Friday, September 25, 2009


If summer is a party...

Fall is the best friend that sticks around and helps you clean up...

...and sticks around to drink coffee and talk about what's REALLY going on.

Don't you just love fall??

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three years...

I came down into the kitchen this morning, and Matt was sitting there reading his Bible in his bedtime regalia (fleece, flannel pants, double socks, and hat - yes, all of this, even in the summer). He looked at me for a second, and then his face brightened with realization and he said, "Hey, happy anniversary!" We marveled that it doesn't feel like three years - it actually feels a lot longer than that. Partly because our first year involved SO many things that most people manage to fit into ten or twenty years (multiple moves to multiple states, job loss and changes, etc). But Matt summed it up nicely, "I guess it just feels timeless."

Our first year of marriage was pretty tough. We went through a lot together and were stretched way more than we imagined we would be. Living states away from our support systems was no joke. Heck, we really barely knew each other, come to think of it, when we got married. We only dated for four months before becoming engaged, and were engaged for seven months, three of which we spent apart while I was at camp in southern Colorado and Matt was settling into the condo in Denver. Marriage was a huge adjustment, to say the least, for both of us.

Our marriage looks so different from what I think both of us imagined it would be. TV shows and movies and our culture in general gives us the impression that our partner is the one who is supposed to meet all of our needs, make us happy, and love us for who we are. While all of these things are true to a degree, we found that having these expectations of each other pretty quickly led to disaster. No one person can meet all of our needs - only Christ can. Our happiness can't be found only in another person - the joy of the Lord is our strength. And if marriage is supposed to model Christ's relationship with His bride - the church - then yes, we are loved for who we are, but the one (and the One) who loves us loves us too much to let us stay exactly as we are. That last one was a toughie. Being with this other person 24/7 served as a huge mirror that showed me just how selfish, prideful, childish, and set in my ways I really was. And so down the challenging, rewarding, amazing, redeeming, grace-filled road of marriage we sped.

God is so kind for giving me Matt for a husband, who I have learned is my primary source of grace on this earth. Matt, thank you for loving me sacrificially, for the way you take our relationship so seriously, the ways in which you seek to grow and connect with me. Thank you for being always on your guard for the things that could encroach on our relationship. Thank you for making me laugh, spending time with me, being my greatest source of encouragement, and always having my back. In so many ways we ARE still "newlyweds," but in so many ways, you're right...our marriage IS timeless. I can't wait to see what the NEXT three years will bring!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cake Wrecks

Oh my word. The last time I laughed this hard was probably the last time I worked with my friend Martine in the Special Care Nursery and she told me about the time she thought she was being attacked by a coyote and it turned out to be a jackrabbit. When I work with her, I usually end up with sore, tear-streaked cheeks, my eyeliner and mascara completely *destroyed*, needing to change my pants.

This site is about ugly, horrible cakes. It's just good, clean fun. And it made me laugh ALMOST as hard as Martine does.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My friend Erin's blog (which is linked on the right hand side of this blog, under Erin Southwell) has been nominated for best blog of 2009!!! If you've never looked at her blog before, grab a cup of tea, curl up in your favorite spot, and let it take you away. Her eye for beauty, her way of describing it, AND her heart for the Lord are so encouraging and refreshing. Anyway, I'm helping her out by providing the link where you too can vote for her blog as the best of the best. You do have to sign up to be a member of "Divine Caroline," but it only takes a minute. If Erin receives the $250 prize, she plans to donate it to a hospital in Africa where friends serve as missionaries.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And He will give you the desires of your heart...

I have this spiral-bound notebook. It's red, and has a haphazard drawing of a daisy on it with glittery petals. In the lower corner it reads, "My notes." I scribbled the "notes" out and replaced it with "plans."

Five or so years ago, I was in the middle of a....funk. I was working nights and had come to a circadian impasse: I couldn't sleep day OR night. I was taking ambien AND Benadryl to no avail, and was barely scraping by on a handful of hours of sleep at best each day. My job at the time was stressful and I was dealing with a number of mentally and emotionally draining cases. I was in a relationship that was on a slow train to nowhere, which left me in a chronic state of anticipation met with frustration. I was so. Frustrated. With life. I cried out to God on a regular basis: Help me sleep. Help me get by at work. Show me what to do with this guy.

There is so little in this life over which we really have a ton of control. I really think God was teaching me that at the time, and was systematically prying my fingers off of the things to which I was clinging so tightly. He does that sometimes. It sucks.

I had bought this one book, called "Table for One: The Savvy Girl's Guide to Being Single." That book was - apart from the Bible - like a life manual for me! It was written by a 30-something single gal who was REAL...her descriptions of her feelings hit so close to home that they made me cry. But at the end of the book, it made me want to sing from the rooftops about the blessed season God had me in. Above all, the part that resonated with me the most was that God has put SO many desires in our hearts. At the time, the one desire I thought I had was to be married. But she made me stop and think, wait a second...maybe I can't do much about the married part right NOW, but there are probably some things that I CAN do right now that I've always wanted to....

So I bought the notebook. I ripped out pages from my National Geographic Adventure magazines of places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do someday. I taped in newspaper clippings of fun things to do in the area - like kiteboarding lessons in Traverse City and hangliding up near my parents' house. I made lists of things I wanted to do someday - reasonable and far-fetched. I sat on my couch - flanked by throw pillows that were stained with mascara from me crying so much - and started to map out a life that was entirely possible to have if I was willing to take a few chances. I was figuring out that God never intended for me to sit and mark time. Wait on HIM - yes. Watch life go by, enveloping myself in frustration because I wasn't getting what I thought I needed to have - not so much.

So I decided to be a camp nurse. That way I could be a nurse AND be outside and reset my body clock, right? I broke up with the guy. I dumped my earthlies into storage. And with a "Home is where the car is" clipping taped to the dashboard in my car, off I tooted for parts unknown. A life unknown. It was awesome and horrifying all at once. But that day I started to chip away at a list I had made on April 6, 2005: "Things I want to do in the next five years." Twenty-one things - ridiculous and reasonable - that I could make a way to do in five years. Buy a digital camera. Get a passport. Learn how to kayak. Live near the water in California. Learn how to change a flat. Those were some of the ones I've managed to check off. Others (ski in British Columbia, kayak by the Baja peninsula, camp in Banff National Park) are still up for grabs. Maybe I'll have to extend the deadline on my little list...

My point is, that notebook was one of the best investments I may have ever made (besides a marriage license signed by a certain sweet man and the purchase of a certain yellow dog). I still visit that notebook and update it, sign and date the pages of places where I have finally been. I remind myself that now that I finally DO have that desire of my heart fulfilled - marriage - I still have other desires that bubble around in me. Places to go. Things to try. When I'm bored or discouraged or need inspiration, I pull the book out. I still rip out magazine pages and tape them in. I make new lists. I dream and plan, and if things work out right, I do.

If you're finding yourself in a funk like I had (and I still have funks - please don't think that now I'm sittin' pretty and my every whim is fulfilled!), please be encouraged. Maybe life doesn't look exactly like you anticipated, but there's a purpose and a sweetness in every season, even if it's a difficult one. God draws us to Him in so many ways. And He's fashioned us all with passions and desires and dreams - more than we even realize. You may not have that much control over your current situation, but you CAN control how you respond to it...either drink up every last drop of despair and hold your cup out for more - OR - push yourself away from the table and sit at a new one. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

No matter how old you are or what season of life you're in, start makin' your list. Ask God to reveal to you what He has in store for a willing heart. Man makes his plans, and the Lord directs his steps (some verse in Proverbs - Psalms? - can't remember which one, but you get the point). It doesn't have to be grandiose or as drastic as dumping your stuff in storage and heading for the mountains - it can be as simple as tackling that book you've always wanted to read, volunteering locally, taking a community ed class, or checking out a new park or trail. Tap into that heart God gave you, and see where He takes you!