Jul 29, 2011

Flowers Fade Friday: dirty.

Everything around Phoenix is still dirty. Filthy. Gross. Dusty. Disgusting.

Lingering evidence of the giant dust storm that hit our city a few weeks ago. We left for our trip to Washington a few days after the dust cloud hit our city, and I was hoping the frequent evening rains that mark the desert's monsoon season would wash all the dirt away while we were gone.

And they did. Kind of.

Most of the ground is now free of dirt. When you drive around, the once brown cars have returned to their original colors of red, blue, green, and white. You can no longer see visible dust floating through the air.

But the dirt is still there. Hidden in cracks and corners. Piled up under our patio table. Stuck to our front door. Lingering in our living room. Hiding out on the dashboard in my car.

As I was driving around this week, silently thinking about how annoying the dirt is, God convicted me with an analogy. I realized that this lingering dirt is so much like my own sin. If you don't look too closely, things look pretty clean. But upon closer inspection, the dirt is still there. It clings to my hand when I open my front door. It gets stuck to my feet when I walk out onto our deck. It makes me cringe when I see it on the tabletops in our living room when the lighting is just right.

I used to live my life pretending my dirt was not there. When I walked into my living room today, it did not look dirty. Not at all. It looked warm and clean and inviting like this...

 but when I looked more closely, what I really saw was this...

Same with my car. It looks much cleaner than the day after the storm. Micah washed it for me before we left town. It's no longer competing for DIRTIEST car in Phoenix. But, yet, in the sunlight it still looks like this...

And this...

I used to live my life in a way that looked like my living room. Throughout high school, college, and into the first years of my job, everything looked pretty good upon first glance. I had good friends, led a few Bible studies, attended church regularly, even read my Bible quite a bit.

But if I looked beneath the surface, things were not right. There was grime there. Dirt. Dust. Filth. I was hiding all sorts of sin. Pride. Covetousness. Impurity. But I just pretended it wasn't there. I confessed it to no one. Not even God. Well, to keep myself "looking good" I had to confess sin sometimes, but it was rarely the REAL sin. It was the convenient "I'll just say this one sin that seems pretty mild, because I'm sure lots of other people are struggling with this too" kind of confession. And the dirt built up. And I honestly convinced myself it wasn't there at all. The living room looked good. Come in, have a seat, would you like a lemonade during Bible Study today?

Finally, after about 25 years of living my kind-of-clean life, God broke me. He revealed to me my own depravity. He showed me the filth that had been building up in my heart. And opened my eyes to how atrocious my sin is compared to His utter holiness. He showed me the truth of my own filth. Hidden and ignored for years.

And then He showed me something else. His Son. The one who truly makes all things clean and new. But I could never fully understand the love of Christ until God opened my eyes to how desperately dirty I was, with no hope of cleaning up the mess on my own.

And just as I notice the dust around my apartment most often during the day, when the sun shines and reveals the dirt that is really there, Christ does the same thing with my sin. When I let the true, clean, beautiful light of Christ into my life, He reveals the sin and darkness that linger in my heart...

And then, as my beloved Savior, He washes those sins away. Only He can do it.

Jul 28, 2011

Or San Diego???

The other place that Micah and I dream of moving to is San Diego. This is probably Micah's number one pick. Nashville is my number one, but San Diego is pretty tough competition...

He dreams of having a house right on the beach and wants our kids to grow up surfing. It doesn't sound too shabby to me... Here is the thing. My husband was born for the beach. He is a California boy at heart. I think he was born in the wrong state. When we go to California, he just fits in instantly. He runs for the beach, surf board in hand. After an hour or two of surfing, he will come back to the sandy shore to rest and eat a picnic lunch. He then goes out surfing one more time before calling it a day and riding around town on his skateboard to hunt down his afternoon snack or the best place to get fish and chips for dinner. When he's not wearing a wet suit, he is dressed in a tank top and board shorts and just soaking up the perfectly sunny, seventy-five degree weather. You would think he was a local...

Here are some pics from our recent weekend in San Diego...

So what do you think? Again, there are pros and cons. The two huge pros are clearly the ocean and the best year-round weather you could ever ask for. Also, there is just a fun, carefree feeling in California. It's kind of its own little world. There are also four great universities in San Diego and I would be happy working at any of them. However there are clear cons as well. Expensive cost of living, high taxes, messed up government. And it never gets really HOT there, and I kinda like really hot weather sometimes...

Please share your thoughts... would you rather live on a peaceful lake in Tennessee or the lively beach in California OR some place totally different? I would love to hear your ideas.

Jul 27, 2011


I have this crazy dream of moving to Nashville. I don't really know why. Sometimes Micah and I talk about where we might move after we are done with our Arizona adventure (in four more years...after I am done with school and have the biggest graduation party in history...you are invited...five years of school requires a HUGE celebration afterward...I am already planning it in my mind), and I always dream of moving to the south. Namely Nashville. I've only been there once for a weekend trip. But I loved it. Something about a Tennessee life sounds so peaceful to me...

Just jamming with my best friend at the Ryman in Nashville...

So I dream of moving to Nashville and living in a house outside of town with a big porch and a yard and a rope swing into the river (and maybe a couple horses if we have the land for it. Micah and I are not pet people, but we really want horses. Is that weird?). When I first started envisioning this picture in my head I wasn't even really sure if there was a river in Nashville, but then I did a little research and confirmed that Cumberland River does, indeed, run right next to the city.

I did a little more research and discovered there is a lake called Old Hickory about 20 miles upstream from Nashville and near the lake is a little town of 40,000 people called Hendersonville. Hendersonville just happens to be the hometown of Johnny Cash, June Carter and Taylor Swift, so it doesn't get much better than that for me, unless I am living next door to Tim and Faith or something. Hendersonville has also been named one of the top ten cities to live in with a family...which should be just about right for us in five-ish years.

Old Hickory Lake
So what do you think? There are some definite pros and cons to Tennessee. It's humid in the summer (ick), but it doesn't get too hot overall. The hottest temp ever recorded is 107. The winters are mild with only an average of nine inches of snow per year. The falls and springs are BEAUTIFUL. There are lakes, rivers, mountains, lots of greenery, great music, a fun culture and it's conservative and I love that. I feel like I would be right at home with my pointy toe shoes and lacy cardigans. Tell me your thoughts!

Jul 26, 2011

washington visit

So we just returned from a two week trip to Washington to visit friends and family. As I mentioned earlier, we spent our first few days there celebrating our anniversary out on the coast and then camping with friends in eastern Washington. For our second week in town, I lounged around my parents' house, updated the blog, met up with old friends and spent lots of time with family. All in all, it was a fantastic and restful trip. Here are some of the highlights...

SeaDooing on Lake Washington with my best!

Out to brunch on the Everett waterfront with Micah's mom and grandparents

Sister and I bought matching fedoras, of course.
Up on the helipad at the new hospital tower in Everett.

One more from camping because Jersie is just too cute!
Eating appetizers on the lawn. So much fun!
Bekah and Alicia. Love them!
Shopping at the Anniversary Sale. Do you like the shoes I picked out for Micah?

Goofing off with my fam.

Got to meet up with my old Young Life girls. So much fun!

Now we are back in Arizona and it's time to buy a house. Pray that we find one!

Jul 25, 2011

Walnut Cream Sauce Ravioli

One time in Florence I had the best meal I have ever had in my life. It was pasta with a Walnut Cream Sauce and I still long for it to this day. So good. This is my feeble attempt to make this glorious Italian dish. Don't get me wrong... this sauce is really good, otherwise I would never add it to the blog archives, but nothing can ever compare to what I ate in Italy. I must go back someday...

1 c. crushed walnuts
1/2 c. butter (or margarine)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of pepper

1 c. freshly grated/shaved parmesan cheese

*Prepackaged ravioli (I do one pack of cheese ravioli combined with one package of chicken filled - Costco has a great chicken ravioli - but this sauce also tastes great with a butternut squash ravioli if you can find it). If you want to attempt to make your own homemade ravioli, this recipe looks good. But I am lazy and would never attempt to make my own pasta, let's be honest...

Bring a pot of water to boil and add ravioli as you make the sauce. Remember, ravioli only needs to cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Toast your crushed walnuts on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes (until slightly browned). Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the better on the stove over medium high heat. As soon as it is melted, add the cream and wine, and cook for a few minutes over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add walnuts, spices, and cheese, and stir well. Remove from heat. {I add about 3/4 cup Parmesan into sauce and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup to the top of the dish before serving.}

Stir sauce and ravioli together and serve with more cheese sprinkled on top!

Just a note... this sauce is unlike any other pasta sauce I know of. It has it's own unique flavor (not at all like a traditional white sauce), but it's great! It's also not super runny or creamy - notice in the picture above that the ravioli is not really swimming in sauce at all; it just kind of sticks to the ravioli with it's parmesan=y, walnut-y goodness. The above picture was taken at a big group dinner, and from the feedback I got, I think everyone liked it!

Linking to:

Jul 24, 2011

A Year Ago TODAY...

A year ago today, Micah and I were doing something HUGE. CRAZY. EXCITING. UNKNOWN.

We were moving.

To Arizona.

As newlyweds of 13 days, we finished packing up our big Budget truck with our whole lives stuffed inside (along with lots of wedding gifts), and we left our hometown near Seattle for a new life together as Mr. and Mrs. Russum.

(Except we stopped about an hour into our journey to take a nap because we were so tired from packing and attending a wedding the night before we left. But that's beside the point...)

After our power nap, we continued our journey and we arrived in Arizona two days later. We didn't know where we were going to live. We knew NO one except for my relatives who live about 40 minutes outside of Phoenix. But we were excited for an adventure.

Today, we are also traveling from Seattle to Arizona. This time by plane.

And this time, we are going HOME. Seattle is now where we visit. But Scottsdale is home.

It's funny how HOME can change. A year ago we didn't know where we were going to live. Now we love our neighborhood and are hoping to buy a house there soon. A year ago we had no friends in Scottsdale. Today there are so many people I miss in Arizona and can't wait to see this week! A year ago we were about to begin church hopping. Today we are blessed by our church - the very first one we visited last summer! A year ago, we didn't know what to expect at our new jobs. Today Micah has already been promoted and I am loving every second of grad school and teaching at the college level.

A year ago, God was saying "trust me."

Today, I am saying "thank you" to Him.

Us at the Grand Canyon last month

Jul 23, 2011

New Blog Design!

So I changed up the blog! I did it all myself, which took hours because I really don't know what I am doing, but I think I like the result overall. I just wanted something more simple with more white space. White blog; white kitchens. It's just how I roll these days. What do you think!?

Jul 22, 2011

Flowers Fade Friday: Adoption

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
Romans 8:15-17

Adoption is one of the most beautiful pictures of God's grace on this earth, because as Gentile believers we are truly adopted into God's family. I love the verse above. We are God's precious children. Christ is our brother, and someday we will be heirs with him in heaven. Although I was not originally a part of God's family, he chose to make me his very own. He chose to graft me into the best family tree there is. The family tree of GOD. And Jesus is my big brother. I love that. I've never had an older sibling. I am the oldest in my family, and while I like being the oldest, I also have always wondered what it would be like to have a big brother to love me and protect me, the way big brothers are prone to do. But Romans 8:29 says that Jesus is the "firstborn among many brothers." But I'm pretty sure he has little sisters too...

Micah and I want to adopt children someday. I mean, nothing is set in stone. Maybe we'll have our own kids. Maybe we'll adopt some or all of our children. Maybe we won't have kids. Only the Lord knows what tomorrow will bring. But, trusting that the Lord is sovereign, Micah and I are interested in adopting in the future. There is no better way to show Christ to a child then to bring him or her into your own family, because that is exactly what God has done for us.

Jul 21, 2011

How to have a {gray and yellow} wedding: table numbers

I have decided to call this series about my behind-the-scenes wedding tips, ideas, and inspirations "How to have a {gray and yellow} wedding." I chose this name because the inquiries I have gotten over the past year about my wedding have gone along the lines of... "My sister is having a gray and yellow wedding this spring and we can't find good shoes for the bridesmaids. Where did your bridesmaids get all their fun yellow shoes?" or "I am having a gray and yellow wedding later this year and I was hoping to get access to your Facebook pictures to look through all your photos for ideas." And the title above was born...

HOWEVER, the tips and ideas I will be posting really have nothing to do with gray and yellow. You can have any wedding colors in the world (or no set colors at all!) and hopefully you will still find some inspiration from these posts.

So here it is. Fun wedding idea #1! But the first thing I must say is that this was NEVER my idea. It was my friend Andrea's idea (which she borrowed from a blog somewhere I think) and she is really the one who made this project happen. She is the MOST creative person I know and I cannot thank her enough for all her help!

If you plan to have assigned seating at your wedding, table numbers are a must. Now assigned seating can be good or bad. If you and your groom have 400 mutual friends from college attending your wedding, then who the heck cares? Let them sit where they want. If you are having a BBQ buffet or sitting picnic style on the lawn, then clearly the seating arrangements don't matter (these sound like fun receptions to me!). But if you are like Micah and me, who went to different colleges in different states and had lots of little groups of friends attending from many places (multiple jobs, a few churches, high school, college, etc.) it might be smart to do a seating chart. Because here's what you don't want to happen... A group of 4 or 5 people that know each other grab their dinner and sit down at an empty table. A few minutes later another group of 5 or 6 people who are acquaintances are looking for a table. Tables only seat 8. Seats around the venue are now limited. This group of 5 or 6 can no longer sit together and a couple of them must go hunt for seats elsewhere. Not that I am against getting to know new people at dinner. I'm just saying sometimes assigned tables are a good idea and they worked well for us!

So here is what we did for our table numbers... Instead of just putting numbers on each table to direct guests, our table number cards were dual purpose in that they were also CARDS...to Micah and me...that everyone at each table wrote to us. Each card had the table number on the outside, which was cut out with scrapbook paper that matched our programs (and stitched onto the paper - super cute!), and the inside was blank. There were instructions on each table for the people seated there to leave us a note. Then on each anniversary we open the card whose table number matches the number of years we have been married and read what our guests had to say. Our tables went all the way up into the 20s, which means we will be opening one of these cards each year for more than two decades!

This year we read the card from table one, which happened to be where we sat with all our siblings. We got to read lots of sweet words from our brothers and sisters as part of our anniversary celebration.

I definitely recommend this idea as a way to mark your tables in a really cute way on the wedding day and as a fun memory for years to come! From what I've heard from friends, I think our guests enjoyed it too. I expect to read some pretty hilarious cards over the next few years...

Here's what they actually looked like on the big day...
Chrystabel Photography
And here is a close-up of the stitched cuteness by Andrea!
Kind words from our sibs!

*Disclaimer: There are two tricks to this fun wedding idea. First, someone has to be responsible for collecting all these cards after the wedding and getting them to you sometime before your first anniversary, preferably already sealed in envelopes so you aren't tempted to peak at them in advance. Andrea did this for us and she even numbered the envelopes and sealed them for us with gray and yellow tape because, as I said, she is the most creative person EVER! Secondly, you have to figure out where to keep these bad boys and remember to open them up each year. I thought I would be really good about this until I went to write this post. I wanted to take a close-up picture of the card to show y'all now that we opened the first one, but when I went to grab the box, I could not find it ANYWHERE! Turns out someone accidentally threw the WHOLE box of 20+ cards away in the GARBAGE. As in the big trash can out in my parents' garage. I don't know who did it, but THANKFULLY my mom found them in there before the trash went out to the curb last night. They now have a strange scent to them (like lawn clippings perhaps?) but they are safe. Let's hope they can make it through the next decade or two without any more harm!

Jul 20, 2011

Camping 2011

A few years ago, as our friends started getting married off, a few of them decided that we should start a yearly camping tradition like many of our parents have had for years with their own friends and family. And before we knew it Camping 2009 was planned and a tradition was born. This year marked the third annual trip. Hopefully there will be many years to come...

The weather was a bit iffy this year... a little bit of rain, some clouds, some sun. Usually you can always count on sunshine in eastern Washington, but not this year. Apparently the wretched weather here is overtaking the whole state. But as soon as the sun came out, we took full advantage. Our days consisted of boating, lounging, playing tennis, lots of lawn games, and volleyball. Our nights consisted of delicious dinners (flank steak, pork tenderloin, teriyaki chicken sandwiches), gourmet s'mores (Reeces PB cup, Nutella and banana) and playing a game called "Warewolf" around the fire at night, which is similar to Mafia where you sit in a circle with your eyes closed and people get "killed" off and you have to try to catch the killer. It totally stressed me out in a good way...

Baby Jersie hung out all week. She totally stole the show...

Safety first, Jersie. Although she is smiling here, she really hated this thing. Understandably.

The girls around the campfire...

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