Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sissy Love

Abby and Nancy (my 2 youngest sisters) have been staying with us since Friday. It's been great. They have been such good sports about taking down their beds every morning, setting them back up at night and organizing and re-organizing their suitcases and belongings to keep them all together in one spot in our bedroom. These things are necessary, you would understand, if you have spent any time in our home. It is quite small. I'd never have believed that 4 people could live in it so comfortably! I guess I'm getting the girls ready for camp next week, and they're helping me be a little more flexible in my home. I remember when my friends James and Christen were living in the Barnabas house by our church along with James' parents, and so James and Christen shared a bedroom with their 3 children, including a newborn. It really blew me away, and I sort of woke up to my own selfishness about the space I felt I needed. It's good for us to adjust our schedules and lives to make room for people!

Some fun things we've done include:
~Shopping and buying matching flip-flops at J.Crew, and then taking millions of pictures of us with the shoes (Johanna's gift of the flexible tripod was useful for this!

~Lots of eating out! We've gone to Josh's restaurant 2 times, a yummy fish place by the riverfront, coffee shops, Krispie Kreme, J. Gumbo a
nd even Sonic (that's high living there!).

~Swimming at the pool here on campus, and at our friends' house.

~Reading, reading, reading! Abby pulled To Kill a Mockingbird off the shelf the first day she got here and said "I'll try to finish this while I'm here". It's on her summer reading list. She sure finished it -- in less than 3 days! We are planning to have a movie night tomorrow night and watch the movie version of the book (which is quite good, for anyone who has not seen it). I pretty much just have everybody bring a book with them everywhere. It's been a good break from television/Myspace. :)

~Tonight we are having a spa night. I hope my mom doesn't kill me! I gave both of them highlights! (see pictures below) We also are whitening Nancy's teeth (she is a recent braces wearer) with this cool stuff from Rembrandt that only takes 2 hours, and then you're done. It seems to be pretty effective! It was Nancy's birthday on Sunday, so this mini-makeover is her birthday present. I also gave her a bunch of clothes, and we are experimenting with hairstyles that are suitable for her hair type (curly and fluffy!). Does it look like Abby is worried about my concocting her hair dye? She shouldn't be! It turned out great! (I PROMISE, Mom!)

*Nancy and cap being doused with dye.*

*Abby a
nd her foils*

*Ta da! Josh likes Abby's highlights so much, he wants some of his own. Nancy's "after" picture will have to wait, as she is still in the middle of her whitening treatment!*

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Worlds Collide

It was the great meeting of the blogs as 4 friends from LaFayette traveled to Louisville for the weekend to visit Josh and I: G-Knee, Smoothie King, MadMup, and Red Couch. It occurred to me that (with the exception of Jason), I knew all these people from earlier in my life, it has really been because of blogging that I have gotten to know them so much better.

Good times were to be had as we enjoyed delicious Italian food at the restaurant where Josh works, sipped coffee and played Settlers-or-Scrabble at our favorite coffee shop, or took a million pictures by the river after some fresh fish 'n' chips. One felt as though with all the cameras clicking, one might need to watch his words or actions, lest they quite suddenly appear on another's blog! In fact, as Mark so graciously pointed out to ME several times "watch out, Gret, you know that's going up on the blog!"

Below is my camera's pathetic attempt to capture G-Knee and I in front of the L-ville skyline . . . I hope Geen's camera captured it better!

Below is pretty much the way G-knee looked the whole weekend. And that is how Josh and Jason looked.

It was so fun to have you all, and I hope you'll not be strangers now! (*ahem!* this might be a little plea/suggestion to other good friends from college to make a little road trip down this way! *Sarah! Cough*)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Dear Darling Sister,


This is the letter I should have written you before your graduation, but I wanted to spend enough time to get it JUST RIGHT, so I have put off writing thus far. . . but no more.

In many ways
, this night before you leave for your trip to Europe is the eve of your grown-up days, perhaps even more than your graduation or 18th birthday were. Don't worry if you don't feel grown yet -- neither do I, and I've been grown much longer. The Lord keeps our young girlish hearts young and fresh all our lives, if we stay teachable and pliable to Him.

I want to tell you, dear sister, how very much I love and admire you, and how you have grown to be so much more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed (or prayed). You are what I wished to be at 18. I frequently say that you are so much better a person, and so much more mature and grounded in God's word than I was even just a few ye
ars ago. Many girls are beautiful at 18, many are talented, many have popularity, wit, personality, strength of heart and character . . . you possess all of these gifts, and more. You have what many do not -- an unshakable identity in Christ, and a vibrant connection to Him.

I have seen you die on crosses He has asked you to bear, giving up a bit of this world for the next. I have seen you choose to do the right thing when it is difficult. I have seen you respond beautifully to personal suffering that perhaps no-one else could quite understand (like saying goodbye to our best friends) and hold your palms up to God, blessing Him for giving and taking away. I have seen what you have read in the Scriptures and good books lived out in your life. I have peeked in your room many times to see you reading your Bible or writing in your prayer journal or quiet time diary. For these things, and countless more, I am so proud of you.

As a toddler, you were our poser -- ready to please with your blonde little ponytails (us
ually with a rather large bow of some sort -- perhaps made from shoestrings or curly ribbon?). You wanted our lipstick, our perfume, our attention. As a child, I saw you learning and growing at church and home. I recall many nights when mom and dad were out of town that you would have fears about wolves or fire or other scary things, and so often I got to be the sister who would sit on your bed and talk to you and pray with you (I shudder to think what feeble help I attempted to bring). I could identify with your fears, as I struggled with most of those things myself -- well, maybe not the wolves. :) As an early teen, I saw all the ways you were superior to your peers, even though you did not see it. I knew time was just ticking before all boys everywhere discovered you . . . and I was right.

You have always been precious to me. Oh, sometimes I was a self-centered brat, especially during my teen years, and I pushed you aside for some stupid concern, I'm sure. I am so sorry for that. I am so sorry I got so wrapped up in myself that I did not forsee that you girls would become my dearest friends, and spend more time investing in you. I'll warn you from doing the same -- though there is no danger in that happening with you, I suppose. Nonetheless, you will likely look back and miss those nights Abby invaded your room and long to have them back -- I know I miss a million times over having you ask me to do your hair or paint your nails.

Emma, you know how to make right choices in matters of the heart -- you have told me the prayers you pray -- and I am confident the Lord will bring you much contentment
and joy in this aspect of your life. I charge you to love Christ supremely -- adore Him with abandon, and He will give you the desires of your heart. I urge you not to grasp with your hands what the Lord will bring you with readiness, at the best timing. Rest in Him, dear girl, He'll make it all right.

I love you so much! I pray for your trip, and all your endeavors, that you will be filled with the peace and joy that Christ gives, and will glory in the beauty and adventure He grants you. I'll talk to you when you get back! I only wish I could see you off in the morning, but this will have to do the best I can. Across the miles, I squeeze you tight and kiss your rosy cheeks. Have a terrific time, darling!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm Trading My Sorrow

Let's get real here: how many of us feel depressed sometimes? I so often put on a mask of cheerfulness while inside I am drowning in self-pity, envy and depression. I want to shriek at my circumstances and make them change. I am jealous of women who have what I want -- children, freedom to stay at home, an enjoyable job or money.

This has been me for the past few days. I had a meltdown last night, wishing I could make someone understand (how silly, right? But I'd wager you've been there, too). I cried and prayed and used the muscles of my mind to make me recall the things I am thankful for. The sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning! When I woke up, and throughout this day, several things dawned on me:

1. My time is not my own -- it is God's. I practically heard the Holy Spirit tell me that I was being selfish about my time. I am where He wants me. It is not my time that I feel like I'm wasting, it's God's. Have I been redeeming the time? C.J. Mahaney recommends that we talk to ourselves when we wake up in the morning, rather than let our minds whirl and think on random things which may discourage or embitter us. I brushed my teeth thinking about my day being God's time.

2. When I am "struggling" with something, that is sin. Mrs. Ware told me once that Elisabeth Elliot said that, and it has always stuck with her -- I can see why. How often do we say "I am just struggling with this!"? Why do we struggle? Clearly, because we lack faith in the One with Whom we struggle. I am painfully aware with how much I have been arm wrestling in my spirit.

3. I cannot control what other people think of me. I guess that is pretty simple.

My mind is so at rest now, thanks to some fresh insight. I was very encouraged today for several reasons:

~Josh prayed with me before I went to work, which calmed my spirit and prepared my mindset. He also sweetly forbid me to do the dishes for the rest of the summer, and made the bed as soon as we were both out of it.

~An acquaintance brought me a bag of Starbuck's Tanzania Roast coffee -- the new summer roast. A guy I work with and I made a pot into iced coffee, which is my new favorite summer drink, and I felt this little "summer vacation" feeling while I was working. :)

~I had a lovely lunch outside with my friend Rachel. She has been a dear friend to me here, and we are in cahoots with a plan to invite over every woman in our church (over a period of time). Today we planned our next ladies brunch.

There is such a relief in knowing that Jesus knows all our sorrows, and He is available to talk to every moment. He goes to work with me, and cleans my house with me, and lets me lean on His shoulder whenever I need to. I choose to fight for the joy of the Lord!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Eating Veggies

Some time back, Sara Foz, I believe, requested I post ideas for vegetarian eating. It feels strange to write a whole post on food (I mean other than restaurant eating!), but I do want to make my readers happy!

Yesterday I was reading Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal and these words stood out to me. They seemed appropriate for this post:
"First and foremost, we are to recieve our food with thanksgiving. It is God who created and provided food for us in the first place. Shouldn't we at least be grateful? Let us resolve never to eat without offering thanks to our God for His bountiful provision.

"God also wants us to enjoy our good. It is a gift from the one 'Who richly provides us with everything to enjoy'. . . Jesus thoroughly delighted in the gift of food. So let's relish our food in the same way."

When I first became a vegetarian, I did so to make an attempt to be more healthy. However, the dorm food I most enjoyed (cookies, chips, cheese and crackers, desserts of all kinds) were still allowed by my new diet, and I was certainly more unhealthy than before. Later, I went through an eating disorder during the years Josh and I were courting and engaged. Food was the enemy, and I rode a roller coaster of emotions based on how fat or skinny I felt that day (notice I say felt. Rarely do we actually look how we feel! No one else would have guessed I was on cloud nine because I had eaten the EXACT number of calories I'd alloted myself). The Lord has so graciously taken me through that destructive and idolatrous mindset to a freedom where food is concerned. I do not eat meat. But I do attempt to eat a balanced diet of protein, grains, fruit and especially -- veggies! There are so many good things to eat out there that just by trying them, it is easy to keep your diet full of delicious variety!

Typically, Josh and I eat the following meals every week: pasta, mexican (of some variation), beans and rice (usually red), pizza, eggs. Those are easy vegetarian meals we both enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite vegetables, and how I like to prepare them. Hope it gives you some ideas!

Avacado: this may be my favorite food. I adore eating them made into fresh guacamole, or just sliced on a sandwich. Last week I tried one on a bagel with some sliced tomato, salt and pepper! WOW! You can also wrap them up in a tortilla (drizzle with ranch dressing), slice them on a salad, or eat them plain! YUM!

Asparagus: grilled is the very best way to eat these things. Also, if you steam it, drizzle lemon juice and butter and eat it as your entree with some bread. Or try it sauteed with other veggies and some pasta (I find it best to half or quarter them).

Artichokes: rounding out the big 3A's for me is this spiky guy. I'll admit -- I just buy the canned hearts. Chop them up, mix them with a little spinach, garlic, light mayo, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Bake it until all the cheese is melted. WONDERFUL dip. People ask me all the time for the recipe -- there it is. I also enjoy artichoke hearts as a pizza topping, or in the pasta salad at The Courier Cafe.

Broccoli: I love dips. This broccoli dip can be made with fresh or frozen broc! Chop it finely, add lots of onion (red looks pretty), chopped red pepper (or yellow), fresh garlic, light mayo, light sour cream and cheddar cheese (I buy 2% cheese). The amounts just depend on how much you want to make -- just add enough of everything until it's creamy. Salt and pepper everything, of course.

Carrots: who couldn't like these? Here is a delish pasta recipe: sautee lots of fresh garlic in olive oil, and add sliced carrots (I take the baby ones and halve them long way). About when the pasta water boils, add lots of green olives, mushrooms, and fresh parsley. When the pasta is nearly done, add halved grape tomatoes and pine nuts. Toss the pasta in your olive oil sauce! You can omit any of the ingredients, depending on what you have on hand. Good with tuna, too!

Green Onions: I was a grown up before I realized that you can eat the green part, too. These are a vital ingredient in "Cottage Cheese Stuff" invented by Rhonda Ferguson, which long enjoyed the status of my favorite food. Slice the green scallions, halve grape or cherry tomatoes, and mix into cottage cheese with plenty of garlic salt (secret ingredient) and pepper.

Mushrooms: The food Josh and I equally hold in high esteem. We love to saute a huge pan of them to eat with eggs, roast them in the oven (or grill in foil packets) with red potatoes and onions, put them on pizza, or eat them fresh in salads. I love a "burger" of a portabella top.

Olives: These surface so often as my favorites. I like them all, but I most commonly eat everyday green spanish olives. I like them on top of a bagel and cream cheese (with tomatoes!), in scrambled eggs, on pizza, and in burritos (black ones). Sometimes we get pizza with double olives!

Peppers: red are bar none superior to the other colors. If you actually eat them, they are well worth the price. Put them in the dip I mentioned earlier, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or just fresh in their glorious sweetness. Piperade is a wonderful sort of sauce to be eaten with poached eggs. Chop up red peppers very small, and heat them with chopped tomato, salt and a little cayenne. Wowzers.

Tomatoes: these are obviously the king daddy for me. I am certain I eat some variety of this vegetable-like fruit every day. I am drawn to sauces, salsas, slices -- whatever! I am so sorry for you if you don't like tomatoes. I cannot help you with that, because I simply cannot imagine it. Here is a great way to use up the big fresh ones from the garden (do you need help with that? It is not really a problem for me, I eat them so much). Cut a big or medium tomato in half, drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper (lots of pepper). Roast them slowly in the oven at a lowish temp. I like to toss some pine nuts on top near the end, and eat them with fresh bread. Holy moly. You won't believe how good it is. You won't need anything else for dinner.

This is only a small survey of ideas from my favorite veggies, saying nothing of roasted garlic, veggie lasagna, potato latkes, and sweet pea risotto. The list of ideas are all off the top of my head, I didn't consult a single cookbook. What is your favorite way to eat veggies?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Romantic Musings

A beautiful couple at our church got married today, and I sneaked into the wedding with a friend of mine. It was amazing. Many of the guests had African roots -- or really were from Africa -- and were adorned in breathtaking apparel: fantastic headdresses, intricate gowns bedecked with unique embroidery, lace and sparkles, men with flowing shirts that were almost cape-like. The couple had chosen wonderful congregational worship songs, and multiple scripture readings making the entire service a delightful reflection of Christ's union with the church.

I feel as though weddings like these are so very romantic. I love them. I've been in a romantic mood all day.

So for your reading enjoyment, I have chosen a favorite romantic excerpt from a book I am currently reading. This passage in The Witch of Blackbird Pond takes place where the young Puritan Theology student confesses to Kit (the heroine) his secret love for her cousin Mercy, who is crippled. John's sensitive declaration is just heart-wrenching.

"Slowly she began to realize what he had said. 'John! Why should you want to talk to Mercy?'

"His eyes twinkled. 'Why do you think I come so often?'

"'But I thought -- we all thought -- I mean --'

"It has always been Mercy, from the very beginning. Didn't you guess that?'

"'Oh John!'

"'I'm glad you approve,' he said 'Do you think I have a chance, Kit?'

"'A chance! Just you try! Oh John, I'm so happy I could dance a jig!'

"'I can't try yet,' he reminded her soberly. 'I have nothing to offer her, nothing at all.'

"'You'll have a church of your own some day. Only -- could Mercy -- do you think she could manage a minister's household? There are so many things Mercy can't do, John.'

"'Then I will do them for her,' he said quietly. 'I don't want a wife to wait on me. For Mercy just to be what she is -- I could never do enough to make up for it.'"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Safely Home

We're halfway through June, and at this time last year I'd made a huge dent in my summer reading. But this year, I've finished only one book so far -- the often recommended title about the persecuted church: Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. My friend Christen has been suggesting I read this book for about a year and a half. I admit, I put it off a little bit because I am not a huge fan of Christian fiction (I know -- that sounds so snobby! I'm sorry!) and also because for whatever reason I could not get it out of my head that this book has nothing whatsoever to do with baseball! Chris, if you are reading this before you go to Brazil, I want to thank you so much for making me borrow it before we parted ways in December. It was really good -- you were right.

I liked Safely Home for two reasons: it contained quite a bit of history -- both of the persecuted church in China and of China itself -- and I liked the C.S. Lewis-like descriptions of heaven and the last things (seriously, did Randy Alcorn finish reading The Last Battle right before he wrote this book?). Learning about Christians in other countries is fascinating to me, and this book was so inspiring as I read about the tremendous faith of these persecuted brothers and sisters. It amazed me that as I read about the brutal treatment of Christians described in the book, I became less afraid of my own personal suffering. In fact, I began to see how we share in Christ's suffering through what we ourselves endure, and thus relate to Him in a more intimate way. The author did a fantastic job of focusing on persecution with a lens that sees through that and into the delights of eternity. It would be easy to write a book about how horrible things were so that American Christians could sympathize, but what a far better goal to write not only how horrible it really is, but also how worth it this light affliction will be in eternity. That is because He Who Holds up the Sky sits with you in the cell, His presence more real than the filth around you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

One's Social Calendar:

Opportunity for ministry or detriment to spiritual growth?

This week has been absolutely chock full of blessed social appointments. I have been living "high on the hog" as it were, trying new restaurants with my friend Misty who stayed with us this week, meeting girlfriends for coffee, visiting with people from
church (either in their home or out for pizza), getting doughnuts, pie kitchen, etc.

Whoa. . .

It is almost overwhelming. Jesus has blessed me with precious relationships, fantastic conversations, probing questions and endless moments of laughter -- so I want to take these dinner dates and cups of coffee as gifts from my blessed Savior's hand, and not take them for granted! This was a huge aspect of the seminary life that I was so eagerly looking forward to -- the social life!

I do, however, know my own nature enough to see where I could become almost addicted to filling my life with social events, and thereby rather complacent in my home life or negligent in my spiritual walk with Christ. It is true that it may be a bit harder to love Christ supremely, devote myself utterly to cultivating a relationship with Him and long for th
e glories of Heaven when I am so filled up with the benefits of these relationships on earth. When I have had meal after meal after meal in a new fantastic place, sharing in a dynamic conversation . . . well, it's a bit hard to miss my Jesus! I may feel like I need Him less, somehow, because my cup runs over.

We do need one another's sharpening in our lives, though, don't we? I need to be asked good questions, and to focus my attention on really listening to my friend's needs. Christ would have His body to be unified -- loving one another, showing hospitality, building each other up and speaking the truth in love. It is important to be able to cultivate that in day to day life, otherwise we might so easily turn inward, thinking our small world is the only one of importance, and our small hurts are the only ones that exist.

The key here? Balance. Quite obviously, my response to an overwhelmingly blessed week in the company of my Christian brothers and sisters ought to be to pour out my thanksgiving to Christ -- the Best Friend of all friends -- and seek to devote myself to some quality "us time": just me and Christ. I need to read His word, speak to Him frequently, and probably ensure that quite such a heavy schedule does not continue for weeks and weeks (I am thinking that after a shower I'm going to tomorrow night, that's gonna be it for awhile!). I need to pay attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling me that my home, my relationship with my
husband and my sweet walk with Jesus may start to suffer if I make one more coffee date.

It's been a great week, Jesus! Next week I want to spend more of it with you!

These pictures are a super small sampling of this week: Misty and I in the car sometime, eating dinner at our friend Brady's house, and with Elizabeth Coffman-Mackey at Lynn's Paradise Cafe.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tying the Knot

In response to my dear friends who asked me to write about my wedding (now a date in history, 6 long years past!), I now set my hand (or fingertips) to writing about that blessed day.

At that point in our walks with Christ, Josh and I had developed in our theology only far enough to understand that a wedding was not about 2 people, but really about Christ and His bride, the church. In our hearts, we longed for Christ to be the One lifted up . . . though we were rather young and if I were to be totally honest and real, I'd admit that pockets of my heart also longed to see Gretchen lifted up. Maybe not in the usual sense, but I certainly had to fight the battle of self-promotion that comes along with wedding planning -- I wanted people to say that our wedding was the best, the most fun, the most unique. Those are good things, of course! But the pride in my heart kept me from enjoying most of the process of getting ready for a big party . . . but I digress.

So that was my heart. But I do reflect on the Lord's goodness to us that day with a thankful heart, and it is with that heart that I share with you now the day Josh and I entered a covenant relationship with one another.
We got married June 2nd, 2001 at Calvary Baptist Church in Danville, Illinois. Pastor Joe Humrichous married us, and our witnesses were my maid of honor -- my sister Anna -- and Josh's best man -- his brother Ryan. We both have big fams, so in the wedding were my 3 sisters Anna, Abby and Emily (Nancy was not in our family as yet), pictured in blue, red and light yellow, respectively, and Josh's 3 sisters Kari, Melissa and Laura, pictured in pink, yellow and dark blue. My friend Misty (red) was my one non-related bridesmaid. Josh had his brother Ryan, my brother Nathan, his cousins Georg and Jeramie, my cousin Robbie, and his friend Scott. As you can see in the picture, I wanted everyone to wear something they liked and felt comfortable in, so the girls chose their colors and dresses, and the boys all wore navy suits. Daisies match everything!

I bought my dress off e-bay (which had just arisen in all its glory as an endless resource for frugal wedding planners) for $40. It was from the 60's, and even though my mom freaked out initially that I was wearing an old hippie's dress, she was okay with the overall look that came out. It was made out of a soft cotton seersucker material -- so comfortable! We made a daisy wreath with a bunch of ribbons hanging from it for me to wear instead of a veil. The auditorium was quite simply decorated (I wanted none at all, but my mom just couldn't stand that!) with a couple large potted flowers and sticks with yellow berries on them hanging from each pew (they were left over from Courtni Rudolph's graduation open house!). Josh and I faced the audience as we said our vows and were charged by Pastor Joe (who stood on the floor in front of us). Our attendants stood around us boy/girl. I am all about that look for those of you who may be planning a wedding! It is so much easier for everyone to see the bride and groom. We all sang a congregational song together: "We are so blessed".

Our reception is my favorite part! I really really wanted to have a casual picnic at my parent's home (my home at the time!) for the reception. It took some cajoling, but my flexible mom agreed to let us make all the food for everyone. Misty, Anna, my mom and I mad
e a huge spread of Italian beef, shredded chicken sandwiches, potato salad, veggies, baked beans, cottage cheese salad, Balreich's potato chips and fruit. Misty and I also made about 50 pies -- big lovely 10 inch ones. Josh and I were not so into a fancy wedding cake, and we like pie better anyway! I can't remember all the flavors of pie we made, but I promise every crust was home-made and hand rolled, and every apple was hand peeled. I've not been in the presence of so many huge pies since that day!

Have you seen Steel Magnolias? If you are a girl, you truly MUST
see this movie! In Shelby's wedding, they have a groom's cake in the shape of a giant armadillo, made with red velvet cake and gray icing. Somehow during our 11 month engagement, we decided we needed one of those, too. Enter Misty, Anna and Gretchen, armadillo cake designers. I was the engineer. I figured out what shapes of cakes we'd need to build this guy with (a loaf pan for a head, for instance). Misty and Anna were the artists, decorating with heavy gray buttercream icing to their hearts' content. We multiplied Evelyn Hill's red velvet recipe by 6, and made a lifesize armadillo out of cake the day before the wedding. The next morning when I came downstairs, it looked like the armadillo had been run over by a car -- his red insides were showing where his heavy buttercream side had caved in on him! We served him smooth side facing out.

It was a fun day (though rather cold for June!). I saw teenage boys playing basketball out front, kids playing on the swings in the back and various ladies sitting in the family room by the fireplace. Just what I'd hoped for! I tossed my bouquet from the upstairs balcony outside -- no ceiling to hit!

As we left the house for our honeymoon, we were sent off by a fun crowd of all ages waving sparklers, blowing bubbles, tossing snap 'n' pops, and giving us hugs and cheers. Amid the bubbles and smoke, it was like a beautiful cloud of happiness! We cried as we drove away -- feeling more blessed and loved than we'd ever felt before.

**Edit: I do apologize for the poor quality of pictures here. I know that is what you all want to see. Unfortunately, all my pictures are in scrapbooks and frames and I do not have a scanner! This is the best I could do!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Summer Evening

My friend Misty is visiting us right now, and we decided to grill out tonight (at the last minute, due to the weirdness of today's weather). Kevin knew of a huge pavilion where we'd be safe from sudden rain showers, if they were to arise again, so we set out, armed with enough gorgeous fresh summery food to feed an army.

We fixed veggie kabobs, asparagus, hamburgers, cottage cheese salad, strawberry shortcake, and the yummiest of all -- pineapple on the grill! Don't those kabobs look lovely?

Check out the look on Misty and Kevin's faces as they discuss how they truly feel about eating meat. I have to say they mirror my own feelings.

Heather and I pose for a self-shot (Heather is a friend I worked with . . . until this past Friday!). She ditched me for a better job, so I am currently looking for a fun single female to work with. . . must be able to put up with a lot and take my part on everything (girls stick together, right?).

Brady proves he does not care for asparagus (yeah right, he ate a load of it!). He is our friend from church -- lots of fun, and funny and single!

Misty shows us how to smoke your asparagus. It was so wonderful on the grill! Little summer tip if you want a healthy dish to grill out! Brush with e.v.o.o. and season a bit -- viola!

Here is a shot of my plate. Don't worry, I didn't eat a hamburger -- that is roasted veggies on a grilled ciabatta bun. The whole plated effect was rather artful, I felt. The colors and tastes of the evening were so vibrant and fresh. Josh and Brady discussed their summer school classes, Heather, Misty and I took a walk and played on the playground -- how summery can you get?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Six Years for Josh and Gret

How does something seem long and short at the same time? On one hand, I cannot believe that I have been married for six whole years -- it seems like I am too young for that to be possible! On the other hand, I'm having difficulty remembering what it was like before we got married, and six years doesn't seem long enough!

Today is our six-year anniversary. Josh works weekends, so we decided to go out for breakfast this morn
ing to celebrate. I really love simple celebrations. We went to The Blue Dog Cafe and Artisan Bakery here in our neighborhood. YUM! I had dreamed of the poached eggs with piperade ever since last September when we came to Louisville to visit, and ate at the Blue Dog with our college friend Kevin McFadden. Josh also enjoyed this unique breakfast dish along with cups and cups and cups of their good strong Italian coffee. Do you ever just really really like a very small thing? Today I was just loving the creamer they served with the coffee. I don't even usually use cream, but it was just so white and cold and it was served in this little stone creamer, that we used the whole pitcher up. I think the Lord was just blessing us with an extra measure of pleasure on this day, and even the coffee creamer seemed extra-ordinarily good.

After breakfast we walked down Franklin avenue, enjoying the warm morning. We went to the Farmer's market in the parking lot of a church, and then headed back home.

Here is a picture of what we gave ourselves as an anniversary present! An air conditioner, YEA! Now people who come to visit will not be roasted to shrivelines and killed to death. :) Truly, f
or us to be able to show any hospitality at all this summer, another air conditioning unit was completely essential. It is nice and cool in the living room as I type this! Thank you, Jesus!

I am so thankful for my sweet, patient husband who has a hunger for God and a love for His word and His people. Our marriage has improved so much over these past years (which is so funny, because when we got married, I kind of thought we hit the high point! So take heart, my newly-wed, or unwed friends . . . it just keeps getting better.) Donette and I discussed that over our falafel at Shiraz the other day -- personal sanctification is the reason our marriages are so much better NOW than at the beginning! It's just Jesus and His grace!