Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Barcelona Pics Up

PS- if you want to see pictures from our trip to Barcelona, check out the link to our Flickr (pictures) site, as well as my photography website, and scroll down to see if I've added any to the posts you've already perused!
PPS- for a really cute video of Luke Fullerton (taken during VBS 2007), click here and scroll down to the entry entitled 'He's Southern?'. (that's my lap Luke's lying across)

Sweet Bride & Cute Fullertons

Today was our friends' Lynn & Jay's wedding. It was a morning wedding with a lunch reception... we're always looking for something to distinguish "this wedding" from other weddings, right? Well, this one had three distinctives, I thought:
- the sweetness of the bride. Some brides look happy, some are nervous, some are overcome with emotion... Lynn radiated sweetness. It suited her perfectly.
-- the consideration of their guests. Lynn & Jay are known by all to be servants of servants (Ryan referred to their "particular holiness" in their wedding sermon, and right he was!), and their reception especially showed this-- a kids' area with coloring books for the littlest guests, a kids' buffet that opened immediately, drink stations all around the room, and hors d'hoeuvres served while pictures were being taken.
-- the food. Jay is a chef (as well as a nurse), and the food showed it! I ate all the cream parts of the tiramisu, and my Ryan & Christy Fullerton agreed that the chocolate fondant cake was among the best they'd ever had!

I love every chance I get to hug on my little friend Jordana!

It was the first wedding Ryan & I have attended as Mr & Mrs Szrama ourselves. I was quite emotional about it, crying because I remembered all the joy & anticipation Lynn must have felt, all the expectations; because I shared their joy more fully, having experienced it myself so recently; because I saw the good faithful care of God and it was sweet to me; because I heard vows quite familiar, and realized how short I've fallen in 6 weeks, and was convicted and repentant, and finally because I know the disappointments that come so soon in marriage, and how much I'm prone to be willing to settle for less than what God offers.

This video of James Fullerton asking for "more" (watch the hands for the CLEAR insistant sign language) cake is adorably pitiful. Definitely inherited his mother's eyes and his father's singularly expressive face...

And the newest Fullerton, Christopher, looks like a very meatless version of his brother, Luke. Ryan (the proud papa) says "we've had the same baby four times now"... even though you may not be able to tell from this picture.

Mrs. Übercart, indeed

These two were taken at Drupal Con by fellow attender, Boris Mann.

...or at least Mrs. I-support-my-Drupaler-husband... ;D (this was taken after we got home & I WASHED the conference T-shirt. I always do that before wearing new clothes...ever since that one House MD episode...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blessings on My Birthday

I've already been quite blessed in little (and big!) birthday treats:

Cards from my M/W Preschool Kids & their parents. Talk about sticker explosions! :) I love them! And the moms were SO sweet; gave me this adorable gift basket with my favorite candies/candy bars and a Q'doba gift card (Ryan's & my non-fancy restaurant of choice. It's much a la Moe's). AND they bought a rug for our classroom! I meant to get pictures of all the kids sitting on it-- I don't know if they were more excited about it or if I was! :)

I Ryan & I went to a school "Vision Fellowship" last night, and two of my Pre-K students were there. I found that out only when (on two separate occasions) WHOOSH! "Mrs. Szrama!!" *legs nearly bowled out from under me* They're small and quick enough that you just don't see them coming! They were very happy to meet Mr. Szrama. [Long aside: hehe, turns out one family of girls had a running argument about what his first name was. One of their girls is in my 5-6th grade choir, and another is in my Pre-K class, and the other two I see in the pickup lines and hall ways... anyway, Mary Kate (aged 4) settled it by just asking me "what's Mr. Szrama's name?" innocently in class. The older girls were shocked that she got at it so easily and, their mother laughingly told me, swore "I'd NEVER ask that way!" Goes to show-- innocence and honesty over guile and speculation! Not that the other girls aren't perfect dears.]
There isn't another school on earth that could beat the amount of parental support and student adoration that I get at Dorothy Sayers! As another example, my T/R Pre-K class moms went in together to give Ryan & I a generous Gift Card to Target as a wedding gift on Tuesday!! And my administration is even supportive and encouraging!... and I'm starting to get to know my fellow teachers. We had a grading party at Starbucks last Wed., and I think I'll join them again next week...

And this morning, Sina, John & Jenna showed up on my back porch with a bag of gluten-free baking mixes (YUMMY) and a pan of oven-fresh, piping hot, gooey GLUTEN FREE cinnamon rolls! Happy Birthday indeed!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Please Pray for our Church

To Pray for at Immanuel Baptist Church (Louisville, KY)-- I haven't said anything until now, but this is something we as a church have been struggling with for the past 2 weeks. It hits close to home for Ryan & I, as we're in the Fullerton's Care Group and count their children very dear (and Ryan & Christy just did our wedding/counseling), I teach Alexis King at school, and well... you all know our relationship to the Shueys...

So it's been hard to watch them all hurt and to feel their pain.

Oh yes, and ...I have strep throat. :( So pray for Ryan & me, too. :)

Our pastors and their families:
-- Ryan & Christy Fullerton: Ryan, our preaching pastor, and his wife Christy were expecting their 4th baby when Christy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She has since had a healthy baby boy, Christopher Jones (healthy and "perfect" despite being born 1 month early) and has undergone further tests. The test results are not encouraging at all, and every course of action doctors suggest is invasive and intense. Please pray for healing for Christy! God can heal miraculously at any time! In the meantime, pray for Ryan & Christy's souls as they wrestle to hold on to faith in God's goodness and His care for His church. Pray for wisdom in discerning the best course of action, and for strength to face whatever comes. Pray for their 4 children, Jordanna (6), Luke (4), James (1) and Christopher (1 week), whom Christy homeschooled, that they would be cared for and comforted, that God might even bring salvation to the older ones through this. And pray for Ryan, as he bears the suffering of his wife, the responsibility of a family, and feels the weight of a Shepherd of souls. Praise God that spiritually they are doing well, by God's grace, and are determined to cling to Him and publicly proclaim His wisdom and goodness.

--Jeff & Christy King: Jeff, our counseling pastor, has served for the past 9 months through increasingly debilitating physical ailments. He was hospitalized and released in July, with no conclusions. Finally, last week his spleen was removed (it weighed 5 lbs!), and tests point towards rhematoid arthritis. Since the surgery, he is feeling much better overall, and we are all relieved that cancer, though it was at first feared, seems ruled out. He seems to be recovering well, and is a testimony to his doctors and fellow patients. However, he isn't "out of the woods" yet, and much remains to be seen. Pray especially for his wife Christy as she labors to serve and care for him as well as their two daughters, Alexis (4) and Rachel (2)-- she has been essentially a single parent as well as a caregiving wife. Praise God for His mercy in Jeff's recovery this far!

--Dave & Sina Shuey:
As our only non-hospitalized elder's family, the Shueys are under quite a heavy burden. Somewhat ironically, Dave is also the only unpaid pastor. Pray for him as he feels more than ever the weight of pastoring a church, all the while juggling work, family and school as well. Pray for Sina as she seeks to help and support him. Praise God that He has raised and is raising up other men to share the burden with Dave: three men were nominated for elder at our last business meeting, and a deacon as well. Our Care Group system has also been a great help in this case. Please pray for all our leaders here at Immanuel, that the Vision for our community and world will not stop or lag at all. May the Gospel be central always, even now! Pray for our congregation, that we would be encouragers, especially of our leaders, and bear any hardship with praise rather than complaints.

"The LORD is faithful to all His promises, and loving towards all He has made." Psalm 145:13

Monday, September 24, 2007

I got my paella!

Some photos from Saturday's "Last Night in Europe"s excursions. (see more here) We set off for the Castle of Montjuic, and on the way met up with fellow DrupalCon-er David Cohen, from CA. We enjoyed each other's company so much that we walked all around the fortress (it closed earlier than we thought it would, we didn't see inside it. We'll just have to come back), took a teleferic and then a bus down the mountain, walked and waited for 'the Magic Fountain' show to begin, watched it, then metroed it to Placa Cataluña and ate a lovely dinner, complete with the required sangria (for you, Mom
& Tia O).

My Best Pic of the Night...after you don't want to know HOW many tries...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hannah's TWO

Happy Birthday, Dear Hannah...




...and I won't get to see her eat her cake this year! :(

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ryan's First European Meal

As a little girl in France, I remember being allowed to get up and play between the appearance of each plate of food. Whereas in America, good manners demanded that we sit and listen to conversation and participate when invited, in Europe, the meal's time was so stretched that it was a mercy for even the best-mannered child to be allowed to get up from the table for some portion of it. We forget that we used to have lots of silverware because we needed a new one utensil for each dish... an upper-scale US meal consists of maybe some appetizers (and/or/including a soup or salad), a main course served with bread and a veggie side at the same time, and finished with dessert & coffee. In Europe, every dish is brought out in its own time, literally in its own dish. In Italy, every dinner had at least an antipasta, a salad, a pasta, a meat, a dessert and wine. So I'm used to meals that take 1-2 hours and restaurants where you're expected to linger long "at table." I was quite eager to share this side of my cultural upbringing with Ryan, who had never encountered the like. Last night, we got our chance!

In Spain, you've got to experience tastes of tapas, right? We'd decided Friday night would be it. I got up and made omlettes for all the boys (as we'd promised the first day...but then I was always too sick-feeling early in the morning), and then... had to go right back to bed. Dinner out seemed sort of an overly-optimistic goal... BUT God was merciful and we had quite the night on the town.

The Context: I ran into some fellow Drupalcon-ers (met Tuesday night at Moshe & Amy's) in Av. de la Catedral, and they told me where people were meeting for Tapas-dinner. Ryan, Balosz and Phillipe joined me and agreed to the plan, and we set out up Las Ramblas towards the address I had. That venue was crowded, though, and we were told we wouldn't get a table for at least an hour! So our fearless leader, Morten (known 'round here as 'the King of Denmark') led us on a march in search of food NOW. We followed somewhat reluctantly, having heard rumors of similar quests that turned into hours-long testings of muscular endurance... but this time, we found a place pretty quickly, and all of us piled in. We'd gathered followers on the way, so by now there were about 20 of us... and I was the only Spanish- speaker! Our host was very gracious, eager to please (I mean, who wouldn't be, with that much business at stake so "early" in the night!?)...and spoke no English. I played interpreter and negociator and we ended up with a sweet deal of 4 courses, drinks (wine, bottled water & beer), dessert and coffee for 25 euros (which is about $32 dollars). "All specialties of P. Vasco!" the server assured me. [Vasco is a region of Northern Spain tucked in the Pyrenees, called "Basque Country"] It was a hit all around, and people were declaring their affection and loyalty to "Mrs. Ubercart" afterwards, which was quite nice. =D Morten was especially glad when I asked them to bring out "mas cerveca" for the beer-drinkers, and they did.

The Meal:
First was tapas-- mostly spreads and meats we didn't recognize on baguette rounds, topped with olives or peppers. Yummy! Of course, there HAD to be chorizo, which is pork sausage-- it's so common the Spanish don't even count it as meat, but rather as a seasoning. I was a little wary of it; last time I ate it it left me vomiting with food poisoning for 3 days. But I figured it'd been 10 years; I needed to move beyond, lol. (so far, there's been no ill effects. =D)

Next came 'tortilla espanola'-- an omlette with in this case onions and parsley.

Third we tried a bean soup which was my favorite! I can't describe it... it was white beans and maybe some garbanzo beans. Flavored of course with chorizo.

And fourth came the main deal: thick-cut, rarest of the rare, steaks, served on sizzling stone griddles, for us to cut ourselves. All agreed that they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I haven't had the equal since Florence. I LOVE RARE MEAT!!! Ryan says from now on we'll order rare instead of medium... SO glad he understands my "unladylike" taste for "bloody" meat now!

Dessert was good, I'm told-- as it was cakes, I couldn't try it. On the whole, European cakes are drier and less sweet than their American cousins. Dessert came with Spanish coffee; tiny cups of expresso to be sweetened at your leisure-- strong and flavorful, but not bitter. I like it. :) Ryan surprised me and had tea.

Well, that was our culinary excursion. I REALLY want some paella before we leave, so we're going to try to find some tonight. Last night's waiter told be our group was welcome back any night, and that if I called him before hand they could make ANY menu we wanted, including paella (even though they had at first told us they didn't serve that there), so I guess we weren't a bad crowd. =D Speaking of our "crowd..."

Actually, though we enjoyed the food, most of my love for European culinary culture is due to the extended conversation it entails. The guys we've met at this conference are such characters! Most of them, I learned this morning, are part-time developers, meaning they do it on the side because they want to. THAT, I've decided is why they're such a diverse and fun group: they all are smart, but they do their nerdy thing only part-time. The rest of the time, they're in the real world, and that real world spans several continents and multiple countries. That many cultures rubbing shoulders when everyone is smart makes for very lively, interesting conversations!

And that, my readers, will be another post. :)
~Mrs. Übercart
PS- we only got 2 pictures of the whole dinner before the camera died. :(

Thoughts on Picasso

Well, I made a slightly more extended foray out of the apartment yesterday. Actually, seeing as I didn't come back until after midnight, I reckon it was MORE than a foray. So let's say I embarked on a venture. :)

Pablo Ruiz Picasso's family settled in Barcelona early on in his life, and he always considered it his home. Near the end of his life, he donated thousands of paintings, sketches, "studies" and doodles to the little museum dedicated to him in the city. I've never been a Picasso fan; it'd be one thing if I admired his work and thought he was a morally corrupt womanizing jerk (think Wagner). But I figure if I hate his lifestyle (5 women, children by 3 of them, and each relationship lasting at most 10 years!) and his abysmal lack of scruples, AND I can't stand his "art" then I really shouldn't waste much time on the guy. So I never really have...and when I tried, I always ended up regretting it. I figured it was a no-brainer when I looked at the options for Barcelona-spent-time; skip Picasso, head for Gaudi, castles, markets, and cafes. But then I saw a flier for the museum's permanent exhibits, and changed my mind. The paintings they showed looked...really cool: "highlighting his early work" it said. I was intrigued, so I went, thinking maybe I'd understand his art better if I knew a little more who he was/where he'd come from.

I ended up
becoming quite impressed with his talent & versatility as an artist-- he really WAS SUPER talented! One quote somewhat sums it up: "As a child, I could paint like a classical master. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to paint like a child." (it's up to you to decide whether or not he really benefitted anyone by doing that last part) The fact remains, though, that as a very young man, he already was painting on a master's level. And even in his phases of pointalism or Cubism or his brush with the Impressionist, he retained his ability to switch back into that first lively, realistic, gentle Classical style. Pieces from the same year show widely differing styles: he truly was a master painter. He did what he did because he meant to, and because he wanted to. That wins my respect.

Cubism, though. What did I think of that? I think (despite my lack of study) that now I sort of understand it... simply put: I still find the style monstrous and a waste of time. :) Picasso was trying to reorganize fragments, to capture bits from every angle and perspective, so you could better see the whole... but if you stick someone's nose in the middle of her forehead, you haven't "better captured her form." You've made a hideous monster! That has all sorts of philosophical implications! Think about it! One big one: whether you acknowledge that there is One who determines how the full form of you (your life) should be organized, or whether you go about reorganizing it however you see fit. One way, you create a monster...

Doesn't that have a lot of bearing on our lives? Those young ones of us are making decisions quite often that affect the shape the rest of our lives will take. We are having to "organize" our Selves as we walk quite day to day. What classes? major? job? life trajectory? time priorities? companions? books read? etc. etc. You older readers, feel free to post some of the implications you see.

Comfort to me as I thought on this: to those of my friends who aren't very sure what God's wanting from them in concrete terms (they don't know what He wants them to be "when they grow up"). Isn't it comforting that God IS Organizing your life, changing you from glory into glory, making you more like Jesus!? I really encourage you to keep seeking His guidance, through His Word and His People, which is how we hear His Spirit. He's not been dragging you down a rabbit trail, trying to wear you out on afterthoughts or red herrings. He KNOWS what He's made you to do, and I am 100% assured by Scripture that He won't leave you in the dark about it.

One more thing that might comfort you is that the journey WITH Him-- THROUGH the waiting and lack of assurance and confusion-- is worth just as much (maybe more) than wherever He ends up wanting you to end up. As you learn faithfulness and joyfulness and how to walk near to God, and gain the abilities to encourage others, and serving EVEN when you don't really "know what you're supposed to be doing", you are growing in Grace! You're experiencing the presence of God; you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing as a Christian.

I'd rather have His hand forming my life Form than a nose in the middle of my forehead anyday. :)


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hola de Catalunya!!

We are in Barcelona! (as in Spain, not Kentucky)

The flights were all great, and though it took us many steps lugging heavy bags and being confused by indirect signs all over the Metro, we finally made it to our apartment, and met 2 of the 4 guys we're sharing it with; Phillipe (from France), another guy from Hungary, Barosh, and then 2 more guys- Shakur and Nic- from the UK came in late last night...then found an Irish pub and didn't get back until 5 am. So, yes, I'm the only female. :)

We had crazy turbulence on the last flight from Holland-- while Ryan was in the bathroom, lol!! I'm working on reading The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald; the guy who wrote "The Lost Princess") which you would love! Ryan bought us Tolkien's latest-released Children of Hurin as a wedding gift, and we're about 1/3 of the way in and loving it.

Last night (Tuesday-- where did Monday go?) we went over to Drupalcon Families & Spouses (I think the official name was "Non-Geeky Partners" lol) Get-together hosted by Moshe and Amy. They're from Boston, and we met a couple (Simon & Caitlyn) from Australia, another from Augusta, GA (Amy &... a redhead), and several others. It was great for Ryan-- he knows a lot of those guys from online chats and forums, but has never met them in person. He loves meeting all these fellow Drupal-ers!! I did enjoy meeting the other wives; they were very kind and friendly towards me. I plan to do some sightseeing and shopping with them throughout our stay here. Amy from GA is actually coming over at 2 this afternoon to use our internet. I'm supposed to email Caitlyn. But I am not feeling well at all-- EVERYTHING aches. Ryan & I didn't sleep well on the plane and then were on our feet carrying our bags all afternoon, and then walking all evening. Both of us were fighting sore throats before we came, you know how it goes... Anyway we're AirBorning and Adviling and watering it up. I'm trying to find good stuff for us to eat (looking up all the words that might mean GLUTENOUS SUBSTANCE WITHIN in Spanish)-- our apt.'s in a great location; two blocks from La Sagrada Familia (famous Neo-Gothic cathedral designed by the architect Gaudi)! I can hear the hour chime. Keeps me knowing what time it is, not that it really matters around here. Ryan & the guys set off a while ago to find their conference... I'm taking it easy today and will be planning stuff to do and researching neat places to eat or visit. We both love the city, though I will appreciate it more when I'm not walking the last kilometer of a 36 hour day. :D

SO, part of me would like to just keep to myself all day every day, except for going to see stuff and be with Ryan, but none of the others here that we've met are believers, and the Gospel presses hard on me. Last night Ryan & I talked aboout how it can be difficult to be openly and genuinely a Christian in an intellectual European environment. I KNOW they think I'm just a young goody-goody newly-wed. It hits us both hard, I think Ryan especially in some ways because he IS so smart, is here as a professional, and wants to be respected as such. Please pray for both of us. Already there are openings for more explicit Gospel conversations, stemming from questions asked and answered last night. So, yeah-- pray!!

My Spanish is serving us well, though at first I kept trying Italian, lol. As are my street-smarts (HAH); well, I have more of them in Europe than Ryan does, lol. So far we've exchanged money, used a pay phone, gotten change, bought groceries, read the metro and train lines successfully, and walked about a million steps. I'll post pictures soon. I'm suprised to see I can read the Catalan (Dialect spoken in 'Catlunya' or the Province of Barcelona)! It really is just Spanish & French jumbled up. And my thoughts are now all jumbled up. Yummm! I smell paella cooking from somewhere nearby...and I hear a lively soccer game on the roof of the school behind us!

Hasta luego!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Edie Wessel's Wedding Pics

Me with my bridesmaids right before the Big Entrance-- Adriana (my cousin), Amy D. (all the way from Argentina!), Courtney (Ryan's sister), Val (with Noah in utero), Christina D. (my college roomie-- my first "other half"), Nicole & Anna. Melissa was already upstairs at the piano.
Some final encouraging words from my darling Val

My good-lookin parents, Karina & Bart Thompson. Seriously, Mom is just gorgeous!

Happy Birthday, dear Sina, Happy Birthday to (large breath) YOUUUUUUU....

Today: birthday
Today my dear friend Sina celebrates another year of life, and even though she'll likely never read this blog post (her being on the computer is slightly unlikely), I wanted to give a shout out to her. =D I don't know what I'd do in Louisville without her. She and her family are so much a part of Ryan's & my life, from church to picnics in the park (like the one we were both just at) to carpooling to Dorothy Sayers (the school at which I teach and which her kids attend) to collaboration on shopping, home renovation/decorating and cooking. When I need encouragement, or advice, the Lord often has been pleased to provide it through her. Several times she's even told me, quite lovingly and plainly: "Christina, that's just a bad idea." That's a true friend for you! May Christ be ever more plain in her, and may He continue to get glory through her life and character. And may He be pleased to let me to grow up to be more like her! I am so blessed by the many wonderful, godly examples of true Queens among women all around me!

Overall Scope of Days: settling in
Married life? Well, it should comfort you viewers to know that Ryan & I just purchased a digital camera with wedding money, and will be photo- documenting much more of our lives' lively little details! (and the less mundane, like, oh... Barcelona next week. =D) But we've at least begun the "settling in" process; I've bought all the remaining bedding, appliances and household wares we "needed," as well as stuff to renovate, clean and organize our new home. Wedding money has been wonderful for all of that! I've read the instruction manuals for the Crock-Pot, blender (by which I learned that our particular brand can grind coffee beans!), bread-maker, pots & pans, silverware, dishes, mini-food processor, ice-cream maker, electric skillet and dehydrator, opened and washed all the Pyrex, steel mixing bowls, gadgets and Tupperware, linens and towels, started converting family recipies to gluten-and-soy-free versions, and begun my garden patch (composting is fun!). Doubles and extras have been exchanged, TV trays, futons, desks & shelving assembled, and I'm starting to get into a routine of cleaning and household chores. I love cooking from scratch, though it's always an adventure (especially as a lot of the gluten-free dishes are unfamiliar territory for both Ryan & I AND my Mom!). Thankfully Mom's just a phone-call away (hehehe I'm still on their cellphone plan, so it's FREE!!), and Sina's got great recipies in a pinch.

More importantly, Ryan & I are learning how to talk to each other and best love one another. It's a balancing game of both letting love cover over sins, and being honest and unafraid to confront sins in each other. We've had some late-night conversations and less-than-happy exchanges... And we've come out the other side already feeling we know and trust one another more. This morning we took a walk around Shelby Park, to the mailbox on Oak St. by our church-- our mail still isn't being reliably picked up/delivered-- and we read Children of Hurin (JRR Tolkien) while we walked, and enjoyed the gentle fall sunshine and chilly air. We are in a particularly laugh-y mood today, and it's fun.

What have I been doing? Well, household errands, teaching-- I should be planning lessons right now-- church activities... We've had our first lunch guests now! Our plan is to always be ready to invite people over for lunch after church on Sundays, so no one has to eat out on the Lord's Day. So I'm getting in the habit of making an extra couple servings of whatever, and making sure we have enough home-made ice cream to go 'round. I love being able to do that!

Primitive Hospitality: Ryan & I, and Ashlea at our Sunday lunch "table" two Lord's Days ago

Ryan & I are in a Newly-Weds Bible Study through our church, which meets once a month at the home of (in our group's case) Jim & Marlaina Rairick, who also "happen" to be in our care group! I carpool to/from school with the Shueys on Tuesdays & Thursdays, and I try to save up stories of my little ones for them. They all laugh, even Jenna, though I think she just does it to do it. The little minx. Morgan Shuey came over yesterday for a Latin Party-- we baked cookies for my Pre-K classes (in honor of the phonogram 'C' which we officially start next week) and studied Latin together. I enjoyed pulling up the old knowledge in my head, and the challenge of teaching a new pupil. Ryan still teaches at the Transformation House once a month, and goes most Tuesdays to encourage the guys there-- afterwards last Tuesday, Lance & Josh, two friends from church, came over and enjoyed hot fresh cookies and home-made ice cream while they got "The Tour." Ryan likes giving that. =D We have some awesome ideas for this place... some of them rather... fanciful, heheh. Starting last Sunday I began helping in the children's Sunday School with Ryan. I'm observing/being the back-up for the Girl's Small Group Leader, and the plan is for me to rotate in and lead next quarter. I actually get to lead tomorrow, because Rebecca'll be out of town! What else... Ryan & I had our first married double date last night, to see 3:10 to Yuma with Ben & Sarah Hedrick (yes, the Dairy-Del couple). I snuck in my organic soybean-oil-free popcorn, hehehe (see Ryan's blog for his take on the flic). Ryan valiently persists in seeking to educate me in the ways of rock music, drilling me in which band sings what songs, and how to tell them apart. "I'm a music connaisseur, too," he says. I tease him by retorting that he's a "music" connaisseur, with hand quotation marks a la Andrew Whaley. I guess one more thing is that I also jumped into this year's "Spiritual Friends" mentoring program at our church, and am paired with a girl named Amanda Brainerd, who's been married almost 3 years, and I think will be quite a good match for me. We met on Monday to talk a little, and she bought me a "Java Julep" (mocha frap with peppermint- yumm and we were mutually encouraged, I think, over the course of nearly 2 hours of talking and asking and sharing. God be praised-- He creates unity out of nothing!

Tomorrow: O Day of Rest and Gladness!
All right, I've been on here long enough. I'd best get going. Soon as Dave & Sina call, I'm off to celebrate a little with them and give Sina her present. Happy Lord's Day to you all!

--quite the blessed new bride

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mystery Gift

Ok... who gave us the Dragonfly dishes? Ryan picked them out at Bed Bath & Beyond and I was quite surprised and pleased with his choice-- we absolutely adore them, and use them whenever possible. We were THRILLED to open them up when we got back from our honeymoon!

The card fell off the package, though, and we'd like to know who to thank! So... whoever you are who gave them to us, you wonderful person you... please reveal yourself so you can be duly thanked!! =D
- a very thankful Bride

p.s. we still haven't even opened all our presents (though I think we've gotten all the cards), so if you are delayed in hearing from us, we may just not know what to thank you for yet! :D
p.p.s. I haven't legally changed my name to 'Szrama' for various purposes (like... passport and insurance while we're out of the country next week), so if you made out a check to "Ryan & Christina Szrama" or "Christina Szrama" that hasn't cleared, it's 'cause I can't deposit yet. But in the meantime they're safe, and when we get back from Spain I'll change my name immediately!
p.p.p.s. Yes, Ryan & I are going to Barcelona, Espana on Monday!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

After Laboring on Labor Day...

12 of us worked hard all day and by the end of it, the house was looking pretty good! Mom & Coshack attacked the bushes and wild overgrowth out front; Dan W. tamed our trees in the back; I got all the ivy off the front wall; Ashlea, Katye and I started a garden patch and lined it with bricks from the basement; all while others were assembling, sorting, cleaning and floor-stripping inside. It was such a sweet gift from our friends to us! We love our church!! (and Ryan's mother-in-law ;D She out-worked us all!)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

From Kira's Camera

My roommate from Rome (and Furman Singers buddy), Kira Vine, is quite handy with the camera, and was our assigned "candid" photographer. I couldn't be more delighted with the shots she got-- if you're barred from Facebook sites by your filter or firewall, here are a few I especially like:

A good close-up of me.

I love it-- it captures the day so well! Lots of joy with my beautiful Valerie (unquestionably the cutest pregnant matron of honor EVER!!). Melissa is clearly wondering what's gotten into me, as if I weren't normally a little kooky, seriously!... and Courtney looks like a model! =D

In Kira's words: "Here it comes, here it comes!" (ps- for extra laughter, check out Anna's face!)

"We're MARRIED!!!"

Our Grand Entrance down the Grand Staircase

Dad's Toast (the song "How to Handle a Woman" from Camelot-- so sweet! And of course, he sang it with ALL the repeats... ;D) That's my friend Devin from high school behind him-- I was so glad to see 4 of my high school buddies there! Kate, Katherine, Rebecca, and Devin, you are sweet friends!

On my way out... I look quite the princess. ;D Which is fitting, for one who married such a Prince!

The Day of the Gladness of Our Hearts...

Wow. My wedding day happened. It's a little sad, not being able to look forward to it anymore. Funny, isn't it? But it DID happen, and it was unspeakably wonderful. I have never had more of my favorite people around me; never felt so deep an outpouring of joyful love; never seen more people take up the basin & towl to serve me; never been so expectant and jubilant at the sight of anyone; never clung so tightly to my Dad with a wonderfully bittersweet mixture of amazement, deep grief at being lost to him, and wonder at all God's brought us through together; never had a sermon tailor-preached to me... and never made such earth-shattering (to me) vows before.

Looking back, I want to go to each guest, to each family member, to each person who helped (and there were SO many), to each gift-giver, to each person who prayed for us all day because they couldn't be there (like the Foremans in Philadelphia, and the Cooks in Bejar, Spain, and so many in Louisville), and CRY on them, and say "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" God is pouring out so much blessing on us right now that I can hardly bear it. Such a weight of responsibility comes with it! Such a debt of love is owed! Such a testimony to such a Great Grace can't be passed over-- it feels like it's got to re-order my life! But really, I guess it's just a bite-sized reflection, a mere fraction of the grace already bought me by the horrible separation from God the Father that God the Son endured. And now the Father's smile is mine. HALLELUIAH!!! I STILL have a wedding Day to look forward to! =D

I can't write more right now, but here are some pictures (not the "official ones," mind you):

My Dapper Groom-- (taken before the ceremony) doesn't he look eager and happy? I love it!

Me Crying & Clinging to my Daddy- when we heard the shofor blow (meaning Ryan was coming down the aisle), we both just fell apart.

My sisters are so beautiful!
Ryan (pastor): "Ryan, you may kiss your bride." Ryan (groom): lifts my veil, and says "I'd really like to kiss you right now." And I said he could.
Hopefully John & Morgan weren't traumatized... ;D

I love this one because of Jenna's face. Such a little minx.

The AMAZING groom's cake. Appropriate for us, ey?
And no, we didn't smash any into eachother's faces. (pre-agreed upon!) I think I look even happier (if that's possible) in all the pictures AFTER I'd seen Ryan!
And, we're off!

More to come...
~Mrs. Szrama =D
ps- check out Ashlea's pics, or Kira's.