Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Lights

If you have the time or the inclination to do so, you should drive by our home after 4:45 p.m. or so. We have some cool lights in the bell tower and even cooler lights inside (if we're home, we just might let you check it out). And they will likely be up past Christmas...we like to keep the holiday spirit alive as long as possible.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chicago, Day 2

On to Saturday – we hunted down a Dunkin’ Donuts for some breakfast. Whoa – why don’t we have one of these here? It was awesome. Instead of getting on the train at Schaumburg, we scouted out the stop that was nearest to the train yard we had seen on Friday. We found it and had about half an hour to railfan (this is an insider’s term for chasing trains – I was informed that the in-insider’s term is “foaming” as in “foaming at the mouth.” The things you learn from marriage.) A lot of the yard was blocked by fences, but a break in the fence showed that the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train was still parked there! Its tour was to begin that day, so we pulled in and took some pretty good pictures of the cars and the engine. I could give you more train picture info, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed seeing my husband get excited about checking out the trains and taking pictures.

We took the train to Union Station again. This time, we bought tickets to the trolley tour and half an hour later, we boarded the trolley. We rode for a while checking out the sites and hearing some interesting stories from the driver/tour guide. We got off and took a cab to the Museum of Science and Industry. (The picture of us was taken there.) They have “The Great Train Story” exhibit, which features a very large, $3.5 million exhibit of an HO scale train from Seattle to Chicago. It was pretty sweet – Matt took tons of pictures. After a while, I walked down and ate some Cheetos and Diet Pepsi and called my Dad to kill a little time. They also had a real Burlington Zephyr train, and we happened upon a 20-minute tour. It was cool to hear about the maiden voyage of this high-speed passenger train.

By the time we left, it was dark and cold again, so we waited for the city bus to travel to North Michigan Avenue, a.k.a. The Magnificent Mile. We got off the bus and walked a little, but it was definitely dinner time and Matt had not had a snack, so he was really hungry. I knew he wanted some good deep dish pizza, so I looked online and found the #1 rated deep dish pizza, Gino’s East Pizzeria. I remembered the address, and we used our various maps to navigate a walking path. Good thing we were bundled up – it was definitely chilly. But we got to see a lot of windows and lights along the way. By the time we arrived, the line was definitely out the door. I had read that there is always a wait, so it was just a matter of how long. It was a mere 5-10 minutes before a man came out and announced that 110 people had just left the restaurant, so they needed 20 minutes to clear the tables and we could be seated. Then another woman came out looking for tables of 2, for which we qualified, so we were seated rather quickly. The server informed us that deep dish pizzas would take 45-50 minutes, so we ordered an appetizer and our pizza right away. It was…incredible. I cannot fully describe it with words. It must be personally experienced.

I was pretty tired when we finished at 8:00, and the trains were departing at 8:40 and 10:40, so we grabbed a cab and hoped for the 8:40. We made it in plenty of time, and we were able to drive around and check out Christmas lights before we headed to the hotel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


(In defense of my title, I am a huge "King of Queens" fan, so the pronunciation is an homage to the humor of Kevin James.)

I know I’ve been gone a long time, but our vacation to Chicago was so great that I have to write about it!! We took a long weekend last Thursday-Sunday and spent it in the greater Chicago area. Matt and I have such a great time traveling together – I love making the hotel reservations, looking up the route, finding fun possibilities we can do in the area, etc., and Matt is the spontaneous one who finds things for us to do on the fly. So we drove over to Schaumburg late on Thursday night. We slept in on Friday, and then we headed to Woodfield Mall to get some warm gloves, etc. for my husband. Once we ate some lunch and were properly outfitted for the (freezing) cold weather, we then had to find the METRA station in Schaumburg. Asking for directions is pointless, so I scoured a gas station map until I was sure of how to get there (I didn’t want to buy it – it was $20!). We found the station, and we got on the train at 2:30 p.m. It was an hour-long ride, and we passed a HUGE train yard. Matt was salivating. We even saw the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train! It was very cool – Matt had read about it a little bit, but we had no idea it was going to be there.

Once we arrived at Union Station and headed outside, it was insanely freezing. We went about a block to the Sears Tower and decided to take the trip up to the Skydeck. It was an amazing view – it was around 4:00-5:00 p.m., and it was perfect lighting to get some incredible pictures. Matt has a few that maybe he’ll post someday. (Along with those wedding and honeymoon ones, right baby?) J It was a pretty frightening height, but it was worth the view. When we were done, it was really too cold to walk anywhere, which had originally been our plan. So we took a cab to Navy Pier. We put our names in at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and then walked around while we waited for a table. Navy Pier has a lot of fun shops – I had some cinnamon toasted cashews. Holy cow. I’ve had the almonds, but the cashews bring it to a whole new level.

After dinner, we took another cab back to Union Station and waited for the train. We had heard from the taxi driver that someone had shot a few people in a downtown office building, taken a hostage, and finally was shot by police. At the station, I was waiting for Matt in the restroom and a young man came up saying that he was stranded because of the shooting. (The METRA and other transportation had been shut down for about an hour because of it.) He needed to meet his girlfriend at a different place and had no money for the train. I am completely uncomfortable with being alone and having a strange man come up and speak to me. I kept looking at the bathroom hoping for Matt to come out. Finally he did, and I told him the story and asked him if we could walk over and buy the kid a train ticket. We did that and then got on the train. This train ride was quite an experience – a man was singing rather loudly to his crude hip-hop music for about half the ride. I was definitely looking forward to being done with that ride.

It was another late night, but our first day in Chicago was awesome. Read on for more Chicago fun!! (It’s too good, so it must be spread out in multiple posts.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

He's Got the Power

I just shared this with a special friend, but in light of all that's happening in the evangelical world, it seemed to somewhat be applicable to all of us. Who of us can fix ourselves? It is solely the power of God and our trust in Him that changes our hard hearts. Our best efforts fall miserably short of His glory. That sounds depressing, but it's actually encouraging! I don't have to be good enough - I just have to trust that He is and that His power can change me, too.

S - Galatians 3:5-6 (MSG) "Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving OR because you trust him to do them in you?"

O - Paul's question answers itself when He describes God "working things in our lives we could never do for ourselves." We can't do them - obviously, it's only God who can.

A - Most days I can point out where I messed up in my thoughts or actions, and I often attribute the lack of self-control or the poor choices to my inability to "learn my lesson." But do I trust the God who began this work in me to complete it? If the weight of sin and the desire to overcome it rests squarely on my shoulders, I will lose the battle. I am human, and my personal choices will never be good enough to transform my own heart and mind. My only hope is for God to change me from the inside out - changing just what I do and say isn't enough. The very heart of who I am needs the touch of God. And if I am truly depending on God to change me, I will be desperate enough to spend time with Him, to read His words of life and allow them to sink deep into my soul, and to cry out with all my heart to my Father.

P - Father, I need You. The problem is that I can act like I don't need You, but the fact remains that I am a pitiful mess without You. Please forgive me for the actions that say I don't really need You in my life each day in order to make it. Despite my human nature, I want to be more like You in my heart of hearts. I trust that in my time spent with You, Your light will penetrate my heart and invoke the change I so desperately want to see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hello Fall!

This has apparently become the land of the monthly posts. But Amie's return inspired me to blog today.

Fall is awesome. The chill in the air this weekend was so exciting - my thoughts immediately turn to the holidays. Consequently, I have more than once listened to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the past week. The fact that we just bought tickets for the Chicago show helps, too. We are very excited to see them again. It should be an awesome holiday weekend.

Life is moving on as usual. Work will begin again on our bathroom tomorrow night. I am so ready for that. It seems that as soon as Matt's commitment to the band was ended, we took the liberty of having our weekends back and filled almost every one until the end of October! I did not expect to be so busy this fall.

If anyone's still out there, I hope you are excited about the fall, too!! If not, come over - we'll make coffee (or hot chocolate if you prefer), grab the electric blanket, and cuddle on the couch with a great book. (I have SO many to read!! But more on that next time.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Welcome Home!

I spent last week at Junior Camp. I really didn't want to go - I did not want to leave my husband for 4 nights. But I did pretty well the first three days. I cried a little before bed each night; mostly because I missed him, and of course, having such a busy week I am sure that some of my emotion was due to simply being tired. He came on Wednesday evening to see me which I was looking forward to with much anticipation. However, I knew once I saw him that I was in trouble. It was going to be very difficult to say good-bye, and I was right. Thursday was a really hard day, but I made it and had some white cheddar popcorn that night that made things a little better. And finally, Friday came!! My thoughtful husband posted a "Welcome Home, Baby!" sign, made me a yummy brownie, and got me these. Awww!! It couldn't have been a better homecoming. Yeah for being home again!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Back from the Dead

I know. It's been forever. Actually, most of you who read this have been on somewhat of a blogging sabbatical yourselves, so I don't feel terrible about it. Life just happens and you have to go with it. The sad thing is, many things have happened in the last month, some of which may be interesting and others not so much. At least not to you.

We did have a super fun July 4 holiday. We celebrated the anniversary of our first real date by re-visiting Galena, House on the Rock (well, Matt did anyway - I went to the mall in Madison), and Vinny Vanucchi's. Our server at dinner was the same guy who served us the night we were engaged! He remembered us; he even said that evening was "unforgettable." Awww!! We stayed at an awesome bed and breakfast. The Honeymoon Cottage was so sweet! We highly recommend it. On the 4th, we walked around town for quite a while and drove in to Dubuque as well. We were able to take a carriage ride, and the driver took the picture of us seen below. It was lots of fun! It's the first overnight trip we've done since the honeymoon. It was so fun to go as a married couple! Yeah!

Other than that, we are continually working on getting the house in order. I suppose it will be a lifelong journey at the rate we are going. The shower is awesome, though. Don't forget to look at the pictures on Matt's blog!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: Movies

Thirteen Things about ANGELA

I figured this was an easy way to keep up since I have had little time to write. No water in our house...but the in-laws are gone, so at least we have a place to stay while it gets repaired. For now, I will do thirteen of my favorite movies. I have a very difficult time picking favorites, but these are top-ranked on my list.

1. Return to Me - One of my favorites of all-time. Just a nice romantic comedy. I'm a sucker for the romance, as I'm sure you will see. Great soundtrack, too.

2. Raising Helen - Again, a great romantic comedy. Kate Hudson is pretty funny, and the sisters were somewhat reminiscent of me and mine. I don't enjoy thinking about the people I love dying or anything, but it reminds you of how much they mean to you.

3. The Sound of Music - Come on. This is just a classic. I love the music and the gazebo seen with Liesl and...the guy. So great! I always wanted to be her!

4. You've Got Mail - I don't know what it is, but I could watch this movie repeatedly and never tire of it. It's so cute how he goes about befriending her in order to win her heart. I love it!

5. Diary of a Mad Black Woman - An all-around great movie with drama, romance, and absolutely hysterical to boot. Definitely worth checking out.

6. Pride & Prejudice - The new version with Keira Knightley. I just loved it; it's so witty and great all around.

7. Titanic - Haven't seen it in years, but it is the first movie that I remember really crying in the theater.

8. The Passion of the Christ - The most powerful movie I've ever seen. A pretty unbelievable experience in the theater when the church rented it out for a few showings.

9. Runaway Bride - Again, the romantic comedy just does it for me. Very fun movie, great soundtrack which includes Miles Davis, so it must be good.

10. The American President - The politics reeks, but the story is too cute. Another that I could watch over and over.

11. Napoleon Dynamite - How can this not be funny? Chatting online with babes? Numchuck skills? The dance!?!? It's a classic for our generation.

12. Center Stage - It's such a teeny-bopper sort of movie, but I can't help but love it. The dance at the end rules!

13. A Beautiful Mind - Great story, great acting.

I know I didn't include many serious movies or any action movies, which I really do like, but these are the ones that came to mind. Post your own list, too!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about ANGELA

I figured I'd give this a try - I guess you just pick a topic and write 13 things about yourself. So today's topic will be...13 places I have been.

1. Kansas City, MO. As kids, we visited Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun a few times for vacation. My Mom won tickets to the parks on a radio contest a couple of times.

2. Tijuana, Mexico. Pastor Jim took us on a missions trip here. I was 15, and it was the first time I flew on an airplane.

3. Branson, MO. I lived in Springfield for almost 7 years, and Branson is about 20-30 minutes south, so we shopped the outlets and watched IMAX movies during the college years and beyond.

4. Chicago, IL. I was on a traveling ministry team in college for all 4 years, so we visited many different places. My freshman year we went to Chicago for our Spring Break ministry trip. It was very eye-opening in many ways. We also walked down Michigan Ave. and ate great pizza.

5. Denver, CO. I went here with my family at a very early age; I have a few memories but not many. Pastor Jim also took us here for the national youth convention (I'm not sure what year it was, I want to say 1996 or 1997?). I remember feeling a distinct call to ministry at that time. I also visited for a work conference from the Assemblies of God youth department; interesting trip with my former roommate and co-worker (to say the least). Sing it with me, "I see your true colors shining through..."

6. Boca Raton, FL. Another Spring Break ministry trip in college. This was a beautiful area; very ritzy from what I recall. We walked on the beach, on a pier in Miami, and all the girls stayed together in one house (it wasn't too cramped or anything, though).

7. Orlando, FL. I had only been at my job in the youth department (Assemblies of God headquarters) for about two months when I was asked to go to the Fine Arts Festival and National Youth Convention in Orlando. I was so excited; my first big work trip, lots of overtime (= lots of moolah), a little bit of free time to shop, and experiencing my first General Council (it's a big deal for them...seriously). Very interesting trip; I loved carrying around a walkie-talkie and being all cool and stuff.

8. Detroit, MI. I drove up (a VERY long trip alone) for a very good friend's wedding. It was definitely fun. I think Shannon and I carpooled back together for yet another long car ride. But I really loved being in her wedding and sharing those moments with her.

9. Seattle, WA. I have visited Phil, Brenda, Kaitlyn, and Kramer three times in their city of residence. (To put a face with a name, Kaitlyn was junior bridesmaid at my wedding if you were there.) I love it there; they live RIGHT by the water in Kirkland, which is a very nice area. They have a boat, so we try to get out on the boat when I'm visiting, which is always so relaxing. Their home is beautiful and relaxing, and I love staying there. I hope I can visit them with Matt someday!

10. Washington, D.C./Dover, DE. This trip last summer with my parents and Tyler was so great. The ONLY thing I remember not liking was the fact that I wished I could enjoy it with Matt. We had just started hanging out, but I really wanted to share all those fun experiences with him. Going to my first race at Dover was so sweet.

11. Galena, IL. I love Galena! It will always be so special as the site of our first real date and as the place where Matt asked me to marry him. It's such an adorable little town.

12. New York, NY. Huge highlight trip for me; it had always been my dream trip. Originally I wanted to honeymoon there, but...yeah, I'm glad we didn't do that. We went in October and, well, here are a bunch of pictures if you didn't get to see them. Awesome trip with my baby (and Chris, can't forget that he came along :-).

13. Cancun, Mexico. Our honeymoon! Awesome resort that was very fun and relaxing. Pictures will be coming one of these days.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nobody's a Nobody

I wanted to blog today, but I am not sure what to write about. So I will default and post a journal entry.

Nobody's a Nobody

Scripture: Romans 9:25-26 (MSG) "I'll call the nobodies and make them somebodies; I'll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, 'You're nobody!' they're calling you 'God's living children.'"

Observation: The world's definition of us is inconsequential. Other people's view of us does not matter. What God calls us, the name He gives to us is the only one with which we should be concerned. The world will try to confuse us and Satan will use anything to distract us from hearing God's voice and what He is saying to us.

Application: I can so easily define who I am by the things another person says or does. I can be persuaded that God's love doesn't matter unless another person can see that same value in me. But God never asked me to look into the eyes of someone else to find my worth. Others may choose to affirm what God says about me, but that's all it is - an affirmation, not a definition. And if someone sees me as a nobody, then I am in the place for God to make His move and call me the somebody that He sees in me. So my lovability is based on His love for me. And He has said that when I feel unloved, He wants to step in and call me beloved. He wants to call me His very own, His child. The love that He created in me pales in comparison to the love that He offers me each day.

Prayer: Oh, Father, forgive me for forgetting that You are the only One who can meet all my needs and be all I could ever ask for. I know there's a time and a place for harsh reality and a time to step up to the plate and take responsibility for my life. But today could You just wrap Your arms around me and be my loving Father? What I desperately need is Your unconditional love that sees me as I am, every ugly part, and still grabs me and holds me tight and has faith in what I can become. It's hard work to live up to all You ask of me. But it's worth the work because I so desperately want to make You proud, want to be the apple of Your eye. Will You step in today and give me Your peace even if I don't deserve it? I can't fully express what it means to me that You love all of me and are not turned away when You see the ugliness of sin in my heart. You still embrace me as Your daughter and see the beauty of Your Son in me. Make me into the beautiful image of You. Make my heart more like You and strip away all that does not reflect You. Let me be a true picture of Your love to others.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Two for Togetherness

I'm so excited to have been tagged for this! Thanks, Beefy!

2 things you compliment your husband on while in his presence.
1. His amazing computer skills (example shown below).
2. His cute legs.

2 compliments you make about your spouse to your friends.
1. His creativity that knows NO bounds.
2. He's a great writer and knows how to say incredibly sweet things in an eloquent manner.

2 traits you married him/her for.
1. His sincere desire to follow God.
2. His incredible gifts and the call of God that I know is on his life.

2 days you cherished the most with your husband being together.
1. The day of our engagement has to top this list. Since I've already written about it, I won't go into detail, but the entire day was full of anticipation for me, and I enjoyed each moment of being together and of the Christmas season.
2. Christmas Eve/Christmas Day 2005. Our first holiday together, being with our families, and being in church together. It was really special. (I would have written the wedding day, but it seems a little obvious; but I did cherish that day and the smart way we planned it so we could spend time together. Yeah for eating at Bourbon Street on our wedding night!)

2 material things you could give your husband if you just inherited a fortune.
1. A fiberglass body for a Batmobile (I could just pay someone to build it, but I know part of the joy for him will be building it himself).
2. This. And it would be a sacrifice for sure.

2 things you would miss the most if she/he left for two weeks.
1. Cuddling and talking and praying before bed.
2. His touch.

2 thoughts that crossed your mind when you first met/saw (or noticed in our case) your spouse.
1. I am sure we would have a great time together; he is so funny!
2. What could I do to get him to notice me?

2 favorite dates
1. So many of the first dates were so much fun, but if I have to pick two...definitely July 4 of last year. He had invited me about a week or two earlier to visit the House on the Rock for the holiday. He surprised me that morning with a single red rose on my car seat (the first romantic gesture he had made, and I was floored; I remember shaking as I tried to put in my earrings while we were driving away in the car). We visited, I got sick, I bought some medicine and napped in the car, he drove us to Galena, we walked around looking at houses and walking down Main Street, we ate at Vinny Vanucchi's, and we watched fireworks together from the top of the hill. And he hugged me for the first time that day. It was the most amazing day. My journal entry about it is pretty good. He wrote a little about it, too, in his proposal narrative.
2. It's so hard to pick! Since I already said New York is a favorite vacation, I'm going to pick a different date (even though the Queen concert day was awesome). How about my birthday? No, I'm going with our trip to Minneapolis. We went to "The Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater. Then we hung out at the Mall of America in our dress up clothes. It was very fun. I just love road-tripping with my husband; most of them are pretty memorable in my mind. And I love doing different things, and the play and the Mall and dressing were so fun and different from the norm.

2 funny odd things you love.
1. His constant preoccupation with Batmobiles (and this website). Since it's my blog, I'll take a second to show you what he has done since he doesn't have a Batmobile to work on yet - desktops for all the guys who are in the process of building theirs! (Thank goodness we don't have a computer set up at home. The bathroom would have a projected finish date of April 2012. )
2. The way he snaps his fingers near his ears to see if they are cleared up (he has lots of problems with his ears being clogged up and can never hear just right, poor thing).

2 places you have lived with your spouse.
1. Our current church/home
2. My old apartment (for exactly one week).

2 favorite vacations
1. New York City, baby!
2. Our honeymoon near Cancun (we will get pictures up for you to see, I promise!).

2 people I tag
1. Could I possibly get Rev60 to do this? (I'm sure I'm not allowed to tag my own husband, so I'll see if someone else's will do it.)
2. How about T - I'd love to hear her comments!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Lost Has Been Found!

I found the missing box! It was with kitchen stuff. A bathroom box in the basement hiding under my knife set and napkin holder. Isn't that how it always works? Anyway, these are the eyeshadows that were in said box and missing me dreadfully over the past month and a half. (This does not include the 3 or 4 sets in my makeup bag.) Yes, it's a lot. Yes, it's every color of the rainbow. But in my defense, I had a plethora of $3 coupons, so I waited for the makeup to go 50% off at either K-Mart or Osco and bought most of them for less than $1. So I was able to use my long-lost colors this morning and enjoyed it immensely. I also got a straw from Kwik-Star that did not have slits in both ends (they seem to have the worst quality straws that are split at both ends, pinching your tongue if you're not careful while drinking). Hopefully these are signs that this will be a good day. I'm counting on it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Finding Things

My stuff is still in boxes. The clothes are mostly put away and organized and a majority of the shoes are findable, but other than that, a lot of what I own still sits in boxes in the living room. I'm still not sure where to put it all, and we've been busy enough that I haven't had time to really deal with it. But it frustrates me when I think of one thing I want and cannot locate. Like, for instance, eyeshadow. I cannot find the majority of my large collection of eyeshadow. Specifically my Birthday Cake and Glamourazzi ones. Every day I look somewhere. Most days I look in the same two boxes, hoping that miraculously something in those boxes will have changed in molecular structure and will now be the coveted eyeshadow of which I dream. Alas, it has yet to have happened. But I did find my box with most of my jewelry. Anklet season is upon us, my friends, and I could not be left behind.

So while the mystery of the missing ankle bracelet has been happily solved, the missing eyeshadows still suffer in limbo-land, waiting despondently to be used by their loving owner.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The City in the Middle

Okay, I typed this entire post with links and pictures, and it's gone. It was all nice and fun and happy, and now I'm ticked because I lost it all. I will, however, attempt to recreate it.

For seven years, I lived in Springfield, MO. My parents and brother (and for a while, both of my sisters) lived in Des Moines, IA. We found ourselves meeting occasionally in Kansas City to shop, to get fitted for our bridesmaid's dresses for Stephanie's wedding, to go to Worlds of Fun, and just to be able to see each other. Kansas City is awesome, from the Plaza... the Hallmark Visitor's Center to Crown Center to Union Station...

to Kansas Speedway to Evening Extraordinaire, the place where I first discovered what would become my wedding dress...

All in all, Kansas City is one of my favorite places. And we are leaving to go there today! Tomorrow, my parents, Tyler, and Steph are coming to hang out, check out the Hallmark employee store with my Hallmark-employed sister, and whatever else we can fit in (we can spend hours in a Hallmark). And on Saturday, I get to see my awesome friend, Jodi!

I am very excited for this weekend! This city girl is going to try very hard to get her fill of the big city. Have a great holiday weekend! (This time, I'm copying the html code before I try to publish this; hopefully I won't lose it again!!!)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A City Girl in the Country

I wonder if I will ever get used to living on a gravel road...miles from a store...or from civilization...out in the middle of nowhere. I am a city girl, people. I was mortified when I moved to Waverly, a.k.a. Town Without a Shopping Mall or Super Target. What is that about? And now I find myself living in an old church where I have to beg my phone to get a signal so I can call someone. I don't know if this way of life will just become normal. Or will it always seem different, like it just doesn't quite fit? I love to dress up, and I have a decent collection of dressy clothes, but it seems there are few opportunities to wear them anymore. Maybe Matt can take me to Bourbon Street tomorrow and I'll go all out. Maybe dressing up every night to go to dinner on the honeymoon gave me a taste of that life. Can I still be a city girl even if I don't live there? I feel like I'm being asked to be something I'm not, that I have no choice but to morph into an overalls-loving, ponytail-wearing, tractor-driving, makeup-less woman, and sooner rather than later, please. Well, I prefer to stay a city girl, to dress up when it's not required, to love rhinestones on my toes and a collection of lip gloss that rivals even Estee Lauder herself. I think I just will prove everyone wrong by loving my life even if it's not what I had pictured for myself. God's plan is different and ALWAYS best. These are some of my thoughts these days as the changes of my life continue to move along at a lightning-fast pace and I struggle to keep up with them.

Here's one more of my dress-up pictures from the honeymoon - from our romantic dinner on the beach night (where the wind was blowing 60 mph).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So anyway, about the honeymoon...

We haven't had a chance to sit down with anyone other than our parents to tell about the honeymoon! I'll try to write a condensed version. We spent a week at the El Dorado Seaside Suites about an hour south of Cancun, Mexico. Here is a picture of our room - it was amazing. That's the king size four-poster bed, and they made a towel swan on the bed when we arrived (and a rabbit later in the week). You can see a couple towels on the bottom right of the shot - that's the edge of the jacuzzi tub. We had a TV with a DVD player which came in handy at night and on the day we were severely sunburned.

For the first couple of days, we slept in, put on our swimsuits, ate breakfast, then went to the beach to lay around. We swam twice, but it was hard to actually "swim" as the water was about a foot deep in most places. We took out a paddleboat one day and got a few far away shots of the resort. We also snorkeled at the resort, but with the shallow water, there weren't too many fish to be seen.

We took one day trip to Xel-Ha (they pronounced it "Shell-ha"), an ecological water park. The snorkeling there was awesome - very beautiful fish. It was so fun to just hold hands and swim around, squeezing each other's hands and pointing when we saw something cool. (Awww!! Sorry so sappy - I can't help it.) Then we went to Tulum and saw the Mayan ruins there. Matt loved it (I let him pick our day trip since none of them really appealed to me, but this one was only 20 minutes from our resort and the one he really wanted was a couple of hours, so I was definitely more interested in this one). The picture above is a wide shot from Tulum. It was neat; I wish I had room to post more of Matt's great pictures. One day he will make a webpage with all our pictures, so those of you who like pics can check it out. One story - when we got the Xel-Ha, they "ask" you to turn in your regular sunscreen and give you 2 small packets of "biodegradable" sunscreen to use (supposedly safer for the animals). Maybe it is, but it was worth nothing in the way of protection from the sun! We even paid $17 for an extra 6 ounce bottle so we could be well-covered and reapplied once. Still burnt to a crisp. What a joke - I was so frustrated that we tried very hard to keep covered and not get burned, and their crock of a sunscreen product sabotaged us. I would put up the picture of my back, but it's not completely decent. Anyway, my back still has the lines on it; I may be permanently scarred.

We have lots more great memories; just not room to share it all! I printed a bunch of pictures as well, so you'll have to come to our house, look at the pictures, and hear all the stories then.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Random Points

I'm doing a little advertising. My husband finally posted after, I don't know, a month and a half. It's not wedding or honeymoon pictures or anything (yet), but if you want to read his six weird things, well, you just should. That's all.

We got Dish Network at our house this weekend. I stalled as long as I could; since I've gotten out of the habit of watching TV, I have enjoyed it and really contemplated whether or not it was necessary. But my love of NASCAR got the best of me, and since my husband was gone for the Saturday night race last night, it would have been too depressing to watch it at the OP by myself. So I gave in. Hopefully I will not succumb to the "sit in front of the TV flipping channels and doing nothing" temptation. There's plenty to do, so I don't think it will be a problem. But we have DVR now, too, and let me tell you, that's pretty amazing stuff. I was hoping for a spectacular crash last night so I could rewind and watch it over and over as many times as I wanted. But it was a short track, so crazy crashes don't happen as much. Lots of them, but not big, spectacular ones.

I don't like being home alone. If you lived here, you might not, either. It's huge!! And the heat is officially off (we have a wood-burning furnace), so it's fuh-reezing right now. (Hopefully if it's freezing when it's 70 outside, it will be just right when it's 90 outside. I hope.) Anyway, it's just so big, and I realized when I was contemplating cooking last night that having the kitchen in the basement is pretty depressing. It's just so dark and I have no motivation to go down there and make something when it's just me. Maybe I'll get used to it. Who knows.

I no longer like sleeping by myself. It's only been one month, but it's weird to sleep alone. And it's lonely. I waited 28 years to have someone to sleep with (and I don't mean like that, you freaks), so I figure that's enough time to sleep alone without adding more days to it while we're married. I'm sure I'll get over it one of these days, but I may be one of those people who never really likes it when her husband is gone. You're all going to tell me that it's still the "honeymoon" phase, but I know myself, and it's possible that I just won't ever really like it. Unless I'm ticked. Even then, I still have a strange desire to be near him. I would think that logically if I was mad, I would want him to go away, but I don't feel like that. Weird. I'm not adding that to my weird list. It's already grown from 6 to at least 10 things in my head, and I'm less and less convinced of my own normality.

Wow. I rambled a lot. It's to make up for all the times I've been a blogging slacker. Maybe it will inspire YOU to write something, too!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Where I Am From

It's been a while since I started a draft of this post, but there's been all kinds of fun stuff these days over at Heth's blog. This one seemed very fun, so I'm going to try it. I hope you will, too!

I am from kerosene heaters, from Fords and homemade pizzas.
I am from three girls, one mother, and one father with one bathroom.
I am from blooming lilac bushes in the backyard every May, from the large climbing tree in the backyard.
I am from baking and decorating Christmas cookies and laughing loudly at everything, from Charles and Nora and Irene.
I am from the land of Sunday afternoon naps and "The Cosby Show" every Thursday evening, from coordinating dresses made by Mom every Christmas and Easter.
From "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and "don't roll your eyes at me!".
I am from a line of lovers of Jesus. From some who committed their lives to Him at an early age and ones who have lived for Him for decades. From proof of His faithfulness through generations.
I'm from Des Moines and England, from roast beef heaven and breakfast dinner and the best mashed potatoes in the world.
From the buffalo nickel swallowed by Beth in middle-of-the-night sister games, the 32-mile holiday bike ride, and the broken arm resulting from Mom and Dad's late-night living room dance moves.
I am from the "Be Nice to Me, It's My Birthday" pin, from the box of pictures chronicling all major events in our lives, and from much laughter in reminiscing through them.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Weirdness Abounds

It seems like it's been a while since I've posted a meme, so I'm accepting Heth's tag and posting 6 weird things about me.

1. I stock up on everything - EVERYTHING. Cereal, shower gel, Wallflowers, Crystal Light...the list goes on. It would not be out of the question to have 10 of any of these items in my home at one time. I don't think it's all that weird, but to the non-stocker-uppers (ahem, my husband), it is bizarre behavior.

2. If I find a super bargain, I love to keep the tag from the item in memory of my great deal. (Sometimes I secretly think that if someone doesn't believe it was "only three dollars!!", then I will have the joy of producing my physical evidence.)

3. If I see a series of numbers (address, phone number, dates, etc.), I add them up in my head to see if they all add up to 9. For instance, if all the digits add up to 27, you add the 2 and the 7 together and get 9! I don't know why I'm obsessed with them adding to 9. I do believe it's some form of OCD. But it used to be a lot worse, so I must be getting better, right?

4. I am a multi-tasker to a fault. I can only one thing for so long, and then I am compelled to move to another task, even if it is only for a few minutes. I can't JUST be doing one thing at a time.

5. I don't like animals. Again, I don't think it's weird, but apparently lots of people like animals and they all think I'm strange.

6. I edit and spell-check everything in my head - commercials, newspapers, ads, anything I see is subject to my scrutinizing glare. And I am generally only satisfied when I have found a mistake of some sort to correct.

All right, stop thinking I'm a freak and tell us 6 weird things about you. I tag the following bloggers (using that term loosely since we haven't heard from some of them in ages, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and see if they resurface):

Adonai Jedi


Natalie Joy



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Is It Possible?

How can one single person have so much stuff? And why didn't I take pictures of it all in boxes before I began unpacking? You would have been impressed with the large amounts of stuff one person can accumulate in 28 years - no husband, no kids, just me and my stuff. I have done a pretty good job of getting rid of things I don't need and trying to pare down my definition of "need."

For example, I have approximately 30 to-go coffee mugs. That's not even a joke. Plus 3 at work. Now, I have not had a working coffee pot for months, so now that we got 2 for the wedding (woo-hoo! - now I have to pick which one to keep), I will be able to make coffee at home and take it with me. But still...30 mugs? I just keep buying them when they're on clearance or just look super cute, and I never realized just how many I had. Now, the pack rat mentality goes hand-in-hand with my thoroughly sentimental nature - "I can't get rid of THAT mug; I bought it when I was with Christy!" "I can't throw that one away - it's from the Speed the Light Banquet!" And this is simply one small example of my inability to discard anything.

Well, I am quickly deciding that I can't keep all these things, so I have a rapidly-growing box of perfectly fine mugs, cups, etc. but things that will not fit in my kitchen or are simply not needed. Matt wants to do a garage sale, but when I decide to get rid of something, I want it OUT OF MY HOUSE!! I don't want to keep a box for months until we can arrange a garage sale. I want it GONE - given away or taken to Trinkets and Togs. So we'll see if he can convince me to keep it around or not.

Other than that, I'm doing my best to set up the kitchen and have started working on my closet as well. I will be SO excited to put all the bathroom stuff away one of these days; that's one of my favorite tasks when moving. I LOVE having the bathroom with all the clean towels put away, 10 bottles of shower gel neatly lined up in a row, multiple bottles of lotion from which to choose, easy to find and within arm's will be a wonderful day. Matt and Vern are doing a great job - they laid 2/3 of the sub-floor last night. On to the shower!! I'm very proud of him, by the way. We both thought remodeling the bathroom wouldn't be nearly as daunting as it has turned out to be, but he's read and learned lots on everything from plumbing to sub-floors to lighting...he is doing a very thorough job, and I'm impressed with all he has learned even if I understand very little of it. I can't wait to see the progression over the next few weeks!! There will definitely be pictures of our finished bathroom. We may even turn on the heated floors and sleep there to celebrate.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No More Wedding Countdowns!

It just doesn't seem appropriate to say "it's over" when it really feels like everything has just begun. But the wedding is done! I do not have the time or space to recap it all, but suffice it to say that it was the perfect day for me. I loved everything about it. We will probably put together a website for the pictures as there is no way I can post them all on the blog. But this being one of my very favorites (a shot of the recessional), I elected to post it anyway. It was so awesome to see so many of you there; it was very special that you were able to share the day with us. We'll have to blog about the honeymoon, too, since we got to do so many fun things in Mexico and, of course, we have a bunch (I think about 300) of pictures from the resort and our day trip as well. But for now, I just wanted to say hi, we're back, and now we're in full swing to get moved into the house. It was so hard to leave paradise, but it is good to be home.

Monday, March 27, 2006


I know it's not a word, and I have a hard time dealing with ANYTHING that is grammatically incorrect. But this is my world this week - my reality is very surreal. Five days!! Five days until the day I have been planning for 3 and a half months and dreaming of the remaining 28 years of my life. So, how is it going? Pretty well, actually. I have odds and ends to tie up, but it will come together and I will be able to enjoy it knowing that I've done the best job I can do to plan it.

I just wanted to ask any of you who will be at the wedding or reception or anywhere around that if you want to bring your digital camera and snap shots, I would love to have any candids of anything that happens that day. Our photographer will get good posed shots, but he doesn't really do much for candids. So that's an open invitation for ANYONE to just take pictures! I love them and could never have enough, especially on the wedding day. I wanted to have someone to follow me around that day, but I haven't had time to make that happen, and hopefully the bridesmaids and my Mom will snap pics while we're getting ready, etc. It will work out; I just figured I'd throw it out there since some of you have super nice cameras and like taking pics anyway!! Okay, this is likely the last time I'll blog as a single woman. Woo-hoo!! I am SOOO excited and ready for this week! YEAH!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Iron Sharpening Iron

My Life Journal really touched me today, so I thought I would take a chance to share since I have not yet done so on my blog.

"Iron Sharpening Iron"
1 Corinthinans 5:12-13 "I'm not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don't we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house."

Observation: As imperfect people, it can be difficult to attempt to hold others accountable for their sins. We know in our hearts that we are as sinful as they are and as much in need of the grace of God as they are. But God tells us as a community of believers, as people who are all committed to following God together, we have the right and responsibility to hold each other to God's standards for our lives.

Application: As a leader, this can be pretty easily understood - we must hold those in our congregation to follow the life God has set before them. I'm thinking today more as a friend, a sister, a future wife - of those personal relationships I have with other God followers. Do I hold them to the challenges God has set before us all? Do I encourage them to live selfless lives of loving and serving others? Do I model that? Do I open myself up for scrutiny so thath they would do the same for me? How honest am I about the struggles I face and enlisting the help of others to gain victory over them? If I want to live in accountable relationships, I should initiate them and ask the people I love and who love me to show that love by challenging me in the areas where I need it most.

Prayer: Father, I am convicted today that I can do a much better job of holding the people I love to the standards you have set for us, to following you not just in word but in our thoughts and our actions. I see that a good step for me in moving that direction would be to set myself up first and ask others to hold me accountable. So, Father, please give me wisdom to know what important things I can work on to be a better follower of You and who can and will hold me to those standards firmly and lovingly.

This was really good for me today; we convince ourselves into thinking we can overcome our sin on our own - "I'll do better next time" or "I hate this feeling, so I know I won't succomb to this again." If we are truly intent on winning the battles we fight, why not enlist more troops to join us? Who among us could not use the support and encouragement of others involved in the same war we are waging? I want real, honest relationships that not only make me feel the warm fuzzies inside, but are unflinchingly honest with the love of Christ and want to see me grow and change to be more like Him.

12 Days and Counting

My titles now revolve around "The Countdown." So yes, Beefy, I guess I write my titles first. The last 7 days have been insanely productive. I worked on wedding stuff every night last week (Mon-Thurs) and got the ceremony finalized; program typed, edited, and finalized; the cleaning list for Saturday typed up; vows started; lined up some help for setting up/tearing down at both receptions...and more. I can't even remember it all. I picked up a lot of things in Waterloo on Thursday. I even had time Friday to drive to Dubuque and back with Matt!

Saturday was AWESOME!! From my count, it was 8 women plus myself, and we cleaned the place from top to bottom (they even cleaned around the remodel zone as much as possible). I cannot believe how it was transformed in a matter of hours. I could not possibly say thank you enough times to express how grateful I am for all the help. Even a couple of hours made a huge difference in my state of mind leading up to the wedding. I also printed and began assembling all the programs that day. So for now, I'm feeling really great. It seems like mostly odds and ends need done; nothing too big or overwhelming on my part. Which is an incredible feeling. I'm sure I'll figure out ways to fill the time and it will go by faster than I can imagine. But I'm also grateful that I had last week to push myself and stress out; it is allowing me to enjoy the next 12 days as much as possible. This is one of those times that I am really grateful for being an organizer/planner type of person.

12 very short days to go!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

18 Days - are you KIDDING me??

I guess it's been almost a week since I posted. I don't really know what to write about, but I thought I should post something. I've been getting some wedding stuff done; Deb and the ladies at Love & Lace put all my flowers together on Thursday. They are insanely gorgeous. I'm very excited. I picked up my dress on Saturday, and we have decided not to hem it (we were able to order it in a petite), so all my Mom has to do is a French bustle. What else? I am typing list upon list of things to do and trying to call or e-mail as many people as I can think of to help out with different things. It takes time to organize all this stuff, but I am hopeful that I can get a lot done this week and next week and then have the "wedding week" to pull together last minute things and try to enjoy my last few days as a single woman. :-) (NO, silly, I'm not going to party or anything; I should try sleeping smack-dab in the middle of the bed, though.) So that's the update. I am somewhat concerned about getting all the programs put together by the end of next I may have a frantic last-minute program assembly party. We'll see how the week goes. Yeah for cleaning day on Saturday, though! That will be a wonderful occasion.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby!

July 16. That's when this picture was taken; this, the first picture of us. You were standing a few feet away from me in the first picture your mom randomly snapped, and I said, "That's not a picture of us; this is a picture of us!" And so it began.

In all my years of waiting and wondering, praying and asking God to just bring you along already, never could I have imagined what I was waiting for. How could God make someone so perfectly just for me? It was as though He fashioned each of us so intricately as to only fit with each other; the more I get to know you, the more ways I know this to be true.

I also never realized what true love was really all about - how much I would have to give in order to love you, but how much that giving would fill me with joy and deepen our bond. I didn't know the vastness of the sacrifices to be made in knowing another person so deeply; giving up my rights to myself, and knowing that our journey toward becoming one would be filled with a new understanding each day of love as God intended it to be. Love that's completely selfless and relentless in its grace and forgiveness and acceptance. I've learned to love in ways I could not comprehend before you.

So, on this your birthday, I thank God above for the day He created you. I am thankful for the lessons you have learned on your journey to meet me, lessons that have made you the man you are today. I am thankful for the love you have given to me - the depth, the honesty, the tenderness, and the patience it contains. I am amazed at the way you see me - the eyes of love that see me the way God does and just the way He made me to be. I have (on rare occasions) wondered what my life would be like without you. And 8 months after our first date, I have no point of reference for my life without you in it. You are intertwined into everything that I am.

So here's to a future of house remodeling projects, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, trips by train, NASCAR races, monkey bread, love bank points, Christmas decorations, enough Diet Pepsi to fill the earth's oceans, and gazing at the stars from our backyard. And many, many, many more birthdays.

Happy birthday, baby. I love you lots and lots.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

History Tells the Tale...

So I finished one (rather large, in my opinion) project on Friday night.

The infamous wedding slide show.

Lovely T scanned in all our pictures, and I put them in order and chose the songs, how long to play each, and all that fun stuff. We didn't really get to look through all of each other's pictures because of the time factor, so we went through our own pics and shared the ones we wanted to show each other for now. It's really fun to look at all the little kid pictures. Matt has some adorable ones, but you'll just have to wait another 25 days to see them. Well, most of them. I find it fascinating that our current interests, hobbies, whatever began to show themselves at an early age. So here's my baby and his fascination with trains (if you were not aware of this, you have missed an entire part of who Matt is). Isn't he adorable? I can't get over it - you'll see in all the rest of the pictures, too. And for me, well, suffice it to say that I remember many occasions of playing church as a kid. Who knew...? (My mom suggested that Matt PhotoShop out the large stack of papers next to me or label them "sermon notes.")

By the way, our red doors are now on the front of our house! You should drive by and check them out. Maybe you can even see them without turning onto our street. :-) They rule!! Thanks, Daddy; you're the best!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

41 Useless Facts about Me

Amie posted a list of interesting facts about herself and asked us to do the same, so I will attempt it. I'll see if I can match her 41.

1. I lived in the same house for the first 17 1/2 years of my life.
2. I have two sisters (26 and 24 years old) and a brother who is 12 years old (I am the oldest at 28).
3. I taught myself to like coffee by beginning with Quik Trip cappuccinos with friends in college.
4. I attended a Christian school from Kindergarten through 9th grade.
5. I was my 8th grade class valedictorian and made a big speech at the ceremony.
6. I was a spelling bee queen growing up - I won multiple area-wide spelling bees for our Christian school association. My family traveled to Indianapolis twice so I could compete in regional spelling bees. (Wow, that sounds like the ultimate in geekiness as I type it out.)
7. I was 15 the first time I flew on an airplane (when Pastor Jim took us on a missions trip to Tijuana, Mexico).
8. My mom and I entered a Mother/Daughter Look-a-Like Contest at the IA State Fair (probably in 1995 or 1996) and finished in 6th place.
9. I graduated from high school a year early and was 17 when I went to college.
10. My mother was an in-home child care provider for a number of my growing up years.
11. My parents seriously contemplated moving to Colorado when I was in elementary school.
12. My parents have 4 siblings between them, and every one of them lives in Des Moines.
13. My sisters and I all graduated from college in Springfield, MO.
14. I lived on-campus for the first two years of college and off-campus for the last two.
15. I traveled with a drama ministry team for all 4 years of my college career.
16. I took high school courses when I was in 8th grade (which, in part, allowed me to graduated from high school a year early). And I still had the highest GPA in my class, enabling me to be the valedictorian. I showed those suckers!
17. My favorite birthday dinner when I was growing up was "roast beef heaven" - a slice of bread with roast beef on top and mashed potatoes and gravy on that. I think it's called an open-faced roast beef sandwich, but I like "roast beef heaven" myself.
18. My mom made most of our clothes growing up; the plus was getting to "design" your own things, choose the color, fabric, etc. The negative was having homemade clothes all the time; I think it seems worse now than it did then. Until about 6th grade, anyway.
19. I never went to a single dance in high school - not even prom!
20. I competed in the regional Music With a Purpose one year in piano solo, so I had to have the piece memorized. I was on the last "page" in my head and I blanked and had to stop. One of my most embarrassing moments ever.
21. I worked at Long John Silver's for over 3 years and returned for Christmas and summer breaks after I went to college.
22. I was the fastest drive-thru worker and cashier ever - I always figured out the change in my head before the register even told me.
23. I spilled blazing hot mop water on my foot at LJS on the same day I bought my new Ford Probe GT.
24. I have read almost every Nancy Drew, Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Sweet Valley High book ever written through 1993.
25. I used to sneak a flashlight in my room to read after bedtime.
26. We used to have a bowl of cereal before bed most nights as kids.
27. I have never broken a bone or been hospitalized overnight.
28. I hated NASCAR all through high school.
29. I painted with my dad once to earn some money.
30. My parents have a garage that has never housed a running car.
31. I started Weight Watchers in September of 2003 and lost about 60 pounds in one year.
32. I CLEPped out of 12 hours in college course credit - practically a full semester!
33. I woke up every Christmas morning of my entire 28 years in my parent's house (the home in which I grew up) until last year.
34. My parents switched churches when I was 10 years old so that we could attend a strong youth group with a good youth pastor. (If they had not done so, I would not have met Jim and Sharon...would not have gone to the college I did...who knows from there what would have happened?)
35. I led worship at the Assemblies of God Headquarters chapel service twice. (About 700 people attended each week, including department heads and the Board of Administration; talk about intimidating!)
36. I took two conducting courses in college and have the knowledge and ability to conduct a choir (which I love doing, by the way).
37. I chose my major at Central Bible College (Administration of Christian Education) at least 50% because it was one of the few majors that did not require Homiletics II (writing sermons and preaching in front of the class and professor for a grade).
38. I am left-handed.
39. The extent of my sports career was one year of volleyball in 7th grade.
40. My father was my first and only piano teacher (other than the one semester of lessons I took as a college freshman - that pretty much ended when she told me I had to keep my nails really short).
41. I once took an unofficial IQ test and scored a 132.

Is that it? I did it? Wow. Once you start thinking of stuff, it just flows I guess. Okay. I hope that was worth your time.

Oh, one more.

42. I know how to swing a hammer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Our first February 18

My first Valentine's Day with Matt was spent feeling quite ill, eating a bland grilled chicken breast, and watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." However, our actual Valentine's Day celebration (February 18) was phenomenal. I bought a tablecloth, napkins, placemats, and even dinner and dessert plates that all matched at Target. Have I mentioned that store rocks my world? So I set our table, put up red and white Christmas lights, lit a bunch of candles, and set up a frame with a bunch of pictures of us.

I made brownies from scratch with peanut butter chips in lieu of the walnuts (did you know they're so much better than boxed ones?) and chicken fettuccine alfredo with cheesy garlic bread. Matt doesn't drink any kind of fruit juice but orange and doesn't like sparkling ones, so we had Hawaiian Punch in our cute wine glasses. I have to say, the food went over well. We ate the leftovers for two days.

Matt planned the remainder of the evening, so we headed upstairs. I heard much banging around when I was downstairs cooking, so I was curious as to what he had done. The picture above shows the winter scene he created - a 3-dimensional fireplace with real wood, red tissue paper, and a heater fan blowing behind it. We sat on the fuzzy blanket and played checkers. Not just regular checkers, though - that would be too easy for my baby. If you jumped someone's checker, you looked on the bottom and they had to do whatever it said. For example, I sang the national anthem. And yes, I know all the words (NASCAR's good for so many different things). Matt acted out a movie scene. I did the robot (not well). Matt acted like a monkey. It was the most entertaining game of checkers I have ever played. I was smoking him until the I have to admit that he won? Grrr.

He also printed off some dating disaster stories and read them to me. It was overall such a great night. One of my favorite dates (so far). I am so grateful that I have such a creative man - sometimes it's maddening, but it's good for fun, new romantic ideas!

37 DAYS!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Back in Business

Being sick took about 5 days out of my wedding planning time. And now we have 40 DAYS TO GO, people! I thought I was doing well, but I'm not sure anymore. Making all the big decisions early (reception, cake, attendants, etc.) feels good and makes you feel that you've accomplished a lot, but as time goes on I realize that the details will be the time-consuming, insane part of this. Things just float around in my head all the time -

Why can't I find the matching flower girl basket for the ring bearer pillow I bought? Will Hobby Lobby ever have it or will I have to pick out something else?

Will I be able to find enough guys to help move and set up all the chairs and tables at our house? What about setting up chairs at the church? Do people really want to help with stuff like this or are they just saying it to be nice?

Do the bridesmaids have to carry flowers? Do the groomsmen have to wear boutonnieres? What if I don't want either?

When am I going to take in the deposit for the cake?

Is it possible to find shoes that are cute, comfortable, and not over $50?

These are the few questions that currently popped into my head...I understand now why people hire wedding coordinators. Someone needs to know what they're doing, and I don't often feel like that someone is me. I do know that it will all work out - everyone I've asked to help with anything has been very kind and more than willing. I just have to figure out what needs to be done! :-) So, we're moving on past the sickness and getting on with life as a bride. By the way, I don't know if I actually lost weight from being sick, but things are fitting looser, which rocks. Seriously.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wedding Stuff

I don't even know what to write today. A week is just too long to not have a new blog. We went to do some wedding registry stuff for the past 2 weekends, and it has been pretty fun for the most part. At Bed, Bath, and Beyond, they told us that you should register for 2-3 gifts per guest. I don't know if that includes children (since we will likely have the highest percentage of children at our wedding than anyone...anywhere...ever). But we are guesstimating at anywhere from 300-400 people for the ceremony. So, is he telling me that we have to pick out anywhere from 600-1,200 registry items? We are somewhere around 250 now, I believe. I know I won't be able to get Matt to care long enough to pick that many more things. They said that people like choices, though, so we need to have enough things that they can have a good selection. So we'll just have to keep checking it and add as we go along. We haven't fought about any of the choices yet, either, so I'd say we're doing pretty well. 51 days to go!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My Jesus

My blog today is not complicated. Because I can only do simple today. Have you ever had a day where nothing on earth got you through except knowing that Jesus was there? I have certain songs I will listen to on repeat for an entire day just to remind that Jesus is there, and He loves me. Here are the lyrics from today's song of choice, "What a Friend I've Found":

What a friend I've found,
Closer than a brother.
I have felt Your touch,
More intimate than lovers.

Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, friend forever.

What a hope I've found,
More faithful than a mother.
It would break my heart
To ever lose each other.

Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, friend forever.

The simplicity speaks to me today. And on some days, simply saying Jesus over and over is all we can do. So I will. And be so thankful for the hope I have in Him.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More obsessed than even I knew...

Your Musical Tastes Match: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

See his whole playlist here (iTunes required)
I was just going to do this to see the results, but when I saw what I ended up with, I knew it was too good not to be posted. What did I say that was THAT redneck? I don't know, but this is funny. Dale Earnhardt Jr. At least I don't hate him. Matt, don't say a WORD about the kind of car he drives...this is only about music. I should go check out his playlist now.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Video Game Queen

For being a girl, I'm pretty good at video games. I think it's all the piano that gives me good hand-eye coordination. So today we ate lunch at the OP, and they have a Ms. Pac-Man video game. I played 4 times, and the one time I played 2-player against Bill, I beat the Hi-Score by about 2,000 points!! It must be the competition that brings it out in me. People must not play that game too much because I beat it about the third time through. That's not much warming up. But I was feeling pretty good about it. So I figured I would share it with all of you.

Last night, I listened to Chris Rice's "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)" at least 30 times on repeat. Have you heard that song? It's amazing. What a reminder that no matter what season we are in life, it all comes back to Jesus.

One more thing - we started our wedding registry this weekend at Bed, Bath & Beyond. We picked out a formal china pattern that is so amazing; I absolutely love it. It was $29.99 a place setting, so I was happy with the price, too. So when I looked up our registry on their website yesterday, it came up at $14.99!! I was so shocked; I called my mom immediately, remembering that she wanted to buy our china for us. Apparently if you find it in a store, it will ring up at that price, but if they have to order it in from the manufacturer, they will charge $29.99 plus shipping. This is the best part for the bargain shopper in me - to now call to every BB&B known to man with a Fine China department and see if I can hunt down 12 place settings. If you clicked on the link, you'll see that Dillard's charges $80 per place setting, so the $30 is a great price itself. But the $14.99 is too much to pass up. I don't know how much luck we'll have, but it sure will be fun to try!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chalk One Up for My Baby

I wanted everyone (who has time) to check out what Matt wrote in response to a blog I read regarding abortion/war/the death penalty all rolled into one. I get really emotional about these issues and can have a difficult time clearly stating why I believe what I do, but he did an amazing job of clarifying the core issue in these situations, which is that evil exists, and God desires that we do our best to protect the INNOCENT, whether that be through outlawing abortion or warring against those who make it their business to take innocent lives. That's my really short summary, but he does a superb job of outlining the points in a clear, concise way. Excellent, honey. I'm by far your biggest fan.

Birth Order

You Are Likely an Only Child

At your darkest moments, you feel frustrated.
At work and school, you do best when you're organizing.
When you love someone, you tend to worry about them.

In friendship, you are emotional and sympathetic.
Your ideal careers are: radio announcer, finance, teaching, ministry, and management.
You will leave your mark on the world with organizational leadership, maybe as the author of self-help books.
I'm not an only child, but the rest of this is fairly accurate. Bizarre. Sometimes firstborn children and only children can have similar characteristics, so I will cut them some slack.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Birthday #2

I need to finish my birthday list since I only had 16 out of 28 items. So here is the conclusion:
17. Latin ladies - the beautiful roses my baby gave me for my birthday. The picture doesn't do them justice; they are light pink on the outside and dark pink/red on the inside. Insanely beautiful.
18. New shirt - I bought a new shirt at Target the week before, and it is always fun to wear something new.
19. Matt's present - could I have a more creative man? He checked into buying me a few shares of stock in ISC (International Speedway Corporation). It's the company owned by the people who founded NASCAR, and they own about half the tracks they race on each week. He even asked me first, though, to make sure I would want that. How thoughtful is he? Does he realize how high he is setting the bar for the rest of his life? :-)
20. Shopping - I bought a few things at Old Navy that were 50% off the clearance price. And Matt even stayed by the dressing room to watch me try on clothes (after I begged). It was fun, though - I like to know if he likes something or not. He generally does like what I pick out, but it was still fun to put on a little fashion show. I liked it. I hope it wasn't too torturous for him.
21. More shopping - I went to the mall with my Mom; she bought me something for the wedding night, I bought a couple more things at, um, that store; I bought a shirt I had loved a few months ago when it was new at Limited (got it for $9.99, thank you very much, regularly $60) and two other tops for $6.99.
22. Cookies - we had cookies for a snack since we weren't hungry enough for lunch. Yum
23. Dinner - my grandparents and two aunts/uncles showed up for dinner. That was really fun; we showed them our engagement pictures and pictures of my flowers from that morning.
24. Dinner again - the shake was amazing - chocolate espresso. Oh. My. Word.
25. Phone calls - my friend Christy called at 8:30 a.m. - first person I talked to. Then my sisters both called in the afternoon. Maggie called. Leann called. It was nice to know that they all remembered me and took the time to call.
26. Cards - I had my Mom and Dad's card to read, Vern and Cyndi's, and Tyler's when I woke up that morning. But by far the best was Matt's. He made a little drawing even though his hand was impaired. But what he wrote was amazing, and I've read it multiple times every day since then. I carry it around with me so I can read it whenever I want. I'm blessed to have a man who is so eloquent with words, especially since I am one who appreciates that gift very much.
27. Driving - We had over 4 hours in the car during the trip to Des Moines and back. But it was good time to be able to talk, especially about the books we're reading for pre-marital counseling. I always appreciate deep, insightful conversation, and the books give us those things to dialogue about. So I enjoyed that time with Matt very much.
28. Overall - I have for years marked my birthday with some thought of, "Another year goes down in the record books, and I'm still single." And with some bit of wondering if this will be the year that will change. And this one was. So I was (and am) incredibly grateful to have Matt to share the day with. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do that day because I have high expectations for birthdays, but I had come to the conclusion that it didn't matter what we did as long as I got to spend it with Matt. And it was wonderful and special. I could not be more grateful for the man God has blessed me with this year. What an amazing 28th year of life it was. I am so excited to see what the next one holds.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Okay, I'll do it.

Hannah tagged me specifically, so I'll go for this one.

Four jobs you had in your life.

1. Long John Silver's. I was good - I didn't even need the cash register to tell me how much change to give people. I loved almost everything except the skanky guys ogling you in the drive through.

2. Dillard's. I loved working in the home department - towels, bedding, place settings, pots and was all so wonderful.

3. Administrative Assistant to the National Youth Director, Assemblies of God Headquarters, Springfield, MO. Much fun and much stress. I made amazing friends through this job and learned many great skills. And it was fun to walk around at big youth conventions and feel all important with the radio clipped on my belt and headset on my head. Yeah, we thought we were so bad.

4. Children's Pastor. Best job - I just got a note on Wednesday that reads, "Roses are red, violets are blue; Open Bible rocks and so do you." Does it get any better than that? Kids loving church and seeing the love of Jesus in me. Amazing.

Four movies you could watch over and over.

1. Raising Helen. So great, and I love the 3 sisters!

2. You've Got Mail. I watched part of it on TBS last night!

3. White Christmas.

4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Four places you've lived.

1. Des Moines, IA. I lived in the same house for my first 17 1/2 years of life.

2. CBC campus, Springfield, MO. I'm glad I lived on campus for two years - it helped me to feel connected, make friends more quickly, and enjoy the craziness of late night card games and shaving cream fights on campus. (I know you're thinking, "Those psycho Bible college students; what will they think of next?")

3. Lake Shore Apartments, Springfield, MO. One of my 3 apartment dwellings in Springfield and the nicest and newest by far. We had a poolside apartment (yeah, it ruled). They had a hot tub and workout room, too! And the last time I had a dishwasher.

4. Waverly, IA. My home for almost 4 years.

Four TV shows you love to watch.

I do not really watch TV very much anymore. I'll watch reruns or DVDs of these:

1. Friends

2. King of Queens

3. Alias

4. What Not to Wear (hardly ever catch it, but it's great)

Four places you've been on vacation.

1. Indianapolis, IN.

2. Seattle, WA.

3. Washington, D.C.

4. New York, NY. (#3 and #4 in the same year!)

Four websites you visit daily.



3. My friend's blogs (listed on the sidebar)

4. Maybe not every day, but

Four of your favorite foods

1. Monkey bread

2. Papa John's or Casey's pizza

3. Grandma's corn casserole

4. My chicken enchiladas

Four places you'd rather be right now

1. On our honeymoon in Cancun!

2. Seeing my sisters in Springfield.

3. Seeing Maggie in Eugene!

4. With Matt. Always.

Four bloggers you are tagging

1. Natalie

2. Shawn (he won't even see this, so why not?)

3. Amy Carson (come on girl, you can do it!)

4. Anyone else who reads this and hasn't done it yet

My Birthday

I just got on Tina for not blogging this week, and then I realized I haven't blogged since Saturday. What a slacker am I. So I guess I'll follow Heather's lead and write 28 things about my 28th birthday (even though it's tomorrow and hasn't happened yet):

1. It's a Saturday! Yeah!
2. I get to see my parents and Tyler.
3. The last time I saw my parents on my birthday, they drove to Springfield, and surprised me when I was playing piano in chapel! I saw my little brother running in the lobby, and I knew it was him! I started crying right there on the stage. I was sick that day, but it was so cool that they drove SIX HOURS to surprise me. Wow.
4. We're driving to Des Moines for the day.
5. I think I'm making monkey bread for breakfast. Although I am debating now on whether or not to stop at Panera for coffee and pastries instead. Yum.
6. The only wedding thing I want to do all day: make the decision on where we will register. We have to get that figured out!
7. I HOPE I get my birthday card from my mom in the mail today (she sent it Wednesday).
8. For two years now, I have saved any early birthday cards I received and opened them in the morning when I woke up. It's a great way to start the day, especially when you live by yourself.
9. I am going to Jordan Creek to shop!
10. Maggie called me last night and said Old Navy has half off all the clearance prices, so I hope I can get Matt to come watch me try on clothes. It IS my birthday, after all.
11. Probably one way or the other, we will get to stop at the new gas station on the Eldora exit off I-35 and use the ballistic hand dryers. They rule. It's a Kum-n-Go - I want to say Exit 133.
12. My Grandma sent me $20 this week and a card in her barely legible British handwriting. So cute.
13. This is my last birthday before I get married!
14. I usually have a few friends who remember, so I'll look forward to talking to a few of them tomorrow.
15. Heth's right - this is a lot of things to think of. Maybe I should have waited until AFTER the birthday. Hmmm. I'm halfway through now...
16. I get to spend it with Matt. This will be my first birthday with a "special friend." Ha ha...seriously, never had a boyfriend for a birthday, and now I get a fiance and get to spend the WHOLE day with him. That is SO super-duper cool!

Okay, here's the plan. I will continue the list tomorrow since I highly doubt I'll be able to come up with 12 more (relevant) items today. But it's a start.

And since there were some questions, here is the picture from my birthday one year ago. The fun never ends when a cop's around...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nice to meet you, I'm Ms. Pigpen

Isn't that the name of the gross, dirty boy from Charlie Brown? If it is, then I should be his sister. I just read Tina's new post, and it reminds me of the current state of my living quarters. I, like her, am not sure why I'm choosing to admit it, but my house (apartment, whatever it is) has been for at least one month in a perpetual state of disarray. I understand that most of you reading this have children, quite possibly multiple numbers of them. You are saying to yourself, "How does one single woman make much of a mess? It's just not possible." Oh, my friends, it is. I don't feel like going home and actually taking the pictures, but let me just say that I live in a pig sty at the moment.

When I walk in the door from work, the options facing me each night (that I don't have other plans) are as follows:
a. plan a wedding
b. read books for pre-marital counseling
c. work out to lose those stinkin' 5 (okay, 10) pounds before the wedding
d. clean the house

Guess what wins? Usually (a) or (b), occasionally (c). Never (d). So I live with bridal magazines, wedding planners, bills, and pictures covering the kitchen table; a box of invitation paper and more pictures on the stove; pre-marital counseling books, a couple's memory book, and yet more pictures on the coffee table; a bunch of wedding flowers, frames, and more invitation supplies strewn about the kitchen floor; a kitchen sink full of every bowl I own and other cups and flatware. And every other surface available is covered with random items that I cannot currently think of but drive me absolutely crazy. The Christmas decorations are still up, which adds to the chaos and clutter. I believe I am resigning myself to the fact that there will be little progress made to remedy this state of chaos until...well, I'm not sure. We return from the honeymoon on April 9, so...maybe April 10? 11? I don't know. I will have to move out at some point, and I will need to clean the place when I do so. It would be nice to have some of it accomplished before then. But for now, I must stop thinking about this or my head will explode.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Horse Sale Stinks

I'm so bummed - I just found out that the Horse Sale is the same weekend as our wedding, which will make it nearly impossible to get a hotel block for our out-of-town guests here in Waverly. Grrr...I need to get on the horn and call about a room block in Cedar Falls before I'm out of luck there, too. I really don't want people to have to stay at the Star Motel.

I gave my blog to some friends tonight, so if you're reading this, hi to Hannah, Marissa, Kasey, and Camille! :-) Love you girls.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hannah is awesome!

Hannah took some engagement pictures for us on Sunday. I wish I could post them all because they turned out great, but I can't. So here's a cute one - pretty natural-looking. I wouldn't mind cropping it down to our faces and using it for the "engagement" photo if we put one in the paper. There are a lot of good ones, so thanks so much, Hannah!! I'll be sending you a CD of them as soon as I get your address.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Just stuff

I suppose the wedding preparations are now in full swing. It's pretty insane, but I'm getting some big decisions made, so that's a relief. Big announcement: the colors are hot pink and silver!! Yeah - I am SO excited. I did a mock-up invitation today, so I think I'll be ordering the components tomorrow. Picked out fabric for the bridesmaid's dresses and the pattern as well.

Today was amusing - at the dentist's office, I mentioned to the dental hygienist that I was tired. She asked if the holidays were busy, and I said that they were and that I am also planning a wedding. She immediately asked a million questions - where is it, when is it, what colors, where's the reception, and so on. She's been married for 6 years, so it wasn't as though she was living vicariously. It just seems that whenever the word "wedding" is mentioned to a woman, she responds with such enthusiasm and gusto it's as though she's asking about her best friend's wedding or something. We are so enamored with weddings and everything surrounding them - it all comes back to that desire in the heart of every woman to be someone's princess, to be lovely. I tell you what, I could find something in every day of my life that brings me back to Captivating. The relevance of it never ceases to amaze me.

So that's it. Sorry if my blogging is inconsistent - I hope you'll give me some grace as I try to balance all the areas of my changing life and still remain a member of our lovely blogging world. Glad to see I made the cut on Heather's links. He he...I just had to throw that in there if only to amuse myself.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Heather posted this, and I figured it would be a good way to not think about the wedding for 10 minutes, so I'll give it a try.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you had never done before?
My first kiss comes to mind...I fell in love...everything related to that was a first for me. I also preached my first sermon here (not ever, but here in Waverly).

2.Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't recall making any, so that works. Mine for right now is to lose 5 or 10 pounds before the wedding. I'm not worried about pulling it off - Lord, please let the birth control not sabotage my efforts!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Mandee and Heather are two I can think of right now.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not close to me - Matt's grandmother and Ivan and Evelyn Epley are the three I can remember from last year.

5. What countries did you visit?
No new ones - some fun trips, though!

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
How about a husband?

7. What dates will remain etched in your memory and why?
Too many to count, but I'll try to remember as many as I can.
January 21, because my birthday was very fun.
May 15 - I had a kidney stone.
May 22 - Matt and I went to coffee and hung out for the first time.
July 4 - Our first REAL date
July 18 - My first kiss! (Sorry if that's too much information, but I won't be forgetting that one!)
October 1 - My sister Beth's wedding
October 14-17 - Our trip to New York
December 10 - Our engagement day!

So many other great memories, but I'll leave it at that for now.

8. What's your biggest achievement of the year?
I was pretty proud of children's ministries training sessions we held in April. Public speaking has been a fear of mine, but I felt that I learned a lot through that experience and made some headway in feeling more confident at speaking in front of other people.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I can't think of anything I really bombed at. And if I do, I'm not totally sure I'll tell you.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm generally fairly healthy - the kidney stone came out of nowhere. But it would definitely fit in this category.

11.What was the best thing you bought?
I could say clothes (too many to specify). Maybe my wedding dress. But I really enjoyed buying the corner shelf for Matt's new house and surprising him when I gave it to him. And shopping for his Christmas presents.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Our staff came through the pastoral transition closer than we were before - that was quite a feat, and God was so good to us through it all. I am proud of every one of my fellow ministers alongside whom I am so privileged to work.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted?
Can I just say Democrats in general? And the many celebrities who exhibit such a lack of wisdom at character that it is quite appalling...

14. Where did most of your money go?
Clothes...bills...all that jazz.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Getting engaged more than anything else. But also about going to New York, Christmas in general, and all the fun things about dating Matt.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?
I am so music-oriented that it would be impossible to choose one song for the many moments of 2005. I could list a few, but it would become a mile-long playlist, so I won't even start.

17. Compared to this time last year are you?
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) fatter or thinner? I think I weigh 5 pounds more or so...not sure. I'm better off not to check.
c) richer or poorer? richer in many ways

18. What do you wish you had done more of?
Loving, forgiving, hugging, sharing, trusting.

19. What do you wish you had done less of?
Worrying or stressing.

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
I spent it working on wedding stuff, cleaning around the house, having dinner with Matt and Bill and Natalie, and hanging out with some band-related people.

21. Did you fall in love in 2005?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I'm not sure on this - maybe "King of Queens."

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I hope not.

24. What was the best book you read?
I've read a bunch of great relationship books, but above all, Captivating was the most impacting book I read.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
It might be Queen if you can believe it.

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted someone to love, and God brought him.

27. What did you not want and not get?
Umm, bird flu?

28. What was your favorite film this year?
I don't know, honestly. Was "The Phantom of the Opera" this year? I want to say it was; if so, then that for sure.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
Worked, ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse with my dear friends, and had coffee and dessert at Bil and Natalie's. And was handcuffed by a policeman for the first time in my life. I was 27.

30. What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
Trusting God more and worrying less would always make life more satisfying for me. But not much else - it was a pretty amazing year.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion in 2005?
Maybe...clearance chic?

32. What kept you sane?
My relationship with God, my friends, and Matt

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I read Karen Hughes' book - that's the only public figure I can think of that really fascinated me (in a good way at least).

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Immigration gets me going...and always abortion.

35. Who did you miss?
Maggie. My sisters. My parents and Tyler. My Ethe.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Does Matt count? Do I have a one-track mind or what?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.
God has once again proven Himself faithful, and I learn it more every single year. This one was no exception.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime;
Say the word and I will follow you.
Share each day with me, each night, each morning;
Say you love me.
Love me, that's all I ask of you."

That's it - like Heth, I'm tagging everyone who is reading this, so join in if you want to. It's a nice opportunity to reflect on a year before starting into the next one. Happy new year to all.