Etsy Product Release!! "Home Is the Nest You Build" Series


We are super excited to announce a few of our new products that arrived in our Etsy shop yesterday!!

These products were created by the one and only Mama E. We have entitled this series: 
Home Is the Nest You Build


"Our Flourishing Home"
We pondered over this piece for quite sometime. Then, all of the sudden, it just came together. A flourishing home is difficult to build, but wonderfully satisfying to attain. 



"Our Wild Nest"
Home is the nest you build for your family... And it just so happens that our nest is a WILD one!! Isn't family more enjoyable that way? If your home is filled with an overwhelming amount of laughter and joy, this may just be the perfect piece for you to place in your home. Take pride in that Wild Nest of yours!


...And my personal favorite... 


"Our Sweet Nest"
Since we've had a place to call our own as a married couple, we have always called our home, "Our Sweet Nest" in the same way I call JD, "My Sweet Husband". The word "sweet" just fits our lifestyle to a tee. I'll be honest, this is a tough piece for me to let go of. If you're an avid reader of our blog, you know that birds and nests have a lot of symbolism in our marriage. But, I am willing to let this piece go as long as someone will cherish it as much as we do. :)


Hope to see you in our Etsy shop!!
More products to come throughout the next few weeks! 



Welcome Home, My Love...

Maybe you noticed these pictures on your Instagram feed yesterday?


And then you thought, "Wait. Where did he go?!"

Well, I can't tell you his destination but I can tell you that my husband has been in another country for THREE AND A HALF WEEKS!! If you were to compile every single day that we had been apart since dating, prior to this trip... it would still not add up to three and a half weeks - 25 days - that we were away from each other at this one time.

If you're new to our blog, I'll fill you in on a few key details...

  • JD travels for business pretty frequently.
  • Thanks to his gracious company, I am allowed to travel with him unless security/safety issues arise.
  • We choose not to post any real-time information when traveling.

I picked him up from the airport with this tears, bright green sign, tears, a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its, tears, and Mama E's pecan mini muffins. Did I mention a terribly dreadful amount of happy tears!?

So we packed up the car, headed home and unpacked the bags. A few minutes after JD said, "I'm going to try to stay up late so I can get re-adjusted to central time," I found him sweetly sleeping with his new business class eye mask covering his eyes on the couch. Hey, he made it to 5 p.m. That's better than I would do. 


We woke up at 7:30 in the a.m. and started sorting through his foreign treasures...


How cool is this engraved scroll-holder? JD got our last name engraved in English and Arabic. He suggested we write our vows in calligraphy, age the paper and store them in here. ;) He's awesome.


JD received these tiny houses on his KLM flight. All business class passengers get to choose one on each flight. I'm thinking: Christmas Village material. 

Normally they store potpourri in the houses, we think, but they didn't for these because of Customs regulations. 


We love collecting things from other countries, especially when they have English on one side and the country's language on the other. Thus, we have a wonderful collection of Coca-Cola products. JD also brought back some Tabasco, Colman's Mustard, Ketchup and Jelly jars. Yum!

And then he pulled out a grocery bag of... chocolate bars. Snickers, Mars, Kit Kat, and Twix bars all with Arabic writing on the sides. Room service would leave them on his bedside table. It will take us at least a couple of months to finish these off, but I was so glad he saved them and brought them back to share with me!! 

What did we do to celebrate his return??


We shaved his beard off, devoured Five Guys burgers and fries, and...


we counted / rolled the coins from our finally-filled-up coin jar. And we had so. much. fun! Honestly. We sat there, laughing and talking with music playing in the background, simply counting coins. No TV. No distractions. Just spending the day together. Pure bliss. JD decided we should try to find all 50 states for the quarters and a penny for every important date in our lives year.  The only state we couldn't find was Colorado. We're hoping we'll find it eventually though! 

Oh - and we found four "Jesus Christ" coins. "Good For One Dollar In Trade" Haha! We were pumped each time we found one in the jar. Praise the Lord that we do not get into Heaven based on how many Jesus coins we have stashed away in an old coin jar! 


Come back Thursday to see how we remained intentional in our marital encouragement during each other's absence. 

Attraction: What's that one quirky thing that made your spouse fall for you?

"Mmm girl. That smile. You just gave me whiplash."

"Oh my gosh. His hair? Yeah. It's pretty spectacular."

Let's be honest here. When we are attracted to somebody, there's just something about that person that we are drawn to. Whether it be their character, their personality, their laugh... it's something. 

And sometimes a lot of times, there is normally at least some physical attribute that draws us to that person too.

For JD, I'm pretty sure my glasses were a big selling point for him. 


Ok. Now, I know that there are thousands of things he could say that he loves about me... but my glasses are kind of near the top of the list. As in, they're probably in the Top 5. 

I read an article by Terri Trespicio entitled "Guys really do make passes at girls who wear glasses" on February 7, 2012. I had no other choice but to capture this quote and feature it in my journal... for no other reason but because the guy who flirted with me when I was wearing glasses one day is now my husband

Glasses make a person feel confident, sophisticated and smart. Yeah, they may have been dorky in middle school but the frames industry has really turned the style around. 

{People ask me if my Warby Parker glasses are real or fake way to often!! And yes. They are very much so real.}

I really can't say it any better than Ms. Trespicio, "Glasses seem to say I may not be all that accessible, but I'd love to see you try." 


And my sweet husband tried. 
Eventually, he broke through the barrier of non-accessibility and claimed victory over my heart. 
Unbelievable. 
But oh so wonderful! 

What does your spouse or significant other find in you that is truly enthralling? 
Even better, what is the #1 reason you were drawn to your significant other?

Whoop whoop!! Today is our 2 Year Anniversary!!!

And we'll be celebrating it by sharing...

Disclaimer: You may be thinking, "Two years is

NOTHING

! Give me 50 years of experience, then I'll listen." Well, we hear you. Thus, this is not only 22 things JD and I have figured out throughout the past two years; rather, most of it consists of what wiser, more experienced couples have shared with us.

1. Put God first.

And when you do, glorious and unfathomable things will come to fruition. You will have a desperate desire to serve one another, (for the wife) to submit to the husband, and (for the husband) to love his wife and give himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22-33). Women often despise this verse, claiming that it is degrading to women and their independence. Timothy Keller confronts this view and states, "Immediately, however, [Paul] tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and 'gave himself up for her' (25), which is, if anything, a stronger appeal to abandon self-interest than was given to the woman" (The Meaning of Marriage, 53). Once again, our self-centeredness is challenged. When we allow God to overflow our hearts, self-sacrifice becomes just a bit easier. 

2. Reflect Jesus. 

"According to the Bible, God devised marriage to reflect his saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole-life union. (The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, 16)" All things we do in life or in marriage should reflect Him.

3. Lay grace as your foundation.

Since pre-marital classes, we've heard that many things should be the foundation of our marriage. We've come to the conclusion that grace takes the cake. Trust is crucial, but when one of us breaks the other's trust, what would cover it? Grace, and grace alone. Grace says that when I give 0%, my husband will still give 100%. And when he gives 0%, I must give 100%. It is by the grace of God that we have been redeemed, and it is the grace that we have received which will sustain our marriage.

4. Respect each other.

Nothing breaks our hearts more than to hear a husband and wife knowingly put down one another. Sarcasm is simply not respectful. With each joke, there is always a tinge of honesty. Those hints of honesty can quickly damage a marriage.

5. Communicate clearly but don’t

expect

your spouse to understand.

I graduated with a degree in Public Relations and I have quickly learned that I am one of the worst communicators on the planet. Especially in marriage. JD can say the most blunt and thorough sentence, and I still won't completely grasp at what he's getting at. Granted, it goes both ways. That's just the contrast in gender and humanity. Learn to work with it and be gracious towards one another in the process. :)

6. You can never say “I love you” enough.

Some may think it's cheesy but saying / hearing "I love you" pierces our hearts in such a beautiful way every time. Be creative. JD has written "I love you sooo much" on our chalkboards and constantly leaves sweet little notes for me. The first and last words we say / hear every day are "I love you". It can really change your attitude and perspective.

7. Serve one another.

An easy way to do this is to pack lunch for each other. It will help your budget a

nd it's fun. Write Post-It notes and place them in each other's lunchbox for an afternoon pick-me-up. Surprise your spouse with breakfast in bed. Husbands, open the doors for your wives. Be consistently spontaneous. It is a simple commitment that can transform a marriage.

8. Hold hands in public.

Most of us love seeing a couple that's been married for 50 years holding hands in the park... so why not start that sweet habit now? 

9. Make Date Night Mandatory.

Strive to pursue each other even after the wedding ring hits the finger. JD and I have date night once a week (normally at Outback Steakhouse because we can't get enough of their Aussie Fries). It is an intentional time where we sit down and share what's going on in our lives together. The week is full and busy. Take time to relax and enjoy being married. On a strict budget? Visit the ladies at 

The Dating Divas

for creative, budget-friendly date night ideas!

10. Wait a couple of years to have kids.

*

This may not be applicable to everyone... Babies are precious and we highly anticipate the day that we start a little Filipino family of our own. However, this has been advice from both couples who had babies five years after the wedding day, and couples who had babies nine months after the honeymoon. Marriage is tough enough to figure out without adding another element to the game plan. More importantly, marriage and the newlywed life is just fun. Enjoy it. Savor it. This is your one time to be selfish with one another. Take advantage of that. 

11. Keep technology out of the bedroom.

We were advised not to have a TV in our bedroom. Thus, you will not find a TV in our bedroom. However, we've learned the hard way that computers, iPads and iPhones can be an even worse distraction. Simply put, keep technology out of the bedroom. 

12. Go to bed at the same time together.

It's an intentional act that will carry your marriage a long way.  

13. Argue peacefully, understand, forgive and laugh.

Don't raise your voice at each other. When you get into a heated argument, walk to separate rooms and develop a peaceful argument. Speak the truth in love to each other. Keep your disagreements between the Mr. and Mrs. Discuss your problems with the pastor if needed, but nobody else really needs to get involved. When the extended family gets involved, problems become escalated and very seldom do problems get better. In addition, your families will take sides and will most likely develop a bitterness toward your spouse because of the dispute.

14. Speak kindly.

W

ords sting and can leave scars that may not heal for quite a while. Kind words add a gentle spirit (and infinite brownie points) to the marriage.

15. Always greet your spouse at the door with a thousand kisses!

Do this and when your spouse comes home from work, it will start the evening off in quite a delightful and lighthearted way. It will also encourage your spouse to leave work at work. 

16. Be active together and experience new things as one. 

Go hiking. Join a gym and exercise together - or even better, run or bike together in the great outdoors. Go bowling. Take dance lessons. Cook together. Compromise on what you like to do. JD cuts fabric out for my store while I sew, and I play video games with him because that's one of his favorite things to do (I beat my first video game because of him - that's right - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). 

Read the same books and start your own Mr. & Mrs. book club. Travel together (even if it's to a campground a few miles down the road). Learn photography or a new sport together (we're fans of racquetball). Serve at the downtown rescue mission together.

17. Take pride in your newlywed-ness.

We are one of those couples that would shout our love from the rooftops given the opportunity. We love each other, and we love marriage... and we take joy in making that known to everyone around us. In the process, we have received lots of awesome free stuff (pastries from Starbucks, dessert, concierge seating and free candy at the movie theater, you name it!). Even if we didn't receive any of these sweet gifts, we would still take major pride in being married - but it does add a few wonderful layers of icing to the cake. ;)

18. Plan your budget, stick to the budget and don’t forget to SAVE and GIVE.

Mint.com

is a great resource for a budgeting tools - especially if you like color and graphs!! Dave Ramsey's tools for budgeting is also a beneficial resource to help you both decide how to allocate your monthly budget. We use

this

19. Distance yourself from temptation.

Be aware. Never be alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex. You may think you're strong enough, but be smart and don't test it. My parents always had this rule and Billy Graham did too. So many pastors have fallen over the past couple of years because of adultery - don't buy in to thinking you're above the temptation. This goes along with anything intimate / private. Facebook messaging has become an issue in our society. We've known two people who began communicating with their ex-boyfriends via facebook message. They divorced their husbands and married the guys they were messaging with. Bottom line: don't be naive and run quickly from temptation.

20. Encourage each other.

In every aspect of life.

21. Surround yourselves with a community of like-minded married couples,

of all ages

.

Soak in wisdom from older couples, fellowship with couples your age, and mentor younger married couples. 

22. Never stop being Newlyweds.

Because being newlyweds is fun and filled with adventure. Plus, there is nothing sweeter than to hear a couple at their 50th anniversary say that they are still newlyweds. 

BONUS:

The last thing JD heard before walking down the aisle on our wedding day was from our friend Dr. Archie Hooper: "Treat her like a princess every day." The words are so 

simple but they run deep. It is a terribly tough task but somehow JD 

adheres to it in a perfect way. We recommend this piece of advice for all husbands. 

We would love to hear from you and your love! What advice have you been given prior to or within marriage? What advice do you share with couples embarking on that adventure?

November 5: Jerusalem on Shabbat

Yes, this post is written five days after the last one. You didn't miss much. JD worked every day, and I laid out at the pool (until the guy at the entrance asked me, "Why are you always alone by yourself?"... then I just sat in the hotel room or the executive lounge - wouldn't that creep you out a little too??).

We traveled over to Jerusalem. This was the first and only "guided tour" we went on.

Our tour guide was Jewish and stated bluntly and frequently that "these are the Christian beliefs but [he] just doesn't understand how people can think that way."

To put it in a more direct light for you... we would be standing at the Via Dolorosa and he would say, "This plaque on the wall is where Jesus put His hand when carrying the cross to His crucifixion, but I personally don't believe He was the Messiah."

To be transparent with you, it was tough hearing the guide use a disclaimer like that for everything JD and I believe in. It was interesting and challenging to hear his beliefs, but still tough to follow a guide who was telling us about Jesus but didn't know Jesus himself.

Praise Jesus that through His crucifixion and resurrection, He has removed the veil from the high place; that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom; and that we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image of Christ from degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:16-18).

In our next post, we will take you on a tour through the Old City (it may last longer than one post).

Below is Palestine, right behind us. You may not know the level of callousness between the Palestinians and Israelites, so let us put it into perspective for you... Israelis have yellow on their car tags and the Palestinians have blue on their car tags. If an Israeli car is seen crossing over the Palestinian line, well, they'll be bombed. From what we gathered, it seems like the Israelites have a less harmful form of punishment for the Palestinians but they won't be allowed over the line regardless.


Can you believe how close the two territories are? We are standing in Israeli territory but the Palestine territory is directly below us.


My sweet husband...


Can you see the Temple Mount? It's the gray building with the golden dome. That marks the location of the Old City, specifically the Muslim Quarter.


We are now on the other side of the road from our previous photo. Can you believe the contrast between the Israeli and Palestine territories? The Palestinian territory looks desolate and dry but Israel looks like it's thriving. Besides this trip, we didn't venture near Palestine. :)

Etsy Shop Announcement!

Wow! We just realized that we haven't announced our Etsy Shop opening yet!! Wahooooo!!

This shop has been a long-time coming but we opened it on April 9. It has been fairly successful so far. We're excited about the challenges of keeping everything stocked and making sure our ideas and creations are fresh!

Here is our newest addition to the shop: Shabby Chic Burlap Placemat with Ivory Lace Running through Middle




We also carry super stylish "cuffees" - reversible, reusable coffee cup sleeves - that you can find here. Each cuffee is unique in its design and stitching. If you would like a customized order for any occasion (including bridesmaids' gifts, birthday gifts, parties, anything of the sort), email us here and we can make that happen! 



Of course, we have the Cleaning List printable up for sale too. We are working tediously on compiling the ultimate Newlywed Organization Book but it's taking a while. Hang in there with us. :) The finished product will be epic. 







The Staple Piece



We told you a couple of weeks ago that we would share our "special find" from the Cotton Depot.

This is it!

This is our home. I've been looking everywhere for that "staple piece" to build our house around when the time comes, and this is it. It went up for sale six days before we bought it.

As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I started frantically calling JD. "We have to get this table, JD. It is so perfect and it is everything I've dreamed of for our home."

Please note here that we are trying really hard to become less materialistic. As in, if God calls us to leave everything behind and serve in a third-world country, then we would quickly and willingly drop everything to respond to that calling.


I'm really thinking this table would fit on a plane along with our one suitcase of absolute necessities...? Haha

The lady hung a "SOLD" sign on it until JD came to Monroe. We picked it up Saturday and she said at least four people had come in since we bought it, asking if they could buy it from her if they paid her more money. Thankfully she was the sweetest lady and kept to her word until we picked it up.

Isn't it just the sweetest table you've ever seen? It is handmade from old barnwood and the legs are white-washed. We will probably put a bench along one side when we move into a house.

Do you have a staple piece that you've built your home around?

He Gets Me.


Date: Thursday, April 19
Time: approx. 7 p.m.
Place: Publix Grocery Store

As we're strolling through the produce aisle, JD looks over and says, "Whit, I know you love having fresh flowers sitting out when we have house guests. Pick out a few bouquets. Theresa and Brandon will love it."

And there it was. My heart melted. Affirmation that, yes, my husband gets me. For the most part, he understands me and he is intentional about satisfying my wants when the opportunity knocks. We both realize that we will always have more to learn about one another and that we will never fully know one another.

But that's the journey of marriage.

The sweet journey can be heart-wrenching, in both a great and a terrible way. It's a journey of patience, understanding and surprises. We're constantly learning to love and to be intentional with one another.

Intentionality says, "Hey. I get you when nobody else does. I brought you these bouquets of assorted flowers - but not roses because I know you think they are too cliche."

Intentionality says, "I'll put these dishes up for her while she's not looking. It's my way of serving her and loving her even if she doesn't notice." (I always notice though... haha)

There are so many ways to simply love each other - date nights, chasing each other around the kitchen, leaving notes for each other in special places.


What are ways that you and your love act intentionally towards one another? 
How do you leave a mark of unpredictability in your relationship?


**We are super excited about Brandon and Theresa coming to visit this weekend!!! This will be their first time to see our home. Theresa is JD's sister and one of my best friends. Brandon is her husband, one of JD's college roommates and one of his best friends as well. Great families... that is a blessing. ;) 

October 28: Mount of Beatitudes

Simply amazing.

This place was much more beautiful than we thought it would be.

Bountiful gardens surround the church. We stood where Jesus preached about the Beatitudes, also known as the Sermon on the Mount. (See Matthew 5:1-12)

How cool is that? There is also a Roman Catholic Franciscan church that we got to enter. I felt a little weird because I was wearing my hiking shorts and there were signs that said guests could not enter the church if they have no sleeves, exercise attire or short shorts. I hadn't brought a change of clothes after our strenuous walking and hiking around the Bet She'an.

Note to Self: Pack a knee-length cotton skirt just in case you go to another site like this. 

The guys said it would be fine, so I trusted them and went in anyways. I'm pretty sure God cleared out the nuns for a few minutes so that nobody would deny my entrance.

It was quite peaceful in the church. JD and I sat on a pew and prayed together. We love praying as husband and wife. This church is a true place of reverence.



Stones lined the sidewalks with the beatitudes posted on each one. Out of all the stones that could have been missing a letter, this stone just had to be it. We couldn't believe it. With the heavy reverence of the site, this stone gave us a little comic relief. 


Aren't these gardens just stunning? Oh - what's that body of water peeking from below the surface?

Why that's the Sea of Galilee!

More on that next Tuesday.

Have we American-ized "Blessings"?

As a lead-in to our Mt. of Beatitudes post, we wanted to share you some real-time life ponderings in the world of Jitney...

I (Whitney) confess that until lately, have been terribly guilty of considering material things as blessings. Yes, I blame it, in part, on the American culture and even a little on the Southern culture. "Why, bless your little heart!" ;)

My sweet husband approached me the other day with a simple thought: Why do we consider a nice house or a hefty sum of money in the bank a blessing? What about people in Africa who have no shelter to sleep under but still praise Jesus for their blessings?

We ran to Matthew 5 - the documentation of Jesus teaching the multitudes about the Beatitudes.

Side Note: I always pronounced "Beatitudes" as "Beautitudes" until I was about 20 years old. It made sense that these teachings made one beautiful, right? Please tell me you've made that mistake too...

Basically, Jesus is saying that those who give of themselves for His glory, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are persecuted for His sake, who are pure in heart - those people are blessed. And what are they blessed with? The kingdom of heaven, comfort, satisfaction, mercy, the honor of being called the sons of God... a great reward in heaven. We don't see God promising a massive house, a super nice car, or even clothes (unless it's clothing of righteousness).

You are probably thinking: Well, what would you call my house? Or clean water? Or an overflowing bank account?

We're not sure. In fact, that's where we're at a standstill.

I personally think they are merely things that God has entrusted us with so that we may use those gifts in order to bring Him glory and declare His name. For example: If you have a house with lots of rooms, host a DNow weekend, adopt children to fill the rooms or serve as foster parents.

JD feels a little differently about it but our disagreements lead to some incredibly healthy arguments, so we're OK with that.

However, I was sharing our hearts with my friend and mentor Barbara here in Huntsville. She pondered on it for a couple of days and this is where God led her. It's a question / answer session with Billy Graham and we all agree that he hits the nail on the head with the ideas of "blessings"...

Question: My neighbor claims that God wants to bless us, and therefore if we just have enough faith He'll make us wealthy. Is this what the Bible teaches? If so, I must not have much faith. -- Mrs. H.G.
Answer: God certainly does want to bless us -- but the blessings He promises us aren't material, but spiritual. Nowhere in the Bible does He promise to make us wealthy if we'll just have enough faith. Remember: Jesus Himself was poor, and so were His first disciples. 
What are the blessings He promises us? The first is the blessing of forgiveness. Because of our sins we are separated from God and deserve only His judgment. We also live under a burden of guilt, because down inside we know we haven't lived the way we should. But when we come to Christ and trust Him as our Savior and Lord, God blesses us by taking away our sins and our guilt. The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). 
But God also promises us the blessing of new life -- new life right now, and eternal life in heaven. When we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit, and He promises to begin changing us from within as we submit our lives to Him. Even when hard times come, we know He is with us and wants to help us. That is good news! 
Have you asked Christ to come into your life? If not, do so today. Then thank Him that He is with you every day, and that no matter what problems come your way, you can turn to Him for the wisdom and strength you'll need to meet them.

What are your thoughts on blessings? 

And, honestly, have you ever thought beatitudes was pronounced "beautitudes?" Please say yes. :)