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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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America, Architecture, Culture, Family, Funny, Garden, Outdoors, Summer

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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America, Celebration, Family, Farm, Garden, Health, History, Summer, Uncategorized

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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America, Celebration, Family, Farm, Food, Funny, Health, Uncategorized

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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America, Beauty, Celebration, Culture, Family, Funny, Uncategorized

A Movember to Remember

Did I mention I’m dating Santa Claus this year?

For the past few years, Chris has dressed up as Santa for a Christmas event at work. And his dear co-workers were nice enough to document this year for me by taking a few pictures.

At the beginning of our relationship, Chris and I discussed some things that we are involved in every year. Part of it was just “getting to know each other” talk and part of it was a “this is me, so prepare yourself now” talk. His Santa stint in December was on his list, but at the top of his list was Movember.

For those of you who have never heard of Movember, I hadn’t either. But, Chris warned me that come November, there would be an inevitable addition of facial hair. Movember is similar to “No Shave November” except that you grow only a mustache.

The Movember Foundation is the group who promotes the cause and was originally started in 2004 as a way to raise awareness for various men’s health issues.

Chris had shown me pictures of his Movember ‘stache of 2016 and informed me all along that he would be continuing the tradition in spite of having a girlfriend this year. So, of course, I conceded.

To answer any questions that have already been posed to me multiple times by multiple different people during the month:

-No, Chris didn’t put on a fake, stick-on mustache. It’s real, trust me, it’s really real.

– Yes, I do realize he bears a small resemblance to Mario

– No, I don’t hate it. I don’t love it either, but it’s manageable.

And finally, to pay proper homage to the month, I present a pictorial I have appropriately titled:

A Movember to Remember

Because when you have a mustache, adding a funny hat is a must, right?

Again with the funny hats. Although I’m told “all proper Texans need a Stetson”

I also introduced Chris to banchan (the Korean word for all the little dishes of condiments) during this month. Not that it had anything to do with the mustache. Except for that he had it at the time.

And finally, an up close and personal (which he didn’t know I was taking) to remember it in all of its glory.

Until next year:

The Man.

The Myth.

The Mustache.

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America, Animals, Canada, Family, Funny, Travel

Bear With Me

Can we just gloss over the fact that I haven’t written in what seems like forever? Can we also skip over the part where I wrote a post about our fishing excursion to Canada that we took in September, and then I promptly did not post it when we got home? Okay, good, moving forward, here’s my synopsis.

Never have I thought of so many good names for a post. Brittney and the Bear, Hodge Podge Lodge (my personal favorite), Dish Soap Daze, or What’s That Noise on my Front Porch? (never really in the running, but it does pull you in a bit, doesn’t it?)

Did you know that you can use Dawn dish soap as shampoo? Did you also know that packing for a trip is not really my forte’?

You can, in fact, use dish soap as shampoo. I know my mother is cringing to read this, but I also know that this will come as no surprise to her.

I never really pack any sort of toiletries when I travel. There are two reasons for this: 1) everyone always packs toiletries (except for, apparently, my dad) so I feel like it’s a waste to not just share 2) generally where I end up at, there will be some toiletries provided.

At a fish camp, the provision included only dish soap. Which was sitting by the kitchen sink and totally only assumed for such a use. However, for me, it’s doubling as shampoo.

Actually, ladies, it really is not half bad.

I feel like I am most in my element at a fish camp. I pretty much started fishing as soon as I could hold a fishing pole. There’s a precious picture of me and my grandpa when I was about 4 years old, down at our farm creek, and I’d caught* a little fish. (*I’m not sure if it counts as catching if someone else baits your hook, casts for you, gets the fish on the line, and lets you reel it in, but I was proud of my trophy, nonetheless). I also feel like I may have written about this before, so if I have and it’s somewhere back in the archives, I do apologize. I try hard not to repeat my stories, so if I ever do this in person, just tell me to tell you a different story and I can move on to something new. But, since I’m writing, you can’t tell me that, so you’ll just have to bear with me.

Speaking of bears, we met a couple on our 15 hour drive up to Canada that had hit an 80 lb bear cub that was precariously trying to cross the road. So, in case you were wondering what Canada is like, yes, it’s everything you’re imagining. Bears, pines, lakes, the whole nine yards.

My dad and I have been known for seeing wildlife while we’ve been in Canada the past few summers. We’ve seen moose and bears, but mostly just along the roads on the drive up there. We’ve never seen anything up close.

Until now.

On our final night in camp, we had a visitor. I woke up to a loud noise in the main room of our cabin and yelled at my dad in the next room to wake up. I was fairly certain someone was trying to break in and wasn’t sure what to do. But, my dad yelled back that it was probably just a bear. He went out to see what the commotion was and looked out the front window, on to the deck that overlooked the lake.

As it was the middle of the night and obviously dark, he couldn’t see anything and turned on the porch light, assuming that the noise maker would scurry as soon as the light came on. Little did he know, upon turning on the light, he would be standing face to face with a wild bear, who had clawed through the window screen and had its nose on the window glass, wanting to be let in.

He did run off, after my dad banged on the front door to scare him. Subsequently also scaring me. And making me want to run off. Never a dull moment with me and thanks to the dish soap, never a dull complexion. I may adopt dish soap into my daily routine after all.

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America, Celebration, Family, Food, Travel

Better Together

Today is the birthday of someone really special to me. That’s not exactly what this post is about, but it is Chris’ birthday and he is very special to me and he loves to make goofy faces when I take pictures of him. 

My birthday dinner date

I’m traveling to Lubbock to see him for his birthday, so I’m at the airport. In true fashion, I was running late after making a few t-shirt deliveries in the area, so I was a little all over the place to say the least. I had about thirty minutes to get through security and to my gate before boarding. I was in the security line, stringing all of my carefully packed belongings amongst 4 different bins (liquids, electronics, shoes/jacket, carry on tote) and also trying to put my actual carry on bag on the belt when I quickly apologized to the guy in line behind me for having my stuff all over the place. He replied without skipping a beat: “it’s okay, we’re all in this together”. 

I don’t know why, but that reply struck a chord with me today. After a few busy weeks in my work/personal life, after all the things that are happening in the world that are hard to understand, after all of the inhumanity that seems to be running rampant, after living in a world where everyone seems to only be interested in their needs, in their wants, in what is going on with them, it was a stark, shocking reminder that we are, in fact, all in this together. We need to support each other, to look beyond ourselves, to switch our mindset, to take a new look, and to see how we can do something, anything, the smallest thing, to help someone else out. Encourage someone today. Be the voice that goes against the grain and says, it’s alright, everything is gonna be just fine, we’ll face this together. 

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