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 idea...at 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: http://www.youtube.com/user/becauselifeisshort  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 healthy...in 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.  ...like 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.  And...it 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 Lord...so 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: ...by 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!

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