Saturday, December 24, 2011

Not a Silent Night

I am trying to digest truths that are bigger than myself.  Instead of giving me tons to say it is leaving me quite speechless.  Sometimes that's a good thing for an English major.  This Christmas I don't want a pretty plastic nativity.  I don't want to sugar coat God coming to Earth in the form of a helpless baby.  That night it wasn't just that there wasn't room for Mary and Joseph, but that they weren't welcome because of the shame of being pregnant outside of wedlock.  Jesus, the savior, was born amid suffering, shame and loneliness.  As Christmas approaches I'm reflecting on these words and images, trying to get a small taste of what that night might have actually been like.  I hope you will take a moment to do the same.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Newb Status

Philip and I went to an event hosted by our church (Real Life) called 10 Great Dates. We didn't know much about it, but thought it would help us to get connected with other married couples and to begin to build a strong and healthy marriage. When we arrived we saw that we looked like babies compared to most of the adults there. I'm not trying to insult like, "Oh they're so old and lame." I'm actually thinking they were probably looking at us like, "They have no idea what marriage is really like." Around in a circle we exchanged names, and each couple shared how long they have been married. We had to shyly mutter, "five months." Which, if you've been watching our ticker (scroll down to the bottom of the screen) you know is even a stretch. The seminar (I don't know what else to call it) is all based on the book 10 Great Dates. Each week, the couples meet up, watch a short video about the topic of the week (tonight's was reigniting the spark in your marriage--not exactly a problem for newlyweds) then go their separate ways for date night. Daycare is provided for everyone but us. We are also given a sheet of questions to lead us into intimate, growth-fostering discussion. I think there are some topics that could be really helpful for us to talk out through this seminar. Week three is about healthy conflict we could definitely use that. We thought we were pros at this during dating, but it has gotten harder within marriage. I think you need to talk out conflict, and that it's going to happen--period--if you get close enough to anyone. Still, we need to learn to fight fair and one of us (ME!) needs to keep her emotions in check. Anywho, the same principals designed to get married couples out of a rut might help them learn how to avoid getting in one. Or how to get out of one should it happen in the future, right?

Let me get to my point. When we were dating we were at the top of the food chain. We dated for four years before getting engaged and people used to come to us for advice and wisdom. We were respected, looked up to, and we had gotten pretty good at dating. We had a routine down. I really think, with God's help, that we learned how to have a healthy dating relationship. Who knew this would get more complicated when lived together, strove for intimacy and were committed to loving each other unconditionally--no matter what. Is it just me or do boys fart...a lot? Now I can't help but feel like a total n00b. We are babies juxtaposed against the other married couples we know. These are few and far between, by the way. Within our circle of friends we are a rarity. It seems like people are either young, college students and not married, or are married and older and have kids. I love being married. But I hate feeling like I have no clue what I'm doing, because despite books, sermons, and counseling I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I'M DOING. I also hate feeling like an outcast. It's not that people are intentionally leaving me out, it's just that we don't seem to fit in anywhere.

How do you cope with these situations in your life? Any married couples want to take us under their wing and teach us how to be better, or just empathize with us? Out of pity? :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They're here! They're here!

At long last our photos are here!  Remember this post?  We won a free sesh with Creative Images photography, and well, that was an offer we couldn't refuse.  A lot of you gave me some fashion advice.  In the end, the opinions were so spread that I'm not sure if it helped or made me more indecisive.  At any rate, here's our outfit choices and our three favorites from the shoot.  I LOVE how they turned out!

I'm seeing beautiful babies in our (far, far, off) future.  Whaddya think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grapes of Wrath

Do you ever get mad at someone? (Maybe you're laughing because it happens so often). Anger is not my go-to. I'm more of a crier. However, I find myself having very little patience when I feel like someone--okay let's be real I'm talking about my husband--wrongs me. I have a knack for evaluating what people are doing well and what they could improve on. It's how I'll grade papers later. Sometimes, though, it gets me in trouble. I always catch the mistakes. At times, they make my anger flare up. I find that when I am mad at Phil, and I feel like I have the right to be mad at him based on his actions, I have the hardest time extending love to him.

I was reading in Ephesians recently. This is one of the books of the bible I go back to over and over. It is so easy for me to read. I was in chapter two and Paul (a hardcore Pharisee who used to pursue and kill Christians, who had a personal encounter with Christ and spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel) was talking to some Christians about the state they were in before they surrendered their lives over to Jesus. He describes them as, "children of wrath." Who's wrath were they under? I asked myself. I realized they were under God's wrath because they had wronged him: sinned. I was under God's wrath for what I had done. It's like God was rightfully mad at us for our actions against him. That's when God chose to extend us the ultimate act of love. The passage goes on to say: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ." When I feel like I have the right to be mad at Phil I have the hardest time loving him. When God had every right to put us under his wrath, he sent his son Jesus to stand in our place and absorb that wrath so that we could be forgiven and return to his presence. God's love is so much bigger than mine.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Letters


I'm linking up with Adventures of the Newlyweds today!  You should too :)

Dear husband, not only do I foresee us watching the Countdown To the 25 days of Christmas, and the 25 days of Christmas, but I predict we will watch Elf at least 13 times in the next month. Dear snow, I have mixed emotions about you moving into Pullman. You have this habit of saying, "Don't worry I'm just staying for a couple days," and then sticking around through March. On the other hand, you bring my husband more joy than bacon and going shirtless--combined. You're making me want it to be Christmas!  Dear peppermint hot chocolate, let's be bffs!   Dear Katie Anthony, sorry we can't make it to your recital today. If it's any consolation, following the newspaper's directions we went to it yesterday and gave the pianists who were taking a playing test the best audience ever. You are going to rock it!  Dear Arnold (Phil's side) and Massa/Dinsmoor (Chels' side) families, see you soon! Can't wait to eat good food, share some laughs, and catch up on each others' lives.  Dear hubs (who gets two letters) I'm sorry I tried to persuade you to skip class and hang out with me. I just can't wait for us to officially be on Thanksgiving break! Here's to snuggling, building snowmen, watching movies, playing boardgames and staying up past 11 (this is the only time it happens for us haha)!

(Original Photo)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gianormous Grace

I have a hard history with my dad. I hesitate to write about this. I would never want people to think badly of my dad, or to think that I don't love him. At the same time, I can't keep conceal the work God's doing in my life because it's so powerful. My parents got a divorce when I was really little: about five. The long of the short is my dad cheated on my mom and left. It's really painful feeling like "If my own dad would leave me, then who could love me?" Since I've felt really hurt by my dad I've struggled to forgive him. Which I want to acknowledge right now as something I believe is sin and brokenness on my part. Something I'm trusting God for this year--I wrote it down in my journal and everything--is truly forgiving my dad. I've found that as I move towards this, I am beginning to feel God's forgiveness extended to me. The more I forgive my dad, the more I understand God's unconditional love for me. The other day I was on my way to work and I was asking God to help me forgive my dad. I said, "I forgive my dad," by faith. At this moment I understood how crazy it is that God knows all our sins and he lets us off scot free. My righteousness comes from Christ. Since I accepted his payment for my sin, when God looks at me he sees the righteousness of Christ despite my usually-not-that-great actions. I think the hardest thing about forgiving my dad is that there is pain involved. Pain is a funny thing. It can keep you from thinking logically. It can block your vision of things you know to be true and pure and right. It's harder to forgive sin when you're personally acquainted with the suffering it caused. Lightbulb. Jesus is personally acquainted with the pain of my sin via the cross! When he was on the cross, every sin was laid on him. That was excruciating. The father turned his face away from Christ (because our perfect God could not look on or be in communion with sin) and his perfect union with his father was broken. I caused Jesus to feel deep hurt. Yet he still forgives me. I feel more whole because I'm forgiving my dad. I'm letting go of the things that hold me back. I can experience God's love the way he has been waiting to show it to me.

Luke 6:37 says:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

I think this is about the sensation I'm experiencing. Forgiving and being forgiven go hand in hand. If we're holding people to our own standards rather than God's, we are inadvertently holding ourselves to these standards as well. I want to live under the grace of the gospel, and to look at other people in light of that too.

Some songs that are helping me to get this knowledge from my head to my heart "This Love is Free" Hyland, "Brokenness Aside" All Sons and Daughters, and "7X70" by Chris August. I think my soul responds best to music. It's the nature of souls. Spend time meditating on who God is and the system He set up for us to live under. It'll change you world.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seasons turn, turn, turn...

Are you sick of fall yet? Not me. I don't know what it is about this year; usually I'm muttering under my breath--which I can see--about the dropping temperatures and missing being able to expose my shoulders to some warm rays. But this year I've found fall particularly mesmerizing. Is it because I'm young and in love? Are we just having an especially lovely autumn this year? Phil and I have a shared trait of enjoying the little things more than most--a trait that only grows exponentially when we're together. At any rate we are doing our best to celebrate each season. Here's the small ways we're lavishing ourselves in fall, while it lasts.

Pumpkins. I know, we're weird.

And with them pumpkin seeds.

Pinecones. I didn't take any precautions to debug these guys which Phil was concerned about. I don't know why, it's not like if I see one I shriek until he kills it (wink).

Fake leaves. (paper + leaf-coloring book pages + staples + yarn + crinkled to make them look like they came from a freshly jumped in pile)

Wheat. This is kind of an all-year-round thing for Pullman, but if feels kind of harvesty which spells fall to me. I went all Ruth and gleaned these straight out of a previously harvested field.

This soap (it's almost out) smells like cinnamon pumpkin spice.

Although, I must admit I'm not too sad about it running out b/c that means we get to switch to Mr. and Mrs. Snowman! (Courtesy of BBW)

We also barely-made-it-out-alive explored a corn maze, are drinking lots of tea (okay maybe that's just me), and stepping on every crunchy leaf we see. How are you celebrating fall? Is there something we haven't done yet that we totally need to take advantage of before it's too late?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lessons Learned from Gymnasts and a Floppy-Eared Dog

Or at least, it's up there.

It was kindergarten. Our class was putting on a circus for our family and friends. I was supposed to be the floppy-eared puppy who wowed the crowd with my whimsical tricks. At the last minute I chickened out. I decided to join two of the cool girls and be a gymnast. I looked longingly at their quiet, beautiful elegance and decided that's what people liked--not silly, cute, floppy-eared dogs. During the circus performance when I heard them announce the puppy and no one went to fill the slot I felt the tinge of pain that only comes from leaving an important role unfulfilled. I hid behind the glitter and leotards in between the two pretty girls. And I wasn't even good at gymnastics. My clumsy cartwheels paled in comparison to the other girls who clearly belonged where I did not. This was the first time I can remember compromising who I really am for what I perceive other people want. It's times like these when I remember that the pain of regret is stronger than the pain of risk--even stronger than risking big and really botching it.

My parents were recently divorced. I, in part, contribute my shyness to that. What happens in our families really shapes us. I have grown so much since that day but at times I still make choices seeking other people's approval. I want to wear this, but I wear what I think my friends will like instead. I think of a joke, but keep it to myself for fear of sounding lame. I wish I was doing this kind of ministry, or had this spiritual gift or talent instead of that. Playing the puppy is something that would've brought me life and joy. I missed out on that, but I also robbed the very people I was trying to please. A circus doesn't need a third gymnast if that means leaving the performing puppy spot open. Maybe that's a stretch of a metaphor but seriously. God made us exactly who we are because the world needed someone like that. And because he liked who he made you. He thought/thinks you are a great idea. Aren't we kind of giving him the finger by trying to imitate the people we see around us that we think are better than ourselves? Let them be that. You be you. I'll be me. At least, I'll try.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Giddy, Golden Leaf

(original photo)

I wish I could grab you (preferably with a giant metal claw like in the ones in stuffed animal machines) and place you where I was this morning at 10:23 so you could experience what I did at that moment. I was already in good spirits due to awesome get-away-with-God time yesterday, excessive amounts of green tea, and this love song. On the walk to class leaves were falling from the trees like snow! It felt like God was romancing me. As I looked up into the spiraling cone of yellow, orange and red, a single leaf fell right past my face to my foot. Allow me to show you this splendor with words:

A giddy, golden leaf falls,
like a ballerina
through wisps
of cloud
and sky, blue
like newborn eyes,
making the sun
Drops past
my freckled nose
to my boot
and curtseys.
You can see the artist
in the painting.
Like the filmy reflection
of a face
in a window,
pink fingers,
pressed up against
the glass.

Monday, October 24, 2011

RIP Smokey

Photo by Jordann (my sister)

My best birthday present ever, Snuggle buddy, the one who kept the mice away (and left them dead on our porch), cat Smokey died this past week. He was getting old and senile and I knew it was coming plus...well...he's a cat. They're fragile. I know pets don't last forever. Still I found eyes growing sad as my sister told me the news. Smokey is a symbol of my childhood; he represents life in my old house with my old family. The sound of his meow and the feel of him nuzzling my leg as I got home are marks of familiarity. These things that I'll never experience again. I love my new two-person-so-far family and our life together. But you have to give up something good to get something great. Goodbye Smokey, and goodbye old life.

*Fun fact, growing up Phil and I both had cats named Smokey.  When we discovered this while dating my mom said, "It's kismet!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy (Late) Boss' Day!

Yep, I was born on boss' day (October 16th), coincidence? I won't ask my husband to answer that. I woke up the day before my birthday (which seemed like my actual birthday because we did most of our celebrating that day since we both work on my actual birthday boo) thinking about how cool it is that God wants to celebrate my life. He gave me everything and I take advantage of it. I ignore him, make pointless things more important than him, choose selfishness for no other reason than I'm just being a brat. But he still looks at me and sees someone worth celebrating. I know my birthday is the day I received life--thanks Mom. But I was thinking about how I have been given LIFE. My so-called-life really felt dead before I began following after Jesus. I let him in my heart and he began to heal me, and bring me peace, joy, and satisfaction like I haven't experienced from anything or anyone else (and trust me, I've tried to find it elsewhere). I'm so thankful that Jesus came to my rescue and pursued me using other people, the bible, songs about him, and just his legitimate presence in my life. It was love that made me a believer. That is worth celebrating!

This was Mrs. Arnold's 1st birthday, and boy did Mr. Arnold make it memorable. He told me to keep all of Saturday open but didn't tell me what we were doing, We woke up, excited, at 8 AM (which is early for me). Phil said, "You sleep. I'm going to make breakfast." He baked me this--for breakfast!

How awesome is that?

Then we got ready and loaded up in the car with a picnic basket (suspicious). We headed towards Spokane (our fave outing place) and stopped for a picnic along the way.

Once in Spokane we met up with my mom, dad, sis and bro at my favorite mall! They watched me unwrap beautiful clothes, jewelry, boots, and an orange teakettle. Perfect. We perused the mall a little and Philip bought me the perfect English nerd gift: Scrabble. Then we all went to Celebrations for some gourmet cupcakes. Chelsea: red velvet (I thought it made me boring, but the cashier said it made me a purist. I like that.) Philip: skittles :). Connor: worms with dirt. Jordann: peppermint mocha. Mom: Banana, bacon, and peanut butter. Yummmmmmm.

*Pause for vicarious food coma to subside*

The fam headed home and Phil and I chased ducks around walked around Riverfront park. To finish off the night we did a little shopping at Target with our wedding gift cards. And ate at my fave restaurant Olive Garden.

I had such a great pre-birthday that I didn't expect anything on my real birthday. Growing up we had a tradition of opening a few small presents in the morning. It's a good way to keep antsy kids who have to wait all day for their gifts under control. Mom sent a few with me and Sunday morning to my delight I opened some Clinique makeup, wool socks (mom is always trying to keep me bundled up and a power ranger  shirt and smurf sweater. FYI I was the red power ranger for two Halloweens in a row as a child. As if all of that wasn't enough, Phil surprise took me out to breakfast postchurch. He also gave me this glorious gift.         

Does this all seem a little food oriented? Don't judge, these people know the most direct route to my heart! I'm thankful for God, a hubsand, family, and friends who love me so well!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Confessions of the Uncool

(From Wonderfully Made)

I've told you that I feel insecure about my fashion sense. And that I sometimes feel like a loser--I think we all do. But I have yet to confess my unquenchable desire to be...well...a hipster. I surf pintrest and the blogosphere and see so many superwomen.  I want to be superwife. I want to wear stylish clothing, and have a chic home that was still inexpensive to decorate because I'm just that saavy. I feel pressure to be chef that fills my husbands belly with healthy, yet delicious food, "Oh just a little something I whipped up." Basically, good at everything: the Midas touch of cuteness.

Here's the truth about me. I can quote almost every Spongebob episode. We legitimately watch iCarly around here. (If you don't know what that is, cool points for you).  I listen to mostly Taylor Swift, Top 40 Chart songs, and Christian music. That ultra-hip alternative music all sounds the same to me. All I hear is the faint drone of people humming in sync to the sound of some acoustics. I am pretty cheap, which shows in our apartment. I like every focal point to be covered; I hate white space. I think our home might look like an elementary school classroom because of this. I love the color pink, thus much of the decor I make probably belongs in a little girl's room.  My couches (they were a gift) look like someone barphed on them. I find clothing items I love and then overwear them to death. I only own two pairs of high heels: my wedding shoes, and a hand-me-down pair of black stilettos. My hair is the same almost every day. You can count on down and straight or back in a messy bun or side ponytail. I add bows, or flowers for a little variety, and I do own a triple-barrel curling iron for days that I have time to look like Taylor Swift, but still. I'd rather wrestle or play soccer in the mud than bake. I'm a sucker for cheesy-inspirational movies, books, songs, you name it. I like candy as much as Fez from that 70s show--oh yeah, I watch that 70s shows, is that still cool?  I wear my wedding ring backwards--I don't understand why the wedding band has to be the inner-most band, I like this look better, this is chronological order, and if one falls off, let's let it be the one without the huge diamonds on it!

I do legitimately enjoy some of these hipster-y things. Being creative in the kitchen is surprisingly fun for me (especially since my husband is so easy to please and compliments me when I cook grilled cheese). I have began to see crafting, especially decor for the house, as a great creative outlet and stress reliever. I thoroughly enjoy pretty clothes especially in the form of pretty dresses.  Still, I feel like the things afore mentioned disqualify me from being one of the cool kids. I guess I'll just have to accept myself the way I am.

Am I the only lame-o one who feels this way out there?

Friday, October 7, 2011

What (not) To Wear?!

I need your help! Confession: I'm kind of insecure about my fashion sense. Before I left my parents house, I let my sister dress me. Now I'm on my own and responsible for making sure that two people don't look stupid when we walk out of the apartment. Usually I wouldn't sweat a fashion flop or two, but in this case what I'm wearing will be preserved for all of history. My great-grandkids might wind up with these photos hung to display some sort of genealogy.

Let me back up. Philip and I were romping around the Palouse Empire fair a few weekends ago along with his family. You know those barns full of advertisements, free candy, balloons, and drawings to enter? (This is probably foreign to you unless you are small-town, or down-home enough to be fair-goers). Whilst perusing one such barn, Phil and I entered with this local photographer on a whim. And we won! We are to receive a free photography session ($150 value) plus $150 worth of free prints! You might be thinking, just what the world needs, more cutesy couple pictures of Chels and Phil. I'll admit the timing is kind of funny, since we just did an engagement shoot, and of course the wedding photography. But, hey, free is our favorite number. I'm pretty excited to have some fun candids in our casuals to hang about the house. The shoot I have in mind is kind of fall-y, leaves, and nature, perhaps even a wheat field in the background.

Here's where you come in. I'm stumped about what we should wear. We want to coordinate, but not be matchy-matchy. The photographer also suggested we keep it simple, because that's what photographs best. Here are some options I'm thinking:

For Phil

For Me

We need to narrow it down to two outfits each. So what do you think? Vote on your faves! The future reputation I'll have with my great-grandchildren depends on it!

*Feel free to make small suggestions too.  Just looking at those pics I was thinking maybe the blue turtle neck would look better with grey leggings, or even those grey skinny jeans I'm wearing with the blazer.  Or I have a similar sweater dress to the red one but it's a pale pink with some grey stiched in.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Whoa Mama!

We went back to my hometown this weekend to see my little sis be paraded around in a dress, tiara, and mini cooper at the Homecoming football game. She was voted Homecoming princess, and small towns milk special events like that for all they’re worth. It’s a big deal. On our way out of town the next day, Mom decided to take us grocery shopping. She bought us a few staples like bell peppers and bread. But she the cart-fairy kept throwing extra goodies into our shopping cart. As a result, there are things in the Arnold kitchen that would never be there if we were shopping for ourselves because we are too poor cheap. Feast your eyes on this:

Snack-Packy goodness.

Pre-seasoned instant mashed potatoes?! (Just add water and microwaves)

A bulging snack cupboard complete with two, count ’em, two chip varieties (she let us each choose our own and we almost both chose the same kind) Cheez-its, a Family-pack of Scooby-Do fruit snacks, mint Oreos and more!

So much happiness. Thanks Mom! This is probably the best gift a couple of college students/newlyweds could ask for! Pullman friends, come over and help us enjoy this bounty!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm Letting Go

I never thought I'd be here. I had a game plan--okay? I always knew I would get married at age 23. That just seemed ideal. Not an old maid, but not too young to know what love is. My mom showed me pictures of her many college boyfriends. I figured I'd have just as active of a dating life.

So here I am, at age 21, married to my high school sweetheart. Philip hates that phrase because he says it implies that you were only sweethearts in high school, but we intend to work towards being sweethearts as old people. He's the only man I've ever kissed. The only man that knows all my secrets. The only man I've ever said "I love you too." The only man I've ever been in a dating relationship with.

What happened? I gave my plans to God. Then, I met someone that changed my life. Someone I felt so comfortable around. A place of complete acceptance. A person who admired me for years before I gave him the time of day. Someone who pursued me like I'd never experienced. Sometimes I think that on our own we are pretty ordinary. But there's something so special about Philip & I together. He's certainly not what I expected. Except for the blue eyes, but that was a requirement. I can't waste my blue eye genes--bring on the beautiful blue eyed babies (NOT YET). Seriously though, he's much more quiet, task-oriented, and methodical than the husband I dreamt up for myself. I created a picture of charisma. Philip is a loyal, genuine, servant. Don't get me wrong, he won the "Most Spontaneous" and "Class Clown" awards in high school and lives up to those daily in this house. He is just not what I planned for myself.

I was going to be a journalist too. It's much more prestigious than high-school teacher status. All I've ever wanted to do is write. But then I found something I love more: helping people, youth in particular. I have a knack for seeing the best in people, and am motivated to help them reach their potential. I believe that God wants to combine my unique set of skills with my nerdy love for language, and use it to impact students' lives.

It makes me think critically about the plans I have now. I want to do "Teach for America" in New York for two years, have 2.5 babies five years from now, settle down in a low income school back in this area. Let's see where God actually takes me. When I think of the life I cooked up for myself, what strikes me is that it's better here. Philip helps me be like Jesus more than my imaginary man ever would have. God's plans are SO MUCH better than mine. So I'm letting go.

How have your plans been changed? Have things ended up just as you expected?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fashionably On Time

(My Great Grandpa's Watch)

Marriage is two people becoming one. We are intentionally pursuing this (it's hard at times, like when my other half doesn't want to sit around reading blogs all day but I sort of do). I'm seeing symptoms of this process crop up in unexpected places. I think when you spend time with someone you just naturally become more like them--you can't help it.

I have to tell you something about my husband: he is uber-punctual. If he isn't there 10 minutes early, he feels like he is late. Anyone who's had an appointment or class with me can tell you that this isn't exactly the case for me. I usually count it golden if I'm only 10 minutes late. You can see how this would cause tension for these two very different people as they start going to events together. Lately, though, a phenomena that I simply can't explain has occurred. Almost every time I go to a meeting, or a bible study, or a class I stress out thinking I'm going to be late or the last one there and they'll all be waiting on me. Yet when I show up I'm early and often the first one there! What's happening to me? All I can do is blame it on Philip and this becoming one stuff.

I see it in Philip too. When I met this man, his wardrobe consisted of old Wranglers from Good Will and silly T-shirts. He also owned one sweater that he wore every day until the zipper fell off and then replaced it with a paper clip. We've made a lot of progress in this area especially since discovering that there are fashionable clothes that he likes; there just happen to be unfashionable clothes that he also likes. I've helped him filter the two and urged him to buy new clothes before his old ones are ripped to shreds. The other day he made me so proud. Phil has this grey grandpa sweater from Forever21 which I LOVE (and so would Mr. Rogers) and a stylish blue zip up from Old Navy. He has been so anxious to wear those but Pullman's lingering summer kept him from doing so. The other day, even with the dropping weather, he chose not to wear either of the sweaters because they didn't match his outfit! I wasn't even home to give him fashion advice.  So proud. (If you're worried about him being cold, don't. The man is warm-blooded. He could be Jacob from Twilight). I guess being with me has influenced him too.

It motivates me to spend more time with God, knowing that even in just being around Him, I am becoming more like Christ.  That's just how we're wired. 

I am learning so much about myself, my husband, love, God--the list goes on and on--through this new life stage. Keep it comin' marriage!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whole-Person Wellness

I am the most satisfied when I'm taking care of all facets of my being. I like how my friends at put it: "We've discovered the need in our lives for health at all levels, and thus choose to dwell on whole-person wellness." The bible says, "Love the Lord Your God w/ all Your heart, mind, soul, & strength." Of course, this verse is about giving everything to God. But perhaps it gives us some insight into human nature as well. There are many creatures in heaven with only the ability to love God through one dimension. Humans are uniquely spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental beings.

I'm learning how to time manage. Making room for the most important things. But realizing that during the time I have, I need to be engaged in a variety of different kinds of activities. I need to create. I need to rest. I need to think. I need to work (despite the things I mutter to myself when I'm on my way to a four-hour shift, or about to scrub the bathroom). I need to love. I need to listen. I need to be heard. I need to be alone. I need to be with friends. With family. With people who don't follow Christ. With people who do. When I spend my time being involved in all of these things w/ Christ in mind, it feels like I'm juicing more life out of my day.

I get to know Philip best by spending time with him in different contexts. If I just always spent time staring into his eyes, talking with him one-on-one, I could learn a lot about him, but I would never know what he's like at play. If we never worked together, I would be robbed of getting to know how diligent and persevering he is. Spending time with him amongst different groups of people and doing different activities gives me new insights into who he is.

I think it's the same with God. We were made to experience life, ourselves, each other, and him in diverse ways.

What kinds of activities help bring you life?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What I'm Loving This Sunday

That the sun is shining!  (It is almost time for the cold season in Pullman so I better soak it up while I can).

Pullman's community atmosphere.

3 words:  Iced.  Chai.  Latte. 

My goofy husband...

...who likes to climb things...

...and is wearing his church regulars:  a polo and khakis.

Home "work" reading this delightful book.

Talking about living a transformed life, marked with radical love, by God's power and not our own, at church.

Watching what Phil calls "his show" aka "The Great Food Truck Races."

That I have one full day of weekend left!

What are/were you lovin' on this Sunday?

P.S. our financial aid check came in and we are officially living on a healthy budget and have a fully stocked fridge/pantry!  Woot woot! 

P.P.S.  God is good! 

P.P.P.S.  You just read Pee-pee.  Sorry--I guess married life hasn't made me into a mature old sage yet.  (I know, you're shocked).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bugs in Our Rice

I know, it's disgusting, it's traumatizing, but it's true. Creepy crawlies invading a box of instant rice could happen to anyone. But to me it symbolized one thing: poverty.

Something happened last week that I haven't shared with you. Phil and I came into this marriage with high expectations for our financial life. We want to honor God with what we have. We want to view money the way He views it--as a gift from Him that we need to spend thoughtfully. We want to spend according principals we find in the bible, and wise counsel from smart, older friends. So a few days ago we sat down and hammered out a budget. That means that for the past month or so our spending has been unbridled, sporadic, willy-nilly. Most of what we had is gone. Don't get me wrong, we're not starving (or actually eating the rice with bugs), and we even had enough to buy our books for school. The point is that we were irresponsible and greedy. And if it weren't for a turn of events, we probably wouldn't even have noticed.

Philip was due to receive a financial aid check at the start of school that's lofty enough to cover rent, books, food and then some. That check went MIA. It was stuck in limbo, pending the review of documents he turned in--months ago!  We believe that God in, His sovereignty and grace, orchestrated this to help us grow. Sure, it was painful at first. After awhile, though, we realized that God wasn't willing to just leave us in our decaying way of life. Instead He used this situation to grab our attention, and help us remember our initial plan about money. Because of this, we took a second look at our hearts and at our finances.

For me personally, that revealed that I had been missing out on the love God had been lavishing on me because of a constant desire to have more. Everything in this apartment is a direct result of generosity. Friends, family, coworkers gave us all our furniture (hand-me-down, but still nice quality). Our whole apartment is stocked with cooking gear, appliances, decor, totally from the hands of friends as wedding gifts. Phil's dad was openhanded enough to let us "go shopping" in his pantry. (That is incidentally how we ended up with the old rice that had bugs in it--but still). The night ended with Philip and I sitting on the floor holding each other and worshipping God, singing the song, "How He Loves." That morning before I left the house my prayer was, "Give me Your eyes." In a way I never expected--or really wanted, to be honest--I got a glimpse into the way He sees things. Everything is backwards! Instead of wanting to be richer or have nicer things, I can be overwhelmingly thankful for everything that I have because, in truth, I don't deserve it.  I pray that we might keep our eyes on the Kingdom of God and see things the way He does.  For me, that changes everything.   

What changes your perspective?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What the Magic Bullet's Churning out These Days

I picked up a lot of things last summer in Costa Rica: a University of Costa Rica T-shirt, some Costa Rican Slang , "Pura Vida!,"  a sweet tan...Okay maybe not that last one, but it WAS the rainy season so my Irish/German heritage is not entirely to blame.  I also picked up a delicious smoothie recipe. In Costa Rica things are all natural. And I don't just mean they use sugar instead of splenda. Food is simple, a few ingredients and lots of fresh fruit. Most fruit smoothies I found there were mainly fruit, ice, and water--maybe a little sweetener. Of course that didn't stop me from finding one that made my personal nutritionist Tracy Johnson Hare squirm. Okay, so she just cut off the ice cream I was scheduled to get later that day for eating all my carrots at lunch. Anyways if you have a blender or a magic bullet like me, throw these ingredients in and get your fruit serving for the day. Maybe just skip the ice cream later. This recipe feeds 2 adults or 1 teenager and tastes like apple pie, yum...

Please excuse our kind-of-ugly newlywed couch.

One chopped apple (the smaller the pieces the better)

Two scoops of vanilla ice cream

4 cups Milk

 6ish ice cubes

1 "dash" of Cinnamon

2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar (optional!)

*If you want to go a little healthier use vanilla yogurt of the ice cream.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Leaving the Harbor

A ship is safest in the harbor, but that's not what ships were made for.

Philip and I went to our neighborhood picnic yesterday. It felt awkward, as we seemed to be the only ones there who didn't bring a kidlet or two. We live in graduate and family housing but they should really call it husband, wife, and 2.5 kids housing because that's 90% of our neighbors. The other 9% seems to be international students attending grad school who keep to themselves because they're always studying, studying, studying. All of this leads to us feeling a little out of place sometimes. There are definitely perks: I'll never have to smoke second hand marijuana, or be kept up by loud gangster music like when I lived in the dorms.

As we ate our free food in the grass--not mingling--this couple singled us out. They sat right next to us and started asking us questions. They seemed genuinely interested in getting to know us; they didn't just talk about the weather or the traffic that's returned since school started again. Like us, they got married young. They didn't have kids and they'd been married four years. As we shared our aspirations to someday be teachers in an impoverished community, the man shared this quote with us. He asked us if we went to a church in town, and we shared with him our place of worship. We parted ways and will probably never see them again.

I went home and burst into tears, "We should be more like them." As people who love Jesus, that's more what we should be: friendly, caring, reaching out to others even if it seems a little awkward. But we're just young and scared and, truth be told, we have no idea what we're doing. Phil calmed me down and explained that they are older than us and have been married a lot longer than us. He believes that our marriage will be a lot better in four years. And that the way we reach people will be a lot better in four years. Our goal is to keep growing--for the rest of our lives.

I suspect that the couple has no idea they impacted our lives. They motivated us. They inspired us. They helped us to be honest about where we're at, but press on towards growth.

mama marchand’s musings


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Mom, cute little old ladies, and God:

I annihilated a hymnal. I'm sorry. But I used it to make this:

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a...bulletin board! That K stands for kind, kool, krazy ksassy (silent k), okay there aren't that many adjectives that start with K. Most of all it stands for KATIE. My friend Katie Anthony turned 21 while I was on my honeymoon. Instead of sneaking alcohol back across the border for her, I decided to make this. Katie is a music major who happened to be my roommate last semester, and my bridesmaid this summer.

My inspiration was this how-to. I modified it a little by using a bulletin board instead of a canvas. I thought this way it would be cute and functional. I added some buttons to the tops of push pins using my new hot glue gun.

I know, I'm going all domestic--me the wrestler girl. My high school self would put me in the cradle. I kind of like it.  I'm definitely amateur status but crafting is a fun, creative outlet. 

What projects have you been working on lately?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A (not-so-deep) Thought for Thursday

mama marchand’s musings

I am linking up with Mama Marchand today.  Hopefully she won't mind the fact that my thought isn't nearly as deep as hers usually are.  Philip once said that he thinks I eat more ice cream than all other foods combined.  We bought one of those industrial sized ice cream tubs for our freezer.  In vanilla.  With toppings.  Yum.  I actually ate ice cream twice in one day--yesterday.  Don't judge me.

What simple pleasures are bringing you happiness lately?  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gleeview: Acceptance

Do you ever feel like an outsider? Like you don't quite fit in. Sometimes I feel like one day at school they passed out a "How To Be Cool" handbook--only I was absent that day. I think this is why I find Glee so appealing. Sure I watch it to hear great music, see sweet dance moves, laugh at clever jokes. But really what keeps me coming back to to catch every episode is that I can relate to characters that feel like...losers.

The problem Glee presents is that we are all different, we all feel like losers sometimes, and we all need complete acceptance. I wholeheartedly agree with the legitimacy of this problem. What I can't quite track with is the solution Glee offers up. Glee seems to sing and dance, "If we all just quit picking at each other's lifestyle choices, and just approved of whatever works for each individual, this problem would no longer exist." Or "Just accept yourself, and one day the world will accept you too."  True, there is value in accepting yourself and others.  It just never seems to be enough. 

In my experience, the cross is the only source of true acceptance. Only at the cross does the God of the universe say, "I know firsthand what you've done. I'm experiencing the pain and suffering your mistakes caused right now. But I love you 100% anyways. The pain of losing you would be worse than the pain of the cross. I'll pay any cost to restore you to myself."

This is coming from someone who tried every other source she could think of to find a solution to this problem. Before I turned to the Gospel my list of other lovers included popularity, resume-building titles, and the attention of men. None would satisfy. I tried positive psychology, self-help books, journaling, the works. Nothing helped me to see myself as valuable, loved, and worth knowing. Nothing short of Jesus.

We did nothing to deserve his love, in fact we did things to disqualify us from his love but he still chose to love us relentlessly. That's the only thing I can count on when I start to feel like I'm just not cool enough.

What helps you find acceptance?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree with me or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Candy to my eyes

One of my favorite things in our apartment--and not just because I'm an English nerd--is our bookshelf. It's just a cheap $20 borrow-a-power-drill-from-grandpa-so-you-can-build-it-yourself sort of thing. We bought the purse and shoes I wanted this bookshelf on a Target gift card and to me it spelled one thing: blank canvas.

Old books, candlesticks gifted to us (candles coming soon?  I kind of like them without what do you think?)

A picture I love (from an old National Geographic).
Something the hubs brought into the marriage that I think is kinda cute.

A picture frame I used at the wedding + leftover invitation paper + a page ripped out of an old hymnal (My mother would scream!)

We're working the finishing touches on the rest of the apartment.  Will post as soon as we're finished!
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