Lucky 13

Yesterday, Richard and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary.

Thirteen is just a weird number in terms of anniversaries.

For some reason we put a lot of weight on the paper and precious stone years like 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, etc…and neglect poor number 13.  For me, I have been looking at this anniversary as if our marriage is becoming a teenager.  Now, I don’t have a teenager.     Yet!  But, I am getting close (and some days she can make it seem VERY close!).  And, I was a teenager once.  What I haven’t blocked out, I remember.  And, I know some teenagers kinda well…like, my precious nephews.  Let’s face it.  It is a time of ups and downs…inside and outside of our bodies.  I don’t know what the next few years hold for our family.  But, I know we have a God who will love us and take care of us no matter what.  And, I know that my twenties and my thirties have been my best years in life yet, so if we experience any growing pains in our marriage over the next several years, we still have so much to look forward to!

I’ve never gotten to celebrate our anniversary in the blog before, so I thought I’d put up some of our vintage wedding shots, because I love having fun with the scanner.  And, it’s my blog…so, I can!

And, this one is mandatory.

And, finally, this next picture, which is one of my favorites.  Everyone in this picture is either a grandparent, parent, sibling, or sibling-in-law.  (of which there was only one at the time)  You can see why we might not have many pictures of this whole entire group.  As a matter of fact, this is the only one.  Another cool fact you probably never knew you wanted to know – I had the honor of sharing my wedding date with my first grandmother to my left.  Unfortunately, my grandfather was ill and was not able to travel to attend the ceremony.  They are no longer here on this earth, but they loved Jesus and each other, and were married for over 50 years.  I love the fact that we share in some of that legacy on our anniversary!

Thirteen years of dinners together.  Family vacations.  Three apartments.  Four houses.  Four cities (one of them twice).  Babies.  Toddlers.  Girls.  A Boy.  Saturday morning pancakes.  Football games.  Christmases.  Easters.  Beaches.  Mountains.  Lakes.  Deserts.  Friends.  Weddings.  Funerals.  Sickness.  Health.  Thin times.  Abundant times.  Better.  Worse.  Even better than before.  Thirteen years of amazing.

Happy anniversary, my love.

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EggHeads

One of my favorite parts of cooking and dyeing eggs for Easter is getting to eat them afterwards.  I love hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and I especially love egg salad sandwiches.

This year, though, for some reason, I am having the hardest time cracking and chopping the little guys up.

It’s like they are our little friends.  Friends don’t turn friends into lunch…

We had such a good time making these eggs and painting crosses with our special guest artist, DeeDee (my mom).

We love the fun traditions that we share as a family at the holidays, but the best part of Easter, by far, is celebrating the resurrection.    It was a morning full of praise, the picture of new life represented in baptism, and serious reflection on the loving sacrifice our Savior made for us.  It was wonderful to get to share that with my mom this year.

Don’t you love seeing all the bright, pretty colors that come out for this springtime celebration?  Mom stayed with us for a week, and she had to deal with the occasional sassiness from me during that time.  I can be such an egghead.  (perhaps this is why I struggle with turning my new-found friends into sandwiches…)  Thanks for your patience with me, Mom.  We had a wonderful time, and we miss you already!

Finally, I must close with a picture of my Easter cuties, who are not a bit eggheaded…

Easter Victory

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.”  (Matthew 27:50-51)

Good Friday.  The day we remember a dark day almost 2000 years ago, but oh, what a good day, indeed.  The day the Lamb of God took on the sins of the earth and paid the price for all as the ultimate sacrifice.  Our sins separate us from the Holy Lord.  He died for me.  He died for you.  We can never earn or deserve the grace that has been poured on us from our loving and merciful God.  If there were only one soul on earth to save, Jesus still would have had reason to hang on the cross.  He loves us all that much.  So much, that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  But, Easter isn’t celebrated on Friday.  It gets better.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here;  he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'”  Then they remembered his words.”  (Luke 24:1-8)

We don’t serve a dead deity, we serve a living God!  (Hebrews 9:14).  He is not to be found among the dead, but among the living!  If I look dead to others, how can I encourage them to seek the Living One?  After Christ defeated the grave, He said to the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Our innocent Savior took the path of torture, pain and death so that we could follow with one thing – belief.  “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  What better time to share the good news than when we celebrate that truth?    Matt Maher’s ‘Christ is Risen’  says it all for me.  “Oh Church, Come stand in the light.  The glory of God has defeated the night.  Oh death, where is your sting?  Oh Hell, where is your victory?  Oh Church, Come stand in the light.  Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive!”  (see 1 Cor 15:54-56)  Happy Easter!

The “Joy” of Cooking

When we lived in Georgia we had a short-lived tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve with my sister and brother-in-law. Sometimes at our place, sometimes at theirs. We have many wonderful memories of those evenings, but one year stands out in particular. My “Southern Fried” sister has recently been recounting her adventures with beef, and her ramblings conjure memories of a very special steak feast.

It was a beautiful New Year’s Eve in Atlanta that year, and the weather was perfect for grilling up some steaks.  The kids were off playing, the men were lighting the grill, and my sister and I were doing the food prep together.  My job assignment was oiling and seasoning the beautiful steaks.  The grill masters cooked each steak perfectly to order.  We all sat down and prepared to fill ourselves with some yum cow.  After a couple of bites I noticed a strange burning sensation in my mouth.  Not a spicy hot burning, but like a chemical burning.  Based on the faces I saw around the table, I could tell that everyone else was having a similar experience.  All of a sudden, something occurred to me.  I ran to the kitchen, on the way wanting to melt into the floor.  You see, my sister loves to decorate her kitchen up.  It is always one of my favorite places to be because it is so inviting, she thinks of all the details.  Details like tacky dishwashing liquid bottles that sit by the sink.  She doesn’t like them, so she had transferred all of her lemon dish soap into an unlabelled olive oil bottle.  Sitting on the counter near the sink.  (At this point I would just like to mention, in my own defense, that she had given me one of these oil bottles.  And, I stored my olive oil in it.          ’cause it is an oil bottle.                whatever.)  So, if you’re not familiar with olive oil, it’s yellowy green, kind of like, um, lemon dish soap.  I think you can put it all together.  Chef Mary had rubbed the beautiful, thick and tasty beef with dish soap.  And steak seasoning.  And, for the record, lemon dish soap does not taste lemony.  It just burns.  And so, we ate leftovers.

I would like to thank my very unforgetful family.  Every once in awhile, I get a comment, like “these steaks aren’t as lemony fresh as some others I’ve tasted.”  Or, “Mar, did you clean these steaks real good before you grilled them?”  Or the one donated by my generous sister one night as I was prepping some pork chops while talking to her on the phone, and she encouraged me to “be sure to cook those chops with Joy, sister.  Lemon Joy, that is.”  It’s been like 5 years, people.  While I didn’t discover an amazing new way to marinate steaks, and seriously, I don’t recommend the soap method…every time we splurge on a steak night, I get a lot of joy from the memories.

Reformulating Valentine’s Day

My husband has his own personal philosophy about Valentine’s.  His feeling is that once you are married, you don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day anymore because married couples get anniversaries to celebrate.  As horrified as I was that he felt that way when we were newlyweds, I have really come to the point of agreeing with him about 90% on this.  It has been a process for me to get to this place of compromise, though.  Take for instance the year my hubby sent me an e-card. 

And,    that was it. 

And,    it came 2 days before Valentine’s. 

Sadly, I got all excited because I thought that this was like his Valentine’s appetizer for me, and he was going way beyond his normal effort for the holiday-o-love.  Nope.  To make matters worse, when I got upset (and this was pretty upset because I was prego with Caroline at the time) he tried to “make-up” for it with a past-its-bloom Camellia from our front yard and a lame-o homemade card.  Don’t get me wrong, homemade cards rock, but not when they are scribbled by a grown-up man in the space of a minute.  Lame-o.  After he emerged from the doghouse, we came to an agreement.  We did not have to do all the flowers and hooplah.  I would settle for a Richard-made dinner and a Hallmark card.  Homemade cards would be acceptable if they showed considerable effort and thought.  Shakespearean love sonnets, diamond dust glued to the edges, you get the idea…Not to have you thinking ill of my man, let me just share with you that two years ago Chef Ricardo prepared for me cornish hens with an orange glaze, and this year he sent me a tower of chocolates because he was going to be out of town on business.  Funny enough, the less emphasis we have put on this holiday, the more we tend to celebrate it.  Maybe it was just too much pressure to perform amazing feats of romance that had my husband stalled in the gate.  (I doubt that, he really thinks it’s just plain silly)

Gross Kissing Picture!

 Seriously, I think we embrace it more now because instead of being told to celebrate love because it’s a specific day of the year, we just do it because we want to!  Of course, since he was out-of-town this year my February 14th celebration consisted of chopping 10 pounds of fruit and serving it to my kindergartener’s and then my 4th grader’s classes.  And, teaching them the hand jive and freeze-dancing to Justin Bieber and the BeeGees.  It’s a different kind of love, but love just the same.  And, trust me, if Justin Bieber is involved, it is some sacrificial love.  (please take no offense, Bieber fans, it’s just that the 1000th time of “Baby, Baby, Baby, ooohhh” is, well, the 1000th time!) 

 Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which way we prefer to celebrate the special people in our lives on Valentine’s, we are called to demonstrate love to all people everyday.  Showing the world the heart of Christ everyday by putting hands and feet to His love in us.  “This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

If Only in Our Hearts

This Christmas was a first for our little family.  It was our first Christmas without any extended family sharing the big day with us in our home or without us travelling to share it with others.  I did shed a couple tears, I must confess…we all got dressed up and had dinner together, and it was so strange to have empty seats and just the five of us around the table.  Of course, where there is a void God will often fill it in humbling ways that you don’t expect, and the week before Christmas presented many opportunities to help others going through difficult times or loss.  Witnessing the families who lost husbands and fathers in the weeks leading up to Christmas this year or those who are worrying over newborns in intensive care gives good perspective on how full our table really is.

A few especially bright moments for us were:

Christmas Eve, I called my sister in Atlanta, and we happened to catch them at the moment that Papa was sitting down to read The Night Before Christmas to all of my nieces and nephews, so courtesy of the Speaker Phone, all of the cousins got to hear the story together:

Following Along while Papa reads via Speaker Phone

 

Christmas Dinner, ahhh, the joys of tripods and camera timers…We opened crackers and all were game for crown-wearing except William, our lone hold-out.  He was a total Party Popper Pooper (alright, couldn’t help myself)  We did the goofy shot because, well, we are those people…

William was also a hold-out for the goofy shot, guess the little dude has too much dignity…I’m not worried, he’ll learn!

Merry Christmas, Marfy Style

Our batteries were low at last week’s Children’s Choir concert, so we were not able to record the kindergarten choir singing this sweet song that just captures Christmas for me, and has since been stuck in my head.  I have asked Martha Claire to sing it for me every morning this week, so I decided to capture her rendition for posterity, and also for your Christmas delight.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas day celebrating with family.  I will miss getting to hug my own peeps back home in the southland and on the west coast, but I am so thankful for the gifts God has given us, and the little ones we get to share all of this magic with.  Love to you all!