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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Proposal!

*Drum roll*

This past Friday my mom came into town for us to spend the day together and look at reception venues. Since Miles & I were (slash are) courting, I wasn't afraid to start planning without a ring. Plusss I may or may not have seen a confirmation email regarding a certain engagement ring so I knew it was in the works :)

We went to multiple places in Durham and were scheduled to see one of Summit's venues (BC South) last. I was somewhat suspicious because my mom made me freshen up before going to BC South by using not one, but two oil absorbing wipes. Thanks for looking out for me, Mom. We walked down to BC South from the church office and as soon as I went in I saw the TVs in the lobby projecting Psalm 34:3 (Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!), which is the verse I've prayed over my future husband since middle school. I was so surprised & excited and at that point knew exactly what was happening.

I went inside the main sanctuary to find this:
A table full of Easter lilies and daisies (my favorites!), candles, and the Valentine's Day card I made for Miles on the screen.
And I saw this handsome man waiting on me!  
He started off by talking about why he chose BC South to propose - it's where we met, where we fell in love during Kid's Week, and where he fasted and prayed for me throughout the summer. Then he read Proverbs 31:10-31, explaining that he had prayed over that passage for over two years, praying with expectation that God would bring him a woman that lined up with those verses.
Next, he read a poem he wrote me this summer. I wish I could remember all the wonderful things in it, but I was just too excited to remember my name, let alone a long string of beautiful words. The coolest, nerdiest part of the night was the fact that the Proverbs 31 passage and the poem Miles wrote were both acrostics!
The last line of the poem was about never being apart in this life and then he, fittingly, asked me to marry him!
I, of course, said yes! About 0.35 seconds after screaming "yes," I shoved the ring on my finger. No waiting around on Miles. Whoops.
He picked me up, gave me a bear hug, and prayed for our new life together!
After everything went down, I noticed that TJ, Miles' friend, had been taking pictures the entire time! Thanks for capturing these sweet moments, TJ! 
We went out and my mom was so relieved because she could finally come clean about being suspicious all day. Then Miles said his family and my brother & my dad were all on their way to celebrate with us!
It was so incredibly perfect and sweet! I'm so excited to marry this godly man!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are the 5 Love Languages Gospel-Centered?

I really like the 5 love languages. I think it's a wonderful concept and a good book for any type of relationship, be that romantic, friendship, or familial in nature. I vividly remember my godmother telling me my love language was gifts as if it were a cold hard fact. I immediately rejected the idea; I was sure I had to have a holier love language - I mean gifts are so shallow! I knew mine was something pious like acts of service or quality time. That self-righteous thought lasted all of 14 minutes until I read the descriptions of the various languages and was immediately humbled. My primary love language is hands down gifts. I love getting gifts and feel incredibly loved when I receive them. I also love giving them! And, for the record, my second love language is clearly physical touch (once again, a previously dubbed "shallow" love language).

When I first heard about the 5 love languages I thought they were super biblical. I mean after all they were promoting spouses to love and sacrifice for one another and parents to dote upon their children in a loving and receivable way. It wasn't until recently when I thought about the Gospel-centeredness of the 5 love languages. Are the 5 love languages even scripturally sound and Gospel-centered?

The answer: yes! :) and no! :(

The 5 love languages (which are gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, and acts of service) teach individuals to love those they're in relationship with well in a way in which the other person feels loved. This includes sacrifice and humility. Generally people "speak" the language they like to receive. For example, I feel most loved by receiving gifts, no matter the size. While I enjoy words of affirmation every once in a while, they often make me feel uncomfortable. Miles on the other hand really values and loves words of affirmation, so I've had to be conscious of that in freely speaking that to him, as well as uncomfortably receiving that language too. The Gospel in and of itself screams sacrifice and discomfort. Jesus Christ, Son of the Creator, supreme Lord who holds the world together by his word, came into the world he created, as a baby to die an incredibly excruciating death. Talk about sacrifice. In comparison, me feeling a little uncomfortable with words of affirmation seems stupidly silly and insignificant. The 5 love languages are Gospel-centered in that they promote sacrificial love, a dim shadow of the love with which Christ loves the church, his bride. 

The problem comes when people take the 5 love languages as a self-help book, void of the Gospel, which I admittedly did for years after reading the book. These principles are ridiculously easy to twist to become self-serving and self-centered, not Gospel-centered. Quickly the languages are turned inward, rather than the intended outward service, to serve selfish and sinful desires that neatly fall under one of 5 categories. At multiple points throughout my life, I vividly remember feeling unloved because of others lack of service to my own love languages. Is that Gospel-centered? Absolutely not. I used the love languages as a cop-out for my own disbelief in the Gospel. I didn't truly believe that in Christ there was nothing more than I needed and that God was abundantly sufficient for my joy. I threw a pretty spectacular pity party for myself because my love languages weren't being spoken to me (a.k.a. my idolatrous heart yearned for something more than God - something in the form of a gift or touch - because I didn't believe his gracious gift of righteousness was enough).

So, go ahead, read the 5 Love Languages. It's a good book that will undoubtedly help you love your significant other, your siblings, your parents, your roommates, and your friends better. But more importantly, deepen your understanding of the Gospel, your understanding of what you've been given in Christ, and by the Spirit's grace, live that out. Even a measly fraction of Christ's sacrificial and tender love for the church trumps a weak reflection of an easily mangled, categorized love any day of the week.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Engaged!

This past weekend, on February 24, Miles proposed! It was so wonderful, sweet, and thoughtful! After he popped the question, which I immediately said yes to (while simultaneously shoving the ring on my finger), he said our families were coming to Raleigh to celebrate!
So we all went to Maggiano's, my hands down fav restaurant, to celebrate! And then, naturally, we stopped by Barnes & Noble to pick up some necessary wedding magazines :)

The whole story, along with pictures of the proposal, will likely come soon! Thanks for all the congratulations and well wishes. We're really excited!

(And I'm really excited to post all the wonderful wedding things I've come across now that it's official!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What to Wear: Engagement Pictures

Around this time of year it seems like everybody and their sister is either engaged or about to be. It's such an exciting time! Fortunately for you, I've been meticulously taking notes while Facebook stalking other peoples' engagement pictures. Here are some attire tips!

1. One word: classic.
Imagine yourself in 19 years, flipping through your engagement and wedding pictures with your teenage daughters. Aim for "Mom, wow! That outfit was so classic!" not "What in the world were you thinking?!" I would seriously wear my mom's black & white polka dotted dress (minus some of the 80's poof in the sleeves) that she wore for her engagement pictures - you can't much more timeless than that!

2. Have multiple outfits. 
Try to vary them (i.e. a timeless dress for one outfit and jeans with boots and a nice top/blazer for another outfit). If you don't want to go through the hassle of an outfit change, stick with a classic piece, like a navy dress, and change accessories. Pair it with a statement piece like a chunky necklace or scarf for half the shoot, then put on a cute, but simple cardigan to finish out the pictures in.

3. Modest is hottest.
I say this tongue in cheek (I'll save my theological thoughts behind this Christianese phrase for another day), but seriously, your engagement pictures (and your wedding for that matter) isn't the best place to show off the weight you've lost in preparation for your big day. When picking out outfits, imagine finagling around on the ground posing for seemingly cute pictures and then showing said pictures to your Nana. Plus, if you feel modest and covered, chances are you'll feel more comfortable posing during the shoot, rather than spending tons of time pulling things up and down and feeling self-conscious.

Here are some outfits I really like and think would work well!
 *Swoon* I love this dress. I think lace and other delicate materials are so romantic for engagement pictures (so long as its, once again, modest).

 I really like the cutouts (not necessarily the color) of this dress. It covers everything while not looking Amish.
 Once again, so delicate! I think this would be wonderful with a navy blazer and a thin camel-colored belt and boots!
This dress is fabulous. You can't really tell from the picture, but its got small white polka dots all over. You could pair pretty much any accessory with this! 
And if you're wanting to go for a bold statement piece, pair it with more classic pieces, like Sydney from the Daybook blog did here. This necklace is fantastic!

Most of the dresses here are from ModCloth and Anthropologie. If you're looking for good jewelry that doesn't break the bank check out The Jewel Box - their selection online isn't bad, but the stores are the best!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Kisses of the Non-Chocolate Variety

My sweet, sweet boyfriend loves all things plain. Vanilla ice cream without toppings, plain cheeseburgers, cookies void of icing and sprinkles. Rice krispy treats, however, (plain mind you, they can't be crazy with chocolate or other sweets intermingled) are by far his favorite. Honestly, I'd never made them until a few months ago when I made (read: failed at making) turkey rice krispy treats for Thanksgiving. He did his best to help me, but they were a dud. So in honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to make him plain rice krispy treats with a cute flair.
I made the treats first, nothing fancy, just 6 cups of rice krispy cereal, a bag of mini-marshmallows, and a stick of butter. Then, I sprayed a funnel with cooking spray and stuffed about 2 tablespoons(ish) of the rice krispy treat mixture into it, packing it tightly. I plopped the treats out onto my countertop and worked on shaping them to make them into more of a Hershey kiss shape. I mostly made smaller sized treats, but went all out on a couple of them and made them nearly as big as the funnel itself. I was worried that I would have to work super fast to make sure the treats were formed before the mixture started to set up, but I was surprised that I really didn't have to rush (plus, I had my friend, Lauren, helping out which made the process go faster).
While the treats were setting up, I made tags for each treat with reasons why I love my valentine :) Some were sweet and serious, but some were silly.
I wrapped the treats up in aluminum foil, securing the paper within the foil.
I was so thrilled with how they turned out! It was definitely a hit!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Dear 8 Pound, 6 Ounce, Newborn Infant Jesus..."

*This post is inspired by the Summit College Leadership Team retreat I went on this past weekend. I was extremely challenged by the words of my college pastor on this topic, so I definitely can't take full credit!*

Chances are if you haven't seen Talladega Nights you've at least seen the clip of the entire family gathered around the kitchen table saying grace, each describing how they see Jesus. Some see him as a bearded man, while others prefer to think of Jesus as a baby, watching Baby Einstein videos, or singing lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Watching this part of the movie may seem hilarious or sacrilegious or off-base, but I think this scene is a good depiction of how the church sees Jesus

If you grew up as a Sunday School goer, maybe you think of Jesus like I do - holding a lamb, with a curly mullet, smooth blue eyes, and a docile demeanor (my boyfriend calls this depiction "the Jesus he could beat up"). Or maybe you see Jesus as a principal, who's only interested in what you're doing with your life when you mess up. Maybe you see him as a means to get what you want or need. If you're in a jam or about to take a hard test, you and Jesus are suddenly BBFs. 

Even though we probably wouldn't admit it, as the church, our views about Jesus often mirror a scene from Talladega Nights rather than scripture. 

So what does scripture say about Jesus? 

    Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
    When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
(Revelation 1:12-19 ESV)

This Jesus doesn't have blonde hair and blue eyes, he has A SWORD coming out of his mouth! Even his voice was overwhelming, like the roar of a waterfall. This Jesus is a warrior. This Jesus, the biblical Jesus mind you, is nothing like the genie Jesus or innocent little baby Jesus - he's fully God!
And though he is infinitely strong and mighty, he's boundlessly tender - he reaches down to John, laying his hand on him and telling him not to be afraid. This act in and of itself easily could've killed John if Jesus were only righteous and holy and just. While he is undoubtedly wholly righteous, holy, and just, he is also fully loving, merciful, and gracious.

So my question is, how do you see Jesus? Is your view culturally driven or scripturally derived? Praise Him that he is a crazy, strong warrior who defeated death, but is outrageously tender and loving Savior who reconciled us to the Father so that we may have life both in this life and in eternity with him.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recipe Review: Spinach & Garlic Spaghetti

This weekend I had virtually no groceries except for frozen chicken, spinach, spaghetti, a can of rotel, instant mac-and-cheese and fish fillets. Fortunately though, I had enough ingredients to scrape together this dish, which was surprisingly good! I was skeptical about how "healthy" it would taste, but it got the man-stamp-of-approval so suffice it to say that it's really delicious and not too much like cardboard.

It was super easy to whip up, too!
Saute lots and lots and lots of spinach in a little bit of olive oil. I used around 3/4 of a pound of spinach and was just making two portions, so don't be afraid to use a lot!
Throw some of this (or any other Italian-type seasoning) on the spinach. The recipe called for a few garlic cloves but I opted for this (easier) way instead. On a side note, this seasoning is the bomb! I got it at Costco and have been using it all year. It's especially good for bread.
Once the spinach is sauteed, put some half and half in the pan and cook it for a few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Throw this mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until its got a pesto-like consistency. I used a blender and ended up having to add a little water - go with a food processor if you can!
Next, cook some spaghetti (or other pasta - I think penne would have been lovely) according to the directions on the box.
And cook your chicken. Since I was only cooking for two people, I just used one chicken breast.
Then use the old throw-some-chicken-in-your-KitchenAid-to-shred-it trick.
 Mix the pasta with the spinach sauce and...
Add the chicken.

Add lots of Parmesan cheese and call it a meal! I will definitely be making this again soon. It was healthy and super delish.

I adapted this recipe from Jess Thompson's Hogwash blog.