Tuesday, March 29, 2011

{ Our Engagement Day }

March 29, 2009
One-year anniversary of first date
+ Engagement Day
Anniversaries and traditions are very, very important to Mike. His thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and crazy romantic streak proved this to me time and time again while we were dating. I knew the one-year anniversary of our first date was a really big deal to Mike, and I was pretty sure he was going to make it another epic date to remember, as our first date had been.

March 29, 2009 fell on a Sunday. This is all Mike would tell me about his plans for the day: I needed to be ready for him to pick me up at 6 a.m., wearing something warm and casual; we'd have to come back to my house that afternoon to change into nice clothes, and I should take the next day off of work because I'd probably be worn out. I had my own surprise for Mike: I had made a small scrapbook with one photo from each month that we had been together.  The first page said, "How do I enjoy thee? Let me count the ways..." Next to each photo I wrote a sentence about something I enjoyed about Mike or something we enjoyed doing together.

As I got ready in the pre-dawn darkness of that Sunday morning, I remember listening to songs from the playlist on Chelle's blog, specifically "A Good Day (Morning Song)" by Priscilla Ahn:

open my eyes

and i can tell it's gonna be a good day
i can tell it's gonna be a good day

did you sleep well?
did you dream at all?
can you tell me the time?
on the alarm clock

i can tell it's gonna be a good day
i can tell it's gonna be a good day

but you can sleep in
you just keep dreamin'
for us

i can tell it's gonna be a good day
i can tell it's gonna be a good day

 This song gave me shivers: I can tell it's going to be a good day! I was expecting a special day to commemorate this milestone anniversary, but nothing more. Long story short, six weeks earlier, we'd had a fight and nearly broken up. But God made it clear that His plan for us wasn't for us to part ways. After that, I knew that we were going to get married, I just didn't know when. We'd talked about marriage quite a bit, and after the near-breakup we spoke of it again, but in the "Lord willing, this will happen further down the road" sort of way. We both knew now that we were going to get married...we just didn't know when.  I remember in particular one evening when Mike sat me down and told me that he'd been looking at his finances and realized that it was going to take longer than he'd expected to be able to afford a wedding and a wife. A lot longer. I asked him what that meant, and for the life of me, I think he mumbled something about maybe we could revisit the topic in September or October. There were several other little incidents where he dropped hints about marriage being further off rather than closer. And months earlier, in the fall, Mike had asked me to send him pictures of engagement rings I liked, "just in case." He had recently sold his business and started working as a contractor for Microsoft, so the vague, months-off timelines we'd discussed seemed perfectly logical. And--this is important--I knew that he hadn't asked my Dad for permission to marry me. Mike had nearly flown to Idaho to ask my Dad for permission just to court me. I was pretty certain that, for something as important as marriage, he would ask Dad in person, which would mean either (a) an overnight trip with an eight-hour drive each way, or (b) flying to Idaho without me knowing {incidentally, he'd never been on an airplane before!}. Either way, my family lives a two-hour drive from the nearest city with cell phone reception. I would definitely know if he went, because we talked several times a day.

outside the Maltby Cafe
Mike showed up at six a.m., with a single red rose for me. When he unwrapped his gift, he got choked up. I wish I had a picture of that, but his emotion made me all weepy too! The back seat of his car was mysteriously lumpy and covered in a heavy blanket. He charged me not to look or poke at it. And look, there on my seat was another red rose! As we set off, I tried to guess where we were going; eventually it became clear. We were going to the Maltby Cafe for breakfast! Mike's thoughtfulness and the effort he put into studying me was already showing up, loud and clear. I'm very much an early bird; Mike is a night person. I had talked about wanting to go to the Maltby Cafe with Mike, since it's one of my favorite breakfast places. It was beginning to look like he'd planned this day specifically to bless me, by giving me experiences he knew I would love: Flowers. An early morning start. Breakfast at my favorite cafe. I don't remember what we had for breakfast, except the cinnamon roll. It was enormous!

After breakfast, we headed north on the freeway...but what's this? Another red rose on my seat? Sneaky man! Just like last year on March 29, sunshine was pouring down from a bright blue sky, nary a cloud in sight. Not only was it not raining {a miracle}, the weather was amazingly springlike and mellow. Mike plugged in his iPod, but instead of the tunes we usually listen to, the soundtrack from Fireproof started playing. We'd watched Fireproof together shortly after the near-breakup, and though it's cheesy and the acting leaves much to be desired, we were both deeply impacted by the film's message about the value of marriage. Mike had looked up the film's soundtrack on Amazon and downloaded all the songs onto his iPod, along with favorite songs that had become "ours" over the past year.

Chuckanut Drive was a blaze of glory in the spring mid-morning sunshine. We stopped at several scenic look-outs to soak in the beautiful views of Puget Sound and the San Juan islands. Each time we'd come back to the car, there was another red rose on my seat. Once we reached Bellingham, we drove around for a bit admiring the old houses before stopping at a Starbucks. We ordered coffee, Mike bought me a cute little travel mug because I squealed over it, and we settled in at a table. Mike pulled out a sheaf of paper, a pen, and began asking me questions, jotting down notes as I answered. These were detailed, insightful, unexpected, and sometimes hard to answer! Questions about my hopes and ideas for marriage, family, my home, my goals in life, what's my dream house--all very specific. And he wrote down my answers!

It was early afternoon by the time we started back down Chuckanut Drive--and there was another red rose on my seat in the car. We dawdled along, enjoying each other's company and the riotously beautiful views. At one point we decided to try to find a beach and headed down surprisingly unmarked streets toward the water. Much to our delight, we found ourselves at a park with a beach. We prowled all over the beach and the rocky outcroppings surrounding the little bay. As we got further from the parking lot, we took turns going out and exploring, one of us always lagging behind to keep an eye on Mike's car. There were multiple signs posted in the parking lot, warning that this is a high car prowl area and not to leave valuables in your car.

Back on the beach, we perched ourselves on a driftwood log. I was happy to watch waves and people while Mike offered to run back up to the car and make sure everything was okay. A few minutes later, he returned...with a picnic basket and an armload of picnic supplies! He had a blanket, a couple of red roses in a vase, little battery-operated tea lights, real china and silver and glass wineglasses, and the most delicious spread of Italian fingerfoods for lunch. He even had a bottle of Root 1 white wine, knowing that I prefer whites. {My eyes nearly boggled out of my head when I saw that bottle of wine! A few weeks earlier, we'd tasted a Root 1 red wine and both liked it. I had purchased a bottle of red Root 1 to give to Mike that night!}I was speechless--completely surprised! Mike was a perfect gentleman: He set everything up, poured the wine, and served the food. I was really truly speechless at how sweet this moment was; he had clearly put so much thought and effort and preparation into this picnic. There was Caprese salad, goat cheese on rosemary crackers, delicious sandwiches, and more. It was so, so perfect and sweet; it was the perfect picnic.

Eventually we packed up the picnic--when we got to the car there was another red rose on my seat-- and made our way back to the house I shared with three other girls. Sleepy from our early start and sun-kissed from hours on the beach, Mike voted for a nap on the couch before setting off for the evening part of our date. My roommates, getting ready for church {we all attended the 5pm service}, were in and out, saying "Hi!" and "Happy Anniversary!" and "We'll miss you at church!"

I knew just the dress to wear for this occasion: A 1940's-style eggplant number with a pencil skirt and pleats in the back. It was sleek, sexy, and I had never worn it before. Apparently I chose well: I thought Mike's eyes were going to fall out of his head when he saw me after I put it on! In his grey suit, he looked very sharp too! I gave Mike the bottle of Root 1 wine I'd purchased for him, and we marveled at the irony that we'd each gotten each other a bottle of Root 1 for this anniversary.

Now dressed to the nines, our first stop was Daphnes, a tiny-but-DARLING bar in Edmonds, Mike's favorite town in the world. {I'm sure you've already guessed: There was a red rose on my seat when we went to the car.} I had a hunch that we'd end up in Edmonds; the city had been a big part of our first date, and we'd been back for ferry rides and dinners at Arnies a few times in the past year. I should probably explain that Daphne's really is a tiny, tiny place: At most twelve people can be seated at one time, and the clientele is mostly folks 20+ years older than we are. We overheard a number of whispered comments about how cute we were. The bartender even gave us a box of chocolates because it was our anniversary!

outside Daphnes
As I'd suspected, Arnies was our dinner destination {this is the only component of the entire day that I guessed correctly}. The waiter brought a red rose with our appetizer. We enjoyed our dinner as the sun sank toward the Puget Sound; the food was delicious. From the cinnamon roll and breakfast at the Maltby Cafe, to coffee at Starbucks, to that glorious picnic on the beach, to Daphnes, to delicious seafood dinner at Arnies, we had pretty much eaten our way through the day. I was quite sympathetic when we had finished and Mike asked if we could just sit for a few minutes because he wasn't feeling well. Personally, I was beginning to wonder if my tummy was going to bust out of this sleek dress! He did get up "to go to the bathroom," but I was pretty sure the real reason he left was to put another rose on my seat in the car.

The sun was setting as we left Arnies. Mike asked me to wait while he took our unfinished bottle of wine to the car. When he rejoined me, we walked toward the pier. The pier extends about 200 feet straight out from the shore, then makes a 90-degree turn to the left and extends another 200 feet, parallel to the shore. The dusky light was beautiful, with the last of the sunset reflected on the water. As we walked down the pier, I kept asking Mike to stop so I could take photos. Turning the corner at the halfway point, several things happened simultaneously. I saw that the pier was lined with small glass votive holders: a tealight in one votive holder; a few feet further down, a red rosebud in a votive holder, and so on, down the entire length of the pier. On both sides. As soon as this registered, for a few moments I suddenly felt that, though I was walking forward, I was actually moving backward, zooming out. And immediately I knew that Mike was going to ask me to marry him.

It's all a bit fuzzy from this point. There were candles--roses--so many of them, hundreds!--a sparkling corridor above the sparkling sunset water. Mike was grinning and beaming like there was no tomorrow. The votive holders--candle, rose, candle rose--were arranged in a circle at the end of the pier, with red rose petals strewn all over the deck. Off to one side was a silver ice bucket with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. Mike set down my purse and took me in his arms, began humming "Strangers in the Night"--whenever we danced he'd use that tune but sing "dooby dooby doo" instead of the words--as we slow danced. Then he was on one knee, taking a small box from his pocket, saying beautiful words to me and asking me if I would be his wife. To this day he insists that I never said "Yes!" but went straight in for the kiss. I honestly don't remember: I was in shock. Completely, completely shocked. I had absolutely no idea that he was going to propose! The ring was beautiful; three emerald-cut diamonds on a delicate white gold band. Mike slipped it on my finger, yelled, "WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!" at the top of his lungs, opened the champagne. Giggling, kissing, breathlessness--this is really happening!!! Oh yes, and lots of "I love you!" We both wanted to save the word "love" for use only with our future spouses; so many times in the past few weeks it had been physically hurt not to tell him "I love you," and now we could say it! Over and over! Because--we were getting married!!!

Eventually Mike's sister Amaryah, his roommate Kevin, and friend Holly came to congratulate us. They had set everything up and had been standing guard at the foot of the dock, keeping everyone off while waiting for Mike and I to finish dinner. Amaryah took a few photos. More laughter, congratulations, hugging and back-slapping and giddiness. After a while Mike said we needed to leave, there were two more places we had to go!

At the car, there was another red rose for me: The twelfth, one for each of the months we'd been a couple. There was also a photo album with a sweet, sweet message Mike had written about commemorating our family's special moments. Our family! Eeeeek!

Our first stop was Mike's parents' house, where his mom and dad were waiting with chocolate cake and congratulations. On the way, I called my parents to tell them I was engaged! After spending some time with Mike's parents, Mike said we needed to get to my house, because "people are waiting!" I had no idea what that meant, but soon found out: Everyone--literally everyone--had known that Mike was going to ask me to marry him that day, except me. Even my roommates had known! My roommates and a whole gaggle of our friends were waiting for us at my house with champagne, desserts, and streamers. We were toasted and prayed over. We recounted the events of the day and basked in the shared excitement and joy. Our friend Megan had made a CD of love songs for us. I vividly remember one moment that evening: Mike, Megan, a couple other people and I were in the living room, and Megan was telling us about the CD, which was playing in the background. She asked if I'd heard the first song, "Lemonade" by Chris Rice. I said no; Megan re-started the CD, and as the words drifted over us, I looked at Mike and grinned. This is perfect. We were in our own little world. It wasn't till weeks later that Megan told me that she and the others snuck out of the room because they felt like they were intruding on "a moment."

so go ahead and ask her
for happy ever after
'cause nobody knows what's coming
so why not take a chance on loving?

come on, pour the glass and tempt me
either half-full or half-empty, yeah
'cause if it all comes down to flavor
the glass is tippin' in my favor

life gave me lemonade
and i can't imagine why
born on a sunny day
beneath a tangerine sky
i live life without pretending
i'm a sucker for happy endings
thanks for the lemonade
thanks for the lemonade

now take your time to answer me
for the beauty of romancing
is to calm your trembling hand with mine
while beggin' love to fill your eyes

i can hardly breathe while waiting
to find out what your heart is saying
and as we're swirlin' in this flavor
the world is tilting in our favor


i've got it made, rest in the shade
and hold my love while God above
stirs with a spoon, we share the moon
smile at the bees, more sugar please

He really loves us after all
we're gonna need another straw
we're gonna need another straw

Sunday, March 27, 2011

{ Our First Date }

March 26, 2008.

Six months after we first met...
After about three months of incessant text messages, daily phone calls lasting many hours, several "define the relationship" conversations, and the three largest phone bills of my life...
After Wednesday night Bible study...
Mike asked if he could come to the apartment I shared with my roommate and talk.

He surprised me with a single red rose and the question, "Can I take you on a date on Saturday?"
And this wasn't just a date. He was asking if he could pursue me with the intention of marriage. I was stunned. Not in the I had no idea this was coming sense; I just had no clue it was coming tonight. {My oblivion was to be a great blessing to Mike on many occasions during the next year. Apparently it's really easy to slip things by me!} Not only that, he'd managed to get my parents' phone number and had actually called my Dad to ask permission to court me.
I said Yes.

March 29, 2008
Our First Date

I was excited and nervous when Mike picked me up that morning. I really liked him. Aside from a six-week sort-of relationship when I was 20 that didn't involve actual dates, this was my first relationship. Even at this teensy tiny early stage, I could see us going somewhere. "Ohmigosh--us! There's an us! He calls me his girlfriend!" I was on pins and needles!

It was a gorgeous, sparkly-clear, sunshiney and mild day--definitely not the norm for western Washington in March. I had no idea what the day would hold, though Mike told me this date was going to be an all-day affair. He arrived with a bouquet of red roses for me. Then we went to his favorite town in the world, Edmonds {his hometown}, and rode the ferry across the Puget Sound to Kingston.

 As the day unfolded, I learned that Mike had been studying me closely during our many conversations. I was speechless when I realized  how many times he had taken note of little things I'd said in passing. On a sunny day months earlier, I had mentioned that it was perfect ferry weather and that riding a ferry is one of my favorite things. He remembered!

After coffee and meandering on foot around Kingston in the beautiful weather, we rode the ferry back and started driving...somewhere. I had no idea where we were going until Mike pulled into a Costco parking lot. Some time earlier, I had told a group of friends {including Mike} that when I was a teenager, my dream date was to walk through Costco holding hands with my boyfriend. Living in a very rural part of Idaho, Costco was a big part of our occasional trips to the city, and the place always seemed to be teeming with couples. {A few years later, after I'd moved away, my friend Chelle was being courted and she told me how David had taken her to Costco and they'd walked around holding hands "just like I always dreamed of!" Apparently, strolling through Costco holding hands is the stuff of dreams for more than one homeschooled girl from the backwoods of Idaho!} Hand in hand, Mike and I meandered through Costco, eating samples and giggling and dancing.

Oh yes, the dancing! Mike loves to dance. We'd flirted our way through a few group swing dancing lessons over the past months, and now that I was his girlfriend, Mike danced me all over western Washington.
We danced on the ferry.
We danced in the ferry terminal.
We danced in Costco.
We danced up...I'm getting to that part!

It was now late afternoon, and we went back to my apartment, where Mike instructed me to change into something fancy. He had hidden his suit beneath blankets in the backseat of his car, and I hadn't even noticed! He drove us to downtown Seattle, to the Columbia Tower--the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest. We danced in the elevator as it took us up 76 stories to the Columbia Tower Club, a private club at the top of the skyscraper. The views below us were spectacular as we enjoyed our wine. Ferries crossed the Sound; lights flickered far across the water on dark, lush islands and the peninsula. Fog was rolling in, the lights of the freeway like a golden ribbon far below us. It grew dark, the buildings of downtown Seattle like brightly-lit toys spread out beneath the slowly creeping haze of mist.

Eventually it was time to leave for our final destination. I'd given up trying to guess where we were going; if I'd had any expectations for our first date, Mike had far exceeded them hours before. We ended up where we had begun: Edmonds. We had dinner reservations at Arnies, a lovely restaurant on the waterfront. From our table by the window we could watch the ferries going back and forth between Edmonds and Kingston. Dinner was delicious; afterward, Mike led me toward the pier. Starlight, the Puget Sound, a dizzyingly wonderful day with this amazing man--was this real? We danced on the pier in the moonlight before Mike took me home. It was epic. By the time he said goodnight and went home, we'd been together for 14 hours!

Little did I know that this was just the beginning...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

{ Chouettes }

Welcome to one of my favorite little Etsy shops: Chouettes.

 Aren't these gorgeous?! There are fourteen pages of lovely, vintage-style baubles at the Chouettes shop here. Go ahead, take a peek! You know you want to. A few pretties from Chouettes are just the thing to perk up your springtime outfits! Every color + style you can imagine, and they come packaged so prettily you may think your birthday has arrived!

I was introduced to Chouettes when I won a giveaway for a pair of earrings from this shop. I loved them so much that I've bought a few more pairs, and after seeing mine, my sister-in-law requested some for her birthday. Nowadays when I wear earrings, 90% of the time it's a pair from Chouettes. They are so classic and timeless, yet fresh and young and hip at the same time. They really do go with everything!

Speaking of packaging, I think that Lily, who makes each of these lovely pieces, puts as much care + creativity into the packaging as the individual pieces of jewelry.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the darling little hand-stamped gift tags that have accompanied each order I've received. You'll have to take my word for it--they are adorable!
In a few months, Lily will be embarking on new adventures. She's not going to have the time to keep making jewelry will be closing Chouettes {I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she'll be back to jewelry-making someday...where else am I supposed to buy earrings for the rest of my life?}. So go ahead and stock up on pretty vintage earrings and necklaces now, before it's too late!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

{ Anna and Oliver }

Stopping on our way home from Idaho to have lunch with Anna and Tim and meeting their dear baby boy, Oliver, was one of the happiest afternoons I think I've ever had! Anna and I have known each other since the womb: Our moms were pregnant together, and Anna was born two months before me. Tim and Anna got engaged three weeks after Mike asked me to marry him, and their wedding was two months after ours.
We've shared a lot. And ever since Oliver was born in October, I've been dying, over in Western Washington, knowing that the snuggliest-kissablest-dearest-boy is in Eastern Washington.
So glad we were able to remedy that!
Anna just glows. She is so radiant...so in her element. And the lunch she made us? It goes down in my book as one of the best meals I've ever eaten. Ever. Wonderful food is so much better when you share it with good friends, isn't it?
And Oliver...oh, Oliver! I am smitten. You are so much more dear and darling and adorable in person, from your fresh rosy cheeks to your twin cowlicks to the sweet little noises you make and how you tried to eat my necklace. Photos don't do this little man justice!
It was far too short a visit. It was just the sweetest little taste.
But oh, how thankful I am for it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

{ So Thankful }

For time with these precious people.
For domino games, all snuggled 'round Grandma's chair so she doesn't have to get up.
For the sure knowledge that even if this is the last time we hang out on earth, there's eternity to spend together.

For long rambles with Mom, Obediah, and Mike.
For the opportunity to spend time with a growing-up-too-fast 16-year-old brother. {Who has his learner's permit. Eek!}
For a 16-year-old's courage in embracing the talents and gifts he's been given, unashamed to be a little "different."
For the intricate mazes of trails the mice have carved out under the snow during the winter, visible now that the snow is melted.
For a Dad and brother who know how to fix a generator.
For God's sweet, unasked-for grace in working it out so that we got to see both my other brothers in our path during our whirlwind trip. We see them rarely, our lives flung wide across the Pacific Northwest and not often in the same place at the same time.
For a long "chat" with my cat, Bagheera. She is about 15 years old and is usually too skittish to pet, but we had several nice "conversations" this time!
For a husband who loved on Bagheera for my sake.

For wide open spaces.
For traveling mercies, through sometimes treacherous driving conditions.
For "The Magician's Nephew," which was read aloud in its entirety by Mrs. Mike during the drive.
For hard, emotionally-fraught, but very freeing {and very much needed} conversations between Mr. & Mrs. Mike.
For my mom's a-mazing cooking. Three meals a day. Food coma 24 hours per day.

For the opportunity to spend a few hours with my brother Joe.
For Mom's providential timing in taking this picture at the exact moment I smacked Mike's bottom for making bunny ears behind my head.
For YouTube videos that made my mom laugh till she cried.
For late-night games of Phase 10 and Hand & Foot with my cousin Christy.

For super-cushy beanbag chairs.
For silly, excited, snuggly Shih Tzus.
For these, and many other gifts from our recent trip to visit my family in Idaho, I am thankful.

Friday, March 18, 2011

{ Your Lesson }

Don't postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.
~ Alan Cohen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

{ A Soft Grief }

I am the Girl with the Plan. I'm usually armed with some sort of framework for anything I undertake.
I was the girl who, at slumber parties, would suggest we all make a "life plan:" choose the dates when we'd get married and have kids, what we'd name our children, and write it all down.
I was the girl who was going to get married at 23 and have a couple years to roam around the world with my husband, footloose and fancy free. We'd have our first baby when I was 26 or 27, followed by another child every two years till we had four.
I haven't thought about those slumber party games in a while. Those "plans" were certainly not the last, or the most valuable, that I ever made. Imagining those wide-ruled sheets of paper with "MELODY'S MARRIED PLAN" or "NIKKI'S MARRIED PLAN" printed across the top is a poignant visual for the kind of control I struggle for in my daily life. Control. Safety. Knowing what's going to happen, and when. Knowing that it's going to be okay because, hey, I have a rulebook, and as long as I play by these rules, I'm guaranteed the outcome that I want.
The Plan has undergone many metamorphoses since junior high.
I've embraced the changes I've chosen, fought tooth and nail against unexpected/unwanted ones. I've always been good at getting my own way. You might call me persuasive or strong-willed or determined if you're feeling generous. Spoiled or manipulative or selfish might be better choices.
I've been trying, more or less since this post, to be happy in spite of my circumstances. I've been encouraged and blessed by y'all's words. There is tremendous comfort in knowing that you're not the only one who has struggled with this; knowing that yours is not the first journey down this road. I glimpse hope.
So I've been trying to look on the bright side.
To focus on the things I have to be thankful for, rather than the things I want that I don't have.
And feeling more and more uncomfortable....like I have a really bad cut and I'm refusing to take care of it. Feeling fake. Feeling like I'm glibly mouthing Christian platitudes but still rotting underneath.
Yesterday I read this post by Wendi, a lady I've "met" online. Many times I've been encouraged, challenged, and exhorted by her. She truly has a gift for expressing God's truth through her life and her words. In this particular piece, she writes of "a legitimate place for this soft grief"--grief borne of dreams dying, life unfolding differently than she'd imagined, new realities following in their wake. Grief. Legitimate grief. Grief over the "loss" of something good that isn't given--something that was never promised, not deserved, but sort of expected nonetheless. The wanted thing doesn't materialize. Something other is given instead.
Perhaps I'm quite full of myself, extrapolating from her circumstances to my own.
Grief over having a job?
Grief over having to work after I'm married?
Grief over not being able to seen when, or how, I'll be able to stay home?
Grief over the fact that I feel like we're no closer to that goal than we were 20 months ago {though only God knows whether or not we are}?
Grief over the fact that I'm nearly 28 and not a mom?
Grief over the fact that married life is not what I thought it would be--it's harder, and I can't throw a tantrum or run away till the tough stuff is over?
Grief over a patch of pretty rough terrain Mike and I are navigating? The roughest we've yet weathered as a couple?
Very, very timidly, I say Yes.
I think, in God's mercy, it is good and right to grieve these things. To acknowledge that good things I've held dear are being nailed to the Cross. I hope there is time to mourn and weep for what is not. I hope there is time to mourn and repent for the ways, blinded by anger, I've sinned against God and my husband. I can't just look on the bright side. I can't ignore what feels, at times, like a howling wasteland surrounding me. I know, in my head, that He gives good gifts; that He takes these things only because, in His wisdom, He knows they are not best for me. But I do not yet feel this truth in my heart. I would be lying to deny the sadness and confusion that accompany the death of dreams. If I hold my pain closely, trying to ignore or minimize it, do I deny Him the very opportunity He seeks: to be my Comforter?
Quietly, afraid to be heard, I whisper Yes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

{ When Brothers Wrestle }

...some interesting things may happen. It started innocently enough, with Oldest Baby Brother {Emery, age 24} deciding he's going to show Youngest Baby Brother {Obediah, age 16} who's who. Since Obie has outweighed Emery for at least a few years, this doesn't always turn out well for Emery...but Em does have the quick-and-wiry advantage! This isn't to say that Emery is a wimp, because he's not. It's just that Obie is incredibly muscular.
They seemed to start off pretty fairly matched.

Tuzu, my parents' shih tzu, was terribly interested in the wrestling match. After a few minutes, he decided to swoop in and aid his young master...
...by biting Emery in the behind.
It just goes to show, you never know who's got your back.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

{ Bottling }

Last week we went back to Gallagher's to bottle our beers. First up was the porter Mike and I made...and let me tell you, the first taste of it was not good. We were all a little petrified inside {"We made sixty-six bottles of this garbage?!"}, but we smiled and nodded and told each other it tasted good. {We were lying. All of us admitted it when I brought it up later!} Apparently the stuff at the top of the barrel often doesn't taste great; after we'd filled a few bottles, we tasted again, and it was really good!
It never ceases to amaze me what people do for love. Perhaps a better way of expressing the same sentiment is, what personal transformations are possible for the one you love. I very much dislike beer till I met Mike and found out he like beer. I gave it another shot, for his sake...and another...and another...and eventually I realized that I was no longer grimacing and squinting and trying to swallow really fast before I could taste it. I liked it. Whaddaya know!
Note: Mike has had similar success {at least that's what it looks like to me!} with Thai food. Veggies and fruit, not so much. Oh well. Maybe that takes longer to grow on you than intoxicating beverages.
In this photo Joanna is filling bottles while Luke and Mike cap them. It really wasn't a four-person job, but I made myself look useful...and I took pictures.
Three really cute dogs showed up shortly after us: Sparky, a Dalmation; Zeke, a Boston terrier; and a German shepherd whose name I don't remember. Joanna was convinced that Sparky was in love with her. I think, in reality, Sparky loves everyone, especially if you have pizza. We had pizza, and when I was eating a slice, Sparky planted himself in front of me, turned on the puppy dog eyes, and kept offering to shake hands with me. It was hilarious.