Paris, je t’aime


An Exposition on Why How Much I Love Paris.

I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but I do know that for as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with French culture. I loved the sounds of the language, the look of the pictures of food I saw in the copy of “Culinaria: European Specialties” my parents gifted me for my 10th birthday (it has survived the decades and a multi-state move to now sit on my bookshelf – I still pull it out and pour over it!), and the allure of the art, history, and culture. I can’t say what it is about France, and Paris in particular, that captures the hearts and minds of so many.

As I grew older, my passion only grew. In my high school, where many spoke Spanish, I insisted on taking French all 4 years. It was never a question of ‘if,’ just of when I would ever get to visit Paris for myself and after adding French as a minor to my undergraduate business degree, I got to study abroad in 2009 and finally get to experience the country I’d loved from afar for myself. It was magical (you can travel back in time to college Em’s adventures here).

I’ve been back to France a few times and continue to love it (and would move there in a heartbeat if I could!). I incorporate as much of it into my life as I can – from decor, to books (currently: this and that), to my cooking (coq au vin mmmmm), to my music, to the blogs I read, to the memberships I have, and the restaurants I frequent.

To this day I can’t tell you why I have this passion except to say that it must be something God has placed on my heart. Can I hear an ‘Amen’?!

An Open Letter

An Open Letter About My Ugly Heart.

I snapped today. I snapped last week, too. And days before that. I feel like I’ve been constantly at the end of my rope for the past year.

I always go ‘balls to the wall’ until I can’t anymore. And then I snap, I withdraw, I take ‘me time’ and veg out and do nothing for a day or a weekend.

Right now I’m struggling really, really hard with singleness. For the past decade of my life I’ve been mostly single. I’ve dated a few people, but nothing panned out, which I know is for the best. “God’s Plan.” I’ve just finished listening to a sermon series on Godly relationships – Godly dating, Godly marriage, and Godly singleness. My biggest takeaway on Godly singleness was that singleness is a gift and God gives it to us to use as a time to serve His ultimate purpose – going and making disciples. The last podcast I listened to talked about how much single people can bless others around them. How much they can be great employees and awesome aunts/uncles and whatnot. Easy for you to say, Mr. Preacher Man. You’ve been married for 12 years and have 3 kids. You haven’t had to deal with singleness since you were 19. You don’t know what it’s like to be on the edge of 30, with no promise or hope that anything will change, knowing that your life could ultimately be spent constantly serving others.

I know what you’re going to say, Married People: Marriage is hard. Marriage is nothing but dying to self and serving someone else every. single. day. Em, you obviously don’t ‘get’ marriage. Oh I know…as much as a never-married woman of almost 30 could know. But at least in marriage – a Godly marriage – that dying to self is done for someone who has pledged in covenant to do the same thing for you. There’s a comfort in knowing that in dying to yourself and serving others, you have a partner who has promised to love and cherish you til death do you part.

How do I reconcile seeing singleness as a gift and an opportunity to serve others with no promise of ever being thanked, valued, or (sometimes) served in return? I know, I know, but Em, you’re missing the point! You can’t have a servant’s heart and expect to get something in return! Exactly. EXACTLY. How do I live the next year, five years, 10 years, rest of my life seeing singleness as this awesome gift of serving God and his people without getting frustrated and burnt out? How do I keep giving of myself knowing full well I have no right to expect any sort of love or thanks or reciprocity in return?

I’ve been a Christian for awhile. Several years. I know the ‘answer.’ I know that God is the only One who can love me, value me, and desire me in the way my soul craves. But, if I’m being honest, right now He just isn’t good enough. He’s just not cutting it. I don’t trust Him. I don’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He’s a Good Father and wants good things for me. I don’t know that He loves me.

So what do I do? How do I seek out and press into the one thing I want nothing to do with at this moment? How do I stop wallowing in self-pity? How do I die to myself and not hold grudges against those who owe me nothing? How do I get to a place where I’m right with God?

I don’t have an inspirational answer to wrap all this up in a neat bow. I don’t know the answer. I mean, I “know” in the sense that I’ve been going to church my whole life and recite the answer I’m supposed to say in response to all of this frustration. But I don’t know. And that, dear friends, is the most open and honest this ugly heart has been in a good long while.

30 Before 30


A List of ‘To-Do-Before-Turning-30’ Items.

  1. Read the Bible cover-to-cover
  2. Eat at Alinea / visit Chicago
  3. Roll out new blog and do minimum 1 post per month
  4. Become conversationally fluent in French again
  5. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  6. Become an expert on the Belle Epoque (all the great artists, musicians, and thinkers of the day)
  7. Try a speed-dating session for fun
  8. Do 10 body weight pull-ups
  9. Go to Pentatonix Concert
  10. Take a cooking class – knife skills
  11. Go do paintball!
  12. Go to Central or South America (pick country later)
  13. Do a color run
  14. Mission trip to Haiti
  15. Try eating bugs
  16. Read 1 book per month
  17. Revamp my wardrobe – BE AN ADULT
  18. Become an amateur cheese connoisseur
  19. Meet with one professional / social networking person per month
  20. Have a professional portrait session (Abigail)
  21. Learn to drive stick shift
  22. Have one real spa experience (mud path, hot stone massage, etc.)
  23. Visit gun range (maybe get gun permit)
  24. Find a way to creatively display my postcards and mementos from trips
  25. Pay off student loans
  26. Go to Colorado to visit Sheila and San Franciso to visit Chessa
  27. Get TSA Pre√ – no more lines for me!!
  28. No soda for a year
  29. Watch one classic movie per month: Casablanca, The Sandlot, National Lampoon, Some Like It Hot, The Big Lebowski, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Graduate, Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Breakfast Club, The Goonies, Stand By Me
  30. Throw an epic 30th birthday party