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If You Only Knew

Chris has a penchant for cantaloupe (and basically every other fruit known to man). We went to the store the other night for a smoked sausage link to add to some veggies I was going to sauté for dinner and this is is what we ended up with.

We grow cantaloupe, watermelon and raspberries, but the raspberries are the only thing that’s ready right now. So, we’re still buying our cantaloupe and watermelon.

Last year, Chris and I got married right before cantaloupe season, so he was here for the bounty. There’s nothing better than a home-grown cantaloupe. That is why when Chris sees the squirrels eating them off the vine, he takes action aka gets the gun out.

This year, he’s trying to take precautions early by thinning out the squirrel population a little before the fruit gets here. Yesterday, he took aim at a squirrel on the bird feeder, but missed (in his defense, he’d just gotten done working out so his arms were a little worn out for proper aiming.) But, he managed to scare the little guy pretty well.

The reason I know this is because today, when I saw a squirrel at the bird feeder, he looked on guard. I’m almost certain it’s the same squirrel that was there yesterday. He was very cautious, waiting for the guy with the gun to come out barrels blazing.

And as I watched the squirrel, I thought, if he knew what I knew, he wouldn’t be afraid, because he’d know that the guy with the gun isn’t here right now. If he knew what I knew, he’d snack peacefully and not look over his shoulder. If he knew what I knew, he’d feel free to move about, playing with his bunny friend and taking advantage of whatever opportunities (or food) came his way.

And then I wondered, does God ever think that about us? Does He see us down here worrying over petty things that won’t matter, questioning if we’re going to be taken care of, wondering if our jobs, relationships, lives, are going to work out, and think “if they knew what I know, they’d know it’s taken care of”?

I saw a quote recently that said when you worry about something, if what you worry about really does happen, it’s like living through it twice.

When I take a step back, when I look at the God we serve, at what He has done and made possible in my life, worrying seems so silly.

If you knew what I know and more importantly, if you know Who I know, you’d realize that it’s all gonna be alright.

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3 am

Chris almost took out one of my apple trees with a zero turn mower yesterday. He says I’m being a little dramatic when I say “took out”, in his words, he bumped it. Regardless, I’m gonna watch out when I see him on that thing.

Baby peaches on one of our peach trees

When I found out he “bumped” into my two year old apple tree, he joked that I couldn’t even make him sleep in the guest room, if I wanted, for the misdemeanor. Why, you might ask? Because we’re already sleeping in our guest room this week.

Chris has suffered with allergies for over a month now, so on Monday, we were supposed to get a big rain and I hoped it would wash some of the pollen out of the air. I waited and waited and asked when it was going to rain all day and it finally came right about the time we were going to sleep.

I listened to the thunder, nodded off and slept hard until I heard Chris in the middle of the night, telling me to wake up.

Apparently, along with washing the pollen out of the air, the quick 8 inches of rain we got decided to wash into our master bedroom as well.

Chris made me aware of this at 3 am when he stepped out of bed, and into a puddle. He quickly dashed through the house, checked every room, and came back to give me the report, which I sleepily received.

I’m not sure if Chris married a very logical, nonchalant, or crazy person, but my response to him splashing around in our room was: Chris, it’s not that I’m not concerned but it’s 3 am and there’s nothing we can do about this right now, so go back to sleep and we’ll figure it out in the morning. Which I did.

I slept well for the rest of the night, woke up, and we handled it.

We ended up removing over 20 gallons of water from our room in total

Marriage is a funny thing because you bind yourself together for a lifetime with someone, not knowing what exactly that lifetime will bring with it. I didn’t go into marriage knowing how Chris would react to waking up with rain running into our floor. And I bet he sure never knew how I would react to that situation. In the grand scheme of things, it ended up being a minor inconvenience. But, for better or for worse, we signed up to weather whatever storms come together.

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America, Celebration, Family, Health, Summer, Travel

Bare Necessities

Leave it to my brother to come over to our house and make homemade mayonnaise. It’s a running joke for him that Chris and I never have what he deems that we “need”. Given, we were having a burger night and we didn’t have mayonnaise, so I guess he could make that point. However, neither Chris nor I like mayonnaise, so I can just as easily make the point that it isn’t something we need. Regardless, Jake made homemade mayo for those guests who required it and no one had a dry burger.

(Personal note: the good bulk of this post was written while on our honeymoon, so enjoy the warm, sunny photos while most of us are probably frozen in for the winter)

As a new couple, we’ve heard communication is key. Our communication is pretty good, but adding a second language to the mix while traveling for our honeymoon didn’t help. Our flight was routed through Panama City, and on our flight from Panama to Costa Rica, we were assigned to boarding group E. Chris, realizing that they would call all announcements in Spanish, asked me if they would say E or if it would sound different. I was absorbed in trying to read the signs in Spanish around us and thought he was asking me about the Spanish “y”, which is pronounced like the letter E and means “and” in Spanish. So, I said, “yes, ‘and’ is pronounced E”, which totally confused him. After a few more seconds, we finally got on the same page, and luckily on the same flight.

So, let me give you a brief overview of our honeymoon. It was beautiful. Tiers of natural thermal springs, running through the rainforest, like our own little personal hot tubs. We had an excellent time, this part of Costa Rica is one of my favorite places in the world.

The only slight downside to our trip was that the airline lost our luggage. Not like lost it, like it was delayed a few hours in getting delivered to our hotel. Lost it like we arrived on Sunday and our bag didn’t arrive until Thursday night.

At first, I was fine with it, then I became frustrated. But, such is life. My ever-prepared Chris made us pack an extra set of clothes and one bathing suit each in our carry-on bag, so we were pretty set for our first day of lounging in the hot springs. However, our zip lining and water rafting excursions required shoes that wouldn’t fall off, so our resort graciously gave us free transportation to the nearest town, which is how I ended up with these sweet $6 water shoes.

I also only had one t-shirt with us, which if you know me at all, is basically a state of emergency. So, on our trip into town, Chris was forced to go to about 10 souvenir shops with me as I scoured for a shirt I liked.

Shopping with me can be a painful experience of indecisiveness, but Chris was a trooper. When I finally found a shirt I liked, a blue tee with an cool zip-lining iguana on it wearing sunglasses, I asked Chris what he thought of it. His response was “it’s very you”, which shows just how well he knows me, because it is very me.

After I got my water shoes, iguana tee, and Chris got some hair gel, I felt much more settled. Maybe we didn’t need all of our stuff after all. Maybe we way over-packed. I definitely didn’t need all those t-shirts I packed. I had one with an iguana on it now. What more could I need? We both had shoes, dry clothes, a bathing suit, a towel.

But on a bigger scale, we had made it safely. We were well taken care of. We were healthy. And we had each other.

That’s really all we need.

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Chosen

Today, when my husband, who is going through orientation at his new job, was asked if anyone present was from a different country, he raised his hand. And when the speaker called on him and asked what country he was from, he responded: Texas.

If you know Chris at all, this comes as no surprise. Everyone laughed and he was called Texas for the rest of the day, much to his amusement. If you know Chris, it will also come as no surprise that he was fairly adamant that we have a Texas marriage license.

So, we got married. In Lubbock, Texas. A little over a month ago. Even up until a week before, I wasn’t sure where we would end up getting married at or when, but it finally happened.

We’ve received so much advice over the past six months of engagement, advice about relationships, being married, running a household, loving each other, raising babies, everything. And we’ve honestly loved it. We like hearing what has worked and not worked for other people, we like hearing about the trials and errors, the ups and downs, the good and the bad because we know we’re going to encounter it all too.

We did pre-marital counseling with a pastor friend of mine and it helped us so much. I would highly recommend it to any couples looking to get married. It started us thinking on a lot of different subjects that we hadn’t really gotten around to thinking about just yet. It was excellent.

However, that pastor friend went on an excursion to Alaska in early June and I was getting a bit impatient, so we found a preacher in Lubbock who would marry us on a moment’s notice. I had prayed a lot in the previous weeks about who to have marry us and where to get married and when the pieces fell into place, I knew it was the answer I’d been looking for.

Chris and I neither one had met this man before, but he asked to have lunch with us on the day of our wedding to talk things over with us. He talked to us about the spiritual implications of marriage, about how it is the representation of the perfect Love that Christ gives to the church, how our roles in our marriage will be the thing that reflects Christ’s love the most to each other in our lives and about how long lasting and life giving our marriage would be. He talked to us about challenges and victories that marriage will inevitably bring. But the thing that struck me most was when he talked to us about choices.

In his words, he told Chris: “when you met Brittney, there was no spotlight shining down on her, saying she was the one you had to marry, you made a choice to pursue her. And, same for Brittney, she made that choice for you as well.” He continued to say that marriage would require choices from us. Love and attraction are there, but would wax and wane. It’s the choices that we make, the daily choices: the choice to love, the choice to pursue, the choice to stay married, to tough it out when life gets hard, that would hold us together.

And that’s what marriage is. It’s a choice. Chris chose me. Among many other mate and life choices he could’ve made, he put me first. And I chose him. Among a lot of other choices I had, I chose to commit to him, to make him my life mate.

That funny, loyal, true blue, Texan to the core. That’s who I choose. Over and over again.

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Marstiller in the Making

I asked Chris if he wanted to try to recreate my parents look on their wedding day for our own wedding day, but he politely declined. I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t know where to find baby blue pants or if he doesn’t think he could grow a mustache that quickly, but I think we could come close to pulling it off!

Ray & Angela circa 1987

Chris & Brittney circa 2017

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Chris and I bought a house! It’s in a local community, surrounded by golf courses and lakes, and by default, retired people. Actually, I think the retired people came first, then built the lakes and golf courses. Either way, it suits both of us perfectly.

I love the house, it was built in 1983, so it was celebrating it’s seventh birthday when Chris and I were born. It’s a little older and probably a little wiser than the both of us, and I imagine it’ll teach us some pretty good life lessons over the next few years. It’s got some retro finishes, so we are updating a bit. Chris decided he didn’t like the dining room light fixture too much, so I think that’ll definitely go, if anyone is looking for something along these lines.

As much as I like the house though, I really like the neighbors. We haven’t even moved in yet and I am already getting so much entertainment. The day Chris and I went to look at the house, we walked down the (very steep) driveway to take a look at the bushes that block our view of the road out front. As we were down there, our neighbor from across the street came out to introduce herself.

She approached us and immediately said that anyone wearing Birkenstocks (which I wear about 90% of the time, with and without socks) was good in her book. She had on the same pair. Confirming that either she is pretty hip or I am a grandma. She and her husband had lived there since the early 90s and she knew all about our house. She told us the best way to back out of our driveway. She told Chris that he needed to trim the grass (much to our amusement since we hadn’t even officially closed on the house yet). And, she invited me to a weekly ladies luncheon meeting that she and the other ladies in the neighborhood meet for on Wednesdays at noon.

I thought about telling her that I have a day job and am not retired and therefore will not be able to make it, but I may wanna drop by sometime, so I left the invitation on the table. Jean and I might become good friends by the time it’s all said and done.

Along with the tips from Jean, we got an aloe plant and a St. Bernard’s lily from another lady in the community. And, the previous owners even left us a nice surprise, in the top of the closet, that Chris found while he was scraping our very 80s popcorn ceilings.

A used pregnancy test, positive in case you were wondering.

Let’s just say that maybe I am more amused by all of these happenings than he is, but he’s signed up for it: nosy neighbors, popcorn plaster, and me!

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Potatoes, Po-tah-toes

My mom wanted me to write another blog post, so here I am.

She was sitting behind me in church yesterday and leaned up and whispered in my ear that it had been too long since I’d written a blog post. Opportune time, mom.

She, apparently, doesn’t think I need some creative burst of inspiration to produce any sort of written materials. I just need her suggestion and that is enough.

I guess it is enough, because again, here I am. Maybe sometimes all we need is for someone to believe in us and tell us what to do. Maybe that’s the secret to life I’ve been missing.

Anyway, back to my mom. She obviously loves to see me practicing my hobbies, but there is one thing that comes around every Spring that she is not a huge fan of.

I love to grow sweet potatoes.

I love growing everything, but sweet potatoes were really my first love of gardening. I think it was just the fact that I’d never grown them before and I researched it and they were successful in the first year. This is really no thanks to me, as sweet potatoes are super easy to grow and do so without much coaxing.

But, in order to grow sweet potatoes, you have to have sweet potato plants. They don’t come up from seed or sprout in the ground like other potatoes do. They’re a different breed altogether.

Now, you can go to your local greenhouse or feed store and find the plants. But, you can also grow them really easily in your own kitchen and then transplant them outside into the garden once they are ready. And, the first year I grew them, I wanted to grow varieties that I couldn’t find pre-grown plants for, so I tried the kitchen method.

It looks like a bad effort at a science experiment at first. Which is what my mom dislikes about it.

You take half of a sweet potato, put toothpicks in it, pick out your favorite mason jars, fill them up with water, and set the potatoes in them.

And, you wait.

And, when you have guests over, you politely explain to them why you have mason jar, water potatoes adorning your windowsill.

It’s a weird process, I’ll admit. But, it’s effective.

About a month or so later, you’ll start seeing plants emerge from the potatoes, both underwater and above water. Eventually when they get a little better established, you cut them off the potato, keep the plant still in the water for a few days while they produce roots, then plant them in the ground outside and let them go all summer long.

I started my sweet potato project a little earlier this year and I’ve had two potatoes sitting in the windowsill for about two months now.

About a month ago, my mom said: I think this one isn’t going to do anything, you probably just want to scrap it. Which I knew was just her way of trying to clear out atleast one of the offenders from the windowsill. Nice try, mom.

What she didn’t know is that one of the sweet potatoes growing in the window is a white sweet potato. If you’ve never tried one, try them! They’re really moist and have a lighter flavor than the typical orange ones. The other potato growing in the window is a regular orange one. The white ones, I have observed, are much more prolific than the orange ones. This one was almost sprouting already when I put started it in the jar. The orange ones take more time.

If you compare only those two, side by side, it looks like the white one is much further ahead and that the orange one is a dud. But, if you study closely, with a sweet potato trained eye, you can see where the orange one is just barely barely barely getting ready to break through with a sprout. I also know this because I have some sweet potatoes growing in the window in my office (what can I say, I’m obsessed) and the white one there is further ahead than the orange one.

I’ve heard all my life that comparison is a killer of joy. If you spend your time looking side by side at other people’s lives, timelines, accomplishments, you’re going to be miserable and not be able to see the great place that you’re at yourself. These two potatoes are the same in almost all regards. But one is designed differently, it blooms faster. Not because it’s necessarily better, but just because it was time for it to bloom. In this age of social media, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the lives of others, to compare, to try to rush, to push to get ahead. But, maybe it’s not quite your time to shine yet. Maybe there are great things in store, just about ready to break ground. Maybe you shouldn’t scrap the plan, thinking it’ll never work. Maybe you should just sit where you’re at, keep growing and changing day by day and wait for your time.

Maybe we’re all just potatoes.

Update: today’s progress with the white vs orange

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The Marriage Bread

Chris recently said that he was “getting really tired of calling me his girlfriend.” Most girls would probably be a little bit offended by that, but I knew he was thinking about a title upgrade, not a title downgrade, so I let it slide.

I’m not really known for anything significant. Some people are known for being great swimmers or accomplished pianists, but I’m known for random things, like being able to tell the difference between cauliflower and broccoli plants, knowing the exact percentage of cotton in different t-shirts by just feeling them, and drinking an exorbitant amount of coffee every day.

And, apparently, bread baking.

I found a recipe for bread in my grandma’s local newspaper a few years ago. And like the dweeb I am, I cut it out and saved it. No new age Pinterest recipes for me! (Just kidding Pinterest, you know we’re buds.)

According to the article, people submit recipes all year long to the newspaper and at the end of the year someone chooses the favorite from each category. This just happened to be the best in bread and it sounded good, so I kept it.

I’d never made bread before, which should be a testament to how easy it is. However, I’ve made it multiple times for multiple people and everyone loves it and acts like I’m a magician for being able to make it.

When Chris and I started dating, I warned him that I was by no means a chef and didn’t cook super often. Then, I realized that was probably not the best thing to say to a potential suitor, so I followed it up with “but, I could feed you.” Yes. I really said those words. On our second date.

Which in my mind meant, I’m not a great cook, but I can cook and you won’t starve. He laughed because I’d worded it all in such a roundabout way. And, he kept dating me, so hey, not so bad!

Back to the bread. Chris met my extended family after we’d been dating for awhile and one of the first few questions he was asked was whether I’d made him bread yet. I hadn’t and my uncle said “just wait til you try the bread she makes, you’ll want to propose to her on the spot!”

We’d been dating about three months at this point and both found this to be a funny quip.

As we travel to see each other, we don’t cook together very often, so I still hadn’t made the infamous bread when Chris had been to see me. When he came in early December, I made a loaf and he claimed it was the best bread he’d ever had.

Now, was he just saying that because I was his girlfriend? Probably. I think he’s a bit biased. But, unbeknownst to me, he did ask my dad for his blessing to marry me that same weekend. Coincidence? Who knows, but the girl who regularly wears socks with sandals won him over somehow, so the bread theory is as good as any.

And a little over a month later, on our trip to Breckenridge, Chris conspired with another couple we were with and we drove out to Hoosier Pass on the Continental Divide and he proposed. And I said yes!

For breader or for worse.

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