Goodness & Joy

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Yesterday was a wonderful day. I woke up early and baked some rosemary prosciutto twists made from puff pastry I’d prepared from scratch the night before. They came out perfectly golden brown and still in their tight, spiraled shape full of flaky goodness.

I ate a light breakfast and went for my mid-morning run, and for the first time this year, I finally felt like I hit my stride. I ran three miles without stopping except to walk briefly at the turnaround point. For me, this was a huge accomplishment. I celebrated the joyful occasion by treating myself to a coffee-chocolate-banana protein shake from a nearby juice bar.

When I got home and showered, I logged into my email to let my current apartment complex know I’d be moving out, giving them my sixty day written notice per the terms of our lease agreement. I was surprised to almost immediately get an email back directly from the community manager, who told me she didn’t want to lose me as a tenant and was willing to take $250 off my monthly rent (which translates to $3000/year). Surprised but pleased, I let them know I’d found another complex for even less rent that also shaves twenty-five minutes off my commute “but thanks for the great offer.”

I walked down to the office to pick up a package that had arrived for me (nothing exciting – just something I’d ordered off Amazon), and though I’d only given my notice a few hours before, the male leasing agent who normally runs the front desk commented right off, “Aurora, I hear we may be losing you as a tenant.” Wow, news travels fast.

I explained to Eddie that I was changing careers to teaching and taking a job further north of town. “Yeah, I can see that,” he commented. “I’ve always been able to tell that you’re more about relationships and building connections with people. The money’s not that important to you.”

He could tell that from our brief interactions over the past two years? “Thanks, Eddie.”

“Yeah,” he went on, “I’ve always had a sense of this aura of goodness about you.”

I floated out of the office, completely taken aback by his words but so thankful to know that God’s light has been shining out of me in even the little things. It’s not often we get to hear feedback on how we’re doing on displaying the fruit of the Spirit.

Seth and I have been attending Fusion – our church’s pre-engagement class – for a few weeks now, and although most of the sessions are in a large group with 15 other couples, last night we met with a mentor couple individually. The four of us had a great conversation with lots of teasing and laughter. They’re a great couple; so fun and full of wisdom and transparency.

Near the end of the evening, the husband of the mentor couple commented in all seriousness, “We are so thankful to have the two of you in our Fusion group this season. Some of the other couples we’ve worked with are young in their faith or tentative about opening up about their relationships, but you guys are obviously so mature in your faith and willing to be vulnerable because you really want to enter into marriage with a strong foundation.”

Seth and I smiled lovingly at each other. It was nice to hear such encouragement. The mentor went on, “And every week, we see you two come in with such joy on your faces, like you’re really excited to be there and engage in conversation. That means a lot to us as a mentor couple.”

For the second time that day, I floated on air. Goodness and joy; Joy and goodness. It’s nice to have people call out the character they see in you. Hearing those words of affirmation really spurs me on to love well and live well. And it’s a great reminder to compliment those around me on the character I see in them. It makes such a difference when we build each other up!

Authentically Aurora

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Sense & Sensitivity

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Seth and I have been dating for a few months now, so we are entering that season of trying to find our groove; to figure out the new norm for our relationship now that the “getting to know you” season is coming to a close.

Over the past three months, we’ve learned each other’s backstories as well as one another’s hopes and dreams for the future. We’ve experienced one another’s hobbies and have explored our (thankfully shared) political and religious views. We’ve met each other’s families, friends, coworkers and have started double-dating with now mutual friends.

There aren’t a lot of “softball” questions left to ask (“What do you like to do for fun?”), so conversation tends to either be about the present (“How was your day today?”), the near future (“What are you up to this weekend?”), or a topic that is deeper, more intense, and suggestive of the longer-term future (“What are your thoughts on adoption?”). We try to keep that last one to a minimum for now. After all, Seth’s longest relationship ever is only 4 months, and I am all too aware we are creeping up on that timeline.

Seth has become a student of me, and I of him. We are still learning each other, but we have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. He has moments of being indescribably sweet and moments of being a stereotypical man. I’m sure he feels the same about me in all my womanliness.

Just yesterday, we were talking after work on our way to meet some friends for dinner. Seth had spent the weekend in the pasture, and his time in the sun had dotted his tanned face with a sprinkling of freckles. Enjoying the look of them, I smiled at him suddenly and said with a soft smile, “I really like your freckles.”

He looked back at me and said with a straight face, “I really like your pimple,” nodding to a new blemish that just showed up on my left cheek. About five minutes earlier, I’d been telling him about the rough day I’d had at work and had confessed I was feeling a bit defeated and insecure. So I laughed, but I also added through the laughter, “Uh, didn’t I just get finished telling you how insecure I’m feeling today? Please tell me more about how ugly I am.” He took the hint and wrapped me in a hug, saying, “Oh, Aurora… you know I’m just teasin’ with ya.”

Two hours later, driving back from dinner, I got a (perhaps needed) reminder of what a great guy Seth is. We were at a red light and got stuck behind a beat-up, old car that wouldn’t start when the light turned green. Rather than honking and veering angrily around the stalled car like some of my exes would have done, Seth turned on his hazard lights, told me to sit tight, and hopped out of the truck to knock on the door and see how he could help.

The driver ended up being an elderly woman, and Seth got her to put the car in neutral while he pushed her to a corner gas station. Meanwhile, I slid across the bench seat to Seth’s driver seat and followed behind the stalled car in his truck, shielding them from traffic.

That is the kind of man he is. That is the kind of team we make. So when he teases me about my acne or ogles at the number of brownies I eat or tells me my laugh sounds like a turkey, I just remind myself about his kind heart and stalwart character.

He is a typical, occasionally oblivious man, and I am a typical, occasionally sensitive woman. So as I tell Seth all the time, I am learning to hear the words of his heart and not his mouth. And he is learning not to say stupid things.

Authentically Aurora

Mental About My Dental

Teeth-WhiteningPeople are weirdly obsessed with my teeth.

Apparently a new person in my circle of friends was asking someone else about me – what they think of me – and, of all the comments and observations that could have been made about me, the person’s response was: “She’s really intense. And she has good teeth.”

I’m intense. And I have good teeth. I mean, both of those things are true. The former is one of my greatest insecurities and the reason nearly every one of my boyfriends has broken up with me. The latter, as my daddy likes to say, is because he “paid a lot of good money for those teeth!” Nine months of braces. Thanks, Dad. 

Soon after that interaction, I found myself doing the whole standing-talking-in-the-parking-lot thing with one of the men in my bible study, and during the course of our conversation, he suddenly stopped and said, “You have really good teeth.”

I appreciated the compliment, but since his family owns a cattle ranch, this – his very first compliment to me – made me feel a bit like a horse being appraised for investment. Not the most flattering compliment of all time, but I tried to take it in the spirit in which it was intended.

Then last night, while volunteering at a ministry that provides career counseling and mentorship to at-risk youth, two of my freshman kept giggling during our session. When I asked what was up, they blurt out, “You have great teeth. They’re so white!” …and then, embarrassed, they erupted into giggles, covering their mouths and hiding under the table.

I smiled, thanked them, and brought us back to the lesson at hand, but – since all three interactions involved boys – the next time a man tells me I have good teeth, I’m going to ask in response, “Would you say my teeth are ‘like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing’?”

After all, a girl’s got to know where she stands.

Authentically Aurora