Tag Archives: Friends

Permission to Fail

Every now and then, our church gets together and has a potluck. Because potlucks are fun and festive and it’s always exciting to see what other people bring out of their kitchens. We have a fairly small congregation, so our potlucks are pretty casual. There are egg rolls and shrimp salads and cakes and jello molds and we pile all those things on paper plates and mingle and laugh and chase kiddos around.

*Aforementioned jello. It looks like there’s something wrong with this photo, but no, Jello is just that hard to photograph.

This year, we’re having a special holiday feast potluck, and somehow, I have become “Lord of the Feast.” Guys, I’m in charge of a thing.

It’s not that I don’t want to organize it – it’s that I’m surprised I was asked at all. There are other people at our church who are more organized and better at party planning than I am. And when I say “other people” I mean: it is likely that my toddler would do a better job of organizing this kind of thing, if she had access to email.

Of course, then it would be a My Little Pony themed potluck, so maybe it is all for the best.

In true-to-myself style, I have decided to take something I’m not naturally good at and decide to do a harder version of it. Go big, or go home, right? So, this year, we’re going to have a sit down, candle lit dinner in the sanctuary, after church.

Our pastor Damon, and his wife Guia are wonderful and thoughtful and a little mischievous. They were fully aware I was hesitant to take on this task that a well-caffeinated monkey could do. But the thing they told me that turned around my attitude was this: “give yourself permission to fail.”

The thing is: I’m not a perfectionist by any means. And failure is not something that generally hangs over my head as an end-all-be-all threat. I feel like learning from failure is important and necessary. How else do we learn?

But taking on a project when others would genuinely be so much better at it is… harrowing? intimidating? Hearing that advice from Damon and Guia, and knowing that they just want to have a good time with people they love (and really, isn’t that all we ever really want?) that took a lot of the pressure off.

I’m not planning to fail. I’m not going to shrug it all off until the last minute. But in the (more than likely) event that I overlook an obvious detail – I’m going to extend myself a little grace and be cool with it. If people are fed and have good conversation and the church doesn’t burn down, I’ll call it a success.


I’ll let you know how it goes.


Sweet Spot


Girls NightQuiet bunnyBumpiesChurchChurch with Friends      Caprese Orzo Salad


Something magic happened in our house last week.

We hit this stride where things just sort of fell in to place. Bedtime routines became easier, stress levels fell, friends’ schedules lined up for ample hangout time, and our A/C window units were mostly cooperative.

I also took some time off of Facebook, which ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Not to hate on Facebook. I enjoy Facebook for a lot of reasons (and I’ll probably share this post over there). I love that I can feel just a little bit involved in the lives of family who are far away. I love that it’s become a cool record of our lives for this window of time and I can look back through my timeline to see pictures of when James and I met, memories we created over holiday trips, funny stories people shared with me, exciting milestones for The Toddlah.

But I hit this frustrating moment one day last week where I knew I needed to take a step back. I really wasn’t enjoying real life as much as I could. And that’s a shame.

Because that’s one thing Facebook isn’t, right? It’s not real life. It’s a lens that we shine our lives through, projected on this wall for everyone to see, comment on, like, interpret as they will.

I guess this place is similar in a lot of ways, but it feels so different. This is my space. Longform Laura Jane. This is a place to dwell and journal and reflect and Be and invite people to my place, rather than get lost in a crowd.

I don’t know. Perhaps there’s more thinking to be done there.

Anywhodles, the weekend fell in to place pretty nicely. Our friend Lexi was in town visiting from Boston, which meant lots of wonderful time with friends just talking, laughing, hanging out, and enjoying good food. (PS, I was introduced to Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cupcakes a couple times this weekend and they are INSANE. I’m thinking about buying several packages of them and smooshing them together instead of baking myself a cake for my birthday this year.)

We had a lazy morning on Saturday, but we ventured out in the afternoon to see some friends and eat watermelon by a pool. That was followed by more friends at our place playing games and watching movies – it felt like college again. Staying up until 2 in the morning just because. It was gorgeous. But it hurt the next morning, hah!

I spent a lot of time after church admiring light. Was there something different about the light where you were on Sunday? Was it just me? There was so much of it and it was so warm and bright and happy. It spilled in to our new balcony/library space in the sanctuary, it climbed up the stairs, it poured in to my kitchen and on to my pasta salad.

It’s good to be back, blog. I’ve missed you. Let’s hang out like this more frequently, shall we?

The happiest place on earth is just inside my ribcage.

Yes, I feel cheesy enough right now to write an embarrassing blog title.

I can’t remember a time when we lived close to family. Visits to see my grandparents and cousins were special occasions – holidays or birthdays, always bookended with long car rides home. In some ways, the distance forced us to make the time together more meaningful with longer hugs, more elaborate meals, more “I love you”s. I’ve always felt a deep love for and from my family…but I’ve also felt far away from them.

As an adult living half a country away, with (wonderful) in-laws living in a whole other region altogether, it’s only gotten harder to bridge that gap.

But sometimes, amazing nuggets of opportunity to connect with family pop up – like this last weekend.  I got to spend time with my cousins Bianca and Laurel, Laurel’s boyfriend Adam, and our baby cousin Nichole. And, for once, living in Southern California worked in my favor because we all met here so we could go to DISNEYLAND. Plus, we got to spend that day with some of my west-coast friend-family – Beck, Ben, Mike and Jessie.

You know that feeling you get right after you open a present on Christmas morning and it’s exactly what you wanted? I had that feeling all weekend.

We got to be silly and have fun, and we got to indulge one little girl and make her feel like a princess all weekend.

Nichole and Bianca - The coldest beach visit EVER.

A thoughtful moment.


So much conviction. So much pretty.

The obligatory teacup ride.

Seconds after I took this picture she said,"That was probably my best smile ever!"

The best part is that this is turning in to a full week of family time. Tomorrow, James and I are going to celebrate our second anniversary with wine and scrabble. On Wednesday, I’ll be flying home to Missouri to spend some time with my parents while my mom is on spring break. I’m going to get to play pool with my Grandpa in Nebraska and spend some sweet time with my Grandma in Iowa. My heart is a deep down kind of happy.

(You can see some of Beck’s awesome pictures of the friends on her blog post here. Somehow, I didn’t get many publishable pictures of the friends – I’m guessing since my camera was trained on Nichole all day. The testament of my friendship is that I’m NOT going to post the most awesome picture of Jessie ever, featuring her showing us how to properly eat a bread bowl.)

Girls Night – Breaking Dawn

I am so so so excited to share this with you all. Last weekend, a few of the girls got together to watch that horror of horrors: Breaking Dawn (part 1) annd….we kinda filmed our reactions.

Just be forwarned about three things:

1) the sound can get a little loud since we do a fair amount of squealing.

2) there may or may not be one or two swear-type words in here (but not many), so if you are sensitive to that it may make you a little uncomfortable.

3) if you are a dyed in the wool “I LOVE TWILIGHT AND EVERYTHING THAT SPARKLES” type person, this is not the video for you. Because we are not those people.