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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Do You Have Pictures?"

Do I have pictures? He would have been an idiot to not have a camera that day!  Here is a collection of pictures (with captions) of our very special day. 

My First and Last Blind Date...
 
A Perfect Day in La Jolla

For All Those People Who Want a Picture of the Ring...

Where It All Went Down...
 
The Whole Group Looking Great!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"What Is This Teaching You?" - Be Encouarged

Ok, I know this isn't a typical question, but it really should be! What am I learning about love? What am I learning about Bill? What is being engaged teaching me about myself?!?

I still want to participate in encouraging people this week, as I have done many weeks before this.
 
I want to encourage selflessness.

I truly believe it is the key to success in relationship – yes, in a romantic relationship, but also in friendship and family and all that comes in life.  While my current excitement revolves around a wonderful romantic relationship, I have tried to concentrate on the other relationships in my life and giving them as much attention as I give my time with Bill.  I am truly engaged (lol) in all he is saying when we are together and I give him my full attention as much as possible.  I have even talked to him recently about putting my cell phone in my purse and leaving it there when we are together.  Media can be so distracting in this current society! 

I am learning that love, of any kind, takes tons of work and energy.  More than that, it takes devotion and dedication.  Being fully present and open about what is going on in your brain is of the utmost importance.  No one can read your mind – family, fiancé, or friends – and we should not get worked up and expect people to know why!  Communication is key.  How can this encourage you?  It is for freedom Christ set us free.  Look for freedom in the ability to be honest.  I know my relationships at this time are some of the strongest I have ever had because I am not afraid to be honest.  I know my marriage will last because I hold nothing from Bill and I know where his heart lies because he holds nothing from me. 

Be encouraged – honesty produces freedom.

My relationship with God should always be number one, and it is easy to get wrapped up in the high time of being engaged.  However, what I am trying to learn while things are good, is there is no time where I should be questioning God.  Right now, his favor seems on me.  But life is not a series of highs.  Lows are to come, and focus on God being the one sending the blessings now will help later when I am questioning the reality of him and his love for me. 

I know this seems like a series of ramblings, but I hope it encourages you in some way.  Focus on your relationship with God in the good times, so when tough times come you are strong.  It is the same with Bill.  I focus on my relationship with him now, so when we struggle or fight, I already have his character on my heart.  It is the same with my family and friends.  When someone offends me I know where their heart and head are, and I do not write them off instantly.  These symbiotic relationships are key to success in life. 

Be encouraged today friends! God has wonderful relationships in store for you.  Stuff absolutely does not matter.  What matters are the people surrounding you.  They are there for a reason, and you must invest or you will miss out.  I may not be engaged if I did not invest in my relationship with Bill! 

Take a chance on someone in your life – not necessarily in a romantic way, but just try to look at someone in a different light.  Everyone deserves forgiveness.  Live without bitterness..



Monday, November 28, 2011

"How Did He Do It?"


What a crazy week it has been!  My announcement has been all over facebook and so I guess I should write it to the blog world - I'm Engaged :)

I can't stop looking at my hand.  Bill completely took me by surprise and arranged an amazing proposal and story for us that I will never forget.I could not have dreamed up a better story or a better boy.  We fit together and I'm head over heels.

If you have heard it, you can read about it again... If not, put yourself in my shoes.  I felt like the most beautiful, blessed girl and can not believe the wonderful boy that God has graced me with.  I fell deeper in love with him through this process and I cannot believe how amazing this day was. 

  So... here is our very detailed story.  I hope it brings a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. 

I am not sure if I have let you all know about my bucket list, but it will be posted later this week :)  Bill knew I wanted to go on a blind date, but I took it off the list once we started dating, because I knew I would never go on a date with anyone else. 

On Saturday, November 19th, I had plans to go to some activities with my roommate and her mom and was standing by the door ready to go.  She came in the room and announced there had been a change of plans and told me I needed to put a blindfold on.  I stood in the middle of our living room waiting for what was to come.

Bill came into the room with sunflowers and my favorite coffee from coffeebean and bagels and lox for breakfast.  He told me this was my first and last blind date :)  I started crying because I had an idea what was going to happen that day.  He told me he had the whole day planned and I needed to pack a nice change of clothes, change into something I really liked, and be ready to go as soon as possible so we could get on the road. 

We started driving down to San Diego, and arrived in La Jolla after a beautiful drive talking and listening to music and soaking in the fresh air.  We had gone on our first real date in this park, and he had a picnic packed and a secret bag (that I would soon discover its contents).  I sat on the blanket blindfolded while he set everything up, and when I opened my eyes the secret bag was in front of me, as well as a beautiful picnic.

Now, I should interject that we go on picnics alot and play a game like frisbee or bocce ball often.  I have been bugging Bill to play catch with me, because I used to play all the time with my dad, and for some reason he has been dragging his feet.  Well, now I know why!  I pulled two gloves and a baseball out of the bag and he suggested playing catch until we got hungry.   

I loved the idea and instantly jumped to my feet.  We started throwing the baseball back and forth, and about ten minutes later it was not the baseball flying through the air towards me.  The ring box landed in my glove, and in my excitement I dropped it on the ground and frantically tried to pick it up.  In the meantime, Bill was running across the field, ring in hand.  He dropped to his knee, and said beautiful things about our future together and asked me if I would marry him.  I stopped crying for a moment to sputter out that I would be honored to be his wife!

We hugged and kissed in the place we first began our journey, and once we had called our immediate families, he told me there were more surprises and I needed to put the blindfold back on.  We headed downtown and into Balboa Park, which I am now officially obsessed with.  I was blindfolded walking into an atrium and took off my blindfold to reveal my Sister, Faith and her boyfriend, Josh.  I started crying already when I saw them, and then my baby sister Joy came running out of the bushes, who currently lives in Tennessee, my tears were uncontrollable.  The 3 of us sisters have not been together in 6 months and I miss our collective love.

It was amazing that he flew her in for me and had both of them there.  Truly perfect.  We spent the afternoon picnicing, walking, and laughing.  We had dinner in the city and he ended the night with an amazing surprise of tickets to see the Grinch the musical in Balboa Park.  It was incredibly wonderful and perfect for the group and for the sealer for the perfect day. 

Honestly, I am still in shock.  I can't believe it all.  He planned an entire day for me and did everything I would want and need and thought of me and our love and it was so special. 

This week will have an "I'm Engaged" theme :) Lots and lots of pictures to follow! Hopefully I will answer all the questions people have! Feel free to leave any and all questions you may be wondering!

If you can't tell, I'm so excited.  What an amazing man I have huh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friends, I cannot begin to tell you all that has happened to me succinctly in one blog post.  I need time to gather pictures and I need to let it all soak in and really enjoy it.

I will be taking this week off from blogging, and I promise on Monday you will understand why!

I love and appreciate all my readers and I hope I do not lose anyone's attention in one weeks time.

Enjoy you Thanksgivings with your families and friends!  

I am thankful for you if you take the time to read my words at all, and if you do it often, I am amazed and truly humbled.  Thanks again friends! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food I Ate Friday - Good Day Cafe


Has anyone else taken advantage of a Groupon deal to experience a new restaurant?

Well, me and my roomate did, and the results were wonderful!  We got two full breakfasts and 2 mimosas for $12, and spent time in a quaint little restaurant in Huntington Beach.  Our Hawaiian inspired french toast and slightly spicy eggs benedcit were good.  We enjoyed picking a few things off the menu to share and relished our mimosas.  It was a decent meal in a freezing cold restaurant with wonderful service.

However, all that was put aside because the real highlight of this brisk morning was the company.  This girl has so much going on in her brain and her heart and it always inspires me to spend time with her and hear about her perspectives.  We are so different, and come from such different places; but our experiences can teach each other things, and I learn so much from her.  This morning spent together was so wonderful because we just fell into excellent conversation and laughed and talked and worked on our friendship in a tangible way.

I believe that just like any romantic relationship, friendship requires work.  You need to make time for each other and make each other feel loved.  Mikaela and I try to do that as best we can.  Being roommates does not mean you will be close, but if you want to make an effort at it, your chances are so much better.  We are now to a complete honesty point, and I could not be more grateful for her!  This morning we dug a little deeper and continued to get to know each other on a spiritual level, which is important in any friendship.

What a lovely morning spent with a lovely girl!

Company always improves a great meal.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

C'est La Vie - Sailboats

There is something about sailboats for me...

If you look through my blog over time, pictures of sailboats pretty consistently pop up.  I am not sure what it is about them, but images of sailboats bring me a sense of peace.  They relax me in a very unique way, and they make me feel rested and alive at the same time.

I hope that this collection does the same for you. 





Relax today friends, tomorrow is Friday! 

Psalm 23:2b
"He leads me beside quiet waters."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

My baby sister, Joy Noel posted this on her tumblr last week.  I have been asking her to guest blog for me for awhile, and when she asked me if I would consider posting this I welled up a little.  I am so proud to call this little one my sister.  She is so unbelievably mature for her age and she really has an amazing head on her shoulders.  I feel honored to give you a glimpse into her brain and hope she continues to express herself this way and guest blog for me.

So without further ado, here is a piece of Joy's heart. 
Pop over to her tumblr and read what she has to say from time to time. 
She really is a gem.

Patience is a Virture

I must’ve heard this eight million times growing up. My mom would tell me this constantly as I was a very anxious child. I find myself learning the lessons of my youth all over again in a new and revealing way as God is showing me his grace differently than ever before. 

         I was always told, “Joy, when you get to college you are going to change so much.” Or, “The relationships you form in college are the ones that are going to last.” I knew these things to be true but never realized their implications somewhat obviously until now, in experiencing them. Relationships in this stage of life progress so much quicker. I’ve found myself feeling as close with some of my most recent friends as ones I have known my whole life because of a new found level of relatability that I have never experienced before. God is blessing me with so many people who remind me of his grace in such unique and separate ways.

         I have always had a thing for people. They are my reason for waking up in the morning and relationships are what keep me going. I realize I’m different from most in the way that I approach friendships. I am so used to thinking of myself as someone who is good at friendships. But recently God is humbling me and teaching me that loving people well is rooted in Him and nothing else. I want so badly to be able to be an encouragement to people and to show them Christ’s love. In my prayer and devotion for others, often times I feel as though God will lay something or someone on my heart and I am always so eager to be able to effectively show love to those people. However, I am too quick to forget that it is also important to wait on God’s timing. Just because he lays something on my heart doesn’t mean that he wants me to share it right away. Maybe that person is not ready to hear it and if I had waited, it could’ve come at the perfect time. 

         Patience. This brings me back to patience. To waiting on God and trusting that he will bring his work to completion. Patience isn’t only required in waiting, but in journeying also. So often we think of being patient as a stagnant state of being. As a long period of content unclarity. We forget that the journey takes patience. In new found friendships, I am realizing that each one requires a unique type of patience and they are all so different from one another. It is so easy to look at past experiences and try to relate them to current circumstances. But every relationship is unique and that is the beauty of love. God’s love is so different from any love we can give or receive from humanity. It’s perspective and understanding that highlights the nature and uniqueness of that love.

         I’m thankful for the lessons God is teaching me. I’m thankful for the people he is using to teach them to me. I’m thankful for the burdens and struggles he has placed on me. And most of all I’m thankful for salvation which makes all of that possible. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be Encouraged - Gratitude


I often forget to be thankful, but with the day of thankfulness coming up, I try to stay on point.  I love the tradition of going around the table and saying what you are thankful for, especially when people go the unconventional route and really dig deep about what they appreciate most.  I want to do that for you now, and encourage you to do it as well. 

Get past the general, and burrow into the deep personal things you are grateful for.  Do not limit your minds wandering... search every corner of your brain.  Sometimes the things I am most thankful for seem subconscious. 

I also encourage you to write thank you cards for thanksgiving.  Sounds random, but just thank people for being them and living life with you.  Wouldn't you love to receive that?  I know I would! I will be doing that this year for those I cannot be with that I never thank for being who they are and for being someone I love and admire. 

Be unconventional.

I am thankful for:

The stillness of the morning that brings a sense of calm
The ability to feel the Holy Spirit's Presence
The feeling right before you fall asleep of total relaxation
The beating heart inside of me
Freedom to read and write as I please
The education I was given to make me self sufficient
The blessing of a man who loves me deeply
Receiving snail mail

Make your own unconventional list. 
Leave it for me below! 

Let it encourage your spirit today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Re-Building Together Saturday Morning

Bill and I volunteered with my work and joined forces with Re-Building Together to fix up a Boys and Girls club in our local area.  We arrived at 730 am, started chugging coffee, and got down to business.  We both volunteered for landscaping and found ourselves hard at work leveling a patio that had been long awaiting helpful hands... at 8 am. 

We really had no idea what we were doing, but with the nod of the right people approving our hard work, we felt as though we were catching on.  By 9 am we had sunk into our roles gladly and could see the uneblievable progress unfolding.


Once the patio was more level, we were assigned to building a planter around these trees to finish the effect and make the patio that much more attractive.  You wouldn't believe the before and after!

While we took on this project with lots of other willing volunteers, there was a whole seperate group that spent time working on fixing the electricity problems they were having inside and painting the exterior and interior of the building.  It was really amazing how much we got done as one solid force that morning.   


It was truly an inspiring day with a solid group of people.  I hope to make this a more consistent part of my life, and not a once a year event.  I felt like I did something worth my time and helping others is something I want to focus more on.  I am always moved by the power of a group of volunteers and what can be accomplished.  This Saturday morning was no exception!

That's me... Dead Center :) 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Food I Ate Fridays - Pumpkin Chili

Ok friends, I do not know if you have heard of the Trader Joes cookbooks, but I really love them.  Everything in each of recipes comes from Trader Joes, and the number of cookbooks keeps growing.  I recently discovered a Trader Joes Cooking Website and have been obsessed with grabbing recipes off of it.  I love Trader Joes :)  I love recipes.  The result was obvious...

When Bill and I went over his parents house for dinner on Monday night, they had made a pumpkin chili recipe that they got when they were at Trader Joes and got their sample in the back.  They made it for us, and it was AMAZING.  Smoothe and rich and hearty and YUMMY.  His mom had even made cornbread from scratch.  Gosh, I'm drooling just thinking about it. 

Time with Bill's parents is always something I treasure, and they make delicious food all the time.  So, it was no surprise that we had delicious food, wonderful conversation, and a lovely evening filled with laughter.  What a treat it is to spend time with them! 

I wanted to share the recipe here with you, because everyone should experience the magic that was this pumpkin chili!

Image stolen from Eclectic Recipes website... Not the same recipe we ate, but I forgot to take a picture!


 Ingredients

3 lbs angus ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can Trader Joe's canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 jar Trader Joe's chipotle salsa
1 container Trader Joe's tomato & roasted red pepper soup
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin


Directions

1. In a large pan cook ground beef, onion, and bell pepper until the meat is no longer pink
2. Drain
3. Add remaining ingredients
4. Bring to a boil
5. Reduce Heat and simmer for 1 hour
6. Serve with tortilla chips or soda crackers (or in our case yummy cornbread)



Make a pot and have it with dear friends and family.  It is a perfect fall group food :)

Have a lovely weekend friends! 
Eat well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Crafts VIA Pinterest

I don't know about you all, but I am obsessed with Pinterest!  I cannot get enough of it.  I keep finding food that looks awesome, clothes I want, home decor I love, and so much more.  I find myself looking at it a few times a day.  It is becoming an amazing addiction.

I have been pinning alot of crafts I want to do myself, and some are holiday themed.  I hope by sharing these pictures with you, that you will become inspired to do something fun and creative for your holiday decorating this year. 





Hop on over to my pinterest (linked on the top right of my page always), and try some of these crafts!  I hope they made you smile and bring you an extra dose of holiday cheer.

Let me know which craft above is your favorite :)

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Patchwork Arts and Crafts Festival



Just a few days ago, me and a few friends spent a brisk Sunday afternoon at an outdoor arts and crafts festival.  There was a collection of all kinds of handmade things that were edible, adorning, and entertaining.  We wandering back and forth throughout the rows and rows of goodies and tried different things on, pointed out what we thought was silly, and took it all in.  I love the energy and the atmosphere that creative folk make possible. 


What I love most about these events is that the people match their crafts.  It reminds me of 101 Dalmatians opening, where the people look like their dogs.  What they are wearing and the jewelry they make and the crafts they embrace always seem to be just like them and it makes me so happy to see people obviously loving what they do.  I hoep to achieve that one day!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Be Encouraged - Living With Others First

 

Philippians 2

Be Like Christ
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus"

These words remind me what is important in life - Working to be like Christ. 

I watch a lot of reality TV and I realize how much of the world functions off of their selfish inclinations.  I am fascinated by the way that their minds work and the priorities they have in their lives.  The world is not worried about how their actions effect others, but we as Christians are called to think of others before ourselves. 

Be encouraged friends. 
Soak in these verses. 
Let them get deep in your heart. 

Do not worry about yourself first and go through life with blinders on.  Make an effort to realize how your day to day effects others.  You do not have to do this because I am saying to, do this because it is what you are called to do – live up to your calling.  We have no excuse not to.

Love you all.  I believe you have this in you.  Do not give up in exhaustion, press on toward excellence.  Do not settle for mediocrity in this area.  Have a Christ like attitude always – let people see Him in you!



Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet Tom

Bill bought a topsy turvy tomato planter in March and it has produced one tomato... That's It. 

We lovingly refer to this little guy as Tom.  We had to pluck him off because he was starting to be sad looking, with a slit through his entire self (which sadly the camera barely captured).  It was a depressing moment when we discovered Tom was struggling.


I would love to one day have a yard and have a little vegetable garden one day, but until then we have to resort to measures like this for space saving.  I hope next year Bill's plant thrives and makes up for this season, but in the meantime we will have to smile knowing that we got Tom for a little while. 

One sad tomato is better than none right?


Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Challenge: Spend Time With the Sun


What a lovely image captured at the perfect moment.

I wish I was her, barefoot and carefree.

Take a deep breath and put yourself in her shoes (or lack there of) for a moment. 

I want to challenge you to spend some time with the sun this weekend, either at sunset or sunrise. 

Soak it in.

Let sunspots melt you like they melt me.

 I hope this brings you into your weekend with a smile on your face and a plan in your hearts.


Happy Friday Friends!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

C'est La Vie


I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
Psalms 42:7 - New Living Translation

Different settings bring peace to different people.  As I have mentioned before, the goal of this series of posts is to find images to bring instant tranquility.  I have posted a sweet little picture and a settling woodsy scene - this image is now being added to the collection. 

I know for a fact that the beach just does it for some people.  It brings them to a place of relaxation and helps people find a center in their busy lives.  Surfers are not the only ones who identify themselves with the ocean.  People love it there, and not just for the sunshine.

The beach has this effect on me at night.  The sound of the waves and constant churning of the ocean are like a narcotic.  There is something relaxing about its consistency.  There is something about the air by the ocean as well - It's a different kind of refreshing.  I am going to need to spend some time at the beach after staring at this picture and letting it effect me.

What type of place brings you to peace?  I would love to post about it.

Happy Thursday friends :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

{That I Take For Granted}

I haven't done a favorite things post in awhile, and I could (always) use a good healthy does of optimism.  I sat and thought about regular occurances and items that I should be more grateful for on a daily basis, and realized that I have alot to work on.


Here is the list I compiled of what I will focus on taking a moment to be thankful for in the coming week.  This concept always seems so simple to write about, but it feels so difficult in life.  Why is that?  If you ask me, I am absolutely grateful for all I have and what I am surrounded by. 

Why do I have such a hard time showing my gratefulness?

If you see me, ask me how I'm doing.  Accountability never hurt anyone right?  Although, do not be surprised if I throw the question back at you.  It works both ways!  I think going into things looking for the good rather than the bad is a beneficial frame of mind.  I hope I can grow in this area in the coming months.

1. My Morning Cup of Tea
2. Freedom to Study the Bible
3. An Endless Supply of Clean Drinking Water
4. A Car To Get Me From Point A to Point B
5. The Technology At My Fingertips To Write These Words
6. Early Morning Exercise

These ARE a few of my favorite things, yet I take them for granted every day.  I will savor my tea every morning, relish my Bible, stop complaining about focusing on drinking so much water, appreciate my car every time I get into it, remember the blessing this blog is, and not complain about waking up early to be a healthier version of myself.

Everything listed is a blessing and something wonderful. 

I will work on not taking them for granted.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Be Encouraged - Finding Rest

"Our Hearts Are Restless Until They Rest In You"

Read that again.

Now again.

Do you believe it?  If not, read it again.

Do you feel rested?  I know I only do when I am right with God, and in turn right with those around me.  When I have released my bitterness, when I have reached forgiveness, and when I have turned control over to He who holds the power.  

Feeling rested is not an easy task.  This is not talking about being tired.  This is talking about inner peace. We cannot reach that alone.  People try everything to fill the void they feel deep in their soul.  Friendship cannot fill it.  Sex cannot fill it.  Drugs cannot fill it.  Life experience cannot fill it.  Money cannot fill it.  Love cannot fill it.  There is nothing in this life that can make you feel whole and complete.

Think about it, once we are born we start wanting and never stop.  Nothing is ever enough and we will always be found wanting.  How do we calm that voice in our head that keeps asking for more?  How do we find rest in a society that makes us work in our sleep?

Be Encouraged.  God can fill the void.  While I feel like a pre-school lesson is coming out of my mouth, it is so much more than that.  Our soul can be filled and re-filled, but it is something we must actively seek out, just like we must actively seek out food to fill our bodies.  The lazy do not get this gift, and I think the lazy are pumped into American society.  No one can do this for you and force you to do it either.  it must be a heart cry and it must be genuine in order for it to be real.

Our hearts will always be restless until we learn to find rest in the one who gave us life.  

Soak this in.

Give me your thoughts.  I hope this encourages you to dig deeper in your relationship with God today.