Please join me in welcoming speaker, blogger, Bible teacher, and mom, Andy Lee, to the Gritty Pearl. Full of inspiration and a vast knowledge of scripture, Andy's writing is sure to encourage you for the week to come.

She was desperate.

Sleep had evaded her, but the dark night sky gave way to a deep blue hue and the hope of a new day.

She could go now.

Though weary, Magdalene would be the first one to the tomb. She knew exactly where they had placed Him, and she had a job to do. She would prepare his body properly for burial with spices. At least that was her story. Perhaps though she simply needed to see him one more time. She needed closure. 

But Mary Magdalene would not find a dead Jesus.

He never remembers when I tell him things.

Her stories are too long.

He interrupts me while I’m speaking.

She’s too detailed.  

He’s distracted a lot. 

She "always" wants my opinion, even when it’s a trivial decision. 

He "never" needs my approval, he just goes and does it.

She expects me to recall things she told me when I was in a rush three weeks ago. 

Some days marriage and dating feels like walking on clouds, and the very next, a sad country song. 
Tweet: Tweet: Some days marriage and dating feels like walking on clouds, and the very next, a sad country song. @thegrittypearl #faith #relationships

Couples constantly navigate a gender-nuanced world when it comes to communicating clearly with one another. This week we'll consider a few ideas from the experts, so that our thoughts won't get lost in translation...

It’s spring break here in Wilmington and we’re entering week three (year-round schedule). Though I always dread the first few days of our routine change - the boys bickering over games, taking turns, and having constant "fairness" disputes - by the end we’re in sync, and I hate to send them back to class. 

This time, the transition looks different. As our kids hit the books, my husband and I will slip away to celebrate our first ten years together. A gaggle of incoming family will be in charge at the Gemelli house so that a couple of tired parents can find rest under a palm tree or two. 

Like many of you, the majority of my time is spent as mom, wife, and whatever else is asked of me. Over the years, it’s been easy to lose sight of the simple woman I’ve always been - a daydreaming daughter of God, enthralled with the dialed-down, simple life that used to come naturally.

Returning to her is a purposeful practice that I’ve adopted over the years. As I pack my suitcase and envision my impending escape from responsibility, I remember the words of April Lakata Cao. Her wind-through-the-hair reminder is one that I come back to time and time again. It's about the little things imprinted in our memories, the smells, the freedom, the mistakes, and living to the full. 

Here’s hoping that you’ll be inspired to spend time with the you who gets lost in the shuffle too. 

Light up the room,

When I was nineteen I had a jacked-up Jeep with big tires. I bought it that way, trading in my sensible, tan, automatic Corolla for a stick-shift Wrangler. To this day I don’t know what possessed me, but I drove that green monster off the lot, lurching and stalling along the way. (Did I mention I had no idea how to drive a stick?)

I never made it home. I ran out of gas on a hill and panicked when I couldn’t figure out how to stop from rolling backwards. 

How often do we climb a mountain only to forget where we came from?
Tweet: Tweet: How often do we climb a mountain only to forget where we came from? @theGrittyPearl

I've always loved birthdays. Excitement ensues the minute some of our feet hit the floor, with enthusiastic spouses or kid-tackles in the morning, phone calls and social media notifications.  

In our family, the celebration begins at the crack of dawn. Our kids are stirred awake by the glowing flicker of candles at their bedside. Their first tasks of the day include blowing out candles and eating cake for breakfast. It's a glorious tradition!

This week I celebrated a birthday. 30 again, how about that! With pure joy, I see it as an opportunity to pass along gifts to you, dear online friends. A few of my favorite books will be flying through the post and landing on the doorsteps of three lucky readers.

Floating horizontal and weightless on the surface of the water, I barely blinked as clouds above me crept their way across the sky. There was no sound, just the muted ebb of water in my ears. My arms worked themselves back and forth, gently raising my head with each stroke. I wondered if I could rest like that forever in this personal lagoon, where dreams took root and conversations with God were as familiar as breathing. Some days there wouldn't be a single boat on the lake. Those were my favorite - not a ripple in sight to disturb the vivid reflections of a changing sky. 


For a new job. To be noticed. 
For the next stage of life. On the healing. For the apology. A thank you. For finances to fall in line. The pregnancy. On a new season. For the much needed break.

It's March and body image has been creeping into our conversations. The vines are blooming here in Carolina and some of us will be heading someplace warm for Spring Break or family trips. Many of you have already been enjoying the sunshine (a shout-out to our southern hemisphere friends - savor these dwindling days of summer).

My husband and I are celebrating our ten-year anniversary next month with a vacation so, just the other day, I stopped into TJ Maxx. Wouldn't you know, I found a couple of cute bathing suits and didn't shed a single tear in the dressing room...

Over the past few weeks, there's been a particularly feminine focus here at the Pearl (sorry Charlie). These recent messages are in direct response to the stories of women who've recently participated in our local workshops and other community events. If you, too, share some of these struggles, be inspired. You're not alone.
There was this thing I was supposed to do years ago. I lost sleep over it, tossing and turning. You know those God-prompts that only come when He finally pins you beneath the covers, a captive audience? I argued. I diverted. I didn't want to draw any attention to myself or invite judgment with this writing-about-hard-things stuff. Counseling behind closed doors was plenty for me! 
Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. 
Num. 12:3

Moses and I would have gotten along just fine. My mostly-introverted self could be content wandering the desert, "watering flocks." I know many of you wish that you could disappear amidst the sand dunes every once in a while too. I hear you loud and clear when you say that you want to get away, but there's just one problem...

February. For some of us, new diets are becoming a struggle and frustration is growing. We're reminded by the pretty faces staring back at us from magazine covers that summer will be here in the blink of an eye. Just when I feel pressure to look my best, I remember that you might be experiencing the exact same thing. I sent this love message to you for the first time three years ago, so internet kin, it's time for a body image revisit...
I've circled this island in my kitchen no less than fifty-two times and I swear, there's NOTHING to eat in this place. I'm tired, irritated, and after putting the boys to bed, I cleaned the you-know-what off the side of the toilets and tile flooring. The stool overflowed again. Some days there isn’t enough Clorox in the world to accomplish the super feats of Mom. It’s only 8pm. I drag like a weary, homemaking soldier headed home from battle and want nothing more than to settle into the respite of my comfy, tan couch.  

Valentine's has come on gone. For some of us, it was a love-filled occasion, and for others, just another day. Sadly, some of us might have received our welcome to the broken hearts club this year. If that was you, here's a empathic wince and an over-the-internet fist bump of solidarity. Regardless of how your 2017 has gone so far, we can all relate to the sting of walking away from a relationship, feeling irritated with a friend or family member, or replaying hurts from the past over and over in our minds. 

Maybe you're having a rebuttal thought right now - I've never been one to hold a grudge. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising. So many of us miss the symptoms of unforgiveness that we never consider it to be one of the root causes of stress and suffering. 

This week we're working to clobber those hidden woes, so here are a few questions that we can ask ourselves to begin...