Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23

That's today!

The weather outside is AMAZING!! It's been drizzly/rainy all day, & in the low 60's. It's like winter! I have one window open & it is actually cooling my house - am I still in Texas?! On days like this I think it is a MUST to have some comfort food for dinner. I didn't know the weather would be like this when meal planning, but it just so happens I have a turkey-rice deal in the crock-pot, which is filling my house with yummy smells. I can't believe it's almost time to bust out the chicken & dumplings & cranberry chicken & apple cider stew recipes!!

So today just so happens to be the day Josh & I started "dating" in 2005 & the day we got engaged in 2006. Now obviously wedding anniversaries are really important & fun to celebrate. I'll always remember every detail of that day even though it sped by. However, September 23 is a day that we celebrate because it was a special day too. It represents the day that I stepped out in faith & obedience - which doesn't sound romantic at all, but the year that Josh pursued me, when I wouldn't date him, God had a lot to do in my heart in preparation. & September 23, 2005 represents the cumulation of lots of prayer & growth, on Josh's part too, in us beginning this life-long relationship. The next year's September 23 was obviously another day that represented lots of prayer & seeking the Lord regarding our future (even tho when I said I'd date him, I knew I was saying I'd marry him - once we were dating we had no question whether or not we'd get married). So, I like to remember this day, in 2005 when Hurricane Rita was blowing into Texas & most of College Station cleared out in fear of their lives & Josh & I sat in Carino's while I barely ate because I knew I had to tell him I was ready to say yes, then in 2006 on our one-year anniversary, when I had wondered if we'd get engaged that night but had convinced myself we wouldn't, & we went to Christopher's for dinner then to Research Park & God stopped the rain for about 20 minutes for the proposal. It's so good to see His faithfulness in our relationship & how He prepared us for each step.

September 23 is a good day. :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Italy part 4 - Rome (Roma)

We got into Rome that evening, found the hotel, then went to get some gelato before bed. :-)

Friday morning, we had our last tour. We saw an Egyptian pillar from 600 BC – I was amazed that we were looking at something that was older than the time of Christ, closer to the time when Isaiah was alive & prophesying… it truly was mind-boggling to me! We went to the Pantheon, which was built in the second century AD as a pagan temple, then in the 4th century, during Constantine’s rule when Christianity was made the official religion of Rome, it was turned into a church. Our tour ended at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. St. Peter’s is HUGE. Lots of marble & gold everywhere. You almost get desensitized to the ornate beauty over there. We went below the basilica, where the past popes are all memorialized, & also down there are the remains of Peter. PETER – who walked with Jesus, betrayed Him, died for Him. I still am in awe of it. It makes that time & those people seem so much more REAL when you are there – these people & stories you have heard of in church for years, you start to see more clearly when you walk where they walked, & see where they lie. It’s hard to explain but I was really moved by seeing some of the things we did.

We then went to the Vatican, which is basically a huge museum full of marble, crazy detailed architecture, & painted ceilings. The Sistine Chapel is at the end. It was pretty, but after seeing all the world-renowned buildings & art we had already seen, I wasn’t super impressed. My parents & my sister were staying a few days longer in Rome, so they took the subway back to the hotel to relax, but Josh & I like to go full-force so we can see & do all we can, so we walked back, going through the Piazza Navona (where Josh bought his Murano glass, finally), back by the Pantheon, stopping for gelato & checking out the front of an old temple, tossing coins over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain, then stopping for a cappuccino & espresso (for 1.80 Euro!) then at a market on the way back. Josh got some blue cheese & I got a couple chocolates (the guy behind the counter did not speak English, so it was funny seeing Josh try to tell him how much cheese he wanted). We would have loved to have had more time to relax, go into markets & buy cheese & fruit for a meal, etc. Next time, next time.

Saturday was a busy day, since it was our last day there & there is SO MUCH to see in Rome. We headed to ancient Rome & started out in the Roman ruins. Again, one of those experiences I can’t really put into words. I love seeing old ruins, imagining what it used to look like, who used to walk around there. Then we went inside the Colosseum. Again, imagining what it was like when it was being used… it was a solemn experience as well, knowing there were Christians killed there in between Jesus’ time & the time of Constantine in the 300's. Seeing all of this was really an experience unlike any other in my life.

After a lunch break, we headed up to a church that contained chains that held Peter. I’m sure you’re getting tired of me saying this, but you’ll hear it again – just in awe. I had heard about a prison where Peter & Paul were held at separate times, but we had yet to hear about it in Rome or see it on a map, so Josh tried hard to find out where it was, & once we had an idea we set out. After asking a couple other Italians for help, fighting the language barrier, & taking a gelato break (you probably see this happened a lot), we finally found it. We went down below the earth, into a dark room where Paul & Peter had been imprisoned. I could’ve stayed down there a while, soaking it all in. But instead, we headed out, & viewed the Santa Maria Maggiore, a massive church, then took the subway up to the Piazza di Spagna, then walked to the Spanish Steps, where we met my family before dinner. I didn’t get the big deal with the Spanish Steps… there were about a million & a half people there & they were just… steps. Probably pretty if there are only about 25 people there. After dinner we had gelato one last time before we headed out to the airport the next morning.

Summary of Rome: I think since we had just come from Florence, which was more small-town, countryside Italy, we were a little disappointed being in big, busy, industrialized Rome, but the more I look back, we really saw some amazing things, & I did enjoy the city. There is so much more we could have seen too, so I would like to go back if the opportunity presented itself.

The Pantheon - it still has the original doors that weigh 2 tons each, & only take one person to open them

The Roman ruins, with the Coliseum in the background

Peter's chains

The memorial for Peter & Paul down where they were imprisoned - note the upside-down cross

Monday, September 21, 2009

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our church hands out a study guide for the week with questions about the sermon from that day, as well as scripture & questions to prepare you for the next Sunday's sermon. On today's section, it asked me to write out ten things I am thankful to the Lord for, as part of worship. It's easy, I think, to think of general things, like health, relationships, etc., so I felt led to write out things I was thankful for in regard to my relationship with the Lord. I was able to think about the things He has shown me recently, as well as His characteristics that have been revealed to me, write them out, & just THANK HIM for them.

How often do we just sit & think about how the Lord has related to us? How He has proven Himself faithful, how He has led us, how He has changed us, how much He values us & thinks we are beautiful & worthy & useful to Him, regardless of what the world tells us? He is deserving of CONSTANT praise, & if only I always remembered these things... if only I always saw myself how He sees me, if only I always found my worth & value in Him... I think we'd be different people. I know I would be.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good times with friends, & fall is coming!

We went to DC two weeks ago to hang out with Zac & Cara again, & of course we had a blast. Since we saw most of the sights last year, this trip was much more slow-paced. We did see the American History Museum of the Smithsonian, & Ford's Theater, which were both closed last year. I was slightly disappointed with the museum, as the part that they (you know, "they") talk about (Dorothy's red shoes, Kermit, etc) was actually very small. It was cool to see Julia Child's kitchen, after having seen the movie Julie & Julia. Ford's Theater was really cool... there is a museum in it that talks about Abe Lincoln & a few cool stories (as in, crazy, not like, wow cool he was shot! obviously), so that was neat. We went out to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, a couple hours from DC, ate some good fro-yo, & did some good hanging out. It was so good to spend time with them. Even tho we've only known Cara for a year, it feels like we've known her as long as we've known Zac; they are just good friends that we treasure.

We got back & had one day before we headed to Houston to spend time with friends there too! I spent some time with my friend Loren, who I have been friends with since junior high, talking about her upcoming wedding, then the rest of the weekend, I hung out with Kristin while Josh hung out with Aaron. It is so refreshing to spend time with friends who truly know you, who you feel completely comfortable with, having uplifting, encouraging, REAL conversations. Josh & I were really thankful to have spent lots of time this month with people we love!

Today Josh is fishing with his company off the coast, so I'm just relaxing before he gets back this afternoon. We are kicking off our new, revamped membership class tomorrow, & I have been working all week to get all the details together as well as make up for being out of town, so it's been good to just sit back & relax last night & this morning.

So, this summer was the hottest, driest summer in recorded San Antonio history. We had 59 days of over 100 degree weather, & the aquifer level continued to drop, resulting in limited lawn watering, therefore a very crispy, crunchy San Antonio. Last week we had a great few days of rain (our grass LOVED IT), & it is now hovering around 90 degrees - it will actually be in the 80s next week for a few days! I LOVE FALL so I have been trying not to let myself get too excited yet, considering it is still warm, but I see it coming - driving with the windows down, pumpkins & gourds, orange & red & brown, apple cider, jeans with a tshirt & a light jacket - oh I get so excited! Come fall, come!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I know I have neglected this thing in a big way - I have reasons! We were in DC from the 5-9, then Houston the 11-14, & now I'm so busy with church stuff - lots going on! However, I have to tell you, I am really enjoying the Pandora mix I've got going on while doing church stuff & cleaning the house for a meeting tomorrow. It's playing stuff like Howie Day, Gavin DeGraw, Mat Kearney, Matthew West, Jon McLaughlin, Matt Nathanson, & even Jeremy Camp & GooGoo Dolls have made appearances. It makes work much more enjoyable!!

I will blog about our travels soon!