Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fondue Party

My mom is the queen of parties.  When we come home, we usually have at least one if not two theme parties.  We all love decorating and crafting and we LOVE celebrating, so just about any occasion is a good enough reason to plan a party.  Over Christmas, we started out with a fondue party.  Mom planned cheese fondue with veggies, and chocolate fondue with desserts.  We started out with oil in the fondue pot to fry our own meats and cheese balls.  Sounds like fun, right?  

It was not fun.  

It was scary and dangerous and hazardous to our health and well-being.  

Hot oil popped and spurted and splattered all over us.  When we were finally daring and brave enough to fry a tiny piece of chicken, we found out it tasted gross.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that the whole house smelled rotten McDonald's and week old greasy carnival food.

Good thing the good party count is still 783 to 1.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The ELLE JAY shop is OPEN!

The ELLE JAY shop on Etsy is officially open!  HOORAY!

I've always loved paper, design and simple crafting.  When I was little, my Papa would sneak $10 into my hand before Grandma and I went to Wal-Mart to shop.  Before the cash had time to burn a whole in my little pocket, I'd always, always rush to the paper aisle and blow it all.  Color-changing markers, scented crayons, Barbie coloring books, Lisa Frank stickers...I am having a little excited fit just thinking about it.

When I was naughty at home, my mom even resorted to "grounding" me from paper.  It was THE WORST.  I remember sitting in our messy toy room, being bored out of my mind.  I couldn't draw, color, collect stickers...  I couldn't even play school OR bank OR post office OR store because ALL of those things used paper.  Did I mention it was awful?  AWFUL.

So here I am today...  The ELLE JAY store will be a celebration of all things paper, and probably a few crafty things here and there.  I'm starting out small, and I will add things as time allows!

Do you have suggestions?  Things you'd like to see in the store?  Let me know!  You can always comment below, or email me at:

For now, check out my new "Check One:" cards in the store.  They are so delightful and flexible!  My mini-store is on the right sidebar of this blog, or you can always go directly to the store here:


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Mark and I finally bought ourselves a nice camera for Christmas.  I am obsessed with taking these blurry pictures of Christmas goodness.  Who knew blurry could be so beautiful?

I still haven't graduated into being a real adult and sending out Christmas cards.  Sorry, friends.  Maybe another year?  For now, here's me wishing you a very Merry and Christ-filled Christmas online.  Have a great one, folks!


Friday, December 23, 2011

and the WINNER is...

Kelly Zabel, it's your lucky day!  Send your mailing address to, and I'll send your pretty package ASAP!  Stay tuned for more ELLE JAY details.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Opening an Etsy Shop! + a Giveaway!

Friends!  I'm opening a little shop on Etsy!  Over the next while, I will be making some of my paper makin' and design sorts of things available for purchase.  My informal "brand" name will be ELLE JAY - a spin off of LJ, or Liza Jane.  Fun, huh?

Here's a sneak peek at some pretty packages ready to send!  Can you guess what's inside?

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW with your best guess at what's inside for a chance to win a pretty sample!  Share this giveaway on your Facebook or blog (then come back here and leave another comment) for an additional chance to win!  I'll pick a winner on Thursday and send you some goodies!

Stay tuned for updates on ELLE JAY's official opening!  HOORAY!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Plant me like a tree in the house of the Lord.  Plant me by streams of living water.  Let my roots go down deep, unmovable, unshakable.  Let me flourish in Your courts, yield Your fruit in season.  Let my leaf not wither.  From Psalm 1 & 92


Sunday, December 4, 2011

All the Single Ladies...

...if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it.  - Beyonce

Oh...I mean...

A woman's heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.  - C.S. Lewis

There.  That was WAY deeper.  I like that better.

Just this past week, I had a bunch of single ladies over.  My friend, Stacey, who is older and wiser than me, talked to us about stewarding singleness well and about being the Bride of Christ.  It was lovely.  We ate yummy food, talked about the Lord, and had a Favorite Things exchange.  

I have officially turned into my mother.  She is a party planning fanatic.  Why not turn everything into a cute and fun party?  Why NOT?  


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas, Photos, and Two Johns

Friends!  It is officially Christmas time!  It has been Christmas time in my apartment since the beginning of November, but it is FINALLY socially acceptable to celebrate with Christmas trees, twinkly lights, peppermint mochas, Christmas carols, and Bing Crosby.  Get out there and live it up, folks.  You have less than a month!

I am itching to get a new camera.  We've almost settled on one!  During our Thanksgiving celebrations, my family on both sides was super nice and let me try out THEIR cameras.  Here is one of my favorites!

From John 1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  ...  All things were made through him...  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but he came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  ...  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  And fro his fullness we have received grace upon grace

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ. ... I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Playlist & Encouragement

Are you struggling to find something to be thankful for?  I have had a good handful of Thanksgivings when I felt like my life was just plain crappy.  I knew that I should be thankful for things, but in the midst of pain and struggle, I didn't feel thankful.  That bugged me.  I wanted to be thankful - I really did.  In my humanness and hopelessness, I just couldn't muster it up.

For those of you who are in the same boat this holiday, maybe one of my all-time favorite passages will help you out.  This passage literally changed my life.  It is from Lamentations, which is actually tied for my favorite book of the bible (with Job)...  Weird, right?
From Lamentations 3 - “I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the objects of their taunts…  He has filled me with bitterness…  I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished,’  Remember my afflictions and my wanderings…  My soul continually remembers it and it bowed down within me.   But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 
Now, help yourself to some great tunage about the Lord's provision and thankfulness.  Maybe the music will warm your soul up a bit.  As you listen, think about Him.  Sidenote - Most of these songs were part of my wedding ceremony.  The Lord IS good to those who wait for Him.

Come and Listen by David Crowder  

Come Thou Fount by Fernando Ortega

He's Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves

Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chris Rice

Faithful to the End by Cory Asbury

Hallelujah by Cory Asbury

Now that your heart is warmed up, read some good Psalms.  After the Lord brought me out of some of my struggles, I read two different Psalms and smashed them together in my own personal Psalm of Praise.  This was also read at the beginning of our wedding.  Are you sensing a theme? :)

My Psalm of Praise - from Psalm 145 and 126
We will exalt you, our God and King, and praise Your name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord!  He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure His greatness.  Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power.  We will share the story of Your wonderful goodness; we will sing with joy about Your righteousness.  You always keep Your promises – You are gracious in all You do.  You are filled with kindness.  The Lord grants the desires of all who fear Him.  He hears their cries for help and rescues them.  The Lord has done great things for us!  We are filled with joy.  We will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth praise His holy name forever and ever.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

About Psalm 78...

In our ungratefulness, in our lack of thanksgiving, do we forget His works?

In forgetting His works, do we forget that He is Able?

In forgetting His Ability, do we put our trust in other abilities?

In trusting other abilities, do we root ourselves in lesser things?

In rooting ourselves in these lesser things, do we become unstable?  Tossed?

...what about sinful?  Rebellious?

I think it's a slippery slope, folks.

"Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from our children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his mights, and the wonders that he has done.  He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works for God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God."


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pam's Sweet & Spicy BLTs

We just got home from a weekend with my parents for an early Thanksgiving celebration.  Since everyone will have turkey in different places next weekend, though, we did not have any Thanksgiving food.  We did, however, have awesome food.  My mom made a life-changing BLT.  Life-changing.

Pepper bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, provolone cheese, pepper bacon with brown sugar and Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, and Crasins.  Yes, Craisins.  They are awesome.  ALL on toasty Italian bread.  So good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wedding Fun

Mark and I have impeccable manners...especially at formal events like weddings.  We always let each other know if we have boogers hanging out of our noses.  And, if we do have a dangler, we are quick to pick it out of each other's noses.  Isn't that just the nicest?

We went to two different weddings in about a month.  I will let you in on a secret...we both wore the exact same both weddings.  We are classy like that.  Can you guess which pictures were from Sarah & Brenton's or Tyler and Cassidy's?

AND, guess what?  I got my dress on clearance at Target for six bucks.  SIX!

Sara, Mark's sister, and her husband Jarrod are in the bigger picture with us.  We love them.  They are fun wedding buddies.

Well, that's all she wrote, folks.

To wrap it up, the moral of this story (or post) is that we, Mark and Liza DeYounge, are classy, thrifty AND polite, and we have awesome family.  :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RE: Insecurities

"Insecurity is a wrong security exposed." - Bill Johnson

In realizing your own insecurities, you have been given a merciful and gracious warning.  You are standing on something that is weak.  It's an invitation from the Lord to come and to stand on an immovable rock.

Today I am thinking about some of my insecurities, some of my fears.  I am thinking about where my feet are planted.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We're home!  Back from Young Life's Castaway Fall Camp.  Mark was invited to be the camp speaker, so I went along as his "ministry assistant". least that's what I called myself.

Okay, fine.  I was just along for the ride.

Fall Castaway "Good Stuff":

  • A room with a lakeside view
  • Douwe Egberts Coffee every morning (and afternoon).  Holy moly.  If I had a genie, I would wish for an industrial coffee maker full of this stuff.
  • An entire afternoon, away from home, to do absolutely nothing
  • Beautiful sweatshirt, jeans and knock-off Ugg boot fallish weather
  • Listening to an awesome podcast by D.A. Carson on Faithfulness and Flexibility in the car.  Listen here:
  • Watching Mark ace all four of his talks about the Person of Jesus and the fullness of the Gospel.  The Lord has really blessed him with crazy talents in this area.  Watch out Louie Giglio!  I am so proud of him!
  • Praying Psalm 67 for the four hundred and some high school students at camp.  
May God be gracious to Mark as he speaks.  May God bless him and make His face shine upon him - so that Your ways may be known on the earth, your salvation among these high schoolers!  May all these young people praise you, God; may they all become worshippers of You!  May these 400 be glad and sing for joy, for You rule them with equity and guide them on the earth.  May they ALL praise You!  The land yields its harvest; God, our God blesses us.  May God bless us still, so that ALL of the ends of the earth will fear Him!  
If Mark was writing this post, I'm sure he would add one more good thing:

  • Roosevelt High School (the school he coaches at) just won the STATE championship in football on Saturday.  ...and Mark got to watch the game online.  Woo hoo!


Saturday, November 12, 2011


I am not ashamed to admit that our Christmas tree was up on November 5th.  I had waited long enough.

I am also not ashamed to admit that I didn't take the tree down until around Easter last season.

Since I wanted to put it up early, Mark made me promise it would be down at least by President's Day, which happens to be February 20th.  Fine.  Deal.

98 days of goodness left.

Although it is socially unacceptable to leave your Christmas tree up year round, I am thinking about writing a petition to accept "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" as a year-round, socially acceptable praise and worship song.  It is NOT just a Christmas song, folks.

Think about it.  It is VERY good stuff.

O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appear. 
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high and orderest all things far and nigh.  To us the path of knowledge show and teach us in her ways to go.   
O come, O Come our Lord of might who to your tribes on Sinai's height in ancient times gave holy law in cloud and majesty and awe.
O come, O Rod of Jesse's stem, from every foe deliver them that trust Your mighty power to save.  Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
 O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by Your drawing nigh.  Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death's dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Desire of Nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind.  Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease.  Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discernment in Suffering - Knowing the Mind and Heart of God

More about suffering...  To catch up, read this and this.

Discernment is such a big word, isn't it?  I think it means something about having knowledge or insight into a particular thing...knowing the WHY behind something or having a "behind the scenes" sort of look, maybe...

In the past, when I was suffering, or when I saw others suffer, I thought, "Well, I don't get it, there's nothing I can do about it, so whatever.  I'll just get through it." if to shrug my shoulders, let out a huge and overly dramatic sigh, grit my teeth and wince until the storm of suffering had passed.

Now, after being exposed to some teaching, reading some more scripture, and praying through some stuff, I'm second-guessing my usual "whatever!" response, and have been asking for more discernment in the midst of suffering.  Here are a handful of things that have caused me to rehash my views...

  •  Bill Johnson - I recently listened to a sermon called "The Perfect Storm" by Bill Johnson.  He talks about two different storms in the Bible.  Here is the Liza-Spark-Notes version.
    • Storm 1 - Jonah's storm (Read Jonah 1)
      • WHO sent the storm?  God.
      • WHY the storm?  Jonah had been disobedient and had tried to run away from the Lord.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jonah threw himself overboard, repenting and surrendering himself to the will of God.
    • Storm 2 - Storm in the Gospels that Jesus eventually calms. (Read Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
      • WHO sent the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan sent the storm.  
      • WHY the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan knew Jesus was headed towards the demon-possessed man (Legion) across the lake and wanted to deter Him.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jesus calmed it.  He knew the storm was from the Enemy.  Jesus can trump Satan every.single.time.  All He had to say was, "Be still."

  • Watchman Nee - In his book Spiritual Knowledge,  Watchman Nee has some interesting things to say about dealing with God and being dealt with by Him.
"Many Christians carelessly let difficulties or problems pass by without receiving dealings from God.  They do not know why He sends them these difficulties.  These people may read the Bible daily and seem to posses some knowledge and light, yet they are ignorant of the mind of God.  Their knowledge is clearly insufficient.  For this cause, beloved, we must deal with God and receive dealings from God; and then we shall truly know Him."
This makes me think that maybe I need to wrestle with the Lord a little more in the midst of suffering, and ask, "God, WHY?"  What is Your heart in this?  Is this from You?  The enemy?  Give me discernment to know what's going on!"  
  • John Piper - In John's sermons on Job, (listen/read them here) he mentions something about how, like Job, we are are all too apt to say "What in the world is going on??" in the midst of suffering.  
"All Job's prosperity is gone in one afternoon. You might ask, "What in the world is going on here?"  To see what is going on we have to look outside the world. This world alone never answers the great questions of life. The answer is found in heaven. So the writer gives us a glimpse into heaven to understand better what is happening on earth."
So, in asking God to give me discernment into my suffering, I may have to be looking beyond the worldly circumstances I find myself in.  True? 
Well, friends, I am no expert.  But, it certainly does not hurt to be a little more stubborn when it comes to asking the Lord some of these things.  As far as I can tell, this sort of wrestling and "dealing" with the Lord can only bring about good things, in fostering a deeper relationship and understanding of His heart for us.

Instead of a passive, shrug-the-shoulders "Whatever!  Crap happens!" approach to suffering, I want to know the mind of Christ.  I want to know the heart of Christ.  How is He working?  What is He thinking?  What is His heart for me?

My friend Laura Hackett says it well in her song "The Battle is Raging"...  I don't fight as one who beats the air!  Give me eyes to see and ears to hear! (I Cor. 9)  Good tunes...

PS - One other thought...  In my asking, "Why?" to God, I also ask Him to help me receive His answer well.  What if I don't like His answer?  What if His answer is tough to swallow?  Oh, how I need His grace.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Costume Night ...and Star Wars

Mark asked me to design the Costume Night Invitation for our Young Life friends.  Harmless, right?  I happily obliged.  Later, Mark was sorry that he had asked me to design the invitation.  He should have known that I would use my wifely powers to snag a picture of him and doctor it up in Picnik.  (insert Wicked Witch of the West laugh here...)

Actually, subtract the Wicked Witch's laugh.  The Witch and her flying monkeys still scare my mom half to death.

Sorry, Mom.

The Costume Night was fun.  (sorry about the crappy picture)  I got to fulfill one of my life-long goals to dress up like Princess Leia, thanks to my sister-in-law scoring the costume on the clearance rack.  At this time, I would like to take a moment to proudly announce two very special things...

1) I did not even have to use the Leia costume wig.  That's my own hair, folks.  Well, it is my own hair plus Mark's black socks that I stuffed inside the buns.  Clever, huh?  I thought so.

2) I happen to be a Star Wars fan.  ...Which is sort of an understatement in itself.  When it comes to the original trilogy, which happen to be A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which also happen to be the middle three of a NINE part series that George Lucas dreamed up, mind you, I am a pro.  Do you know the difference between an AT-AT and an AT-ST walker?  Do you know what planet Chewbacca is from?  Leia's home planet?  Her dad's name?  Can you name three beasts of burden?  .....  Told you.

So there you have it.  Now you know what a weirdo I am and why I was so flipping excited to play dress up on Monday.  It was a great night.

Monograms - T&C

Another wedding monogram.  Some patterns, this time!  Congrats, Tyler and Cassidy!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We've been to so many weddings lately!  This has become one of my "go-to" gifts.  Depending on the bride and groom's names, I've used scripture passages, name meanings or just cool typography using their initials.  I've designed in Publisher, printed at home and stuck in simple frames from Target.  Fun, huh?  Maybe I will open an Etsy shop and sell THESE someday...  (as opposed to those dumb corsages!)  

This frame was for our friends - a bride and groom named Sarah and Brenton.  Sarah means princess; Brenton means burnt.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Anniversary Adventures

Well, folks, we had a great anniversary.  Since we'll be in Florida in January for a Young Life thing, we decided to stay in town and save some cash.  We made a list of fun things we've been wanting to do in the area and added them to our weekend agenda.

Friday - We took the day off.  I slept in and Mark made me breakfast in bed.  See below for the "anniversary edition" of our peanut butter toast.

Mark: I made an "M" and "L" for Mark and Liza in our toast!
Liza: Oh, look at you!  That's so nice....
Mark: beaming proudly
Liza: finally putting two-and-two together...  Did you use your finger to write in my peanut butter?
Mark: Yep!

We also went to a newer local winery called Calico Skies near Canton, SD.  It was beautiful and wonderful and fantastic.  You should visit there.  Later, we went to the Backroom Bistro where our friend Giovanni cooks A.Maze.Ing. Italian food.  We had our rehearsal supper at the Bistro, so it was fun to relive some memories.  We also stopped at Butler's, the coffee shop where we had our first one-on-one chat, for late night coffee.

View from the Winery 

Saturday, we had lunch at Kaladi's, another coffee shop, (which we do not recommend for a variety of reasons), and went to an apple orchard to get fresh, drizzely caramel apples.  I also talked Mark into buying me a two dollar pumpkin.  It was so cute and tiny, I just had to take it home.

After THAT...(here comes Mark's favorite part)...  We went pheasant hunting.  Yes.  We did.  On our anniversary.  We went "spot hunting" (that's what Mark calls it, anyway), which meant we drove around on gravel roads and looked for pheasants in the ditches.  If we saw one, Mark would get out of the car, grab his shot gun, rustle them up and shoot them.

Mark LOVED it because he got to hunt.  I LOVED it because I got to drive around on gravel roads and look at the countryside in the fall and read my bible and soak in the warmth of my seat warmer.  It.  Was.  Glorious.  Seriously.  Gravel roads are one of THE best forms of therapy.

In the evening, we brought the pheasants out to our little deck, and, like any good wife would do on her anniversary, I held the pheasant upside down while Mark ripped it apart and got the meat out.

Cue the dramatic music.  (At this time, I would like to thank my Aunt Trudy for the times when her and I went down to the creek, found dead frogs and dissected them to "see if we can figure out why they died".  I would also like to thank my late Papa for encouraging me watch him cut the heads off of chickens and clean fish.  You both have made me who I am today...)  End dramatic music.

After ripping the pheasants apart, we primped a little and went to Minerva's - a really classy restaurant in town.  Don't you love the contrast?

SUNDAY (don't worry, I'm almost done), we had a picnic at Palasaides park (where Mark proposed), hunted pheasants a little bit more, ate frozen pizzas and cheesecake, watched a movie and played my all-time favorite game, Monopoly.  It was just awesome.

I'm not kidding.  It was one of the most awesome weekends we've ever spent together.  There is something about being HOME, enjoying the simple things, and spending time with the people you love the most without any distractions.  Fantastic.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sick of One Year Agos - The Why Behind It All

I know, I know.  You are so sick of the ONE YEAR AGO wedding posts.  By now, you probably think I am just bragging and getting caught up in all of the frivolous details that don't mean much.  Though it might seem shallow up front, know that there are some decent behind-the-scenes reasons why I have been posting about so many "silly" things.

  1. I come from a family of celebrators.  We like to have a party for everything.  Birthdays, for instance, are a big deal.  We are known to take a whole week, heck, even a month, to celebrate our birthdays.  Why not, right?  My mom throws theme parties with matching decorations, we visit each other, we do fun things together...  We use our birthdays, very purposefully, as an excuse to have lots and lots of fun with our friends and family.  Celebrating is a big deal.  
  2. I am a reminiscer.  Is that a word?  I am a rememberer.  Nope.  That's not a word either.  Dang.  I love to look at pictures, think of happy memories...  This sort of relates to number 1, because, overall, I feel like in my remembering, in my heart, I am really just celebrating the Lord's faithfulness.
  3. In this past year alone, I've attended more weddings than in all other years combined.  I've struggled a lot with that because, since I am newly married, my wedding is still fresh in my mind.  Because of that, I have ended up comparing my wedding to the others I've been to.  And, I'm guessing we all know who usually wins the comparison game.  When I play it, I always feel like a loser in the end.  Certain people are always prettier, more creative, more elaborate, more perfect, blah, blah, blah...
So, although it has probably been annoying for you, my ONE YEAR AGO wedding posts have been like therapy for me.  They've allowed me to reminisce, remember, scour through old photos, celebrate the Lord's faithfulness in providing a husband for me that I thought would never come...  They've given me a reason to ooo and ahh over the little creative details, and they've reminded me that I really DID love my wedding.  The posts have given me a little outlet to celebrate my own ideas, my own creativity, my uniqueness - in the midst of battling the nasty comparison game.  God's made me ME.  Period.  Therapy.  Who needs Dr. Phil??

With that said, thanks for your graciousness.  I don't mean to be cocky and toot my own horn.  I don't mean to dwell on the shallow things.  I know it's not about the wedding day.  I totally get it.  I've been spending the last weekend and week celebrating the deeper and more profound things with my husband and with the Lord.  We had a great anniversary weekend together, which I will probably post about another time.  

Stay tuned, folks.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ONE YEAR AGO | Recipes!

We had a dessert bar at our wedding.  It was yummy.  The inspiration behind it all was Mark and I's family and friends.  We stuffed our tummies full of family recipes and friend favorites.  At the end of the bar, we set out copies of the recipes for people to take home and "Share the Love!"  Do you want to share in the love, too?  Yes.  I thought so.  Here are the some of the recipes.

Shooters - (we served these recipes in mini-parfait cups with tiny silver spoons, but you can make them in a large parfait dish or pan or whatever you want to use!)

 Cookies -


Thursday, October 20, 2011

ONE YEAR AGO | The Pretties

So many fun and pretty things at our wedding...  I love little details, but didn't get to enjoy them quite as much as I wanted because things were just too busy!  Thank goodness for cute pictures!

I am still in love with my dress.  I looked at several stores, but couldn't find much.  I was looking for simple, simple, simple!  No embroidery, no beading, no lace - which are things that are on almost every single dress.  The Lord was looking out for me, though, because I finally found "the one" at  cheap, run-of-the-mill ole David's Bridal.  Plain, simple, taffeta.  It even had pockets!  Swoon...

We got all the tuxes at Men's Wearhouse in Sioux Falls.  I do not recommend Men's Wearhouse.  I will leave it at that.

Bridesmaids' dresses were also from David's Bridal.  My mom added black bows at the waist with a similar rhinestone brooch to match the bow on my dress.  I am so glad I went with black.  I did not like the idea of a overwhelming color with matching decorations and was opting for a more classic look.  Achieved.  It helps that I have beautiful friends.

My mom and I did flowers, like, the DAY before rehearsal.  We bought white, tropical-looking flowers at Hobby Lobby, added tulle for extra texture (it also enabled us to get by with only one white flower per bridesmaid - money saver! - see group pic above), wrapped with ivory ribbon and added silver vintage buttons and a pop of lace at the base.  I am also still in love with the flowers.  Nice work, mama.

I had the most fun making the corsages.  The base is a ripped off petal from the same white tropical flowers. The middle is an arrangement of cheapo buds from Hobby Lobby and rhinestone and pearl doo-dads.  Wrapped with another pop of vintage lace and buttons, wrapped in ribbon.  While making all of them, I seriously considered opening an Etsy shop with homemade corsages of all kinds.  It sounded like my best idea ever.  However...  When I had made about 30 of them, and had hot glue all over myself, I quickly gave up the Etsy shop least for now.

Dear Sister Micah,
(Not to be confused with our friend who is a boy, Micah)

When you get married, please enlist my help.  I can't wait to do flowers and corsages.  I will even do them for free for you.  Aren't you so glad we're sisters?

Your Favorite Sister


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


These people are awesome.  Oh, how I love them.  Now that it's a year later, I think I love them more.  ...especially Mark, though.

It was SO fun to hang out with ALL of our favorite people - to have them ALL in one spot at the same time might not happen again for a long time.  We are crazy blessed to have such fabulous (and attractive, don't you think?) people in our lives.

Heart.  I want to hug all of you in this picture, you are just so wonderful.

And I am not even a hugger...  Weird.

Right next to Mark and I are James and Josiah - our cuter-than-all-get-out nephews.  I especially like Jo's scowl and hands in his pockets, like he is so grown up.  We love to babysit them, and their new little sister, Samantha.  Mark usually plays Evil Emperor Zurg and I am Princess Leia, although I'm sure we are no match for their mom and dad - we're just the understudies.

In the front row on the left is Casey, my brother-in-law.  He knows a lot of fun and random information and is very smart.  He and my middle sister, Naomi (next to him), (yes she has some pink hair) are in the recording business, and they live in Iowa.

My sister Micah is next to Naomi- she is the baby of the family.  She is also very crazy and very funny.  You should check out her youtube channel:  Both of my sisters and I are known to have sing-a-longs in the car and color in coloring books, even though we are too old for them.  We also share a love for Star Wars Trivia and we know all the Newsies songs by heart.  And we all have our noses pierced.  Fun fact.

Mark's good friend, John, is next to Micah in the front row.  As with all of Mark's groomsmen and ushers, he could say much more about them, but I do know that they went to college together.  John is very deep, loves the Lord a lot, he's a teacher, and he and Mark love to do anything outdoorsy together.

Diagonal from John to the right is my friend Danielle, who was one of my personal attendants.  Danielle and I are really close.  She is a few years ahead of me in the marriage and kids thing, so she's like a mentor in some ways.  I wrote about her in an earlier post about Real Beauty.  Leave it to Danielle - she will always "say it like it is", yet go crazy deep - all at the same time.

Moving to the left, next to Danielle in the second row, is my brother-in-law, Jarrod - dad to James and Josiah.  Jarrod and his wife Sara (next to Jarrod, Mark's sister) are fun-loving and easy-going.  If Mark and I end up being half the parents they are to their kids, we will be doing great!

Next to Sara, to the left and up just a little bit, is Amanda.  Amanda is my sister-in-law, who is married to Ryan (above Amanda), Mark's older brother.  They have one little boy, Levi, who is adorable and the most smiley kid I have ever seen.  Amanda and Ryan are really active and healthy and are both very musically talented, too.  Mark is working on forgiving Ryan for all the wedgies he gave him back in the day.  Now, they love to hang out and talk about theology and music and life for hours and hours.

Next to Amanda - to the left - is another Ryan...  THIS Ryan has been Mark's friend since childhood.  The times I've hung out with Ryan, I've known him to be very funny and very sarcastic.  Mark has quite a few crazy stories about times he and Ryan stirred up some good-natured trouble.  I think they were probably rascals back in the day.

Moving diagonally, to the left, is Grant.  Grant and Mark have also been friends forever.  We joke about them taking baths together when they were little.  Aww.  How precious.  Grant and Mark still have fun watching the Vikings play, and while Grant likes to eat any food I make him, he is also a great cook himself.  He is very funny, too.  ...and sarcastic.  I think I am seeing a trend in Mark's friends.

To the right of Grant is my friend, Shannon.  We were roomies for a few years before I went and got hitched.  Shannon loves to laugh, loves The Office, Seinfeld and everything else hilarious.  She is a nurse and she is "just awesome" - like our friend Shane Lee likes to say.

Are you tired yet?

Next to Shannon is Alisha, my maid of honor.  She is really down-to-earth, and really talented in the gymnastics/athletics department.  She is also stylish and funny AND she loves the Lord a lot.  Could I ask for anything else in a good friend??  Her and Mark did a lot of behind the scenes and undercover work to plan our engagement and pick out a ring.  And, in the days when I was SURE I didn't have a chance with Mark, Alisha would tell me to settle down and pray and have faith.  Lisha is the greatest.

My friend, Molly, is next to Alisha.  She was another personal attendant and kept everybody in line and on time the whole wedding day.  Where would we have been without her??  Molly is my friend from Sioux Center.  We do lots of ministry together.  She is crazy loyal and funny and laid-back.

And NOW the ushers...  Left to right, they are...  Tim, Blake, Tyler and TJ.  They are all great friends to Mark.  And they are all quality guys who love the Lord.  They are also all funny and are always up to some sort of shenanigan.

And now for the quiz...  I hope you remember all of their names.

Just kidding.

Monday, October 17, 2011

ONE YEAR AGO | The Invites

One year ago, it was my wedding week.  In the hustle and bustle, I was frantically crafting and DIYing and throwing it all together with my mom and had very little time to savor all of the fun little details.  One year later, I am taking some time to reminisce and look back some of those little things.

So, yes, these posts are more for me than for you, but I hope you get a kick out of some of the celebration, too.

This was our wedding invitation.  In an effort to save a ton of money, I designed something in black and white that would fit on a fourth of a sheet of thicker linen paper and go into a small card envelope (the kind you get get at Wal-Mart for dirt cheap in bulk).  It helped that our wedding colors were also black, white, gray and ivory.  Overall, the postage was way more expensive than the invitation itself.  Score.

I would do this sort of thing again in a heartbeat.  Most invitations get thrown away quicker than you can say "Jiminy Cricket", so I was happy to cut costs in this area.  I loved designing the invite myself and I felt like I beat the system by saving so much.  It was awesome.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This was a first for me...designing something that includes mullets and aviators.

As of right now, my personal wardrobe includes aviators, but it looks like I will need to shop for a mullet in between now and October 24th.

Oh, and don't worry.  Mark already has a blonde mullet and really short jorts.  He will be stylin'.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

RE: SUFFERING | My Posture

Oh, the banana bread was awesome AND a relative sort of way.  I am getting ready to make some sort of pumpkin bread next.  Bring it on, comfort food!

I know I promised to talk more about suffering...  I am STILL hesitant to ramble on about such weighty things, though.  Most of the time, I feel like I am just not smart enough to be a valuable voice in this sort of thing.  But, alas...this is my blog, it's a free country, and the Holy Spirit lives and speaks through me, so whatever.  Here I go.  If nothing else, this is probably more for my own processing than for anyone else.

A few years ago, I went through the roughest patch I've been through so far in my twenty-something life.  I can't really pin point when it happened, but in the middle of the loneliness, the brokenness, the confusion, the anger, the bitterness, the doubt and the feeling crappy about myself in general, a light bulb went off.

I became self-aware.  ...or maybe the Lord just woke me up.  Yes.  The latter.

I realized I had been walking around with my teeth clenched, my fists in a ball, my eyes squeezed shut - maybe not literally, but you get my point - everything in my heart and mind seemed tense and tight.

I wanted the Lord to rip the band-aid off and get the whole suffering thing over as fast as possible.  "Just bring it.  Let's get this over with," I told Him. Day in and day out, I was cringing, just trying to gut it out and get through the mess as quickly as I could.  Rodney Atkins says (or sings) it well (I happen to like country music from time to time, alright?  It helps me get back to my roots.)...please read Rodney's lyrics in a southern accent...  "If you're goin' through hell, keep on goin'.  Don't turn back, if yer scared, don't show it.  You might get out 'fore the devil even knows yer there..."  And, PS - I'm not ashamed to say I think his song is great.  I heart it.  Thank you, Mr. Atkins, for illustrating my point.

So.  The Lord helped me realize my posture.  It was such a tense posture, that I was not only physically and emotionally tired from the stress of life, I was more tired because I was gritting my teeth so much.  Instead of tensing up in the midst of struggle, though, I felt like God was asking me to embrace the struggle.  Embrace. hug it, invite it, appreciate it, become acquainted with it...savor it, even.
Romans 5:1-5 - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
James 1:2-4 - Count it all joy brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
Instead of cringing, I want to embrace.  Instead of tenseness, I want to have peace and rest.  Instead of eyes squeezed shut, I want to have eyes that are fully open and watching for the fullness of what God has for me.  Instead of tight fists, I want to have hands open, ready to receive the Lord's plan for me.

The next time a storm hits my life, please remind me to relax, breathe and embrace it for all it's worth.  I will need the reminder.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


1.  I have been LOVING the fall.  The colors have been extra vibrant, the smells have been exceptionally delicious, and the weather has been amazingly wonderful.  It's been great.  It has been easy to "see" God in the midst of such a fantastic season.  His goodness, His faithfulness and His creativity has been on display in such a big way.

2.  I have been reading the book of Job in my devotions lately.  At first, I hated it - like, really hated it.  I didn't understand any of it and just got frustrated.  I wanted to give up.  ...but, I didn't.  I read, reread, journaled, stared at the wall, doodled, listened to some sermons, dug out some commentaries, drank lots of coffee and prayed for understanding. worked.  Now, Job is one of my all-time favorite books.  Weird, since it is mostly about suffering.  Weird, since a lot of the book is dark and depressing.

1+2= 3. So, (1) the Lord's goodness is jumping out at me lately - vibrant fall colors, gorgeous weather...  His faithfulness is just so obvious - we are celebrating a year of marriage, the Harp & Bowl ministry is bursting with miracles and blessing, I am finding my "sweet spot" in being a wife/musician/worship leader/designer/helper.  I could go on and on...  But (2) in reading Job, I am left wondering if we are seeing - really seeing - God's goodness and faithfulness on display in suffering.  In a world full of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes...  Divorce, affairs, rapes, murders...  Addictions, loneliness, depression...  Cancer, accidents, death...  Is the Lord's goodness and faithfulness as obvious to me in the midst of these things?  To you?

Have you ever really, really wrestled with the reality of bad things happening to good people?  Does God cause these terrible things to happen?  Does He allow them to happen?  Is He really loving?  Is He really good?  Do you have a theology of suffering?  

I used to answer all of those questions by saying something like, "Well, God is God.  He gets to do whatever He wants.  His ways are higher than mine."  But, in reading the Word, in praying through scripture, in my life experiences, I have realized more and more that I don't have to just grit my teeth, and just "get through" suffering - the Lord is teaching me more about how to respond to Him and to the reality of suffering in much different ways these days.  

In some of my next blog posts, I'm hoping to highlight some of the different ways I'm learning to deal with/process suffering in my own life and in the world.  

I have hesitated to write about some of these things because I know some of my friends and blog readers might not agree with what I have to say.  Though my thoughts might be a little different than yours, my hope is to stimulate loving conversation, processing and more seeking. I haven't "arrived" at any spectacular "I-know-everything-there-is-to-know-about-suffering" place.  So, I'm still learning - just like you.

I also would like to point out that I am not a pro when it comes to suffering.  My life has been very "posh" and easy compared to many, many people around the world.  I am blessed.  My prayer, though, is that even in these times of great blessing and favor, I would be diligent in seeking out some of these things with the that when suffering does hit hard, I will be already rooted in a firmer Foundation.  

I'm off to take the banana bread out of the oven.  

Two recommendations.  1) Bake this recipe.  It is healthy. 2) Read Job and wrestle with it.




Sunday, October 9, 2011


Friends.  Panini makers are life-changing.  Do you have one?  If not, you might want to put one on your Christmas list.  We received a Giada DeLaurentis panini maker for our wedding and we've used it a TON.  My favorite thing to do at the end of a grocery week (when the fridge is half bare and half filled with random crap that I don't know what to do with), is to grab the extra stuff and throw it into a panini.  Just about everything tastes good when it is gooey and crusty and warm.  Here's the recipe for one of the most awesome combinations I've stumbled upon...

Start with sourdough bread.  I know that it is not the healthiest, but it makes ALL the difference.

Add basil pesto, sliced roma tomatoes, turkey (our favorite is the Applegate Farms herbed turkey...PS - Applegate meat is natural and organic and totally worth the extra bucks), provolone cheese.

Slap it on your panini maker (or George Foreman grill or whatever else).  Cook on LOW first - this will let everything get all melty.  When everything is all good and melted, cook on HIGH until the bread is browned and toasted.

I love to pair almost all of our paninis with a simple spinach salad and Balsamic Vinegarette.  I hope that the spinach salad and organic turkey outweighs the sourdough bread for all of us health nuts out there.  ...maybe?

Heck, it is worth it.  Trust me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011



I really like Starbucks' dark roast with cream.  Yum.

I also really, really like their new(ish) text-less logo.  

However, I do NOT like that Starbucks is so mainstreamy.  Is that a word?  It is now, folks.  I prefer quaint, quirky, original, homey, mom and pop sort of stuff.

So, you see, I have had a reoccurring dilemma.  Dark roast heaven, classy logo, but boooring atmosphere.

Today, I found a solution to my dilemma.  It is called the Starbucks Drive-Thru.  Get dark roast with cream, look at their logo, and JET before the cookie-cutter atmosphere gets to me.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011


There are many fun things about being the wife of a Young Life Area Director.  One of the small and semi-shallow fun things is that you get to design t-shirts.  And people actually buy them and wear them - not necessarily because your design looks that good, but because they like Young Life - but regardless, it is still very fun.  This is the design for this fall's t-shirts, so the colors were fall-ish and printed on white tees.  Can you tell my favorite was the taupe-y color?  Weird.  I really need to branch out in my color preferences.  


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CHIPPY DOORS ...and other special blessings from the Lord

Here's another apartment update!  I had been wanting a chippy door for a while, but thought my wish would never come true.  They are, like, so expensive.  Who the heck wants to pay 80 or more bucks for a old and beat up door someone pulled out of their barn for FREE?  Well, my mom and I went junk store shopping one day and I prayed (I am not kidding) that the Lord would provide a cheap, chippy door.  Mark said I could spend 30 dollars.

Fast forward.  I looked and looked - all the chippy doors were way, way, way too expensive.  Hours into the day, we looked in one of the basements of a junk store in Canton...(cue some sort of heroic John Williams music) and there she was in all her glory.  A WHITE chippy door with a fantasticly interesting door handle...and she was exactly 30 dollars.  I about had a heart attack.  Just as I was saying in my head, "O Lord, You are just so, so good and kind and wonderful," my eye caught a sign next to the door that said that the entire section was 50 percent off.  A chippy door for FIFTEEN dollars?!  At that point, I had a second heart attack and yelled for my mom to come look.  Since she is much more demonstrative than I am, I'm pretty sure I remember her shrieking a bit and saying something like "Hot DOG!  It's yours, kid!"

The Lord is REALLY good and kind and wonderful.  Isn't it so fun when He stuns us with His love for us?  I certainly did not NEED a chippy door, but it was like He wanted to send a special little blessing to remind me that He does, in fact, know my heart.  

The D's are for DeYounge, in case you didn't make the connection.  They were under 2 bucks at Hobby Lobby and I painted them with cheap craft paint.  The shelving was from a thrift store (a purchase from last year), and it houses my coffee shrine which includes many more garage sale and flea market treasures.  

I still need (um...want, I mean) a little something to put in place of the wirey basket on the floor next to the shelves.  I am keeping my eyes open for a cheapo deal.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

O is for OATMEAL

O is for oatmeal.  30 gallons of it, to be exact.

A week ago, Mark was prepping for the fall Young Life kickoff night.  80 high school students met at a local park to have a huge food fight - flour, marshmallows, eggs and oatmeal.  I was at Wal-Mart picking up all the food in the afternoon when I got a  phone call from Mark.

Me: Hello?
Mark: Hey.  Um, you got all the canisters of oatmeal?
Me: Yeah.  Why?
Mark: Well I sort of just thought of something.
Me: Okay...?
Mark: We're all going to throw the oatmeal at each other tonight.
Me: Nice.
Mark: Well, so, we kinda need the oatmeal to be sticky and throw-able.
Me: What's your point?
Mark: I just remembered that you probably have to cook the oatmeal to get it sticky.
Me: silence...
Mark:  And we need, like, two 18 gallon tupperwares full of it.
Me: silence...
Mark: tonight.

Needless to say, all the other work I had to get done that day got put on the "back burner".  I ran home and filled all my other burners on the stove with big pots of water, turned the heat up to high, and filled the microwave with another huge bowl of water.

4 hours later, I had two big tupperwares full of steaming, hot and very sticky oatmeal.  Never mind that the house was 83 degrees inside, despite the air conditioning being on.  AND, never mind that there was loose oatmeal scattered all over the counters and floor...and chunks of wet oatmeal all over the cupboards...and empty oatmeal canisters in every corner of the kitchen.  And never mind that I had just cleaned the kitchen and washed the floors the day before.

...the things we do for the Lord and ministry...

  Here's the end result.  Poor Morgan!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DESIGN ON A DIME | Home & Monograms

In the last six months, I've added a lot of little things to our apartment decor.  All the additions have been extremely cheap, thrifted, or homemade.  I am so proud of myself.

HOME - four thick cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby - under a dollar a piece.  Painted white with a craft paint - under two dollars.  Arranged vertically and close together, because I like typography that way, and funtacked to the wall.

L&M - Instead of a bulky headboard, I bought super-sized frames and mats from IKEA.  I made the L&M monogram design in Publisher in about 15 minutes and had the design blown up at Office Max - both were under 20 bucks.  The name Liza means consecrated to God and Mark means mighty warrior.

Dear Design on a Dime,

Yes, I will come be a special guest on your show.  Thanks for asking.

Liza Jane DeYounge

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


We've had a busy couple of weeks!  I'll just share some pictures for now and write more later.

Danielle, me, Alisha - My two favorite girls.

Young Life Leader Retreat!  Here are some of the gals!  Ice Cream in Okoboji.

A tilt-y fun house in Okoboji.  Totally messed with my head...

Roosevelt Football Game with Young Life friends.  Guess who the cold-blooded one is?

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