Mazal tov!

Forgive me; it has been several days since my last post. Many, many moons. Where to begin?? Let's see. Between then and now, the only happenings have been dinner with friends, a Nike running shoe hunt, and a couple of lost football games. That, and a soggy camping trip to Cataloochie. Oh, and a few Super Target trips, one involving copious amounts of tropical flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans. Mmmm. Guilty pleasure.

Other than that, I'm gearing up for Christmas. You chuckle, but I am so. completely. serious. I'm trying to be patient, though, and enjoy the delights of fall first. I even promised myself I wouldn't buy a pumpkin until October. One more day to go! I've wondered at the glossy pages in Martha's October issue of Martha Stewart Living, wishing for the luxury of a pumpkin patch in our little side yard. I've perused the shelves at Target and Homegoods and even surfed the net on Pottery Barn looking at vine wreathes and faux garlands, all trimmed with fall trappings. I've haggled over prices, inquiring "can I find it cheaper??" I've contemplated setting out with my utility scissors to hack away at the perfectly landscaped bushes around our apartment complex, trying to create depth, texture, color with the different branches of trees that have already started to turn. I did cave and buy a candle. So shoot me, it's a candle. It's called ambiance, people!

Andrew and I are also trying to figure out what we're going to be for Halloween. (Provided we have somewhere to go...heck, we might get dressed up and then watch a movie. Ha!) We've thought about being a Bride and Groom (hey, I get to wear my dress again), Mother Nature and Father Time, Pilgrim and a Native American (you like that PC lingo?), orrr maybe we will be a nurse and a water filtrationist. Gotcha! ;) We're still brainstorming. It will come together. It always does.

Last night Joanna and Graham came over and Joanna and I stuffed, stamped and addressed the remaining invitations for their November wedding. I've realized that now that I'm on the other side of my own wedding, and knowing all of the excitement, anxiety, joy, frustration, delight--it's just icing on the cake to help other people do things for their own weddings! And I love icing!

Among other things, I'm going to Clemson to rendezvous with Jennigray, Kelly and Lauren, and of course my Tea Time girls. My excitement level is such that I'm having trouble deciding what to wear. Out of control. As previously discussed, we will most definitely lie on the floor and giggle for at least the first three hours, and not a minute less. The times they are a-changin'.

In my recipe box I've stacked a few freshly torn pages from magazines, one with creamy pumpkin soup, another with apple honey challah bread. I can't wait to try both of them. The soup, however, calls for real pumpkin. The only things I've ever done with a pumpkin involve putting a face on it's front and a candle in it's belly, or baking the seeds to a salty, delicious preschool snack (yep, I'm talkin' pre-K). This says to actually cook the real, live pumpkin and then make it into a soup. It sounds good. It looks good. I'm willing to give it a try. Here's hoping: L'chaim! The challah isn't as much of a mystery, but it does call for three separate rising periods, i.e. an entire day devoted to one loaf. I'm definitely going to tackle this one--just don't call me Yente.

Andrew's working on a lab report involving honeycomb shapes and arrows and subscripts and I'm reporting live from the couch next to him. It's times like these that it helps to remember: there have always been times like these.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm a cook.

So says the bottle of Stubb's barbeque sauce that graced our table last evening as we feasted on a bleu cheese meatloaf that almost wasn't. By almost wasn't, I mean...well, I'll get to that when I get to it.

This past weekend, Andrew and I zoom-zoomed down to Charleston in our tricked out Tacoma with the flashy black rims ;) to take part in Angela and Stephen's wedding--it really was a beautiful wedding, held in the first Catholic church in the United States, I believe, and still the "mother" Catholic church for Georgia and the Carolinas. The sanctuary was just breathtaking--small in square footage, but the paintings and the stained glass and the statues and carvings on the altar--just beautiful. It was slightly familiar having grown up Episcopalian, at least with the liturgy and knowing what to say and when to say it. The service wasn't as complicated as some masses can be, or even traditional Episcopalian services. The old saying in the Episcopal church is "stand and sit and kneel and stand, kneel and stand". Kind of like taking a yoga class--you feel pretty limbered up when you leave. But really, what struck me about the service and the sanctuary really was the reverence of it. The knowing that you are in God's house. The God of the Universe. Mmmm. It gives me chills. When I was in Italy a handful of summers ago, I got the same feeling in many of the cathedrals that we visited. Just breathtaking. I'd love to go back someday.

Saturday evening, post-wedding festivities, Andrew and I piled back into the truck, (including an armchair from my parent's house so that we have somewhere to seat guests in our apartment), and came home to make it to a leadership class at church on Sunday morning. I'm absolutely electrified about this time in our lives; about finding the Lord's vision for us (Proverbs 29:18) and living into it--this time for building the edifice of our faith. The foundation has been laid--and sturdily-- by our families and friends and the churches of our childhoods, and of course by the Holy Spirit, and now we are coming into a new season of putting up the framework for what's next (don't ask me what's next, I'm praying, praying, praying!). We're out of diapers, the training wheels are off, and--look, Ma! No hands! I am so thankful for the church I grew up in--St. Andrew's-- and the Saints I was mentored by--all pointing to the Father, telling me to press into Him, to find the good way, the ancient path, and walk in it (Jeremiah 6:16). And I'm thankful to my King, the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ, who never, ever lets go of my hand. The narrow pathway through the needle's eye/I'm stepping forward to the place I die.

Sunday was a whirlwind in and of itself, filled with blessing after blessing after blessing after blessing. Isn't that just like God?? We went to lunch with Duncan and Kate and some others at Jason's Deli after the service, a place where the ice-cream flows like Niagara Falls--and it's fo' free--and then headed home to recoup after a speedy-Pete weekend. I took a nap and Andrew did work. Later, we went to Graham's apartment for supper--homemade lasagna-- with him and Joanna and to play corn-hole for a bit. A delightful evening with friends. :)

So now, the meatloaf. What started as a yummy concoction of ground beef and sausage and bleu cheese and stewed tomatoes, ended as a smoke filled apartment with my husband waiving the dishtowel around the smoke alarm, like the white flag of surrender to the perils of newlywed cooking. My loaf was indeed just that--a loaf of meat--waaaaaay too big for the pan I put it in-- it dripped grease all in the bottom of the oven, subsequently filling our apartment with smoke to rival the California forest fires, and leaving Andrew and me discussing "what would we take?" if our apartment were to go up in flames. Andrew said his Osprey bag--it has his computer, Bible, journal and everything he needs in it. I said my guitar and my Kitchen-aide mixer. Ha! How different we are. So anyway, the meatloaf basically just made a huge mess and forced us to crack the windows for the rest of the evening, but it still tasted delicious. Moral of the story? Divide the loaf into two next time. Maybe then the apartment won't turn into Smokey the Bear's den. Still, Andrew had to remind me that I'm a great cook and that he loves meatloaf. So he pointed at the slogan on the bottle of Stubb's and said, "this is how you should introduce yourself from now on: Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm a cook."

And so I am. :)

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. ISAIAH 42:16


Peanuts from the gallery

When one begins a blog post, it's usually because they have something to say. I'm not sure what I have to say, so I'll let my fingertips do the talking.

My parents came up on Friday to enjoy a weekend away--the weather held up and their "guest suite" had more square footage than our apartment, so I'd say they were pretty comfortable. Mom brought me a Pathos plant, aka "Devil's Ivy", a lovely, draping green and yellow leafed climber. We had a night in on Friday, hanging out, eating supper, drinking wine, and generally catching up and enjoying one another's company. Saturday was a "step up and swing" day--we went to the Duke gardens and wandered around the foliage like characters in a Shakespearean play, lunched at Milltown--an amazing hole in the wall in Carrboro--and poked around Carrboro a little bit before heading home to try and catch the opening games of college football season. Might I add, Go Tigers!

Sunday we went to our church, Catch the Fire Raleigh, the first US church plant of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship by Duncan and Kate Smith. I can give the Lord praise for leading us there--we almost didn't make it, in fact the first Sunday we went we actually had the wrong address, but we made it nonetheless, with a little help from Mama on the internet. We snuck in late to find the entire Shuttleworth family peppered across the congregation. That was the Lord's first big "I love you, MG", and I spent practically the entire service boohooing. Our prayer in finding a church family like CTF was what we thought slim to none, but we found it the second weekend we were here. Hm. More like it found us. It is a people that is overtly passionate about the Truth of Jesus Christ and him crucified, the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent love of the Father, and the ministering of the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit--and the inherent veracity and authority of Scripture. It is a place where we are made uncomfortable with the status quo. It is an environment in which we feel we will be challenged and grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Shoot, we already are being challenged!

Monday was Labor Day, a holiday started by Canadian unions and gleefully enjoyed by Americans, and I woke up to Andrew cooking us a delightful breakfast of waffles and turkey sausage. What a phenomenal husband I have.

Last night I watched the President's healthcare address to the Congress and to the nation--a speech marked by bipartisan efforts as well as polarizing statements. I think it's a good start, but there's still a lot of work to be done. And that's all I have to say about that.

This weekend, we're headed to Charleston for Angela's wedding and so see the fam, and hopefully we'll make it back here in time for our leadership class at CTF on Sunday morning. Tonight the Tigers play Georgia Tech, there's another episode of Project Runway, and we're getting Pretty in Pink from Netflix. What to do, what to do.

In a nutshell.


The countenance of the body of Christ

...is lovely. and familiar. and sweet to look upon. In the last weeks, the Lord has repeatedly shown himself to me in this unfamiliar place to be familiar, to be family. His love and compassion is in the face of a high school friend, a British exchange student, a sister of a sister, and a newly engaged couple. I'm beginning to understand the transcending nature of the body of Christ, this family of believers. Something recognizable that can only be explained as the ruddy complexion of one who knows the One you know as Savior, Friend, Lover, Father. It is a giddy, heart squeezing feeling to be in the company of a person or people that know you as you, and at the same time to realize that it's not those people or anything they have to offer you, but the Holy Spirit, coaxing you to believe in the Truth that he knows you better than you know yourself. That he picks up on the details, in fact, he created you that way. Wonder of wonders, Miracle of miracles!

Enter September, stage left. She totes a late summer breeze on her arm and the turning of the leaves on her heels.

I truly can't wait for autumn-- the crisp fall breeze, the pumpkins, the smell of cinnamon, hot apple cider--life in the candlelit glow of brick reds, burnt oranges, tawny browns, gilded yellows. The world takes a deep breath and hunkers down with a cozy blanket and a good book. Call me Martha Stewart (without the criminal record), but I love fall almost as much as I love Christmas. Almost. In fact, one of the great things about fall is the ushering in of winter, the season that holds Christmas cheer and Yuletide greetings. But, I digress. My excitement is for fall, and all that she brings with her. And all that I hope she brings with her. Hope, hope, hope.

Mama and Dad Smith are coming this weekend, to see our apartment and get a taste of RTP life. There's talk of botanical gardens, the Morehead planetarium, and generally bashing around town seeing what there is to see. It will be as much of an adventure for me as it will be for them. Playing tourist in your own town is a great idea, methinks. Someday I will be able to be the part of tour guide, but for now it's Google and my GPS leading the way. As for good-eats, tonight's menu is leftover fajitas, with a side of Project Runway--tomorrow's welcome meal is pork chops and applesauce with rosemary sweet potatoes and Granna's canned green beans. As for dessert, I'm thinking chocolate. Let's be serious, I'm always thinking chocolate. Bon appetit!

Once upon a time, in a faraway land there lived a princess, chasing after a God who was chasing after her. And they lived hopefully ever after. Ever hopeful after that. Full of hope for a miracle. Wonder of wonders, Miracle of miracles. Is it here yet, Lord?