Wednesday, October 30, 2013

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - My Husband, Weekend Trips and Great Food

To say our first anniversary was wonderful would be such an understatement.  We took the train down to San Diego and stayed in Little Italy and had the most incredible weekend filled with amazing food, lots of walking, and heartfelt conversation.  It is so amazing to watch a year go by and see how far you have come.  While we were in San Diego, I realized how much more I love Bill than I ever have before and how amazing it is that love can grow.

He was so thoughtful and brought coffee mugs to make our room feel homey, made sure I treated myself to what I really wanted and brought a smile to my face every moment that he could.  I made the little banner pictured above for our room (1st year anniversary is paper) and gave him a few little gifts, but our focus was taking time out to  just be together.  Sometimes it is more important to be present than to buy presents :)

The morning after we got back, I had flowers delivered at my work with a sweet note and have been receiving more of a puzzle he had made of us since, with sweet notes written on the back of every piece.  Knowing my husband loves me an outrageous amount is really all I need.  If this was supposed to be the hardest year of marriage, I definitely chose the right man.  Although, sometimes I think he chose me...  I guess it works best when you choose each other! 

I am more than blessed in my marriage, but I think it is important to make sure you know that no relationship is perfect.  We absolutely fight and are selfish at times, but it is trips like this that not only remind me why we chose each other, but why it is worth it to tough it out during the hard times.  

Marriage is a constant decision to let go of what you want and consider someone else first, and I feel I am really learning more and more that I am selfish no matter how defensive I am.  God grants me grace through Bill everyday, because even when I am at my worst, Bill forgives me and loves me despite the circumstances and that genuinely is something no one deserves, but he loves me like the Lord loves me and sees my heart first.

Here's to many more baby!  
Cheers to our future filled with weekend adventures!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Eli John - My Best Friend's Answer to Prayers

My best friend is having a baby boy.   She put a lot of pressure on me, letting me know this post would go in the baby book and most likely be something she treasured always, so I feel like I want to do even better than I generally desire in presenting my words eloquently.  So here goes nothing :)

Heather Simone and I are not best friend's for superficial reasons, our relationship runs deep.  It is more than just a girlfriend I chat with or shop with, this girl can literally predict the words that are about to come out of my mouth.  She is more like a sister than a friend.  We have not always been this way, but God absolutely had these plans when he brought us into each other's lives.  He dropped us in front of each other when we were both searching for real and true friendship, and what he led us into is such an amazing testimony to what the Lord can do when two people decide to become the people they know they are meant to be.

She inspires me.  She really pays attention to the details.  Not only does she see the good in people, but she screams it from the rooftops.  She has an incredible gift of honesty without being harsh.  All of this, and you still do not know my favorite quality about her, she loves without abandon and unconditionally, and I cannot fall outside of that love; and that is how Christ taught us to live. She is going to be such an incredible mom, because no matter what Eli brings to her, she will meet it with open arms, without judgement, and give him the grace that the Lord extends the church over and over again.  I literally well up with tears thinking about how overwhelmingly that kid if gonna be loved by her.  She never gives up.  I have never known anyone who honestly knows everything about me, and never faltered her heart towards me.  She is such an incredible friend.  I am blessed beyond measure to hear her thoughts constantly poured out to me, and I cannot imagine life without her, even though she lives 3000 miles away from me!  

She has found a perfect match in Rob.  I think that God does not call everyone to be a pastor or the wife of a pastor, but man oh man he has called these two into ministry for at least this season of their life.  Rob is more than just a good husband, he is an incredible leader.  Although some may seem him as a man of few words, I think the words he chooses to share are always rich and rewarding to those around him.  Now don't get m wrong, we all put our foot in our mouth at times, but I watch his carefulness with words he chooses and I realize that my best friend married a man who is going to be an amazing dad. Like… amazing…  The time I have with him is few and far between, but I always treasure hearing more about who he is and how his story shaped him, because it unfolds a little more of their life to me.  He is so respectful towards me and Heather's friendship and always gives us time to just be together with no agenda, and often times his care for her overwhelms me.  I can see how much he cares for her just in the way he looks at her, and it makes me smile.  He really understands my best friend better than anyone, and I always leave her reassured she still has a best friend by her side at all times.

Now my words for you sweet Eli.  You were chosen to be who you are and where you are and God knows what he is doing.  He is giving you incredible parents, and you are being born into a warm and loving home.  Those parents are surrounded by a sea of supporters and you will have aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends who love you as soon as you make your appearance.  You are being given back to God, and your name is a constant reminder of that.  Make sure to remind yourself daily that you are loved, because there are lots of people out there searching for love.  God gave it to you so early in life.  Make sure to remind yourself daily you are wanted, because there are lots of people out there searching for their place in this world.  Your place is with your dear family.  Make sure to remind yourself daily that if you ever need anything, you can ALWAYS come see your Aunt Ryan and Uncle Bill, because we will be here no matter what.  I genuinely love you already little man, and I have not even met you yet.  Thank you for bringing so much joy into your mommy and daddy's lives.  I will always be asking the Lord to take care of you and you will always be close to my heart.  I pray you find a friend for you like your mommy has been to me, and that you treasure that relationship like we do.

Love you Simones!  

Can't wait to meet your little one :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wine Tasting and Walking - A Long Weekend in Napa and San Francisco

Bill and I headed up to San Francisco and Napa for a couple of free nights because we sat through a timeshare presentation, and while this was earlier in the summer I wanted to share a little about it because it was just so lovely.

We started out the trip with an afternoon in San Francisco.  We showed up without a plan and with wandering spirits, and really enjoyed our time walking together.  We check out China town, strolled through an independent book store, ate soup out of bread bowls, and took in the city.

We headed up to Napa to stay at a fantastic time share property which had a vineyard on site, amongst many other amenities, and just sunk into it all.  This was Bill's last week as a wine distributor and we capitalized on his connections and got lots of free tastings and discounts.  Everyone in Napa was so nice to us, and we ate so much decadent and delicious food.   It was such a different trip for me, because I had no agenda, we just did what we felt like doing.  The culture of the town is so relaxed, and that gave us the ability to relax with it and drink lots of wine and just be together.

 I can't wait to see wine country again.  Until then, cheers to Napa.  You really treated us well!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

C'est La Vie - A Collection of Woodsy Loveliness

While many people covet my 5 minute drive to the beach, there is something about a cabin in the woods that strikes my fancy much more.  We all find beauty in different part's of God's creative hands, and these pictures make my heart race.  Pine trees, the changing of the seasons, warm mugs full to the brim with steam coming off and coziness abounding.  Man oh man... 

Now I just have to figure out how to work from home and make plenty of money so I can live in a little cabin in the middle of nowhere with my handsome husband... Any suggestions?  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Missing My Favorite Season

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall | Autumn F. Scott Fitzgerald Quote Typed on Typewriter

For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere where it is crisp and breezy, the leaves are changing colors and you actually need scarves and boots...I am jealous of you.

I love the fall.  This is the season I miss the most.  While it gets cool in the evenings here in sunny Southern California, I could do without this 80 degree weather during the days!

I envy those enjoying this season in all its glory.  I still participate in all things fall, but it just is not the same...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Friendship and Sunshine - Summer Came and Went

I mean I seriously feel like it happened fast.  I didn't share ANY of my summer adventures and I feel like I want to play a little catch up.  I had such a lovely time this summer just being present with people and spending time outside in the sunshine.  Life moved so rapidly, that I had to take a moment to look back at the pictures on my phone and remember how lovely it has been the past couple of months.  Birthdays, babies, friendship, family and outdoor concerts are what I treausured most this summer. 

Here is to a fall equally full of lasting memories :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wedding Week in Baltimore - My Little Brother's Wedding


My most recent trip to Baltimore reminded me how blessed I am to have the family that I call mine. 

I had the privilege to be in my little brother's wedding and stand next to a couple who's love for each other is incredibly sweet and just continues to surprise me.  I have always been proud to be his sister and her friend, but this week was proof that our family is better for adding Nikki.

The entire week felt like a blur.  So many incredible memories were made and I am thrilled to have been there for as long as I was.  I also got to spend time with my bestie, who is having a baby in the spring, and to say I am incredibly grateful for that time is an understatement.  She is family to me.  Gosh, life seems to be flying by.  

The day of the wedding was not the most beautiful day by a weatherman's standards, but the wedding itself was magical and incredibly memorable.  As the rain fell on the guests, and Stephen held an umbrella over himself and his beautiful bride, I had a moment of awe.  I was awed at the journey these two have taken to be where they are, both personally and together.  I was awed at the idea of my little brother, Stephen, as a husband who cares for and provides for a wife.  I was awed at Nikki and her beauty and how gracefully she approached this day.  I was awed at how much I love my family and how overwhelmingly generous they all are.  I was awed that my twin brother has an incredible wife and daughter and one day, far off in the future, we will be celebrating her wedding.  It all kind of hit me at once and I started to cry as I realized how incredible the gift of life really is.

The celebration continued in the tent where wine and food and life abounded.  It was so fun to literally dance in the rain and be with those you love.  The rain forced us all to one place and made it one of the most intimate weddings I have ever attended.  Special just doesn't even begin to describe it.  The first dance was one that I will never forget.  I have never seen them so happy.  As I watched Stephen and Nikki leave to a sea of glow sticks I could not believe it was over, but I also could not believe how blessed we are to welcome the Beautiful Nicole WECKER into our family.  She is truly a joy of a sister and she could not have found a better husband in Stephen.  Her family is lovely and fun and so easy to be around.  I am outrageously proud of the man Stephen has become and I always am counting the days until I get to see them again.

Leaving the next day, was actually painful.  I cried so hard it hurt (I know I cry alot... It's a blessing and a curse).  My heart feels so torn between those I love.  What a blessing it is to love so hard.  I am a blessed woman.

Missing my East Coast family today.  Wishing I could hug you all!

For more pictures check out this link to the photographer's blog - Adam Mason Photography!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Food I Ate Fridays - Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup

I am COMPLETELY ripping off this blog today: Yummy Mummy Kitchen - even the picture above came from there.  I took a picture of this soup when we made it, but it just didn't do it justice.  However, it was just too delicious to not share it anyway and give someone else complete and total credit!

So here is the recipe, taken straight from Yummy Mummy Kitchen, that I found through Pinterest!  Oh man, did it put me in a cozy fall mood :)

Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup

Serves 6


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil 
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
48 ounces vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans pure pumpkin
2 teaspoons mild curry powder (can add more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (green lentils are okay too if that's what you have on hand!) 
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon honey (or agave or maple syrup) 
Fresh cilantro or sliced green onions for garnish
1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
Plain Greek yogurt such as Chobani, for garnish (optional and will not be vegan) 


1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until beginning to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the apple, and continue to saute until both the apple and onion are tender. 

2) Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. 

3) Whisk in pumpkin, curry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in lentils, coconut milk, and honey. 

4) Simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes until thickened. Adjust spices to taste. 

5) Serve in bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt and/or pepitas and fresh herbs.

I hope this brings one just one reader a little fall joy :) I thoroughly enjoyed this soup and it was pretty quick and easy to make. Feel free to send me your favorite fall recipes. Have a lovely weekend friends.

P.S. Next week a little of my brother's wedding and anniversary trip love coming your way so check back for that action!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Be Encouraged - His Joy Comes in the Morning

On the heels of my previously serious post, I want you all to know I am living by this motto frequently lately.  I am joyful.  God has always given me joy, which is why so many people do not know about my fear.  Lately, including a few days ago when I posted of my fear, I have felt increasingly relaxed and ready to conquer it all. 

God is so good, ya know?  I mean really... Wow.  You may not understand how he has anything to do with me conquering my fears, but it is his word and the hope of a life spent honoring him and eventually at his side that gets me through each day.  I am safe in His arms.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Truth Comes Out - Overwhelming Fear

There are days where I feel overwhelmed and exhausted and for no reason.  I just feel like I cannot handle anything else, including what is already on my ever filling plate.  Lately, I have been getting overwhelmed in odd moments.  A small item added to my pile throws me into a state of chaos.  I wish I could say I have it under control, but the truth is that it is a daily battle.  In the moments of extreme panic I have to decide to allow God to be in control.  Ultimately, it is a fear of a lack of control.  Fear of losing what I hold tightest to in this world.  It sounds extreme, but it really is something I have to constantly struggle with and 

Does anyone else struggle with this?  I want you to know deeply and whole heartedly you are not alone.  Which helps me to know that I know I am not alone.  I am taking this process one day at a time and one battle at a time.  I feel like it may be something I battle for the rest of my life, though I daily pray for the relief of this overwhelming fear.  It is such a state of utter frustration that I often times sink into.  I break down in tears and hate to be alone.  I wonder why some people live this way and others were granted the blessing of fearing nothing.  I feel like this has crept up inside me over the years, and that I used to be much more fearless. When and why did this change?

My husband cannot fix this for me, although bless his heart he tries.  This is something God and myself need to work out.  I need to learn to trust him.  He has my life under control and he has my heart in his hands.  There is a certain amount of hesitation that is acceptable in the day to day, but there is not room for crippling fear.  It's hard to explain, but it feels like I am living in a constant state of darkness and being unsure.

I know that this fear is not of the one who saved me and made me a complete person in Him.  This fear is not something I have to live in.  This fear is conquerable.  

God grant me peace of heart.  Remind me that I am yours and not of this world.  I believe there is good in this world, because you created this world.  While evil exists, it does not have to be what drives my fear.  Help me to concentrate on perfect love, because that is what your word tells me casts out all fear.  

To those who take the time to read this, do no worry.  This has always been a part of my life, but it is just something I am attempting to be more honest about.  I keep my panic inside and it has caused some physical discomfort, and I want people to know that while I always choose to be kind and understanding of others, it is time for me to be fully understood.  Be patient with me as I become more honest about this :)

I will write more soon.  Just these words have helped me conquer one of my fears, which was people knowing I am constantly afraid.  Thanks you caring enough to be sensitive with this information.