April 25, 2010

Cozy Lunch Meets Big Night Out

Last week seems a bit like a blur tonight. GMA (Gospel Music Association) Week was in full swing, although not nearly as busy as in years past. It was a blast as usual, but the late nights caught up with me and I'm just now feeling rested. When did I get so old?

Todd and I hit our favorite spot, the Franklin Mercantile for lunch before the events began. I knew our time together during the week would be few and far between, so a weekday lunch date was necessary.

Throw in an afternoon spent with Michael W. Smith...

A night to get dressed up for the Dove Awards...

Plus a Friday night BBQ spent with great friends and a lovely baby shower on Saturday, you've got a fun-filled week.

I'm giving the blog a little break this week. Todd and I are heading to Destin for an early anniversary getaway. I'm realizing just how fast this year is flying by. I feel like I just wrote about how it would be seven weeks until our trip, and here it is. We're both more than ready to disconnect from work and e-mail and enjoy time together (white sand and fresh seafood sounds pretty nice too!).

Have a wonderful week!

April 20, 2010

Quite the Collection

I don't collect things.

I take that back. In the past, I never collected anything. I am as anti-clutter as they come, and collections are the antithesis of neat and tidy.

But I have changed my way of thinking. I now have a collection. It's small, but I still call it a collection and I'm willing to make room for many, many more.

Aprons. Had you asked me when I was younger if I would ever collect aprons, I would have said you're out of your mind. I always enjoyed cooking, but aprons made me feel old and frumpy. Now I can't get enough of them. Especially aprons that have special meaning to me.

1. My very first apron. My Aunt Terry made this apron for me when Todd and I hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner in Nashville. My mom and sister flew in from North Carolina and my grandmother flew in from Denver. It was a holiday I will never forget. All of us cramped into our small townhouse, trying to prepare a huge Thanksgiving day feast. It was the first holiday Todd and I spent away from Missouri and we felt so grown-up.

2. One of my dearest friends, Allison, made apron number two as a gift for my 26th birthday. She is so crafty and a pro with a sewing machine. I was thrilled to have an "Allison Original." Her special gift to me was given at just the right time. A few weeks later my family flew out again for yet another Tennessee Thanksgiving. This time we were in our house and I loved hosting a holiday dinner in our new home.

3.  Todd's mom has caught on to my love for aprons and this past Christmas she got me a fabulous apron - it looks like it came right out of Anthropologie. I love it. I can cook and be stylish at the same time. Can't beat that!

4. The latest addition to my collection is another handmade apron from another dear friend. Suz made these aprons as bridesmaid gifts and I just love it. The fabric was used to decorate her reception hall and now I have a physical reminder of her special day. She surprised us all with her handiwork. It's great to have such crafty friends. They definitely inspire me.

I look forward to the day that I share these aprons with my child and tell him or her the story of where they each came from. And yes, if I am lucky enough to have a boy, he will know his way around the kitchen!


In other news, today I received my first gold record. Plaques and awards are a big deal in the music industry and I have secretly always wanted my own record to hang on the wall. I remember when I was an intern, walking the gold and platinum adorned halls of the company I now work for, and thinking, "One day, I will have one of those with my name on it." Today was that day. I'm so thankful to work for such a great company and to partner in ministry with one of the most genuine artists in Christian music, Casting Crowns. I'm beyond blessed.

Speaking of collections, I wouldn't mind adding a few more of these to the wall!

April 17, 2010

Spring Living

The weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom and the farmers markets are brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables. It is officially spring and we're making the most of it.

There's something to be said for cooking with fresh foods. This past week Todd and I set out to eat fresh veggies with all of our meals and to experiment with new, spring recipes.

I recently started subscribing to Martha Stewart's food magazine Everyday Food. One of my favorite things to do is try new recipes. I tried out two from the April issue.

We kicked off the week with Tilapia & Quinoa with Cucumbers and Feta

A couple nights later we made a Chopped Greek Salad

Throw in a picnic dinner in Centennial Park and a BBQ with friends tonight, this has been an amazing week filled with fresh foods and fun spring activities.

I love summer too, but I'm really hoping this mild weather stays around for awhile.

Happy Weekend!

April 12, 2010

A Million Miles

I was not a fan of Blue Like Jazz.

There, I said it.

After hearing all of the hype and press about Donald Miller's first book, I was really excited to read it. As I turned the last few pages, I thought to myself, "This is a guy's book. Todd would love this. Me? Not so much."

So why then did I pick up Miller's latest book? Because again, I fell for the hype and good press. But it was different this time around. This book makes complete sense to me. So much so, I haven't been able to put it down. I can't really explain it, but God has been speaking very loudly to me through Miller's latest memoir. Something inside of me has changed - a direction in life that I begged myself not to follow because of fear and lack of control is now lined with green lights. For the first time I'm ready to face the unknown. I know I won't be able to control the journey and at times I will feel like a failure, but I'm ready to take the first few steps, even if just to peek at what is ahead.

In A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, Miller explains that each of our lives tell a story. We are all characters in a story that we write and we can either sit idly by in the background, or we can write a story that is worth retelling. Miller includes a few quotes in his book that grabbed me (and shook me hard).

"...humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an enticing incident that disrupts that comfort, they will not enter into a story. A call has to be made. A marathon has to be signed up for. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will not happen."

I completely get seeking comfort and stability. I typically feel best when I'm in control (or convinced that I have control). Walking into the unknown is scary. Change is hard when it's not the kind of change we're seeking. But life without change is boring. Too much stability shows lack of risk. Lack of risk shows lack of growth. The last thing I want to be is stagnant.

"...every person faces resistance when they try to do something good....resistance, a kind of feeling that comes against you when you point toward a distant horizon, is a sure sign you are supposed to do the thing in the first place. The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be...

"...there is a force in this world that doesn't want us to live good stories. It doesn't want us to face our issues, to face our fear and bring something beautiful into the world. I guess what I'm saying is, I believe God wants us to create beautiful stories and whatever it is that isn't God wants us to create meaningless stories, teaching the people around us that life just isn't worth living."

I know in my own life, when I have decided to follow God's leading, I am met with resistance. The enemy doesn't want me to face my fears. He wants my fears to stifle me. I've lived in that place most of my life, so I know what that's about.

For the past few months the major source of resistance in my life has been me. I put up a brick wall between me and my future that's not so pretty to look at anymore. I'm not quite ready to break through the wall and sprint down the new road in front of me, because I feel that I have a lot to learn first, but I am ready to do a bit of remodeling. I'm replacing the brick wall with a window. I'm grabbing a pen and writing a new rough draft for my story.

Isn't it great that God can use the story of a 30-something author to open my eyes to His plans for my life? I'm so thankful that I'm a child of the Great Storyteller.

What story are you telling?

April 6, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I've realized that one of the hardest things about blogging is keeping my posts in real-time. When I scanned a few a of my favorite blogs yesterday, all of them had already posted about their Easter weekend and had moved on to the next thing. I'm just now uploading photos and reflecting on our trip home. I also have to remember that most of the bloggers I follow don't work full time, so I won't beat myself up too much.

We had such an incredible time with friends and family this past weekend. It was the first time we brought friends from Nashville to Missouri. It was a bit surreal taking in all of the sights through their eyes, as if seeing everything for the first time. I fell in love with our home town a bit more - the slow pace, open fields and rolling hills. I feel blessed to call the Ozarks home and so thankful to have great friends to share them with.

April 6

We couldn't have asked for a better weekend.

April 2, 2010

It's A Good Friday

As you read this, I am with friends and family celebrating Easter weekend in Missouri. I actually wrote this post yesterday (Thursday) and I'm relying on technology to publish this when I tell it to. I also think it's kind of fun to write as if I'm in the future. But that's neither here nor there.

My last post was a little heavy, although I got so many great comments and e-mails that only supported my decision to quit Twitter. I'm so thankful to have such great friends who don't think I'm crazy for disconnecting.

It's funny the things you notice after quitting something like Twitter. I didn't even realize how hooked I was until I quit. It has taken some getting used to, but I don't miss it at all. I'm actually trying to figure out what's next to go. Cable? Facebook? We'll see.

Since Twitter is no longer filling my free time, I've been living "real" life.

I made Easter baskets (or pails in my case) for my friend Janessa's little ones. We've been friends since the third grade and were college roommates. She's one of those friends you just have for life. No questions asked.

Making the labels was the best part - so easy and really cute. Darby has a great tutorial here.

I've also been outside reconnecting with our neighbors. I love Spring for that very reason - everyone is outside. Todd actually missed dinner one night this week when he went out to put something in the car, and didn't come back for two hours because he was caught up in conversation. We have some social neighbors, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Little Caylem has been showing me his mad jumping skills.

PS - A new house is being built at the end of our street - our neighborhood doesn't practice using huge dumpsters and electric boxes as playground equipment.

Now that everyone is over colds and flus, our small group is busier than ever. Last night we had an amazing time of fellowship (and really good food - Nichole, pictured below, is a personal chef. Need I say more?). Matt, the "elder" of our group as we like to say, wrote a post about our little, or big group on his blog. Such a great description of what God is doing with our little clan. Check it out if you have a minute.

I brought my camera hoping to get a fun group shot, but with all of us trying to get dinner ready and keep the kiddos occupied, I just took a shot that offers a glimpse into our crazy lives. As the only couple without kids, you would think Todd and I would be staying far away. But we love it. We love the chaos and the kids playing under our feet. We know we have some amazing mentors who will teach us how to be parents.

If everything goes as planned, this post will go live on Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Today we praise Him for taking our sin and setting us free. If you're a believer, you know this weekend sums up everything we believe in. I'm praying that you will spend time really thinking about that truth, and sharing it with those who may not know. As horrific as this day was for our King, what He did for us changed the course of history - and saved us all. It is indeed a Good Friday.

Have a wonderful Easter!