Friday, December 30, 2011


2011 has been an insanely fast-paced, rewarding, difficult, unique, and thrilling year.

Here is a little recap of all we have to praise the Lord for and reflect on...
  • Said adios to Saudi Arabia and hola to America!
  • Rilyn Grace our favorite niece was born!
  • I graduated in May 2011 with my B.A. in Psychology
  • April 2011, I was hired by Cru as part-time staff at Colorado School of Mines
  • Spent one loooong summer support raising and praise God He provided for this season!
  • Celebrated our 1 year anniversary in June-wooo hoooo!
  • 5 months after our search began we bought our first home, crazy orange carpet and all!
  • Renovated an entire house and officially moved to Golden in October 2011
  • Rescued and began to luuuuuuve Harpo Herald Decker (his new name)
  • Hosted our first ever Thanksgiving and Ryan made one ridiculously delicious 20 lb turkey
  • Spent 2 adventurous weeks in South Asia!
Those are just a few highlights, there was much more relational, spiritual, and emotional context that we walked through. We are grateful for so many "firsts" and although it was a very fast paced year, we experienced significant growth. Here are a few pics of 2011 randomness:

{Our first snow back in October! The view from our backyard}

{Ryan & Kaia, our friend's husky puppy that he LOVED}

{Pumpkin patch date with spinach, garlic, fettuccine}

{At Clint & Megan's wedding-the 2nd wedding Ryan has officiated!}

{She's so big now but here is one cute, chunky, naughty, little girl we are SO in love with!}

{Rilyn & Ryan hanging out during our ladies Bible Study}

{Harpo locked away in his crate but happy "smoking" his bone.}


{Time with friends}

We anticipate 2012 to be full (overflowing actually) with new seasons and relationships and learning. I'm not sad to say good-bye to 2011 but energized and confident for what the Lord has already planned for the next 365 days.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Deuteronomy 7:9

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Different Week

This is a different but also a really life-giving type of week for us. While I work Ryan gets a whole week off to rest and get things accomplished! We are apart doing different things and while I don't know if I like being away from him for so long, I know it is probably healthy and stretching for us.

I get to be in Downtown for 5 more days at a ridiculously awesome Cru conference (follow that link if you want a glimpse into it). I only have time to write a blog now because students are in seminars and all my copying, map-showing, registering responsibilities are over for a few minutes. There are a lot of other things on the schedule but I'm really giddy over a flash mob on 16th street mall-you'll probably want to watch for that on youtube!

Ryan it seems is busy working on the house! He is so studly. In case you all wondered how Ryan could be good at so many things, it's because he is just that dang amazing! He is putting up trim, sawing things, probably nailing things on walls and lots of other to-do's. He is so good at making our house all safe and fixed up.

So the time apart is definitely a tension. Part of me wishes that I was with him on his vacation but another part of me is glad to be here in Denver using my gifts at a job I am so passionate about. I think I'm realizing how generally blessed we are to have time off and flexible hours with our employers. Being away from Ryan makes me appreciate who he is as a husband, man, and friend even more. But I won't be sad when I get to see him again soon!

Love is patient...

1 Corinthians 13:4

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

50 Cents

Our first game I broke 100 (117 to be exact) and beat Ryan Decker at bowling!!! Boom roasted.

We had to take our cars in for maintenance so we were car-less this morning. We had 1.5 hours with nothing do to so we walked across the street to the famously ghetto Golden Bowl! It seriously is so old school-they have Pac-Man, wood paneling and hilarious old shoes.

The games were 50 cents! Now that is an amazing deal and I know where I am heading for our next date. Such a fun morning with my hubs.

And now I am headed out to a week long conference in Denver with 1200 college students. It will be an awesome weekend. Lots of teaching and seminars, worship, a 16th Street flash mob, $5 prom, evangelism/leadership training, and serving the city of Denver. Looking forward to it!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Great Stir-Fry Addiction

I love food. Good food. Ryan and I have a favorite atypical "stir-fry" lovingly named the Boulder Turkey Stir-Fry (have I posted this before?) and it is a shamelessly addictive meal that we eat all the time. It's named after some hippy Boulderites who invented it and when you see what is in it, you will understand the name.

It is a simple and affordable dish full of vegetables, turkey, and brown rice. And after all the rich/sweet/salty holiday treats we've been consuming this is a happy addition to our diet. So here is the way to make this tasty concoction:

Boulder Turkey Stir-Fry
Serves 2-3

1 lb turkey (or for vegetarians I bet a meat substitute would be delish)
1 large yellow onion
1 bunch purple or green kale
2 small beets
3 medium carrots
1 cup brown rice
A little salt
Pinch of ground black pepper

Saute the ground turkey with onions until fully cooked. Turn stove top to higher part of medium low (got that?), add a few tablespoons of water and throw in the kale, carrots, and beets. Add the salt and pepper to your taste preference. Let everything cook together for about 10ish minutes or until all veggies are tender.

Cook the brown rice separately (start it before the stir-fry since it takes longer) and set aside. Once everything is ready, put several heaping spoonfuls of the turkey vegetable mix over the rice and enjoy!

Is is that simple. Don't be surprised when your poop is purple tomorrow from the beets. It's just a hilarious surprise for eating this weird dish.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.
Jeremiah 33:6

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve to you!!

We love these days and cherish every second of them!

Christmas Eve morning started with lots of coffee, a snowy walk for Harpo, and time with the Lord. We have a few traditions since we are always with the Nelsons for Christmas Eve. We enjoy a Christmas family activity, opening pajamas, dinner, and waking up early the next morning.

We adore these traditions and look every year to them with anticipation! But more than anything we are crazy for Jesus! Before, in-between, and after all this celebrating we completely and fully want to celebrate Christ.

He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven….

That the ancient of Days should be born.
that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle….
that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;
that a virgin should conceive;
that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,
that the branch should bear the vine,
that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,
and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;
that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God

Christ taking flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand till we come to heaven

If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us .

Behold love that passeth knowledge!”

~Thomas Watson

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Days!

Just a few more random Christmas pictures to add. People, we have about 18" sitting in our yard today! And the snow is still quietly and slowly falling which is just gorgeous! Ryan bravely 4-wheeled his way to work in this weather!

What are your Christmas plans? We will be splitting our time between the Nelsons and Deckers And we will have our own time too which is so valued and both parents support-how sweet is that? Groupon had a festive deal a few weeks ago for the Chatfield Botanic Gardens. There are colorful lights covering the gardens, carolers, hot chocolate in the red barn and other fun touches. Ry and I get to go to that one of these evenings for our hot date! We are so loving Christmas!

Here are a few pictures from the last few days:

Merry Christmas!!

Chalkboard paint! One of the most simple projects I took on was to paint the side of our fridge with chalkboard paint. We can draw pictures, leave encouraging notes, write memory scripture, or be festive for the holidays! Everyone loves this part of our house!

Harpo the watch dog in his favorite spot by the tree

Look at all that white stuff! It's piled up on the fence and more is on the way!

Our olive wood nativity set from Jerusalem, this is our most treasured Christmas decoration because of the reminder it serves for us and that it came from the Holy Land!

Shane & Ashley (left) were our out-of-town visitors and we are so blessed when we get to have time with them! Chris & Tamara (right) are due with their first baby any second...literally!

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely you know!

Proverbs 30:4

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Neighborly Christmas Lovin'

My wonderful husband is an extrovert in every sense of the word (which is an excellent trait!) and it has been painful for him to have lived in our abode for the last 2 months not knowing our neighbors. The only fulfillment of his dream to know every face on the block was a few weeks ago when the dude we met turned out to be from Creeperville about 5 blocks over. Not exactly what we had in mind...

But TONIGHT Operation Neighbor will allow Ryan's long-time dreams to come true! Our plan is to deliver homemade Christmas treats, learn some names, and call it good! The Nelson ladies and myself baked our lives away this morning: walnut fudge, sprinkled sugar cookies, pumpkin bread, snowballs, and Chex mix were all on the menu. I'm excited to hopefully bless the people on our block with these goodies and in time, develop relationship.

It will be really connecting to know their names and faces and will also help build our community as we grow roots in this neighborhood and live our lives next to these people for the next few 10, 20, or 30+ years!

The Loot

Also, here are a few pictures of decorations from around our house...simple and inexpensive. My favorite combination! Here is the real decorating secret from Mama Nelson that I will share with thee: wait until Target goes 75% off and get all stockings, ornaments, decorations etc then!

This glorious embroidered snowman + frame was found at ARC for $.69. WHA???? It's true, don't even doubt it.

O Christmas Tree! He remains lit up 24/7 this close to Christmas to keep up the spirit!

On our coffee table is this set-up. I put the $3 cranberry tree (marked down from $14.99 after Christmas) and the candle on a sheet of Christmas music and wa-la!

Praying that every one's final few days until Christmas are blessed, peace-full, and full of anticipation. We are welcoming our friends in from North Carolina tonight and plan on having a gingerbread house decorating contest-pictures to come! The only sad news to report is that my doc informed my I have an ear infection from our trip but that is not dampening the holiday spirit and festivities!

Only 4 more days to go...

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

Monday, December 19, 2011

Miscellany Christmas Thoughts

Saw this on a friend's blog and promptly stole such a fun and random way to update and write!

Obsessing over: Gluten free cooking, it's such a healthy and manageable way to eat holistically. Also obsessing over the sweetness of the Old Testament, specifically 2 Sam and the Kings books. Check it!

Working on: Meal plans for this week and into January and the envelope budgeting system

Thinking about: How God uses the absolute outcasts and crazies to weave his intricate stories. Just learned that the shepherds in the Christmas story were total weirdees of their time. They were known as liars, thieves and worthless. I am totally enthralled by how God sent THE LARGEST earthly gathering of singing angels ever recorded in scripture to surprise those "losers" in their humble work on random night. God called these lowly dudes to announce to birth of his Son. And what did they do? They RAN to tell everyone! Awesome. Dang I love how the Lord thinks and acts. He is so radical and I'm encouraged that he uses those least expected.

Anticipating: Christmas celebrations with family and visits from friends from around the country/world in the next few weeks!

Listening to: KOSI 101.1 non-stop Christmas music-it is such an amazing free gift to have access to! Specifically loving when Michael Buble comes on :)

Wishing: That we had more community happening right now. 2 weeks out of the country can creates relational gaps. We're excited for our home to be filled with people, family gatherings, small groups, Bible studies, events to serve or ways to connect serve and connect. This also sparks our desire to be more connected with neighbors and specifically other married couples. Anyone interested in this small group series focused on family and marriage weekly or bi-weekly in 2012?

Just some random December thoughts this week...share what you're thinking about!

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Luke 2:13-14

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Pictures!

Ryan & Pinaki using "quotations fingers"...apparently that's an American thing that made him laugh!

Time with students at a University in the city. They love Johnny Cash & The Beatles!

With a super sweet Accounting student in the cafeteria at University. Those would be authentic fish fingers that she wanted me to try-yum!

1 of the 3 million gods in Hinduism. These statues are all over the streets and housed in temples across the city. People will burn incense, flowers, and food when they want a blessing. You choose the god(s) you want to follow and spend your life trying to make them happy.

Not an uncommon scene: people sleeping in the crowded streets. Men, women, kids: it doesn't matter. People often lie down on a filthy mat and are covered in flies and trash while they try to sleep.

...but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

Daniel 11:32

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simple Christmas, Extravagant Jesus

There are dreams of a very simple Christmas dancing around my head this early morning. How early is it you ask? Well my clock reads 3:53 a.m.-thanks jet lag!

It's such a gift to be still right now-I love how peaceful our house is; time to enjoy quiet Christmas music and almond milk lattes. But after returning from busy, polluted, desperately poor Asia, there are more thoughts rattling around in my brain. I want to know:

What I'm supposed to do about my excessive culture and life? How does that translate to Christmas? How can we really serve the widowed, orphaned and least of these? What is my role or responsibility in the Great Commission and obeying Jesus? In what ways is the Lord asking me to live more sacrificially?

Maybe it's a little early for conclusive answers to those thoughts but my heart is searching in this busy season of Christmas and for MUCH more of Jesus! Somehow it's the desire of my heart to sift through the tremendous busyness that can accompany this season and extend that habit into everyday life. To simplify Christmas we are trying out these traditions:
  • Gift of time to each other: Ry and I are forgoing gifts in place of a Christmas date
  • Choosing two simple baked Christmas treats to enjoy and give away to neighbors
  • Simple Christmas decorations around the house: a tree, festive mantel and a few small decorations in the family room. Easy to put up and easy to put away!
  • Free activities! Golden offers a traditional Christmas parade December 17th in downtown. We get time outside and Harpo can join too. Other ideas include: driving to see Christmas lights, making festive drinks and going for long walks, watching classics like "Elf" or "Miracle on 34th Street", or checking out Luke 2 with a fire roaring!
  • The sweet time and focus offered from meditating on Advent
  • 1 scheduled day of Christmas shopping (on a weekday!) and wrapping to reduce stress and last minute rushing. Bugeting before hand also adds simplicity
And that is our Christmas plan! Our hope in these 8 days before Christmas is to make more room for the small voice of Yahweh (1 Kings 19:9-18). A joy this season would be to love sacrificially and simply, not excessively and with stress. We pray this habit would pour out into our daily lives and then overflow into the world

Here's the deal though, despite our own efforts to cut own, the simplest and most beautiful Christmas message we can find is the gospel itself. We're resting in this:
Our hearts are overwhelmed with thanks today for our sweet Savior, Jesus, who lived the life we have failed to live and died the death that should have been rightfully ours. Jesus rose again to allow us the gift of true life and this sacrificial, extravagant love is truly why He deserves our thanks, our devotion, and our entire lives. What a sweet and beautiful Savior!
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Luke 2:15-16

Friday, December 16, 2011

India Trip Pictures!

COLORADO!! We arrived this afternoon after 30+ hours of travel, it was an intense and exhausting few days. But now we're loving the fresh cold air, mountains and quiet. In the car this afternoon, we decided that this is the most giddy we've ever been to return home! We're feeling jet laggy this evening but our theory is that if you can stay awake until 9 pm local time you are set to get back on schedule.

Our plans for the next few days include getting back on a normal schedule, enjoying pre-Christmas festivities, and relaxing! More stories to come in the next post...

Here are a few pictures from the last 2 weeks:

{Ry and I in front of the Victoria Memorial}

{Ryan and several Cru students at the weekly club meeting}

Me, Sonu (the sweetest student and only believer in his family), Christine
{A little look at the city and buildings}
{Rickshaws: the dangerous yet awesome way of getting around the city}

[Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

Luke 1:46-47, 49

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



We are on Day 11 of our trip with only 2 more to go. Today on our agenda is an authentic lunch with our wonderful new friend Pinaki at his home and then finding out where to get henna done! On everyday's agenda is hunting down random/insanely cheap/delicious street food which is one of Ryan's favorite part of this adventure. He also got a $1 haircut yesterday...

So far this trip has given us:
Vibrant adventures all over the city...check!!
Insanely weird sights...check. (people bathing in streets, cows freely roaming, etc...)
The best food EVER...check. Wootness!!
Sweet ministry...check
Challenges...check check.

We are so encouraged by what God is doing here and it has been incredibly stretching and uplifting for our faith to get to know the church and believers here! We won't lie though, this trip is a struggle for us in many ways. The pollution, traffic, and congestion is extremely over-stimulating. The city is very busy and we have to intentionally remain patient. The poverty is extremely visible and you can't (and don't want to) ignore it. India is special for thousands of reasons but we can feel the cries here for dignity, justice, and hope.

But what is hard is not what we want to highlight. Our new friends, the ministry partnerships being built, and opportunities to serve this city have been overwhelmingly positive.

Our hearts are swayed for this place, along with the rest of the world. We're hungry to see the Lord more and redeem this broken place. We'll be Colorado bound in about 48 hours and after 4 loooooong flights we are looking forward to Christmas festivities and time with all of YOU!

A theme verse for this trip has been Psalm 82...

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 82:3-4

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wonky Comfort Food Overload

One aspect of working with college students is that in some ways you adapt to their diet. Maybe not for very long, but inevitably you will order in greasy pizza for an campus event, buy jumbo bags of candy for a small group, or experience nothing but diet coke and brownies for dinner at Bible Study. It can be unappetizing. Or...delicious! We learned our new favorite comfort food from our students at a Christmas party we just hosted at our house.

Annie's Macaroni & Cheese topped with Chili and a side of cornbread. Finished with Hot chocolate for dessert.

Oh have mercy this combination is delicious. It sounds so wonky try it before you judge it!

My new favorite cornbread recipe is this one from Better Home & Gardens. A friend of ours used this recipe but added 1/2 cup sour cream to the egg mixture and it was THE BOMB! Literally could have just eaten the corn bread all night long.

Corn Bread Recipe
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter
  • Honey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. Add the 1 tablespoon butter to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, a 9x1 1/2-inch round baking pan, or an 8x8x2-inch square baking pan. Place in the preheated oven about 3 minutes or until butter melts. Remove pan from oven; swirl butter in pan to coat bottom and sides of pan.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine eggs, milk, and oil (and sour cream or yogurt if desired). Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Pour batter into hot skillet or pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cut into wedges or squares. Serve warm. If desired, drizzle with honey. Makes 8 to 10 pieces.

Now for Annie's, you can buy 15 of these bad boys at Costco for a very reasonable price. Follow all the directions but we mix up the cheese mixture like this: When the noodles are done add 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp milk, and 1 heaping tbsp plain yogurt to the warm noodles and mix it all up. Creamy, tangy, so good!

I don't have room here to put a chili recipe but follow your tried and true classes chili recipe, top with big scoops of mac & cheese and be sure to cut a big honkin piece of cornbread topped with lots of butter and honey.

Hope that warms some bellies on a blizzard-y December day like this!

10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels...15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household

Proverbs 31:10 & 15

Friday, December 2, 2011

2 Minute Wisdom

A wise woman who is coaching me through new staff training shared a daily exercise that she has done for years. Pretty committed right? It must be good or helpful or something!

Here is what she does: Read one Proverb per day in coordination with the calendar date. For example, I read Proverbs 2 today. Ryan and I have both been doing this separately in our quiet times and we've been surprised how often we can apply what we took in that morning.

I don't know where I read this so I can't take the credit but in the margin of my Bible I have written, "Wisdom is the hunger of the heart". Seeing that to be true the more we immerse ourselves in this book! Give it a shot, it's super simple and a 2-3 minute commitment each day that will transform.

...Yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;...

Proverbs 2:3-6


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