Sunday, December 20, 2009

{ Nutcracker and Sweets }

Mike's sweet mother wanted to take Amaryah (Mike's sister) and I to see the Nutcracker Ballet this year. Tickets are pricey, we three are all busy girlies and the pieces weren't quite falling into place. Until Amaryah's boyfriend (who conveniently works in wholesale ticketing) gave us tickets to the ballet. And what tickets they were: Center section, four rows from the stage!

I can't begin to describe the giddiness of being so close to the orchestra pit; the beautiful costumes; Maurice Sendak's amazing sets; so many talented dancers! I especially loved the smallest ballerinas (what do you call a male ballet dancer, anyway? A ballerino?), the 6-9 year olds who played mice and soldiers and nutcrackers. So cute. The music was many familiar movements in the completely new-and-dazzling setting of a live ballet performance. I realized that I really, really want a piano. I miss playing.

What made me chuckle, though, was the conductor. He was probably in his 30's-40's. Apparently he has a very stubborn cowlick on the back of his head...because there was an alfalfa sprout of hair sticking straight up for the entire evening. I think part of why this makes me grin is the sheer fact that we were close enough to see the conductor's hair!
Afterward we went to The Cheesecake Factory for appetizers, desserts, and drinks. Mandy (mom-in-law) and I had never been there, and it was amazing!!! I've been hungry for cream cheese crab wontons, vietnamese shrimp spring rolls, fried zucchini, and all the mysterious dipping sauces ever since.

It was such a fun, girly evening! Dressing up, going to a performance, admiring all the other dressed-up people, perhaps the start of a new tradition--it was delightful!

Tonight Mister and I are making oreo truffles (courtesy of Jessica) and my Grandma Violet's soda cracker candy, listening to Christmas carols, enjoying our Christmas lights, and "working" right next to each other on our respective laptops. :-) It's a decidedly satisfying and relaxing way to spend the Monday of Christmas week.

I'll try to post again before Christmas, but sometimes things Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

{ Shhh, don't tell! }

Some days, I would really like to have a television.

Like today.

Cozying up with "Dirty Jobs" or "What Not To Wear" or "The Deadliest Catch" sounds like a swell way to spend a winter evening, doesn't it?

{ Joys }

Scraps of pink clouds greeted me on Friday morning, tossed across a pale blue canvas of sky. I caught my breath; the December air was warm and clear, the sun an enormous golden sphere near the skyline. Blue sky. A sunrise. Both so very rare in the winter. No rain. No wet, cold darkness to trudge through. Thank you, Lord.

Purple mountain majesties framed the eastern horizon as I drove to work. Breathtaking.

A huge rainbow mysteriously stayed directly ahead of me for my entire drive to work. Wide ribbons of translucent color hung taut in a perfect arc, astonishing in its height. Hope. I always think of God's twin promises of hope and of mercy from His wrath against sin when I see a rainbow. But with a dry night and a sunny morning, a rainbow? In midwinter? It's like a Christmas present from Jesus!

(By the time I took this photo, the rainbow was fading in the morning sunlight.)

Arriving at work, sadly realizing I forgot to bring in fudge, thinking of how neglected my sweet tooth will feel all day--and finding a Tupperware of fudge I'd brought in earlier this week and forgotten! Bliss.

Doing an echocardiogram in the critical care unit, I hear singing voices approaching. Ah, today is caroling! For three hours a group of hospital employees traverse the entire hospital singing Christmas carols. My patient starts singing along. I finish my echo to the beautiful harmonies of "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night." One of the kidney doctors joins for the last song, his heavy European accent mingling with the voices of occupational therapists, distribution techs, administrative staff. I think this was probably the best medicine my patient received all day, and of how blessed I am to be able to have carolers travel through my workplace.

Mid-day, I remember how, on Thursday night during our Advent reading, we read the passage in Philippians telling us to be anxious about nothing, and each of us shared what we are anxious about. Then we prayed. I prayed that God would just surround us with assurance of His love. Perfect love casts out fear, and anxiety is rooted in fear. God's love is the only perfect love; so if we are resting in His love, He takes our anxiety from us. We leave it at the foot of the Cross, and take up instead His yoke--letting ourselves be overwhelmed with His love instead of anxiety. And I realize all these are love notes from a God who loves us so much, He sent His only Son into the world to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

{ Merry and Bright }

Christmas makes our home seem cozy and so much more home-like. Here are some of the Christmasy vistas I'm enjoying from the comfort of our living/dining/kitchen space.Our $25 Target Christmas tree in all its splendor! It sure doesn't look like it's six feet tall, does it? Personally, I think it's the perfect size for us. I absolutely fell in love with KT's idea for using brown paper and doilies to wrap packages. I put my Ikea-size roll of brown wrapping paper to good use last night and wrapped ALL our gifts--then the last two I ordered came in the mail today! Funny how that happens. You can kind of see the packages at the bottom of the tree...if you squint really hard.The first ornament we bought together: a sea turtle in shimmery shades of green and blue. I am not a reptile person, and I think this ornament is gorgeous! We bought it at the Polynesian Cultural Center while we were on Oahu for our honeymoon. The colors are so luminous, and it reminds me of the "turtle beach" Mike and I visited a few times (he even snorkeled with a bunch of turtles once!).We bought this ornament a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the activities in the Advent tin. Mike's Washington State Ferry ornament. I smile inside every time I see this...I love ferry rides, and he (being a very romantic sort of man) took me on a ferry ride on our first date (and on multiple dates to follow). It was the sort of perfectly clear, unbelievably sunny, unseasonably warm March day that just doesn't happen in our neck of the woods...unless God knows you're going on your last first date and He wants to make it extra-memorable.
All my childhood ornaments are at my family's house in Idaho--thank goodness for all of Mike's ornaments and a small tree! I bought a box of twelve itty bitty glass ornaments, all maybe 1 1/2 inches tall. I think their smallness and tiny detailes make them even more dear. This one reminds me of Retha, the teddy bear I got the Christmas I was one year old. I still love her!Our wall of cards is still rather sparse, though we got three more today--but what I love about this space is the vibrant, bright-red-sequined "Joy"! It makes me want to get all swoopy and dramatic and just let loose and be joyful! Can I get an Amen?! Joy! Jesus is HERE!
Mike's Nutcracker on our mantle
Christmastime is here!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

{ The Weight of Glory }

The sunshine today brought joy to my soul. The gentlest of pale peach and mauve tinting the Olympic mountain range as I took the "long" (a.k.a. scenic) route home from work. The still, sunlit air, so unusual for us in December; even the pre-sunset colors reflected in the water of the Sound seem calm, peaceful, at rest. Looking at the jagged mountaintops, breathtaking in the pastels of a bright winter afternoon, I am overwhelmed by the quiet splendor of creation. God's handiwork does not seek its own glory because it cannot; humbly and magnificently, creation stands as a silent witness to the glory of the One Who created it. I feel a deep longing to be part of the unspeakable beauty of this afternoon. I long to be one with the mountains, the sea, the very air which by its existence magnifies and exalts God Almighty.

Those who do not know Jesus--what do they do with this staggering sensation of greatness which natural beauty can thrust upon them? When you do not know that it points toward One who is even greater and more beautiful than we can comprehend? I wonder if this soul-deep yearning to be a part of the inexpressible beauty one finds in nature is what drives people to climb mountains, sail oceans, carve out an existence in isolated places. A melody floats into my subconscious. I have been humming the tune for a while before I realize how perfectly the words describe this moment--words so familiar and comforting, like the spiritual equivalent of a favorite blanket worn threadbare and silky smooth from love:

A bus station, in the steam from the rain
In this line of pale strangers, should I go or stay?
The whole field of vision, fades beneath me now
And the houses spread for a million miles,
In this gray town
And the weight of glory, if you held it in your hand
It would pass right through you, so now's your chance
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
In the high countries?
We are just pilgrims of the great divorce
I am witness to the light and I am captive to my own remorse
And the weight of glory, if you held it in your hand
It would pass right through you, so now's your chance
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
In the high countries?
You drink the cup to the bottom, but it burns in your hands
The cup was poured out on the Maker instead
Out on the green plains, I am but a ghost
Bound up with all that I call "mine" still the light grows
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
Would you fall to pieces
In the high countries?
- "The High Countries" by Caedmon's Call

The weight of glory. That is what I see in the mountains, that is what I ache for when I see sun on the water: God's incomparable glory, reflected in what He has made.

In the paradox of grace, when I fall on Christ the cornerstone and let Him break me, I too reflect His glory. I can fall to pieces in the high countries of God's endless love and grace, and in a small way, I become part of the weight of His glory in this world.

Totally unrelated side note: For those of you who are looking for fresh Christmas music this season, check out Christmas Spirit by Los Lonely Boys. Their take on a mix of Christian and secular Christmas songs is fun, refreshing, and full of that blues/rock/southern-style country we all love. (If you don't love it, you should!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

{ Advent }

I'm so excited to start creating new Christmas traditions with Mr. Mike!!

This is our first Christmas as Mr. & Mrs., and I really wanted us to do Advent. My family has used a variety of calendars, devotionals, etc. to celebrate Advent, and I think it's a wonderful way to keep the focus of your holiday activities on Jesus. In spite of this, I didn't have a whole lot of knowledge about the specifics of Advent traditions....which is how we ended up with four white candles and one red, instead of three purple, one rose, and one white. I don't mind though--I like the red + white look better anyway!

I love sitting in front of the fireplace mantle with my husband and reading Scripture together with the flicker of candlelight before us.

I also love this Advent muffin tin! I found this idea on Jessica's blog two years ago and tucked it away as a delightful idea for when I'm married. It's so simple: A 24-count mini muffin tin, adhesive magnets to attach your beautiful handmade tags to the tin, and in each cup a sweet little suggestion to help make the season merry + bright. The suggestions aren't very involved, since the last thing I wanted to do was make it another task we felt obligated to complete--just fun, easy ways to focus on enjoying the Christmas season. I had so much fun browsing through my favorite scrapbook store for sweet Christmas-y papers and embellishments! I won't tell you each day's suggestion, since Husband reads this, but here's what we've done so far:

December 1 ~ Put up Christmas lights! (we didn't actually do that till Saturday)

December 2 ~ Enjoy peppermint bark in your lunch today

December 3 ~ Find mistletoe....XOXO

December 4 ~ Go to Wight's Nursery to admire the lights + buy an ornament for our first Christmas as Mr. + Mrs.

December 5 ~ Find a recipe for spiked eggnog, then make it

December 6 ~ Let the Christmas shopping begin!

I hope your Christmas season is proving full of wonder and joy!

{ What the?!? }

I kid you not. High-energy bird suet.
Cuz we all want super hyper birdies hanging around our bird feeders, nervously devouring the avian version of crack.
Coming soon to a nursery near you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

{ Letting go of Perfect }

Crucifix on the wall of a patient room in the hospital where I work

I am always amazed when God meets me exactly where I am. When He talks the broken pieces of today and uses them to make something beautiful. When He sometimes breaks what I think is whole (or ought to be whole) and creates a new pattern. When He stops me in my tracks and gently turns me back to Him. It doesn't always seem gentle, but given the alternative of continuing hard-heartedly away from Him, even the severest of His mercies is still that: Mercy.

To say I'm a perfectionist is an understatement. To say that I physically don't handle stress well is also an understatement. I am slowly wrapping my head around the fact that "perfect" is an idol I choose to worship, instead of Jesus. "Slowly" because I am stubborn and set in my ways. The fact that I am cognizant of this thwarted worship in my life at all is purely God's grace--God's grace in the form of a body that can't take it any more. His severe mercy that brings me to my knees, which is exactly where I ought to be: worshiping Jesus and not "perfect."

A couple of days ago I was doing an echocardiogram on a patient, as is my wont Monday through Friday. I was on call, still working when I wanted to be home making dinner. Because, in my "perfect" world, that is what I should have been doing, along with running several errands between work and dinner.

God interrupted my echo, bursting the focused-and-frustrated bubble I construct when my plans go awry. Somewhere in the parasternal short axis views, a scene came into my mind out of nowhere. I saw myself as a child, three years old maybe, clutching something like a snowglobe in both hands. Within the globe were images of my life now: Me at work, with Mike, our home and families. I don't know how to describe the next part. I didn't see God, but I knew that He was there and His goal was to pry my fingers off the globe. He wanted me to give my life, contained in that globe, to Him. He wanted to loosen my iron grip on my life, but I was deathly intent on keeping it in my hands, where I could maintain its safety and well-being.

Tears were suddenly smarting in my eyes. I'm sorry, Lord! my soul whispered. An abrupt rush of wonder and comprehension. I've turned this Christmas season into a rigid plan marching toward one goal: Perfection. Not Jesus. I've put so much value on getting everything "right" (which we all know means nothing less than utter flawlessness when I'm talking) that my actual reality is complete misery. Migraines. Acid reflux that leaves me flat on my back for hours because of the accompanying nausea. Self-induced busyness and anxiety. All sorts of delightful plans that are simply impossible--at least on the level I envision--because I work 40+ hours a week and it takes a lot of oomph to try to be Martha Stewart, Version II.

I'm letting go of the control I so dearly love. I'm loosening my grip because, in God's providence, I don't have much of a choice. I can't go on in my little hamster wheel. I'm not going to try to bake cookies for all 11 of our nearest condo neighbors and have them nicely decorated and ready to hand out by next weekend. I'm not going to throw a Christmas/housewarming party. I'm not going to try to read every single Advent devotional I've found on the internet. I'm not going to expect myself to be able to go full-throttle every single day between now and December 25. I'm going to let go of the perfect Christmas season I constructed in my head and enjoy the season God has chosen to give me, even though it's not shaping up to look like the one I'd planned.

The beauty is that in embracing the reality of Today, I don't miss the things that don't happen (or don't happen like I planned). As Jesus directs my path, I find unexpected gifts. Peace. Enjoying the moment. Laughter with my husband. A day of Christmas decorating that went in a direction I never dreamed of, but was oh-so-good in the end. The shattered pieces of my plans have been swept out in the trash...but the wholeness, beauty, and joy He gives in exchange are sweeter than anything I can imagine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

{ Thanksgiving 2009 }

Our first Thanksgiving as a married pictures!

We started the day with a tackle football game, a long-standing tradition for Mike and his buddies. I singlehandedly filled the role of cheerleader. I've never seen a live football game, or an entire televised game, and I admit utter defeat when it comes to understanding the rules. I would have been a serious hindrance to either team!
Damien sustained a pretty sizeable cut just above his eye. During the first play. This is why Nikki doesn't even watch football, let alone play it. This is also how I discovered that the first-aid kit in my car is the LAMEST excuse of a first-aid kit ever created: Approximately seven cotton balls, two thicknesses of gauze (like that is going to stop ANY bleeding, First Aid Kit Makers!!!), 30 band-aids that are all exactly the same size, and half a dozen little antiseptic wipes. It was all we had, though, so I bandaged him up as best I could. Look at that: playing tackle football, in Washington, in late November, barefoot. It started out with Damien taking his shoes off so he could take his pants off and use them to staunch the bloodflow above his eye (don't worry, he was wearing shorts underneath). Then he said he had better traction on the slick grass and mud with his bare feet. Jesse ended up barefoot, too. I tell you, guys are crazy. And they have the kind of circulation I can only dream of, as I drift off to sleep wearing socks year-round. (True story.)

At Mike's parents' house for dinner. Did I tell you I got my hair cut a few weeks ago?

With my mother-in-law Mandy's help, I made my first pie, the pecan one on the left. Isn't it pretty? It was delicious, too! (Shhhh, don't tell your teetotaling friends, but I added a little bourbon!)

Mike's sister Amaryah decided it was a good idea to put whipped cream on Mike's nose.

He returned the favor.

Handsome man loves whipped cream.

Cousin Stephanie and her cheery seven-month-old daughter, Estella.

Pictorial evidence of a teenage older sister multitasking: Stephanie's oldest daughter, Bethany, texting as she walked Estella to sleep.

I brought my knitting.

Amaryah attempting to help Mike "palm the floor." Turns out she's the only one in the family who can do it--I can barely touch!

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

{ Cooking While You're On Call }

Thank you Hesper for a retro apron with sweet pockets the perfect size for tucking in my pager!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

{ Being made new }

Being married is harder than I thought it would be...but it's a different kind of hard than I expected. People always tell you marriage is hard, but they don't tell you how. I think that's because the "how" is different for every spouse.

I struggle so, so much with understanding godly submission. I've read so many books on relationships, dating, courtship, and marriage; I've listened to countless sermons and talks on those topics, I've been through the pre-marriage class and premarital counseling. The concepts, the framework, the way God designed it to work: It makes sense. I think I get the overall picture. Fleshing it out in daily life is the hard part.

One of the hardest things for me to wrap my head around is that Jesus asks wives to submit to sinful husbands. I don't have a problem submitting to the decisions and desires of my sinful self. I knew Mike wasn't flawless long before we married, and I didn't expect him to be sin-free after. But in the four months and one day that we've been wed, there have been times when I've been petrified by the possibility that Mike will make a "wrong" choice and I'll have to submit to it. I'm a control freak and a perfectionist. This freaks me out.

A few weeks ago I read the essay, "What if He Leads Wrong?" and found my questions echoed in the author's words:

"Could I love my husband as Titus 2 commanded me? I had no doubt. Could I be a 'helpmeet' as I was created to be? I had every desire to. But could I, really, submit to my husband? I knew that the Lord created man, woman, and marriage. Still, the deep-down, honest answer was: Of course, I could submit ... as long as he is right. Of course, my husband should be the head of the household ... as long as I agree with what he's doing. Of course, he should lead ... as long as I agree with what he's doing. Of course, he should lead ... as long as I have pre-approved the path. But what exactly am I supposed to do, my gut wrenched, when he is wrong? When he wants to make (what I really believe to be) a mistake? When he's leading badly or choosing the wrong path for himself--or worse, for us?"

I realized that my problem isn't with trusting the man I married. Ultimately my fears and recalcitrance stem from a heart that doesn't trust God's endless love, doesn't believe that He works all things together for my good. A heart that wants to trust ONLY its own understanding. A heart that fears.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear....

1 John 4:18a

In my head I believe that God is good, that He plans only good for me, that He loves me. I know that nothing reaches me except that which has first passed through the barrier of God's love for me--a love so great that it led Him a death He didn't deserve. I deserve that death. And I belittle Christ's love and His sacrifice when I balk at submitting to my husband because I'm afraid he may lead wrong.

Tonight I read the account in Matthew 2 of Joseph and Mary's flight to Egypt. An angel speaks to Joseph in a dream, telling him that he needs to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, because Herod is going to search for Jesus to kill Him. Joseph gets up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!! and heads for Egypt with his wife and infant son. In the middle of the night. I'd call that unquestionably nuts.

I put myself in Mary's shoes: My husband wakes me from a sound sleep. He's had a dream. We have to go to Egypt because the king wants to kill our baby boy. We have to leave. Now. No, there's no time to pack. Joseph and Mary were poor, but doubtless they had to leave behind possessions in their midnight escape. I think of my sentimental tendencies: Did Mary have time to grab Jesus' favorite blanket? Did she have to leave behind her favorite cloak, mementos from her family or her wedding? Did she wonder if Joseph was crazy? Did she wonder where they would stay along the way, what they would eat, where they would live when they reached their destination in a foreign country?

If I were Mary, would I have tried to reason with Joseph? Would I have argued? Refused to go? Begged to wait for daylight? At the least I know I would have doubted him. Can you even imagine what sort of mental, emotional, and even spiritual contortions a wife could put her husband through, trying to change his mind, if he woke her in the night to say an angel had told him they had to move to a foreign country immediately?!

If Mary hesitated to submit to Joseph's leadership, Matthew doesn't write of it. If Mary was afraid that Joseph was leading their family wrongly, putting her baby in danger, or flat-out crazy, that didn't stop her from submitting to him.

In her essay, Heather Koerner continues:

"I've learned that I don't have to fear my husband's mistakes because he and I are both in the Lord's hands. And I've seen how my submission spurs my husband to thought, respect and responsibility. There are times it still gets messy, frustrating and yes, fearful. I can relate to Rebecca Jones when she writes, 'As I gradually understand the radical nature of submission, I also understand the depth of my own rebellion.' But the most important thing I've learned about submission was that first thing -- not to be afraid."

Lord Jesus, teach me to love and trust You as a child trusts her loving father. Teach me to submit to Mike, as Mary submitted to Joseph. May Your love drive all fear from my heart.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

{ In which Home Improvement begins }

Conventional wisdom would tell you that after 8pm on a windy, rainy night in November isn't the best time to take your front door off its hinges. Apparently we don't always follow convention.

Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. See, the condo we bought is a whachamajigger--I can't remember the word for it (I haven't had coffee in eight days, people! It's amazing that I can speak coherently at all!)--a conversion, that's it: formerly apartments, converted to condos. It's not super old, but it's not brand new. And you can see under the door. Not under the whole door; just a section in the middle. Light and air and...who knows what...come in. It's a bit creepy, because it's a straight shot from the front door to the our bedroom. So if you're in bed and the bedroom door is open, you can lift your head ever-so-slightly and see light streaming forth from the sub-door region. Subconsciously this must bother me more than I admit, because last week I dreamt that our front door was a folding door, like you see on closets sometimes, and that it wouldn't shut. So we had it leaning at an angle against the doorframe.

The "perfect storm" of Mister, new weather stripping, appropriate power tools, and adequate time occurred last night. I was wolfing down fishsticks when Mike asked me to help him take the door off its hinges. I watched, wide-eyed, as he removed the old, torn weather stripping and put on the new, thinking, This is why I would make a horrible solo homeowner!!! I had no idea what-all was involved in eliminating that eery strip of light emanating from beneath our door.

The door had been down for a while before I had the brilliant idea to turn off the heater so that, you know, we're not paying the electric company to warm The Great Outdoors on a Howling, Windy, Dark and Stormy Night. I sat as much in a ball as I could (for the purpose of preventing hypothermia), writing thank-yous at the fireplace ledge (our camping/dining chairs are too low for the arm falls asleep if I write at that angle, since my arm ends up being at shoulder height). I couldn't help thinking how comical this would look if any of our neighbors walked by: Front door off hinges, lying on living room floor. Man screwing weather stripping onto bottom of door. Woman crouched in front of empty fireplace, furiously writing on large photo cards. Small table in dining area with two camping chairs. Smells like fish sticks. Mmmmmm, these are the neighbors of my dreams!

The good news is that there is no longer a way for spiders and anorexic snakes to get from the outside to the inside.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

{ A confession }

I have a rule about listening to Christmas music. This is my rule: You do not listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.

I broke my own rule today!

I'm pretty sure this is a record for the earliest in the season that I've busted out the carols. Here's how it happened:
Last night it snowed. I mean hailed. It hailed so hard and fast that it accumulated on the ground, giving the appearance of snow, which is why traffic slowed to a crawl on my way home from work...the roadways were actually clear, but apparently that white skiff on the shoulder is reason enough to drive 20 mph. Anyway, it was all crispy-crunchy last night when Husband and I went out for burgers...the air was wintry-sharp, and coming back home to make mulled cider and watch LOST and eat popcorn whilst snuggled under blankets with the heater blasting was so cozy. Then today while grocery shopping, Fred Meyer accosted me with all sorts of festive decorations and rows of eggnog in the refrigerator case (why didn't I buy any?!). As I carried sacks of groceries from car to condo, a few hailstones still bright white between the yellow leaves coating the parking lot, the realization came: I want to listen to Christmas music.

So this afternoon found me cooking and doing laundry to the sound of Big Band Christmas tunes, thanks to Pandora. Although my homemade macaroni and cheese still doesn't taste as good as Mom's--why is that always the case, with anything Mom makes?--I had a jolly good time making it, with Bing and Frank and a host of others for company.

{The ominous cloud, from whence cometh the hail, that I saw when I left work on Friday. Isn't it apocalyptic-looking?}

{It was an enormous cloud, with separate clouds visible in front of it...this was one of those situations where I wish I carried my camera with me at all times, but this isn't bad for a camera phone!}

Thursday, November 12, 2009

{ Photo Friday, vol. 2 }

Doesn't the glee on her face make you grin? This sweet girl, and her mama and daddy and baby brother came to visit us a few weeks ago, shortly before moving across the state to start their new-old-home adventures. It was so special to be able to have them over for dinner, since I've been a frequent guest at their home over the years. I'll admit, Chelle gives me a lot to live up to as a hostess (Mike STILL talks about that bean salad!), but it was so incredibly sweet to be able to spend an evening together at
our new digs before they move. Hugs and kisses!

Favorite engagement shots by Ryan Flynn.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

{ Sunday morning }

I love mornings. I don't think it's possible to overemphasize how much of a morning person I am. I feel exponentially more sharp, focused, and energized in the morning compared to evenings or even afternoons. It's been sometimes comical, sometimes stressful to mesh my strong morning tendencies with Mike's night-owl leanings. Actually he's a mixed bag: he is a morning person too, but he can also be amazingly productive late at night. Really really late. I progressively fall apart as the night grows; he can somehow produce massive amounts of high-quality brainpower into the wee hours. For example, Mike is very strict about giving himself a Sabbath every week. He works really hard six days a week, and rigorously protects his day of rest and worship from becoming a day to catch up on tasks he hasn't finished yet. Last night that meant he was up till 1:30 AM working on his business plan. And he got a lot of it done while I slept peacefully. (At least, my sleep was peaceful till the crock pot alarm went off at 5:55 AM. I got this week's crock pot adventure started a lot later on Saturday than planned, and as a result it wasn't done cooking till after I went to bed. Apparently this crock pot emits a very loud alarm when it turns completely off. Scared the snoozing liver out of yours truly. I had been having a very lovely and realistic dream about Glacier National Park and convincing Mister that it is the per-fect place to go on our next vacation. No joke.)

This morning, while Mister slept, I had time for a long, luxurious quiet time with Jesus. I delight in having time in the morning to read the Bible and pray--it sets the tone for the whole day. I function a lot better when my day starts out with the Word, rather than having devotions in the evening. I admired the leaves outside the window, snuggled under the quilt Grandma Verla gave us for our wedding, and drank the most delicious coffee with sugar and cream. And snacked on Tostitos lime chips. Not because they go so well with coffee (though I think it's a pleasant combination), but because separately these are two of my favorite things, and I knew Mike wanted us to eat breakfast I was waiting. A wife's gotta do what a wife's gotta do! ;-)

It was still super-duper early so I worked on some more wedding thank-you's. You can see the partial fruits of my labor below. We're using flat photo cards from Costco as thank-you's, and I absolutely love them. We have a lot of cool wedding photos, and this is a great way to use one.

Writing smears easily on photo paper, so I spread the cards out to dry before sticking them in envelopes. Out of nearly 100 thank-you's, I have less than 30 left to go! Yay!

What is your favorite time of the day?

Friday, November 6, 2009

{ Photo Friday }

July 18, 2009

{ Chelle, Anna, Nikki, and Hesper }

{ Dan, Mike, and K-Pan }

{ Bride and Groom }

All photos by Ryan Flynn

Thursday, November 5, 2009

{ I probably shouldn't publicize this, but...}

...I'm going to anyway.


Last night I fell out of bed.

I hope that y'all are gasping in shock and empathy, thinking, "Ohmygoodness I hope she's okay!! I hope she doesn't have one of those really high beds with a ladder, like the Princess and the Pea!! I hope she didn't fall a great distance and break something!! I hope she's not writing this post from a hospital bed!"

But you're probably just giggling at the thought of a grown-up girl falling out of bed. It's okay, I'll get over it. I think I'm fine. (Note: Thank you, Chelle, for being so sincerely concerned when I told you about this tonight over cupcakes. Thank you for squeezing my arm and asking me if I'm bruised. It makes me feel better.)

You, however, may still be wondering: How does one manage to fall out of bed?

I'm not quite sure.

All I know is that we were in bed, about to turn the lights off, when I remembered that I hadn't plugged my cell phone into the charger. I half sat up and reached over to the nightstand for my phone, but the charger cord was on the floor, so I leaned over a little more. What happened next is very unclear. I had a sudden, overwhelming sensation of my feet being very much tangled in the sheets, and then suddenly--BOINK!--I was on my hands and knees on the floor, holding both phone and charger.

I'm not sure who was more startled, me or Mister. It was such an abrupt and unexpected turn of events, me mysteriously disappearing over the edge of the bed, that I honestly didn't know wht to think for a few seconds. I'm certain that Mike was alarmed and concerned for my well-being, but he didn't even really get the "Babe! Are you okay?" out of his mouth before he was lost in a fit of giggles, hanging halfway off the bed. I couldn't even get off the floor, I was laughing so hard. (And to think of our unsuspecting underneath neighbors, who were probably roused from peaceful slumbers by me thunking on the floor, followed by uncontrollable laughter!)

And why, you might ask, did I decide to publicize this? Because I kept thinking of it today at work and having to screw my face into the most horrible contortions to keep from laughing out loud. Because when I thought of it while I was brushing my teeth after lunch, I nearly snorted a mouthful of toothpaste foam into my nasal passages. Because I thought that it might bring a smile to your face, gentle reader. And so, till next time, good night and sweet dreams.

P.S. I hope you're smiling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

{ An apology }

Dear Shower Curtain Liner,

I am so very sorry. I thought I was doing you a favor--removing roughly three months' worth of soap scum from your lovely, once-transparent, now-somewhat-scummy surface. In the past I dealt frequently with one of your cousins (apparently from a tougher branch of your family tree, it seems). I frequently tossed said cousin in the clothes washer with some laundry detergent and hung him back up--sparkling, see-through, and utterly soap-scum free, ready to protect a pretty shower curtain from the perils of daily use by a cleanliness-obsessed American family.

Not so yourself. It would seem, my friend, that not all shower curtain liners are created equal. You were one of my frantic purchases in the week before my wedding. That crazy week wherein we closed on our condo on a Friday afternoon, after 4pm, and that evening while I had my bachelorette party, Mr. Loverman and a bunch of our guy friends moved all of my stuff (at Point A) and all of his stuff (at Point B) to our condo (Point C). I spent the following Saturday and Sunday making the condo inhabitable, and it was at this point that I realized I didn't have a shower curtain. Or a shower curtain liner. Or a shower curtain rod. Or shower curtain hooks. And, um, I should probably mention that this whole close-on-the-condo thing happened late in the day on July 10, and our wedding was on July 18. I'd spent the past two weeks living in the spare room in a friends' house, with all my stuff crammed in their basement, because the lease on the house where I'd been living before (with three roommates) ended on June 30. So, in addition to being in the last stages of planning a wedding, I found myself essentially home-less with no guarantee that the home we were trying to purchase would close before our wedding. It was clearly an act of God that the condo closed at the eleventh hour, one whole week before the wedding, and that Mike and our friends were able to move me in that same day. And you, dear Shower Curtain Liner, were the cheapest money could buy at Target. (When you're first-time homebuyers and footing the bill for your own wedding, there isn't much, ahem, spare change. And besides, it's six days till your wedding and the last thing you want to be doing with all that spare time you have is making another trip to the store to buy a shower curtain liner so you can wash your hair, dangnabit! A shower curtain liner is a shower curtain liner, right?)

Wrong. When I pulled you out of the clothes washer this afternoon, little friend, you looked like you had been in an altercation with Tyrannosaurus Rex and lost. You were literally shredded. I had no idea that you were such a wimp. I hung you up anyway, the better to survey the damage, and as it turns out, the shreddage was mostly along one side and the bottom of that same side. So, as long as I hang you up with that side far from the shower head, and as long as I don't get too splashy, I can still use you tomorrow morning. Because I'm not going to have a chance to get your replacement tonight.

But seriously?? You couldn't handle one little go-round in the washing machine? Please don't tell me that I'm the only OCD person who doesn't like slimy shower curtain liners. I know I can't be the only person who launders them. And I really truly wasn't dreaming all those years that I washed another liner--in the washing machine--and it was none the worse for wear. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it got stronger.

The point is, when I go to a Place of Commerce tomorrow, I'm not going to buy the cheapest liner they offer. I'm going to buy one with suction cups, the better to adhere liner to wall (because wet shower curtains really bother me too), and I'm going to scrutinize it through the packaging and do whatever one does to determine toughness and hold-up-ability prior to purchase. Because I know that, a few months down the road, I will once again be overwhelmed with the urge to rid my shower curtain liner of soap scum. And I'm not going to wash it by hand.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

{ On this day in history... }

On November 4, 2007, Hesper and Nikki (a.k.a. the future Mrs. Jake and the future Mrs. Mike) were:

four-wheeling a rental car

down "roads" like this

to get to this beach

{Polihale Beach, on Kauai's western shore. You can see
Niihau, the Forbidden Island, on the horizon in
the photo above.}
{See the pickup truck on the horizon between sand and cliff?
This beach and those cliffs are massive!}

And on the way, after an hour of bumpity-bumping down this Hawaiian goat trail (and it took an hour to get to the goat trail), they both needed to use the bathroom very badly. Very very badly. But it's jungle and slick red mud and potholes and not a sign of civilization anywhere. Finally, they saw a picnic shelter.
"We're saved!" they thought. "There must be an outhouse...a port-a-potty...a Honey Bucket...A DISCREET HOLE IN THE GROUND NEARBY!!!!
They jumped out of Trusty Dodge Caliber. They raced toward picnic shelter. They saw this word stenciled in paint on a beam.

And suddenly, they wondered if there was a reason this beach is so dang hard to get to.

(Don't worry, there were no naked people.)

(It's just really hard to get to this beach.)

But imagine the stories we can tell our grandchildren when we show them this photo!!
"Yes, missy, back in the day your granny was quite the daredevil..."

Monday, November 2, 2009

{ Whispers }

Whispers of God's love and evidences of His grace in my life over the past few days:
~ Frequent late shifts at work that leave me with long, cozy mornings at home to read my Bible
~ Excited to start this read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year schedule. I've never seen an arrangement quite like this one before, and I think it will help me keep momentum. Numbers and Deuteronomy can get a little dry sometimes :-)
~ Crisp, sunny autumn mornings

{the view out our living room window}

~ Really digging Crimson Stripe's arrangements of hymns and Mars Hill songs, but unfortunately for you none of their music is online yet. Guess you'll just have to come to church with me to hear it :-)
~ Still convicted by and mulling over this sermon
~ So glad for my Dad's 8+ hour layover at the airport this Saturday! Mike and yours truly picked him up, and the three of us spent hours meandering through Ikea before meeting my cousin and two of her three kids for dinner at Famous Dave's BBQ. It was so nice to get to spend time with Dad, reconnect with my cousin and eat great food! The highlight of the evening for me was her three-year-old son (still wearing his Superman costume--it was Halloween, after all) singing the "I love you, you love me" song from Barney to us. So sweet.
~ This view out the break room window at work (sorry for the picture quality, I took it with the camera on my phone)

{I always thought that body of water was
the Puget's actually Possession Sound!}

~ So thankful for a secure job that I enjoy and coworkers that I get along with!
~ Flight of the Conchords actor + Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre writer/director = A movie that Mr. and I might actually pay to see in theatres. Which is saying a lot, since we don't even have a TV...
~ Seriously, married life keeps getting better. Every. Single. Day.
{Seriously, I don't mean to make every single blog post about him. Really truly I don't. But it's hard not to when he's so, like, you know, amazing.}
~ Mike's excitement over the possibility of re-launching his business when his current employment contract ends next month. This man is an entrepreneur to the core, and his delight over being the very idea of being self-employed again is contagious!
~ Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer (for the Caffeinated Times)
~ Gingerbread Spice tea (for the Uncaffeinated Times)
One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was inspired by Joshua 4. God tells the Israelites to take stones from the dry bed of the Jordan River (which God dried up so they could cross) and set the stones up as a memorial, to remind the Israelites of God's goodness to them. I want to use this blog to be an archive of the goodness, kindness, and mercy God shows me every day--sometimes He whispers, sometimes He shouts, but always He shows His love.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

{ Date Night }

Breakfast for dinner?
- Blueberry pancakes, bacon (loads of bacon!!), and fried eggs - check!

Season two of LOST?
- Walt's been kidnapped and Sawyer's been shot and what is up with the timer in the hatch? -check!

Teeny tiny little containers of Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert?
- They come with the silliest miniature spoon/flat scooping device under the lid - check!

It's my second time through the LOST world, but Dear Husband has never seen the series. I've seen up to about halfway through season 4, but I really want to be able to watch season 6 (the last season) as it is being aired this winter. Which means we have to watch five seasons between now and January. I foresee a lot of our date nights this fall being LOST marathons....but I'm not complaining!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

{ A few of his favorite things }

Husband made up a song today. He sings it to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from the movie The Sound of Music.

His song starts like this: "Jesus and Nikki and burgers and bacon..."

I <3 him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

{ All for Love }

This is my husband. His name is Mike. I love him with all my heart.

Mike loves me with all his heart, too. He lets me take endless photos of us when we are on romantical dates.

(can't you just hear him thinking, "Good grief...this is the seventeenth photo of us in this booth...")

One of the ways I know he loves me is because he takes me seriously when I say things like, "Babe, are you going to enter the pie-eating contest? You know, the one our friends are having at their Housewarming Hoe-down Hootenanny party?" (Yes, we have friends who call their housewarming party a hootenanny, ask you dress up Western, have dancing and hay bales in their car port, and hold a pie-eating contest.) Mike doesn't really want to eat an entire pie as fast as he can, without using his hands. Actually, he doesn't really like pie. But he knows I really want him to enter the pie-eating contest. I do. It just sounds like so much fun. And even when I'm starving, I eat about half my meal and then I'm full, so I don't stand a chance of winning. So Mike smiles and kisses me and says "Yes."

Aaron, Mike, and half of Luke. Eat, baby, eat! You can do it!!

Mr. made short work of that pie. He finished in just over two and a half minutes, tying for first. I probably would have burst if you'd poked me with a pin, I was so proud. I bragged that competitive eating is one of his spiritual gifts. Once that 8-inch round of graham cracker crust and frozen whipped topping was no longer threatening to make a second appearance, I think Mike agreed that it was worth the pain.

"I feel sick!"

About a week later, Mr. called me excitedly to say that he had signed up for a hot dog eating contest at work. For charity. His coworkers could pledge any dollar amount per hot dog that he ate, and the company would match those pledges. He was very excited and wanted me to buy hot dogs so he could practice.

All I can think is, "What have I done?! He didn't even want to compete in the pie-eating contest, and now he's voluntarily enlisting himself in competitive eating events! I don't think starting him down this path qualifies as being a helper suitable!"

And so, two days ago, Mr. ate seven hot dogs in ten minutes. He tied for third place. Together, he and a teammate raised $1000 for local charities.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Using your skills and talents to help others!

But seriously, no more eating contests, k?