A Divine Romance

“Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham.

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
-Song of Solomon 2:10-14

Nostalgia, Friends, and Moving On

As I’ve mentioned, last weekend Brian and I flew to Iowa for the wedding of Brian’s best friend. It was an incredibly good time, and also a little bittersweet. So today, I feel like just sharing a bunch of my favorite pictures from the four days with you all.  

You know, up until 2009, I had never flown before, and now I’m starting to lose track of all the times I’ve had the privilege. To me, it’s like riding on a fun rollercoaster, just enough thrill without getting too crazy. Unless of course, there’s turbulence. That’s a little too thrilling for me!

This is the mesmerizing fountain in the Detroit airport
We flew all night and arrived in Des Moines Thursday morning with about two hours of sleep. We showered and ate a second breakfast at Brian’s grandma’s house, and picked up the van from his uncle that they offered to us to use while we were there. Then we met Jay, the groom-to-be, for lunch at the iconic Hickory Park restaurant in Ames. We had a couple hours before the rehearsal, so I took a nap at the hotel, while Brian assisted Jay with running some errands. My nap was over too soon, but then it was time for the rehearsal!

I got all choked up when they just practiced walking down the aisle! I’m such a softy! 
That night we enjoyed a wonderful meal, and a slideshow of pictures of the couple. That seriously choked me up! I also got better acquainted with the wife of one of the other groomsmen. They got married the week before we did last summer. We had fun hanging out together for the rest of the wedding events, sharing recollections of our own wedding days. 

Friday morning Brian dragged me out of bed so that I could meet my mentor and friend Sabrina for breakfast.  She caught me up on all the news from the last year, and we had a great time talking about blogging!

After breakfast, I had a few minutes to gather all my wedding attire, and then Brian dropped me off on Welch Ave. to meet more friends for lunch while he took my stuff over to the wedding location.

Amazing Chinese food for incredible prices
I was meeting them at one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants, but before they arrived I had time to walk around Welch and Campus and take a few pictures of some of our favorite spots. Oh, the nostalgia! 

Good old Welch. Brian and Jay lived down this hubbub of campus activity. 

Lake Laverne and the Memorial Union

Lancelot and Elaine, the ISU swans.

One of the many locations Brian and I used to sit for long chats

The camponile, with the amazing CyRide!
The beautiful MU

During lunch I remembered one of my favorite things about ISU. I was eating with a friend from Russia, a friend from Puerto Rico, and a friend from Hong Kong, at a Chinese restaurant with both Asian and Mexican employees. ISU and Ames in general is such a diverse city. I loved that about going to school there.

By the time we finished eating and chatting, Brian and the rest of the wedding party were on central campus taking wedding pictures. I said good-bye to my friends and walked over to meet them and ride back to the wedding location.

It was incredibly hot and humid, and we couldn’t stop sweating! It took me at least half an hour to cool off and dry off before I could get dressed for the wedding. That’s one thing I don’t miss about Iowa! 
Then it was time for the wedding! 

A sweet moment after the mothers placed the unity sand up front. 
Waiting for the Bride
The sermon was awesome! Sometimes wedding sermons are sappy, but this one was very practical and challenging! 

Announcing Mr. and Mrs.!

We had about an hour before the reception, so we milled around the lobby and enjoyed the hor d’ouevres and catching up with people we knew.

The couple had arranged so that both of us wives of the groomsmen got to sit at the head table with our husbands, which I really appreciated! It made the reception so much more enjoyable.

Us at the reception, lookin’ good

Brian did a great job with his speech! I was quite concerned, because if you know Bri, he’s not much of a public speaker, but he is quite the rambler. And sometimes he thinks things are funny that no one else understands. He allowed me to read his notes before hand, and I was impressed with what he had, and when he actually delivered it, it was even better! I was so proud!

Brothers 🙂

We had so much fun at the reception. I was so excited that I got Brian to dance with me! He’s always insisted that he can’t dance, which I totally understand, because I can’t either, but I still enjoy it! Even though we kept stepping on each other’s feet, we had fun! 

After a late night, we had breakfast with a big group of our college friends at the ridiculously early time of 8 a.m. In spite of making us late by spilling coffee down myself twice, we finally made it there and hung out with them until almost 11.

Spending time with them definitely made us homesick. The only thing we don’t like about living in Arizona is that in the year we’ve lived here, we have just as many friends as when we started: two. And friends our age? Zero. And we haven’t figured out how to meet people our age with similar interests.

We were bemoaning that with our friends, when one of our friends said something really interesting. While having college friendships that endure through the years is wonderful, “I think we need to move on too, and make new friends where we are now,” he said. He mentioned that his parents have friends from college that they still keep in touch with, but no close friends where they currently live.

He’s right. We need to maintain our friendships, but we need to find/form a new circle here too. 

Well, after breakfast, we checked out of the hotel, picked up Jimmy Johns to-go, and headed to our home town. That evening, we had a picnic on Brian’s parent’s deck for all our family. We celebrated us being back, and also my brother’s 12th birthday. 

A great candid shot

The birthday boy!

I invited my best friend Rachel, and she came over early to hang out, and stayed late.


My sister, brother-in-law, and niece

I heard crocodile tastes like chicken…

Edward was very excited about having an Iowa State cake

Happy Birthday!!!

Ethan is making his action hero eat the cake, and Eric thinks it’s pretty funny

My FIL scooping homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream

Edward is a big ISU fan, if you can’t tell!

We went to church the next day at the church I’d grown up in, and got to see many old friends. We had lunch with my older sister and her family, and before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport.

Good-bye Iowa!
On to new horizons!

So, now things have settled back into the normal rhythm for the most part. We’re still catching up on sleep, and pondering how we can form a new circle of like-minded friends here. If you have ideas, feel free to share!

School starts in three weeks. It’s hard to believe the summer is almost over! Do you have any big plans for the last few weeks before back-to-school hits? 

Wedding Gift Guide

Looking for something a little more personal than kitchen towels? While there’s nothing wrong with buying people what they put on their registry, sometimes it’s nice to add something special, something that is uniquely them.

Since Brian and I are attending a wedding this weekend, I’ve got weddings on the brain. Here’s a handy gift guide for your soon to be hitched friends.

For the Intellectual Types
Pair these two together:


Or get this matching set:

For Couples Only: Eyeopening Insights about How the Opposite Sex Thinks $14.93

You can read my book review of these books and several other marriage books in this post “After the Honeymoon”.

This would be a sweet gift for a couple who own lots of books!

Personal Library Kit $15.99 at Organize.com

For the Entertainers
With gifts this cute, you can be sure of an invite to their first party as a married couple!

Vintage Party Tub by tag®

Napkins- Azure Embroidered Cocktail Napkins - Set of 4 by tag®
Salsa Bowl with Spoon - Chili Pepper Shape by Progressive
Salsa Bowl with Spoon – Chili Pepper Shape by Progressive

A fun book that “encourages you to cook because you need to, listen because you might learn, and kiss because you want to!”

“Kissing and Cooking for Couples: A Recipe to Add Spice & Romance to Your Relationship”

For the Love Birds
Well, hopefully all the couples are love birds, but here’s a few thoughtful gifts on that theme.

Friendship Birds - Outdoor Yard Ornament and Key Hider

Friendship Birds – Outdoor Yard Ornament and Key Hider

They could use this to display a few favorite wedding cards.
This Is the Day the Lord Has Made - Bird Cage - Card Holder

For the Type A’s

For those who like a place for everything:

5 Section Mail Sorter - Ivory by KangaRoom

5 Section Mail Sorter – Ivory by KangaRoom at Organize.com

This drawer organizer uses interlocking pieces, so it will fit in any size drawer.

Interlocking Drawer Organizer Set - 10 Pieces

Interlocking Drawer Organizer Set – 10 Pieces $9.99

For the Techies
Keep them from getting tied in knots…

Cord Wrap To-Go

Cord Wrap To-Go $7.99

A funky charging station will definitely be appreciated by your gadget friendly friends.
Jonathan Adler iPad Cover - Chevron

For the Honeymooners

Give these as a set! Sometimes both guys and girls can use a few ideas to show love and appreciation! 

Probably my favorite wedding gift to give, this set from DaySpring includes two Mr. and Mrs. mugs, a journal with Mr. and Mrs. sections for writing love notes to each other, and the Mr. and Mrs. coupon book. Love it!

Mr. & Mrs. - Love Collection Set

Mr. & Mrs. – Love Collection Set on sale now for $26.99

If you need more ideas, I wrote a gift guide post for Valentines Day gifts back in February. You might find something there you like too. 
What are your favorite wedding gifts to give? Leave a comment to share your ideas with us!

Introducing the Pet

Today I’d like to introduce you to the dog. This is Kopek, the dog we are taking care of indefinitely. He came with the house we’re renting. “Kopek” means “dog” in Turkish, so named because his real owners spent some time in Turkey, and that was one of the first words they learned. 

This is a rare quiet moment. 

In the mornings, he won’t leave me alone unless I take him for a walk. He whines, bumps my elbow, whines some more, and runs back and forth from me to the door. I can’t have any peace until I take him around a few blocks! 
He constantly loses his toys, especially his ball, which results in lots of whining. Most of the time it’s under a particularly large chair in the office. One day after I pulled it out from underneath it, he lost it under there again in five minutes, and wouldn’t stop whining until I got it back out. Of course, it rolled under there again in another five minutes, so being the good dog parent I am, I got it out for him again. When he lost it again, I was tired of being a good dog parent. When he resumed whining, I used a technique many parents recognize; ignoring.
See? The quiet moment ended already. 
Kopek is a VERY curious dog. He seems to think there’s something in my pocket, and won’t rest until he gets his whole snout in there. 
Case in point, about a week ago, we were all gathered in the living room, a picturesque setting with Brian and me on the couch, and the dog at our feet. 
Suddenly, he began making a strange noise. 
“He’s throwing up Brian!” I exclaimed. We had him sit on his blanket, figuring that would be easier to clean up than the rug. Of course he refused to throw up on the blanket, and threw up on the floor. 
“What IS that?!” His throw up was very odd…like one large mass, something off-white and long. Brian thought at first it was his rawhide bone. He sent the dog to his crate, and I followed him to give him some water and comfort the poor thing. Throwing up in never fun. 
Besides, I wasn’t touching whatever it was he threw up. 
Brian manfully cleaned it up. A little later, I heard him calling me from the master bedroom. “Did you make a mess in here?” He asked, and pointed to bits of trash all over the master bathroom floor. 
“No…” And then it hit me. 
You see, I’d been on my period a few days earlier. 
Yes, yes he did.
He dug my pads and liner out of the trash, and ate them. 
My first reaction was to start giggling and gagging alternately. After that passed, I did some research online. Apparently, it’s a pretty common occurrence, and as long as they throw it up or poop it out, they’re fine. Sometimes it can swell up and get stuck in there, and then they have to have surgery or an endoscopy to get it out, but Kopek didn’t show any symptoms at all, and was back to his perky self the next day.

Today he’s with friends of ours since we’re flying to Iowa for a wedding for a few days. And, even though it’s only been a few hours, I already miss him! 

Do you have a pet with personality? Tell us about them in the comments!

#SITSpics Photo Challenge

The Gift of Relationships

Today I’m practicing gratitude again, and many of things on my list seem to be related to relationships with others.

524. Brian got a smart phone at last! He wanted a Droid when we first got married, but I finally convinced him that it didn’t make sense to spend that much money on a phone and then say I couldn’t afford to fly back to Iowa for my cousin’s wedding. Plus, I knew that there would be a lot of hidden costs as we moved to Arizona and got settled in an apartment. Now, a year later, he finally has his Droid!

When he’s home from work, he’s hardly done anything other than mess with his phone, it seems. It’s that amazing, I guess!

 It has already come in handy for looking up Little Caesar’s Pizza in our area while we’re out driving.

But seriously, I’m grateful for the incredible technology we have today, and I know this new phone will be very useful. 
525. Date night at home! It was my week to plan our date, so I planned a dinner and movie, relaxed date. 
I fixed a pasta dish with Brian’s favorite: vodka sauce. I didn’t actually make the sauce, I just used stuff from the store, and added it to penne, along with some dried basil. I tried to make a salad like the ones at Olive Garden, with the onion rings on top. 
The hydrangea table cloth and the lace doily are both anniversary gifts from my mother-in-law, and the candle is the unity candle from our wedding. The fancy dishes were all wedding presents. I think this is the first time we’ve used them!
The pasta dish and salad were a hit!

526. The hot tub. I’m grateful that the people we’re renting the house from said that we were free to use the hot tub. We hadn’t taken advantage of it until Friday.

We waited until after dark, and I put candles around the edges. It was incredibly relaxing and romantic!

After we dried off and changed, Brian agreed to watch Emma with me. This was kind of a big deal, since he dislikes Pride & Prejudice (even the Keira Knightly one) and Sense & Sensibility.

Sadly, he fell asleep a few minutes into it. Sigh. I’ll keep working on him!
528. Brian fixed the electric problem we had with our car! This was a huge blessing. The dashboard and radio lights weren’t working, and after we got pulled over, we were told our tail lights weren’t either. There was a short somewhere, because it kept blowing fuses. Brian found the issue and fixed it, which saved us hundreds of dollars! I’m very grateful for a handy husband!
529. We are flying back to Iowa this week for a wedding! These are two good friends of ours, and we’re very happy for them. It will be great to see everyone again, especially some of our college friends that we didn’t get to see in May during our last trip. 

530. Speaking of friends, one of my best friends from college happened to be in Phoenix last Friday, and we got to have lunch together! I hadn’t seen her since my wedding, so it was so much fun to catch up!

531. Friends who enjoy hanging out with us, even if they have a penchant for children’s 80’s movies, like the one we watched Saturday…

532. My birthday is coming up! I’m excited, even though Brian will be gone on a business trip until 8 p.m. the day of. It’s ok though, because we’re planning to drive to LA that night and spend the weekend with my sister-in-law and celebrate with going to the beach and enjoying the cooler weather!

What are you grateful for today? Who are you thankful that you get to spend time with? 

{my first vlog} Hearts Against Hunger

Today you’re in for a treat: my first ever vlog! Please don’t laugh too much!

I asked Brian, and no, I don’t have a lisp. It’s just the camera microphone.

Our goal is $1,500. That’s a lot of meals! You can read more about the virtual food drive at Melanie’s blog, Only a Breath.

Here’s the link to the virtual food drive: Feeding America. I encourage you to read their mission statement and information about their programs before making a decision. Here’s a quote from their site:

“Through the assistance of local and national food assistance programs, Feeding America is able to provide nutritious, fresh foods to Americans struggling with hunger; safe and nurturing places for children to have a meal; emergency assistance for disaster victims; as well as a chance at self-sufficiency for adults trying to break the cycle of poverty and hunger”

If you would like to donate to fight hunger and poverty worldwide, consider donating to Compassion!

And, if you really, really, can’t give financially, consider at least adding the “Hearts Against Hunger” button to your site, and spreading the word on facebook and twitter. That way, even if you can’t give, you might inspire someone else who can!

The Gift of Getting Away

512. God knows that getting away from all the noise, the facebook notifications, the flagged emails, the twitter updates, is sometimes the perfect gift. 

513. And it’s even better with friends.

sidenote: these guys own the house we’re renting, and the dog belongs to them. 

 514. The gift of getting close up with nature.

 515. The gift of adventure. 

Two of the families on our trip are native Arizonians and grew up camping in this area. Because they knew some of us weren’t as experienced, they picked an easy trail for our hike.

Easy. Mmmhmm.

The views were breathtaking, but I didn’t get to look up often, I was too busy trying not to stumble and fall down the mountainside. 
the “easy” trail

It was grueling for me. Much of the trail going down was loose, sandy gravel. I was as slow as the 5 and 8 year old kids. God brought to mind several spiritual parallels, and I found that encouraging. For instance, the hike was difficult, but it was good for me. It was making me stronger physically. In the same way, God allows us to experience trials so that we grow stronger spiritually. 

516. He brings beauty from ashes.

 517. A strong partner
I depended on Brian to keep my balance much of the time, and to lead me in the best way down loose gravel slopes, around scorched fallen trees, and up rocky inclines. 

the “easy” path gets harder…

 518. A marked trail to follow.

When the path got rocky and hard to see, some hiker before us had marked the path with stones stacked on top of each other. When we feel like we’ve lost our way in life, God gives us reminders of His plan for us and His forgiveness and love. Sometimes, He uses people who’ve been there before.

519. Being held by His hands, seeing His glory revealed. 

We arrived at our destination, a cave that rail road makers had blasted out of the mountain, but never finished.  

Looking at the pictures now, it brings to mind when placed Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered him with His hand as He passed by, so that Moses could see the tail-end of His glory.

We were hidden in the rock, and beholding God’s glory revealed through nature. 

 And we were always in His hands.

518. The gift of stillness.

The water hurried past, but for a weekend, we didn’t hurry anywhere.

519. Light touching fallen things and making them golden and beautiful. 

520. The gift of growth. However painful it may be.

521. The gift of the small and the humble.

522. The gift of knowing that He knows what lies around the bend. So I don’t have to. 

523. The gift of peace, quiet, and rest. 

Are you taking time to “get away” this summer? Are you taking time to rest and renew? 

If Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words…

Then these should make up for my lack of posts recently!
New Dining room + New  Dog

A lot of replacing outlet covers has been happening here lately

And replacing smoke detectors too

And two days of nothing but scrubbing walls caked with grime…

So that we could paint before moving in!

I’m very proud of my masking and draping around the shower!

We decided on the darker brown, and we love it!

I look gross, but I don’t even care. We were up late almost every night, and by late, I mean after midnight. And poor Brian has to get up at 5.

Kopec, the Turkish superdog, as I affectionately call him.

Room #3

Feverish packing on Friday. This is BRIAN’S massive stack of tee shirts. He admitted that most of them don’t fit him, but proceeded to tell me the story behind each one; where he got it, who he was with, and the significance of the occasion. 

Bedroom finished!

It’s going to be another late night…

Moving day! 
You can read more about that here!

What projects or exciting events have you been up to lately?

Lord of the Wind

“In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”  Luke 8:25

Speaking of wind…
Brian and I were driving home after working on the final cleaning of our apartment when we saw this dust storm looming in the distance. 

This is called a “haboob,” or massive dust storm. We raced it home, with not much time to spare. 

Pretty ominous…

About to descend…

We watched through the window. The dust blocked out the sun, making it even darker than these pictures show. 

We can barely see down the street!

 The storm was on national news. They say it might be one of the biggest ever recorded to hit Phoenix. 
It was an awe-inspiring event! 
But not much fun to clean up after. It left a thick layer of dust behind, and in areas hit with rain, lots of mud.