and small.

I learned that Coca Cola tastes best when I’m stealing sips from his glass.

I learned that no one makes better chocolate chip cookies, chili, iced tea, or lasagna.

I learned that holding the door open  for a stranger at the gas station can make their day.

I learned that reading a storybook doesn’t really count if each of the characters don’t have their own unique accent.

But most importantly, I learned what it looks like to teach selflessness, respect, hard work, sacrifice, humility, patience, & joy by treating each day like a classroom for growth.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and thank you for the life lessons.

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Celebrating Macy

Today, Macy Hoekwater celebrates her 23rd year of life.

In other words, today is kind of a big deal.

I met Macy when I opted to go potluck in Calvin’s roommate pairing system. Macy and I were assigned to be roommates. After receiving an email stating the name of my roommate, I quickly began an extensive stalking session of Macy’s various social media accounts.

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It didn’t take very long for me to decide that we’d get along. We both had photos of friends and family, and it was obvious from her profiles that her faith was fundamental to her daily life.

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I shot Macy a Facebook inbox, asking her if we could meet up before school started, and she agreed (fortunately). Fast forward a few weeks later, and a cute little black jeep appeared at the bottom of my steep driveway, and out popped a friendly stranger sporting a springy green cardigan and patterned TOMS.

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Macy harmonized to a Jason Mraz song as we drove to Panera together, where we discussed everything from hobbies to color coordinating our comforters. Sitting across from Macy in that Panera booth, I thought to myself, “Yep. I like this girl.”

Over the past 4 years, Macy has surpassed my expectations. I went into the roommate pairing system expecting to meet someone I would cohabit with for a year, but I ended up finding a lifelong friend who I lived with for all 4 years of school.

IMG_3524Macy is a loyal, enthusiastic, caring, clever friend who blesses others with her love for Christ and her desire to make others feel seen. Anyone who interacts with Macy will know that she genuinely cares about them and wants them to feel comfortable and included. She does this through her innate ability to infuse infuse good-clean-fun into any situation. Need an example? During a Christmas party thrown by our house (The Mansion), the girl popped out from behind the couch with her guitar, rocking an ugly Christmas sweater and serenading the guests with T-Swift’s “Our Song” until the room was filled with the voices of college students scream-singing the glorious throwback.

But Macy is more than just the fun friend, she’s the wise friend. I have often sought Macy’s advice when I knew I should hear from someone who would tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear. Macy specializes in playing the role of devil’s advocate, and has consistently provided the voice of reason I need to make well-rounded decisions. Macy is a friend who will keep you accountable while keeping your best interest in mind.

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4 years ago, I met a stranger who turned into a roommate, who turned into a friend–a friend who has brought wisdom, accountability, joy, humor, tough love, companionship, and vibrancy to the lives of so many over the past 23 years. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Happy Birthday, Macy–you’re a gift.