A Little Visitor

Mr. Awesome and I live in the city. He was in the final stages of purchasing the condo when we met.

For the majority of my life I’ve lived either in suburbia or what you might call rural suburbia. Smaller towns, some with surrounding countryside. You get the picture.

If you had told me years ago that I would one day be living just off of one of the major roads of (what I consider to be) a good sized Midwestern city, I would have either laughed or despaired.

But Mr. Awesome is Mr. Awesome for a reason, and when he chose a nest, he chose well.

We live in an urban oasis. I’m within a couple miles of just about every store, restaurant, and office I could possibly need, yet I can look out our windows and see what you see above. And we get plenty of wildlife.

I opened the blinds in our guest room this morning to see this little guy resting by the stream:

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He stayed for about an hour and a half, but Mom must have come to fetch him, as there is no sign of him except the imprint left in the leaves, and the little bit of joy left on my morning. God truly can use the littlest things to put a smile on your face, brighten up your day, and remind you that He is on His throne.

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Words of Wisdom

The church I called home before Mr. Awesome and I married has a little tradition.

Each Sunday the congregation is asked if there are any birthdays or anniversaries. If your birthday or anniversary happens to fall on the preceding or coming week, you are sung to by said congregation as you go up to the front of the church and place a dollar or two in a plastic church shaped bank. The pastor then asks you to offer a few words of wisdom.

For years I watched as couples took the pulpit, offering advice on what they had learned over the tenure of their marriages. Some cracked jokes. Some made your eyes mist over. Many expressed the great need for patience with one another. Some testified to God’s goodness in leading them through pain, addiction, and loss, and some quoted Churchill (“Never, never, never give up”).

For years I wondered when it would be me up there with Mr. Right.

Unfortunately, our first anniversary (June 1) came and went without our being able to put a dollar or two in the miniature plastic church. But I’ve been thinking about what I might say if given the chance, and if given the chance, I think I might say two things:

First, let God choose your spouse. Marriage is challenging enough without wondering if you picked the right one. I can’t say how grateful I am for God leading me to Mr. Awesome, and for all of the confirmations He sprinkled throughout our courting days. Waiting on God’s timing was hardly easy, but it was more than worth it.

And second, I would read this:

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Before I got married, I don’t think I truly realized the infinite value of Christ’s statement here. Sure, it was something that popped into my head from time to time in response to a an unkind thought I’d had, or viscous word I’d uttered. But I think I realized its importance more fully in the first months of our marriage than ever before.

You see, Luke 6:31 is a brilliant litmus test for selfishness.

If I found myself getting worked up about something, or getting testy and disgruntled, it helped to stop and ask myself, how would I feel if Mr. Awesome was doing this to me? How would I feel if he said such-and-such to me? How would I respond if he said he didn’t want to do X? What would I think if he said he was going to do Y?

More often than not, the answer was that I really wouldn’t like it very much. So why should I act that way towards him?

I don’t remember Luke 6:31 as often as I should, but I believe the more often I do, the better wife I will be.

Those would be the words of wisdom I would offer.

 

Anniversary Trip Find: Vintage Noritake China

Purchasing fine china was never high on my to do list when Mr. Awesome and I got married. Acquiring a nice, sturdy set of Corelle dishes I was unlikely to break and wouldn’t take up much room in our kitchen cabinets was much more prominent on the list, and something my mother very kindly checked off last Christmas. That said, I found myself somewhat befuddled as Mr. Awesome and I speed walked back to our car from one of the many lovely antique shops in Marshall, Michigan to pick up a blue plastic tub of vintage china.

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Noritake “Althea” pattern c. 1933

It became apparent over our anniversary trip that I can actually take Mr. Awesome into antique shops. We weren’t in the above mentioned shop long before he found some small figurines that might work well for some of his games. While he looked through the little bags of soldiers and wizards, I browsed the rest of the store, not finding much that caught my eye. We both went to the lower level of the store and looked around, but nothing there either.

As we came back up the stairs I happened to glance into a large plastic tub with some plates in it.

“That’s pretty…”

The shop’s owner came over, and before I knew it I was agreeing to buy a fair amount of “vintage” plates made by a Japanese company. I knew nothing about the company and nothing about china, just what the tag in the tub said:

ViNTAge

NoRiTAKe ChiNA

“1933” ALTheA

$100.00 SET

We didn’t pay $100 for the set, which turned out to include twelve dinner plates, eleven dessert/salad plates, twelve saucers, seven cups, a serving bowl, a “casserole dish” (as the shop keeper called it), and a large serving platter.

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After getting back to our room at the bed & breakfast, I looked up Noritake China on my phone, and was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered. Far from having just bought cheap, low grade china from some unknown company, Noritake is still very much in business and, from what I could tell, well respected for their products with their vintage pieces sought after by collectors. I was also very happy to discover that the 1933 date seemed to be correct.

After Mr. Awesome and I got home, I washed the china as gently as I could and stacked it in a kitchen cabinet, which seemed sad and a bit of a waste. What a pity to hide something so pretty. Still, we hardly have room for the traditional china cupboard. Nothing to do but wait, I suppose.

Next day I started rooting around the internet for plate display ideas and came across some very appealing wall arrangements. Inspired, I went and grabbed the three scrolly iron plate holders Mr. Awesome and I used at our wedding reception. I took down the framed wall art and two candle sconces that were hanging in our dining room and hung the three plate holders in the nail holes that were left behind. I put two dinner plates on either side and the serving platter in the middle. It looked good, but needed more.

After a trip to Hobby Lobby, some praying (Please, Lord, help me make this look good), measuring, and a few screws, I stood back and saw this:

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I ended up purchasing two more of the scrolly iron holders, and some of the cheap wire hangers to hang the smaller plates. The cup holders were actually candle sconces I’ve had for years that were laying around in the garage.

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All in all, I’m super pleased with how it turned out, and I’m so glad that I can gawk at my anniversary souvenirs as much as I like without having to pull them out of a kitchen cabinet.

Anniversary Weekend at the National House Inn: Part 2

I spent nearly two months praying for excellent weather on our special weekend, and God certainly gave it to us. It was low 80s and sunny every day except for some rain the morning we left. Thank You Lord!

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The National House Inn has several rooms, each with their own name and decor. Mr. Awesome and I stayed in the Charles T. Gorham room that overlooks the Brooks Memorial Fountain and the traffic circle. During the day there was quite a bit of traffic noise, but it quieted down at night. Add to that the fact that we live in an urban area and the traffic didn’t bother us much at all.

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Gorham had high ceilings, three big, beautiful windows, and some lovely furnishings.

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IMG_0385This enormous wardrobe must have been nine or ten feet high, but unfortunately as many noted in the room’s guest book, it did not lead to Narnia.

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The little guest book was enjoyable to page through. We were hardly the first couple to celebrate our anniversary in the Gorham room. If I remember correctly, others have held their 1st, 33rd, 53rd, and 56th anniversaries in this room.

The dining room was light and airy, brimming with history. Each window you looked out framed another old house, perhaps not as old as the Inn but old enough to retain a peaceful sense of life slowing down to be enjoyed.

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 And what of breakfast? It was delicious.

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Each morning we had a choice of an egg dish, hard boiled eggs, cereal, fruit, a sweet pastry, toast, and freshly made waffles. Orange juice, water, coffee, and tea were there for the taking.

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The egg dish was very good, “exploding with flavor” as one guest put it. The lemon bread pictured about was fantastic, and the inn keeper very kindly gave me the recipe to take home. I’m also fairly sure the orange juice was fresh squeezed.

Besides breakfast, the Inn also served lemonade, iced tea, cookies, crackers, and cheese spread from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Homemade biscotti was always available, and if you wandered down to the entry in the evenings you could find popcorn.

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All in all, our experience at the National House Inn was fantastic. The atmosphere was peaceful, helping you forget everyday worries and just slow down to enjoy each breath you take. I doubt Mr. Awesome and I could have found a more romantic place to spend our first anniversary, and I’m looking forward to returning in the future.

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Anniversary Weekend at the National House Inn

Mr. Awesome and I were married one year on June 1. To celebrate we decided to take a trip, a belated honeymoon of sorts, since we stayed home and rested from our many travels the week after our wedding. We ended up going to a little town in Michigan called Marshall. In my internet ramblings I discovered that there was to be a Renaissance festival (something we both enjoy) the weekend of our anniversary at the fair grounds. Thinking this could potentially add up to an anniversary get away, I investigated a little deeper into what Marshall had to offer. It wasn’t long before I discovered the National House Inn, and boy, am I ever glad I did.

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This was our first experience with a bed & breakfast, and I have to say it has completely changed my outlook on traveling and lodging. Built in 1835, the Inn has been kept in beautiful, historical condition. Yes, some of the floor boards creek and our door squeaked when you opened it, but what do you expect from a place that was build well before the Civil War?

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One of the best parts of staying at the Inn was it’s location. As long as you’re up for a bit of a jaunt, you can enjoy most of Marshall on foot by stepping out the front door. We were even able to walk to our dinner reservations at Schuler’s Restaurant.

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The Inn was cozy, homey. The hospitality of the innkeeper and staff only made our stay even more comfortable.

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There wasn’t a lot of outdoor space, but what they had was charming.

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As you can probably tell, I had an extremely good time taking photos of this beautiful, old place. Perhaps too many to put into one simple blog post.

(to be continued…)

For His Birthday

I bet God was excited.

Incalculable millennia ago when existence as we know it was still only in His mind, I bet God looked forward to March 21, 1985.

Because He knew, you see. He knew on that day at 3:28 pm you would show up, and I bet He smiled. Smiled because you would be His. Smiled because of all you would do. Smiled because He could see the man you would become.

How could He not? He designed you.

You may think I make too much of a fuss over your birthday, but it really isn’t any wonder. Your birthday was a promise to me before I was even born that I would not walk this earth solo, and I treasure that. All of those years worrying I would always be alone and He had answered my prayers even before I had lips to pray.

So yes, I make a big deal about it. And I’m excited too.

Excited to be your wife. Excited to see who you will become and what you will do. Excited to be with you until the end.

And I’m so, so proud of you.

Happy birthday, Mr. Awesome.

For Those Who Are Still Waiting On Valentine’s Day

When Valentine’s feels like “Congratulations You’re Still Single” Day,

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

~ Psalm 40:1 (NLT)

and that pit of loneliness inside of you begins to rumble

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.

~ Psalm 40:2a (NLT)

you wonder if you will ever be happy,

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.

~ Psalm 40:3 (NLT)

and if God really cares about how miserable you are.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

~ Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

You feel like giving up

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God!

~ Psalm 42:5 (NLT)

and you’re tired of waiting.

For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!

~Isaiah 64:4 (NLT)

You question whether or not God cares about this part of your life

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

~ Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

and wonder if He will answer your prayers.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior.

~ Psalm 65:5 (NLT)

You are not alone while you wait,

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

~ Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
He will take care of you,
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
~ Psalm 23:4 (NLT)
and even if you think your situation is impossible,
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

~ Matthew 19:26 (KJV)
don’t give up, don’t give in.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

~ Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Don’t sell out, don’t settle. Wait on God’s timing.

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.

~ Song of Solomon 3:5 (NLT)

One way or another, you will be so glad you did.