Friday, December 21, 2012

Keeping Christmas

This Christmas season God has been revealing something to me. It isn't pretty, nice, or festive. In other words, it doesn't give me ANY warm fuzzies. :P He has been showing me how selfish I am, and how Christmas is so not about me. 

Isn't it so true? That we find out how tightly we are clenching our fists around something exactly when it starts to get pulled away? That the things we would never call idols are revealed to be just that, when God starts to gently lift them from our lives?

I went into the holiday season with MY expectations, MY wants, MY hands open looking to be filled. There was nothing of Christ's serving and sacrificial spirit in the way I pouted when things weren't going "my way."

At the worst of it all, my mother lovingly showed me the small printing about Christmas that our church's bulletin had on the back this week. She simply said, "Read it." I read it. And cried. It was exactly what I needed. In fact, it seemed to have been written for me specifically! :) It's by one of my favorite authors, Henry Van Dyke, and you can read it here.

It's all about forgetting yourself and seeing what you can do for others. Make someone else's holiday bright this year. Put a smile on someone's face, even if it costs you something. What is sacrifice without cost, anyway?

I'm here this morning writing this to encourage you, but also to thank you. I cherish you, my friends! You have done that service for me. You have blessed me and made me smile even if it didn't bring you some reward or blessing in return. I thank you, and wish you the very merriest of Christmases! :) 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

In which I share my own opinions, and those of another's.

There's no question that The Hunger Games is one of the biggest crazes going on right now, in both film and literature. I will admit I had a strong interest in it when it was first becoming pop. The romantic and anti-governmental themes throughout made it a strong curiosity for someone like me who rates Animal Farm as one of her top favorite books. I even got it from the library and started reading it. But I knew I shouldn't. Because hadn't my parents and my pastors and my teachers and God taught me that "it's never right to do wrong to do right"? Suzanne Collins had a good idea: write a series attractive to young adults that brings attention to the corruptness of society and leadership, and perhaps spurs them on to find a way to make a difference and make their voices heard. But she first had to make the series attractive. What sells these days? Violence - check. Hate - check. Loose romantic relationships - check. Alcoholism being made light of - check. The list goes on. I found my hopes of an okay story drowning in way too many non-negotiables. I mean, even Katniss's love for Peeta turned out to be phony by the end of Book 1. Oh sorry, did I ruin it for you? :P Anyway, needless to say I felt like the only person on the face of the earth who disagreed with the picture as a whole and decided to steer clear. Just today I found and read this article. As the author says, "If you can't take it, don't read it." In it I found several sentiments similar to my own, and I appreciated her taking the time to put into words some opinions that hopefully will ring a bell in our Christian hearts. Please read it if you're interested.

P.S. - I realize that several of you who will read this have read, seen, and loved The Hunger Games. I also realize that there are different limits for everyone, and what's not okay for one is okay for another. I read most of the book and have seen several clips of the movie, and for me the Holy Spirit said no based on principles of truth and separation. I'm not trying to tell you what's right and wrong; I'm simply sharing my thoughts.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Win a Copy!

Interested in reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts? Enter to win the devotional book here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Wedding Photo Contest!

If you're on FB, and if you have a free second, I'd really appreciate your help to win Chris and I a canvas print of one of our wedding photos! Our photographer, Jessica Shae, is doing a contest in which the couple with the most "likes" on their picture by Dec. 21st wins a canvas. Click here to vote for us! Thanks! :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chicago

Yesterday Mom, Charlotte, and I went downtown all day to see the Christmas decorations. Along the way we saw two of these kiosks that were taking free pictures of you in the city and then let you email it to yourself. Just thought I'd share. :P





We Won!

Last Saturday was our church's annual adult Christmas party. Chris and I participated in both the gingerbread house making contest, and the puzzle contest, and we won both! (Along with some awesome teammates!) Here's a pic of our (fantabulous) house! 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving from One

I don't typically think of this passage during Thanksgiving, but when I read it this morning, I saw myself and my tendencies and was convicted.

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at this feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

{Luke 17:11-19}

 I see a lot of similarities between these lepers and myself. 
  1. The lepers had a problem. They were physically ill and desired relief. I have all kinds of "problems," be it sin issues, emotional issues, struggles in attitude, etc. 
  2. The lepers cried out to God for help. "Have mercy on us." Often I pray that God would help in a certain situation, maybe even relieve some stress somewhere or make something "go smoothly." 
  3. God answered the lepers' prayer. So many times God has answered what I've asked of Him. Even my selfish prayers wanting relief from some pressure somewhere.
Here's where it gets really convicting. Nine of those lepers held out their hands, got what they wanted, and never gave Christ a second thought. Who knows where they went from the priests. Back to their friends? Back to their families? Back to their jobs? Back to the way they had lived before their affliction? Back to their unthankful thinking. When living unthankful is such an ingrained habit, it doesn't take much to fall back into that rut and into that way of life. 

Not all ten lepers neglected to give thanks, however. One came back. One. This one's remembrance of thanksgiving made such an impression on Christ and this book's penman, Luke, that its account was included for us all to read for hundreds and hundreds of years to this day. It was put in there for a reason. This leper asked, received, and came back to give thanks and to glorify. This was a Samaritan whose life was given back by a Jew. This leper now cleansed was in a state of utmost humility, indebtedness, and gratitude. We are sinners now cleansed by the almighty God. Is "falling down on our faces" and "glorifying" and "giving of thanks" our life habit? Does God know us, that when He gives us what we ask, we are sure to glorify and thank Him for it? 

This is a passage of thanksgiving with which we all can identify and grasp. Everyday we ask, we receive, we are showered with blessings. We are given beautiful, redeemed lives by One who loves us and has given everything for us. Be the one out of ten. Go back and give thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

grateful

This year it has hit me harder than any other - that when Thanksgiving rolls around, I kind of pop into the "oh yeah, it's that 'give thanks' time of year" mode. Suddenly I'm aware of how often I complain and how, really, if the things I didn't give thanks for disappeared overnight, I'd be left with ashamedly little. How when someone says "thanksgiving," I more often think the day as opposed to a manner of life. I long for thanksgiving to be how I live, not just something I celebrate. 

If every breath I take, every moment, is grace, my life should be one big thank-you. 

And so here's a "thank-you" list. These are things I love and am grateful for. The list is dedicated to God, the Giver of all gifts, the Giver of all.


  • my husband, Christopher. my love, my dream come true, my example, my leader
  • my family, both sides! love you all. you have made my life beautiful. 
  • my darling friends. you trust me enough to share your friendship with me, and you listen to me and pray for me and laugh with me. I treasure you!
  • salvation - full, free, forever
  • grace unmeasurable, lavish, undeserved
  • the beauty of golden sunlight at sunset
  • laughter of little children
  • the Bible, truth for every day, every situation
  • beautiful books with beautiful stories that make me cry
  • the ocean
  • the brokenness before forgiveness, the restoration afterward
  • kisses when he comes home :)
  • warm, soft, enveloping light
  • all those family inside jokes
  • hot chocolate in the morning
  • knowing someone understands you
  • love, all of it - giving, receiving, witnessing...
  • smiles
  • a word fitly spoken
  • Psalm 13:6
  • playing violin and piano without reserve
  • specific answered prayer
  • the Thanksgiving church service full of Scripture, singing, and testimonies
  • dinners that turn out perfect
  • dinners that don't turn out perfect, but it's still okay :)
  • candles
  • that moment when you let all worries cease because you have given it to God
  • when someone sings the last note of "Happy Birthday" off-key
  • Faure's "Pavane"
  • 4 days of no work for the husband
  • baking cookies with no time schedule
  • hearing a song for the very first time, and loving it
  • driving with the window down and the heat on my feet
  • the faithfulness of my GOD
  • the beauty of His holiness
  • EVERYTHING!
Thank you, Hannah Nicole, for inspiring me to write (type) out a list! Your blog goes on here as well. I absolutely love the beauty, poetry, and simplistic loveliness of your posts. :)

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." {Hebrews 13:15}

May your Thanksgiving, friends, be full of beauty, grace, and the goodness of our great God. Happy Thanksgiving!


An Anthology of Thanks | Hannah Nicole

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All is Grace

This Thanksgiving season, would you consider reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? It will change the way you see - and live - life. Make Thanksgiving thanksliving. All we receive from God is grace. This book has left me in tears and complete and raw conviction many times. While it must be read with Scriptural caution and consideration, it is an excellent reminder of how we should view our lives and how we should continually look for joy in the everyday and thank God for the abundant grace He showers upon us. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

more from the camping trip

I said I'd post more from our S.S.'s camping trip to the Quad Cities. Thankfully I didn't say WHEN I would post. :P Here are a few more I found on my family's computer.

Chris showing me how to shoot his .380. (I was very scared of it. :P)

I was the only one lucky enough to walk right into a fresh, and I mean fresh, cow pie. 

I had the opportunity to spend a bunch of quality time with one of my lifelong best friends, Laura.

On our way home, we stopped at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, IL. Chris and I loved the huge combine.

My wonderful friends. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

around my yard


 It stands tall and strong, despite the cold and wind.


Quiet and lovely.


The sun lights up our backyard!

Golden Cornbread

It's my favorite. :)

Golden Cornbread

Ingredients: 
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C cornmeal (I use yellow)
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 C sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C whole milk
1/4 C shortening
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8x8 or 9-inch pie pan. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, shortening, and egg and mix only till well combined. Pour into greased pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

Do NOT even THINK about making this without the HONEY BUTTER!!

Mix 1/2 C softened butter and 1/3 C honey on high speed until light and fluffy. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

currently reading

  • What Did You Expect?  by Paul David Tripp
  • Tommy and Grizel  by J. M. Barrie
What are you reading? I need a new list. :)

2 months :)

Chris and I were married 2 months ago today. And yes, it does feel like it has flown by, as we've stayed very busy since then. 

I wanted to list some of the things marriage has taught me so far. 

  • Be the first to say you're sorry. Don't wait for the other because "he started it" or "what I said was justified," etc. 
  • Everybody is selfish, including you, so recognize the areas you're putting yourself first and work on putting the other ahead of yourself.
  • Talk about expectations - in ANY area! You never know what you'll discover about each other's expectations. Some need to be dumped, some need to have a reality check, and some perhaps can be fulfilled by the spouse in a tender way, drawing the two closer together.
  • Communication is key! Talk to your spouse about everything, from silly to serious.
  • If you're exhausted, odds are your spouse is too. Go the extra mile and do one sweet thing for him before going night-night. 
  • Be observant of his desires, even small ones. He notices when you pay attention to his wishes, even if he just mentions them in passing. 
  • Don't make deals. ("I'll do this if he does this.") 
  • Pray for each other fervently. You know the most about your spouse next to God. Pray like it!
Those are just a few of the things God is teaching me through this wonderful relationship called marriage. I love you, Christopher, and am so thankful God brought us together! :)


Thursday, November 1, 2012

more baking

Today I had the pleasure of having my sister-in-law Aimee over all day. We played violin and piano a little bit, but mostly we baked. We made:


and


While my rolls actually turned out looking like the picture, the cookies did not. Picture tall cookies with blobs of white frosting and no melted chocolate and you'll get it. But boy do they taste good. 

That makes 4 different kinds of baked desserts I have in my home right now. 

How utterly dangerous. 

;)


Fall Party

Last Saturday marked the first party Chris and I ever hosted at our new house. :) We had our former Sunday school class over: the college-age singles. We had a wonderful time eating chili and desserts, drinking coffee, hot chocolate, and apple cider, making s'mores, riding the four-wheeler, playing charades, and just good ol' talking. :) Thanks for coming over, everyone! We greatly enjoyed it!




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yum in the Tum

Every day is a blessing, but today is a major blessing because it's the first day in a long while where I spent most of it at home. Some of my blessings today include:

1. Going through boxes of Lamplighter books. 
2. Making tea.
3. Talking with my sis-in-law on the phone.
4. My neighbor bringing me a huge potted fern, plus some homemade fudge and peanut butter almond bark. Yeah. :)
5. Making these snickerdoodles


Actually, this could quite possibly be my favorite part of the day. ;) I've never made snickerdoodles before, much as I love them. I was curious how these would turn out, and so far two people have told me they're the best they've had. YAY! :) I can't wait for Chris, Todd, and Aimee to try them (if the cookies last that long, that is!) 

Random post about my day, but I thought you should know about this recipe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

10/19/12

"When God made time, He made enough of it."

When I first read this Celtic saying, its simple truth jarred me. 

It made me uncomfortable.

Because this truth made me see the untruth I had been living. When I live scrambled, and my mind is full of webs of worry because I prefer to meditate on the full day I have ahead of me instead of the Book full of truth and peace, and my words are pinched and angry and hurtful because I can't slow down to think before I speak, I am believing that the infinite God didn't make enough time. 

If He pronounced all of His creation, including the amount of time, "good," then why can't I? 

He gave me 24 hours in a day. 24. Every day. People work and laugh and sing and live and enjoy and love in a day. How blessed I am as a Christian to know Who gave me the time I have! 

Every moment is grace. And yes there are errands to run and people to write and things to buy and rooms to clean and stuff to organize, but guess what? There's time. And when God made time, He made enough. :)


Saturday, September 29, 2012

More Wedding Pictures

My photographer, Jessica Shae, recently released the album of our wedding pictures! To view them, click here. The password is clovesr. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

strength for my day

I am standing in the church stairwell waiting for my day-of wedding coordinator to come tell me it's time. I am strangely calm, even though I am dying to get out there and see my handsome groom, and all the smiling faces of those I love. 

And then it hits me - just how many faces are out there. And that I don't get to hold a ceremony order; it needs to all be in my head. And I just noticed my roses got red on the front of my gown. And I've never kissed before in my life and how will it look?? Suddenly I am getting butterflies when before I was perfectly calm. 

And just at that moment it comes. One of the sweetest verses of Scripture is on my lips. To my knowledge I've never consciously memorized this verse, but God brought it to me just when I needed it.

It has become my theme even now as I'm into my third week of married life. Its truth is sure in the split-second, the 24-hour day, or the 90-year life. 

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. 

{Deuteronomy 31:8}


Really there are three in our marriage, for our God is always with us. We don't face bills or stress or anything else alone. The truest joy I believe is found when we take God at His Word and then hope. The eager-expectation kind of hope. When you know what He promised is coming. 

I walked down the aisle that day with this verse on my mind. Today I may not be in a wedding dress with my hair all curled; I may be chopping up taco toppings instead of cutting a wedding cake, but the same strength I needed then I need today, and I know my God provides abundantly. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Some Pictures and WHERE WE WENT

We are finally back from the two weeks of crazy traveling, and are beginning the new "normal." :) Both of us are super busy once again, and have new things to think about and work on, but I wanted to throw this album of pics on here so you at least have SOMETHING to look at. 

Oh, by the way, we went to Sanibel Island, FL; Greenville, SC; and Asheville, NC. :)

All these pictures were taken by my mom's step-sister Stephanie. I love you, Aunt Stephanie, and can't thank you enough for all you did to make our beautiful day happen!!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Honeymoon Pictures :)

We thought you might enjoy seeing some of what we're seeing here on our lovely honeymoon. :) You're welcome.

The restaurant we've enjoyed twice now.

The beach we love walking on and scouring.


Bye for now! :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bye-Bye

As far as I know, this is my last blog post as a single. Bye, my friends! I am gone to the world for almost the rest of the month. :P

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

many blessings

The pre-wedding reflectiveness is most definitely setting in here. It's a good thing, though. It's making me realize how very much I've been blessed, and how much I have for which to be thankful. Here are some of the little joys I've been keeping track of in my mind....

sunlight reflecting off bright green leaves
cool breeze
the countdown. (11 more days!)
my bridesmaids' dresses
unawkward phone conversations with lovely people
watching everything coming together
John 16:33
the click of long nails on piano keys
guys in tuxes
getting a free perfume sample in the mail
smoothies
getting a marriage license and feeling like a grown-up :)
checking things off my pre-wedding to-do list
family, and soon-to-be family
laughter unstoppable
poetry

What are some of your joys? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Messy Twister

Thanks to Pinterest, I got this idea to play Messy Twister, where you pour paint onto each dot on the mat. It did indeed get messy...and slippery...but it was SUPER fun! :D Definitely a great last thing to do with the Three Musketeers. :) Love you guys!







Monday, August 20, 2012

His New Phone

Chris got a new phone, so we were playing with the camera while waiting for some people to meet us for lunch. :)


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Shower Pic


Our Shower

Here is a picture of the beautiful shower Chris is building in our new house. :) (I'll have to get pictures when everything is done so you can see the whole bathroom. :D)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SS Farm Trip

Last month our Sunday school took a 3-day trip out to a farm. I plan on posting more pics soon, but here are two.

Our mini-golf outing. This was our group. :)

He tends to get crazy on these things.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Hymn I've Never Sung

I have never once sung or played this hymn, but Sunday as our congregation sang "Immortal, Invisible," my eyes scanned the following hymn and was immediately moved by the passion and depth of the words. I wanted to share it with you today.

Lord, with glowing heart I'd praise thee
For the bliss thy love bestows,
For the pard'ning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows;
Help, O God, my weak endeavor;
This dull soul to rapture raise;
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.

Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wand'rer far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love's devoutest feeling,
Him who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And, the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.

Praise thy Saviour God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood-sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to him and live;
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease,
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.

Lord, this bosom's ardent feeling
Vainly would my lips express;
Low before thy footstool kneeling,
Deign thy suppliant's prayer to bless:
Let thy love, my soul's chief treasure,
Love's pure flame within me raise,
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth thy praise.

~ Ripley

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Wedding Shower!

Two notes about this post: it's SUPER long and full of pictures, and all the pictures were taken by my sacrificial brother who was the only guy around a million girls almost all night. :P

Friday night, July 20th, my friends Meghan and Laura hosted my wedding shower at IBC. The only thing I knew about the shower beforehand was that the colors were pink, light blue, tan, and white. That was it. The rest was a complete surprise. And what a beautiful surprise it was! Here are some of the first things I saw when I came downstairs:

The colorfully decorated tables. (It was a beach theme - my fave!! In the center of each table was a vase with live goldfish in it, shells, and a picture of either Chris or myself when we were younger.)

The "I Do" flip-flops on the punch table. :)


The pink lanterns were suspended over each table.

Each place setting had the adorable plate and napkin, plus a favor (some Hershey kisses wrapped in light green tulle and tied with a shell).

The dessert table before the desserts. (I had to include the cute pic of my fiance. :D)


Many ladies brought scrumptious desserts.




Mrs. Smith gave a challenge to me to benefit my husband by being content in the Lord. I was so thankful she was willing to do this for me on such short notice!

After Mrs. Smith spoke, her daughter Bethany sang an Irish blessing and her sister accompanied on viola. It was so lovely. I struggled to not get choked up! Love you, Bethany!

And then I told Chris's and my story.

Here are pictures of the individual tables and the wonderful ladies who took time out of their evenings to show how much they care and love. They are all such a blessing!






And the family table. :)

GIFTS!

My silly note-taker. :)


Meanwhile, my prince was arriving in his grand chariot led by 400 horses.


He didn't want to go downstairs... LOL

...but he made it. :)


With friends and family.









Many, many thanks to Meghan and Laura for putting so much time and thought into the beautiful shower. I LOVED it and am so humbled by the kindness and generosity everyone has shown to me and Chris.

Next big church event will be the WEDDING! Crazy! :)