Thursday, June 23, 2011


The stuff is in boxes, waiting to be hauled to the church in a matter of hours. I've been collecting wedding stuff for nearly a year, and the time has finally come to gather every-little-last-thing together and take it to the church to get set up. This is the most relaxing part of all. :)

From what my friends and family have told me, I am relatively calm during what should be a very stressful time because I have planned well. I take that as a sweet compliment - for once, my over-organized, remember-it-all brain is finally paying off in a big way!! But, the ticker-tape to-do list in my brain is constantly on "super-fast," and I'm just hoping to remember everything.

After the storm, we talked about how we would just call off the big church wedding if we hadn't already paid for everything. I'm glad we're still going through with our original plans for sentiment's sake, but living through a tornado and all its mess with Blake made me realize just how much this stuff - because that's really all it is - doesn't matter. But, it also makes the stuff sweeter. Every detail is cherished, not agonized over. No longer am I critical over every single solitary detail or stressing over whether or not the stamps match the "feel" of the thank-you cards. I am just grateful for the opportunity to celebrate what God has given us with our dearest friends. Our wedding will be the one time that all of our friends and family are in the same place at the same time - and that is what I am looking forward to most.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

good to know - advice for married folks with single friends

Just look at her. She is obviously joyfully and willingly "embracing" her singleness. She's loving it. Bless her. But, most people I know who are single (we're talking 25+, here) look a little more like this:

or like this (poor Dawson):

Okay, maybe they aren't doing the "ugly face cry" 100% of the time, but lots of single folks out there are not embracing their singleness. And I don't blame them.

Getting married is one of the greatest gifts in life. Here you are, two people who live life separately for however many years (23 and 24 years in our case) and one day you meet, then you fall in love, and then you realize you must be together FOR-EV-ER. It's a beautiful thing. But getting there ain't so beautiful.

When I thought about writing this post, I thought about telling my journey through singleness. Truthfully, I got to a point where I really did not want to be in a relationship. I knew I wanted to date and get married eventually, but I truly was enjoying being single and having fun with my friends. Our story is so cliche - I met Blake when I wasn't looking for someone. That's how it happened for me.

I thought about writing "tips" on enjoying singleness - doing the things you want to do, investing big-time in friendships, journaling, adopting a pet, etc. And then it hit me.... it was those tips that made me so bitter in my singleness! It was the people who were married and happy and in love who tried to tell me to enjoy my "gift" of singleness that made me hate being single. Sure, those people were single at one time, but they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you're single, you're single... there is no guarantee of a light at the end of the one-lane tunnel.

Look - if you are married, stop giving advice to single people. Just stop it. Hold your tongue, let them be a little angry if they need to be angry. Don't tell them to "enjoy it now because when you get married, you'll wish you were single again." That's horrible advice! Don't tell them that singleness is a "gift" and that Paul talks about it in the Bible. If they're Christians, they already know that. Don't tell them they'll find "the one" when they least expect it - because they can't "least expect it" until they TRULY least expect it (say that three times fast). And please, PLEASE, please, DO NOT tell them that "he/she will come in God's perfect time". I mean, it's true - True - but they have probably already heard it 1,000 times and if you are a real friend, you'll come up with something more original.

Don't fret, married friends. There is some advice that the married folk can offer that is solid, and that might help any hurting single hearts. The advice I most often give to girls that seems to get the "ah-ha" reaction is this: "If I had married who I thought I was going to marry at 21, I would be miserable." It's true. The guy I was dating (and who took me to look at engagement rings) was a good guy, but there were lots of red flags. We would have been happy, but it would have been very hard.

Another bit of advice for singles is this - pray about what the Lord wants. Determine the traits that are important (we're not talking "curly hair" and "a nice butt"), and hold out for a guy or girl that possess those traits. Be ready for God to also break you of any ideals that "the one" might not possess. For instance, I wanted my husband to be older than me - I'm not kidding, this was a HUGE issue!!! There was a time where I absolutely refused to date - or even consider dating - guys younger than me. Blake is 14-months younger than me. Dang, I lose.

It's a tricky game - knowing what to hold onto and what to compromise, but beliefs, morals, and lifestyle are more important than the other stuff - and that is why you pray. Constantly. Not prayers of desperation or prayers of begging, but prayers of becoming more like Jesus and prayers of God showing you (not you telling Him) what to do and where to go.

Truthfully, singleness isn't always fun. Whether you are happy in singleness or hating it, there are just times when you look around and realize you are alone and you don't want to be alone. It sucks. Married friends, we need to remember the suckiness of being single. And, sometimes, instead of trying to offer crappy "it'll all be okay" advice, we need to go back to the sucky times and remember how our hearts felt. And we need to live in the suckiness for a moment and understand our friends.

But, there are also times of great joy in singleness. And as someone who loved, hated, desired, and rejected singleness, I remember having a lot of fun. I didn't waste my singleness... I did the things I wanted to do, I went in the direction God led me, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. So, if you're single, look for those joyful times. Follow God's lead in every step, and you really can enjoy your singleness. :) That was cheesy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Favorite Things

Yesterday was Favorite Things Day at Publix. That means I got to buy all my favorite groceries, regardless of whether or not they were on sale. :) Our grocery cart was filled with:

- feta cheese
- Brianna's strawberry vinaigrette dressing
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Fresh strawberries
- a gallon of 2% milk (okay, would've bought it anyway but I LOVE MILK!)

Okay, so... not a lot of stuff, but I was so happy. I ate nearly half of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch on the way home. :)

Oh, the simple things in life!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

It just hit me that the first day of our "wedding week" is Father's Day.

The first real sentence I remember uttering after the doctor said they had done everything they could was, "I needed him to walk me down the aisle."

It was just after midnight on September 21, 2006, that my dad (known to most as "Louie") left this world. The events of that night changed a lot of things, but my heart sank knowing that he really wouldn't be there on my wedding day. For years after he died, I wondered what it would be like when I met "the one" - and what would it be like when I had to get married without my daddy there to give me away.

Now I know. Well, I know what it's like up to this point.

I knew Blake was the one when I took him out to my dad's grave just weeks after we began dating. I told him the story of my dad's life, and of his death. Blake listened as we sat on the tombstone bearing my father's family name. I couldn't help but think of just how much my dad would like Blake. They would have so much in common - both history lovers, intelligent, kind, a little goofy. And now I think of just how much like my dad I am... and I think Blake would have liked my dad, too. :)

Tomorrow will be bittersweet, as will the wedding day. But I will never forget how much my dad loved me, and I can only imagine how proud he would have been to send me off with such a great husband. :)

And, these sweet verses that I have prayed over and over again are a reminder of God's promises fulfilled in my life: "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. For he sets the lonely in families, he sends forth prisoners with singing." ~ Psalm 68:5-6

Friday, June 17, 2011

a quiet end

Tonight's plans are simple: straighten the house and relax.

My poor house has come to look much like a wedding war-zone, so much so that I would truly be embarrassed to post a "see for yourself" picture. Currently, a large (and I do me LARGE) cardboard box sits open and overflowing with gifts and bubble wrap in front of the hearth. On the window seat is a stack of crystal bowls and dishes set aside for the reception. And in my room, clothes predetermined for honeymoon-wear lie... well, all over the place - waiting to be washed and packed.

In just a matter of weeks, I imagine this is what our big old beautiful house will look like. Boxes lying around, waiting to be unpacked. Stuff everywhere because it doesn't quiet have a home yet. Beautiful things given by beautiful people displayed proudly (though possibly haphazardly) until everything is settled.

A little chaos is sometimes good for the soul. :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Little Piece

I thought for days and days about what I could send home with the guys from Boise out of appreciation for their hard work, and for showing us a tangible measure of God's grace by repairing our broken roof.

Alabama T-shirt? Sweet thought, but who am I kidding? They're hardcore Boise State fans. A couple of them did end up with a few "Roll Tide" souvenirs, though. :)

Coffee mug? Not travel-friendly.

Books? I never read books I receive as gifts.

I was/am stumped. In what tangible way could we show our appreciation? How could we send them off with a little token of gratitude?

Bottom line, we couldn't. Nothing seemed big enough. Nothing seemed appropriate enough. All we could give was some deep, heart-felt "thank you so much"es and hugs. And a few tears.

We started this morning the same way we started last Monday morning: in prayer with our fellow brothers in Christ. I cried both times - last Monday because I was just so happy they were here, this Monday because I hated to see them leave. In just five days' time, they took a tornado-stricken roof and repaired it almost completely. Just a few major details remain before we can move in - and those will happen soon enough.

We are extremely grateful to God for providing these men to us to rebuild what was broken. We are thankful that their families and friends lent them to us for a week. We are thankful for their sacrifice, for working in the disgustingly hot weather, and for being a blessing to us. All we could send with them today was our words - and even then, those were not quite enough.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Our first house sure has taken A LOT of prayer and A LOT of hard work! It isn't finished yet, but it's getting there! The guys from Boise have been working diligently in this hot mess of a town and they've done an incredible job. Today is their last day of work, and they leave on Monday. I am going to be sad to see them go - they've become like an extended part of our family!

Here is the progress so far:

The living room on April 27. I know I've already posted this picture several times, but... just a reminder of where it all started!

The back yard on April 27. I don't have a picture right now, but the trees are gone. Now there's just lots of dirt.

Talk about a skylight!! :) The guys had to cut away a large portion of the ceiling in order to rebuild it properly. It was slightly scary to watch the hole get bigger instead of smaller, but I knew it was part of the process! So... those are the old rafters and beams. They took those out and put in brand new beams and replaced all the broken or damaged rafters.

And yesterday, you could really see the progress from the outside!! When I went over a few minutes ago, the whole roof was COVERED! They had to remove all the shingles on this side of the house, but the hole is NO MORE!!!! Praise God!!

I can't wait to live with this guy in our big old beautiful house. It still has a ways to go, and we are hoping and praying for continued support from our friends and family. The living room will still need some work once the Boise dudes leave, and we also need help cleaning up the yard (still lots of broken trees & tree stumps), and help painting. So... if you are looking for a way to volunteer and help storm victims, here's your opportunity. :)

And by this time in two weeks, we will be married!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dreaming Again

A brand new ceiling fan for a soon-to-be brand new ceiling.

That's all it took to get me excited all over again about our first home.

A team of men (and one awesome woman!) from the Vineyard Church in Boise arrived on Monday to work in this tremendous heat to help us rebuild our roof. They have been so kind to leave their families and jobs for a week to come help little old us... and fix a house we weren't even living in yet.

There is still a giant hole in the roof of the living room, but they are working hard to repair the structure and should have some covering on it tomorrow or Thursday. But, already, the structure of my faith and of my heart has been restored.

I'm dreaming of paint colors and shelves and tile.... and of our own memories to come. Our first Christmas as a married couple, dinner parties with friends, family visits, and one day... a new life. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Asking the Tough Questions

I talk all the time about how faithful God is.

But am I faithful?

Now that is a tough question.

I am just going to confess here on this little old blog that I am not always found faithful. Hope that wasn't a shocker to ya. I am not always faithful, but God is always faithful. Always.

The Truth hurts.

"The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does." - Psalm 117:13

Friday, June 3, 2011


I got a glimpse of REAL wedding day stress yesterday as my bridesmaid, Beth, and matron of honor, Ashley, tackled bridal portraits. I hadn't planned on having bridal portraits until I started to make a schedule for the wedding day. With a 10am ceremony and "brunch immediately following," there isn't much time for dillydallying. Bridal portraits are a way to get some one-on-one time between the camera and the dress without the hassle of a hurried wedding-day schedule. So, Ashley offered to do some pictures and Beth tagged along as the assistant. We made quite the trio... :)

But, like anything wedding-related, it was not stress-free... I didn't take a photograph to my hair appointment, and had a hard time explaining exactly what I wanted. Thank goodness I have an awesome hair girl and she pulled if off without the photo. My gown had just come back from being altered and wasn't ready until after my hair appointment. I had to sit in the car with my veil trailing behind me, pulled over not one but TWO rows of seats of Beth's Honda "Pontius" Pilate while she had to go in and pick up the dress for me. I didn't even get to try it on until right before the photos - bad idea. Then I had to sit in the car while she and Ashley went to pick out a bundle of flowers. Beth was also on a time-crunch and we needed another SUV, so mom had to be called in for back-up.

Long story short... it was a hot, hectic day. Towards the end of the shoot, I was nearly in tears because I just didn't feel like my dress looked right. It felt too big, and I was worried it didn't look the way I imagined. The dress was starting to get a little dirty at the bottom, which made me really nervous. Walking around with several yards of extremely expensive tulle hanging from your head isn't exactly calming, either. And before we knew it, it started to sprinkle and a bolt of lightening literally scared us half-to-death.

Yesterday was a reminder that I need to s-l-o-w down. I need to make it clear what I want to happen, and let my friends take care of me. I can't tell you how much I appreciated Beth carrying around a white sheet and tucking it underneath my dress time and time again to keep it from getting too terribly dirty. Ashley was a hero - working off of very little sleep, but still taking great shots and trying to cheer me up (and she sent me a few pictures late last night to tie me over until they're all finished). And Mom came to the rescue, telling me how beautiful I looked and calmed all my nerves. The hardest part about yesterday's event was feeling like I couldn't do anything... But, my friends and mama knew what to do and they made everything all better. I imagine they will do the same on June 25.

And, yes, that is a glimpse of some of the amazing photos Ashley took yesterday. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chef in the Making

Blake and I are H-U-G-E fans of Food Network's high-energy competition cooking show, Chopped. I am always fascinated by the ingenuity of the chefs on the show, and slightly jealous of people who can just whip up a recipe on the spot. I still need a detailed recipe from a reliable source. Blake says I am still "ahead of the game" - serving up meals that most girls my age have yet to master. I can make some great stuff - but none of it is necessarily difficult, you just have to have the right recipe.

Lately, I have been challenging myself to branch out and make changes to recipes. I am not ready to make a recipe of my own, but I am learning how to add to or make changes to recipes. I think that's a good start. I am learning what flavors go together, new techniques, and timing. Timing is one of the hardest parts of cooking (to me, at least)!!

Last night, we had some ground sirloin and bacon that both needed to be cooked. Of course, our first thought was "burgers" - but I can make a good burger already. I wanted to do something different. So.... I tried bacon wrapped mini-meatloafs. The "structure" of the recipe was actually a meatball recipe from Calling All Cooks, and I just adapted it to the ingredients I had on hand.

I mixed the ground sirloin with about a cup of crushed Roasted Veggie flavored Ritz, milk (never again!!), 1/2 c chopped onion, 1 egg, salt and pepper. And I added a little cheddar cheese because I just love cheese. I shaped the meat into small meatballs and seared them in a hot skillet.

Then, we (Blake helped!) wrapped the meatballs with half a slice of bacon and stuck a toothpick in them to hold them up. I baked them at 350F for about 30 minutes.

I have learned that whenever I try a new recipe, I need to also make an old recipe favorite just in case the new recipe is a flop. Plus, I needed an excuse to make corn casserole! So simple, and sooooo delicious.
1 can creamed corn, 1 can whole kernel corn, 8oz sour cream, 1/2 c butter, 1 small box Jiffy corn mix, 1c or so of shredded cheese, chopped onion (if you like).... bake at 350 for 45 min, then top with more cheese and bake for another 15 min. YUM.

We are also "salad people" - I love a good salad. Blake and I have very different takes on salad. His is a plain old American salad - lettuce, cucumber, Ranch, and cheddar cheese. Mine is a more sophisticated salad. ;) Lettuce (I think we had just Romain yesterday, but we also like Watercress a lot), fresh strawberries, toasted almonds, Feta, and raspberry-walnut vinaigrette. I have to thank Kathryn for inspiring that salad combo!

The final product - okay, looks like a pretty empty plate because we have ginormous plates, but it really was a lot of food. The corn casserole was awesome, as expected. Hard to go wrong with that. And the bacon wrapped mini-meatloafs (complete with a little ketchup "sauce") was actually half decent! It wasn't the best thing I have ever made, but I think with a few changes, we might have a yummy original recipe on our hands.

The mistakes I made were simple:
The Calling All Cooks recipe said to put milk in the meat mixture.... I knew it sounded weird, but I tried it anyway. Like I said earlier, NEVER again! It didn't make it taste bad, but it made it harder for the meat to stick together. An egg will do the trick.
I also forgot to saute the onions first, and they didn't cook as well as they thought I would inside the oven.
I also need to add some herbs/spices (other than salt & pepper) to the beef next time.

We agreed that this was a recipe to try again in a couple of weeks. I think it could be a really good one with the right ingredients! And maybe one day I can go on Chopped.... okay, probably not.... :)