from the desk of.

Happy Friday! My calendar is empty today which means no meetings. That's my kind of Friday. Here's a quick wrap up on what's been going on this week.

Friends for dinner. Last night Nate and I invited our friends Colin and Justine over to have dinner with us. Nate asked me to find a chicken burrito recipe like Chipotle, but apparently chipotle is also a pepper (a very spicy pepper) and when I found and tried a recipe that included chipotles and adobo sauce, Nate and I almost melted our mouths off and I ran to the store for taco seasoning and ground beef while Nate tried to salvage the chicken by rinsing off the sauce. It worked and the chicken was good and we had a half pound of normal taco beef on the side. Colin and Justine hail from KC and they are great.

Otismeister. Otis is doing well. Fitting right in like family. It will be sad when he leaves. I'm not sure how Miles will react. He'll probably be lonely. Miles feels like a heavy giant when you pick him up after you pick up Otis, who weighs like 4 lbs.

SBTS. I'm officially applying to enroll at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to take a class or two this spring semester. It will most likely be a Saturday class so I don't miss work but they haven't yet posted what classes will be available in Nashville next semester. There are only three available degrees here right now so an M.A. in Christian Education it will be. (The others are an M.Div and Ph.D.)

Smashville. Nate and I are going to our first hockey game tomorrow night: the Nashville Predators vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. We got free General Admission tickets (via a Facebook offer). I have kind of been scoring all types of free things lately (you've seen that "Respect the Roll" commercial by Cottonelle? Yeah, I sent off for a free TP roll holder). I got a $5 gas card by collecting codes from cereal boxes, got a $50 gift card to a local running store for winning a contest, and am getting about 5 free greeting cards thanks to a coupon code. And yeah, I'm also that girl who signs up for free shampoo and body wash samples whenever I get a chance. Sometimes you'll find boxes of cereal and soyjoy bars (gross) and pens with my name on it in the mailbox. I can't help it.

College Worship Gathering. Tonight is our first worship gathering with the Immanuel College group. This Sunday we are starting a study through Hebrews. So excited. We love those college kids.

October. October is officially upon us which means I can start searching for/buying/planting blueberries and raspberries and planting my daffodil and tulip bulbs. I've got some other minor landscaping things to do too. Our Home Depot gift card is coming in very handy.



“When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.
(Leviticus 19:9-10)

Last Sunday in community group, Tony read Leviticus 19:9-10 and pointed us to Jesus. The Old Testament is amazing. Look at this.

In this verse, God was commanding the land owners to sacrifice—to leave behind that which rightfully belonged to them—for the advantage of those who were poor and who were foreign residents (those who could not help themselves). At this point, I was wondering if Tony accidentally chose the wrong verses to read because I was not seeing at all how this correlates to Jesus.

Then God says: I am Yahweh your God.

God doesn't ask us to do things He wouldn't do Himself. And we see Jesus all over Leviticus 19:9-10. Jesus gave up what was rightfully His by humbling Himself into human form and providing salvation to those who are unable to help themselves. God pointed His people to Jesus. In essence, He said, "Do this one thing, make this one little sacrifice for the sake of your neighbor because I am God, and I am preparing to do something even greater—to make one giant sacrifice for the sake of men, sinners who are unable to save themselves."

Wow, God. It's all about Jesus.

For the fame of His name,


decision tree.

I made this decision tree to help people make good decisions. Happy Monday!



Through word of mouth, I discovered Pinterest, a site where you "pin" ideas you like to virtual bulletin boards. The first thing I found that I thought was pretty ingenious was this:

A make-your-own fire pit. We needed 30 retaining wall stones to form a three-level pit (though we'd like to raise it to about five) and they were about $1.80 each. (Apparently you can find them for closer to $1, but we have a loaded Home Depot gift card.)

The stones were heavy! Nate used the wheelbarrow to move them from the car to the backyard.
We had to take the base off of the fire pit and just use the bowl, but it turned out great! Once we get a miter saw, we want to build seating around it and some flower boxes. (Like a mini unattached deck.)

The wood we gathered last night was too wet from recent rain so we didn't have a fire, but I think we will enjoy it so much this fall and winter. S'mores, anyone?

Also at Home Depot, I picked up some polyurethane finish for the file cabinet I painted. It used to be a putty color, but now it matches the study. I'm going to use black chalkboard paint to paint the area where you write the file label.

And I got some fall flowers. I'm not sure yet where I'm going to plant them, but they were too beautiful and too inexpensive not to buy. Plus they are perennials, which is the best kind because as long as I don't kill them, they'll come back next year.

The weather in Nashville today is wonderful! Unfortunately my allergies keep me inside more than out, but I still love it. I picked up my square foot gardening book from the library so I'll plan out some of my spring planting today while I fold laundry.

Happy fall!



Meet Otis! A couple of our friends from church needed someone to keep a family member's kitten for a few weeks, so we volunteered.

Miles isn't sure what to think about Otis, but I think they'll learn to get along. I laughed when I heard his name is Otis because I've said if I had a second cat, I'd name him Otis ... Miles and Otis. (Do you remember the movie Milo and Otis?)

Anyway, Otis is pretty cute and curious. I put Miles in the kitchen to let Otis check the place out and eat some food. Mostly Otis hides under the couch and Miles watches him. They bat at each other a bit and hiss but nothing too dramatic. Give them a couple of days and I'm sure they'll be best of friends.


free popsicles.

If you are in the general vicinity of Nashville, jump on this deal: 

These boys usually run $2.50 each, so this is a nice treat. My team took an afternoon break today for popsicles. I usually get chai or chocolate mint chip, but they didn't have those so I tried cookies. It was a creamy popsicle with chunks of chocolate chip cookie in it. Pretty good.

Jeff ordered strawberry.

Cheryl ordered chocolate with chilis.
Las Paletas is in Nashville favorite. They're special because they are Mexican popsicles. My favorite variety is the creamy popsicles because they are milk-based, not water-based. Our friends Sam and Anne tried their hand at making popsicles once. They brought some over and they were pretty good. We're still waiting for the word that they've got a booming business back in Kansas. :)

It's mostly cloudy, somewhat rainy, and 72°F in Nashville. Any day is a perfect day for a popsicle.



I sat in the Home Depot parking lot waiting for a black BMW carrying a man named Thomas to show up. He did, and after a quick exchange I was on my way home with my very own two-drawer file cabinet. We have papers stacked in random places around the house, and because I frequently file things at work, I knew this would be a great solution to our clutter.

Before buying this file cabinet, I did my research. I was initially discouraged because these aren't the types of things I could just walk into Staples and buy. These suckers are going new for $213. That's not exactly in our budget.

Here comes Craigslist. I found a slightly worn great two-drawer vertical file cabinet for a mere $25. Dealio!

It fits perfectly in the space next to my desk and I pulled out some leftover paint to give it a face lift. It will need a couple of coats, but I think the finished product will be great. I'm debating adding the green color to it.

I think I will use black chalkboard spray paint to fill in the little square labels on the front so we can just write in the categories with chalk and easily erase them. It might be fun to do a whole side of it with chalkboard paint. It is incredible what a coat of paint can do.

On the way home it was rainy and I was going 70 mph down the interstate when I saw (just barely) a white spider sprint across my dashboard and dive into one of the center air vents. Great. I called Nate and left a message to tell him he better be proud of me for not freaking out. Remember this incident? He was in class and texted to make sure everything was alright. Our conversation went like this:

          Alyssa: (missed call, voice mail)

          Nate: Everything alright?

          Alyssa: Yes.
          Alyssa: Spider. Car.
          Alyssa: 70 mph

          Nate: You wrecked?

          Alyssa: No :)
          Alyssa: Be proud of me

          Nate: Honey, you are going to give me a heart attack.

Hey, I thought I deserved some courage points for being brave and staying calm. Right? :)


I recently (finally) got a library card and love the Edmondson Pike library. It's the second-closest to home … the first-closest is smaller than my house and is a lot of computers and always crowded and not so many books. The Edmondson Pike branch has windows spanning the east wall and lots of places to sit and tons of books. Here is what I currently have checked out:

I taught myself enough InDesign to build pages for my book.

I haven't started reading this yet but it might be helpful info. in the cuture.

Here's what I plan to check out next:
Nate has some friends in Louisville who showed us their square foot gardening and it looked great.
We have tons of square feet in our backyard, but I want to be efficient with the space.

This should be a college course.

I'm getting serious about that miter saw! I am trying to find ways to organize the attic and utility shelves are expensive! I could build shelves on the slants like this. We really need to get some insulation in there first though.

I skipped a garden this summer with wedding planning and wedding, but this next summer I am going all out. We will eat a lot better and save a lot of money if we can eat from the backyard.

I'm making my first Craigslist purchase … a two-drawer file cabinet. $25. The same one is selling new for $180, so I'd say this is a pretty good deal. I have a bad habit of piling papers up at home and I think a good file cabinet would help me organize all of those and decide which ones we can throw away.

Getting things in order.



Remember this? It was a great solution for picking up the channels we weren't quite getting when the antenna was positioned lower on the TV stand. For the first time in two months, we could watch NBC.

Well, it's a great solution as long as you remember to not turn on the lamp ....

First Miles started acting weird and kept looking up at it. We didn't notice. I got up to get a drink and I said, "Nate, it smells like something is burning." It smelled like plastic. I checked the stove and my flat iron and then I finally noticed it. The lamp was on and the antenna was melting!

It smelled bad! We took it outside and surveyed the damaged. Surprisingly, the antenna still works. None of the wires inside were melted. And here's the top of the lamp ... the light bulb was coated in a thick layer of black plastic. I took the light bulb out and fortunately the lamp was not damaged either. So we really just lost the value of a light bulb.

Whew, I'm glad it didn't catch on fire. we would have had some real damage then. I guess this is our sign that we just need to get a bigger antenna and properly install it somewhere else. Lesson learned: Simple solutions are not always the best solutions.



On days when Nate's work schedule is within a half hour of mine, we carpool. It's way better than driving alone. Yesterday when Nate and I were driving home, we had a conversation that went like this.

          Alyssa: I think I want a miter saw. You can get one on Craigslist for like $50.

          Nate: For what?

          Alyssa: To make shelves and things … build a deck behind the house.

          Nate: You know, it's kind of embarrassing that you're more handy than me.

          Alyssa: I just have more free time.

Later that evening …

          Nate: Hey, take a picture of my DIY antenna job. Now we get NBC.

Yeah, I think we need a bigger antenna. :) Well, pretty normal week here in Nashville. It rained last night and allergy season is starting to kick in. We're starting to look at options for the holidays. Why does flying have to be so expensive? And driving so slow?

At work, we have been hanging out in third place in the U.S. City Challenge which is very unfortunate considering Dr. Rainer promised we'd instate casual Fridays (jeans!) if we won. I think it's tough because we had so many people sign up (like 550) so individual points aren't worth much since they are ratio-ed to the number of participants.

Nate is staying busy with working full-time and being a full-time seminary student. My book is coming along, at least organizationally. It is going to take a lot of research and studying. Hermeneutics can be tricky stuff so I want to have a good basis for why I read the Bible like I do so it doesn't seem like I'm making this stuff up.

Other than that, pretty status quo. I think we won't be leaving Nashville for the next three months so that's … exciting. Maybe during Nate's fall break we can get away somewhere nearby. Marriage is awesome, God is good.


a door on my porch.

Well, dang it. I just took a bunch of pictures of me replacing the weatherstripping on the kitchen door, but my SD card is apparently on crack and didn't save them. So I'm providing my own pictures; they may not be completely accurate, but you get the idea. :)

I noticed the weatherstripping on the bottom of our kitchen door was really worn and I suspect that might be the reason we sometimes have the occasional unwanted guest. I took a trip to Lowe's, found the right replacement strip, and read a website that described how to replace the weatherstripping. Pretty simple. The site instructed to take the pins out of the door to detach it, but our pins have apparently been painted over so many times that those pins were not going anywhere. So I decided to just take out the screw in the hinges.

It was pretty easy but the door weighed probably 50 lbs. I would classify this as a two-person job. I've been working out though, so I carried the door outside and positioned it flat on the side porch.

Step 1: Take off the old weatherstripping. It was held in by a couple of snaps so I just yanked it off, no problem. It was falling apart and looking really bare. Who knows how old it was.

Then I got the new weatherstripping out. It was about six inches too long, so I had to cut off the excess. This was the hardest part. I wore it down with scissors and a utility knife and then bent it and it snapped off. The new weatherstripping fit right on the bottom of the door and I put in four screws to hold it into place

The second hardest part (after cutting the new stripping to length) was putting the door back in. I had to hold it up and wedge my foot under it (but not too far) and line the holes back up and put in the screws. So basically it was one hand and one foot holding the door up, the other foot holding the inside so it wouldn't swing out at the bottom, and the other hand holding the electric screwdriver.

But it is finished! And the door feels sooo much more secure. It feels sealed; you have to pull harder to get it open. Oh, and the weatherstripping was $8.99 at Lowe's. So another inexpensive, quick and easy home improvement project. I think wedding planning got me in the habit of making sure I was productive on the weekends. Now I'm looking for home projects to work on while Nate is at work. Landscaping ... gardening (next spring) ... painting ... decorating. This homeowner thing is a lot of fun.


Ten years ago today I was sitting in my 8th grade algebra class when our principal's voice came over the intercom system to notify the students of the 9/11 attacks. In the days following, I wrote this poem. I read it over the radio for our local station and it was published in a 2002 issue of Creative Kids magazine. I had a volleyball game that night and we listened to President Bush's address over the radio while we were on the bus. I interviewed some of my friends about what they thought; their words are scribbled on a piece of notebook paper in a desk drawer at home. I remember my mom telling me, "This is a day you will never forget. For the rest of your life you will remember exactly where you were when you heard about this."

America Under Attack
Like a scene out of a movie,
It all happened extremely fast.
Hard to accept the truth,
Something belonging in the past.
We've been attacked by terrorists.
The words seemed so untrue.
Thousands killed, yet just as bad
It was our planes they flew.
Because they hate America
They started to hijack.
Diving from the sky:
A suicide attack.
Evil, taking lives,
Not caring who they hurt.
Quickly, without warning,
No hint of an alert.
Felt across the nation,
Anger and sadness filled the land.
Allies, neighboring countries
Stop to lend a hand.
Children's moms and dads,
Neighbors and close friends:
Faced with despicable terror,
Their lives came to an end
So much talk of war
Yet no chaos or retreat;
Whoever planned this murder:
Justice they will meet.
Worry and confusion,
Pray for those who died.
This wasn't supposed to happen;
I just want to know why.
The president said we'd be all right;
He said America was strong.
"What if," I often wonder,
"The president is wrong?"

Alyssa Reeves, age 13
Sept. 13, 2001



Yesterday I received an IKEA catalog I requested online and I'm pretty sure my mind hasn't stopped thinking about things to do around the house. It's a catalog full of inspiration and awesome looks. Here are some things that stuck out to me. (Specifically ... bookshelves/cases)
Love the bookshelf up at the ceiling.
Nate thinks it would be cool to have something around the bed like this.
Bookshelves around a window: very cool.
I think we are really attracted to bookcases right now because we need a book storage solution.
Great use of space around the window with the shelves.
I like that the wall and bookcase are the same color.
Shelves hanging higher than I would typically position them.
Love the little lights above the shelves. Also horizontal and vertical books. 
When I was little I dreamed of having a library room in my house. Here it is.
Nate and I both love books so this might be in our future.
We look at these and think, We need to save up before we buy anything. And then I keep thinking ... These are such simple designs, I could totally make this myself! Miter saw, anyone?

Alright, alright. I don't know if I will ever be that ambitious but I hope so. It really can't be that hard and these days you can find free detailed instructions for anything and everything online.

I did make some progress today. I trimmed a couple of bushes in the front yard, bought some tulip and daffodil bulbs at Lowe's, and planted a wildflower mix along the side fence and in the front next to the porch. If there is one word to describe our house, it is this:


There are lots of things I love about our house but there is also a lot of room for improvement. We'll take it one step at a time.


photo friday.

Getting out the door can be difficult on mornings when I encounter this level of cuteness.

Miles turns two years old this month.



It's only on occasion that Nate gets up for work before I do. Today was one of those occasions. Usually I slip out of bed and into the shower around 5:20—having snoozed my alarm twice—allowing Miles into our room to jump into bed and purr next to Nate. But today at 4 a.m. I was incoherent and half asleep. He said goodbye and I followed with, "Go serve coffee to the glory of God!"

I turned over and went back to sleep until it was time to get up and ready and head up Nolensville Rd. I've made it a habit to take 4th Ave. all the way into downtown; I avoid the 6 a.m. interstate and the 40 m.p.h. speed limit through the sleeping neighborhoods has done wonders for my gas mileage.

No matter how I time it, I inevitably hit the 30-second red light at 4th and Lafayette, which is followed by another 30-second red light that is green when you first merge onto Lafayette but yellows as you move beneath the bridge. It's impossible to hit it while it is still green … unless, perhaps, you floor it and hit 60 in the span of two blocks, but I'd rather sit at a red light for 30 seconds than pay a speeding ticket.

Lafayette stretches past the Nashville Rescue Mission and as day breaks, the sidewalks are worn down by homeless people who seem to live in shades of brown and gray. Some run in the morning. Some carry brown bags by the neck. Others scuffle into one of the two buildings that connect people with spontaneous work opportunities. The $623 million Music City Center rises incrementally during a four-year labor from the space between 5th Ave., 8th Ave., Broadway, and Lafayette. One day it was level, the next day there were stories and stairs. It was incredible.

At 8th Ave. South, Lafayette ends and sends me north toward Broadway. The street is lined with orange barrels and cones, paralyzed bodyguards for the men at work.

It's 6:15 and I'm early, but that's kind of how I roll. I came into this world two months early; tardiness just isn't in my blood.

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