Friday, August 30, 2013

new and improved

Happy Labor Day Weekend!  I will be spending the long weekend down in Dallas, helping my parents move into their beautiful new home.  My parents moved to Dallas last fall for my dad's job, leaving behind their custom dream house in Houston.  They had poured lots of love into that house, and I loved visiting it every time I would come home.  I got ready for our wedding in that house, and Steve and I took our engagement pictures in the neighborhood - it was just a very picturesque place and my folks loved it. 
My parents searched for a similar home in Dallas, but to no avail.  After living in a home custom-made for them, they found that none of the already-built houses met their criteria.  Their old house was perfect for them.  So they decided to build it again - this time in Dallas, and with a few additional improvements!  (swimming pool, check.)

The house is finally complete and I can't wait to see the finished product.  I imagine it will feel a lot like walking into my folks' old home, only better.  And I am thrilled to get to play a role in unpacking everything and recreating the home that my parents loved so much in Houston. 
Also, seeing my family is a huge perk.  My little sister has the weekend off from medical school rotations and my grandma is flying in from Chicago, so we will have a full house!  Can't wait to see them all.
Oh, and this guy too.  (Hi, Herman.)
 Hope you have a great Labor Day Weekend!

bride of christ

Today I am linking up with the lovely Susannah at Simple Moments Stick on what it means to be the Bride of Christ. 
Simple Moments Stick
 
How beautiful,
The radiant bride,
Who waits for her groom
With His light in her eyes.
-Twila Paris, How Beautiful (played at our wedding)
 
When I think of myself as the Bride of Christ, I am taken back to the day that I became a bride here on earth.  I had never felt more excited in my life.  I was marrying the man of my dreams.  Steve had chosen me out of all the women in the world to commit his life to, and would declare it to the world a few hours later when we took our vows.  I felt loved.  Cherished.  Precious to my husband-to-be.  Beloved by all of my friends and family who came to celebrate with us.  Joyful at the prospect of becoming Steve's wife.  And I felt beautiful. 
The relationship that a bride and groom share is the closest relationship one can have on this earth.  When I married Steve, I no longer belonged to myself - I became one-half of a pair, and the two of us became one.  He vowed to protect me and to always put me first... even if it meant dying for me.  He promised to always cherish me.  Being Christ's bride is just like that - only better.

 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes.
-Song of Solomon 4:9 (esv)

As Christ's Bride, I have been given the privilege of sharing the most intimate relationship possible with the Lord.  It is the closeness of a husband and wife here on earth, but far superior because that closeness is shared with one who not only loves me, but also created me and who saved me... going even so far as to die for me. 

Because I am His Bride, I am invited to share an intimacy with my Creator that is more than just worship.  It is bringing my needs to him, and knowing that He cares about each and every one of them.  It is sharing the ins and outs of life with Him, and knowing that He is always with me throughout my day and throughout my life - no exceptions.  It is knowing that to God, I am cherished and precious and beloved.  Knowing that he has made me pure, and deems me beautiful just the way I am.  Knowing that He thinks of me...and not only that, He is captivated by me.  That's right, God - the creator of the universe - is captivated by me.  And by you.  Wow.
 
On her wedding day, a bride rejoices in the arrival of her bridegroom.  She praises him and admires him.  During her vows, she pledges all that she is to her husband-to-be and promises to love him for her entire life.  And as Christ's Bride, I too should rejoice in this relationship that He has given me.  I should pledge my utter devotion to the Lord and seek to please him all of my days.  I don't always do this - frankly, sometimes I am terrible at it - but all He asks is that I try.  He never runs out of patience with me and encourages me when I stumble.  He is such a faithful friend. 

While my husband does an amazing job of loving me, our marriage here on earth is not perfect.  He is human and inevitably will fail me - and I will fail him.  We are both sinners living in a sinful world.  But it is in those moments that I am reminded that, while Steve is such a blessing to me, he shouldn't be my everything.  He cannot fulfill all of my desires and wishes and dreams - only God can do that.  My heavenly Husband.   He will never fail me.  He will never fail you.
How lucky we are to be the Bride of Christ.
 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

summer to fall

This past weekend, we soaked up the remnants of summer with some much-needed pool time at my in-laws' - cannonballs and all.  We took the dog on a long (and sweaty) walk.  We grilled out and ate a delicious meal on our new outdoor dining set.  I read a book in a swimsuit on our back patio with a cold glass of rasberry lemonade.  It was simply delightful.  I failed to take pictures this weekend, so in honor of National Dog Day (yesterday) here's a shot of my sweet pup soaking up the summer sun/heat.
These are a few of the little things about summer that I love, but that I haven't had much opportunity to do until recently due to so many busy travel weekends this year.  I can't even begin to tell you how it was so refreshing to just sit back and relax in the late-summer sun. 

While I'll be sad to see summer go, I am starting to look forward to the fun things of fall - including, of course, Colts football!  I went to the pre-season game against the Browns with my friend Jess on Saturday night and the boys in blue were looking pretty good.  Should be a good season! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

(the end of) a dry spell

Last night, I found myself with my Bible in my lap and an extended period of uninterrupted quiet time with God.  And as I sat there in silence, I realized that it had been longer than I could remember since I made time for the Lord like that.  Sure, I've been working my way through my 365-days-in-the-Bible study plan, spending time in prayer and reading devotions... but as far as spending extended quality time in prayer and scripture - nope.  Hasn't happened for a while. 
There was a time in my life about six months ago when I was badly hurting from some "life stuff" and sought comfort from the Lord.  I just couldn't get enough.  I was on fire for God and craved scripture day-in and day-out.  Those few months were not easy and were filled with struggle, but they were also filled with extreme faith.  You know what I mean - that kind of faith where you don't know how you could get through the day without God and every moment you are thankful for his faithfulness and unbreakable promises. 

Lately, things in my life have improved significantly.  But here's what happened - while my "life stuff" got better, I felt like I didn't need God as much as I did before.  It was almost like a, "thanks God, you're awesome for making this situation better, but I can take it from here, we'll be in touch" sort of thing  How embarrassing.  The worst part?  I didn't even realize I was doing this.  Sure, I've been spending time in prayer and I've been growing in my faith... but not like I was when I was utterly hopeless in front of my Savior.  Since my life has gotten better, I've been in a dry spell.

As I sat there thinking about all of this, I was reminded of this C.S. Lewis quote:
While I was in the most pain of perhaps my entire life, I heard God more clearly than I ever had before.  And while I don't miss dealing with the "life stuff" by any means, I long for that closeness again with the Lord.  And I need that closeness with Him - regardless of whether life is going well or going terribly. 

So the only thing I could think to say to Him as I sat there in silence was, "I am sorry."  And immediately after that little apology, my heart was filled with warmth and words began to spill out - just as if I was catching up with a dear old friend that I hadn't gotten to really talk to in a while.  Which I was.

Friday, August 16, 2013

family, friends, flowers, fruit... and a med school exam

Whew, this has been a long work week.  I've battled a cold, drove up to Detroit on Wednesday, came back down Thursday, and have been ridiculously busy in the office all week.  I am ready for the weekend!  Linking up with Lauren today for five silver linings this week:
 
1. My little sister (the cutie on the right) is taking her STEP 2 medical school exam this Sunday, and a surgery rotation exam next week. Not exactly a silver lining... but the lining will be when it is all over and she can finally relax for a minute or two! My sister is such a hard worker and is going to make an incredible doctor. I am so proud of her.
2. I had such a great time seeing old swimmer friends at my friend Anna's wedding in PA last weekend.  We took a detour on our way to Anna's wedding to spend the night with my aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh - and I'm so glad that we did!  I can't wait to head back out to the 'Burgh to see them again this fall.

3.  "Thinking of you" flowers from Steve while I was feeling under the weather at work - he sure knows how to cheer me up.
4.  I love nectarines.  They are by far my favorite fruit.  And it's finally that time of summer when the grocery store seems to be stocked with perfectly ripe nectarines!  I'm in nectarine heaven over here.  Seriously - I'd eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could.  Yum.
via google
And lastly...
5.  I'm so thankful for this man.  He's not only handsome wedding date (to the bazillion weddings we've had this year), but also my biggest fan.  He tells me that I'm beautiful...and I know that he means it.  I'm one lucky girl.
I'm off to visit my grandmother in Chicago this weekend while Steve has a guys' weekend here in town.  They're going to a motocross race, while my grandma and I will probably spend the majority of our time shopping.  It's a win/win.  Have a great weekend!
 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

trip to pa

This weekend, Steve and I hit the road to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a college friend's wedding.  We have been on a roadtrip kick this summer and decided to drive instead of fly - a total of ten hours each way or so.  I'm so glad that we drove, though, because we got to stop in Pittsburgh on the way there to see my aunt and uncle, who we hadn't seen since our wedding last year. 
 
When we first arrived in town, we all went out for a delicious seafood dinner.  I tried a chilean sea bass - it was divine.  Steve, who is still cooking up a storm in our house, was taking notes on his cedar plank salmon.  Yum!   It was so nice to share a meal with my aunt and uncle and just catch up on life.
After dinner, we headed back to their house, poured a glass (or two) of wine and relaxed in their beautiful backyard. 
My aunt and uncle's fur-babies also joined us outside.  Even the cat, Rizzo - she roams around the bakcyard on a leash.  So funny to watch!
 
My parents have always told me how much I am like my Aunt Laura, and I just cherish every moment I get to spend with her.  We have so many of those, "omgsh, you too??" moments and every since I was little, she has always been a blast to hang out with - she really is the epitome of a fun aunt.  I relate to her in so many ways and wish I could see her more.  Also, we both have the middle name Elizabeth, which clearly makes us soul sisters or something.  It's a good middle name.
We had a really great stay with them and were sad to cut our trip short! We hope to head back out to Pittsburgh sometime soon (maybe for a Steelers game this fall?!) and I can't wait.  But we had to hit the road for the remaining four hours of our trip for the wedding.  Our hotel in Lancaster was beautiful and within walking distance to the wedding ceremony, which worked out perfectly.
 
The wedding itself was beautiful and it was so fun catching up with all of my old college swimming teammates between the ceremony and the reception.  There were ten of us there in total, not counting the bride!
I was a little nervous, since I hadn't seen many of the girls in years, but everyone was wonderful and I couldn't help but remember all of the fun times that we had together at swim meets and training trips in college. 
It was so good to see my college roommate/best friend - we don't see each other very much anymore since she lives in Houston, but Rice weddings are such a great excuse to spend time together!  Love this girl.
The wedding reception was at the beautiful Lancaster Country Club.  Steve (and all of my guy friends) were very tempted to escape during cocktail hour to hit a few balls, because the golf course was immaculate.  Don't worry, they restrained themselves in the end.  We did see a ball almost hit a wedding guest though!  Guess that's one of the dangers of an outdoor cocktail hour at the end of the 18th hole.
We had a wonderful time and danced the night away before heading back to the hotel for some shuteye before the long trip back home.  The weekend was a whirlwind, but I loved every second of it.  It's always good to see my old college crew, I really enjoyed catching up with old swimmer friends, and the detour to see my aunt and uncle was the icing on the cake. 
We only have one more wedding left this year (whew), but I must say it's been quite a successful wedding season thus far and this weekend was ranks pretty high on best weekends of the summer! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

call me old-fashioned, but...

...I will always prefer reading an old dusty hardback or a destroyed but beloved paperback over my Kindle or iPad. 
 via pinterest
...every time my husband opens a door or pulls out a chair for me, my heart skips a beat.

...I love visiting the library. 
via google
...I always feel prettier in heels.

...a young Robert Redford (circa The Sting) beats all of the current Hollywood men in my book.
via pinterest
...I refuse to let Steve do laundry.  Even though I hate it.
via google
...letters are my favorite form of communication. 
via pinterest
...a bouquet of flowers is the best way to cheer me up.

...my dream house is all about the wrap-around porch.
via pinterest
...I have no doubt that any problem can be fixed with a cup of hot tea.
via pinterest
...and I believe that when you say "I do," not until death do you ever part.
 
Call me old-fashioned, but to me these are the sweetest morsels of life. 
 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

the state fair

It's the best time of the year in Indiana - State Fair time!  After early service at church this morning, we headed over the state fairgrounds.  This year is the Year of the Popcorn, which Steve was very excited about.  
We began with a tour through Pioneer Village.
Steve's grandfather used to sell these tractors back in the day. 
 No idea why the Indiana State Fair would have a wolf show, but I was very excited nonetheless.  (For those who don't know, I have been slightly obsessed with wolves since age 9 or so.)
 Next stop was the horticulture exhibits, aka the "grown-up stuff."  This is the first year that Steve and I found ourselves lingering at the gardens and examining different floral species - I blame it on being homeowners, or maybe maturation, but it was surprisingly a lot of fun!  And Steve even won a "take-home herb garden."  We're looking forward to giving it a try next year.
Next stop was the food exhibits - including the world's largest popcorn ball!  Steve was in popcorn heaven.
I was more impressed by this windmill made entirely out of cans.  
We headed to the animal exhibits next.  These were always my favorite growing up.  This year they had a llama exhibit and this guy was just too cute.
And of course, what would the state fair be without delicious fair food?   I went for the classic elephant ear, while Steve opted for fully loaded fries.
We opted out of fried oreos, snickers, twinkies, etc this year but I still managed to snap a picture and drool as we walked by.  Stupid (relatively) healthy eating lifestyle!  
Last stop was the Midway (aka where all the carnival rides are).  We didn't ride anything this time around, but strolling past the rides took me back to when I used to go to the fair as a kid.  Great memories.
It was an absolutely lovely day and we had a great time.  Besides, what kind of Hoosiers would we be if we didn't attend (and love) the State Fair?  Here's hoping 2014 is just as fun as 2013!