I didn't think my strawberries would survive after my neighbor mowed over them at the end of the summer last year. But they are back! Stronger than ever. And today we enjoyed the fruit of the land.

Then we went on a walk. Our neighborhood is pretty sweet in that a lot of our neighbors have lived in their houses 20+ years. They say hello when you walk by their houses and mow each other's yards. Nate wants to get chickens so we can give them eggs. On July 4, they block off the street and shoot of their fireworks together. They look out for each other. This is a sweet place to be.



Oh hi, Miles.

the city that listens.

I love Nashville in the summertime. Everything is green and warm and there is so much to do outside. These hills—these mountains!—these parks, trails, lakes, rivers, and forests. One of my favorite summertime happenings is Musicians Corner. If you're ever in Nashville on a Saturday, go to Centennial Park at 3 p.m. for some free tunes. And this is Music City! We know how to do tunes!

Here's what happening the first month. Did I mention that it's free? Bring your lawn chair or blanket, sunscreen, and (because it sometimes rains) your umbrella.

Sing along with us, dee-dee-dee-dee-dee. Da-da-da-da-da...Yeah, we're happy happy, da-da-da-da-dah.




long weekend.

Erica and Nate at Baja Burrito
I love three-day weekends. We had Friday off and my mom and sister came to Nashville this weekend. They were a huge help in getting some things done for the wedding. We're down to 74 days, which kind of seems like a lot, but they slip by so fast. The next thing on our list is to get the invitations done because we're getting close to the 2-months-to-go mark. The good thing is, besides food, if nothing else got done between now and July 9, the wedding would still happen. And besides Nate needing some black pants. But essentially all the most important things are done, and the honeymoon is booked. I still have quite the to-do list, but we're basically good to go.

Saturday afternoon, my mom and sister and I tackled my yard. Since Nate was in Chicago, it went about two weeks between mowings and we kept having to stop the mower and pull out chunks of thick damp grass from underneath it. But it got done and looked great. Then we went to Home Depot and I bought a hedge trimmer. A cordless electric hedge trimmer because I don't have outlets outside and I don't want to deal with gas (plus the weight of a gas trimmer). It took 9 hours to charge the battery, so we couldn't trim anything Saturday.

Maybe we'll try this next. :)
Last night after work, Nate and I went out there to see how it worked. I had never used a trimmer before, and it was a-maz-ing. I remember when I bought my house, the bushes were trimmed up very neatly and that made the house and yard really attractive. But in the last year and a half, I hadn't touched the bushes. Well, I had gone in with hand shears and clipped last summer but that really didn't help. So last night I started going at them and that hedge trimmer felt like a light saber! I'm very happy with it. It's probably 8 or 9 pounds so all the bushes are cut to about 6' since that was the highest I could hold it over my head for very long. I've got some sore arms today.

Later, I was driving home with Nate from the store when I see a giant (by giant I mean about an inch wide) white spider run across the windshield and I can tell it is on the inside because I see its body better than I see its legs and I start freaking out, which came in the form of screaming and bursting into tears, and Nate (who cannot figure out why I am reacting this way … perhaps I am getting stung repeatedly by wasps or having a brain aneurism, he thinks) finally understanding my screaming and pointing while trying to drive and sees the spider.

So he tries to punch it and my worst fear comes true—it drops. Now I am really freaking out because I know he didn't kill it and it is somewhere near my feet or possibly in my lap. We hit a red light (thank goodness) and I turned right into a parking lot and jumped out. Nate found that sucker under the floor mat and smashed it, and then I let him drive.

It was kind of hilarious afterward because I have never reacted like that to a spider, but I felt completely helpless since I was driving and for some reason I had it in my head that it was going to attack me.

Tonight we are having dinner with Sam and Anne. We love them. I am going to try to make tilapia.



"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)


we killed God.

It was an old custom during the Feast for the governor to pardon a single prisoner named by the crowd. At the time, they had the infamous Jesus Barabbas in prison. With the crowd before him, Pilate said, "Which prisoner do you want me to pardon: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus the so-called Christ?" He knew it was through sheer spite that they had turned Jesus over to him.

While court was still in session, Pilate's wife sent him a message: "Don't get mixed up in judging this noble man. I've just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him."

Meanwhile, the high priests and religious leaders had talked the crowd into asking for the pardon of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus.

The governor asked, "Which of the two do you want me to pardon?"

They said, "Barabbas!"

"Then what do I do with Jesus, the so-called Christ?"
   They all shouted, "Nail him to a cross!"
He objected, "But for what crime?"
   But they yelled all the louder, "Nail him to a cross!"

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, "I'm washing my hands of responsibility for this man's death. From now on, it's in your hands. You're judge and jury."

The crowd answered, "We'll take the blame, we and our children after us."
Matthew 27:15-25 (MSG)



Today our team at work threw a wedding shower for our graphic designer, Jessica, and her fiancé, Will. They are getting married in June. We had a country chic theme and hydrangeas and other flowers and pies. Lots of pies! Apple, cherry, chocolate, caramel, pecan, key lime, lemonade, and strawberry lemonade. We also served lemonade, tea, and sweet tea.

Yay for weddings. :)


where's the jones?

I'm looking for berry lemonade bottles of Jones soda for our wedding reception.

I just went out and checked at two Krogers, a Walmart, two Publix, and a Target. The Target and Walmart I visited didn't have any, Publix had glass bottles of the wrong flavors, and Kroger had cans of berry lemonade but glass bottles of the wrong flavors.

I could buy it online, but because we want so many and they are heavy and fragile, shipping is expensive! So if you live in the Nashville area (or Wichita, as we'll be there next month), keep your eyes peeled when you're in one of these stores and let me know if you find some berry lemonade Jones soda!

Possible carriers: 7-Eleven, ACME, Albertsons, ampm, A&P, Barnes & Noble, Bi-Lo, Dillons, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, HyVee, IGA, Kmart, Kroger, Meijer, Mobil, Shell, Target, Thriftway, Walgreens, Walmart.

Our backup option is cans of berry lemonade since my local Kroger carries it, but everyone knows bottles are way cooler than cans. Maybe we'll use a combination of both.




Nate returns from Chicago late tonight, but it's supposed to rain tomorrow. And my front yard is getting a little out of control. Besides, almost all the yards on my street are freshly mowed and, while I don't think any of my neighbors really care if my grass is a few inches too tall, I thought I'd give mowing a try.

When I first bought my house, I went out and bought a reel mower. It seemed like a good idea at the time ... no gas, no noise, lightweight ... yeah, it might work okay on grass but we're mostly weeds here. It was a bust, and my neighbor Kevin used his Bad Boy gigantic riding mower to keep my yard trimmed all summer. Nate's dad got us a gas mower last month, and I've never used one before. (I used a riding mower growing up, no rope pulling required!) So I did a little research (read: Googled "how to use a gas mower") and went out to tackle this thing.

I filled it with non-ethanol gas, pushed the primer pump in a few times, set the left handle to rabbit, the right handle to neutral, squeezed the handle, and pulled the rope. "Rrrrrr." A weak ringing of the rope retracting. I tried over and over and couldn't get it to start. I was about to give up when I tried once more and it started! Once I got the self-propelled thing figured out I managed to get the front yard done. Well, not in between the bushes because it was difficult to turn and I was having a hard time. And I didn't do the backyard because I accidentally let go of the handle and couldn't get it started again. Oops. :) You know what Dwight Schrute says about women ... weak arms. Well, Nate can do the backyard next week. At least the front looks nice!

For the win.


I'm afraid to say this because it will probably soon no longer be true but … I'm all caught up at work! After an insane month of March and a hard-pressed first week and a half of April, I've finally checked off everything on my schedule that I can do right now. My list of 55 things to do in the past month (Mach 14–April 14) now only has 6 items not crossed off. But I'm waiting for other people to finish up their parts and pass those things onto me. It's been a nice big relief to have an empty to-do box and I've had time to work ahead on some smaller routine tasks so those will be done when their deadlines come around. I can breathe!

Yesterday as soon as I got home from work, I started cleaning/reorganizing. Nate has been in Chicago at The Gospel Coalition Conference all week so I've kind of neglected cooking or doing dishes or picking up or making my bed … and in the throws of wedding planning, the second bedroom had turned into a place where I work on painting pots and piling junk up on top of the treadmill because I don't know where else to put it. And Nate would sometimes go in there to try to study but it wasn't very inviting.

With the weather warm enough to run outdoors, I grabbed the treadmill instruction manual and read it backward to disassemble the treadmill. It came apart fairly easily and most of the parts fit in a long box up in the attic. The only part I couldn't move up there was the base, which would likely fit but it weighs about 100 pounds. This probably wasn't wise of me, but I picked it up and shuffled it into my bedroom to fit under the bed. I spent the rest of the evening washing floors and rearranging and organizing and moving things to the recycle, trash, or attic. Now that second bedroom actually looks like an inviting space! We need some furniture, but there's actually space to put Nate's stuff when he moves in! All that wore me out but it looks great so I was glad it was done. So glad that I let Miles sleep in my bed. It went pretty well until about 4 a.m. when he decided it was time to get up. So I kicked him out.

I'm thinking about getting a Sam's Club membership. There is one relatively close to my house and it's like $40/yr. Plus I have this coupon to get a $10 gift card when I join, so it's really like $30. I'm sure I could save $2.50/month by buying some things in bulk. And they have a lot of non-food items. Fortunately too this weekend (Friday through Sunday) they are having an open house so I can shop there for free and then decide if I want to join.

Shout out: Happy birthday to my mom! I'm looking forward to having her and my sister in the city next week to help me with some wedding planning. We're down to 86 days but things seem to be coming along alright.



If you know anything about me, you probably know that I like saving money. So naturally, we aren't buying invitations from someone … we're making them ourselves. Nate is in Chicago this week so I'm waiting on his opinion, but after looking at some modern invitations, I put these together tonight. I can't decide what I like best. Any of my designer friends will cringe if they know I did these in Word. I don't know InDesign and I know Word really well! Ah well.

Got any favorites? Nate has a designer friend who has volunteered to work on our invitation, so we'll see what she can do.



Another hot day in Nashville. I caved and turned on the air considering 90 degrees sets an April 10 record. We usually don't see these temps until July.

After church, Nate and I stopped by Kroger and picked up a couple of treats. We're having a fun reception that will hopefully include Jones soda! Who doesn't love products with your name/future name on it? Kroger didn't have the berry lemonade (perfect color) in the bottle, so we tried the flavor in a can and got cream soda flavor in the bottle. Buying Jones at Kroger is cheaper than buying directly from Jones online. Since aqua is our color, we want to have some bottles of berry lemonade Jones soda at the reception. Jones soda is pure cane sugar. It was kind of like drinking cotton candy.

Our honeymoon is booked! Thanks to Southwest's Rapid Rewards program, we're flying round trip for free. Plus we had money in our accounts from a previous flight so we splurged and signed up for the early bird check-in so we can board in the A-group. :) We will fly into Jacksonville, Florida, and drive to St. Augustine where we'll stay at a Bed & Breakfast. Nate and I both spent summers in Jacksonville, so the area is familiar and fond to us. The B&B is in the heart of the historical district of St. Augustine right on the bay. Five nights. We're stoked.


lecrae in nashville.

Last night Nate and I went to Rocketown for a Lecrae concert with PRo and Shonlock. Last week they had sold 200 tickets to the event and in the last week, they sold out. 1,400 people came. It was pretty crazy. I think most of my coworkers wouldn't believe that I'm a big fan of rap and hip-hop. My friend Jenn turned me on to Shai Linne a couple of years ago and I've been loving it ever since.

Nate and I were standing pretty much in the middle of the crowd and it was loud, hence the poor sound quality on the following video. And no one had any personal space. We moved farther back when Lecrae came on and ran into some friends from church, but my back was killing me from four hours of standing and all I could really see was the back of the guy in front of me, so I started getting a little cranky. It was a really sweet time though.

Here's Lecrae's music video of the song he was singing in that first video.

Lecrae talks about the gospel:

Nate's off to Chicago next week for The Gospel Coalition conference. We are almost ready to book our honeymoon; I'm just going to call the place and talk them into giving us a better price deal. We're hoping we don't run into any problems using our free Southwest flights. Working to get invitations done this week, and I'll be painting more terra cotta pots for decorating. It's currently 89°F here in Nashville, which is a little too hot for spring, especially since I refuse to turn on my air conditioner this early in the year. Thank goodness for ceiling fans.



We have a new friend. Nate took his car to a nearby mechanic to see about alignment, and they sent him home with a quote for a few major things that needed fixed so (among other things) his wheels wouldn't fall off. We got a recommendation from friends to take his Honda to a guy in Antioch who works on cars at his house. So on Friday, we met Nagy.

Nagy is an Egyptian guy who grew up in Egypt and taught English for many years and (to his dad's disappointment) couldn't ignore his love for repairing cars. "It's my passion!" he told us. I expected us to drop off the car and be on our way, but Nagy invited us to come inside his garage and check out a couple of engines he rebuilt. Then he looked at Nate's car and showed him specifically what was wrong with it and said, "Bring it back Sunday, and I will have it done maybe Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday … " Nagy asked about what the local mechanic had said, then he concluded, "They are thiefs!" Life in the rest of the world is way more laid back than America. "You just stop by and see how things are going."

We brought it Sunday and he gave us both Cokes (not diet, but it was way past lunch time so I drank my calories) and we sat in his garage and talked to him about his family and Egypt and cars. He showed Nate more about his car and pointed out that his front right tire needed replaced. "I give it to you for free!" he said. So Nate's car was being repaired Sunday, and on Monday he opened at Starbucks. At 4:30 a.m. So I got up at 3:15 to get ready and make it to his house by 4:15 and drive him to the store. I slept a good hour in my backseat and Nate brought me a blueberry scone and caramel apple spice before I headed to work around 6.

Monday afternoon, Nashville was hit with some pretty decent storms. Around 2:15, an announcement came on at work telling everyone to go to "their designated safe spot." Davidson County was in a tornado warning, so after a bit of confusion over where exactly our designated safe spot was, we filed into the stairwells. The rain was still falling when I picked up Nate after work and he drove us out to Mt. Juliet to meet with a florist. When we got there, all the power was out. The cops were controlling the intersections and all the businesses were dark. Fortunately our florist's office had power.

We met with her and discussed what we thought we want, and she was really great and helped us stay in our budget. She also gave us some really great ideas for reception food and now I'm excited about planning that part. I think once you move past the idea that you have to impress all of your guests and decide you're going to have fun with it and who cares what people think because it's your wedding, it takes a bit of the pressure off. We have some fun ideas.

Tuesday after work we went back to Antioch to pick up Nate's car. Nagy showed us a few other things that were wrong that he had fixed. He probably did twice as much work to the car and charged us a lot less than the local mechanic. Nate's car drives great, so I worry less about him driving it long distances. Nagy said that car engines typically last to 350,000 miles, so he said when Nate's engine goes, "Bring it to me, we will rebuild it." Looks like we found ourselves a reliable mechanic. We thanked Nagy and he said, "Send me your friends!" So if you're looking for a guy who fixes cars because he loves it and has been doing it for almost 30 years, I'll give you Nagy's information.

Rob Bell spoke at Belmont last night, but Nate had men's group and I didn't go by myself, so we're interested in hearing how that went. Samne are coming over for dinner tonight. Friday night, Nate and I are going to Rocketown to see Lecrae. Date night. Woot.

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