This afternoon I thought I'd run to Home Depot and install some shelves in the office for more book space. (As you can tell, they're stacking on the desks ... we're running out of bookcase room.) I used some of our Home Depot gift cards and had some to spare. A couple hours later, I've got a broken drill bit, sore arms, too-long screws, and slightly uneven shelves. I got two to put up but I'm waiting for Nate to help me hold the top one while I screw it into the wall. Ah well. I tried. Mediocre keeps me humble.

books read 2011.

I've been keeping a list of books I read since I was 16. Today the number is up to 141 ... 6 books this year. It has been a slow year for reading ... I read all day at work so one of the last things I feel compelled to do when I get home is sit down and open a book. But here is a recap of the books I've read in 2011.

136. Radical - David Platt (04/09)
137. Note to Self - Joe Thorn (09/19)
138. Jesus + Nothing = Everything - Tullian Tchividjian (12/07)
139. O Little Town - Don Reid (12/27)
140. Life on Hold - Karen McQuestion (12/30)
141. Gospel - JD Greear (12/31)

My favorite was by far Jesus + Nothing = Everything. I highly recommend it. Part of my new year's resolutions include reading more. Here are 12 books we have that I'd like to read in 2012:

When Sinners Say I Do - Dave Harvey
The Meaning of Marriage - Tim Keller
A Meal with Jesus - Tim Chester
Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper
Heroes of the Cross - John Paton
Jonathan Edwards on the Good Life - Strachan, Sweeney
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands - Paul Tripp
Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Linchpin - Seth Godin
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - Eric Metaxas
Prodigal God - Tim Keller
Practical Theology for Women  - Wendy Alsup

Read any good books lately? Leave a comment!


christmas, part 2.

On Christmas Eve, we flew out of Kansas City and landed in Denver. Nate's uncle picked us up from the airport and we drove to a little town outside of Boulder called Niwot. All of Nate's extended family was there. We spent the next several days with them celebrating the holidays. On Christmas Day the adults sent us cousins on a scavenger hunt around Niwot to discover what we would do the next day. We found all the clues: We're going to Keystone!

 Nate at Keystone in Colorado

 Me and Nate at Keystone

 On Monday we went snow tubing at Keystone. It was so much fun! They even had a little conveyor belt you rode back to the top of the hill. We got about 9 runs in an hour. The day was a gift from Nana Ruth.

 On Wednesday we went to the Celestial Seasonings tea house in Boulder, Colorado. Nate sampled lots of tea.

Andy, Caitlin, and Hannah at the tea house.

Tuesday was a take-it-easy day because we were all so worn out from being on the mountain on Monday. Monday night we stopped at a pizza place in Idaho Springs called Beau Jo's. It was really good pizza. Tuesday morning we went to WiNoT coffeehouse and I finished my first eBook, a novel called O Little Town

Our flight got into Nashville last night around 11:15 p.m. and took a cab home. The kitties were glad to see us (we were not glad to see their ottoman destruction). We got a few hours of sleep before heading back to work today.

It was a fast, busy, tiring and fun week. I've got one more day of work before a three-day weekend. Nate is closing tonight and tomorrow (aka I won't see him until Saturday). Back to the grind. I'm off to find something for dinner; I'm craving pad thai. :)

christmas, part 1.

We are back from Christmas vacation! I have more photos to come, but here are some to get you started. We spent the first half of our trip in Kansas with my family.

Nate, me, Mom, Geoff, Erica, and JR at Christmas dinner 

 Our best friends Jenn and Evan and their boy Amos

Christmas at my grandparents' house. 
Uncle Mike, Aunt Marci, Uncle Andy, Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Shorty, Karen, Dad,
Nate, Aunt Rachel, Grandma, Grandpa, Cousin Kelly, JR,
Me, Cousin Melissa, Geoff, Cousin Elizabeth, Erica

I requested we take a silly photo. Haha.

More to come. We are glad to be back in Nashville. Miles and Otis did OK without us except that they took the blankets off the leather ottoman and then destroyed it with their claws. Now we are wishing we had paid the extra $50 for lifetime warranty against things like this. Although I have found some suggestions online for DIY repair. We'll see what we can do.



Hello, hello! We are just 25 hours away from Christmas break starting (a whole week of vacation!) and I am super excited. Here's a list of things I'm looking forward to (in no particular order):

1. Home cooked meals
2. Snow
3. Small town
4. Family and friends
5. Flying with Nate
6. Board games
7. Kansas plains
8. Colorado Rockies
9. skiing/snow fun/hot tubbing
10. New family

Friday night Nate and I used a gift card and had date night at Chili's.

Saturday morning I wanted to head to Walmart to find a solution for our cat litter boxes. I asked Nate, "Should I take a shower first?" Nate: "It's up to you, babe." Me: "I don't want to end up on peopleofwalmart.com."

It turns out I didn't take a shower and fortunately still didn't make the site and I found this wonderful litter box that has a built in scoop/sift tray so that when it's time to change the litter box I don't have to mess with trash bags and a pooper scooper. I just lift the tray up and the clean litter sifts back into the pan and everything else gets thrown away. Maybe that's more information than you wanted to know, but it has made our lives easier. And it comes with tall sides so they can't push the litter out onto the floor. Yay!

In preparation for our trip to Colorado, I also found some boots at Walmart for $14. Seriously a good buy. They look like those UGG boots that cost probably 10 times as much and they are warm. Nate and I went to Essex Bargain Hunt and found ski pants for me for just $25. You can't get them for less than $60 online, sometimes up over $100. They fit perfect; I've been wearing them around the house because they are so comfy.

We are hitting Kansas for a few days, then flying to Colorado to celebrate what Nate calls "Hanakklaus." For the Jones family Christmas, everyone is bringing board games for a gift swap and then we get to play all the games! Nate and I are bringing two games: Quiddler and Wits and Wagers. Maybe that was supposed to be a surprise, but hopefully none of the fam will check out my blog before then. :) I am really excited to play both games. Quiddler is more of a word/card game like Scrabble, so I am more excited about it than Nate is. Wits and Wagers is fun because everyone answers a trivia question, and then you place bets on who is correct. You get points if people bet on you or if you bet on the right person.

Nate and I haven't had a week off since the honeymoon (five and a half months ago) so we are so ready for this trip.



I am not apologizing for not blogging because the last week or so has been nuts. I am so ready for a week off at Christmas. We've been listening to David Crowder Band's new Christmas album and taking life one day at a time.

So other than work, not much has been going on around here. We did buy an ottoman for our sectional, and Nate had the day off so he rearranged the furniture in the living room. It feels like a completely different room and I like it a lot. Our ottoman is leather and we are afraid the cats will scratch it up, so right now it's covered with a blanket. It is also a storage ottoman, so we're going to fill it with all our board games. :)

We had fun tonight watching Miles and Otis interact. They are such brothers. Otis is getting so big! I think he learned how to eat from Miles.


the week.

What a week. Things have been pretty busy here in Nashville. Lots of changes at work which have been scary and exciting at the same time. I get to work on a new project that I am very excited about and am so glad for the opportunity. Nate and I are learning that this is just a season of life that is going to involve a lot of change and we are going to embrace it. That's what you're supposed to do when you're young, right?

In other news, I got accepted to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary! (SBTS) The same school Nate is in working on his M.Div. I applied to work toward a Masters in Christian Education. There is a campus just south of Nashville and I get to take advantage of the spouse tuition discount. :) I'll start out slow, probably just one class this spring on Monday nights. Nate is planning on taking 18 hours ... 3 will come from his attending the Together for the Gospel conference this spring in Louisville, but the other 15 will make it a rough few months. He is still working full time at Starbucks. It will be tough going but the more hours, the faster he can get done with his degree.

This morning I slept in until 9 a.m.! That's like a Nashville record for me. I'm usually up by 7 on the weekends. Nate had his Immanuel Theology Group (ITG) today, and Douglas Moo, like the world scholar on the Book of Romans, was there teaching all the guys. I picked up their lunch from Corky's BBQ and then went home and took a nap.

Tomorrow night if you're in Nashville from 7-8:30 p.m., come by Immanuel Church for our annual Christmas concert. It will be a great time with music and the night is benefiting a church plant called South City Church. The guy planting that church is who we got Otis from.

In the mail today I got a book I ordered: The Gospel Story Bible. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible, and this is along the same lines but includes 156 stories from the Old and New Testament. I'm excited to read it.

65 degrees in Nashville today. I would love a warm winter.


turkey day.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Nashville again this year with our friends Tonya and Charlie. They hosted their family, us, and Chris and Annette. The food was so delicious! We had so much fun hanging out with everyone. We don't usually travel back to Kansas for Thanksgiving since it's a big trip and we make it at Christmas, but this is a great alternative. We love our Nashville friends.

 Tonya and the bird

Tonya soaked the turkey in brine before they cooked it and it was so good.

Charlie serves the brussel sprouts

We had a full table: two types of turkey, brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, dressing, sweet potato casserole, 7-layer salad, cranberry sauce ... I'm probably forgetting something. For dessert: pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, and apple caramel cheesecake. We were stuffed, to say the least.

Nate is back to work today and I am going to try to finish painting the kitchen. We're saying goodbye to our former peachy tan and hello to hazy sage. It's a great improvement. The wall space below the cabinets and above the sink is black tulip (dark purple).



Last Friday was date night. We got out of the house while cashing in a Living Social deal for a house cleaning. The people (all five or six of them) showed up and finished in 45 minutes. They weren't as thorough as the first ladies who cleaned our house (a gift from my real estate agent) but it was good enough, better than I probably could have done on my own. Nate and I went to Panda Express and rented some movies and stopped at Home Depot for another string of Christmas lights to finish decorating the living room.

Miles and Otis still like to chase each other and fight, but this picture is becoming more common in the Jones household. I told Nate when we first got Otis that finding them snuggled up, sleeping next to each other would be my dream for them. It has happened. They give each other baths. It's pretty stinkin' cute.

Yesterday I got a new (additional) title at work. My normal duties haven't changed, I just get more responsibilities which is a great opportunity for me. Nate and I celebrated last night with dinner at Applebee's. On our way there, we saw this rainbow.

We will be home for Christmas in less than a month! I'm so excited. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving with some of our friends from church. It is supposed to be 68 degrees in Nashville so hopefully we can get some afternoon football in. Nate actually has the day off from work! He will probably spend most of the day studying and finishing up work for his classes, but it will be nice to have him home.

I'm at Starbucks right now getting some things done for work. After this I'm planning on stopping by Home Depot to pick up a gallon of Hazy Sage so I can finish painting the kitchen this weekend. I think I am about painted out; I'm not looking forward to this so much but I've already painted half of a wall so I really need to finish. I can't decide if I love it yet, but I think once it is finished it will look good.

Ciao for now,


when it rains in the city.

it rains in the city.
big, fat drops splatter on rooftops
parking lots
well up with water and umbrellas
stretch against the sky
drive slow and don't you dare
get wet
pitter. patter. showers
shudder from those heavy clouds.
when it rains in the city
thunder quakes like muffled coughs,
hacks from the smoker standing
in his solemn alley shroud.
when it rains in the city
wipe my eyes and watch
slow, quiet fog
heave and sleep
as it rains in the city.


good news.

If you're a Christian, here's the good news: who you really are has nothing to do with you—how much you can accomplish, who you can become, your behavior (good or bad) your strengths, your weaknesses, your sordid past, your family background, your education, your looks, and so on. Your identity is firmly anchored in Christ's accomplishment, not yours; his strength, not yours; his performance, not yours; his victory, not yours;. Your identity is steadfastly established in his substitution, not your sin. … The gospel doesn't just free you from what other people think about you; it frees you from what you think about yourself. You're free!

Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (pp. 130-131)




This weekend Nate and I headed to Madison, Alabama. Nate's friend Ryan (from Wichita) was in Madison to preach at the church of Nate and Ryan's former youth leader, Brian. We drove down Friday night. It was a quick trip--only 100ish miles.

We spent the evening with Brian, his wife Morgan, and their kids Nathan (Nate's namesake) and Libby. We ate dinner at Famous Joe's Pizzeria. It was delicious! We even saw Famous Joe himself.

We came back and talked, and I promptly fell asleep about the time the kids went to bed (um, 8:30 ... note the picture). The guys had a good time catching up though.

For breakfast Morgan made delicious cinnamon bread and we relaxed some more. Ryan built a tower out of cups. My body was a little too relaxed and I fell asleep again until lunchtime. (I promise I didn't spend this entire weekend sleeping!)

Brian grilled sandwiches for lunch, then the guys went to buy stones to build the Mayfields a fire pit like the one we made in our backyard. We put together the fire pit and then started a game of backyard football.

Nate, Morgan, and I were on a team, versus Brian, Ryan, and little Nate. It was a long game and we took a halftime break and played some more. I think Brian, Ryan, and little Nate won. All I know for sure is that today I am sore!

Saturday night we put the fire pit to good use! S'mores after and incredible steak dinner. (The Mayfields are the best.)

Ryan preached at Brian's church, The Brook, this morning. The church has been doing a series through the book Ryan recently wrote called A Misplaced Joy. He talked about the Passover from the historical Old Testament perspective and then from the New Testament Christo-centric perspective. Ryan is planting a church in downtown Wichita, Kansas, called The Seed. The Mayfields said it's exciting to see how much Nate and Ryan have grown since they were in the youth group years ago.

A nice weekend getaway. We are back in Nashville watching some NFL football and happy that our cats  survived the weekend alone. Odie was pretty cute and snuggly. You can watch a video of him here.



It's 5 p.m. The bed is made, the laundry is in the dryer, the dishes are done, our off-to-Alabama bags are partially packed for tomorrow's departure, Nate is at work, Otis is curled up on my lap, and I am basking in the glow of our new not-so-much-Christmas-but-all-year-round lights that we put up last night in the living room.

Our friends, the Orrs, have lights hanging in their living room and we also have a poorly-lit living room, so we copied their idea. Who doesn't love the magical feeling of sitting beneath Christmas lights? I seriously feel more creative just sitting under them. More relaxed. Childlike excitement about the possibilities life holds.

Last night as we were putting the lights up, Nate said, "I like our house." I said, "Me too." I do. I worried for awhile that since I bought the house before I met Nate, he might not like it. Maybe if I had spent more time house hunting, I could have found a better one. But this is our house and we like it. It's not perfect. It's small and cozy and the kitchen is half painted. There are dust bunnies under the couches and cat hair ... everywhere. (Thanks to a Living Social deal I have a house cleaner coming next week!) But we like our house because it's ours. We live here, so it's home. Christmas lights in the living room might not be common or popular, but who cares? It's home. And they're awesome!

Life is good. Nate and I have been experiencing chills-up-the-spine moments where we realize, I get to spend the rest of my life with you. That's a long time and it's awesome. Do you know how many times in the past my best friend has moved away or lost interest it me or got too busy to stay in touch? Now I have a best friend who isn't going anywhere. Marriage is sweet.

Happy Thursday,



I took a half day of vacation today, which was nice considering it was cloudy and rainy. I made a quick trip to the bank, the grocery store, and then came home and started working on my book. Then I took a nap. :) Now I'll make dinner and wait for Nate to get home. A nice relaxing afternoon.

Otis survived the vet yesterday and is already back to his normal self. He probably didn't need it, but I gave him his pain meds today anyway. All those times watching my mom straddle the cat, force its mouth open, and squirt medicine toward the back of its throat really paid off. ;)

I ordered my college transcripts sent to SBTS. The application process is coming along and hopefully I'll be accepted soon so I can register for a spring class or two. Nate is going to take 15 hours, which is three hours more than he is taking now. I don't know how he'll do it.

Tonight for dinner is cheesy potato soup. I loved making it last winter; I would usually double the recipe and freeze the rest but our freezer is packed full (I bought green beans and tater tots at Sam's Club in ... uh, mass quantity) so I'll just make a single batch.



Well, I just scheduled neutering and vaccinations for Otis. He has won over our hearts and we are keeping him. Welcoming to the family, Otis Jones.


fall favorites.

Today in the slow cooker I made easy slow cooker ham. It's a recipe similar to one Nate said his friend's mom made one time. I had never cooked ham in a slow cooker nor in apple cider, but it was surprisingly good. We ate an early dinner because Nate has ITG tonight. After "dinner," we had caramel popcorn that we made last night. I didn't think we could make it because we didn't have Karo syrup, but we had a bag of caramels that had a recipe on it. Here it is, a fall favorite:

Caramel Popcorn
1 bag Kraft caramels (unwrapped)
3 T. butter
2 T. water
12 c. popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Melt caramels in a saucepan with butter and water. Put popcorn in a large bowl. Pour melted caramel over popped popcorn and stir to coat.

Spread popcorn over a greased baking pan. Bake 20 minutes, stirring after 10. Let cool. Enjoy!



Poor Odie is acting like he's sick, but he sure is photogenic when he's under the weather. (I've kind of renamed him because Odie is more fun to say than Otis.)


It's November! Another month closer to getting to travel to Kansas and Colorado for Christmas. Nate had class last night, so I fell into bed around 4:30 p.m. and got up to eat around 9 p.m. when Nate got home. Then I went back to bed. Yeah, I'm running on 12.5 hours of sleep. I've been unusually tired lately even when I get extra sleep so we're going to see if some caffeine will help. Diet Coke anyone? Needless to say, I'm too cheap to buy candy to give to trick-or-treaters so the lights were off at our house last night.

Nashville has been hitting low 30s in the mornings, so when Nate and I carpooled to work this morning, Nate had to scrape frost off the windows but I had a blanket ready straight from the dryer to keep us toasty until the car heated up. Is there anything more comforting than a blanket straight from the dryer?

On the calendar for November:
- finish painting the kitchen
- house cleaning (yay LivingSocial!)
- Nate and I are babysitting twice
- Thanksgiving in Nashville
- use the treadmill

Regions Bank has decided to nix their debit card fees (yeah!) so I can finally start using my card again when I shop at Aldi and Kroger. I planned out the next two weeks of meals so I can be a more effective grocery shopper. Tonight it's pork chops, tomorrow: slow cooker ham, Thursday: tomato and pesto chicken, Friday: chicken noodle soup. I read a post from a blogger who plans out slow cooker recipes, chops up all the ingredients, and freezes them together in freezer bags. So then the day before, you just have to thaw the bag and dump everything into your slow cooker. I'm going to have to have a chop session soon and cut up all my onions and celery and carrots so I can make soups and stews all winter. Yum!

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