Friday, October 25, 2013

Michigan Shower Take 1

Our first Michigan shower was hosted by some dear family friends. Sue is a hostess extrodinaire and we were certainly spoiled by the beautiful decorations and delicious food. This shower was also a couples shower (are other people finding this to be more the norm as well?) and we were blessed that Brandon's parents were able to fly in to meet some of our Michigan friends.

I'm pretty sure Brandon's favorite part of the shower was the food though :) Sue found out that Brandon and I are big fans of Indian food (Brandon got me hooked) and she made a delicious meal of several of our favorite dishes!

We also had some very special servers at the shower - the Senior Pastor at my church and his wife! They did a great job!

Pastor Ken

Laurie (Pastor Ken's wife) and our hostess Sue
Listening to a beautiful devotion Sue gave based on Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts."

Some of my siblings - Heidi, Nathan, and Todd

The absolutely gorgeous cupcakes!

Opening presents (excuse the dark pictures, the raspberry walls made photos a little tricky) - once again we were abundantly blessed! I'm pretty sure Brandon got the most excited about the homemade oreos someone made us, but I fell in love with our rice cooker extrodinaire!

Sue is also an amazing quilter. For our gift she made us this gorgeous Christmas tree skirt! I told Brandon we might have to get a tree this year just so we can use this! (or put it around the plant he has in the apartment :))

My man

Part of the decocrations included these giant photos of Brandon and me! It is always strange to walk into someone else's house and see all these pictures of yourself....

So blessed that both sets of parents were able to join us for this day! The next time we will all be together again will be JANUARY!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Minnesota Shower

Brandon and I have been incredibly blessed as numerous friends and family have stepped forward and offered to host a bridal shower for us. The first on we had was a couples shower back in Minnesota in August that was thrown for us by my incredible future-mother-in-law.

Janet (soon to be Mom R) did a beautiful job and we had a wonderful time starting off our wedding season with our Minnesotan friends and family!

As part of the decorations Janet filled all the frames in the downstairs of their house with pictures of Brandon and me. It was really cute, but a little strange the week before the wedding when I was staying with them and yet was surrounded by pictures of myself.... :)

This shower was a couples shower. Basically it ended up being that we all ate together and then the ladies stayed upstairs to play a game and open presents while the guys gathered to play some games of pool and watch baseball.

Some of my favorite Minnesotans - (L to R) Brooke (whose husband is one of Brandon's groomsman and son is our ring bear), Sara (who is dating Terrence on the far right), Jamie (our Mistress of Ceremonies who amazingly ended up being in town from CO during the shower), me, Brandon, and Terrence (one of Brandon's groomsmen).

The incredible food spread! Janet told me we were just going to be having some snacks....

Welcoming balloons (sidenote - I love this giant mirror in the family room!)

I have no clue what is going on in this picture...

Grandma Dot! We were so thankful she could come to the shower. Her health won't permit her to travel to MI for the shower and so we were very grateful to have this chance to celebrate with her.

Sweet cutie-pie cousin Lily.

Game time with some aunts and cousins.

Brandon periodically left the guys to join me for some gift opening.

It was fun to open some of the things that we had been really excited to register for - these were some glass canisters I'd fallen in love with at Crate and Barrel.

An amazing spread of desserts to end the night (the salted caramel cupcakes were incredible!)

Our amazing mothers who do so much for us! Thank you Janet for this special day!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Around the Corner

Have I mentioned how much I love living in the same state as Brandon? In the same city? Off the same major street? Only a 10 minute drive away from one another rather than a 10 hour day?

While I know living together will be infinitely better, right now I'm just basking in the fact that I get to see him 6 days a week (minus Thursdays when I have orchestra practice after work on the other side of town...).

While wedding planning has taken up a lot of our time, it's been nice to get into more of a routine together - dinners together, church together, trying out some new hobbies, talking to each other face-to-face each day....

Poor Brandon works from his apartment everyday so we do try and get him out of the house at least once a day (i.e. I volunteer him for wedding errands :)), but other than that and missing his friends and family he has adjusted well and we've both enjoyed the chance to get to spend some more time with my family.

We get asked a lot about our future plans - what happens next year? Where will we be?

It's a hard question. 

Our general plan has always been to return to Minnesota. We both love the Twin Cities and think it is a great place to raise a family. We love the family and friends we have there and there are generally more legal opportunities there than in metro Detroit.

This is hard for me. I am very close to my family and I would love to live close to them. But I knew from the beginning that I was dating a Minnesota man, and as important as my family is to me, I realize that Brandon and I are our own family - and I will happily follow him to the ends of the Earth :)

Even more importantly we came to the realization early on in our relationship that we don't want to be the ones to lead our lives. We don't want to be irresponsible, but we want to live lives that are open to and actively seek God's direction. Do we plan on going back to Minneapolis next fall? Yes. Could we end up feeling called to stay in Detroit or move somewhere completely different? Absolutely.

And so we live day-by-day....or year-by-year for now! We know we will be in metro-Detroit until next September, and after that we are excited to see where God leads us!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's All in the Name

It's been a little over a month since I started my job. So far, so good! I am clerking for a great Judge who is a believer and my fellow co-clerks (one is a career clerk, meaning she will stay with the Judge indefinitely, and the other is a term clerk and will be around for just one year like me). It has taken awhile to get used to working full time - physically and mentally! But last weekend I was reminded about how blessed I am to have a job right out of law school when Brandon and I ran into a former classmate of mine who is working in a suit shop while awaiting his Bar results.

I think what has surprised me the most is the caliber of attorneys working at the courthouse for the other Judges. I'm not sure about other fields, but in the legal world where you went to law school is a big deal  (at least especially in the first few years post-law school when you are trying to get your first job). Law schools are ranked on a tier level - first tier, third tier, fourth tier. The school I attended was a good fit for me, has a good local reputation, and was a tier 1 school - but at the very bottom of tier 1 (like #100ish) vs. Brandon who went to University of MN which is much higher ranked (historically in the top 20).

During orientation I had a chance to meet the other new clerks in the building - many who are recent graduates like myself. That's when it hit me. Because the other new clerks aren't from middle of the road schools, they are from schools like University of Michigan, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, and Harvard. (all top 10-15 schools).

It was incredibly intimidating!

I started feeling embarrassed - like the little fish in a big pond. Thankfully my career clerk graduated from the same school I did and was a big help. She reminded me that although our school name might not be as recognizable, we have reached the point of an equal playing field. We are all doing the same job. Although I might not have a fancy certificate on my wall, it doesn't mean I can't perform just as well (if not better :) ).

But even more important is reminding myself that my school name doesn't define me. My job title doesn't define me. My degree doesn't define me. 

My faith defines me. 

And at the end of the day the fact that I'm not Julianne from Harvard doesn't really matter to me - as long as I've left an impression that I'm Julianne who serves the most high King!

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:58

Friday, October 4, 2013

100 Days

In 100 days I get to say "I do."

I get to call you mine forever.

It's hard to imagine that only a year ago we were just getting to know each other, and yet it feels so long ago.

What was my life like without you?  I certainly never knew how amazing life could be.

When I look at you I catch my breath - to think I'm blessed enough to have the honor of becoming your wife.

And do you know what the best part is?

I KNOW it's true....

The BEST is yet to come!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple.

I have been blessed to have grown up in a great church community. Don't misunderstand me, there have been plenty of times of unhappiness or frustration, but my church family is made up of some of the most caring, genuine, Christ-followers I know.

The reality is however, that Brandon and I have seriously questioned whether or not my childhood church is supposed to become our home church.

When we started dating, Brandon and I spent a lot of time talking about our faith, what we felt was important in a church, and how to grow together and support oneanother in our spiritual walk. While my childhood church has a lot of the elements we are looking for, we have also questioned whether or not we would like to start out married life in a new church setting - a fresh environment for both of us.

As we've talked and visited several churches, we've started to realize what elements are important to us in a church home.

Non-negotiable Dogma (as far as our beliefs)

1. Preaching and teaching of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, without error.
2. The Trinity - that the One True God exists in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. Jesus Christ is God's Son and his death on the cross provided the only perfect sacrifice for our sin.
4. Salvation is a gift of grace.

Elements we would like in a church

- Strong preaching - for us this is defined as teaching from the Word that keeps Scripture center. We also appreciate when the pastor incorporates exegesis. 

- An emphasis on fellowship and community - for us having a strong faith community is essential. Weaker preaching or a less favorable style of worship can be supplemented elsewhere, but a strong Christian community that practices accountability is irreplaceable.

- A multi-generational environment. While we don't have children now, we plan on having our children remain with us during congregational worship someday. While it isn't an essential, we appreciate churches that welcome and encourage this. In the same way, as fairly young (almost) newlyweds ourselves, we appreciate worshiping with a wide variety of ages and the influence that more mature members of the congregation can potentially have on us as we being our married life and look to grow in our faith :)

- Sticking to the basics. I am especially tired of visiting churches where the majority of the time ends up being spent on "special" music, dramas, videos, announcements, etc. I appreciate a church that sticks to the basics - prayer, worship, and teaching.

- Size. We would appreciate a smaller church, although I think Brandon is less adverse to a larger church than I am. While I have nothing against larger churches, I do think it is a bit more of a challenge to really develop community and accountability in a mega-church setting (although not impossible :) ).

What you won't see us stuck on....

1. Doctrinal preferences. While we certainly do have doctrinal preferences (some stronger than others), we don't tend to let a particular doctrine drive where we worship.  In fact, we have both been raised with quite a variety of denominational influences, which I think has made us both quite well rounded. Here is a synopsis:

- Brandon: Primarily raised in the Lutheran church, but also attended non-denominational, Baptist, and Evangelical Free churches while growing up, and attended a Baptist college.

- Julianne: I was born into a staunch Christian Reformed family, raised in the Evangelical Covenant church, attended Assembly of God and Baptist schools, and went to a Christian Reformed college.

We certainly know what we believe and what doctrine we plan on raising our children with and incorporating into our family, but we also believe that many Christians allow rifts and division to be created based off non-essential doctrinal differences.

2. Music snobbery. Maybe this is a little harsh of a description, but my dad is the Minister of Music at our church and I have grown up always hearing someone complain about the music! Brandon and I both appreciate hymns and more contemporary music, but our only strong preference is nothing uber contemporary (i.e. feeling like you're more at a rock concert than a church service).


What about you? Have you ever had to look for a new church? What drew you to the church you attend now? Do you live in the metro-Detroit area and have a church you would recommend? :)

The incredible thing about this whole journey is that last week I was asked to attend a conference at my childhood church. It ended up being an amazing experience where the church leadership met and discussed where our church was at and where we were heading, and it made me wonder if what Brandon and I had thought was a call to go elsewhere, was really a call to take a second look at where we were and how God could use us. So while we are continuing to visit other churches in the area, we are also spending some fervent time in prayer asking God to reveal where we can best be used to glorify his Kingdom.