more than circumstance.

I’ve been pondering this idea for a couple of months now, but have felt pretty inadequate in articulating it.

I still feel amateurish, and my thoughts are not anywhere near conclusive, but I’ll try to express my brain-waves through language anyhow. This is a blog, isn’t that what this is for? (Warning: this could very well turn into massive word-vomit.)
Ever since this whole engagement thing, people have swarmed me with wedding questions. I feel as though anytime I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while, instead of asking how I am doing, they ask how wedding planning is going. Don’t get me wrong, I know they care–I know they ask because they love me (If you’re reading this now and have asked me a wedding question, PLEASE do not suddenly feel guilty. I ask myself wedding questions, too). But after a while, I started thinking about how odd that all really is…
We’ve allowed ourselves to become defined by our current circumstance(s).
Seriously, there are a lot of circumstances surrounding my little life that all feed into the simple question, “What’re you up to lately?” Well, lately, I’ve been working towards graduating from college in two months (wait–less than two months–shooot…), planning a wedding, the whole MARRIAGE part that follows that day, moving to Indianapolis indefinitely after November 28th, and starting my first real job where I won’t be called “Intern.”
Even with that in mind, when I’m honest, my circumstances don’t even come anywhere close to sufficient.
Here’s a small glimpse inside my circumstantial thoughts in the past seven days: a week ago, I read through an article that changed the way I thought about the gender of God. Just this morning, I woke up to another day of doubt. During pre-marital counseling on Thursday, I processed through what it might look like if we cannot physically have children. So yeah, there are bigger things happening than a wedding… and that’s just my teeny tiny life. I’m one of six billion people.
So, I struggle. I’ll be authentic here in saying that–right now–I don’t believe our wedding to be the most important thing… and I wrestle with believing it should ever be the most important thing in anyone’s life.
Yeah, I said it. I know, some bride somewhere is going to think I am the spawn of Satan for saying so. I know weddings are a big stinkin’ deal. Hello! I’m planning one. I am thrilled beyond comprehension to walk down the aisle and become Kyle’s wife. I cannot wait to put on my dress, get dolled up with my best friends, and dance to the Cupid Shuffle at our reception (oh yeah, it’s happening). I long to serve and love him for the rest of my time on this earth. HOWEVER, I also realize that along with that comes a huge commitment, one that lasts longer than my ivory dress.
I just hope that as created beings, we can allow ourselves to look beyond our current circumstance(s), no matter how time-consuming, overwhelming, exhausting, or exciting they may be. Let’s see the bigger picture. And while we’re at it, can we be brave enough to ask each other the heart questions, instead of circumstantial ones?
Please add to the conversation–I know my thoughts are not complete.

Ode to Stephanie Norwood

Blogland, meet Stephanie Norwood. There is truly no one like her.

Stephanie and I go way back (as in 8th grade), back when I thought I was too cool for school and she didn’t even know what “status” meant. Stephanie is one of those rare gems in this life that truly sees people as they are, and my friends, if you know her, you will be better for it.
I want to give a few examples from the past few months about why I love this woman so much, and let her life speak for you:
1. At the beginning of the summer, we wanted to have a housewarming party for all the friends we knew living in Indy. As we were going through people to invite, we came up with quite a short list–partly because it had been a while since we lived there, but the other part being that Erin and I both struggle with hospitality. Not Stephanie. The next day, she came in and said, “Hey! I met a few people at Starbucks today, they’re coming over tonight!” My immediate thought (I’m ashamed to admit) was, “What? Random people we don’t know? In our house? That’s weird.” This did not weird Steph out for a minute. So the night came, as did Steph’s new friends, and it turned out to be such a blast! Steph (unintentionally) totally put my people-skills (or lack thereof) to shame that night.
2. Right around the time that I was leaving Indy to go back to school in Cincinnati… I invited Steph on some errands that I needed to run before my departure. For some reason that still remains a mystery, we both started craving Taco Bell. . . of all things. Unfortunately, Taco Bell happens to be not even a mile from our house, so we gave into the craving. You know how it goes at fast-food restaurants–you drive up, look at the menu, casually order what you want and try not to yell too loud, and then pull up to the window and hope they got it right. Welp, in this particular instance, Steph and I were a little slow in ordering, and as a result, got yelled at through the Taco Bell speaker. Instead of getting mad, angry, or irritated, we both laughed so hard at the entire situation that I was almost in tears on our way out of Taco Bell. I ordered a Volcano Taco for no other reason than being flustered; it was the first thing I saw. Steph ordered a #3, without a clue as to what that meant, and as we left that day we added it the many wonderful stories of life.
3. Over Labor Day weekend, some friends of mine from Chapel Rock planned a big camping trip with a bunch of people from church. Stephanie, not knowing anyone, decided to go a day earlier than me. When she first told me that, my immediate thought was, “You’re not going to know anyone you’re camping with–are you alright with that?” Then I realized, we’re talking about Steph. She makes friends with wooden chairs. So she went, made 10 new friends in 3 hours, and by the time I got there the next day she was already apart of the village–totally loving life with all her new friends.
4. Alright, this is the last and most recent. Last night, my friend Erin sent me a text (Erin and Stephanie are roommates) that said, “Steph is totally going to our neighbors’ house to ask if they want to play monopoly because I dared her to… I can’t stop laughing. I think we are about to be known as the creeper neighbors!” When I asked Steph how it went, she replied, “This is the second time they have not been weirded out by my forced friendships!” That girl truly knows no bounds and we would all be better at loving people if we lived like her.
I hope that someday I can learn that kind of love–the one that would rather reach out than shy away. To all of my reluctant friends out there: I pray that if you do not know Stephanie, you know someone like her that will push you beyond your own comfort.

probably inadequate thoughts on the 2-D life

So, I confess. I have a case of blogger anxiety.

Way back at the ripe age of 14, I was a moldable, naive, passionate, and highly emotional teenage girl. I realize that statement is redundant within itself–because, honestly–is there such thing as a lowly emotional teenage girl? I digress. Anyway, I had a “no-delete-policy” when it came to blogging–or, back then–live-journaling. If I wrote something too vulnerable, or just plain whack, it stayed. Plus–the internet was not nearly what it is now, so I had much less to worry about. Hardly anyone saw the need to read about my thoughts besides my other 14-year-old emotionally-charged friends.
However, seeing as how many of my Facebook friends are now in high school (due to the nature of my job), I have began to ponder this insane phenomenon of feeling the need to broadcast every-single-thought-that-goes-through-your-mind for the internet land to see. I’m by no means against technology; how ironic would that be. I update my Facebook every so often, I have a blog, and I even think my Myspace is still in tact. But sometimes, I can’t help but think to myself, “Does anyone really care?” or, “Am I using this as a way to avoid making face-to-face relationships?” All of these were legitimate questions I asked while in the process of so many geographical transitions. I will admit it, 2-dimensional friendships are easier. There is no risk involved. If I don’t like something, I can exit out of it and walk away.
In a face-to-face friendship, though, you can’t do that. Even if you say you can, you know better. No one’s heart just cuts and runs. And along with that, there is this large part of me that wonders what friendships will begin to look like as our technology land grows bigger.
Will we even know what it means to confront people? Will we know what it looks like to have conversation about things that matter? Will we be able to express clear, well-thought out conclusions about things happening in the world around us? Or, over time, will we continually become consumed by this obsessive need to let everyone know what we are doing at the precise moment we are doing it (even if that means we are eating a stinking sandwich)?
I know it sounds harsh–but seriously, I think I speak for the majority in saying: we don’t care about a sandwich. Well, maybe some of us do. Okay, sometimes I think it’s interesting… sometimes.
With all that said, this has spilled into the things I write on here. Almost 5 times out of 10, I begin to write something, then think, “Eh, no one will care, and no one will read this anyway,” and delete it. I know what you’re thinking: honestly, Anne, no one thinks about this that much. You’re giving yourself way too much credit. I know, alright? I’m a weirdo. I overanalyze life on a daily basis and it doesn’t look like it’s coming to a halt.
I am not in any way, shape, or form against technology. I just worry that we are getting so used to a computer screen that we will in turn forget how to have real relationships with people. We have grown so accustomed to typing our feelings for the world to see that we don’t know how to express them with our closest friends. And this… well, I can’t deny it, it worries me. What will our generation look like in years to come? Will we know how to verbally communicate with people, or will we remain awkward Twitter-updaters?
Just food for thought. Seriously, feel free to disagree.

ode to indy

Dear Indianapolis,

I have a love/hate relationship with you. I grew up knowing only you, was faithful to you, and committed myself to your sports teams, school systems, and extra-curricular events. I’ll give it to you–I moved to Ohio for college, which is hardly treason. Yeah, I know, they’re weirdos, but it’s only one state away. Living in Ohio brought all sorts of confusion in my life; in Indy, the “Eastside” and “Westside” are merely geographical terms. In Cincinnati, they are grounds for battle. This made me appreciate you so much more. So much, in fact, that I moved back to you two summers in a row.
Alright, alright, I moved to North Carolina for a year. But please know–my love for you never left. In fact, my roots as a Hoosier grew deeper the further I moved away. During this time, my love for the your beloved football team, the Indianapolis Colts, grew even bigger. I watched every game that I could, not just ones that were an excuse to be social. No one cared about the Colts besides a fellow Indianapolisan, so by nature, we stuck together.
After a year down south, I moved back to the Promise Land (i.e., you). I experienced a new side of town, new traffic routes, and even gained a new love for El Rodeo. I got to enjoy my parents’ company, something suddenly foreign, on a weekly basis. I met people that have the same love for Jesus + you and welp, grew close with them, too.
In all honesty, Indy, as much as I hate to admit it, you have my heart. No matter where I live, or how far away I am, I am proud to be from Indianapolis. No sweet tea, sticks of butter, or East/West battle could ever change that. So here’s to you, hometown, you’ve done your part.

In a short little list, I will try to encapsulate the truths I have been learning in the past few weeks:

1) We barely scratch the surface of God’s love.
2) Learning to truly receive is one of the hardest lessons I have ever learned.
3) Shutting up is highly underrated.
4) Never let anyone, or anything, steal your joy.
5) Be thankful for the ones who care; extend grace to the ones who don’t.

love and mawiage: 68 days away.

On day 92, I would have told you that it was scaring me how much I didn’t feel like a “bridezilla.” I mean, truly. I almost felt guilty that I was not pouring over magazines on a daily basis,, or working out details in my spare time. When I was relaxing in the morning I would often think, “Is there something I should be doing? Why am I not stressed out? Should I be stressed out? Every bride I’ve known in this stage of the game is stressed out–I need stress!” How ridiculous, right? A few days ago, I would’ve told you I was ready to just get this thing over with… until this weekend.
This past Saturday, I had my first Bridal Shower with Kyle’s family and church friends. I LOVE, love, love that I gained a new family in this whole marriage thing. The fun part–the love and marriage part–is getting closer. Before, I was swamped in details that seemed to have no end, but now, the end is in sight. Marriage is at the other side of the door. Kyle and I went through our pre-marital counseling this summer, both loved it (me probably more than him), and already put a lot of the communication stuff into practice. (PS-I’ll take this opportunity to be a public service announcement: for anyone who has ever tossed around the idea of going to a professional counselor for pre-marital counseling… DO IT! I cannot stress it enough, I am a dedicated fan of professional counseling. Ministers are great, but here’s the truth–if they talk to you about money and sex, it’s awkward, no one is honest… let’s be real here.)
So, all that to say, the day is coming. It’s drawing near. No, we don’t know where we’ll live yet–but rest assured, that will come in October. Until then, please don’t ask. :)

5 enemies of unity.

When there is unity in diversity, that’s where community can really come alive.
Today I found something on a blog that was simple and yet so stinkin’ useful. It was taken from a conference in Atlanta called Catalyst. Actually, I was supposed to go… but plans got mixed up and I couldn’t. If anything, thanks to my blog-stalking skills, I gleaned something–even if it was a year later.
5 Enemies of Unity”(Andy Stanley)
1) Poor communication (the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing)
2) Gossip (a negative is discussed with anyone who can’t help solve the problem)
3) Unresolved disagreements (when the leader avoids the conflicts taking place within the team)
4) Lack of shared purpose (when the leader doesn’t restate the goal or vision)
5) Sanction incompetence (it demoralizes the team when someone on the team gets away with something and a leader won’t take action)
I pray that we are jolted by these on a daily basis–and that no matter what environment–we choose to seek unity in all things, even when it’s down-right hard.

so, we really do need each other.

I wrote this for PSM’s blog a while back, stumbled across it here recently, and gleaned a lot from former words.

In 1992, a young man named Christopher McCandless started out on an escapade to “find himself.” He grew up in a privileged home and had every opportunity at his feet. Shortly after graduating from Emory University, he took his $26,000 check, donated it to charity, cut up his social security card and license, and headed west. After two years of hitchhiking, hanging out with strangers and moving from state to state, Chris decided to go on an Alaskan adventure “into the wild.” He felt determined not only figure out how to survive in the wilderness, but to do it by himself. People would only hinder his experience.

Upon arriving in Alaska, he found a stranded bus to camp in and tried to feed his appetite from the animals and plants around him. In the movie, Hollywood depicts Chris as arriving with complete awe and almost a sense of purpose; he is finally alone. After several weeks of attempting to survive solo, Chris reached a point where he realized that the happiness he was experiencing was only worthwhile if it was shared with other people. The drama unfolded as he packed his bags, headed back towards civilization, and was suddenly trapped by a river that was once only a stream. The weather had warmed since he last passed it, and there was no way to go across it. His only options were drowning or surviving alone in the abandoned bus, waiting for someone’s arrival.

The tragedy of it all was not Chris’s death that followed only weeks later; it was that he died alone. He had abandoned everyone he knew, everyone that loved him and wanted to help him. He ran scared from community and wanted to prove to himself that he didn’t need people. The movie depicts him writing some last words in one of his favorite books, “Happiness is only worthwhile shared.” He discovered for his need for people, but it was too late. Right before he died, he wrote on a piece of paper, “I have lived a long and happy life. God bless you all.”

Chris refused to be real with anyone, admitted no one, and isolated himself—it ultimately lead to his death. During the Holocaust, Hitler conducted terrible experiments on infants—giving them just enough food and milk to survive, but no nurture or coddling. If the baby cried, they would manage. Every infant died. Not because of physical needs, but because they had been abandoned.

The crazy reality is that no matter how much we try to deny it, we need people. We were created to live in community with each other. Without people, we can never survive, at least not the way God intended. Authenticity is challenging, gut wrenching, and even painful at times. For some reason unbeknownst to me, it does not come naturally. There have been many times in my life where I would much rather choose to be fake, ignore those that want what is best, and run towards those that will just let me be alone. Yet this is not what God intended, either.

Chris ran from home and towards those that would only offer the “wisdom” he wanted to hear. Funny… in my study of Saul, Jonathan, and David, I saw Saul run away from everyone and Jonathan run towards David. David was worthy of being trusted, Saul was not. Without help of those around him, Saul became a madman and ultimately strayed from his very purpose. Jonathan clung tight to his friend David, who ultimately became King and was one that truly pursued the heart of God.

Who do we run from? Are we dying to get out and away from everyone that knows us, loves us, and wants what is best? We desperately need the love of those around us. My prayer is that we would know Him—and in that, we would let others love us.


Today I got to experience the beauty that is otherwise known as Yosemite National Park. Really, there are no words–or even pictures–to justify the sites, smells, sounds, etc. All senses are covered. However, here is one picture in a mere attempt to capture just a little bit of how breathtakingly beautiful this place is… it was one of those “holy-crap-is-this-a-real-place-or-am-I-looking-at-a-painting?” moments. Growing up in Indiana, I have to say, I am not used to those.

May I also add, everything is better when this guy is around….


My roommate and long-time best friend, Erin, is my many-language-speaking buddy. She has taught me a lot in this short lifetime… one of which being many different sayings in Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish. Recently, after overhearing her say “Enshallah” several times to herself, I learned that “Enshallah” means “Lord-willing” in Arabic. So, Lord-willing, I have a lot coming to me… and I am in no way ready for it, but not worried in the least (which is where that Enshallah part comes in).

I’ve never really been a person for “countdown calendars,” but with so many events/major life changes approaching, I felt it would be appropriate.

14 days: Trip to Fresno, CA to see my future in-laws!
48 days: Leaving Indy and moving back to Cincinnati, OH until otherwise indicated…
92 days: Taking a trip to the famous cabin in the boondocks of Indiana to spend time with my long lost friends
144 days: Becoming Mrs. Anne Marie Wilson… if you can think of a good jingle to go with my new name (to give it a little spice), that’d be sweet.

Enshallah from here on out.