Happy early birthday to me! I turn 34 on Sunday, and in honor of the occasion, I thought it might be fun to answer 34 questions from you dear ones. But of course, it wouldn’t be Em for Marvelous if I didn’t go a level deeper than necessary on something as simple and common as a modern day Q&A, would it? :)
Though I adore answering any sort of question (school paperwork, surveys, doctor forms, you name it), I’ve always felt a twinge of unease when soliciting or answering “ask me anythings” on Instagram or here. I suppose it feels presumptive to assume anyone would care about these little personal tidbits in a way that a typical, meaty blog post does not.
As I was processing through these thoughts, this passage from 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You popped to mind:
“So I ask myself: Is my digital chitchat aimed or is it aimless; thoughtful or thoughtless; strategic for the eternal good of others or wasted on self-expression? …Am I using my digital chitchat as a way to build into someone (or some online community) with a larger relational goal of edification? These questions and others determine whether my text, tweets, and images are thoughtless fragments or purposeful strategies to point others to find their joy, meaning, and purpose in God.”
A personal Q&A might seem frivolous. But I hope, as with all of the posts I share, you’ll find something here that inspires you, reframes a thought, helps you connect, makes you smile, or yes, points you to find your joy, meaning, and purpose in God. If nothing else, it will be a fun little time capsule for my kids one day :)
1. Least favorite household task? Wiping down the table/placemats/chairs after meals with young kids. I think it is one of the most Sisyphean tasks of parenthood.
2. Favorite poem? Or just one that is speaking to you in this season? I love this question! For those who don’t know, I was an English major with a Poetry concentration, and my senior honors thesis was an original collection of poetry… maybe someday I will share some of it! For years, I shared favorite poems regularly right here on EFM, and those archives are a beautiful collection of some of my absolute favorites. “Indian Summer at Land’s End” by Stanley Kunitz will forever be my number one.
3. Three words to describe high school Emily? I asked John, and he said nerdy, studious, and bookish (thaaaaaaanks). This was tough, but I would choose confident, earnest, and focused.
4. What are some of the big things you’re saving money for? Right now we’re very focused on finishing our house freedom fund. We’re also just about done setting aside money for our “next car” fund (which we hope to not need for a few years!). On a smaller scale, we’re planning to FINALLY buy an actual bed next month after 8+ years of marriage!!
5. What’s on your dream ice cream sundae? Banana ice cream, chocolate sauce, walnuts/pecans/peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry :)
6. If money was no issue, what hours/job would you work? If money were TRULY no issue, I probably would not have a job, ha! I would send the kids to half-day preschool and use the extra time to write more consistently here! I still wouldn’t aggressively pursue making it a money-making venture, since that doesn’t feel particularly compatible with my content, style, or inclinations, but I might accept a few more sponsorships-in-kind.
On a more serious note, I could NOT be more grateful for my job or the hours I do work (9-4 now, 9-3 starting this fall) and would find it hard to dream up something better for this stage of my life.
7. Favorite Bible verse or most meaningful verse in this season? Oh gosh, so many good ones! Psalm 103:1-2 in the NLT translation comes to mind first.
8. Are you and John planning to stay in NC a long time? Yes! I expect we will be here through our kids growing up and heading off to start their adult lives. Maybe not in our current home, but in the Triangle. At that point, we hope to be near them, so depending on where they end up, we might move to where they are or have a home base on the coast (Beaufort, SC is somewhere we talk about!) and rental properties near where they live? We shall see!
9. What routines help keep you grounded? My bedtime routine! I head to the bedroom for the evening and ask Alexa to play the Jazz for Sleep playlist on Spotify. After showering, brushing teeth, pajamas, etc., John and I do a ten-minute full-body stretch on the Peloton app. Then I hop into bed and read a chapter in my Bible, then 30-45 minutes of whatever book I’m in the middle of. If I’m really lucky, John will want to read me some sort of essay or article or column he’s come across – my very favorite way to fall asleep, ha!
10. How did you and Lara meet and how did you get your start at Cultivate? Cultivate did not exist when Lara and I met! We connected over a comment I left on the Southern Weddings blog my senior year of college, which turned into her comment on my blog, which turned into a letter I sent to her, which turned into a blog post on SW, which turned into an unsolicited job application, which turned into a job at Southern Weddings after graduation. We’ve been together ever since, from SW to Cultivate and 3 team members to our current 13. A wild and very blessed ride, indeed!
11. Are you a chapstick or a lipstick gal? I slather on Aquaphor several times a day. If I’m feeling fancy, I love the Sugar Lip Balm in Rose and have been known to wear a vibrant lip for special occasions (my favorite being Nars Schiap).
12. How did you meet your husband? We met in middle school and started dating our senior year of high school! He asked me on a date in January and by about March I would say I was certain it was a long-term venture. Full story here!
14. Do you speak any other languages, and if so, can you tell us a story about it? Yes! I speak a little bit of French (I took it in high school and college). I actually convinced John to take French 1 with me our senior year, even though we had only been dating for about a week! We went on to take French together in college, too. One of the only regrets of my life is not studying abroad, though I likely would have chosen England over France!
15. What is the hardest thing about living away from family? First and foremost, it is missing the little, casual, routine moments. Sure, we are able to experience some of those when parents come to visit (often for several days at a time), but there’s no weekly Wednesday breakfast with Dad before work or Sunday dinner tradition or Thursday afternoons with the grandparents. It is an onslaught of togetherness (which can sometimes be overwhelming for this introvert) and then nothing.
Another thing that’s hard is that most of our good friends’ parents do live in the area, because they grew up here. So not only are we set apart because we don’t have the built-in childcare or together time that they do, but their schedules are often booked up because they have more family activities to accommodate. That can feel a little lonely.
16. What is a benefit to living farther from family? I wrote about this here, but I would say the freedom and space to establish our own norms, traditions, and rhythms.
17. What will you ALWAYS order if it’s on a menu? I am extremely susceptible to chicken and broccoli alfredo… but the real answer is any sort of chocolate lava cake.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow! And thanks for submitting your questions, friends – considering how much I love answering them, it’s really like a birthday present for me :)
I’d love for you to chime in – how would you answer one of these questions? Or what is something we have in common?
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