eyes wide open

the second Jars of Clay inspired blog of the day….

So God bruise the heels we’ve dug in the ground
That we might move closer to love
Pull out the roots we’ve dug in so deep
Finish what You’ve started
Help us to believe

This song can take on multiple meanings I’m sure, but to me it means that we’ve GOT to find a way to get over our old fashioned/self centered/comfortable/blind views on the world.  We’ve got to eradicate comfort zones.  Basically, we’ve got to GET OVER OURSELVES.

The bible says “love your neighbor as yourself” but that doesn’t simply mean the nice person that lives right next to you.  Neighbor means everyone else in the world.  We are not called to stay within our communities and comfort zones.   Some take this to the FULL extent and travel across the world, but today, I want to challenge everyone to allow neighbor to mean the part of town that you often avoid because the people there are different.

“Different” takes on many meanings…

for some it means not going to the poor part of town, with housing projects, because its “not safe”…..

for others it means not going to the town where you’re the only person of your race ….

for some it even means going to the city and you’ve always been in the country….

for some it means something different..

but whatever it means, we have to be willing to step outside of our own little worlds (cue another song) and see the world as God sees it.  To Him, everyone is His child.  All of us.  and all of  “them”.  We are called to love everyone and to get over ourselves and stop separating ourselves.

We are not called to create and further an us-them mentality, yet as the church, we do it SO often.  It used to make my skin crawl with anger, but now it just makes me sad.  What makes me the saddest about it is how far it goes.  Yes adults make mistakes that cause negative circumstances in their lives (and family’s lives) BUT those kids in the situations that we allow ourselves to call “them” did NOTHING wrong.  Children have no play in how much their parents make or where they spend it.  Children have no play in their parents occupations.  Children have no play in their house choice.  Children have no choice in their skin color.  Yet, too often, I hear judgement made about children living in housing projects, children living in the bad parts of town, children whose parents do this or that, and i want to break down and cry.

We are called to love.  We are called to break down the barriers of judgement and hatred, yet we build them.  So I challenge you.  The next time you drive to “that” part of town or see “them,”  think about the children, and think about how your judgement of their family affects them.  Then, STOP, change your thinking, see those people the way God sees them,  see that neighborhood as simply another neighborhood without your opportunities, and do something about it.  We were ALL created equal in God’s eyes, we are all GOD’S children.  So we need to stop building walls and start tearing them down.  We need to get out of our comfort zones.  What does that look like for you today? What does it look like for you to get out of your own little world?

puppy humor

so Pisgah (our 5 month old Jack-a-bass-a-bea) had been doing pretty great lately about not tearing things up, except socks we left lying around, and even then, he’d just chew on them….

So, we decided to give him back his bed, just to see if we could actually buy him a newer nicer one that would last….

I didn’t want him to rip further in the original holes, and he loves sheets, so i had the redneck idea to put it inside a fitted sheet and just see if he’d sleep on it, rest on it, whatever.

Yesterday afternoon he was great, slept on it, pulled it around, nothing too harmless.  Last night, slept on it some….

Today we’re eating lunch, he’s being awful calm, and we come upstairs to an EXPLOSION of little brown fuzz everywhere and the dog violently tearing his bed apart….pictures to follow.  Figured you could start your week off with a little humor.  In a later blog, i’ll share the recipe for the GREAT lunch we had (homemade chicken parmesean)

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Future Meals / The Country Cook: Slow Cooker Beef Dip Sandwiches

Future Meals / The Country Cook: Slow Cooker Beef Dip Sandwiches.

Tried this today and WOW delicious.  Put it in this morning, went to work, took the dog out to the park, watched some TV as the wonderful aroma filled our home and about 10 hours later it was falling apart.  Maybe  a little too salty, but I did add some extra soy sauce.

Definitely a busy schedule recipe to try

wedding details: our wedding


those of you who are married, engaged, or mothers know how tedious, stressful, complicated, and in-depth wedding planning can be, so I figured I’d post things I learned, sites I used, and mix in some of my favorite details of our wedding.

Before we get into the details, enjoy a slideshow of our beautiful wedding

Our Vendors

If you’re in the Nashville area, or just liked our style, here’s where it came from


Cake: Covered with Icing, Heather Noble


-our cake was delicious to say the least. In the beginning, cake wasn’t a big deal at all to me.  After all, most wedding cake tastes the same right? As I was leaving for Minnesota for the summer, I left many details up to my extremely helpful mother and cake was one of those.  A few weeks after I left, my mom informed me she had found this seemingly amazing cake.  Her and my dad had met with the baker, tasted it, and my dad LOVED it. My dad is not a cake person, at all, especially chocolate; and apparently he couldn’t get enough.  Next best part, she (Heather) would let us do multiple flavors, custom designs, the icing tasted good, and it could be my dream cake (which I still had no idea what that meant).  So I agreed after her insisting, I mean my dad liked it, it had to be amazing.  Upon returning home in August, I emailed Heather, we set up a meeting, and she let me pick 3 different flavors and icings to try and brought miniature cakes of EACH flavor I requested.  Enough to take home for a few days.  That’s just the beginning.  Every flavor was so rich, and so homemade tasting, and just mind-blowing.  First off, I’d never had such amazing cake, second off, wedding cake.  I was floored.  THEN, she said she wanted my cake to my my dream cake.  So we went through things I liked, things I didn’t, and just my general wedding ideas (which those of you who know me, know those weren’t very nailed down, ever).  She wanted to get my vision in her head so she could go with it with her artistic style and create it.  I showed her a picture of a topsy turvy cake (http://www.cakescapecod.com/images/topsyturvyopt.jpg) I liked but we both agreed that we couldn’t make a cake big enough for our 200+ guests in this style, so we decided on cupcakes and a cake on the same table displayed artistically.  And we used the scrollwork I loved from the topsy turvy cake, which she matched to my dress pattern.  AND best part, I could have ALL THREE flavors (Red Velvet, Lemon, Strawberry) in my cake on different layers and throughout the cupcakes because she baked each cake individually (to keep the flavor as great as possible I assume).   Throughout the next few months, Heather and I emailed back and forth constantly to make sure everything would be perfect.  My sister’s birthday was the week before our wedding and I really wanted to do something special for her and she loves chocolate cake, so Heather even made a special small birthday cake (chocolate chip cake) for Kelly!  Wedding day comes, everything is perfect!  As another surprise, Heather made us a small heart-shaped cake for Tom and I to take with us to eat on our Honeymoon AND instead of freezing a piece to eat a year later, she told us she’d make us a small cake for our 1 year anniversary!  Overall, I would HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY reccomend Covered with Icing to anyone in the Nashville area needing a great tasting, great looking cake from a baker who really puts her heart into her work!

Photography: Myrick Studios: www.myrickstudios.com

-photography was the most important vendor of our wedding, to me.  So it was important to me that I find someone who not only would deliver amazing pictures, but who loved their job.  I’m a very passionate person, so for my wedding, I wanted a photographer who was passionate about their work AND who looked at their work as a lens into the world and a way to express not only their creativity, but to display the most important details of my wedding day, not just as another paycheck.  I searched long and hard for weeks across blogs, review sites, from married friends, and anything else I could find on google.  After meeting with several photographers and ruling some out because of sheer cost, I settled on Mike Cowart with Myrick Studios. Mike loved his job, was great at it, and had an eye for making sure the details AND the ‘moments’ of the wedding were captured.  He seemed to have a knack for capturing emotions through his lens. I was impressed.  This and the venue were the main 2 details that I HAD to have decided before I left for the summer.  So after emailing for several months leading up to the wedding, it was finally time :). Mike did an amazing job at capturing the moments of our day and getting them back to us FAST.  We had online proofs within a month!! I would recommend Myrick Studios to those of you looking for a creative, artistic, passionate photographer who captures the perfect moments!

Sparklers: www.captainboom.com

-being a pyro-maniac and obsessed with doing things differently and making every detail of our wedding personal, I wanted to have sparkers as we left our reception.  Originally, we planned to buy a TON after 4th of July, but that just didn’t work out, so after scavenging the internet, we finally settled on Captain Boom for our sparklers.  This site was by far the best priced, we got 144 sparklers for $50.  If you’re thinking of using sparklers, do not get the bamboo stick sparklers, we almost made this mistake due to the cheaper price point, but apparently they are a fire hazard, they break more easily, which can cause awful experiences, so don’t do it.  I LOVED the sparklers just as much as I thought I would.  It was perfect!

Favors: (Personalized Hot Sauce) www.tabasco.com

-continuing on the unique and personalized wedding theme, we wanted our favors to be something useful and something “us.”  After debating a few options and deciding against having our favorite spicy chicken restaurant (Murfreesboro’s Chicken Shack – go there!) for catering, we decided to have miniature personalized Tabasco sauce bottles on each of our tables.  We found these and knew it was perfect!  If you’re looking for personalized favors, don’t be limited by the typical ones, think of what you want, and see if you can make it happen within your budget.  You’ll be surprised what you can find!

Dress: David’s Bridal


-David’s Bridal is such a default and first go-to place for bride’s for a reason, it’s great.  I’ve never been one to want to spend a ton or care much about designers or seasons of dresses.  If you are, David’s might not be the place, but it may be, I just didn’t look at brand or season when I looked, I just wanted a dress that would make me feel like a princess.  My dress was actually the first one that I tried on.  Stereotypically, it was nothing like what I thought I would get, it was lacy, somewhat poofy, and had lots of beadwork on it.  I put it on, though, and BAM it was perfect.  I tried on several more dresses but kept coming back to the same one.  We paired a pool blue sash with my dress which really added something unique to it (which I wanted).  I was hoping/intending to match the bridesmaid dresses (also from David’s) to this color, but the perfect dress did not come in Pool blue, but it came in another beautiful shade, cornflower, so we matched my sash and Tom’s tux vest and the girls’s dresses to the boy’s tux vests.  It worked out better than I even imagined.  It made Tom and I really stand out and have something special and unique just for us which made the day even more special and allowed me to have 2 shades of blue.   PS- David’s will tell you, but Mens Wearhouse matches the tuxes exactly to David’s Bridal colors, I’d reccomend it.  If you’re looking for jewelry or other accessories, they also have these, but I found mine elsewhere.

Hair and Makeup: Kayla Jenkins, Independent Hair and Makeup Artist currently at Hair and Body Day Spa, Gallatin, TN


-Simply put: I love Kayla.  She’s so sweet and does such a great job at keeping up with current trends that she’s always able to recommend hair styles or make up trends for you, not just because “everyone’s doing it.”  Kayla has been cutting my hair for a few years and we went to the same church growing up so we’ve known each other for a bit, but if you’re looking for someone who always has a fresh look on things and simply loves her job and loves the people who come in, go with Kayla.  She’s flexible, and so willing to work with whatever you want.  My favorite part was that Kayla let me do a “trial run” of my hair and makeup which I happened to coincide with my bridal portraits so we could spend a morning just playing with my hair to see how I wanted it.  You have no idea how much stress this can cut out of your wedding planning if you do this a few weeks before.  Check her out!!  Even if you’re just in the market for a new place to get your hair cut, give her a call.  Oh and her salon is a spa which has great pre-wedding massages as well!

Shoes: www.Zappos.com

I knew I didn’t want “typical” shoes for my wedding and originally I wanted them color matched to my sash, but after hearing and reading horror stories about dyeable shoes, I decided I just wanted blue, bright blue.  I’d used Zappos before for Teva flip flops and was amazed at how fast the shipping was.  So I ordered 3 different shoes to try, decided which one I liked, shipped back the other 2 (all at no shipping cost, free shipping all the time!) and it was all settled within a week!

Invitations: Social Graces-Nashville, TN


Invitations were also very important to me.  I wanted, again, something unique and something personal and custom just for us, but without spending a fortune.  A Catch 22 if you ask most people.  I’ve always enjoyed stationary shops, especially local ones, so I checked out a local shop I’d been to in college in Hillsboro Village of Nashville and settled on Social Graces.  The girls working were so personal and so in tune with making sure the invitation was what I wanted.  We went through hundreds of pages of paper, styles, etc and originally I was going to have an envelopment invitation where the invitation is the envelope, to save money and have something unique, but then the envelope was forever connected to the invitation.  So we settled on a metallic gray back paper, blue (matching my sash) middle paper, and yellow linen paper for the invitation.  They drew a weeping willow tree (representative of many of our dates in Nashville) with a heart with our initials (another thing Tom had done for me in our relationship) in the background.  The top part of the invitation started with lyrics from “Sweet Caroline” and the last line was “foreverandever. etc” which was the song Tom was humming when we first met.  They made the fonts perfect, the colors perfect, and after emailing a million times back in forth because I was in Minnesota we settled on the invite you see to your right.  They printed return addresses on the envelope, made RSVP post cards, and a cute hand drawn map to put in with the invitation.  They assembled everything which was so great! When I picked them up, they were all organized, tied with cute ribbon, and ready to be stuffed by myself and the lovely Katherine Hailey.  My invitations were exactly what I was looking for!

Save the Dates: Zazzle.com

I had seen post card save the dates and wedding invitations before and thought it was a great and unique idea, so on zazzle.com, we could custom design our save the dates and have however many we needed shipped in a matter of days.  So Tom and I designed post cards with one of our engagement pictures on them.  Overall, it was a great idea and saved a ton on postage because we sent post cards instead of full envelopes!

Programs: Designed by the Groom Himself

Continuing the theme of creativity, uniqueness, and personalization, Tom created, printed, and assembled our programs.  The front featured our names, the coordinates for where the original geocache from our engagement was placed (see engagment story), and the coordinates of the altar where we got married with a watermark compass behind them.  Inside were the usual names and music (check out Vitamin String Quartet for some great modern twists on classic wedding music) and the back had a picture of us with the ‘thank you.’ The colors were earthy but matched our theme and the twine on the binding of each program was unique in that it was our colors and twine Tom often used to create outdoor items.


Flowers: Flower Express-Hendersonville, TN

Flowers weren’t that important to me, but I wanted them to match.  I knew nothing about flowers, and the girls at Flower Express explained everything to me and helped me find in-season flowers that were within my budget perfectly without making the bouquets look too much like they were for prom or a funeral.  They turned out great!

Other Details

Centerpieces: designed by our wedding planner/coordinator: Vases found at the dollar store, petals from Michael’s , pearls and rocks (to incorporate girly and manly), and candles from 100candles.com, all sitting on mirrors from ikea.com.

Communion during our ceremony was beautiful.  We had the groomsmen take it throughout the sanctuary while “Tremble” – Audio Adrenaline played and we and the guests had a time of silence/prayer.

Rings: my engagement ring, wedding band, and Tom’s band all came from Bell Jeweler’s in Murfreesboro.  They were so helpful in teaching us about the different options, costs, etc and the engraving for Tom’s was free since we had purchased the ring from them!  I’d reccomend them to anyone in the area!
We had this sign, and one that says “happily ever after starts here” that we ordered from Etsy.com, specifically Craft Mart Texas. They allowed us to pick nearly every detail of the sign and shipped them super fast!  If you want personalization while supporting local businesses and crafti-ness, check out etsy for sure!
Unity Sand: we also ordered this from Etsy.com, specifically Say Anything Design.  We wanted our ‘unity’ item to be something we could keep and display in our home.  This was perfect!
Our other details (rentals, table cloths, other decor) were provided by local friends and family.  We were married at McKendree Memorial United Methodist in Tom’s hometown of Portland and we went on our honeymoon on a Holland America cruise around the Carribean.  The food was catered by Paula Nadar’s catering ( a friend of the wedding planner).  Day of Food was local orders from Sonic and Food Lion and of course my token pre-wedding mountain dew.  It was such an amazing day, thank all of you who were a part!

Ruth 1:16-17 (The Message)

16-17 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (New International Version)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

new year-ness

the word resolution is overdone….so i’ll call mine new year-ness.

this will be my first year married.

first year out of college.

first year away from my family.

and I’m sure many more firsts.

so why not make it count?

I’ll edit this over the next few days/weeks, but I really want to start setting more goals AND writing them down. Goals are more likely to be accomplished if written down.

1. read AT LEAST a book a month

2. go to the gym 3x a week

yes stereotypical thus far, I realize

3. find 1000 geocaches with Tom

4. sleep outside a minimum of 12x this year

5. learn to ski

6. Run 3 different 5k races

7. read through the bible chronologically by December 31, 2011 (thanks YouVersion!)

8. see out of state friends at least twice

9. prayer journal daily

10. take the GRE

11. develop a hobby inspired by Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Whitney Sewell, or Jes Jensen

12. travel to 5 new states

13. go on (at least) one mission trip

14. try 2 new recipes per month (AllRecipes, Pampered Chef, friends…)

wow, halfway through

yes i’m still here in Minnesota. a longer blog will (hopefully) be written soon. we have internet once a week on Saturdays for an hour or so, so I have not fallen off the face of the earth, just not online.  Things are going amazingly here.  I can’t believe we’ll be filling out our “Mid Summer” paperwork after this week. I love this city, these people, the fact that 80 degrees is a ‘heat wave’ here, the lakes, the trees, the water, the kids who come, the homes we’re serving on, everything.  I have done nothing here this summer, it has all been God, and He has done SOO much. It’s been amazing to just watch Him work with me as His puppet.  I’ll share more later, but just wanted to let you all know things are going well.  Keep praying and sending mail.

Things I’ve learned about the north:

-cheese curds….what are they? DQ has them, i’ll try them soon

-a “hot chicken sandwich” means its covered in gravy, not spicy

-it’s “minneSOAta” not the way i’d traditionally say it

-there are no Chick Fil A‘s or Sonic’s up here….I had to explain to a kid what a Chick Fil A was, sad day…

-80 is a heatwave…which is awesome

Paul Bunyan (who I still think was fake) really was a big deal apparently….

that is all for now. continue to pray. I miss you and love you all. see my facebook for pictures

minnesota thus far

i love it here.

the sunsets really are as beautiful as people say….and I’m not even to the reservation yet.

the people really do talk all “donchaknow” and such…it’s true. and southern hospitality has been left at home. people aren’t rude, but it’s not an automatic response to open doors, say thank you when people refill your drinks, and when my bags fell over, no one offered to help…its just a different culture. not bad, just different.

training is…wow. so much stuff shoved into my mind in such a short time on little sleep. it’s not officially a camp, but there is SO much to know. all of the responsibilities of running a site (there are only 5 of us in charge of it all) including building, youth orientation, adult leader orientation, rules, community standards, cultural differences, what native american reservations are like. PLUS all the responsibilities of my role in work projects: securing projects, community relationships, setting up accounts at hardware stores, mixing paint in 30 gallon trash cans, good vs bad vs oil vs latex paint, lead paint safety, cultural things, and more! its overwhelming, but it’s worth it.

my team is awesome. plain and simple. we mesh well together, we’re fun, it’s awesome. pictures soon from our wednesday night out where we all went to a sculpture garden at the edge of Minneapolis. we have stuff scheduled from 7am til 11pm.

this is right where God wants me to be. i’m overwhelmed, i can in ZERO way do this without Him. i know that on a level i’ve never felt before. there is no way i would be in this job had my life not turned upside down and been beautifully wrecked and pieced back together by Him over the past 6 months. it’s been a journey, but i wouldn’t have it any other way. i’m right where i need to be and i know that. it’ll be hard this summer and there will be days i feel like a failure, but i ask that those of you reading this, those of you at home, pray for me, please. i’ll need it. there will be days where i am running on fumes and simply a vessel of God because i have no energy. i hope those vessel days are everyday, hopefully the fumes will only be toward the end of the week. i love it though. when we are at our lowest, our weakest, the point where we have zero clue what’s happening, that’s where God meets us most. and carries us through.

one thing that has been reiterated throughout training has been that the same God that has carried us throughout all of our lives, and our journeys to YouthWorks is the God that will be with us this summer. this is comforting when I’ll feel alone. comforting that He loves. just overall a peace.

about this organization, it’s such a humble one. the CEO and the COO of the organization have both humbly come to us in a genuine sense and just laid it out on the table and encouraged us and walked in our shoes. it’s very encouraging.

i said back in January-ish that i wanted a job where i’d get paid to take youth on mission trips to awesome places and get to do construction projects and get paid for it.  funny how God works when you just let him isn’t it? 🙂

i miss you all at home. i miss hanging out with you. i miss bowling. and those of you who weren’t at home but we talked more regularly, i miss our facebook messages and text messages. but trust that this is where God has called me to be and pray for me in that. let me know how I can be praying for you and encouraging you and i will do the best i can. i am away, but i am not gone. i have stamps, paper, pens, and envelopes and want to be there for you as much as i can.

i miss tom too, but we’re each where God called us to be for the summer. while that is 1284 miles apart, different time zones, and neither of us have much spare time to talk, i trust that God has a plan. i also get to be married to that wonderful man of God in 150 days, it’s just hard missing him right now.

i love you all. pictures will be on facebook momentarily.