Reflections on the Past Three Years

{two days before Ezra proposed}

It’s been three years since my parents told me there was someone interested in me. As I sorted through my stuff in preparation for our move this summer, I went through all my journals, lingering especially long on the ones from those three years.

If I had known how hard those three years would be, I may have said no… But if I knew the future to know how hard they would be I would have also known how beautiful they would be. So I would have said yes without hesitation.
Because I did hesitate. I didn’t know if I was ready to be in a relationship that might lead to marriage within a year. I didn’t know if I wanted that, especially if I wanted it more than staying in Dubai or counseling at Csehy.
But I finally concluded that God would make clear which was for me, so I agreed to begin a courtship with Ezra. That’s what we called it, but really you could call it all sorts of things: we wanted to get to know each other with prayer and counsel in order to determine if it would be wise for us to marry. It was eight months of long emails and Skype calls. Sleepless nights of prayer and soul-searching. Long runs and walks sorting out thoughts. Late nights talking with mom and dad. Did I really know what I should do with my life? Did i really trust God and Ezra? Did I want marriage to Ezra over Dubai?
But the light of clarity grew, and in December we were engaged and over the moon.

Engagement wasn’t easy either. The distance was even harder than before, there was so much to be done, and the sleepless nights didn’t end as I wrestled with trusting God about marrying a sinner and all that might entail. I struggled lot with fear, both of sin in either of our lives and of injury or death.

And then came marriage, and it has been easy compared to our pre marriage relationship, though not without trial, especially since Miss Munchkin came along, bringing a new sort of sleepless night. And then there was her reflux, which is a beast and makes sleep harder and slower in coming.
With S came postpartum depression, and with the new year came lots of traveling for Ezra.

But I wouldn’t have changed the last three years. They have shown me my sin is deep. Have taught me that God is sovereign and that the cross means even the worst of that sin is forgiven. Have demonstrated that He hears our prayers in our struggles and will help us conquer sin. That this life is just a shadow.
That He is faithful and loving and good, and gives good gifts, like Ezra and S and our friends and family, and stars and clouds and birdsong.

There have been difficulties, but even more, there have been blessings and surprises.
I knew Ezra was pretty amazing when I married him, but I didn’t know just how he would love, serve, and care for me and S, even when he’s away, and I didn’t know how exciting it would be to watch as he grows in leadership at the church and work.
I knew we had friends and family that loved us, but I didn’t expect so many of them to give of themselves in counsel, love, and help throughout these last years.

I don’t expect the next three to be any easier, especially as we leave the community we have here in just a few short months. I couldn’t have asked for a better church to be at as we navigated the first year and a half of marriage and months of parenthood.
But I’m so excited to see what He has in store for us, and pray I will remember to look back and see His work in the past and let it give me hope when we can’t see ahead.
I can’t believe I almost said no and missed out on all of this. God always knows exactly what He is doing!

One Year

We celebrated our first anniversary on Sunday. It’s gone by so fast and has been so wonderful, though crazy, with traveling for two months, moving, and having a baby. I’m so thankful for Ezra and his humility, servant heart, and the way he looks out for me physically and spiritually. God has been so good to us in the last year, both when things were easy and when they weren’t.
Here’s to 60+ more!

2014 Highlights & 2015 Hopes

moving from Dubai


{truly one of the best weeks of our lives}

honeymoon in La Paz

Isaac and Michelle being nearby for a few months

meeting Michael Card


Road tripping & traveling – meeting so many of each other’s friends and spending time with family

Getting a new niece AND nephew!


moving again!

dates with Ezra, the “best” of which was when we went to The Great Divorce

oboe lessons & birth class

Thanksgiving at our place

so many appointments!

welcoming Miss Munchkin

some things I hope to do
Nourishing Traditions: soak, ferment, whole, broth
publish an eBook
52 project: photo a week
Bible reading plan
get together more with ladies from church
meditate on the glories of Christ and of heaven (the practical side of the resolution to not fear)
MOVE back across the ocean & sort through/get rid of stuff before we go
cook through (or more through) Jerusalem
work on reeds… if time allows
possibly learn to draw some again

I know it’s going to be a crazy year so I want to keep my focus in the right place, of people over doing things, and even more, of being with God over doing things.

A Thankful List

– sleep – whenever it comes, even if it’s not there between 11 and 2 and barely there between 2 and 5 and I have to “catch up” between 7 and 10.

– an appetite!

– another relaxing weekend just the two of us (I’m savoring these quiet moments together!).

– the Bible in my own language, so we don’t have to rely on how others interpret it but can check it for ourselves.

– advice and offers of help from church friends.

– memories (working on a 2014 Shutterfly book).

– baby kicks

– 10 months of marriage, and for Ezra – his rescuing my poor dinner planning, his love for baby and the way he’s so excited to meet baby and so helpful as we prepare, his humility and servant heart… the list doesn’t really ever end.

– longer walks and phone calls to Cait

– overcast, chilly days.

– my family coming soon (and Joel and Cait soon after, and Sarah after that!)

– Skype!

– Erina (and all the midwives… but Erina especially).

La Paz, Mexico

{I know this is out of order, but I’m waiting until I have pictures from a few more people before I post any wedding or pre-wedding photos. So until then, here’s some pictures from our honeymoon to keep you occupied!}

We had a wonderful and relaxing time in La Paz, Mexico. But that’s not to say it wasn’t full of adventures like getting stuck in the sand when we drove out to the beach to stargaze, or losing our car while hiking in the desert or going the wrong way on a one-way road and being seen by the police who thought we were hilarious. We had Thai, French, and Mexican food, as well as sushi and waffles. We walked on lots of beaches, went for walks in town, hiked in the desert, went stargazing, swam with sea lions, and kayaked. It was a great mix of being outside and doing things and also just enjoying each other’s company for more than six days at a time. 🙂

{fish tacos}

{puffer fish graveyard at the beach}

{sunburned faces post-kayaking adventure. Just because my shins don’t usually burn doesn’t mean they won’t when sitting in a kayak for five hours}

{we got to swim with sea lions – a highlight for both Ezra and I}

{back in home, we were greeted by lots and lots of boxes…}

{our church wanted to have a reception for us, so there was an Italian potluck, fellowship, prayers, and wisdom. I’m so delighted to be a part of this little church. One of the little girls there gave us a note that day with a drawing of us on it with lots of great things on it – like Ezra is holding a ring in his hand and she made sure we knew that it was for us to share and she wrote “P.S. I’m just guessing that your wife has curly hair. P.P.S. remember it’s not the end of the world yet.” We put it on our fridge. 🙂 }

looking back: 2013

just a few words and photos on 2013.

Midnight thoughts: last stars of 2013\don’t want to say goodbye to this year\”everything has got to end sometime. Otherwise nothing would ever get started”\first stars of 2014\I get married this year {sometime I’m going to go to bed in one year and wake up in another – the closest I’ll ever get to time travel}

Worship changed a lot for me. It’s become much easier to be delighted in God, especially in little daily things like clouds or stars, because I’ve come to see His hand in everything, and remember that everything comes from Him. Worship isn’t just praising Him but also beholding Him. And I think with that has come what I want my life to be about. I want to behold God, and want to help others behold Him, to see how great and awesome God is, not only in how He saves us but also in other areas, like how He orders creation.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me,
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see!

Music also changed a lot. Throughout the year there were lots of mini-revolutions in the way I think about practice, technique, and music in general. Practicing slower to always practice it right. Using technique to get out of the way so the music speaks. Music showing the culture of its time. How music should be different for Christian musicians, in how we practice and perform and use it to communicate.

I realized how much this introvert really loves people, and also how much I am loved, and how worthwhile relationships are. This was made clear in both family and friends. With all the wedding and moving deadlines and other things I wanted to get done, whether it was practicing or otherwise, I was always reminding myself that people were so much more important, and because of that life was so much richer. And then watching the most recent Doctor Who episode, and watching others go through change and goodbyes and thinking about all the people the Doctor loves and helps and then has to leave behind – and some really profound quotes and thoughts and faces and feelings as I was thinking about change and goodbyes and all that {more on this coming}.

Marriage just around the corner, and wedding planning taking up time, energy, and creativity, but it was mostly enjoyable. And in just a few days, I’ll be married to Ezra, and we’ll start life together. I can’t wait!

Highlights of 2013
going to the US in April to visit Ezra and do wedding planning, have special cousin and mom time.

Csehy. That’s almost all I’ll say about it because I’ve said so much elsewhere and the words and highlights of Csehy overwhelm. But it sparked the musical and worship revolutions and also began the realizing of how much I love people and how much I am loved by people.

The trip Hannah and I took to RAK, two really special days with my friend of many years who’s like a twin sister.

seeing Sarah T. in Hong Kong

desert trips

Fontgoneano escapades

lessons and fellowship with Sarah M. (and baby Isabelle!)

the lovely shower the C’s and M’s hosted for me

playing music with DCO, NSO, DWB, and singing with the Dubai Singers.

last visit to the W’s.

snow mountain with my dad’s family}

stargazing & cloud chasing

playing volleyball

hospitality –all the varied and wonderful people we had in our home and who had me in theirs

Well Group

piano teaching

Nate getting Eagle

travels: Greece & Lyons, Bahrain & US

times with Cait, Joel, and Jacqueline

And 2014?
Getting married is the big one! So is moving across the ocean and starting a new life. And new stories and compositions and ensembles and people to love and foods to cook and thoughts for the blog {big ones coming after the wedding}.

Happy New Year!

Our Story: Six and Nine-point-five – Halfway

This month we reach the half-way point in our engagement, just over six months gone and just over six months left to go. No, we wouldn’t have chosen to wait over a year to get married. Our original date was 11 months exactly, and even that was long, but it was either two-three months to plan a wedding from over the ocean, move across the world, and say goodbye to my home of the last seven years, or wait.
The past six months have been hard. In some ways, it’s been easier than our courtship. Far fewer sleepless nights and heart-wrestling, though they haven’t been without them. The first three months were somewhat shaky as some previously quieted fears were reawakened with much more intensity.

But everything has either highlighted or further taught us that we are only a shadow.
Our waiting and longing is a shadow of the church waiting for Christ’s return.
Our desires are only shadows of what our desires for Him should be.
Our love, though it will last as long as we both shall live, is only an instant in eternity.
Our marriage will one day pass away, and though we pray for many years, it could be only a short time of marriage, or none at all.
All of that is hard to swallow. It’s hard to remember that as much as we miss each other and as much as we love each other, Christ must have first place. It’s hard to remember when you’re so full of joy that there is greater joy than this and so we can’t cling too tightly to what’s earthly.
Shadows are greatest when you know how great the thing that causes the shadow is. But we are content with mud pies when there is a feast if we think the shadow is better than the reality. At first learning that tastes bitter, but it becomes sweeter and freeing when you’re not clinging to something that will pass away.
The balance between permanent and passing is a very strange one, but it’s one that must be found.

In the months where I was learning to remind myself to have it – or to learn even that it needed to be there, or what it looked like when I didn’t have it – there was a lot of fear. It’s so easy to fall into idolizing marriage to another person without even realizing it, and then you become fearful and clingy. And more tearful when reading stories of people who have suffered loss in their marriage, whether through death, injury, or anything else. Those stories are more beautiful to me now because I have a small understanding of what it might feel like, and with that the amount of strength and reliance on God a couple needs to get through it.

We also are growing in knowing what we can and can’t (or should and shouldn’t) say sometimes, things that either aren’t good to share now or even between married couples. A lot of that is more how to say it than whether you say it or not.
And we’re learning to be content in the waiting – finding the balance between a rightful longing for being married but also not being complacent in things now. Part of that is pacing ourselves in areas like physical contact – weighing if “more” is worth it – thinking about while we want to do more than hold hands, we also know that then other things will be harder – so we have to consider if it’s worth it.
We’ve enjoyed seeing each other twice since the trip when we got engaged – once I visited him in the states, and then I also got to see him nearby. I am so thankful for a father who is a pilot and we can fly for very little and at a moments’ notice!

But the upside to having a long engagement is that I have a long time to say goodbye to Dubai. It’s bittersweet, to think about leaving home, and to know so many things are “lasts.” I want to savor each moment, and yet I want it to go by so fast at the same time.
Sometimes I feel a bit like this, as in “I can’t wait to be married to Ezra! … I’m going to hate being away from Dubai… Wedding planning is great! … we should just elope…”
I also often think or sing this song to myself.

And the most frequently asked question is…
How’s wedding planning?
We’ve checked off lots of boxes: booked venues and photographer, figured out flowers, decorations, and cake, designed invitations and favors, the registry is done (lesson learned: do your research all the way before you start putting stuff on so you don’t have to change it or transfer things to a different registry), we know what everyone’s wearing, know how we’re working out complexities in getting our marriage license (we had to get the paperwork filled out and notarized in April!)… some moments it feels like there’s not much left to do, other moments the amount left feels overwhelming. People have been so kind, generous, and helpful. A friend has helped us make our designs look more professional, the venues and photographer have been willing to work with a crazy schedule, my grandmother found us our cake baker after the first one was only gluten-free (but a fabulous gluten-free baker!), and the woman doing our flowers really knows her stuff and is great to work with, and I love that we get to support a local small business in my grandma’s church, not to mention that I love her farm.
What’s been frustrating is trying to find things that don’t exist (modest, sage green bridesmaid dresses under $50?) or trying to decide on things I don’t really have an opinion on (centerpieces! So thankful for my mother and grandmother who were creative enough to figure that out).
Logistics have sometimes been insane from overseas, but the internet is a wonderful tool and the venues and vendors have been flexible with forms of contact, contracts, and all sorts of other things.

Most of the time I still love to talk about wedding plans (what’s public – there are a few things I want to keep as surprises!), although I don’t like it if that’s all I talk about with a person. With a year to plan the wedding, the rest of my life has also kept on going, and I’m more than just a bride.

Some little bits of the wedding already:

Flowers from the farm

same places as my Aunt
dark sage
Mexican food