sword drills with children

Have you ever done a sword drill? And I'm not talking about something you'd see at a Marine boot camp.

When I was in elementary and middle school, my Sunday School class regularly participated in the practice of "sword drills". Aptly named as the Bible is the "sword of truth", these drills involved a room full of children holding their Bibles above their heads and holding the breath in a moment of mounting anxiety. Eventually, a youth leader would call out a Bible verse at random and all the troops kids would scramble as fast as their little hands could to find the verse and yell out that they had it first, a sort of biblical bingo if you will. Naturally, the first child to find the verse would receive a small prize.

I. Hated. Sword drills.

First off, I always came near last. Secondly, I thought it was the most illogical thing ever. I mean, in what situation is someone going to yell at you and force you to scramble through your Bible like your childhood depends on it, while your friends competition looks down their noses at your for not being a nimble enough Christian? Oh, the humiliation.

However, this Christmas, I had a revelation (no pun intended) about why we make kids memorize scripture. So I was lying in bed, awaiting Christmas morn, when at 5 am I was shocked into consciousness by one of the worst nightmares I've had in a long time. You know those moments...you're trying to mentally reconcile the fact that it was just a dream but you can still feel adrenaline coursing through you. So there I laid in the yuletide dark on the verge of tears, when that verse came to me: for you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of...but of.... Now, cue me not remembering the rest.

This was genuinely the very first time in my life that, without being prompted, a situationally appropriate Bible verse just popped into my head. And naturally, I couldn't recall the most important part.

So I quietly crept out of bed and downstairs, my heart and mind still racing with fear, and I googled it. Thats right, no Bible on hand, I just looked it up online. 2 Timothy 1:7-- 
For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
And it hit me all at once...peace over my nightmare and the understand of that's why we teach kids to memorize scripture. That's why we're supposed to memorize scripture. Not so we can be the queen of sword drills or so we can recite long passages from rote memory (another practice I never quite understood), but because in those quiet moments where we need to remember what God has said...it's written on our hearts. Maybe reading a little more Deuteronomy 11:18 would have been beneficial so I'd have understood this 15 years sooner.

Granted, I still think sword drills are pretty useless. It's not about speed, it's about understanding. But finding peace in 2 Timothy and finally starting to understand (and not understand) some of the stuff I was brought up on...well, it was a little Christmas miracle all on it's own.


Happy Christmas

Well everyone, my little sis is getting in this evening...which officially begins our real Christmas season! We'll probably spend most of the night chatting away like sisters do. Tomorrow brings church and more fun family time (plus my first solo ever with our church choir - eek!). As such, I'll be taking a short blogging hiatus just until after Christmas. So, I'd like to take a moment now and just say
Happy Christmas!!!
to all of you. I hope it is a wonderful time with family and friends. God bless!


being "old" & a Christmas quilting tutorial

EDIT: Sorry, but all of the images originally posted in this tutorial were lost in the great blog-tastrophe of 2014. Please email me if you have questions!

Sometimes, I feel really old. (You are really old, fo' real!) I don't quite know what it is, but at the ripe age of 24, I have already caught myself saying the following: 

"Do they really need to listen to their music that loud?"
"Most attractive man I can think of? Cary Grant."
"It was a great weekend, I spent most of it quilting!"
"Your Christmas music is weird…can we just listen to some Bing already?"
"It's a nice apartment, but I really wish I could have a garden."
"Yes! I'd love to join your recipe-swap!"
"Oh, if her father only knew she was out in that! (tut tut)"

I could go on, but I've probably made my point. Despite my occasional general silliness, I'm beginning to believe that my "inner child" is more likely a woman named Edna who enjoys rocking chairs and keeps Werther's candies in her sweater pocket. However…I do have this cool blog, so that's young and hip, right? And hopefully that statement isn't invalidated by the use of "young and hip"? I hope….

Well, to embrace my inner Edna, here are some exciting quilting projects I worked on last weekend, just in time for Christmas! First is a 3 block table runner that I (naturally) forgot to take pictures of while doing.

And now, an actual "tutorial" for a square table runner I made for my mom with the extra fabric from my table runner. I've seen these called "fan blocks" and "Dresdens" so I'm not sure which it technically qualifies as. First off, I made a template from some heavy stock board, then cut out all my pieces.

Next, sew each set of four together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Once you have (4) four-piece fans, sew all of those together to complete the fan or Dresden or whatever.

Since I wasn't quite sure how to attach it all to the backing, I cheated and use iron-fusible interfacing on the points.

Then, iron that down on your background fabric and use a circle of interfaced fabric for the center. Make a sandwich with some batting (I used heirloom cotton) and backing, and pin it all together. 

Sew it up, trim off your excess batting, and then fold the backing up and double fold it to create a "cheater binding". I know this is a bit vague but I didn't take pictures and I don't really feel qualified to try to explain that bit (maybe in another tutorial). Add a bit of hand embroidery to sink it all together, then voila, you have a square table runner that looks much better in-person than the photo but you're still gonna put it up online anyways because you did it!

My mom loves it and put a gold candle in the middle and it looks lovely. Yay for fun projects!
Even though I'm sure in a few years, I'll look back and be completely aghast that I even put this online. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Anyways, I know this is a long post but I'd love to hear if you've ever felt out of place with people your own age. Please share (it'll make me feel less awkward about "Edna" – haha)!

Edit: Don't forget to check out my new tab at the top for some great quilting blogs & resources!


scrumptious breakfast casserole

It may not look super fancy from the amazing-quality photo below (sarcasm much?), but I promise, this dish is super delicious and great for serving to a crowd. I'm planning on making a half batch for my family for Christmas morning!
Scrumptious Breakfast Casserole

6 slices white bread
1 pound sage sausage
2 cups half-and-half
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
dash of hot sauce
7 beaten eggs
3–4 medium cooked & unpeeled red potatoes
1 medium bag of mixed, shredded cheese

  • Fry sausage until it is almost completed browned and drain on paper towels. (Your kitchen will smell like a glorious campfire meal!) Beat the half-and-half, mustard, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and eggs together.
  • Cube bread and potatoes and combine. Add sausage and 2 cups cheese. Fold it all together.
  • Spread the bread-potato-sausage-cheese mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 casserole pan.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the entire dish.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight (this is optional and great for making the night before, but if you cook it straightaway, allow for a shorter baking time).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for around 1 hour or until it doesn't jiggle in the middle.
  • Cover with remaining cheese and pop it back in the oven long enough for it to melt.

Note: the potato chunks can get very hot so warn guests to let it properly cool before eating.


tuesday tunes: Christmas favorites

Though there are lots of great versions of this song, this is by far my favorite! It's "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Margaret Whiting, Johnny Mercer, and Paul Weston. Naturally, the shower scene from Elf is a close second (which is much less dirty than it sounds if you have yet to experience the amazing-ness that is Elf).

My traditional favorite: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. For today, I thought I'd share a truly beautiful instrumental version from The Piano Guys.



Today's post has two different sections based on what you'd like to read. I know many people who feel that they just cannot read or hear any more about the recent tragedy, and I'd like to be sensitive to that. However, our pastor shared some incredible thoughts this weekend and I would like to share those. So…if you would like something lighter to read today, I direct your attention to the "weekend thoughts" title in bold; if you'd like to see some unique thoughts on Christmas and the events of Friday, scroll further down. Whatever you decide to read, I hope you have a blessed Monday.

weekend thoughts

Last week as a pretty quiet one for me as I enjoyed some much needed time off. Unfortunately, it has come to an end as Strider is now home for break (when did 3 weeks turn into forever?) and I am back at work. Like the old woman I sometimes feel I am, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday evening working on two Christmas quilting projects. (pics and a tutorial to come!) It was a quiet and restful time and very nice to do some of the little projects I enjoy working on.

In addition, my annual Christmastime re-reading of Little Women has commenced! I love enjoying this wonderful book every year and as with all great literature, seem to find something new every time I read it. Is there anything you re-read every year?

Also…can you believe it is just 8 days till Christmas!!!

Christmas & Sandy Hook

I, like so many others, am feeling overwhelmed and heartbroken by the events of this weekend. I won't elaborate on the tragedy itself as you are probably feeling as inundated with media coverage as I am. I know there has been so much said and reported, but I appreciated a unique thought my pastor shared this weekend in regards to the recent events and the upcoming Christmas holiday.

During the Sunday sermon, our pastor read from Matthew. He prefaced it by saying that these verses are a part we usually leave out of the Christmas readings because they are uncomfortable this joyful time of year. It reads:
"When Herod realized that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he gave orders to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 'A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'" Matthew 2:16-18
How those verses struck me! After finishing, he pointed out that at this same time all those years ago, people were mourning for their children, just as we are mourning now. He reminded us that the world was in total darkness, desperately praying for the Savior to be born, to bring a light in the middle of so much suffering. 
How timely…to think that the people of Bethlehem were hurting the same way we are right now. 
And what a way to meditate on the upcoming Christmas season, reflecting on the fact that in a very similar situation as we are now trying to wrap our minds around, Jesus was coming. God knew the world was weeping for its children and He had already sacrificed His own son to come to Earth, to ease our hurt and to save us. 

In discussing it later, my mother and I agreed that this definitely isn't part of our typical "Christmas story" reading. But we appreciated that our pastor had the courage to bring to light something so hard, and yet so relevant during this time of year.


favorite blog friend friday: Lashes & Beard

What can I even say about Claudia (aka Lashes of Lashes & Beard)? She. Is. Awesome!

One of the very first people to reach out to me in the bloggy-world, I felt so cool the first time she emailed me—like it signified my initiation into blog world...first contact in an unfamiliar land, ya know? Her super cool blog is also the first place I ever had one of my blog buttons featured. Yay for blog friends!

Anyways, Claudia is just one of the most welcoming and kind people I've met through blogging. Wife to "Beard" and mommy to a sweet little boy named Isaiah, she is authentic and lovely in so many ways. You should definitely check out her blog—it features all sorts of fun link ups, recipes, giveaways, crafts, and inspirational thoughts about faith. Though quite a bit more girly than me, she is a great one to follow and for some reason I believe is really good at giving hugs (even though we've never met in real life)!

Fun fact: Claudia's favorite Scripture verse is:
 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may
receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16

So hop on over and meet Claudia at Lashes & Beard. And join in now on her Bloggers for Christmas link-up running through the rest of Dec!


a week of many saturdays

Three days of pto this week?....A truly awesome choice! Yesterday felt like Saturday, today feels like Saturday, and I still have tomorrow and an actual Saturday to go. Saving up pto till the end of the year was a great decision.

Also, my fabulous sister comes home in exactly 9 days I couldn't be happier!!!

ALSO, we're seeing The Hobbit in exactly 7 hours...Strider's head is reaching near Hindenburg threat levels. No kidding, he's that excited.

I have some very cool things to share soon including my first-ever breakfast casserole, another sew-y gift I made for baby Reece, and some fun pics. However, they will all have to wait till I can get the camera memory card reader next week. I really need to remedy this camera situation soon, but thanks for bearing with me. 

And last, but certainly not least, make sure you stop by tomorrow and check out the first in my new blog series:
Favorite Blog Friend Fridays!
It's gonna be really fun and a great way to find awesome bloggers so don't miss it! (Hint: the first blogger I'm sharing has a blog whose title includes two parts of the body...sneaky hint, huh?)


tuesday tunes – relient k

Today's Tuesday Tunes goes out for Strider as this is one of this favorite Christmas songs and well, I really love it too. The lyrics are thought-provoking and moving, especially for this time of year. Maybe spend a few minutes today thinking on these words:

"And the first time that You opened Your eyes, did you realize that You would be my Savior? And the first breath that left Your lips, did you know that it would change this world forever?…
And I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.


my first real quilt block

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to sew. She had sewn by hand for years when one happy day, she received a magical machine that made it all so much easier! She loved the sewing machine and used it to make all sorts of fun crafts. Then, in a daring and somewhat completely ignorance-is-bliss moment, she decided to make her first quilt. She embarked on a quest to the kingdom of Hobby Lobby and consulted many helpful strangers along the way. With fat quarters in hand, she happily sewed and sewed until it was finished. She stood back to admire her work and quickly realized that she definitely had no clue what she was doing. And despite her machine's best efforts to guide her, many of the squares were misaligned. And she was a little sad….

Okay, so it's not the greatest story ever, but I do still have a cool first-time quilt to show for it and it was a fun learn-from-mistakes project. HOWEVER…I recently completed my first actual quilt block and I'm really excited about it. I got a handy kit from Hancock Fabrics and spent one challenging afternoon carefully measuring, cutting, and pressing tiny fabric pieces into a well-organized square. I will say that the kit came with pre-cut fabric pieces but they were all boring and I wanted something really colorful and fun (and that would also use up pieces already in my stash)—so be warned—what I chose is probably the most bold combination I could've picked!

First I cut little triangles and made a flying geese square (which, as you can see below, I had to do twice since I assembled it incorrectly the first time—ugh!).
Then I used a very sneaky method involving two squares and a rectangle to make a cool, triangle-y border thing (the proper name for which I cannot remember right now). 
Add some off-set colored squares at each corner, sew it all up, and BAM! Quilt block! Add a funky background and some batting, hand quilt the block on, and you've got a cool square of fabric thing…
…which I used to make the front of this totally awesome throw pillow cover. 
It's soft and fun and I will love it and squeeze it and call it my squishy. (Not really, but who doesn't love the chance for a Finding Nemo reference?) Some other more calmly-colored projects are also in the works, but I felt like just assembling this block correctly was a huge accomplishment for me! So yeah…that's my pillow. 

Any other quilters out there with sage advice to share?


wishes & friends

It seems that gift guides are more abundant than ever this year—between work stuff, radio announcers, and seeing everyone else's cool gift ideas on other blogs, I now feel thoroughly versed in "what to get absolutely everyone on your list". And yet, in the middle of all the holiday buying hubbub (yes, hubbub) I still find myself trying to not give in to what feels like a tasmanian devil of materialism.

You may or may not have read my post earlier this week about the Simple Gift Giving Philosophy, but let me just say, narrowing down my wish list to just 4 things was both easier and harder than I anticipated. Easier because when I spend time actually thinking about it…I don't really need more stuff and I feel entirely blessed just to spend this holiday season with friends and family; harder because there are so many fun, cool things out there that we are taught to want. So in effort to enjoy the gift-giving while still practicing simple giving, here's my little graphic wish list:
  • Want—I'm trying to collect a Willow Tree Nativity Set but since it's so expensive, I'm just asking for one piece each year. Last year…Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; this year…wise men. This way, by the time I have kids, our family will probably have the whole set.
  • Need—I genuinely struggled with this one because even though I'd really like a nicer camera, I don't really need it right now. And even though I could certainly use this food chopper, I don't actually need it either. When I sat down to think about it and that green word "NEED" was staring at me, I realized that there isn't a single thing I need this year. Especially when I look at the abundant blessings I have and all those who are truly in need this year. So let's call this the "Would Be Helpful to Have" category instead.
  • Wear—This one is just for fun…but who wouldn't want this totally baller Dr Who t-shirt from Unicorn Empire?!?
  • Read—Alright alright, I couldn't quite narrow down this category to just one, but I tried and trust me, choosing just two books for Christmas is a huge improvement for me. First up is this amazing Holman Study Bible which due to my (incredible) mom, I already know that I'm getting this year (can't wait!!). Second, is RUMO by Walter Moers.
  • Something extra—Just throwing this out there, I would definitely not turn down a gift card to Spoonflower fabrics (ah-maz-ing) or a year subscription to Real Simple Magazine. I may be way too poor to fit their target audience but I can DIY the junk out of some of their ideas!

In truth, I'd trade everything I'm potentially getting this year for one other thing, but it's quite a bit bigger to ask for and I can't be blabbing about it too much on the internets. Just keep your fingers crossed!

Since connecting with people and finding new friends is one of my absolute favorite things about this whole blog adventure, starting next week, I'll be introducing you to some of my very favorite bloggers each Friday! These 18 incredible women all agreed to let me write a little about them and their rockin' blogs. So get excited and make sure to come back every Friday and meet someone new!

Your turn…what's at the top of your wish list this year?


this & that thursday link-up

Recently Roached

Today I'm linking up with Jena over at Recently Roached and Katie at What Katie Did for their This 'n That Thursday! Check it out and click on the button to join in the fun!

This: Antiobiotics. After a week on Amoxicillin (street name Amoxy, or so I've decided) for my throat crappiness…guess who now has an ear infection? And just in time for our choir's Christmas concert this weekend. My fingers are crossed that my new medicated ear drops work quickly. Also…although I try to only take meds when absolutely necessary…this is how I feel about antibiotics right now: 

That: Can I take a moment to talk about my church's decorating committee? I know I can't prove it without pics but those ladies are fab-o-lous! Seriously! Every year our simple little church gets turned overnight into one of the prettiest little sanctuaries I've ever seen. It's classy and traditional and somehow (magic) incorporates those old-school feather Christmas doves without being tacky. I mean, I think I've got a decent eye for design but they really knocked it out of the park. So now I'm wondering what they'd charge to come help me redo my apartment—too bad my budget is $0.

This: I love baking. I mean, I genuinely enjoy few things as much as finding an awesome new recipe, testing it, and finding out that it actually is as good as it claims to be. Plus, as semi-stalkerish as this may sound, I love watching people eat the stuff I've made…that tiny moment when they have the first taste and you can read what they think all over their face…you know what I mean. BUT, despite all of that and despite the Kilimanjaro-sized stack of cookbooks, print-outs, and handwritten index cards that are piling up on my desk, the thing I love most (mint Oreos aside)…is a big buttery croissant slathered with nutella and microwaved—or an American-style pan au chocolat if you want to be fancy about it. Oo la la.

That: Somewhere on the interwebs I read that the first "Christmas song" was written in the 16th century. If that's true, we've got over 400 years of awesome music to choose from this time of year. I'm not saying it's all great and I'm not saying I want to listen to only orchestral chamber music this time of year. But maybe, just maybe, for Christmas 2012 could we skip "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas"? Please, pretty please! 


gift giving…unwrapped

Overzealous gift giver? (arms flailing wildly) Me, me…over here!

I really love giving gifts, like really. And even though I'm definitely not rolling in the dough, I have to consciously try (especially at Christmas) to not over-gift. My mom wisely reminds me on occasion that over-gifting is not only unnecessary, but can leave your recipient feeling bad about not doing enough in return…which makes the whole exchange less fun. 

So, I recently came across a new simple-gifting practice that I really like. It's the 4-gift rule and goes like this:
  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear
  • something to read

And bam! (Emeril style) that's it. You've covered all the major bases and eliminated the just-for-fun-but-ultimately-a-waste-of-money gifts (you know the ones—usually courtesy of your local Walgreens and purchased less than 3 days before Christmas). Although these gifts can bring a brief laugh or smile, and even though they count towards having more fun things to open…in the end, they are lacking. 

Given the current economy, I think adopting a simple gift-giving philosophy is wise…especially for Christians, as we are directly called to be good stewards of our blessings and time. Yes, this may mean less presents to open Christmas morning (though 4 is still a lot in my opinion)…but instead, considering spending that extra time reading a devotional, eating breakfast together, or doing a family activity. I don't have kids yet, but I hope when I do, this will be a practice we adopt. If you want to read more about the a simple gift giving philosophy, Simple Mom has some words of wisdom to share here. I also want to share this cute printable wish list sheet for you to use if you want to take part in the fun (originally via Pinterest):

So what is your gift giving philosophy, especially for teaching the kiddos? (no Dudley Dursley-s out there, I hope!)

And check back on Friday to see what's on my wish list…plus, a cool announcement!


tuesday tunes: old favs, new finds

I've got two awesome musical treats to share today and I'm really excited about both.

First up is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs (which I'm totally allowed to post now that Thanksgiving is over). It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Christmas and of jazz, so this time of year my cd player is blasting all the greats: Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing, etc. My absolute favorite-favorite songs will be posted a little later in Dec, but for now, here is one of my top 5, sung by the ever-lovely and heartwarming, Judy Garland:

Next is a incredible twist on what I consider my single favorite piece of classical music eva: the Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G. You can see the original version here, but today I had to share new version by a mind-blowing cellist who is just so talented and fun. You've probably already heard of The Piano Guys because I'm lame and always seem to hear about cool things last, but he's taken Mr. Bach's cello suite and turned it in to a jam session for cellos…all played by him! Seriously, you gotta check this out:


Advent with a side of perspective

Like many churches around the world, we lit the purple candle of peace this past weekend and celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. While I sat in the choir loft watching that little dancing flame, it suddenly occurred to me that I have no idea what Advent really is. At some point in my childhood, I remember owning one of those open-a-door-and-get-some-candy calendars, but that’s about it. After a bit of Google-magic, here is a synopsis of what I found:

Advent is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.” It comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming”. There was also a good bit about the candles and symbolism, but I was less interested in that part right now. In addition, Advent offers not only a chance to remember “the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah” but also the chance to “be alert for his Second Coming”.

Talk about incredibly timely information there—because let me just tell you—I am becoming the queen of waiting. Seriously. It seems like just about the only thing I do these days. Waiting for the raise I was promised last January, waiting to see what the plan is for Strider and I post-graduation, waiting in lines to buy presents, waiting for my next ASL class to start, waiting in traffic, waiting on my sister to finally come home for Christmas (19 days!!), waiting for The Hobbit to come out, waiting for Christmas and it’s blessed PTO…just so. much. waiting. 
(Hey, I never said I did it well.)

But the truth is…I, Sarah, am a petulant, whiny child. I want, I want, I want…. 

And today, I was reminded of just how petty all my “waiting” really is. Here we are, in the season of Advent and fretting about the holiday bustle, when 2,000 years ago, the world was desperate for their Messiah to arrive, desperately waiting to know that God was going to fulfill His promises to them. And Mary, likely just 14 or 15 years old, was riding a donkey across the country and waiting to give birth—scary even under the best of circumstances. Talk about putting my waiting into perspective!

So I’m going to try to take all my frustration and energy spent on my “waiting”, and turn it in to authentic preparation for the celebration of the arrival of my Messiah. It seems harder for us to do this today because we know the end of the story—Jesus came—God showed up. In that tiny manger, He did exactly what He said He would. And since we don’t know how our story will turn out, it’s much easier to focus on our own problems. The beauty is that He knows—just as He knew how the birth of Jesus would come about, He already has an incredible plan for us. So I’m telling myself to stop fretting, and instead to spend some time expectantly preparing my heart for what it really means for Jesus to be born on Earth...as one of us.

It’s easy to complain this time of year about grumpy shoppers and bad weather and not getting what we wanted under the tree—we really know how to put the vent back in Advent. But I want more out of this season…I want to celebrate like the Magi did…dropping everything and traveling far to see the one true King. 

And for a little holiday music to help your spirit into the right mood, I’d recommend:

How do you prepare your heart during Advent?


1,128 days

1,128 days ago, I met the man who would change everything.
And 1,096 days ago, we started dating. That's right, 3 years and one leap day, today.
I've already shared the story of how we met and about his nickname, but this is the mushy post where I tell you how much I love him and how much the last 3 years have meant to me.

When I was younger my "dream guy" list went something like this: super tall, big and muscle-y, cool beard, doesn't watch sports too much, sense of humor, and super popular. Frankly, other than a great sense of humor, Strider is almost none of those (though he is a pretty popular guy). 

And let me tell you, when we first met, neither of us thought it was going anywhere. I was weeks away from signing my final contract with the Peace Corps and headed to Africa for 2 years to teach English. He, well...he was a freshman...I was a senior. He was cute, but kinda goofy and didn't quite "fit the bill" for what I had in mind. Coming off a rocky high school breakup, he wanted nothing to do with dating at all. All I can say is that it's a good thing God doesn't make His plans based on ours. During our first date, Strider even admitted later that he thought, "Crap, I really like this girl." But somehow over chai, Harry Potter, lots of laughing, and one really awesome fort, it happened. 

So, to you, my Strider: You challenge me to be better every day and you love me in a way I felt I would never deserve, which both humbles me and blesses me daily. As I wrote in your card (which you'll be receiving later this evening), some people say their life "didn't begin" till they met their match, but that just isn't true. I lived a lot of years of joy and heartache alike before I met you. The last 3 years have been the happiest of my life, and even though my life began well before we met, I also know that I can't imagine my future without you. You're silly and imperfect and wonderful in so many ways, and I love you!

And to others waiting for that "right" person: Keep waiting! Don't ever feel like you don't deserve a love beyond your imagining. Don't give up because it hasn't happened by the time you thought it would. And for goodness sakes, throw out your "perfect guy" list, because from my experience, you're probably thinking too small. I, for one, am sure glad God didn't bring my "perfect guy"--what I had imagined to be the best, would now fall so far short of what God had in store. Prepare your heart, practice love, and seek Christ first, knowing that His plan will provide.

I don't know what will come next and we certainly haven't reached our "happily ever after", but I'm glad, because I'm thrilled about all that's yet to come! Thank you for an unbelievable three years!