Monday, December 31, 2012

Time with family

I took a few day's break off blogging because I was spending some time with my husband!

It seems my schedule goes - when Nate is working: Cook, clean and catch up; when Nate is off work: Play!

This weekend we went to his extended family's gathering in a town a couple of hours away. We left Novie here for some of our friends to take care of. I was slightly embarrassed that they were coming to pick her up in the pit our duplex had become when Nate was off work.

I know that it's important to keep up on the cleaning. I don't ever want to be one of those people that others walk into my house and go, "Eww." However, I also think it's important to prioritize. What my life has become is prioritizing my time with Nate. When he's home, I don't worry as much, well at all, about doing dishes or sweeping the floor or even doing the laundry. Those are precious moments that I can spend with my man.

When he's back at work, I catch up on all the monotonous things, because there's nothing else to do. I might as well spend the time we have together actually with him instead of just in the same space as him while rushing around to do chores.

A couple people I have had to interview over these past couple of weeks have been hard to get ahold of, because they have so much time off of work during the holidays. They get to spend all that time with family.

That's great, but I also think that it's important to spend time with your family all year long. I think that with our schedules, Nate and I won't be much of the doers. We might not be in all the church groups or have our kids in every sport imaginable. We value our free time together, and although we like to serve in different ways it's also important to just enjoy life instead of rushing around every where.

Now just remind me I said that when we have kids :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A slow Christmas

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas!

My holiday was a little different this year. It's the first time that I haven't gone back to my hometown to spend Christmas with my parents. Nate had to work, so I made the decision to spend Christmas with my husband rather than going back for family get-togethers.

On Christmas Eve, we went to church together and then stopped by friends' parents' house for their family party. On Christmas, we FaceTimed with our families, open our "stockings" left here by my parents when they visited over Thanksgiving and had meatball sandwiches for dinner.

It was a simple holiday, but I have to say I enjoyed it. I missed being with family, especially after seeing our adorable nieces on the iPad, but it was the most relaxing Christmas I have ever had. There wasn't any running around to do last minute shopping. There wasn't the stress of having to get up early to cook for parties. We didn't even have to worry about making it anywhere on time or getting home exhausted after a long day.

I slept for about 12 hours each night, and I got to cook and clean at my own pace.

Best of all though, I thought about what Christmas was all about. Without the usual hustle and bustle, I wanted to make sure that we remembered Christ's birth. We went to church and watched a sermon by Louie Giglio that was  part of our Christmas present from my parents and brother and sister-in-law.

The hustle and bustle can make Christmas fun, but we sometimes need a little quiet to remember why we really celebrate. Christmas isn't about food and presents, it's not even about family - which many people say it is. Christmas is about Jesus and how he came to Earth as a human baby in order to grow up, die and take on the sin of the world.

So thanks for a relaxing holiday, Lord. And thank you for a time to remember just how much you did for us.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sermon notes

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar wants to assimilate the Jews he has brought into his society.

However, they are scared of becoming a part of the pagan occult culture. They're not sure how to take part in the culture without becoming a part of it. You might have heard the phrase, in but not of the world. Work for the good of the culture.

Daniel 3 tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace.

It all starts when Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant gold statue for people to worship - which my pastor guesses represents all the deities in the culture so everyone would bow down to it. He assimilated people by eliminating religious exclusivity and forcing people to privatize their faiths.

It's very similar in our society. We are allowed to worship the way we want in private at church but don't bring it put into public. We're supposed to privatize our faith.

We're also not supposed to say that Jesus is the only way to God. We're supposed to be accepting of all religions. Our culture today isn't much different than Babylon. There might not be a statue of gold to bow to, but we still bow to the pressure of sex, swearing and acting different on Monday than we do on Sunday.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abendnego faced a fiery furnace for not worshipping the false god. I sometimes think if I faced this persecution, I would know it and would stand strong for God. I haven't really thought about that in view of our culture. I don't face a fiery furnace, but I face ridicule, laughter or even something as simple as being left out. In the face of less serious stuff, I topple easily. Maybe because it's not as spelled out - bow or die - I don't realize I'm in the same situation. When it isn't physical bowing it doesn't seem as big a deal.

When it comes to a time when we might feel like we have to compromise, we shouldn't think about the consequences, we should think about the one that has the power to deliver us. It all depends on what we concentrate on.

While God has the power to deliver us, he knows the best if, when and how to deliver us. It might not be how we want or expect.

However, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the more than 1,000 degree furnace they aren't burned. They don't die. Jesus even joins them inside.

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior..."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jesus is the reason for the season

Ever since I can remember, Christmastime has included at least one night of driving around town to look at the beautiful Christmas lights people have put up.

It started with my parents, and I'm sure we complained about the family time as we got older, but the annual Christmas light watches continued. I still remember head-banging to music in the car one year, and I gave my whiplash.

When Nate and I started dating, we made some coffee and put it in a thermos to drink as we drove around and scoped out the beauty.

Although we live in a smaller town now and Christmas lights aren't as prevalent with rising electricity costs, we still grabbed out coffee travel mugs, packed up Novie and went driving around to look at lights again this year.

While we drove, we listened to the Country Christmas station stream on Pandora. About halfway through the night, the song posted above came on the radio. It caught our attention, because it was cute to hear Brad Paisley sing when he was young.

As I started to listen to the words though, I got goosebumps.

One thing I really love about country music is the fact that many artists still sing about God, and don't have qualms about it. Here, Brad Paisley reminds us what the true meaning of Christmas is - who was born on Christmas Day.

So sit back, listen, smile and remember. Jesus is the reason for the season.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More than enough

I just had to write about this really quickly, because my husband just made my morning and quite possibly my week.

I woke up and heard him in the kitchen, and then he brought in a plate of eggs with pepperoni and jellied toast as well as a glass of juice.

I finished that, and after he took my plate, he came back in with a cup of coffee.

If that wasn't enough, when I got out of bed and walked into my home office, he had my space heater running so it would be warm when I got in here.

It's the little things that are treasures I store up in my heart - mornings of kindness, nights watching the snow fall. My husband fills my heart to overflowing. I love you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not quite enough

I'm afraid I'm not quite as perfect a person as I would like to believe, or as I would like others to believe. It's hard for me to be open and honest on here about what I struggle with, because I want to be encouraging and not let everyone I know who reads this see where I am at fault.

It's not something in particular that has made me think about this lately, but my self-esteem has me thinking.

In college, I was concerned that I didn't know who I was and that I wasn't self-confidence. I know who I am for sure now, and I don't worry about that anymore. However, I still think that I don't have enough confidence in myself.

I often try to prove myself in what I do. I'm not a successful wife when my home is messy or when I sluff off when I don't feel great or when I'm (close your eyes Mom) not sexy enough. I know that I can cook, but when I mess something up I usually take it to heart more than I should. I think that I should make more gourmet meals, but I should also be able to make delicious food for a small grocery bill - which is not an easy feat. I work all day but don't feel like I am the perfect wife when I leave the laundry undone for a couple nights in a row, because I don't feel like working all night either.

Everyone wants to be that Proverbs 31 woman that does everything and fulfills her husband in every way. However, I think that if I was as busy as her all I would complain about would be how tired I was.

I'm sure Nate doesn't even talk about this kind of stuff, but I often think about how I want him to be able to rave about me to his friends - "My wife cooks the best meals." "My wife always has her hair and make-up done when I come home, she never looks frumpy." "My wife is always sexy and up for anything." "My wife is better than yours..."

I shouldn't see life as a competition or act like I'm constantly being judged, but I do. And I never think I'm doing quite enough.

Where's that middle ground of being relaxed and working hard enough to be a great and servantful wife?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of year...flu season

It's interesting to see how different people handle illness.

Nate and I were just talking about how people handle pain differently, and I think that everyone has an illness tolerance too. I don't know if that is nature or nurture.

When I am sick, even if it's just a little bit, I like to be taken care of. I like to lay around and cuddle up and especially to get back rubs, which I think all comes down to how my mom took care of us when we were sick.

Nate, on the other hand, likes to be left alone. I have the urge to take care of him any way that I can, but he just will tough it out and act like nothing is wrong.

I know that I will want to take care of my children too, so I guess I had better learn to buck up and stop milking being sick!

Thanks mom for still thinking of me though. When my parents came to visit on Thanksgiving, my mom brought soup, juice and tissues just in preparation for me being sick :) Suxh a good mom!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sermon notes

A Christmas series on the book of Daniel - and this week we look at chapter 2 when king Nebuchadnezzar dreams.

By the way, I think its cool that when I started typing Nebuchadnezzar, my iPhone's automatic type came up with the right spelling. I am so blessed to live in a country where Christian names are still well-known.

As for dreams, they were interpreted a lot in the Bible. I don't know how often dreams really mean anything anymore. If dreams always meant something mine would mean that I am clinically insane, because I have some of the most random and weird dreams of anyone I've ever known. However, sometimes I'm sure God does still use dreams to give people messages.

So far in Daniel we've learned God is large and in charge, and our decisions, even in the small things, matter. In the next passage we are to learn God is in charge of my and world history.

Since God is in charge of Nebuchadnezzar's thought life, he is in charge of ours as well. He's sovereign over our very attitudes, because Nebby's crabbiness that day was an important tool for what God had to do. He told his magicians that if they couldn't interpret his dream that they would all die. However they couldn't interpret the dream God gave him because they were a part of the occult and couldn't read his mind as he was asking. Only God can know our minds.

Daniel and his friends were the only ones who believed in God and could interpret Nebby's dream. God was setting it up to win favor for Daniel.

Daniel said, starting in verse 27, "No wise men, enchanters, magicians or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in Hearn who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will Benin the latter days."

Sometimes we think our lives are spinning out of control - like when Daniel was taken to Babylon - but God always has a plan. Even when we don't know it, he's working.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

God is ...

I'm back!

I didn't intentionally take a break from blogging, but life has just gotten busy. I have some free moments, but most of those have been spent relaxing with Nate instead of doing busy work. I think that's probably the best use of my time anyway!

However, I got an e-mail forward that inspired me to write again. I just thought I would share these cute ideas with you:

God is like Coca-Cola: He's the real thing.

God is like Hallmark cards: He cares enough to send the very best.

God is like Wal-Mart: He has everything.

God is like Scotch tape: You can't see him, but you know he's there.

God is like All-State: You're in good hands with him.

God is like Bounty paper towels: The quicker, picker upper that won't fall apart on you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A cross to bear

I started reading "In God's Underground," by Richard Wurmbrand, at the suggestion of my parents. And so far, it's been a very interesting story of Wurmbrand, who was a pastor arrested in Romania during the communist regime.

I'm not very far into the book, because my mom said that at some parts it gets difficult to even read about the hardship that he endures. I have read some harrowing tales of torture so far, but I'm not even a quarter of the way through.

However, one sentence has stuck with me so far. Wurmbrand wrote that when life was going well, he and his wife prayed for a cross to bear. They wanted something to test their faith. Then he was arrested.

I was kind of shocked and confused as to why Wurmbrand and his wife would ever ask God for a challenge. If he had blessed them with good times, even when bad was going on around them, why wouldn't they want to keep it that way? Shouldn't they have been thankful for what they were given and not complained that they weren't being tested enough?

To me, it's almost like a slap in the face of God.

As I read, I understand more about what Wurmbrand and his wife were asking for. It's not that they wanted hard times. However, they realized that sometimes God reveals himself the most and that we can have the greatest relationship with him during those trials. Wurmbrand said that Christians can be sure that their actually believers when their faith is tested.

Although I understand his intentions, I'm still not sure about praying for a test. My life is going really well right now, and I think I would be terrified to ask God for a cross to bear.

But maybe that's just because I don't know if I would be able to handle it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We get what we give

I read a story on Fox News today about a woman who left her $12.5 million estate to her neighbor, just because the neighbor was nice to her.

The article said that older woman thought her family just wanted her money, but the neighbor bought groceries and helped with household chores. Normally, those simple actions wouldn't involve much, if any, money. However, the kind person received a wonderful reward just for being nice.


I read a book that said we should never forego an impulse to be generous. Sometimes I get impulses at weird times, and I don't always follow through because it just seems weird. Sometimes I offer and people reject, but I think that God expects us to at least offer ourselves as servants to others. The outcome is in his hands, but we will never know what blessings could come of something if we don't at least offer to help out.

This is the perfect season to think about giving. Hopefully it then leads to a habit that will last all year round.

During Christmas, gifts shouldn't be stressful. They should be a time that we can get excited about being blessings to someone else.

What we celebrate at Christmas is the fact that God gave Earth the greatest blessing, his son. He wanted to bless people and knew that this was the only way to give people a relationship with himself.

If God can give up his own son for people who rebel against him and even hate him, why can't we give a little something too? You never know what you'll receive in return.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A little bit of Christmas

Nate and I had a beautiful day yesterday, getting ready for the Christmas season and just spending some time together.

We don't have as much set time together as some couples, because we work opposite shifts, and he only has weekends off every other month. However, it makes the time that we do have together even more precious, so that was why yesterday was so enjoyable.

We went to church and then made some coffee and packed up Novie to head to a local Christmas tree farm to pick out our first tree. We decided this year to get a real tree and then decide if we wanted to continue that each year or get an artificial tree after this.

We went to the tree farm about 15 miles south of where we live and started walking around. Luckily, our tastes matched pretty well, and we decided on a white pine with soft needles that was full and about 6 feet tall.

We attached the tree to the top of our Dodge Journey and headed back home to a waiting tree stand I had picked up at a secondhand store for $2. We put the tree in the stand and tightened the screws, to find that every time we let the tree go it tilted horribly to one side.

A trip to a local hardware store and we came home with a new $15 tree stand that ended up holding our Christmas tree more securely.

We put lights on the tree, ended up with too much left at the top, unwound the lights off the tree, put them back on the tree and set it in place. Then we covered it with the few ornaments that we have - a few we have purchased and many from my childhood that my mom gave us.

While Nate took some of the white lights we have leftover from our wedding and put them on the porch outside, I got all my snowmen and other wintry decorations out and put them around our duplex. We munched on some homemade gingerbread cookies that we had decorated the night before and surveyed our work.

We capped the night off with dinner at a local restaurant, which was free thanks to gift cards, watching "Bad Boys II," and reading some of the Bible together.

It was a perfect date day with the man I love. And now we're ready for the Christmas season to be here!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful to

Listening to the sermon this morning, I'm going to close my thankful series with a simple thought.

Everything I'm thankful for goes back to God. I'm thankful to him for everything i have and everything I don't have. Everything in my life is because of God. And I'm thankful to him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 11: Funny moments

I'm thankful for the little parts of life that make me laugh - like this video that Nate showed me! Hopefully it will make you laugh too!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 10: Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving, because it makes us all think about what we're thankful for!

T alents
H ome
A ccomplishments
N athan
K in
S urprises
G od
I n-laws
V acations
I maginations
N oveske
G roceries

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 9: Good sermons

It's a little different when your pastor walks out dressed in what appears to be a large burlap sack.

It caught the attention of the audience when pastor Kurt dressed up in what we assume to be the clothes of a beggar in Jerusalem during Jesus' time.

He talked in first person, acting like the blind beggar, a man who did the only thing he could to bring money for his family.

Then the man heard about Jesus and his miracles. And the great rabbi showed up in Jerusalem, where the beggar sat.

"Jesus was going to pass down the road, right by me."

But there were too many people that Jesus shouldn't notice him. However when he and his disciples passed, the disciples asked why the beggar was born blind, was it his or his parents' sin?

Jesus said it was neither, the man was born blind so Jesus' glory could be shown.

"God was going to use my blindness? God was going to use my life? I was born blind on purpose?"

Jesus rubbed mud in his eyes and told the man to go wash.

"That was an embarrassing moment for a blind man. First, I was blind and now I had mud on my face," the pastor said.

However, the beggar trusted, even as people laughed. And he washed.

"Then it happened. Light just burst into my eyes."

The world was more than the beggar could have ever imagined. The man who led him there was also amazed as he witnessed the miracle of the blind man's healing.

The healing created a controversy, as the healing came on the Sabbath when people are not supposed to work. It was like the religious leaders were blind to the evidence of Jesus' glory.

Just like today, some people's eyes are opened to the glory of God and some are blind to who he is.

It's interesting to here a sermon from first person rather than a reading verbatim from the Bible. It would appeal to a whole new genre of people who love stories and find sermons and lectures boring. And that's what a good pastor does, appeal to all people so God's message reaches everyone. That's why I'm thankful for good pastors and good sermons.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 8: Thankfulness

I'm a few days behind with busy life making me forget to update the blog! So today, I think I'll just do a list of some of the thankful thoughts I had lately.

1. I'm thankful for a new home that really feels like home. I didn't attend the local school district, and I don't have any kids who go there. But for some reason I still feel proud when it does well in sports, because this place is finally home.

2. I am thankful that I have so much good in my life that I can just keep on naming stuff I'm thankful for. Some people might struggle thinking of things to be thankful for, but thankfulness just overflows from me.

3. I'm thankful for cars. It's so nice to be able to easily visit people, even when you don't live in the same town. If I lived six hours away from my parents in the prairie times, we might see each other once every five years. Now, it's easy to make a weekend trip. They get to visit for Thanksgiving, and that's exciting!

4. I'm thankful for grocery stores. I love that I can cook from scratch but I don't have to grow everything from seed. Someone has done at least part of the work for me!

5. To go along with that, I'm thankful I can cook and enjoy it. I love that this is something I can do for my husband. I have my mom to thank for setting a good example of what it means to provide for your family joyfully by working at home and for teaching me how to cook so I can expound upon that as I get older.

6. I'm thankful for changing seasons. Although I often complain about it being too cold outside in the winter, I really do like to experience the changing seasons that some people don't get. I can't imagine a Christmas without it being snowy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 7: Sleep

Someone posted on Facebook this morning that they were thankful for a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in and the ability to get up from that bed in the morning.

I've admitted before that I love sleep, maybe even a little too much. I am cold quite often, and when I finally get warm in bed, it's hard for me to get out of it. However, I am also thankful that I am healthy and able to get up each day.

I am also thankful not only for the bed I sleep in but for sleep itself. I have another Facebook friend that suffered from breast cancer, at my age. She posted quite often in the middle of the night as she suffered from insomnia, sleeping it appeared only an hour or two per night, if at all.

There have been very few times in my life that I wanted to sleep and couldn't. Most often, I want to stay awake and end up falling asleep on the couch. I can sleep almost anywhere, from cars to planes to couches to floors. If I close my eyes long enough, I can probably fall asleep.

Not being able to sleep is awful. It's something that you know your body needs to survive, and you feel miserable without enough of it. Yet, the physical inability to provide yourself with that need would be horrible, especially for a long period of time.

So, simple as it is, I am thankful for the ability to go to sleep each night and to sleep restfully once I fall into slumberland.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 6: Spontaneity

Nate has taught me a lot about spontaneity.

Growing up, I would say I was the opposite of spontaneous. I had a plan for everything, from my day to my week to my whole life. I knew what was going to happen at each moment - at least I thought I did.

When opportunities for activities came up at the last minute I would often say no, because it was not in my plans.

Since I've known him, Nate has been the opposite of a planner. He's been quite spontaneous and really wouldn't plan anything unless I forced him to. We've both rubbed off on each other, I think, with him planning more and me being more spontaneous.

I was thankful for this change in my personality tonight when the opportunity came up for me to get tazed with my friend Kathleen. Yes, tazed.

We've talked about experiencing this since for quite a while, but it hasn't worked out. She texted me tonight and told me she was going to do it during a Youth Academy class at the police department. However, she was nervous and asked me to do it with her.

The class was already running.

But I dropped what I was doing and decided to go for it.

I got there, went first so I didn't see anyone else's reaction to scare me off, felt the electrical energy run through me as my muscled stiffened unintentionally and shook off the crazed feeling.

I'm really proud of myself that I tried something knew and was spontaneous enough to go for it at the last minute.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 5: Colorful kitchen utensils

If you can't tell yet, I'm going for a thankful list of more obscure items. I am very thankful for my wonderful parents, my brother and siblings-in-law, my beautiful nieces, my warm home, my car, my job, etc. However, sometimes it's good to think beyond what we're say we're thankful for every year and to see all the little blessings in life.

I love color. I used to laugh at my mom that every room in our home growing up, except for the paneled ones, were either off-white, beige or taupe. I have always dreamed of being able to paint my walls, even though I still haven't quite had that chance.

However, for our wedding people obviously know me well enough to know I like color. We have a beautiful set of colorful ceramic bowls in all different sizes, and we even got colorful spatulas, cutting boards, a can opener, knives and a pizza cutter. For a couple other birthday gifts from my best friend, I have a set of colorful, stackable mugs and colorful chopsticks.

I have to say, when I cook, I purposefully use my colorful stuff. Those little items actually bring happiness to my days. They are so fun and bright, and I have no idea why I like them so much, but I do!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 4: Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Oh how I love this verse and all that it stands for.

So, we decided to stay here and to look for a house. One, dealing with large amounts of money and debt makes me nervous. Two, we only have until May when our lease is up and we have to move anyway.

I start thinking about all the factors: How much should we spend? Will we find the right house at the right price at the right time? What if we find what we want and it sells? What if we can't find the right place before we have to move?

It sounds like I just like to think of all the bad, but those are the things that pop into my mind.

However, then I remember that God is in control. He knows the right house for us and will help us get it at the right time and in the right place, even if it's not when or where we expect it to be. All I have to do is pray about it and place it thankfully in his hands.

I don't even have to worry. And for that, I'm thankful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 3: Sunshine

It has been a dreary couple of days here. Although with Superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast, I'm sure that it's been a bit drearier there!

Dreary days make me sleepy and unmotivated most of the time. In fact, I will admit that I slept most of Sunday away, even with daylight savings time starting. We even accidentally slept through church when Nate's alarm didn't go off.

Although I am kind of a fan of the dark, I like sunny days. Somehow the world just seems brighter - OK, that's kind of obvious. Sunshine is warm and comforting and makes me more motivated to get going on what I have to do.

I guess there's a reason that the song "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day," came about. I'll change it to my own chant - "Sun, sun, you're so fun. Come and shine so I get things done!"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 2: Puppy cuddles

Our olde English bulldog loves to cuddle.

She weighs about 55-60 pounds, but she doesn’t realize that she is that large. She isn’t that tall, she’s just really dense and wide. Nate has come to the conclusion that if we were as dense as she is that we would weigh a lot more, so she thinks that we weigh a lot more so she doesn’t realize that sitting on us is uncomfortable, which sometimes it is.

However, most of the time I don’t find her cuddles uncomfortable. I kind of love it when we are in bed, and she comes to lay by me and puts her head in the crook of my neck to use it as a pillow. Her soft neck folds keep me warm and make me feel secure.

When I woke up this morning and she was curled up next to me, which is comfortable until she lays on my hair or paws me in the face as she stretches out, I thought about how odd it is that I love it when my dogs lays on me. Nate shoves her away when she takes over his space. I know that my mom wouldn’t tolerate it for a second - she won’t even let her dog in the bed with her and my dad. People probably think that I’m spoiling Novie too much that I let her get away with laying on top of me.

I got a dog, because I wanted something to cuddle with. I wanted her to sleep in bed with me, lay on my legs and keep me warm. I like the thought of a cuddly, warm puppy sleeping next to me with her puppy smell.

So yes, weird as it may sound to some people, I’m really thankful for puppy cuddles.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 1: My husband

On Facebook, it looks like people are taking the challenge to say what they're thankful for each day this month. I thought I would take that direction with my blog this month of giving thanks, even though I'm a day late!

Day 1: My husband

How can I not start out this year by saying that I am so thankful for my husband.

My husband ... oh how I love to say those words. And I love it when he calls me his wife. The other night when he was gone, it made my entire day when he texted me and said that he hates being away from his wife.

Sometimes I can almost not believe that it's finally happened. I dreamed of spending the rest of my life with him, and I always thought I would. But I love now having the security of knowing that each day we have, we have together.

The beautiful rings on my left hand are still a reminder that I am loved by the most wonderful man.

I'm thankful for so much about him. He is brave and courageous - I never have to worry about being safe when he's around. He's generous. He's curious. He is a wonderful friend, not only to me but to all of his friends. He's hilarious and has the most wonderful laugh and smile that completely disarm me. He treats me well and can (almost) always snap me out of a bad mood.

I love to see him grow in his faith, and some of my favorite moments are when we pray together or read the Bible together. I enjoy watching him as he plays with our puppy and know that he's going to be an even better father to our children that hopefully God blesses us with someday.

He's smart, wise, loving, fun, friendly, outgoing, handsome. I could go on and on.

I'm thankful that God has blessed me with a man that truly does complete me, and I love him with all my heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Loving love

Weddings are really important to women.

I'm generalizing here, but most little girls look forward to their wedding day from the moment they understand what a wedding day is.

Before Nate and I got engaged and married, I had a hard time watching shows about weddings and attending weddings. They were always beautiful occasions, and I was happy for the couples. However, I was often jealous that they were getting something that I wanted so much. My happiness was never quite complete.

I always told myself that I should be happy for them, and I did my best. It wasn't perfect though.

I don't think many men understand this. At least from what I've experienced with Nate, guys don't have quite the same feelings about weddings.

Now though, I love watching stuff about weddings and am excited to go to weddings. I am happy that others can share such a potent and powerful love like Nate and I have found. I was watching "Say Yes to the Dress" the other day when Nate laughed; he didn't think I would have any interest in that now that our wedding was over. It's really just the opposite though!

I love love, and I'm glad that God came up with the idea.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future

We never really seem to end up where we think we will in life.

God has such greater plans that we know, and we make so many more mistakes than we think we will. It all evens out to mean that we can never predict how our lives will turn out.

I grew up thinking I would always live in my hometown. Nate has thought that we would move to Colorado for a long time. Neither of us thought that where we live now would be the place we would end up.

We still don't know what God has in store for us. We looked at a house in town yesterday, but Nate is also checking out some possible jobs in Colorado to see if he would still want to work out there.

I can see our lives going both ways. Do you stay with what's familiar or do you go for something new? What are pros and what are cons? What will you regret in the future? Where will you be able to serve God the best? Where will you be able to afford life?

There's a lot of questions. However, I have to say that I'm glad that God is in control. I don't how people live without believing in a heavenly father who loves them and is in control. I wouldn't be able to live without knowing that I have someone who is bigger than me, because I suck at making decisions. I need someone to guide my life and make sure that it turns into something, that I make a difference somehow.

So any prayers for our future would be appreciated, clarity to know where we're supposed to go and what we're supposed to do.

Wherever we end up though, I'm just glad that I have Nate by my side.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sermon notes

This is an interesting sermon, so I wanted to share while I'm learning.

"Again Jesus spoke to them saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12.

This doesn't jump out for us - it seems pretty self explanatory. However, one thing I love about our pastor is he delves beyond the surface of what we usually see. This isn't just a saying that tells us Jesus is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

John 8:20 says, "These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come."

The comment about being the light of the world should have gotten him arrested.

The Jews at this time were celebrating a feast that remembered the pillar of fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt. And Jesus was saying that he was that light; he was God and that light was back in the world.

Although those Jews realized Jesus was claiming to be God and to have been the light of the world in Moses' te as well as today.

The Old Testament and New Testament are connected, because Jesus is in both sections even though his name is not used in the Old.

"Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus who saved people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe." Jude 5

The Israelites had to choose to follow the pillar of fire each day, and we have to choose to follow the light of the world each day as well, "whoever follows me will not walk in darkness."

One conclusion from the pastor connected the Old and New testaments - both which are testaments of Jesus. The pastor said, "Jesus saved God's people from slavery and death in the land of Egypt. On the cross he saved us from slavery to sin and eternal death in hell."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Exceptions to no sex on the first date

I was reading FoxNews today and came across an article titled, "Four exceptions to no sex on the first date."

I almost thought it was a joke. It's not. The writer says the four exceptions are:

1. You've been friends for a while and want the same things from the relationship.
2. You don't open up easily.
3. You need to get over an ex.
4. You're on vacation.

Basically the premise she touted was, just have some fun. The only reason not to sleep with someone on the first date is because 80 percent of surveyed guys say that they don't see a serious relationship with a woman they sleep with on the first date.

I guess I was just flabbergasted that a writer would encourage people to sleep around. Perhaps it's my Christian upbringing and small-town mentality coming out now, but I have never heard someone blatantly say it's OK to sleep with someone you just started seeing.

Sex isn't just about having fun. It's a serious bond between two people, or that's the way God created it at least. It's the most intimate thing two people can do together, and it means something.

The fact that this article was published in a magazine, even an online magazine, just shows that this is the way most of society views sexual encounters. They're no big deal. It's just like going to a party or out to dinner - it's just fun.

I am scared of what God is going to do with this country, with this world. This is obviously not what he wants for us, but our darn free will has just gotten in the way as we decide we can do whatever we want.

With the world's morality going down the toilet, I'm afraid to see what it's going to look like when we hit the sewer.

Side note: I am far from perfect, God surely knows. But I just couldn't believe this article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pass on your blessings

I believe in blessing other people, sometimes telling them about it and sometimes doing it quietly so that you don't receive the credit - even though it's human nature to want to.

My best friend is going through a rough time in her family, and it breaks my heart to see her having to deal with so much. However, it's not really something that I can help with. If I was a medical professional, maybe. But I'm not, so I can't fix the situation.

However, I want to do something. So instead, I've tried to write her letters, call her to show I'm praying for her, send her text messages and flowers to brighten her days when everything else seems so dark. I don't do it for the thanks but to make her feel supported.

The pastor at our church has taken a liking to me and Nate, and we so appreciate his interest in us. It makes us feel bad sometimes to receive from people, even when it was for our wedding. This week, we got a $50 restaurant gift card for us to have a date night with, in thanks for some work that I've done for him. It blesses me to help him out, but we appreciate that he wants to bless us back. We really enjoyed a dinner out last night.

Blessing someone doesn't take a lot of money, or any money at all. Sometimes people just need someone to give them a compliment or a smile. How can you bless someone today?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Going with my gut

Honesty is the best policy.

I've had a couple of moments lately where I've struggled with what it is to be totally honest.

First, I dropped my computer at work a couple of weeks ago. It soon went to a dreaded blue screen and wouldn't turn on. Googling the problem, it said that the "Unmountable Boot Volume" message usually is due to corrupted files. I didn't think what I'd done had anything to do with it, so I didn't tell my boss.

Then talking to Nate, he thought the drop might have cracked the hard drive, so I started to feel guilty like I was lying by omission. I didn't think I should pay for the computer, because it was already on it's way out and it was a work computer, so I wasn't sure if I needed to tell my boss or not. And I can't afford to buy a new computer if I did get in trouble.

After going back and forth and praying, I decided that I should be completely honest. I can't be faulted if I do what's right, and if my boss doesn't, then that is his problem with God.

I had also been waiting on trying to get a refund for a gift certificate I had purchased from American Express. I had called the company at least six times and gotten nowhere, talking to people who obviously weren't really named Valentine and June. I finally turned the issue over to the Better Business Bureau.

As I had contemplated the computer issue, I decided that I couldn't expect God to bless me in resolving the American Express situation if I wasn't being honest in other areas of my life.

A woman at American Express called today and resolved the issue.

I shouldn't expect God to bless me just because I think I'm doing the right thing. However, we also can't expect God to bless us when we aren't following what we think is right.

My gut isn't always right, but I've been trying to follow it more lately and really listen to what God is telling me to do, even if it's not comfortable. Even if I don't reap any rewards on Earth, pleasing God is all I can ask for.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Going for a walk

It's nice to just get out of the house sometimes.

This afternoon we had an hour and a half after I got off work and before Nate had to get ready for work. So we bundled up and went for a walk with Novie at a local park.

It was chilly and windy, but our Under Armour did its job and sealed in body heat.

We shared some conversation, laughed at Novie as she ran, listened to pelicans' wings whoosh as they flew overhead and just had a relaxing time.

It's nice to get out of the house and share some time together not in front of the TV. I really enjoyed our afternoon :) and it didn't even cost anything!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A shot at humility

On Monday, Nate and I took part in one of the local police department's youth classes.

The students were given airsoft guns, and we acted like bad guys inside an abandoned building in order for them to learn how to apprehend us. I really didn't know what I was doing, but hid and tried to shoot them before they shot me.

It was a lot of fun, although it was obvious that the kids didn't know what they were doing.

Talking to the officers that waited outside with the kids in between scenarios, they said that the kids were cocky and arrogant about their abilities. Instead of learning the tactics to take down targets and save hostages, they saw everything like a game. It was fun, but they weren't exactly learning what the police department wanted them to learn.

God puts us in a lot of scenarios where we don't really know what we're doing, but we're supposed to be humble and take those moments to learn lessons about what to do in the future. We can be loud and cocky about the abilities that we really don't have or we can be quiet and learn what God wants us to learn.

Teenagers often think that they don't have anything to learn and that adults are just harping on stuff that they already know. I remember thinking like that when I was younger, and I guess I still do every now and then.

However, everyone has difficult abilities and experiences. If someone is taking the time to teach you what they know, you should be appreciative and try to learn something new even if you don't think it's important at that moment.

Simply put, we should all be humble. None of us knows everything.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Loud life

I think that my life is too loud.

I've noticed that my prayer life has been virtually non-existent lately, and I think that is because I have something going on pretty much all the time so I don't have time to think let alone pray.

I don't really like the quiet. I think it started when I began to live alone, and I would get scared. In the quiet I would hear strange noises and would start to imagine all these terrible things, like someone stalking around the house, trying to get into the door. Even Novie is such a scaredy-cat that when the house is quiet she starts to growl and bark when she hears the smallest sound.

In order to combat the scary silence, I began to just leave the TV on all the time. My biggest prayer time growing up was when I was lying in bed, but then living alone that was when I would get most scared. I would fall asleep with the TV on and then that would take away my prayer time.

It's gradually expanded so that I have the TV or radio or Internet playing something constantly. I think I'm a little bit addicted to the TV. It has crept on me, and today in the car I realized that it has adversely affected my prayer life.

I know that I really need to set aside a time for God and to make it part of my daily life, and Nate and I need to find a time to do devotions together too. We have to schedule something in our daily lives to make sure we're doing it.

I just have to actually start actively being quiet. And that's usually the hard part.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What will I think when I look back?

I've been flipping through a lot of my wedding photos, deciding which ones to print out. Right now, I have 450 photos uploaded online and am sorting through to see which is the best of each pose.

Looking through them, it reminds me of looking at my parents wedding photos. When we look through those, we talk about how young they look, the crazy dress my mom chose, my dad's bowl cut, the weird bridesmaids dress colors. As I look at my own, it kind of makes me wonder what we will think in the future.

I chose my dress because I thought it was classically beautiful. I think the style will withstand the test of time, but will I someday wonder how I could have chosen that?

My favorite color has been teal/turquoise for years. Will I someday hate that tone?

Will I laugh at how young I look as I gaze down at the flowery bouquet I made?

How will life have changed by the time I look at these photos and this day seems forever in the past?

It just makes me wonder.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stuck on the bad

I really hate needles.

When I was little and had been in the hospital at least once a year before kindergarten, needles didn't bother me. I was used to having IVs. However, the older I've gotten, the more I've hated the little pieces of metal.

Yesterday, Nate and I had to have physicals at home to qualify for life insurance. One of the requirements was a blood sample.

That included a needle, of course.

I knew that if I dwelled on the needle that was going into my arm that I would get more and more anxious, so I just tried not to think about it. All-in-all, it wasn't bad because I didn't really think about it, although I did get a little weak when the needle went in.

I guess I've been a little bit at a loss as to what to write on here lately. However, thinking about this it kind of made me think about the bad things in life. If we dwell on the bad things or the uncomfortable situations coming up, it makes them even worse. When we expect the worst, I think the worst will happen.

However, if we have positive attitudes, it can make even an uncomfortable situation a little better.

Positivity isn't the only answer though. Really, we can't think all that positively on our own. The best way to beat anxiety is through trust in God. When we put everything in his hands, there's no need to dwell on the bad.

That's because God will work everything out for the best. It might not be comfortable here on Earth, but following God's will ensures that in the end (even if it's not in our lifetime) everything will turn out OK.

Friday, October 5, 2012

More than a wedding

It seems like a whole lot of things on TV revolve around weddings.

There's movies in which people get married. Shows on people looking for the right person to marry. Shows on women looking for the right bridal gown or bridesmaids dress. Shows on bridezillas. Shows comparing four different weddings.

These shows usually end the day of the wedding though.

And for as long as I looked forward to mine, I'm surprised to find that I'm glad it is over.

You see, when you look forward to a wedding, it's just a day. When it's over, it's like there's a contentment inside that is excitement for a whole life.

I think my favorite part might be that I have someone to share everything with. We're still getting used to saying "ours" instead of "mine." But I'm more talking about sharing life instead of things.

I like that although we're not really sure where we are going to end up, we at least know that we will have each other to share it with.

It's a simple thought, but I wanted to share that the peace and contentment I have inside is more than the excitement I had for that one, single day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insured for real life

Talk about entering the real world.

So, I've thought of myself as an adult for a few years. I rent my own place, pay my own bills, own my own car.

Today though, I think adult, married life really hit.

I ended up getting off work at 2:30 p.m. to head to the a local insurance office to talk to an agent. Our current car insurance ends on Friday, so we knew we had to renew. However, we've also talked about the need for life insurance, renters insurance and other such items. So we decided this week to just sign up for it all.

It took about two hours to talk through the variety of different insurance varieties, premiums and coverages. I can't say I went into it knowing much about insurance but the agent walked us through so we knew what we could get.

I don't know how people become insurance agents, ugh. It wasn't bad, but I can't imagine dealing with that every day!

Now, we have a folder with all of our insurance policies inside and we have a nice payment to make to them each month to prepare for the worst. I hope to never have to use the insurance but I'm glad to have protection in case something happens.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy one month, beep

A month ago today, Nate and I got married.

I have to say, marriage isn't exactly what I thought it would be.

It seems normal.

I kind of thought that when I got married life would completely change. I would feel like a different person and our relationship would be different and life would just feel odd.

Life has been beautiful over the last month, but it wasn't exactly what I was anticipating because it just seems so normal to be marrying Nate. I thought the same thing on the day of our wedding. I thought it would just be crazy that it was actually our day, but it seemed completely normal too.

I guess that's what life is like when you're meant to be. Life just fits.

It's a blessing to be able to wake up with someone and go to bed with someone - when our schedules line up that is. It's a blessing to watch TV together, eat dinner together, play with the dog together, sit and gaze at the lake together.

Life isn't always about exciting moments, like a wedding day you look forward to for years. Instead, as I have always said, it's a series of moments.

This weekend, my parents are celebrating 33 years of marriage. Yesterday, I talked to a couple that has been married for 49 years. When I think that Nate and I have been together a long time - eight years - I see that it really hasn't been that long. We have so much more to look forward.

A month in, I'm excited about the rest!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My husband is a real man

I can't believe it was three weeks ago today that we were flying back to Miami from St. Lucia. In some ways it feels a long time ago, and in some ways it seems like just a couple days ago.

Perhaps it's time though that I start talking about real life, not our escape from reality in St. Lucia.

Side note: Our trip back to the airport was in an air-conditioned bus with other resort guests, so it went much more smoothly than the trip to the resort!

Reality hit right when we got back home. We got back at almost midnight on Tuesday, and I started work the next morning. I didn't have much time to catch up as I started teaching dance on Thursday, and Nate ended up getting sick so we didn't get any packing done before we moved on Saturday. Then on Saturday, the sickness hit me and got worse as the horrible moving process just kept droning on.

I've known for a long time that I'm a sick weenie and Nate is a tough sick guy, but the moving process told me even more about it. When I woke up on Sunday morning and felt horrible, I just asked Nate if I could stay and unpack while he finished moving everything else, and he agreed.

However, he had felt sick the day before and didn't complain once when we were moving, and he even moved all the heavy stuff. He has back soreness and he moved a couch all by himself without saying a word.

I have one tough man, and I'm so thankful for the true grit in him that makes him suck it up and do over-and-beyond what his duties are.

As I watch TV shows, I think that real men are lacking as role models in the media. Most men on TV are soft, feminine and push-overs. The women are often domineering and walk all over men, who take it. It's probably a true reflection of our society, but I don't think it's right.

Men should be tough enough to take charge. They should suck it up when they have duties and promises to keep. They should be men of courage and men of their word.

I'm thankful that I have a husband who is a real man. Even when real life hits and troubles arise, I know that my man is there to take them on with me by his side.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Honeymoon: Day 5

It was our last full day of our honeymoon in St. Lucia, and Nate was still hurting from his sunburn. When we got up Sunday morning, we didn’t even put on swimming suits.

Instead, I grabbed my camera - whose battery I had charged - and we set out to take some photos. I attempted to capture fishing swimming, which didn’t work out too well, and I also tried to chase down a hummingbird, which also failed. However, I found some successful shots that I think document the beauty of the peninsula we stayed on.

We then changed for our second snorkeling trip. On the first bout, we kind of rushed through and got back to the boat quicker than we needed to. This time, we wanted to take our time and really see all that the ocean floor offered.

We started off seeing some of the same fish; blues, yellows and black filled our view. I thought it was appropriate that we saw one fish that was black and yellow, perfect for two Iowa Hawkeye fans like us. Nate also pointed out a couple of large sand dollars, something we hadn’t seen the first time around.

After a while of swimming, Nate pulled me over to a spot we had just swam past. He pointed at the snorkeling guide who was swimming by himself but had motioned for Nate to come take a look at a fish.

The guide dove down to the ocean floor and stuck his hand underneath a rock, coaxing a large blob of a yellow fish to swim out. I still don’t know what kind of fish it was though.

Seeing a cool fish like that, which we wouldn’t have noticed by ourselves, we kind of decided to stick with the guide. He eventually pointed down again, and Nate started to get excited.

All I could see was a rock.

Nate poked his head out of the water, removed his snorkel and told me that there was a lion fish underneath a rock. Excited, I put my face back in the water. It took me a minute, but I finally saw the white and orange-striped fish poke its head out.

It was definitely worth it going snorkeling for a second time.

That evening, we went back to the Italian restaurant, and it was just as delicious the second time. However, we ordered a panna cotta for dessert, and after one bite of what seemed like vanilla Jell-o, we got up and left.

In the lobby, a talented group was playing music, and we spotted some of our friends. We sat down to chat, and a woman came up to me and Nate to ask how old we were.

“You look so young,” she said.

Apparently she and her husband had a bet about how old we were, and we joked that we should have exaggerated about our ages.

When the music stopped, we decided to stay up late with our friends and hit the “club” at the resort. A DJ was playing music, and I started to sweat as we danced to the “Wobble, Wobble,” the “Cupid Shuffle” and some other fun dances.

Oh, what a wonderful vacation it was.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Honeymoon: Day 4, day of relaxation

I woke up on Saturday morning to Nate laying on his side.

He couldn't really lay on his back the whole night, because the vibrant red sunburn on his back was a little too painful.

Before we left for vacation, we went to Wal-Mart to pick up some sunscreen. My ginger husband knew that he would need some strong protection as we would be near the equator, so he purchased some waterproof SPF 85.

I got some SPF 15. I barely used it.

Friday on St. Lucia, Nate was having too much fun and didn't reapply his SPF 85 quite as often as he had the previous day. So he ended up with the only kind of tan he usually gets, a red one.

For that reason, we donned our Hawkeye shirts to represent Iowa on game day, and headed down to breakfast at the Italian restaurant we had gone to the night before. Nate had breakfast burritos, and I continued my seafood binge with salmon eggs benedict. Then we found some shade to relax in to give Nate's skin a break.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the shade and in the pool. We had a sandy beach dinner as well.

Some of the couples that we made friends with were constantly coming and going from the resort. They talked about how they spent $1,500 on extra excursions around the island - from snorkeling elsewhere to riding four-wheelers to zip lining. It sounded like fun, but every time they came back they talked about the long trips and how exhausted they were.

On the other hand, Nate and I didn't spend any extra money and we were at peace and relaxed. We wanted our vacation to be a vacation and loved that we never had to worry about what time it was so we could meet a schedule. We just enjoyed some time off.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Honeymoon: Day 3

We stalked Josephine's Cafe, waiting until it opened at 11 a.m. as our stomachs were growling.

It was 11:05 a.m., but the workers weren't quite ready as they were on island time.

Finally, I went back in for a second time and asked the employees chatting around one of the tables if they were open, and they let us in.

Nate ordered a seafood wood-fire oven pizza, and I decided to try the seafood crepe, since I wanted to branch out a little on vacation.

Branch out, I did.

About in the middle of my crepe, a little purple octopus rolled out and onto the white dish in front of me.

I wasn't sure what to do.

I rolled it over with my fork as my shoulders tensed together a bit, and it's little black eyes looked at me.

"Nate, there's an octopus. I'm not sure if I can eat this."

I cut it in half, thinking that might be better than popping the thing in whole. But I still wasn't sure if I could eat something with its tentacles showing.

"Will you eat one first?" I asked my husband.

I dug around deeper into the crepe and found another one, which he grabbed and popped into his mouth. Bolstering myself off his courage, I stuck my fork in the dense creature and ate it, its legs feeling odd on my tongue. However, Nate was proud of me for trying something that I hadn't before.

Nate has a big thing about people who won't branch out. He doesn't care if I don't like what I try - for instance, the conch we ate on Key Largo - but he just wants me to test stuff out. He has gotten me to try a lot of new things in our relationship, and I usually enjoy them.

After lunch, Nate and I went down to the water sports hut and picked up some flippers for the snorkeling excursion we signed up for.

On the boat, we put on the bright yellow jackets that would help boats to not run over us. We cleaned out the goggles and snorkels with disinfectant, and then we jumped into the clear water and swam around to see the wildlife.

Nate and I held hands as we swam, pointing out blue fish, striped ones, barracudas, coral and sea anemones. Perhaps my favorite part was just doing something so exotic hand-in-hand with my new husband.

After the snorkeling trip was over and our faces had nice goggle imprints on them, we went back to the water sports hut and asked to take out a hobby craft. A worker hopped on with us and taught us how to steer, speed up and slow down. Then he took us back to shore, jumped off and let us go.

Nate took the reins at the helm and I just relaxed as we whooshed across the blue bay, the giant Sandals sail waving above us and the sun shining down on us. All I felt was peace.

After two trips across the bay and back, we got out and met up with the friends we had met earlier in the week at the pool. We swam around, and then they ended up leaving for another Sandals resort on the island to eat dinner, but we went up to our room to get ready for the reservation we had at the Italian restaurant at our resort.

The restaurant closed at 9 p.m. and our reservation was for 8:45 p.m. But that didn't stop us from ordering four courses of food, at which our server didn't look happy. We promised her that we eat fast, and she laughed when we polished off the seafood fritter appetizer in about 30 seconds.

The zuppa soup was absolutely delectable, and then I had my first lamb chops.


Nate had some seafood pasta, but I have to say my lamb chops might have been the best thing I ate all vacation.

Dessert was tiramisu, and then we spent a little time on our balcony before going to sleep.

Another successful, relaxing day on St. Lucia ended.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Honeymoon: Day 2

We woke up on the first full day of our honeymoon to the same beautiful weather as the day before.

Really, I woke up about 8:30 a.m., ready to get on with the vacation. I laid there for about a half hour, thinking how I should probably let my husband sleep. However, I couldn't find the remote, and the TV was stuck on some movie in Chinese. Pretty soon I couldn't take it, and I nudged Nate to wake him up.

We went to the only restaurant at the resort that we knew served breakfast and found it to be a buffet. I tried some tropical fruits and learned that I really like starfruit and some kind of citrus fruit that I still don't know what it was.

We went to the water sports hut and made sure to sign up for snorkeling the next day, and then we donned some bright yellow life jackets and stepped into a matching double kayak.

I had on my wide-brimmed woven sun hat, that I got for $5 at one of the summer flea markets at home, and used the ugly strap under my chin to make sure that it didn't blow off in the bay.

The water was so gorgeous. The color went from turquoise to a deep blue when it grew deeper, and it was quite warm. We could see the Piton mountains all around us and in the distance Castries looked pretty with all the different colored roofs of the buildings, a different sight than the city is up close.

When we took the boat in, we grabbed some drinks and waded into the ocean. I had my eye on one of these rings that floated with a trampoline-like material in the center, so you could float without being submerged. The moment people left them, someone else crawled in, so I stalked one until it was empty.

Nate and I floated in it, just enjoying the bright sun contrasting with the cool water. I don't even know how to describe how peaceful and relaxing that moment was. I thought I could do that for the rest of vacation.

However, pretty soon it was lunch time. We grabbed some nachos and fresh-caught tuna at the beach restaurant and then went to change.

That afternoon we had planned to go to the park that was just off the side of our resort, at the edge of the peninsula we were situated on.

We put on our walking shoes and sweats, packed my camera, some bug spray, sunscreen and a couple bottles of St. Lucian water and set out.

"I'm glad I have a wife that will go hiking with me," Nate said, and I also liked that we were doing something a little bit different than the regular resort activities.

We walked by the Atlantic Ocean on the west side of the island, passing by a number of local people who were on lunch break or parked by the water just to enjoy the view. We talked about a large rock in the distance that was white, coming to the conclusion that the white was actually just a deep layer of bird poop as we saw seagulls flying around it.

We got to the park entrance and saw that it had an admission fee of $5 U.S., so we turned around and went back to the room. Only on the resort for a day, we had already gotten to everything being included and hadn't brought money with us.

We then walked full circle and paid our admission fee to the park.

The peninsula was once the home of the British Fort Rodney, used as a look-out point as the British tried to keep the island of St. Lucia from being taken over by the French. Buildings in the park were in ruins, but it was interesting to see where people lived and worked and ate.

We then hiked up to one peak, sweating profusely in the hot sun and stagnant, humid air. On top of the fort, I pulled out my Rebel XL camera and realized the battery was dead after travel. So much for that, so Nate pulled out his iPhone and took some gorgeous pictures as we overlooked our resort and the expansive ocean. You could even see Martinique island about 40 miles away, just a shadow in the distance.

Then we headed to the twin peak on the other side of the peninsula, climbing a less worn path. I'll admit, I almost didn't make it. The heat got to me, and I thought I was going to throw up when we finally reached the top. Even up there though, the breeze didn't come and rescue me. I just kept telling myself that it was for Nate, and I wanted to be the kind of wife that would always follow her husband to the ends of the Earth, or the top of the local peaks anyway.

I fell asleep almost the moment we got back to our air-conditioned room, and then we dressed up for the night.

Setting out for dinner, I was a little upset finding out that everything was closed except for a Caribbean buffet at the restaurant we ate at that morning. I didn't want another buffet, so I pouted a little but we went anyway.

It turned out to be delicious. This was the night that they celebrated the St. Lucian heritage, and we ate local food like grilled fish, jerk chicken, sushi, fry bread and other delicious stuff. In the background, a steel drum band played some amazing music.

We saw some local culture in the dancing, and I even joined in when they invited audience members to come up.

Then we hit the hay, after a beautiful second day of our honeymoon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Honeymoon: Day 1

This is a picture of the view that Nate and I had of the Atlantic from our honeymoon suite.

We got to the Sandals Grande resort in St. Lucia and were welcomed by professional concierges who brought our paperwork to us as we sat on comfy couches and enjoyed our first complimentary beverages at the all-inclusive resort.

Another employee then showed us to our room, coming in to give us the scoop on everything.

Nate and I were really hungry, and no restaurants opened up for dinner service until 6:30 p.m., so instead we went to the English pub that opened up earlier.

We spotted Bangers and Mash on the menu and were curious. Since our waiter was obviously really from Britain, his accent gave him away, we asked him what it was.

"If I tell you, you won't want to order it," he said.

Nate asked him for some suggestions, and he asked us if we had ever had marinated chicken wings.

Nate answered him kindly, but I laughed on the inside. We're from the U.S., yeah, I think we've had chicken wings before.

However, we soon realized why he asked us that. Apparently he thought I was Italian, not American. Actually, I was asked twice during the trip if I was from Italy. Maybe I'm more exotic-looking than I realize! Haha.

Nate ended up ordering the Bangers and Mash - which turned out to be sausage on top of mashed potatoes, with onion gravy - and I got the authentic fish and chips, with mashed peas to dip the fries into. It was all absolutely delicious.

The best part for me - we got up and left without having to pay a bill. It was so amazing!

We went next door to the billiards room, but all the tables were full. A large table sat on one side with different balls than we were used to. It was a British game called Snooker, but we had no idea how to play.

Instead, we went out in the hall and started playing on a pool table out there. We ended up meeting some couples out there and started talking, Nate connecting with a guy named Derek over hunting.

Before we headed back to our room, Nate and I saw that someone was in the billiards room playing snooker. We asked them if we could watch them play to learn the rules, and they passed down what they had learned from the British people working inside the pub.

Since we didn't get to the resort until 4 p.m., that was about all the energy we could expend that day. So we headed up to relax on the balcony in our room, the waves of the Atlantic Ocean softly crashing just a couple hundred feet away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The first views of St. Lucia

Our first view of St. Lucia was over the gigantic gray wing of a 737.

The dark green island's mountains, the Pitons, rolled into the deep blue ocean. The colors became even brighter as the plane descended and landed on the one small runway at Hewanorra Airport. We actually had to turn around and taxi back to the gate, which wasn't even a gate as I got my first taste of deplaning right onto the jetway.

The air in St. Lucia was humid and warm, which is amazing, but a little uncomfortable when you're in jeans.

We went through customs, which was surprisingly easy, considering we had no idea what to expect since we've never left the country before.

Staying at a Sandals resort, workers immediately found us, grabbed our bags and took us into a bright room filled with comfortable furniture to wait for our shuttle to the Grande resort 41 miles from the airport.

It ended up that the shuttle only sat eight, and there were 10 people waiting to go to the Grande. So a worker called us over to an unmarked car, a taxi we assumed. He told us to get inside.

I didn't think about it until later in the trip, but apparently Nate became nervous right away, fearing that were being kidnapped, because we had left the group with a driver that literally could have taken us anywhere that he wanted. We had no idea where the resort was, but leave it up to my husband to make sure to note every single police officer that he saw along the way in case something did happen.

Well, stuff did happen along the way, but it wasn't us being kidnapped.

When we got in the car, the St. Lucian man started to give us a little information about the place. I could only pick out about every third word even though he said, "Our language is English, with some broken French." A Caribbean form of English, it definitely was.

He talked about the bananas and coconuts grown on the island, "Very, very nice." He talked about the rum made there, "Very, very nice." He talked about a lot of different things that were "Very, very nice."

The trip wasn't really what I expected. We zoomed around on the wrong side of the road - at least the wrong side in the U.S. - at about 60 miles per hour on curvy roads that should have had a speed limit of 30. We passed people with cars coming right at us. We shot past people walking right on the side of the road. We went around curves on one lane roads and next to steep cliffs that had no guard rails.

A few minutes into the drive, Nate grabbed my hand and held it tight. We didn't move or let go for quite some time.

What impacted me most about this island though was seeing the villages that people lived in.

I guess going to a Sandals resort, I figured that St. Lucia was a wealthy island with magestic, ocean-front homes with large terraces.

It wasn't.

I saw a couple of gas stations, some roadside "restaurants" and plenty of places to stop and get a Piton beer.

The homes looked like shacks, and when we entered the capital of Castries, I was amazed at how people lived. It looked like the poor sections of Brazil that you see where people create homes out of scraps of wood and metal. Some people even had business signs for these places, making a living however they could. I only saw two small churches there as well. I wondered if God had reached this community much.

One home really struck me though. It was a skinny, two-story wood house with no siding or paint. There were not even windows.

However, in the holes where windows should be were white lace curtains, and bright white linens blew in the breeze on a clothesline outside.

I guess when I think about people who live in shacks like I was seeing, I figured these people would be poor and smelly. However, in this home, people obviously took pride in taking care of whatever they had, keeping it clean, even if it wasn't much.

I don't know if those people would want to live in the U.S. or even if they see anything weird about the way that they live. More power to them, I thought. If they are happy with a simple life like that, then I hope they live it to the fullest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So we're going to St. Lucia, huh?

I had no idea where we were going on our honeymoon.

Nate had it all planned and somehow had managed to keep it a secret, even though a lot of our friends knew where we were going.

I knew we had a layover in Miami the first night, so I figured the Caribbean. However, I was also told that I should pack a long-sleeve shirt and a stocking cap to go along with the shorts I had packed.

A stocking cap and shorts? Really, Nate?

Side note: I did find out later that Nate took the hat out right after I put it in.

We arrived in Miami the Tuesday after our wedding, and picked up our rental car - a bright orange Dodge Challenger.

A revving engine and freeways, and Nate was a happy man.

We drove down to Key Largo to check into the hotel Nate had booked for that night, and then we spent some time driving around. We even stopped at a restaurant that had been featured on the Food Network. Since it was called the Conch House, we tried their specialty, conch.

Not a fan.

Instead of driving all the way down to Key West, we decided to head back to our resort and relax a little bit. Some reggae music and a hammock overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, we were quite content.

The mosquitoes started biting as the sun set though, so we headed in to have some dinner at the resort's restaurant.

After some salmon for me and lobster ravioli for Nate, we headed back to our room.

I chatted about how I needed to remember to call the credit card company in the morning to tell them we were leaving the country.

"Yeah, call and tell them we're going to St. Lucia," Nate said, not really thinking.

"So we're going to St. Lucia, huh?"


I was impressed that he didn't let it slip until the night before though!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Next up: The reception

I had one request for our wedding reception - that people dance!

I had several reasons for that desire. First, I love to dance, and I wanted to dance and have fun at our wedding reception. Second, receptions die really fast when people aren’t dancing. Third, I have friends who also love to dance, and I knew that our reception would be a failure without it.

Thankfully, we had Nate’s cousins (mine too now, I guess) DJ the reception, and they put a ton of forethought into the playlist.

When we got to the reception, kind of late due to our pictures, we hurriedly ate, cut the cake and gave speeches so that the party wouldn’t die.

I shouldn’t have been concerned.

After our first dance, father-daughter dance and mother-son song, the music started bumping. Little kids were the first ones on the dance floor, but pretty soon our friends took over. The dollar dance just egged them on, and one thing I’ll never forget is the fact that some of my friends danced with me, and Nate’s male friends danced with him. It was odd, but enjoyable.

The dance floor was full the entire night, and I only left to get glasses of water every now and then. Nate had a cigar, but even took a break from that to come back in to dance to “Thriller,” a must-have for his family. My family must-have was a polka song that actually recruited a full dance floor.

At one point, I went to sit by my family, who were resting at a table. I didn’t want to neglect them so I sat down for a second. Looking at the dance floor, 80 percent of the movers and shakers were male.

“Have you ever been to a wedding where there are more guys than girls on the dance floor?” I asked my mom.

“No,” she said.

There were plenty of guys out there having a blast, and we knew there would be.

From throwing the bouquet to tossing the garter to getting Rick-rolled by Nate’s work friends, our reception was an evening to remember.

And we've already been told that we need to renew our vows pretty soon so that people can have another party.

Side note:
We almost got the reception even later than we did. When the bridal party was standing on the stairs leading into the reception hall, a drunk guy approached us and actually started walking up the stairs with us.
“Are you liberal?” he asked.
Nate and I kind of just looked at him like, “What are you doing here?”
“Are you liberal?” he slurred again.
“No,” Nate said.
“Come on man, be liberal,” the drunk said, oh so convincingly.
Nate turned to me.
“Is he part of your family?”
“This is our wedding, beat it,” Nate turned to the drunk, full on angry now.
We had planned to walk into our reception in handcuffs, just for fun. But Nate was ready to use them for a different purpose then.
“Beat it or I’m going to use these handcuffs on you,” Nate told the guy.
“Come on, be liberal,” the drunk said again, slowly backing down a stair at a time.
A couple more threats, and he ended up at the bottom of the stairs, still pleading with us to turn liberal as we walked into our reception.
He actually made it inside later than night until a friend’s mom told him to leave, and she and my mom glared him out the door.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Part III: The Ceremony

"Don't you dare kiss me."

I was standing in the foyer of the church with my hand tucked in the crook of my dad's arm before he walked me down the aisle, and this is what he said.

At the rehearsal, we had practiced me giving my dad a kiss and a hug before he handed me off to Nate at our wedding ceremony. Now, my dad was telling me not to kiss him, because he didn't think he would hold the tears in.

"Can I at least hug you?" I said, laughing slightly. I thought he was cute.

"You can hug me later," he said.

Then the song inside the sanctuary switched to a piano version of "Better Together," by Jack Johnson.

Two of our ushers and good friends opened the glass doors, and I walked inside as the people stood in their rows.

I looked at Nate at the end of the aisle, a moment I have dreamed about for a long time. He was perfectly handsome, standing tall at the end of the aisle in his black tux with white shirt, tie and vest. A smile graced his face, but he looked a little tense. he told me later he got nervous just before the ceremony started, realizing how big a moment this was.

I looked at the people smiling and taking pictures as I walked to meet my prince charming. At the end of the aisle, my dad and I stopped, still arm in arm. The music faded away, and the pastor asked "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

"Her mother and I," my dad said.

He didn't really even look at me but gave Nate a hug and handed me over to him.

Nate took my hand, but as we approached the stairs up to the stage, I had to take it back to hold up my dress. It wasn't quite smooth, because we hadn't practiced with a long dress that I was trying to not trip over in my turquoise lace shoes.

At the top, I grabbed Nate's hand again, and the ceremony started.

It was kind of a whirl. The pastor speaking. The scripture readers - my best friends from college - reading a verse and my eyes starting to tear as my friend Emily made eye contact with me while she read. Nate and I turning toward each other and exchanging vows, then rings.

I don't think most people knew what happened when we exchanged rings. Nate got mine on easily. However, he has knuckles that are larger than the bottom of his fingers. His ring fit his finger but was quite tight to get on over his knuckle. I put it on halfway but stopped.

"Nope, that's as far as it's going."

Nate then stuck his hand in his pocket to keep the ring from slipping off, but it wasn't what he was supposed to do.

"Hold her hand man," the pastor told him.

"I don't want to lose the ring," Nate said quietly, pulling his hand out of his pocket with his ring finger crooked. I grabbed his hand and held the ring on until the musicians made their way on stage. As we walked to the back to light the unity candle, Nate shimmied the ring the rest of the way on.

We picked up the turquoise candles that had been lit before the ceremony by our mothers, and then we walked back to center stage and joined hands as our parents made their way up to us.

An intimate moment ensued as our parents, all still together, circled us and prayed for us. Nate lowered his head to rest on mine, which was very sweet. However, my feet weren't in a good position and the extra bit of weight was throwing me off balance. I slid my feet into a new position trying to concentrate on what our parents were saying and "I Can't Wait" being sung in the background.

I had kept myself from crying throughout the ceremony. However, when Nate and I faced each other and the pastor pronounced us man and wife, I stared into his eyes.

The blue-green eyes that stared back at me were ones that I have looked at for more than eight years. They're ones that I will look into for the rest of my life, Lord willing. They are beautiful eyes, full of love and full of strength and full of courage. They are the eyes of the man that I can't help but love.

As the pastor pronounced us husband and wife, the tears slowly filled my eyes. I tried to smile but could feel my face tighten as the tears came. I was just oh so happy.

Then our pastor said, "You may kiss your bride."

Nate gave me a huge kiss as people in the audience hooped and hollered and cheered and applauded.

Then the new Mr. and Mrs. walked down the aisle together, the first of many steps we will make arm in arm.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wedding Day part II

The days leading up to our wedding, I sent out a complete schedule with hour-by-hour directions for the entire bridal party.

Well, the day didn't quite turn out according to the schedule.

Decorating at the church went perfectly, and it actually went much quicker than anticipated. My bridesmaid Kathleen and I headed out to our hair appointments, discovering along the way that one of the reception venue's signs - which I was expecting to use to direct people - had been taken down.

Thanks so much to my best friends who bought some poster board and created signs for me as I sat at the hair salon!

Then I ended up not even starting my hair appointment until after I thought it would be done.

Thanks to my friends for heading to the church and decorating the sanctuary!

We were supposed to start pictures at 1 p.m., and my photographer said that I was being overly positive about what time I would be ready. And I ended up still sitting in the hairdresser's chair at 1:15 p.m.

I just laughed.

"I gave my fiance a schedule, and now he's going to be like, 'She's not even following it,'" I told my hairdresser.

Oh, well!

I scrambled into the church, put on my dress - which was luckily pretty easy - and applied my make-up in a scramble.

We ended up right on time with everything. I even had a few moments to spare to play a game of air hockey and pray with my parents before the ceremony started.

A lesson in patience and not being a bridezilla the day of my wedding. Luckily I was so happy I just went with the flow, for the most part.

Part III: The Ceremony, coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A chat with my parents

I'm back!

I think it's going to take me a month to not only catch up on the blogging about everything that has happened recently but to also catch up just on life! A wedding Sept. 2, a honeymoon until last night, starting dance tomorrow, moving on Saturday - we're just trucking on.

To catch up, maybe I should just go chronologically. First things first: Our wedding day.

I didn't think that I would be able to fall asleep the night before Nate and I got married. However, put me in a dark room, snuggled in a warm bed and even "Friends" going on the TV won't keep me awake.

The next thing I knew I felt someone standing over me, and I opened my eyes to face right above mine. I jumped and grabbed the covers - a great and helpful reaction if someone was going to attack me...

Luckily, it was just my dad. It was 6:30 a.m. and he wanted to talk before the big day, and my mom jumped into the king-size bed next to me and snuggled up.

They talked about the importance of love and respect between a husband and a wife. My dad said how men are instructed to love their wives, because that isn't something that comes natural to them. Love for women is just a natural thing. However, woman are instructed to respect because that is less natural for them than love.

It was an interesting topic, one that was actually repeated in the sermon at our wedding ceremony - which I didn't realize was going to happen.

However, I think the part of that conversation that stuck out to me the most was how my parents talked about each other. I don't remember exactly how it came up, but they said that 30 years from now they hope that Nate and I still find what we need only in each other.

They said they still can be in a room full of people, but when their eyes meet across the distance it's like a relaxing feeling comes over them and they just know that they're OK because they have each other.

I love that my parents are still so in love 33 years after they got married, and I can't wait to have that with Nate and to tell our children about it when it's their turn to tie the knot.

More tomorrow on how the rest of the day turned out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Signing off for the wedding

I think I'm going to sign off here.

At least for a few weeks.

I can't wait to have an escape from reality for just a few weeks. First, it's going to be unreal getting ready all the last minute details for my wedding. It's a day that I have looked forward to since I was a little girl. I remember sketching out my dream wedding dress when I was just a little girl, planning out all my flowers and my colors.
Honestly, it hasn't changed much either.

I can't really talk about my wedding dress, because Nate doesn't know what it looks like but I can say some details of it are what I have wanted for years. I always wanted lilies, although I went from stargazer lilies to just white lilies. I also used to want turquoise and pink for my colors, although now we ended up with teal and silver.

I have to say though, my dream was always about falling in love and finding that perfect man that I would walk down the aisle to. I am so excited to see his face the moment that our eyes meet as I walk down that aisle. I love him so much, and I couldn't have dreamed of a more perfect relationship with someone.

Then, we have an escape from reality as we get to go have some fun and celebrate our relationship, just the two of us. A week and a half off from work and off from stress and daily life.

It's time to concentrate solely on us, and so I say good-bye for a little while. Remember to cherish those everyday moments in the meantime, and don't forget to look for God in those little things along the way.

Don't forget about me! I'll be back soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Submitting to authority

For a lot of women, submission is a huge issue when they get married.

They hate the thought of their husband being "in charge" of them and not being able to be "independent."

That ideal has never been a problem for me. Maybe it's because I'm bad a decision-making anyway, so I would rather someone else be in charge most of the time. Maybe it's because I was raised to see the husband be the head of the household like Christ is the head of the church.

In my devotion today, it was talking about authority. It said that a lot of people have a hard time submitting to authority, whether local law enforcement or parents, or husbands.

However, it pointed out that Jesus submitted to authority, something I hadn't really considered.

The "Woman of God" devotional by Diane Graham and Julie Norris said, "...consider that Jesus submitted to the Father's will, becoming a true human being, obeying the entire will of God on our behalf, and then dying on a cruel cross, absorbing into himself the punishment for our rebellion."

I usually think Christ's dying was his choice, and it ultimately was. He could have come down off the cross, but he chose to submit to his father's will and die for us in that horrible way.

Christ is an example of perfection in all things and he truly did face all things, even the need to submit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Take pride in each other

I think it's important to tell people that you're proud of them.

I have a friend who has been through a lot, relationship-wise. He was engaged but had the courage to break it off when it wasn't right. And he saw what happened and has been trying hard to find the right woman this time, a Christian woman who is worth it and thinks he's worth it. He even said that he is taking this time to try to get closer to God and do what's right this time.

I think it's hard to keep trying to do the right thing without any encouragement, so Nate and I have tried to tell him that we're proud of him. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't seem worth it time after time when it seems like no one notices or is there to help you. We know that God sees us doing the right thing, but it's nice to know that others are proud of us too.

It's really special when Nate says that he's proud of me and it makes me want to not only continue what I'm doing, but to do even better to make sure that he stays proud of who I am and what I do.

What do you enjoy in the people around you? Have you told them you're proud of those things?