A note for a bride

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Erick and I attend a lot of weddings. We love them. I cry at every single one — which leads, of course, to Erick giving me a slight smirk as he slowly removes a kleenex from his pocket and hands it to me. It’s a fun game we play.

It truly is one of the most wonderful days of your life. I remember mine so absolutely clearly. I remember putting on my veil, seeing Erick’s face for the first time, the heaviness of my dress and the emotions that flowed through my body as I walked down the aisle with my dad. I remember the sting of the birdseed as it was pelted at me by the groomsmen — lovingly, of course. I remember the absolute glee on Erick’s face when we hopped in his dad’s 1960 corvette. I remember dancing with Erick as though it was last night, and it was nearly 4 years ago.

This is the thing, though: When people tell you that your wedding day is the best day of your life, what it sort of sounds like they’re saying is that it’s all downhill after the wedding is over. The serious business starts when the dancing stops. That’s true, in some ways. Marriage is serious business, and there’s a lot to marriage that you can’t see the day you’re wearing white. Your wedding day will, of course, be an extraordinary day. But on that day, you cannot imagine the beautiful, life-altering, soul-shaping things ahead of you. This is just the beginning.

For those of you who are single and still waiting for the right guy, for those of you dating the one who you think will be your man, for those of you counting down each day to the day you can say “I do” — I’ve been there. I understand the longing, the waiting, the excitement. I know you believe that on your wedding day, you will not possibly love your man more. I understand that. I felt that. I was wrong. This is just the beginning.

I’m not an expert or anything, and certainly not on marriage, but I can tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like taking one step into the woods, and with every passing year, you venture farther and farther into the brush, pushing past branches, climbing over boulders, jumping over fallen trees, unable — at a certain point — to experience anything except pine-scented air held in place by a forest that you never want to leave. This is just the beginning.

You will cry together, laugh together, pray and dream and move furniture together. You will learn and unlearn things, make a home, hurt each other’s feelings without meaning to, and sometimes very much on purpose. You will learn over time that the heart of marriage is forgiveness. You will learn in the first 3 months how much forgiveness he requires, and then you will realize, in the 3 months after that, just how much forgiveness you yourself need.

Don’t worry too much about all the advice that other people are giving you, mine, of course, included. Part of being a married couple means that you create a new identity together, “a new normal” is what Erick’s likes to say. Your “normal” is woven from your experiences and histories and lives, and while the whole world is full of opinions, work hard to become your own family, with your own values and traditions, things you always do, things you never do, things that bring you back to why you fell in love in the first place. Carve out time together. There will be seasons that are as dry as deserts, and the history of your love for one another will be the water you need to bring new life and growth.

You, my dear friend, will be a bride for one day, but you will, with God’s grace and very hard work, be a wife to this man every day for the rest of your life. Being a bride is super fun, but it pales in comparison to the thrill and beauty of being a part of life’s truly great partnership — a partnership God created so that we could experience just a small taste of the deep affection He has for us.

Marriage is a never-ending growth process. No other challenge, activity, task, or relationship has required more of myself — my wants, my desires, my time, my energy — than my marriage to Erick. I’ve learned more about what the Lord desires me to be, and the grace I so desperately need to be this woman.

Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are, and then forces you to pay attention to it. I wish someone would have told me this before I got married. But grace abides my friends. For the wives and brides around me — this is my advice to you. The wedding day — this is just the beginning.

1. Marriage is made up of two good forgivers. Because every marriage is made up of two sinners. (Romans 3:23)

2. At some point, you will have to learn that life isn’t all about you. (Philippians 2:3)

3. Don’t listen to women that tell you that passion fades…it doesn’t have to! (see all of Song of Solomon)

4. He wants a kind wife, not a maid or another mother. Be nice. (Galatians 5:22-23)

5. Give your husband the gift of your respect. He needs it more than you know. (Ephesians 5:33)

6. Be mindful of your expectations.

7. Honor the Lord above all things. Colossians 3: 17

8. Find your worth and security in the Lord, and don’t look to your husband to meet all of your needs.

9. Be very careful about reading romance novels, (or watching romantic movies for that matter), they set you up for an unrealistic view of romance.

10. Love is about relationship. The more I love my husband, and seek a relationship with him, the less critical and duty-bound I become. It is similar to my relationship with God.

11. Be thankful for the husband you have. Accept him as he is, not for what you want him to be.

12. Don’t compare! Don’t buy into the game of comparing him with anyone else’s husband.

13. Your marriage is a testimony! “Marriage, if done right, could change the world.” – Kathy Keller, wife of pastor Tim Keller.

14. Pray for your marriage. Pray often. Pray hard.

15. Where there is God, there is always hope. Even for the most broken marriages. “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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Erick’s birthday & Court’s BBQ

Erick turned 28 yesterday. I love celebrating birthdays — especially celebrating my husband’s birthday. He picks his favorite foods for me to make and we invite a bunch of people over. Birthdays = parties. And you know us, we love parties. And one of the extra fun bonuses about this party is that one of our friends and co-workers, Lee, shares a birthday with Erick. Double the fun, people. Double the fun.

Erick & Lee with their birthday pies!

Erick & Lee with their birthday pies! — and Matt photo bombing — typical 😉

The men requested BBQ for their birthday weekend so naturally we did pulled pork, cole slaw, grilled corn and baked beans. I even made my own BBQ sauce to make it extra special. And for reals people — I impressed myself. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so good.

Besides the corn and the pies, all the food I had never made before. Some would say that’s risky, but honestly, if the recipes come from chefs you trust, you should be good to go. I made my own tweaks to the recipes along the way, but that’s the beauty of cooking. There are no rules — do what you want. Baking is another story but that’s a tale for another day.

Pulled pork & cole slaw

This is what the sandwiches looked like (if you put coleslaw on the top of yours like I do — which you should). I’m so sad there aren’t any left overs. My biggest regret from the evening is that I didn’t lick the inside of my crock pot when the last of the pork was dished out. I doubt my friends would have judged me.

A few of our friends have already asked for the recipe so here you go. 🙂 I actually combined three different pulled pork recipes to make my own — so a big shout out to my bro-in-law Gary, Deb from Smitten Kitchen, and Mr. Alton Brown. I wouldn’t still be drooling on Monday without you.

Enjoy my friends!

Court’s Pulled Pork

adapted from Alton Brown, Smitten Kitchen & Gary Cooper
serves 12

Brine:
2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper
6 to 8 pound Pork Butt

Rub:
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika

Instructions
  1. Place pork butt in a deep bowl/pot/tupperware container. Pour Dr. Pepper over top of the pork making sure it is completely submerged in the pop, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours. 12 hours is ideal.
  2. Place cumin seed, fennel seed, and coriander in coffee grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and paprika.
  3. Remove pork from Dr. Pepper and pat dry. Sift the rub evenly over the shoulder and then pat onto the meat making sure as much of the rub as possible adheres.
  4. Place pork in crock pot turned on High and cook for 10 to 12 hours. Begin checking meat for doneness after 10 hours of cooking time. Use fork to check for doneness. Meat is done when it falls apart easily when pulling with a fork. Once done, remove the larger chunks of fat and any bones from the crock pot. Pull meat apart with 2 forks and turn your crock pot down to Warm.
  5. Serve as sandwich with coleslaw and BBQ sauce.

Traditional BBQ Sauce

adapted from kitchentreaty.com

2 cups ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and continue simmering for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in an airtight container — I used a mason jar. Keeps refrigerated for up to one week.

Coleslaw

adapted from smittenkitchen.com

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
4 large carrots, scrubbed and shredded
1/2 cup chopped fresh green onions
2 cups mayonnaise, low-fat is fine, as is swapping half with yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)

Instructions
  1. Prepare the vegetables: Halve the cabbage halves and cut out the cores. Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can with a sharp knife.  Transfer chopped cabbage into a large bowl, discarding any very large pieces. Stir in the shredded carrot and green onion.
  2. Make the dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, celery seed, sugar, salt and pepper in a smaller bowl.
  3. An hour before serving, toss the cabbage mixture with dressing to taste –- you will probably not need all of it, but it keeps in the fridge for weeks –- and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Note: Vegetables can be prepped and dressing can be the day before.

Life around my table

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I recently read a book and I felt so understood. Not that I walk around the world feeling misunderstood on a regular basis, but when I read Shauna Niequist’s words from her latest book, “Bread and Wine,” I knew I wasn’t alone in my belief that the kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture in my home.

There is a sense of peace you experience when you read another’s words and know you have a connection. You understand the joy she’s talking about because you’ve experienced it. You understand the sacredness she’s referring to because food and family and faith are indeed things to be cherished.

And honestly, I didn’t know how deeply I treasured, adored, and needed people around my table until I read this book. I’ve always known that I loved it — but, oh my friends, it is so much deeper than that for me.

“Food is the starting point…,” Shauna says. I couldn’t agree more.

I love community. There is so much beauty when we can come together to slow down, open our homes, sit at each other’s tables listening to one another’s stories for hours and hours. We push our plates back, but then laugh as we reach for just one more bite of pasta puttanesca. I care about loving what we eat, sharing the food with people we love, and gathering people together; whether it’s for store-bought cookies or homemade pie. The gathering is most important. The community is of great significance.

My dear friend Shanti bought me this book. In her sweet note taped inside the front cover she said she couldn’t read this book without thinking of me. She quoted that exact same statement from Shauna. “Food is the starting point … the currency we offer to one another.” Apparently Shanti already knew I embody this truth — she knew me more than I did. Best friends have the ability to discern things like that about us. Thanks for understanding, Shanti.

It’s more than just about the food set around that table. It’s about life. And that pretty much means it’s about everything.

I love food. I love people. I love when the people I love are sitting around my table eating food. It creates a joy in the depth of my being. I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at my table. Bread being torn, beverages being poured, forks clinking the side of plates. The warmth. The community. Joy is all I experience.

There is something so beautiful about a houseful of people. There is something comforting about men and women who feel the freedom to come over to my home and make themselves at home. I want you to invite yourself over. I want you to help yourself to my cupboards of glasses and fridge full of food. It tells me I’ve done something right. You feel welcome, you feel safe, you feel cared for and loved.

As Shauna says, “Life at the table is life at its best for me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day. I believe God is here among us, present and working. I believe all of life is shot through with God’s presence, and that part of the gift of walking with Him is seeing his fingerprints in all sorts of unexpected ways.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I think I was meant to be a host — in every sense of the word. I want to cook you things. I feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit by creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. What’s your favorite food? Come over to my apartment and I will make it for you. I feel confident saying that it would bring me more joy to serve you than it would be for you to eat whatever is on your plate.

Thank you for your words, Shauna. For many years I didn’t understand nor have the words to tell the truth about what I really love.

Living life around my table is my favorite place to be.

Grandma Vi

Erick’s beloved and sweet Grandma Vi went home to the Lord on Sunday. She was 94. We’re grieving and we’re heartbroken. But we’re also rejoicing. Grandma has wanted to go home to the Lord for so long. We know she is in God’s presence.

This was taken back in 2006 — Erick and I had only been dating a few months — and were visiting Minneapolis for the weekend.

I (Courtney) am no stranger to losing a grandparent. Part of the joy of marriage is that you gain a whole new family the day you say “I do”. But Grandma Vi earned a special place in my heart long before our wedding day — she and I met when Erick and I started dating more than six years ago.

We were over at her house with Erick’s Dad, Lyle, for an afternoon so the men could do some yard work and fix-up her driveway. I was ready and willing to help the men out, but Grandma had other plans for me. I was quickly called inside so she and I could “have coffee and chat.”

Coffee and conversations always sound more appealing than weeding and sealing a driveway.

Our chat turned into nearly a two-hour conversation — mostly Grandma talking 🙂 — about her love for the Lord, her Elmer (Erick’s Grandpa who died in 1975) gardening, cooking, and of course her deep love and admiration for Erick.

Erick baking with Grandma.

I don’t remember all of the details of our conversation, but I remember two things:

One — she talked about her deep love for her husband who she’d lost more than 30 years ago. She shared stories of their first dance, the day they married, when they bought their home, the day he died, and how she longed to see him again. I remember crying with her when tears ran down her cheeks as memories flooded her mind about hopes fulfilled and dreams lost. She was still madly in love with her man. I remember longing for a love like hers. Only the Lord knew that her beloved grandson would become my husband three years later.

Two, she expressed her unfailing love for the Lord. Though her body was failing her, her mind was present, and she never stopped giving the glory to her Savior. She talked about how she longed to see His face, and that when she died she’d head off to heaven “to worship the Lord and bake cookies.” She then proceeded to ask me what my favorite cookie was so when I got there she’d have a batch ready for me.

I fell in love with Grandma that day.

Christmas 2007

Fast forward a few years to the months leading up to our wedding. Grandma had recently been moved to a nursing home because she required 24-hour care. There was even a time over the summer of 2009 that we thought we might lose her. But Grandma seemed determined to make it to our wedding day. And that she did. 🙂

This weekend we’re going home to celebrate the marriage of Erick’s cousin Elliot and his beautiful bride Jackie. Though this day is going to be full of inexpressible joy, I know the family will be feeling the loss. Similar to me, Elliot also lost his grandparents early in life and adopted Grandma Vi as his own. She left a legacy with her family.

We ask that you pray for our family. Specifically, Erick’s dad Lyle and his Aunt Gloria. Though we were all prepared to say goodbye, you can never fully prep your heart for the loss you feel when you lose a parent.

We’ll miss you Grandma. I’m looking forward to those oatmeal cookies.

We moved. Life is organized chaos.

Thirteen days ago, we got the go ahead to move to Stevens Point. Five days after that, we signed the lease to our new apartment. Eight days later, I’m hopped-up on caffeine and telling you about the organized chaos that is my life while sitting in my new living room.

This is my story.

Last Tuesday, we drove to Stevens Point, WI to look at apartments. We were so pumped and ecstatic, but also a little overwhelmed. Minneapolis was our home for almost four years. It was finally sinking in that we would be moving to a new city, and building a new life.

As we drove the 3 1/2 hours from Minneapolis to Stevens Point that morning, we thought, “hey, if we find a place we like, let’s just sign a lease today and reserve a moving truck for Saturday.” So, that’s what we did.

We Horrmann’s are decisive.

As we drove back to Minneapolis that night, we talked about our excitement of living in Stevens Point, working with the students on campus, and joining our staff team. And then reality struck — we had to pack.

(Insert mini panic attack here)

I calmed myself down by perusing the Internet for packing strategies.

I know. I’m the person who googles random stuff. It’s just what I do.

And I learned something. Can I pass on a packing tip to you? It’s a good one.

On each box, write the room where it should go (kitchen, living room, office, etc.) and then a number. On a separate sheet of paper, write down everything in the box next to the corresponding number. LIFE SAVER. I got the idea from a wonderful stranger’s random blog. Thank you wonderful stranger.

Here’s another thing I learned. We need to minimize our life. I said it multiple times over the weekend, and I’ll say it again now, I have absolutely no idea how two people have so much stuff. Yes, I realize this is the first time I’ve moved more than just myself. But for real — we had 35 boxes for just the kitchen.

We had an army of people helping us moving on Saturday. Parents, brothers, friends — the Lord has blessed us with an amazing group of men and women to walk through life with. Thank you again to all of you!

The past few days have been a little nuts for us. We’ve made more trips to Target, Walmart and Lowe’s than I can count. Erick’s hung or put together nearly everything in our home — proving again and again how stinkin’ handy he is. He’s AMAZING!!! This move has revealed a whole new side of my husband. Blessings continue.

All 35 of my kitchen boxes are unpacked, the contents within them stored away on shelves and in cupboards, and the apartment is beginning to feel a little more normal. Well, the kitchen looks normal. The rest of the house … not so much. I’ve got a few more days. Monday is our official first day on campus.

Day 18 is when life gets real. Stay tuned.

Labor day adventures

We whipped out our passports this weekend. I always feel so cool when I get to use my passport. Like I’ve arrived — I’m officially a part of the cultured and refined cool kids club.

But this weekend wasn’t about growing in cultural competence. It wasn’t about climbing into the seat of a big old jet plane that would whisk me away to some exotic place in the Mediterranean.

Nope. It sure wasn’t.

Instead, we went to Canada.

It was about being in the backseat of a car for six and half hours, nestled between my husband and his best friend, rattling off bad laffy taffy jokes and drinking $.99 cent stale coffee from a Holiday.

It was one of the best Labor day weekends of my life.

We drove and drove, handed a man with a bullet-proof vest our five passports, drove some more, hopped in a boat, and traveled to an island 10 minutes away … where we settled for three days.

Three glorious days of being with wonderful friends, enjoying beautiful scenery, and exploring this land they call Canada.

And then we had to leave. *sigh*

Laughing, playing, and eating taffy all the way home. 😉

What do you call a cow with a twitch?  

Beef Jerky. 

What did you do this weekend?