Sunday, December 20, 2015

Consider it pure joy

What was it that caused me to turn to James 1 this morning?

I think I was reflecting on joy and how I have some room for growth in that area, and I was wracking my brain for verses that could guide me. I don't know if you're like me, but my thoughts turn to "Consider it pure joy..." That's an easy-enough-to-remember intro to a verse that it sticks in my mind.

It's the rest of the passage that's hard.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you..." (NIV)

I took a peek at The Message version since sometimes it helps provide a deeper understanding of the passage, and I was not disappointed.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way..." (MSG)

What a rich, challenging passage. Not only are we to be joyful in the good times, but in the times when we face trials (struggles, testing, etc.). The biggest heart squeeze during today's reading of this passage was the encouragement not to "try to get out of anything prematurely" (or to "let perseverance finish its work"). How many times have I impatiently prayed for deliverance from a challenging situation? We've got to admit that we want life to be easy and comfortable. Plus, we compare ourselves to others - or at least what we perceive of others. What if we had the opportunity to walk through life with the person we thought "has it all going for them?" I bet we would be surprised at the struggles they face: relationally, financially, spiritually, physically.

Whatever it is we face, it can be a situation that will mature and develop us if we let it. If we don't let it, we find ourselves complaining our way through. We're impatient and not pleasant to be around. We become those people we don't care to be around because they bring us down. I want to choose an attitude of gratefulness and hope for the future, persevering through whatever challenges come my way.

And so I was convicted today. I pray this conviction takes root in my heart and displays itself through my attitude and actions.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Why we should journal

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is for me to journal about God's faithfulness and answered prayers. Otherwise, I end up very much like the Israelites - experiencing God's blessings one day and then forgetting them the next when things get tough.

Some people know about the pain I've been experiencing for the past year and others don't. It's a long story and kind of complicated, but I'll boil it down to sciatic / SI joint / piriformis spasming and pain. It keeps me from sitting (normally) for more than an hour at a time and gets progressively worse throughout the day. I'm at my best first thing in the morning after my body has had a night to relax and the muscles have calmed down.

Needless to say, not being able to sit comfortably for more than an hour at a time leads to some challenges and restrictions. I've found that lounging can be tolerable for awhile, and laying down for at least an hour in the middle of the day is absolutely necessary to get through the afternoon.

Throughout the past year as the pain has increased, I've seen numerous doctors and physical therapists. Each one has had something different to say (muscle spasms, hamstring insertion inflammation, loosey-goosey joints that lead to instability, hip over-rotated forward, piriformis syndrome, and many others). I've brainstormed for hours how to describe the pain. I've had my share of injuries, but this time around, it's been practically impossible to come up with the right adjectives for the type(s) of pain.

Days are sometimes long. Weeks longer. I have pretty tough "skin" when it comes to pain, and can push through a lot of things, but there are days when I get down and wonder if it will ever get better. If God hears my prayers.

And then, ever so patiently and sweetly, He responds.

Earlier this year, I was referred to a doctor in Dallas who specializes in this type of pain. If you Google it, his name and papers pop up. Long story short, I called the office to make an appointment, and I could not get in until November - he only takes two of my cases per month. To be honest, I cried on the phone when the receptionist told me the news.

But...November is finally here, and I had my first appointment today. This appointment was with the PA, and then I will see the doctor in December. To begin, he told me that he is from the small town in KS where our house is located (Olathe). Small world!

We got off on the right foot because he listened to me. Not like the 5 minutes a lot of doctors spend with you. Actually, the whole appointment was about an hour and a half. After the initial verbal run-down of issues, he looked at me calmly and said he wanted to affirm the pain because he's heard it before...rarely, but he's heard it.

(Finally, a physician who understands/believes me.)

Next was the physical evaluation. He did a lot of manipulation of my leg/hip and pushing on my nerve in different spots (ouch!), asking me questions about the level and type of pain <insert any number of adjectives to try to describe said pain>.

After he wrapped up the evaluation, it was time to talk through next steps. During the conversation, he asked me if I go to church. I told him yes, that I grew up at Hunter's Glen, had most recently been going to Stonebriar, but that my husband and I were looking for a church together and that we had settled on Watermark. He looked at me with a smile and said that he and his family go to Watermark (wow!). He said he was going to research some ministries that might be a good support for me while we try to figure out this whole pain thing.

After showing me some (more) stretches to do and talking through the next few months, he paused and said "I don't get to do this very often, but based on the circumstances and our conversation, may I pray for you?"

Stunned. Just stunned. And humbled.

Tears filled my eyes as he prayed for me, for my pain, for me and Jacob. What a special moment to experience a sweet gift from God at a time when I've been feeling isolated and anxious about the future.

So, here I am, journaling about His faithfulness and presence...to remind myself in those moments when the isolation and anxiety creep back in.

Praise God.

Monday, November 2, 2015

All I Have is Christ

The lyrics to this song capture my heart's posture this morning. There really isn't anything else to say..."Oh Father, use my ransomed life...In any way You choose..."

VERSE 1
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

VERSE 2
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

CHORUS
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

VERSE 3
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Once in a lifetime

It's not very often that we realize we have a once in a lifetime moment with someone we love. Whether it be an exciting, memory-making event or a comfortable evening curled up on the couch together, we assume we have a lifetime of these experiences. 

In contrast, we may only have "now" to ask for forgiveness or to forgive. How many of us regret words spoken in haste...or words left unspoken? 

And how many of us regret withholding ourselves emotionally and relationally, putting work or pride first or just assuming we could dig deep with our loved one "later?"

It is easy for us to settle with focusing on ourselves - how we feel and what is the easiest thing for us - instead of remembering that life here on earth is temporary.

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while, then it's gone." James 4:14

I continue to be reminded of the brevity of life as I see stories of suffering and death every day. That could be me or someone I love today...or tomorrow. I don't want to look back and wish I'd soaked up each moment instead assuming I'd have another one tomorrow.

Lord, teach me to make the most of the time I have with the people I love and where You've placed me in this breath of life on earth (Psalm 90:12).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Golden Rule

How many of us can rattle off the "Golden Rule" like the ABC's?

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..." (Matthew 7:12).

And yet, do we really know what it means? This morning, the pastor challenged us to consider our understanding of this command in light of the fact that familiarity often breeds misunderstanding. When we are super-familiar with a concept, it is easy to check out and not really think about it. We've heard it so often and feel certain that we've got it down. For example, we know we're supposed to do to others as we want them to do to us. Maybe we've boiled that down to simply not doing bad things to other people - that's easy enough, right? If we don't do bad to someone else, they won't do bad to us...?

Familiarity also means we usually limit our thinking to the most recent and most comfortable version of the concept. When we're familiar with something, we don't challenge ourselves to consider it from different perspectives - you see it through the lens you've always seen it through, right or wrong. Along with the previous example, not doing bad is easier and more comfortable than the proactive call of the verse: to do good. If we limit the command in Matthew 7:12, to simply not doing evil, we could satisfy it by really not doing anything. 

What if we sought not to avoid doing wrong but allowed this command to stir us to action? To do good? What if we stopped viewing life from the most comfortable perspective and instead chose to look for ways to love and serve others? It involves sacrifice and humility. It takes us out of our comfort zone and puts us in challenging situations. It's draining and hard...

...and rejuvenating and uplifting. We can gain our strength from the acceptance and grace of God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We did not have to earn His love. What a relief! I could not do it out of my own strength. 

So may we take the initiative to look for ways to do good to others without expecting anything in return. 
"Love is willing self-sacrifice for the god of another that doesn't demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving." -Paul David Tripp

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Let's eat lentils!

My husband eats a TON of protein. His preferred sources are eggs, egg whites, chicken, and whey protein powder. Now, I don't need as much protein as my very muscle-y husband, but I have come to realize that I don't get enough in my daily diet.

In an effort to try to get more protein, I rediscovered lentils. They are not only a great source of plant-based protein but also have a ton of good-for-you fiber! I found a crockpot recipe that looked good (aka easy and I had a lot of the ingredients on hand), and I tweaked it a little to fit my taste palate. 

It was a hit! Here is the recipe (and feel free to tweak it for your taste buds).


Ingredients:

1 1/2 c green lentils (sort through the lentils and remove any non-lentil particles)
2 sweet potatoes, diced (I left the skins on for maximum nutritional benefit)
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
3 cups vegetable broth (or you could fill the tomato cans with water three times)
1Tbsp cumin*
1 Tbsp chili powder*
1 Tbsp garlic powder*
1 Tbsp turmeric*
2 tsp coriander*
Ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro

*I'll be honest - I was very generous with these because I really like this combination of smoky spices.

Directions:

Place all dry jngredients in a lined crockpot (If you are not familiar with crockpot liners, check out the Ziplock aisle at your local grocery store and thank me later when you have a hassle-free clean-up!).
Pour the liquidity to the crockpot to cover the dry ingredients.
Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 1/2 hours.
Spoon into serving bowls, allow to cool, and too with fresh cilantro. (Oh, and my husband enjoyed added a little bit of barbecue sauce on top!)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Southwest Chicken Stuffed Bell Peppers

Growing up, I looked forward to opportunities to help Mom in the kitchen, and that hasn't changed. A few years ago, Mom and I tried a recipe for stuffed bell peppers. It was delicious!

Recently, I had a craving...

This time, though, I decided to cut the bell peppers in half.


We found that when the bell pepper was used whole (like a bowl), a lot of residual moisture gathered at the bottom and then leaked out when eating, making it a little messy and almost requiring a bowl instead of a plate.


So, after looking around at a few recipes, I pieced together this one, and it worked great!


Southwest Chicken Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 5 bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 can Southwest Corn with Poblano and Red Peppers, drained (alternately, you can use 1 can corn and 1 can diced chiles)
  • 1 can low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 3 chicken breasts, shredded (I like to put the chicken in the crockpot on low for 6 hours - it shreds really well!)
  • 1 16-oz jar salsa
  • Mexican cheese blend, shredded
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix canned ingredients (drained), chicken, and salsa in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Place pepper halves cut side up in a glass baking dish. Stuff each half with the chicken mixture.
  4. Add about 1/4" of water to the bottom of the glass dish.
  5. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle cheese on top of the pepper halves. Bake 10 more minutes uncovered.
  7. Let peppers cool 5 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To act or not to act?

Each day is full of decisions, isn't it?

  • Do I get up and go to the gym or not?
  • What clothes am I going to wear?
  • What am I going to eat for breakfast...lunch...(second lunch)...dinner...(post-dinner)?
  • How will I respond to that unkind email from a coworker?
  • What am I going to do about that thing I messed up on at work? Tell somebody? Tell nobody?
  • How am I going to respond to a friend who hurt me?

Along with these tactical as well as serious questions, there are the decisions we make without really thinking about them. 

  • How do I spend my free time?
  • How will I treat those around me?

At church on Sunday, the pastor said something that caught my attention and has been on my mind since then. He said "Our decisions make an impact on the people around us - whether we take action or not." 

Sometimes, we think that by not acting or by not choosing between two difficult, opposing actions we are saving ourselves from being wrong, but we are actually making a decision that will impact those around us. 

For example, let's say you missed something on a report at work and it has a small effect on the bottom line but a potentially big effect on your job status. You think about coming clean and telling your boss...but then you think "What's the big deal - it's not THAT much money, and I'll make sure to catch that next month." 

Little do you know, the "little" mistake you made was one more line item that contributed to a decision to reduce staff at the company. It may have been the tipping point. Multiple people are going to lose their jobs, and you might have been able to stop that from happening by taking action and admitting your fault.

Or let's say there are some personal emails you know you've been putting off responding to and you decide to put them off again - they can wait. Little did you know that the kind words and encouragement you might have included in your response would have made a big difference to your friend who is facing a rough time and needs the support. By deciding not to take action, you missed an opportunity to lift someone up.

It's time to consider:
  • What action at work do you need to own up to, regardless of the impact on you, because you know it is the right thing to do and would avoid endangering the jobs of other employees?
  • What word of encouragement have you put off delivering recently that might make a big difference in someone's life?

It's time to think a little deeper about the actions we do...and don't...take.


Friday, March 20, 2015

How to Handle Hungry on a Honeymoon

Okay, let's face it: cruises = (lots of) good food.

Jacob planned a fantastic honeymoon experience for us, and we ate WELL. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the fantastic meals we ate and list out our favorites for future...well...mouth-watering viewing pleasure.


(All collages described from left to right, top to bottom.)
Shrimp cocktail - we had so much of this!
Herb-roasted chicken on a cheesy polenta
Shrimp and scallops on a bed of risotto with veal jus
Lemon sherbet and mixed berries with an almond crisp


Shrimp cocktail (as I mentioned...)
Steak and onion rings
Grilled sea bass (it melted in my mouth)
Oreo cheesecake (Jacob is a cheesecake connoisseur, and while this was an "ok" cheesecake, it did not top the charts) 


Smoked salmon with brioche (I have avoided "smoked salmon" because it is usually thinly sliced and looks like sushi, which is a no-no for my palate, but this stuff was FANTASTIC! I think we both had it two days in a row.)
Salmon frittata (can you say yummy?!)
Egg whites with sauteed egg whites and potatoes
Shrimp cocktail (uh huh...)


Who doesn't like a hibachi grill? The menus had a top portion with origami instructions. I'd like to introduce you to our seahorse and whale. 
Jacob is the master of all things origami. I cheered him on.


Okay, so THIS was fun!
Mount Rice
Impaled Egg
Sizzling Meats
Fixing Fried Rice


Green tea ice cream and pastries
Steamed mahi mahi with mushrooms
Banana pancakes...for DESSERT


Okay, so this is kind of a summary of our favorite fish dishes.


And a summary of some favorite desserts 
(the new pictures include a pineapple crisp and ice cream with papaya goodness on top).


And you might as well try duck on a cruise, right? And those roasted apples were delicious!
Chocolate/caramel ooey-gooey goodness
Crab cakes


Quail? Why not?
More succulent, smoked salmon
Vanilla ice cream/berry/nut goodness. The crisp is actually like an ice cream cone but in a wafer shape.
Chocolate souffle (Unfortunately, it was not the best souffle ever. Jacob had never tried one, and I thought this would be a good time, but it was dry and not high quality chocolate. Guess we'll have to try again!)


First experience with dim sum!
The hot and sour soup was fantastic. I swapped my fried rice for a second bowl.


Maple glazed salmon and ratatouille (first time trying ratatouille and now cannot wait to try my hand at fixing it!)
Cedar plank halibut with shrimp...and butter yumminess on the side...
Raspberry cheesecake (This one got not only Jacob's stamp of approval but won the 
Best Cheesecake of the Honeymoon award.)
Mixed berries and sugar cookie wafers with powdered sugar snow

There you go, my friends. Oh, pardon me...you've got a drop of drool on your chin...

(And just for fun, when checking spelling on this post, Google suggested "tadpole" for "polenta.")


Friday, March 6, 2015

Wedding Planning Tips & Fun Ideas

There is a TON of great information out there for newly-engaged couples when it comes to planning a wedding. Pinterest is STILL sending me tips...I wonder how long they'll continue to think I'm planning a wedding...Anyway, I just thought I'd share a few quick things that helped me and Jacob in the planning process and a few fun ideas if you're looking for a way to be creative and break the classic wedding mold.

Tip #1: Have an amazing Mom and Sister who know your style and selflessly give of their time and energy to help organize your special day. And did you know that my DAD actually found our venue?!




I mean it – they were irreplaceable when it came to planning and executing all of the fittings and meetings and brainstorming and shopping excursions. I could NOT have done it without them!  
That being said, below are a few ideas for how to stay organized when you’re planning your big day (and all the events leading up to it!):

Tip #1: Multi-purpose address list: Make all those hours you spend putting together the list of addresses for your guests go to work for you. I recommend using Excel so you can easily move/rearrange information. Use this list as a master list for:
  • RSVP’s: You'll need to keep track for catering, dessert, wedding favors, etc. I created a column for adults and a column for children in order to separate headcount for catering. Also, I requested guests send their favorite Bible verse (so Jacob and I could have those to treasure and meditate on in the days to come), so I created a column to track this information and hope to do something crafty with them when things settle down a bit.

  • Shower/Wedding Gift Thank-You's: Make columns for each shower you have and the wedding, and use the cells in each column to keep track of what gifts were given. Then, you can highlight the cell when you've written the thank-you card!

Tip #2: Shared Google Doc: I created a shared Google Excel sheet for Jacob and me to keep track of certain things along the way. This was helpful because we could both update the sheet and not have to send an email each time something happened. Here is a list of the different tabs we included in the sheet:
  • Timeline: Because of the short time frame (4 months between proposal and wedding), we listed out activities that needed to be done, when they needed to be done, and who was responsible for them (Jacob, me, or both of us). Some of the to-do's included:

§  registry
§  guest list
§  wedding party invitations
§  dress/tie shopping
§  meet with the DJ
§  settle on photographers and send picture list
§  address and mail out save-the-dates
§  engagement photos
§  request marriage license
§  gather pictures and videos for the wedding video my cousin put together for the reception (a special compilation video for the guests to watch at the beginning of the reception while we had pictures taken)
§  order invitations
§  address and mail out invitations, etc.

  • Registry: Both Jacob and I took an inventory of what we had in our kitchens that we knew we didn't need to replace or include on the registry. Then, I did some research (it's amazing how you think you know what you want as a woman in the kitchen, but Pinterest helps fill in a number of gaps) and listed in the spreadsheet what we wanted to be sure to scan when we went to register.

    We registered at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. I discovered that while Bed Bath & Beyond has a more efficient registry process and more extensive options, the "scanner gun" is fairly archaic. (
    Be careful when you select a product to ensure that you indicate how many of each product you want or double-check to see if the store clerk put the amount you requested - we ended up with a registry that requested 16 salad serving bowls!) You can also log into your registry online and alter the number of items there if you would prefer not to worry about numbers while you're in the store registering.
    Target has a really modern "scanner gun" that is pretty easy to use, but the registry doesn't update well when people purchase gifts. We ended up with several duplicates (but these turned into gift cards when we made returns, so that was okay!).
  • Meeting with DJ: This sheet helped us brainstorm songs for the ceremony and reception. We were able to put down ideas, comment on them to each other, review timing, etc. Bouncing ideas off each other was helpful so we could get an idea of what the other person had in mind for different events.

Tip #3: We were so fortunate to come across DJ (Michael) Cone! My Sister heard a recommendation about him and passed along the information. He was fantastic! Very professional, very personable, very prepared. After exchanging an initial email, he met with me at Starbucks (and we conferenced in Jacob) and talked us through the services he could offer. He was super-flexible, and Jacob and I were able to create a playlist for the reception. He had his computer with him and confirmed he could get all the songs we requested. He also had suggestions for songs when we were unsure (what song do you play for the “(cup)cake” cutting??)

DJ Cone is not just a DJ but an emcee. He was the reason everything ran smoothly at the reception from encouraging guests through the receiving line to the garter/bouquet toss to the exit. I didn’t worry about a thing during the reception because I trusted the timing to him.

If you aren’t planning a wedding in the Dallas area and can’t utilize the services of DJ Cone, make sure the DJ you partner with truly understands the type of music you do (and don’t) want played. DJ Cone shares our faith and understood the type of music we wanted to use to celebrate our day, so we were very grateful.



Fun Idea #1 - (Cup)cakes: We wanted something simple and yummy, light and fun, and decorative as a dessert. We also didn’t want to overdo it, and so the idea of cupcakes came to mind. A few years ago, my Mom introduced me to cupcake tiers, and I thought they were so fun! We decided to kill two birds with one pretty little stone and have the cupcakes double as dessert and centerpieces. I ordered the cupcake tiers through Amazon and got a great deal, Mom had these lovely bows made to go on the top tier, and we filled the bottom two tiers with gorgeous little cupcakes.

(On the practical side, doing cupcakes as your centerpiece also helps guests avoid having to stand in line twice if you have a buffet or even three times if you have a buffet AND a separate receiving line. Also, it helped us save money on flowers since we did not bring any flowers into the reception.)



Fun Idea #2 – ‘Everyone’ Bouquet Toss: My Sister and I have never enjoyed the bouquet toss at weddings. It can be awkward and seeing as how we’re both introverts…well, you get the point. So, I thought it would be fun if the bouquet toss was for everyone! This would also make for a better picture if there aren’t a lot of single ladies at the wedding, and it worked well for us because the toss was at the top of the stairs we used for the Exit immediately afterwards. We attached four $5.00 gift cards to the bouquet, and one lucky winner walked away with a fun prize!


Those are just a few organization tips and fun ideas that I think made our special day unique. The important thing is to not feel confined to anyone’s expectations but your own. No one (important) is going to judge you by your flowers/cake/dancing, etc. Enjoy the planning and enjoy the people you plan with!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

There is no "I" in "T.E.A.M."

As I think back on our engagement, I reflect on how much I appreciated Jacob's support and partnership. We learned as we went along and made a really good team! During your engagement, it is important that you become a T.E.A.M.:

Talk / Trust:

  • Engagement is a good and important time to get comfortable talking about a wide range of topics from the guest list to vendors, to your vision for the ceremony to your expectations for your first night together. Be sure to talk through the questions you have for each other as well as your expectations.
  • This is a season for growing your trust in each other. As tasks get delegated and hearts are unveiled, you cross into a new level of practical and relational trust.

Evaluate / Empathize

  • There are so many decisions to evaluate and it is good to do this together for the big ones. Sure, there are plenty of small decisions that are more efficiently dealt with by one of you, but for the big decisions, evaluate the options/pros/cons together and it will lay some more bricks on the foundation of your relationship.
  • This is an important time to really learn to empathize with each other. It might be slightly more relevant for the guys to work on this area as it is a very emotional and busy time for your lady, but both of you will experience new things, challenging things, and demanding things in this season. The more you can put yourself in the other person's shoes, the more you will appreciate the other person and feel like you are heard and understood in the midst of a whirlwind of activity.

Advisors / Accept

  • For many decisions during your engagement, it is important to seek out advisors. It's important to have wise biblical counsel during this time period. Jacob and I sought out guidance from our parents (married 34 & 42 years!) and a few mentor couples. We prayed together and read books together to spur conversation about God's design for marriage and our expectations. On the practical side, a lot of research went into our decisions. We determined a few options for wedding dates but then consulted with our families. We sought out a number of options for DJ's. I wasn't willing to accept that the only way to get elegant flowers was to pay $3,000 so I did a lot of searching and asking around at work, with friends, etc. There is a lot of good information out there if you just ask!
  • During this season, you have the opportunity to display acceptance for each other in a number of ways, including personal preferences, decisions, and mistakes. There is so much happening, and this is a great time to learn to express and accept grace from each other!

Make a Decision / Marvel

  • Yes, you must finally make a decision! After searching out a ton of vendors, choose one. After looking through a book of colors, choose one. After going cross-eyed by reading long, hard-to-pronounce flower names, pick one (or two, or...). After reviewing the menu options and ten types of grilled chicken, choose one. One of the things I enjoyed most about our engagement was making decisions with Jacob. We talked through things, shared our perspectives, and then made decisions together. This was also a good time for me to practice letting Jacob lead (he's a great leader, by the way). 
  • Take a step back and marvel. The time period preparing for a wedding is pretty incredible. Shining through the decisions to be made and tasks to be completed was such a bright light of community. It was truly a blessing to see how our community came alongside us to make this day happen. Family and friends hosted showers, purchased gifts from our registries, offered advice when asked, made themselves available to help, etc. Be sure to take time to marvel at these gifts of time and service. 

This partnership will be the foundation of your marriage. A month into our marriage, I see this in so many ways already and know it will continue as we go through different seasons of life. 
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#goinboan in 3...2...1...!

Ladies and gentlemen...we are THREE days from the wedding!


My boss asked me a few months ago if I was going to take off the week of the wedding. He thought I was crazy, but I know myself. I would prefer to have something going on so I have less time to worry or be anxious about any of the wedding details. So, I decided to work Monday - Wednesday this week, and now I have just one more day in the office!

Speaking of countdowns, there have been so many to enjoy during this season:

  • The last holiday season as a single
  • The last trip for me to KS and Jacob to TX
  • The last goodbye of our long-distance relationship
  • The last weekend as a Livengood with my family
My dad texted the other morning and said we had 127 hours and 30 minutes until the ceremony. Now we're down to 89 hours and 10 minutes. Isn't it amazing how time can either seem to pass quickly or slowly? It seems to be dragging on right now...

It has been so fun to celebrate this season with family and friends. Jacob and I are so blessed by the generosity of community. The offers of assistance with planning, setup, tear-down, etc,. are so very kind. We are grateful for their thoughtfulness and willingness to lend a hand. It "takes a village" to plan and pull off a wedding!

And now instead of counting down lasts, we'll be looking forward to so many firsts:
  • First kiss as man and wife
  • First dance as man and wife
  • First vacation together
  • First house
  • First summer
And so much more! 

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." -Song of Songs 6:3


Friday, January 23, 2015

'Twas the week before the wedding

I can hardly believe it - the day is almost here! 


After four months of dreaming, planning, meeting with vendors, signing contracts, and making lists, the wedding is just seven days away. Jacob is so much fun to plan with! Throughout this process, we've enjoyed learning more about each other - our preferences, what excites us, how we envision celebrating with family and friends, etc. We had certain things we planned together and other things we each took charge of and either consulted with each other or decided it will be a surprise. 

One of the things I love about Jacob is his patience. He has listened patiently to me as I talk through decisions that need to be made or details I'm debating. He's such a great partner in the planning, and I know it will carry through in our marriage.

My sister gave me a wonderful planning tool called The Bride's Handbook: A Spiritual & Practical Guide for Planning Your Wedding by Amy J. Tol. The thing that drew me to Amy was her honesty about how busy wedding planning can be and how important it is to not become so consumed with the practical planning that the spiritual focus falls to the wayside. Each section presents a practical approach to planning some aspect of the wedding and then makes an analogy to how we prepare ourselves as brides of Christ. The book is set up in 12 sections:

  1. The Engagement
    • Bride of Love, Your Engagement Plans, Bride of Transformation
  2. The Groom
    • Bride of Loyalty, Your Groom, Bride of Trust
  3. The Budget
    • Bride of Self-Control, Planning Your Budget, Bride of Grace
  4. The Basics
    • Bride of Devotion, Planning Your Basics, Bride of Discipline
  5. The People
    • Bride of Patience, Planning for Your Guests and Attendants, Bride of Selflessness
  6. The Flowers
    • Bride of Joy, Planning Your Flowers, Bride of Peace
  7. The Photos
    • Bride of Faith, Planning Your Photography and Videography, Bride of Modesty
  8. The Wedding Attire
    • Bride of Humility, Planning Your Wedding Attire, Bride of Honesty
  9. The Invitations
    • Bride of Prayer, Planning Your Wedding Stationery, Bride of Courage
  10. The Ceremony
    • Bride of Worship, Planning Your Ceremony, Bride of Dependence
  11. The Reception
    • Bride of Goodness, Planning Your Reception, Bride of Wisdom
  12. The Gifts
    • Bride of Contentment, Planning for Your Gifts, Bride of Generosity

I am sure you can tell from the section and chapter titles that there is some good stuff in this book! Each practical chapter has note-taking pages, and these were really helpful for brainstorming. I highly recommend the book if you are looking for a gift for a new bride (or yourself!).

The days will pass quickly, and soon it will be here: the day I say "I do" to my best friend. My prayer is that the day would honor the Lord and be a special time of celebration with family and friends.