Monday, July 15, 2019

We're Always Getting There.


Three years ago. Three years ago today, I took this picture of this important piece of paper lying on the worn dashmat of my 1998 Saturn. After five years of graduate school and months and months of study, I had finally passed the National Counseling Exam. It was something I never thought I could do, or at least doubted I could do without God's strength and guidance and wisdom. And I'd done it. Praise Him!

I thought that passing that counseling exam would lead me to my preferred profession. But in reality, I'd already taken another job, and it wasn't counseling. I worked at that job for a year, and then went back to my core desire to help others and took a job in behavioral health. I thought that job would be something different than it was, or is, because I'm still at that job. And I like my job. I'm thankful for my job. But it definitely isn't the one I expected to have when I walked across the stage with my graduate degree in marriage and family therapy in 2015.

Life isn't what we think it is. Somehow, we think we'll someday arrive, but we don't. We don't ever quite find our perfect job. We don't ever quite reach our financial goals. We don't ever quite figure out who or what or where we want to be when we "grow up." My husband and I were just having that conversation with teens at our church, and we're both in our thirties.

No. We never quite arrive. We're always getting there. But I think that's God's way of reminding us that He's in control, that He's God, that we always need to be humble and willing to grow. Because growth is part of the journey, and in this life, the journey isn't over until we see Jesus. As believers in Christ, we should always be working toward getting there.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Real Talk Marriage (One Month In)

We've been married for one month, and marriage has been good, and awesome, and amazing. But it's also been hard. I expected it to be hard, but not in the ways it has been. One of my goals with my blog has always been to be honest and real. And since I've gotten married, I might as well be honest and real about marriage, too. 



(Photo courtesy of George Fletcher Photography)

So here's the first of (what might be) many posts on what I'm learning in marriage.

Communication: We haven't really had any fights (though we may at some point or another), but I've been fighting with myself. As in, it's been hard for me to communicate my needs, mostly probably because I don't want to need. But I do, and it's not fair to expect my husband to know what I need unless I tell him. So whether it's asking for a hug, or help around the house, or for the trash to be taken out, I have to say it. And that's new, and hard in ways I didn't expect.

Gender roles: I was blessed to grow up in a home where my mom stayed at home, and as a result, she did most of the chores around the house. I always assumed that's the way it should be. But the reality is that I work, a lot. And as I think about gender roles biblically, there's really nothing wrong that I can see with my husband cooking dinner, or doing dishes, or helping around the house sometimes. Yes, I want to do all those things all the time, but the reality is that I can't, or if I can and I do it, I'm a grouchy mess. So while I have the helper role in this relationship, I'm learning to accept (and appreciate) help, and that's been hard.

Independence: I've always prided myself on being strong and independent and able to" do it myself." When I got married, I knew that I was giving up my independence and some of my freedoms in exchange for interdependence. I was fine with that. What I didn't realize was the guilt that I'd feel over being dependent. I recognize that biblically my husband is my covering and my head, and so therefore I am his responsibility, but that's been hard for me. He tells me that he knew what he was signing up for when he said his vows, and I thought I did, too. But submission to God's design for interdependence has thus far been harder than actually submitting to my husband.

The "hard" of marriage might not be what I expected, but God knew. God knows. If marriage is about growth and sanctification (and I believe it is), this is just part of the process. And I'm all in. I've always been and forever will be.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Our Most Used Kitchen Products (So Far)



People were so, so generous in their wedding gifts to us. We received a few things we needed, and a lot of things that we wanted. And some appliances and gizmos that we didn't know we would use as much as we do. Here's a few of our most used kitchen products so far:

(And thanks to all who gave us gifts not mentioned here. We're using or will use them, too!)

The Insta-Pot

People told us we'd use this thing, and man have we ever! We made rice the first night we were home, and we use it probably at least every other day. So far, we've made rice, and beans, and split pea soup, and hard boiled eggs, and I've got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to more recipes I want to try. (Feel free to send me your favorites.) The Insta-Pot is a time saver, and a space saver since it is so many appliances in one. Double yes on this gift.

George Foreman Grill with Removal Plates

I grew up with a George Foreman grill, and we used it mostly to make paninis, aka "sandwiches in the sandwich maker." I've made one sandwich like that so far, but I've also used it to grill zucchini for zucchini lasagna and chicken for our new favorite summer meal (cold rice, lettuce, chicken, and a cold creamy dressing, all topped with sriracha). Best of all, the plates come out of the machine, so the drip pan and everything go into the dishwasher and come out clean with minimal effort. We'll see how long the metal lasts with our hard water, but for now, this machine is a winner in our book.

Bissell 1782 Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand and Car Vacuum

My Granddad bought this gift for us, and I honestly didn't expect to use it as much as we have! We don't have pets, but we've use it for everything from vacuuming up piles of dirt when we've swept (because we couldn't find the dustpan), to cleaning out my car when the power was out, to vacuuming up charcoal from food that burned inside the oven. (Yes, I caused the food spill, and yes, it was my idea to use the vacuum to remove the debris from inside the cool oven.) A+ for usefulness, Granddad!

Pampered Chef Mix 'N Chop

I didn't know what this gizmo was until I read the packaging. And then I used it. As a former vegetarian who still doesn't like cooking meat that much, this thing makes it easy, and I'm convinced it speeds up the process. Plus, there's less risk of flinging raw meat all over like with a spatula. And it's made of nylon, so it won't scratch any pan! I didn't know I needed this, but right now, I don't want to be without it when I've got ground meat to make.

This short list is not to say we don't have (or use) other items in our kitchen, but with our busy schedules, these are some of the ones that have been most useful in saving us time. We have fun with some of the bigger and more elaborate appliances we got gifted on the weekends, and in our spare time....

Friday, July 5, 2019

Three.


Three years. I've made it three years, y'all. Three years of readjustment and learning and growing and more fully discovering who God made me to be. (Read my year two recap here.)

If you'd told me last year that I'd be celebrating July 4th and my Arizona anniversary as a married woman, I would have told you you were crazy. Chris and I had just started talking at this time last year, and I was so uncertain and...scared. And here we are a year later. And I've now got a lot go a lot more learning and growing to do as a wife.

Shortly before I moved to Arizona, my then boss quoted 2 Corinthians 5:7 to me, "For we live by faith, not by sight." I believed that truth then, as I said I was jumping off a cliff moving to Arizona with only my family and my church to fall back on: no real friends, no real community, no house. I moved back and in a year, the house I wanted to buy fell through. I changed jobs. Our church went through a season of struggle. And then last year, I got so desperate for community that I started facing my fears and reaching out. And God brought me Chris, who quite frankly wasn't who I was looking for, but a blessing nonetheless.

Over the past year, I've worked more than ever, hopefully grown in my profession, and learned more about living and stressing less. (But I have a long way to go. Ask my husband!)

God brought me back to Arizona for a reason, for many reasons, I believe, and I probably don't know all of them. But for now, I'll praise him for these that He's allowed me to see:

1) To help those struggling.
2) To reconnect and redeem some family relationships.
3) To help me face my fears and become more myself.
4) To grow.
5) To get married.

God is good. Life can be hard and life is full of change. But God is good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

What to Do In and Around Ridgway, Colorado

Okay, okay. For all who need to know, we went to Ridgway, Colorado for our honeymoon. Chris found this cute little town, so I can't really claim any credit for our getaway, okay other than one hike, which we'll get to. Here's what we did in and around Ridgway:


Ate breakfast at a cute little restaurant called Kate's Place:




Homemade waffles, white cheddar grits, gigantic omelets, and homemade sourdough, yes please!


Visited Box Canyon Falls in Ouray.


It costs $5 per adult to get in, and it's really a walk rather than a hike to the falls, but it's totally worth it.


And from there, you can hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail (of which we did part).






Pictures don't really do the magnitude of these crevices justice.


And praise the Lord, we didn't fall into the creek when we decided to scale down a steep cliff toward it....


The next day, we went to Telluride, Colorado. I take a little credit for the activities here, because this is a location my family frequents. But Chris drove, so he gets credit for getting us there.

First, we hiked up to Bridal Veil Falls.


And saw a few avalanches along the way.


Then we rode the gondolas, one of my favorite things to do there. (And it's free!)


We ended the afternoon walking around Ridgway. It's a small town, but still worth visiting. We ate most of our meals at our Airbnb, but it was still fun to see what the town had to offer (including a small grocery store).

It was good to get away for a few days (maybe more on that later), but also nice that Ridgway was within driving distance. So for now, that's a (pictorial) wrap of our honeymoon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How We Had a Low Stress Wedding


I've attended more weddings than I am years old. And weddings tend to stress me out. They're so special and celebratory, but they can also be so detailed and over-the-top. They can also be bride-centric and somewhat exclusive of the groom. So when it came to my own wedding, I wanted to go simple and low stress, and include my groom, because this wedding wasn't happening without Chris! Here's how we did it.

Invitations

We didn't send out save the dates. With as short of an engagement as we had, we really didn't have time.

We sent out a one page photo announcement/invitation. I liked the idea of people having a picture of us even if they could not attend the ceremony.

We didn't include an RSVP reply card. Instead, we asked people to RSVP via our Knot website. This was inconvenient for some, and for that we apologize, but it really worked best for us and for our budget.

We kept invitations pretty open. If people saw us and told us they wanted to attend, we invited them. Planning a simple ceremony allowed that.

The Ceremony

We kept it simple. We wanted the focus to be on the Lord and on our vows, so we asked our pastor to officiate that way. He did an amazing job.

We limited our attendants to two each. We have many family and friends we value and could have asked to stand with us, but we stuck to one friend and one family member that we knew would support us in our vows.

We chose not to do a meal. Again, this was inconvenient for some, and for that, we apologize. But we wanted to keep the reception short, and we wanted to have an open invitation policy. That meant no elaborate food plans.

We cut everything that didn't matter to us. Wedding cake? Cut. First dance? Cut. Bouquet and garter toss? Cut. Chris developed some "filter questions" for our ceremony and if something didn't honor God, enrich our marriage, or specifically exist to bless our guests, we got rid of it. That allowed us to keep and focus on what really mattered to us: our covenant of marriage and the friends and family who came to support us in it.

The Decorations

Get a planner. Here's where not everyone can do what we did. My best friend is an amazing amateur decorator, florist, wedding planning, do-it-all type gal. I flew her out to help me find my wedding dress, and we planned a lot of the wedding that weekend. She then collected other decorations, made our bouquets and boutonnieres, etc. and brought them with her. Her help was invaluable.

Use food. My best friend and mom proposed using pinto beans and split peas in jars to decorate (since we had a cactus/southwest theme). This was a great idea! The decorations cost less and were even repurposed into after-wedding food, like the split pea soup we made in our Insta-Pot the first week we were home.

Let other people take the lead. Again, not everyone can do what we did, but I told everyone that my best friend was in charge, and left. Yes, I let other people decorate the church without me. It was less stressful for me and truly let me get some rest in my body, soul, mind, and spirit before the big day.

So it goes without saying, but a big part of our low stress wedding is thanks to my best friend.

The Day Of

Go low key with exercise. I knew I wanted to get outside the morning of the wedding, but I also didn't want to get all sweaty. So I went with an early, low-key stroll. That was enough to help center my mind without stressing my body and getting all nasty and gross.

See the groom. This broke status quo, but Chris he was a big part of helping me not get overly caught up in details or stressed about things. I also didn't like the idea of not seeing him the entire day before we made a lifelong commitment before God and men. So before I got my makeup done or we started getting ready, we spent a few minutes together to try to wrap our heads around the day and what was in store for us.

Do calming activities. There was so much I could have done the day of the wedding, but I wanted to be a calm and collected bride for my groom, so I just said, "No." Instead, I looked at social media, read a book, colored, and blogged.

Go professional for makeup. I wasn't originally on board with this, but my best friend suggested it, and I am so glad she did. I went to Ulta, so it wasn't super expensive, and having someone else do my makeup improved my confidence and made it easier on my bridal party and attendants.

Order food you will want to eat. I was worried I wouldn't be hungry or want to eat the day of the wedding, so I ordered my favorite Chick-Fil-A salad. I'm so glad I did. It tasted good and kept me fueled for the long day ahead.

Get ready with family and girlfriends. All those girls I might have wanted to ask to stand with me? I invited them to get ready with me. They (and their cute kids) kept me entertained and not too anxious. My mom was also there, which helped a ton!

Have room to pace. Again, this might not be possible for everyone, but we had a fairly large room (the church fellowship room) for getting ready, and when I started to feel anxious, I walked, yes, wedding dress and all. I'm thankful that I had comfortable shoes!

Pray! My friends prayed with me and for me during the wait time, and I know that made the greatest differences.

Was our wedding perfect? No, but it was wonderful. And besides being wonderful because of the man I married, it was wonderful because it was very low stress, something this perfectionistic, type A girl needed in order to really enjoy and be present for the day.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Moments and Memories

I never thought I'd have a wedding day. And then I did. Marrying Chris was (and is!) such a blessing, but there are so many other God-things about the wedding weekend and wedding day that I want to remember:

1) Having my entire family back together again. Thanks little brother for majorly inconveniencing yourself with work in order to make it!



2) Having both my best friends in the same place at the same time. And on National Best Friend's Day, at that!



3) Saturday night family dinner. I was initially opposed to this, but seeing and spending time with maternal and paternal relatives before the wedding was such a blessing.

4) Not having to decorate, and being able to nap instead. I read some time ago in my Savor devotional that "what make[s] a wedding day perfect is...a bride and groom who are happy, connected, and present" (p. 165). The best gift I felt I could give Chris was an unfrazzled bride. Letting go of decorating and resting was one way I did this.

5) Our rehearsal dinner. One of our sweet friends and her cohorts decorated for us and put scriptures about love on each table. The decorations were both beautiful and meaningful.



6) Prayer at my girls' get together/bachelorette. My friends prayed the sweetest things over me and thanked God that they got to be part of my life for my long single season. The words they said and offered up were so encouraging. They gave me a ton of gifts, as well as a notebook with well wishes and a long list of fun questions for Chris and I to discuss on our honeymoon drive. Thanks, girls!

7) Singing "To God be the Glory" right before the ceremony. My Mom prayed for God's glory in the ceremony, and then we had more time to sign. Hearing my best friends, mom, and bridesmaids sing alongside me was probably the best moment outside the ceremony.



8) Having our niece and nephew as flower girl and ring bearer. They were the cutest! And they stood through the whole entire ceremony. Basically, they're rock stars!

9) Dismissing our guests row by row. It is still hard for me to remember everyone who attended our wedding, but I am so glad we at least got to see and greet them all as we dismissed them to the reception. This made us feel better about not being present for much of that time. We really wanted the reception to be for the guests and not us anyway.

There are many more moments and "God-things" from wedding weekend that I could probably share, but for now, this is a pretty good list.