Monday, November 26, 2012

a good day is any day that you're alive

Yesterday was my birthday.
To me, birthdays are a great reminder of things to be thankful for, and luckily for me, my birthday always falls around (and sometimes on) Thanksgiving.
Yesterday was also (dun dun duuuuuun):
Heath and my one year anniversary! He asked me to be his girlfriend on November 25, 2011. Yay for multiple celebrations!
::Sorry for my poorly written photo comment on Instagram that put some of you in a frenzy. My bad. There aren't going to be any Ringlets running around any time soon, I hope.
We decided to do it up right last night by cooking new and different things. I used our new Kitchenaid stand mixer we got from my mother and made a delicious strawberry cake with strawberry icing...ahem...from scratch. Shout out M-Stew for the recipe.
I baked it in the afternoon and listened to Babel by Mumford and Sons on repeat while Heath took a Sunday nap. This may have been one of the greatest birthday presents I could have gotten. Baking is something I just love to do. By the way, can I just say how much the song "I Will Wait" has stolen my heart? Because it has. I am now heartless. It's fine...
Isn't she pretty?
Since this was a MAJOR celebration, Heath and I forwent our usual chicken we cook on the weekends and got a little crazy: we got a couple ribeyes from the grocery store, and that's all she wrote. I had never cooked steak before but last night I became a friggin' champ. I cooked them on the stove and then in the oven in a cast iron skillet (my dad would be so proud). Then...THEN...I got extra crazy and jazzed those sons of guns up with a little Pioneer Woman. Yes, you heard me. PIONEER WOMAN, I LOVE YOU. I made her legendary Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce that put both Heath and me in the most lovely of food comas. If you're feeling adventurous and not caring about your diet for the night (clearly this was a lost cause), do yourself a solid and try it. I'm having leftovers tonight, and I'm not ashamed.
Once the steaks were done, Heath and I went to the living room for a quiet, lovely dinner celebration. We talked about what we were thankful for, how crazy it is that we have been together for one whole year, and what a lovely year it has been. To me, this was the best kind of Thanksgiving meal I could have asked for.
Here are a few iPhone photos from the night. 
The Hunk being the cutest...because he just can't help it.

holy smokes. be still my heart.  

one year of loving Heath Ring is one year well spent.


Later we sat side by side and shared a massive piece of cake. And then I did not share a massive amount of insulin.
At church yesterday, the sermon was on thankfulness and being content with what one has. I feel like I am constantly being challenged in this area. Sometimes I fail but when the victories over myself rise, they are just too sweet. The pastor referred to the old hymn "Count Your Blessings," and it was hard to not have this stuck in my head the rest of the day. "count your blessings, name them one by one. count your blessings, see what God hath done."

My challenge to myself these past few months have been to live a life of thanksgiving, not just this particular time in my life. I want my life to be one that honors the blessings I have received because they are not ones I have earned. I wanted to throw out some of the things I am thankful for (in no particular order):

10. My house.
As much as it can be a pain in the rear because The Pearl is SO OLD, I just love my little house and all its charm. I'm thankful for a lived-in home, one that Heath and I are slowly but surely making our own. My school threw us a wedding shower and since we didn't register for anything (because we definitely don't need "things"), we asked if maybe they could throw us Home Depot/Lowes giftcard shower and those ladies and gents DID NOT disappoint. Yay Project Pearl!

09. My jobs.
Man...getting to invest in some pretty fly kids every day is not for the faint of heart, but boy, do I love it! My kids rock my world and are constantly teaching me new things every day. Things about life, things about myself. I can't imagine doing anything else for a while. I love my job so much, in spite of the paperwork :) I am also grateful to work at a gym that gives me an opportunity to lead other's in their road to physical health. Shout out to athletic gear! Also, I love being a photographer and getting to work on the side. What a treat it is to still do this and being able to enjoy my clients so much.

08. My family
The Simwells are the glue that holds me together at times. They are some of the most incredible humans of all time. My family is a force to be reckoned with: we love with a selfless love that seems unbelievable at times. We have endured a lot together, and seeing where we are now, it is just so humbling that I got so lucky to spend many of my best and worst memories with them and be loved. Always. No matter what.

07. Elliot and Eden
Yes, my nephew and niece get their own number. When Elliot arrived, I remember looking down at his tiny face, into those big black eyes and thinking, "how in the world is it possible to love someone this much?" He made me believe in love at first sight. He made me feel grateful that a piece of my dad was being born into this world: the same blood that ran through Elliot and my veins, also ran through his. And now, there will be another one. My heart won't be able to stand it, I fear.

06. The Rings and The Smiths
Heath's family has opened their arms to me from the beginning, and I am so grateful to have such wonderful in-laws. Seeing both his mother and dad on Thanksgiving was such a treat. We are so blessed.
05. My mother
Talk about someone who fights for those she loves. I cannot ask for a better example to follow than my mother. She has always been one of my closest friends and the person I could always talk to. Her prayer and guidance and discernment is how I am where I am today. I cannot imagine any other person raising me. I love her more now than I ever have. After losing my dad, I realized she is the closest thing to him that I will ever have, which makes me see so much of him in her. It is weird, I know.
04. My friends
I have been blessed with some really lovely creatures that I am honored to be able to call my friends. One of my favorite sayings is "Friends are the family you choose." I just love that because it is so true. I have kept some and lost some, but the ones I have lost have taught me almost as much as the ones who have remained constant and true.
03. My spiritual walk
Speaking of constant things, I cannot fathom my life without my walk in Christ. Talk about a faithful friend. The one that encourages you but isn't afraid to put you right in your place. I am nothing without Him. Daily I am challenged and reminded of this fact. There really aren't words to do it justice. So I won't do it the disservice.
02. Musicians
Music is a way for me to get inspired and be creative. I am always so grateful for any and all inspiration. Plus, music is a way for me to feel things deeper than words can express. It gets me motivated when I don't want to and relaxed when I do. It also is a way I reach my kiddos at school, which is huge for a nerdy English teacher :)
01. The Hunk
My darling. My best friend. My partner. The one who will always make sure I get the good fluffy towels for my shower before he does. The man who gets up with me when my blood sugar crashes and fixes me peanut butter and honey toast while in his boxers and with bed head, no questions asked. My love who wakes me up when he hears my breathing change because he knows I'm having a nightmare, so he does what he can to stop it. That precious fella who when I chuckled nervously while standing in front of the jacuzzi tub at our honeymoon, freaking out enternally about dropping my towel, gave me the biggest smile and put his hands over his eyes and said, "I won't look until you tell me to." The man whose voice singing songs at church is my most favorite singing voice in the world. Yes, that one. I guess you could say I'm thankful for him.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

my single favorite

my single favorite photo
of my single favorite day
with my single favorite person.

{photo by Heather Canterbury}

Friday, November 2, 2012

invitation love

I have a confession to make:
our wedding invitations were probably my favorite thing about our wedding (leading up to it). Our love story is such an intricate part of who we are, and I knew that our invitations needed to, in some way, display that.
Trying to find the right invitation for us was tricky. We were on a budget and wanted something simple, yet hard to forget. We didn't want something fancy. We wanted something that was us. I did further research and found an incredible wedding invitation by designer Matt Dorfman for his 2008 wedding, in which he used different type to outline he and his fiancee's story. Instantly I thought: this is for Heath and me! What a great way to display our story!
So, I sat down with Heath and wrote down our story. That was by far the easiest part. Then, I tried to figure out how I was going to create it. I hadn't a clue, so I consulted some friends, and they pointed me in the direction I needed with InDesign CS6. I did the 30 day trial, tried to fiddle with it...and was at a dead end. Feeling at a loss, I grasped at the last straw I knew, which was a woman I had worked with in our journalism program here at school. She works for the local paper, so I asked her granddaughter, who was a former student of mine, if she knew if she could help me. Ms. Pat contacted me immediately and said she would be happy to do it for me, if I would just bring me a copy of the story, she would have the proof in a couple days. What a huge blessing!
So, a couple days later, I went to the local paper to see my proof, and my heart nearly left my chest. It was absolutely perfect. Ms. Pat told me of a local paper store in town to get my paper. We needed 11X17 paper, 2 invitations were to be printed on each piece of paper, then cut in half vertically. I showed up to the paper store and had to stifle a giggle. A little old man ran it. On three of the four walls, there were deer heads, fish, and other animals mounted. On two of the four walls, there was John Wayne photos and posters.Was this REALLY where I was going to buy the paper to make my wedding invitations. Here?!  I asked him if he had any 11X17 thick linen paper in cream. He went back to get me the 31 pieces he had left. I noticed a sign that said, "no debit or credit cards," so I whipped out my checkbook, and he laughed, "Girl, it ain't but $2.00. Take the paper. How about you run $2.00 by the store tomorrow?" (and that's just what I did).
After I left the paper store with my paper, I took my design and paper to the Office Depot in town and asked them to print and cut them in half for me. Ms. Pat showed me how to fold them to where the actual invitation would act as its own envelope. After I got my stamps (almost $18), I got a sharpie pen and addressed them by hand.
So for under $30 I got the most meaningful invitations I could have hoped for.

This is us.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

on listening to one's mother

::NOTE: I wrote this in the wee hours of my wedding day. The wifi at our hotel was on the fritz, which is why I am now just posting it.

As many of you know, today is my wedding day. I am currently wide awake while my bridesmaids are sleeping so soundly in nearby beds of our hotel suite. My mind is racing with the promise of the day, and my heart has never been so full. When your heart is full, you become more grateful and clear-headed, and right now, since I cannot for the life of me find slumber, I want to give those reading some pretty sound advice:

Listen to your mother.

When I was about 5 years old, I got my bottom bruised while at Vacation Bible School. The bruise was ugly, and what was even uglier was how I got it. It was formed by the hands of a boy in class who actually pinched it pretty hard. I remember it seeming like something so fierce. What I remember even more than that is the conversation that my parents had with me on the way back home from the church. My parents are the best teachers I have ever had, and they taught me a lesson that night that I never forgot. My mother said, "Jordan, you are in charge of your body. No one touches you without your permission. Even your booty, you are in charge." What happened next is one of my favorite memories and something I have yet to live down with my family. I sat in the back seat and said with an assured but tearfully cracking voice, "I'm in CHARGE of my booty!" Of course this caused giggles from my parents. But right then at age 5, I made one of the most important decisions of my life: I chose to be in charge of my own body.

Let me say, I was always one of those kids who tried to be a pleaser. All it took from my parents was a look of disappointment, and every white flag I had was waved. I took everything literally and most of the time, my faith was the cause of it. I was the kid that hurried my parents to our hotel room in the Bahamas because I hadn't read my Bible that day, and it was getting close to 11:00. I lived in fear for a while of disappointing my parents and disappointing the Lord. I like to think it was out of respect. But a life of fear was not for me. After taking and then later teaching a True Love Waits course, I felt like my promise to the Lord was a signed contract in my mind. There was no backing down. Once I got to college, I took a few health courses and learned more about sex, disease, and the likes. Then my choice to abstain from sex not only was spiritual but also a health-concious decision. There are so many things going on out there; I just didn't want to be a part of it. I didn't want to invite any of it in my body.

Many women do find empowerment in their bodies. They use their sexuality to get things they want. They flaunt, they conquer, they eventually hurt others, and often-times, themselves. I witnessed this a lot growing up with some of my schoolmates. Girls gave their bodies freely, and while at first it was fun for them, the fun died away and the happiness they thought they had was short-lived after they were disposed of after the deed was done. Witnessing this and hearing my mother's voice in my mind, I never gave anyone control of my body. The advice I received 22 years ago helped me get to this point in my life, and I couldn't be more grateful for my mother's words. While some find power in giving their bodies, I have, thankfully, been of the opinion that self-control is empowerment. I am humbled and so blessed to say that I have saved myself for my wedding night, and Heath is the first and only man I will give that part of my body to. What an incredible gift it is to me. I hope it is the same to him, as well.

This choice I made cost me some relationships in the past. I had some major relationships in my life. There were some guys who were very blunt and said, "Jordan, you're really nice and everything, but you know...I am going to want that so...maybe this should end because if you aren't going to do that, then I'm not sure if this is going to work out." It wasn't a hard choice for me, really, to say, "well, ok, then. It was fun. See ya later, dude." Sometimes there would be a shocked expression like the guy couldn't believe that I was ok with things ending, like he expected me to say, "Oh, no!  I can't imagine not being with you, so yes! We can have sex now. I changed my mind." Silly men...

When Heath and I first started seeing each other romantically and it was obvious this wasn't going to be a fling, I dreaded having "the talk" with him. I prayed, "Dear Lord, please let him be above this. Please let him be different. Let his reasons for wanting to be with me be more than this, and if they aren't, let me have the strength to walk away with my head high." And I am happy to report that he was and is. Heath has encouraged me in my choices and has been so supportive of me and respectful of my body in ways that I just can't even describe. He is the only man that I have been romantically involved with who didn't try to push the envelope when it came to my body and sex, which made my attraction to him grow, which made my choice at sometimes difficult. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be marrying him in about 12 hours.

I don't want this to sound like a public service announcement or anything. I write this not to say anything about people who share a different belief than I do. I write this not to boast. I write this to get these thoughts out, so I may rest my mind. I also write this to encourage. I encourage you, young ones, to listen to you parents. Listen to their wisdom. Absorb it, appreciate it. You can live a very fulfilling life that doesn't involve sex, if you don't want it yet. I played sports, travelled, was Homecoming Queen, lived overseas, taught, loved, and lost in my life. I have no regrets, including my choice to be in charge of my body. The choice wasn't easy, I will say. It was difficult and taught me a lot about myself and self-control. While we live in a world that tells you that your body is yours to do with as you please, we tend to only see that as a way to encourage our sexuality. Just remember this also goes the other way. I am no expert, but I will share with you that I never had a friend who shared with me about a guy that she regretted NOT having sex with. Usually, it went like this, "Now we aren't together anymore and I just feel like such an idiot because we had sex a couple weeks ago and now we're through." (It was never, "Oh, Gosh. Now we're through. If I had JUST had sex with him...") Being dumb to the subject, all I could do was hold her hand and say the words "I'm so sorry you're hurting." Any time I did this until now, it solidified my choice; it made me grateful.

Live the life you love with no regrets.

P.S. I would like to thank my mother, Karen, for being my crazy cheerleader all these years. I cannot believe I am on the brink of marriage. I wouldn't be here and be so happy without your love and support. Thank you for giving me a set of values to follow and for making it clear that even if I stumbled, you would be there to love and help me. Thank you for showing me what character and integrity are and their importance in life.
I love you,