Sunday, May 20, 2012

still going strong

While we were high on cloud nine with our fresh engagement, there was still a move away to college that was coming up. 

A few weeks later found us saying goodbye outside my dorm.

Soon though, Ed got a job in the city I was attending college and was only now only 10 minutes away. 

We decided on a date for the wedding that was only months away. Even though I was still in college, and had many years to go, we knew it was best for us to get married soon. (I don't encourage anyone to get engaged at 19 and married at's not all flowers and butterflies...but thank Jesus it worked for us.)

Wedding plans started swirling in between classes, work and a trip to Italy. Soon the end of the school year came and went and it was time for a wedding!

May 20, 1995 dawned sunny and beautiful. It wasn't warm, but not frigid either (you never know what you'll get living in Michigan). The day's activities began with getting my hair all done up and the veil attached. Then it was off to the church to get ready. 

My mom was finishing up the touches of the wedding cake (I knew exactly what I wanted years before I even met Ed. My mom was a professional baker, so I saw many a wedding cake over my growing up years and had mine picked out well in advance).

All the pew bows were in place. The candelabras were set up and ready to be lit. 

The gym was all set for the celebration after the "I-do's".

Only thing left was getting the dress on and to say cheese for some pictures.

1:00 came and went. The auditorium was filled with hundreds of people. I finally made my way to the balcony while the slide show of Ed and I growing up came to an end (yes...a slide show. With actual slides..."uploading pictures to the computer" wasn't an option at that point in time).

I cued the sound guy to start the music and stood at the edge of the balcony and sang "Say Once More" by Amy Grant to my husband-to-be as he stood down by the stage. This way, he was the very first one to see me, well before any guests had the chance.

Song sung and I had mere seconds to get down the stairs so I could then walk down the aisle (I have my friend Valerie to thank for that...hi Valerie! I miss you!) 

The rest was a blur. A couple hymns, something about the rings, some I-do's and then the smooch. A walk back up the aisle, then back down to greet/dismiss our guests row by row. Pictures, smiles, food, more smiles, and then a ride to the park in my youngest brother's limo to get more pictures taken by my oldest brother (I'm the youngest of five. Four brothers and then me.) The silence, flowers and peace were wonderful. 

All the fam and some friends descended upon my parents house to greet us after our photo shoot. A big thanks goes out to our friend Jerry, who was the lucky one, along with my third oldest/second youngest brother, to drive our newly decorated "just married" car back to my parents house. That's as far as I'll go with that story...but way too funny not to mention!

A quick clothes change, opened some presents and then off we drove to begin our lives together. And again, people stood out on the lawn and waved goodbye to us. This time, I didn't mind.

May 20, 1995. The day our family began. Stars and love in our eyes and our whole lives before us. A blank book to fill with stories and memories, hardships, laughter, tears and pain. A book I'm so thankful to still be writing in today. A book, I pray, that will have many, many more chapters in the years to come. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review of Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

We interrupt regular scheduling for a brief review of an amazing book!

When he lost his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job and set out on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how he found his own path to peace and freedom on a famous path through the wilderness. 

What an amazing book this is! Mr. Stutzman did a great job leading you through his journey of healing with humor and sadness mingled together while he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail all on his own.

I wasn't sure what this book was going to be like, but the author did a great job letting the reader into a part of his life and journey with him. Heart breaking, yet heart healing, I believe anyone would enjoy this book.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Baker Publishing sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions are my own.

strolling along

If this is your first time visiting and you'd like to read this story from the beginning, you can scroll back up to Monday's post to find out how our story began.

Fall quickly approached. I was starting my 2nd year of college, but instead of staying in town to attend school, I was moving away. The summer was coming to a close and my moving date approached.

We were trying to get in as much time together.

One such evening, we were headed out for a picnic dinner. To MSU we went (yes...we went there a lot).

I remember it being a warm summer evening (ok...I was just informed that it wasn't a warm evening after all. It was a cool, look-liked-it-was-going-to-rain evening. *I must have just been remembering it being warm because it brings back warm fuzzy feelings.). As we walked across the landscape Ed started up a conversation. Honestly, I was half listening as I was looking at all the beautiful flowers while we strolled.

I heard, "This place holds a lot of memories for me. I remember my mom and I coming here to listen to the bells at Beaumont Tower. I rode my bike to classes on this campus. This was where I was going to tell you that I loved you for the first time. But the best memory I'll have is when I asked you to marry me."


Wait. WHAT?

I look over and sure enough, he was down on one knee. He had to ask again in between my "no way" and "you're not serious" comments.

He was serious though. The ring he held in his hand showed just how serious he was.

With a beaming smile, I said yes.

And that, my friends, is not even the rest of the story.

*insert gushiness here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The dating dance

And so the dating dance began. And what a dance it was.

Everything started out great. I even had my first kiss (and he was such a gentleman - he even asked my permission first.)

But one little hiccup happened many months in.

The evening started out like any other date. He picked me up and we were headed to a movie. He made the statement, "I have something I'd like to talk to you about later."

That statement set the course for a very interesting evening, and even for the weeks to come.

I got nervous. Really nervous.

We sat through the movie and then went out to dinner.

Nerves intensifying along the way.

We then headed to MSU to chat. He parked, we started walking and ended up at Beaumont Tower on campus. By this time I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous. I excused myself from our conversation and walked away to try and calm myself down. That sure didn't work.

He says I got sick, but I don't recall that happening.

I do remember however, the drive back to my house and telling him to pull over while I lost my dinner along side the road. romantic.

We never did have the chat that night. (And he just wanted to tell me that he loved me!)

For weeks (possibly's all a blur) to come, I battled with getting sick on dates. Yet he stayed ever so patient and gave me the space I needed.

It got so bad that at one point I broke things off. That lasted one day.

That's when I knew I had it bad for this guy.

The two hour parking lot chats transformed into letters once the school year started. Passed back and forth somehow throughout the week. Letters left on each other's windshields. Letters traded at church. Lots and lots of letters. Phrases of love and liking and funny pictures and day-to-day activities.

I graduated from high school that following spring. He graduated from college the same month. That summer I worked at the church as a custodian. We had lunch together every day, sharing smiles as we passed each other, blushing when he'd wink at me. Just knowing he was there made the day fly by.

We had a rhythm. Even through my first year of college.

Then things got a bit more interesting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A sly guy

July 24, 1992.

Our first date. My first date ever. I was a mere 17 years old (well beyond prime dating age...but I really didn't care.) I was beyond nervous.

The doorbell rang and I don't even know who answered it. The night was underway and I was swept into the excitement of my first date.

"Have her home by 10."

Out the door we went, into his red Chevy pickup truck and pulled out of the driveway.

And there they were. My family standing on the front porch waving goodbye. Maybe I'll do that to my daughter one day.

We were heading to an outdoor play at Michigan State University and then out to dinner. The butterflies must have had one too many shots of caffeine as they were going crazy in my stomach.

We made it to MSU's campus with small talk along the way. Got to our seats and the show started. We shared a Melting Moments ice cream cookie (it was delish) during intermission and settled in for the second part of the play.

At one point he snuggled up a little closer and said (these words I do remember), "My hands are really cold" as he slid one into mine.

Sly. Very sly.

Show was over and we headed back to his truck. I was curious as to where we were going to go for dinner. His words (again, verbatim), "I thought we would head to QD to pick up some sandwiches." My polite, shy self just smiled and nodded. Inside was another story. QD? REALLY?

Side note: QD aka Quality Dairy. Think of 7-11, but a place where you could also purchase milk in a bag, ice cream from behind the counter and hot dogs on the spin-o-matic. A very classy place for a first date.

Sure enough, we pull into the parking lot of a QD. I said I was going to stay in the truck while he went in to get his sandwich. I was the least bit hungry. He convinced me to come in with him. Those brown eyes got me every time! I obliged, got out and started heading to QD. Halfway through the parking lot, I looked over and he said, "where are you going?"


He may or may not have grabbed my hand and steered me towards this little restaurant/ice cream parlor in the same parking lot. Much nicer than QD by a long shot.

Again. Sly.

Welcome to the world and fun dance of dating. I was in for quite the ride.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The question

Chats started becoming more than one word. Sunday nights started to become a routine of seeking him out after youth group. Most of the time he asked questions and I answered with the fewest words possible.  He began to wonder if I could even talk. 

Months passed with these small conversations. 

As was my ritual every Sunday morning (just so I could see him), I made my way to "his door". Not only did he work at the church, he volunteered as an usher during the 11:00 service. This Sunday was like every other, except the conversation. A phrase was added that had not been broached before. 

"Do you think I could take you out sometime?" (I don't remember the exact words as I was lost in his eyes when he asked). 

My reply: "You'll need to ask my dad for permission." (And yes...this was the rule in my home...being the youngest of five AND the only girl...twas good reason this rule was made.)

He responded, "Ok."

And I thought that was it. Who in their right mind would call and ask my dad? Yes...he is a sweet Irish man, but a papa bear lived under the surface protecting his little girl at all costs.

To my utter shock, he did call. But also went a step further. He asked my dad out for lunch to discuss his intentions.

Yeah...he's that amazing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


He stayed at a distance. His friends (wisely) said I was too young. Only a sophomore in high school to his junior in college. 

But he wooed me. Not with words mind you. With his chocolate brown eyes that crinkled at the edges every time he smiled. Woo. 

I managed to squeak out a "hi" now and then, but otherwise kept my mouth shut as this was all new terrain for me. 

Even before we started holding a multi-word conversation, he knew. He knew I was the one for him. He pointed this shy girl out to his mom one evening at church and said he was going to marry her someday. 

Little did I know how the journey would blossom.

Monday, May 14, 2012

the beginning

I was a youngin' when I saw him. 16 years old. I remember him closing up the church after the night services ended as that was his job. He would hang around and wait for the youth group to finish, of which I was a part of. I remember seeing him walking down the back foyer hallway in a pair of jeans, t-shirt and his brown leather jacket, checking the doors and making sure all the lights were off. 

On Sunday mornings, the youth group would always sit on the right side, taking up the first four pews. The college and singles would sit behind us. During the service I would take a few glances back, pretending to look at the clock, but would do a quick scan to see if I could see him behind me. 

On Wednesday nights, the youth group would sit, yet again, on the right side in the front and I'd scan the back for his handsome face.

Sometimes I would catch his eye. He would smile. I would melt. 

Other times, I'd get to just look at him without him noticing.

But one such Sunday, there was a girl sitting next to him. A very pretty girl. I shouldn't have been surprised. Heck...I was only 16! But I was still a bit sad. He had a girl. 

And time went on. The girl left the scene. 

Enter the beginning of something beautiful.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Review of Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

Sara and Beth built a multi-million dollar business and act as anti-terrorism consultants.  Now their business and friendship are strained because Beth is leery of Sara’s husband.  When he goes missing and is verified kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.
Then their hometown, Seagrove Village, Florida, is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn’t know who to trust. Someone close to her is connected to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past, the former Shadow Watcher, Joe. She knows she shouldn’t fall in love with him–she can’t resist or even explain their bond. And as her world unravels around her, she wonders…
Will the truth set her free or ruin her life?  Is it possible to be pushed beyond redemption?
When I started this book, I quickly realized that it was part of a series. I had a difficult time figuring out the characters and the back story of them, which I know would have helped. The author did give a bit of back story during the plot, but still left the reader a bit confused through the entire book.

The story though was amazing and kept you guessing and on the edge of the page until the end. Well written and an author that I would definitely read again. If you are interested in reading this book, I would strongly suggest reading the first two books before this one.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Review of Don't Panic: Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia

Cookbooks are one of my downfalls. I read them like a regular book and devour each page. So when the offer to review Don't Panic came across my mail, I jumped at the chance. This cookbook includes appetizers, main dishes, desserts and so much more. The recipes are down to earth and require no out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. The recipe I chose to do was Ruth's Hot Fudge Sauce. With ice cream calling in the freezer to be eaten, I know this recipe was the one for our family. I halved the recipe, and afterwards, was so glad I did. The halved recipe made about two cups worth of fudge sauce (which is plenty for our little family). It took approximately 20 minutes (and will depend on how long your element heats up if you have an electric stove) and was super easy. I got the nods of approval from the two youngest taste testers of the family, so this is a hit in our house.

Here's the recipe if you have 20 minutes of spare time to whip it together. Your ice cream will thank you.

Ruth's Hot Fudge Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 - 14 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups sugar 1 t. vanilla

Directions: In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Add evaporated milk and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove fudge sauce from heat. Add vanilla, stir, and serve.

Yields 12 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Revell sent this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own and the fudge sauce is almost gone.

Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.