Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

NOVEMBER (the October goals continue!)

Hello all!

I know, I know, I'm such a slacker, I'm posting about November goals halfway through the month...;)

But before we get to that...
Want to know how my October goals went?
Of course you do;)

1. Physical - Cook THM once/week 
This was a total flop (sorry, Mom). I cooked THM once or twice over the month, and I started limiting or cutting out foods... but this was a goal that I quickly realized was simply not practical when I get home late in the afternoon four days of the week.

✓ 2. Spiritual - Focus on one book of the Bible
Reading through Hebrews this month was great, and I really got a lot out of focusing on one book specifically! I only got halfway through the book, but it wasn't because I wasn't reading... it was because I was trying to soak it all in!!

3. Young Life/Ministry - Girl's night
This was another goal yet unfulfilled... mostly due to the fact that I was out of town for an entire week, and Jon had to go and get his appendix taken out!! (Yes, babe, I'm blaming this one on you;)
However, I did get some awesome hang out time with some high schoolers, even if it wasn't in the form of a girl's night.

✓ 4. Home-making - Buy mums and pumpkins!
This one was a quick success... Mostly due to the fact that Jon surprised me and brought mums home for me one day! We also spent a Sunday afternoon at a pumpkin patch, which was one of the best dates ever.

✓ 5. Baking - Bake something pumpkin at least twice
Success again! This one was also pretty easy though. Besides the oat flour pumpkin banana bread that I made (and also don't recommend...) it was so simple to slip pumpkin into a few recipes like pancakes. Love me some pumpkin pancakes!

This was probably the biggest failure of them all. However, I could come up with an excuse for all of my late work...

✓X 7. Marriage - Take at least one hiking/camping trip
This one was a little bit of both. We did take an awesome trip to the mountains to ride bikes and enjoy the beautiful fall leaves, but we also went with 11 other people - my family! So while this wasn't the marriage-based getaway I was hoping for, it was a BLAST.

X X 8. Post-wedding - Order printed wedding pictures AND Finish thank-you's to send
I knew this one would be the most difficult to accomplish... but I got SO CLOSE! I have less than ten thank-you's to send, and I have picked through most of the pictures to find my faves to order (which was a much larger process then I was prepared for! Whew!)

 9. Personal Improvement - Practice guitar twice a week AND finish one book
Proud of myself for this one because it did not affect anyone else, it was only for me. And I accomplished both! (PS the book I read is a great Christian book for engaged couples on preparing for and then encouraging marital, God-honoring physical intimacy called Sheet Music. It's practical and hilarious).

So there you have it. 
As a result of my 50% success rate I have been hesitant to make as many goals for November, considering the school year and Young Life year is only getting busier within this month. But I do have a few, less specific goals:

1. Keep reading Hebrews
I mean, why not?;)

2. Be Thankful
When I'm not thankful, what am I? Salty. Discontent. and a little Grumpier over all. So to keep Grumpy Casey from making her unwelcome appearances, greater thankfulness is in order.

3. No Instagram
Taking away Instagram, even just for the past 11 days, has helped me be more thankful. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut of seeing what others have that I don't, and where do I see it most? Instagram. So it needed to go.

4. Clean the house as I go about my day (don't save it for the end of the day or the weekend)
This should be obvious, but if a cluttered and messy house causes me stress, why not keep it from getting that far in the first place? (I'm really starting to sound like my mother now...;)

5. Read another book (Eric and Leslie Ludy's book The First 90 Days of Marriage)
Eric may be the most incredible pastor I've ever been taught by, and his wife is just as amazing. After reading about their marriage and seeing it firsthand, why wouldn't I want to hear their advice? Sure enough, this book is packed full of godly wisdom.

It has been both humbling and exciting to be reminded that I would share my successes and failures at the end of the month with all my readers here. Looking forward to see what I accomplish this month.

I hope ya'll are having a fabulous fall and are enjoying the simple things in life!

Happy Fall-ing!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Eric Ludy preached a sermon called "The Wages of Love." I have listened to it multiple times, especially when I feel myself becoming lackadaisical in my relationship with the Lord or with the people closest to me. It's a powerful message, and one that I highly recommend.

Different things always pop out to me each time I listen to it, but one thing that I always remember is how he talks about his wife. He says, "As far as the world is concerned, my wife is flawless." He goes on to talk about he never says anything bad about his wife in public, or tear her down with words. He is her biggest fan in all areas.

That was my prayer before I was married (before Jon was even in my life) that I would never be a wife (or even a girlfriend or a fiancé) that complained about my man when he wasn't around. I tried to start this habit by watching the way I talked about my family members in public. When I started dating, I practiced this as best I could, but it was easy, because while we were dating, he even appeared to me to be almost flawless. (This is not to say we were not honest and transparent with each other about shortcomings, but even his shortcomings looked like heroic and humble displays of God's grace, or something like that. He truly could do no wrong. *Cue the eye-roll*)

However, when we got married, this became much harder. Not because much changed, but because you see the person you married in a more complete way than you were ever able to in the dating atmosphere.
And don't get me wrong, I love it!! I love Jon more every day, and I can't believe how blessed I am, or how I ever happened to catch his attention. He is an incredible man of God, but also super goofy, spontaneous, and thoughtful. While we were dating, I was only able to scratch the surface in discovering the incredible gift God gave me when he put this man in my life.

-- Side-note: I do not want to adopt these ways because I don't want the world to know "the real Jon" or something like that. I want our relationship to be real and for the people in our lives to see us - our victories and our shortcomings - as a testament of God's grace. The reason I want to only talk highly of him in all circumstances is because I only want the world to see the man God is forming him to be. And if they see his flaws, I do not want it to be because his wife put them on display by speaking negatively about him, or even implying that there are flaws to find. --

But even thought this has been my goal, I am still a sinful person. I often get so caught up in my wants and needs that I can focus entirely on the ones that aren't being met (because, for some reason, I expect him to know that I want him to help me clean the kitchen when I say, "Don't worry about it, babe; I'll get it." Shouldn't he be able to read my girl brain by now???) And even more often than that, I am a pro at keeping track of everything I do for Jon and forgetting about what he has done for me. For example, do you know how many times I did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen without him offering help? But I completely forget the times he chooses to stay home with me instead of go out with his friends, or the nights when dinner doesn't work out so he takes me out for GF pizza instead of fussing at me for not having a meal together. Even now, Jon is outside playing with the siblings we're watching so that I can write a quick blog post.
(Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project (another recommendation) coins the clever term "unconscious overclaiming": "the phenomenon in which we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people.")

Jesus said (in Matthew 7), "seek, and you will find." This statement is placed in a string of instructions and encouragements from His Sermon on the Mount, each sentence giving us clues into seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. This seeking and finding refers to salvation, but I had another thought this morning... What if He is also encouraging us to seek the Kingdom of Heaven in our day and in the people around us?

When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in my day, I'm looking for the tiny displays of God's goodness and faithfulness and beauty in the world.
When I am seeking the Kingdom of Heaven in the people around me, I'm looking for the little, over-lookable ways that Christ's characteristics are displayed in them, maybe in ways they aren't even trying.

And when I'm seeking these things, I'm finding them. Not because they start popping up out of thin air, but because they're already there. The only difference is, now I have eyes to see them.

Another point Pastor Ludy makes in his sermon, is that we have been given "gold mines" in our relationships with 1) Christ, 2) our spouse, and 3) our children. But here's the catch: we have to mine the gold. If we want to experience the riches of these relationships, we have to get our hands dirty, be visionaries, and mine the gold that He has hidden in secret places. We have to seek it out.

This is my new mission.
I don't want to become lazy in my relationships and assume that I have discovered all there is to discover.
My walk with the Lord may be years old, but I have not even begun to know the vast riches of His mercy or the unending bounds of His grace, because I so often let myself get comfortable with a casual pursuit.
And there is no way that I know all the great things there are to know about my new husband of only three months.... I have a lifetime of gold to discover! Our relationship is the best earthly relationship I have ever known - and probably ever will now. How could I take it for granted?

I'm going to set out to seek His face in the ways He has hidden Himself in my every day. Not only that, I'm going to seek His face in the ways He is quietly but radiantly being displayed in my husband, so that it will be easy to commend him in the presence of others as flawless.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


It is not unusual that I greet this month with open arms. Growing up, it was always my mom's favorite month (and, coincidentally, her birthday month). She would go all-out to decorate the house with fall leaves and pumpkins (more than the normal person would) and saw it as our duty as Virginians to go north and experience the colorful mountains at least once within that beautiful month. She really did make fall magical.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that I find myself wanting to greet October with a similar attitude, now that I am married and the "woman of the house" in my new home.

I obviously don't have many fall decorations, due to the fact that I didn't have any when I got married, but I've decided to welcome fall in forms other than decking the halls with orange and red. Specifically, I've made some "in-order-to-enjoy-October" list of goals.

Disclaimer: I am not a goals person. Some love goals and love conquering them. I never seem to reach them and then I just feel guilty and horrible about myself. SO. I've tried to make this list as fun and attainable as possible, focusing on these categories:
1. Physical
2. Spiritual
3. Young Life/Ministry
4. Home-making
5. Baking
6. Academic
7. Marriage/Quality time with Jon
8. Post-wedding
9. Personal Improvement
Another beautiful take-away from my mother (maybe I should have called this post "Lessons from Mama Heard"?) is that goals need need NEED to be attainable. Same with to-do lists; don't write down "read, clean, and pray" on your to-do list, write "read 2 chapters, clean such-and-such room, and pray intentionally for 20 minutes" or something like that. So I also tried to make each goal very attainable.

1. Physical - Cook THM once/week
My mom has been eating according to the "Trim Healthy Mama" diet (THM) and not only does she look fabulous-ER, but she feels great, too. When I lived at home, it was easy to mooch off her healthy food, but it's harder to do now that I have to be the creative mind behind it. (While a tempting and unreasonable goal would be to eat according to this diet completely, I decided it would be enough of a stretch to begin the transition to eat THM for dinner once a week.)

2. Spiritual - Focus on one book of the Bible
I've gotten into the habit of "pop-corning" around the Bible the past few months, but I've noticed that it is causing me to take a more surface-level study approach. I've decided to focus on Hebrews because it only has 13 chapters, but those 13 chapters are power-packed. I may complete it in one month, or  I may drag it into November, depending on how in-depth I take it. Completing the book doesn't matter, as long as I am investing time in it (which makes this attainable).

3. Young Life/Ministry - Girl's night
Because of the way Young Life is designed, I get a lot of time with high schoolers and a community of young adults. But that is different than opening up our home to spending time with these friends outside of Young Life programs and high school events. (I may even be able to combine this goal with goal #5!)

4. Home-making - Buy mums and pumpkins!
Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to go all-out on the decorating this year, but c'mon, a mum or two on the front porch never hurt anybody;)
(Buying these two specific things makes this goal attainable and easy to check off)

5. Baking - Bake something pumpkin at least twice
Who doesn't get the craving for pumpkin-spice-anything during this time of year? I want to branch out and try something new in this arena, like explore some gluten-free, dairy-free and possibly sugar-free goodies. (Again, because I put a number on the amount of times I wanted to try this one, it makes it attainable and able to be completed.)

I know this should be a given, and I've already done pretty well in this area this semester, BUT I have the tendency to slip up on these things because I don't plan well, or I choose to spend time with people instead. (The reason this one is attainable, is because it is a never-ever achievement.)

7. Marriage - Take at least one hiking/camping trip
Jon loves spontaneous trips (like our random one-night trip to NYC this past weekend), so this one should be pretty easy;) But being intentional about it being a camping trip should be pretty fun.

8. Post-wedding - Order printed wedding pictures AND Finish thank-you's to send
This one is going to be a hard one. My grades, health, marriage, and home are not dependent on these two goals, which makes the motivation a whole lot lower. However, I know that if I do not complete these two very soon, they will not be accomplished, which is why they need to be done in October.
9. Personal Improvement - Practice guitar twice a week AND finish one book
Again, because these things are not time-dependent, they will also be difficult to accomplish. These only contribute to my happiness and sense of accomplishment, so it will be a challenge to make these a priority. But I'm hoping my goal of practicing only twice a week is practical. I'm a professional at leaving books unfinished too, so I have plenty of books to choose from that only have a few chapters left.


And there you have it! I'll let you know how I did when November comes...;)

What plans/goals do ya'll have for October?

HAPPY FALL <3 - Case

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Engagement Shoot #2

Our wedding pictures were done by Daytona of Daytona May Photography. And a week before the wedding, she treated us to a quick engagement shoot! They were fabulous, and I'm stilled thrilled with how they came out (don't believe me? Check out my Instagram; it's crawling with them!).
The next few posts I have here will probably be full of pictures (sorrynotsorry).
But to finish off this one, I leave you with a picture of the "real" us in all our awkward glory:
Have a great week!
Love, Casey

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Engagement Shoot #1

In light of the fact that my wedding pictures are on their way (EEK!), I thought it was time to share with ya'll the pictures my talented uncle, Rob Flora of Rob Flora Photography, secretly took when Jon proposed back in June!
It was a complete surprise, and I had no idea what was going on... even less of an idea that my uncle and three of my brothers were hiding behind the bushes, and my cousin was in the tree above me!
(When I spotted the camo-ed camera-men in the bushes)
Jon's secret photo team
It was the biggest surprise of my life, and I still cannot believe how flawlessly Jon and my family pulled off such an ordeal. He planned everything so perfectly... and look at that rock!!!

So excited to share wedding pictures with ya'll soon!
Love, C

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hello, Again

So, it's been a while! But for good reason. Life as Mrs. Capra has taken off at a relentlessly fast pace.

A Quick Update:
The wedding, August 7, was flawless (in my eyes) and was absolutely everything Jon and I wanted. We left for our AMAZING honeymoon in Hilton Head, SC, and moved in to our new apartment exactly a week after the wedding, and exactly 10 days before the new school year started. Both still being students, that didn't give  us much time to get used to married life first! But we jumped right in.

Life is a crazy-busy-hectic with both of us working, both of us juggling homework, and both of us trying to be fully-invested Young Life leaders. All the while both trying to adjust to thinking for a family and not just for our single selves. (And I have the additional adjustment of learning how to cook dinner while all of this is happening!)

(Side Note: Single Ladies, LEARN TO COOK. Be ready. I was counting on time to learn, but I didn't realize that, for me, marriage meant that that time was up!)

Between work, school, and endless Young Life meetings, we're loving married life. It is more wonderful than I thought it could be, and difficult in different ways than I expected. I am always been stretched and challenged, but I fall more in love with Jon every day. I am constantly amazed at how the Lord speaks to me through Jon, both with conviction and encouragement.

A Few Thoughts:
If you want a good picture at how selfish and sinful you are, get married. It sort of came as a surprise to me how much laundry two people could create, and how difficult it is to be creative for 7 dinner meals a week, and how much time is required to think ahead and make grocery lists and meal plans on a budget.  I was looking forward to everything about married life except the cooking and the cleaning, so these did not come as "good surprises."
But the Lord is even changing my heart in those small ways, as silly as it sounds. What better way to serve my husband? How else would I prefer to spend my time? If this makes his life easier and makes coming home more relaxing, why wouldn't I jump at the opportunity to do this for him?  But there is no hiding my "selfish ambitions and vain pursuits" when I have the accountability of living with a man of God, and often I choose selfishly.

I knew marriage would make me lean on Jesus a whole lot more and know Him a whole lot deeper, but I thought that would be primarily with the "big" things. I did not realize how much I would need Him in the simple day-to-day.

What I'm learning was perfectly summed up in an Oswald Chambers Devotional I read this morning from My Utmost for His Highest (my favorite devo, for the record, definitely an awesome read)

"September 11 - Ministering as Opportunity Surrounds Us. This does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God's in any haphazad surroundings which He engineers for us. The characteristics we manifest in our immediate surroundings [or, as I read this, "home surroundings"] are indications of what we will be like in other [outside] surroundings. 
The things that Jesus did [ Chambers is referring to John 13:14, after Jesus had washed His disciples' feet ] were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did?...
It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done."

I am definitely finding how I need the God Almighty Incarnate every day. Yes, I spend more time at home than I used to, and I feel like I'm always doing laundry, and I have to be home by 3:00 at the latest if I want to make sure the house is straight and dinner is ready before my husband gets home, and I still need to make sure I am lovely and pleasant when he walks through the door even though I know the freshly-cleaned kitchen is about to be covered in dinner dishes and I can't forget to switch that last load of laundry..!

But this is not drudgery to me. When Jesus truly is involved in these daily chores and discouragements, they are a delight. God does not call us to be weighed down with these sort of responsibilities, but rather bring His joy into moments that could be seen as drudgery. He transforms everything. Even chores;)

In closing: married life is great, I'm so thankful for both Jon's and Jesus' grace as I struggle with my selfishness, and I can't wait to get a little more consistent on this blog and share WEDDING PICTURES! =O

Welcome to the Capra life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ready or Not, Marriage Here I Come

(Written July 17, 2015)

How does one become prepared for marriage?
Like, is there a book on getting ready? That warns you about all the new things you will need to do, or the things you won’t be able to do anymore, or the things you need to be prepared to live without (i.c., your own bathroom counter, or girly throw pillows on the bed)? Can you even be adequately prepared? Are there even those who know what they’re getting into before they get into it? Or do you just have to trust that life has prepared you enough and just go for it?
It’s so strange that I can feel so sure and so ready for something, yet I don’t even know what I’m ready for. I am about to embark on something I have absolutely no experience in, something I have never come close to in a relationship before.

I’ve always trusted that the Lord places us in seasons for very specific purposes. If you’re still in a season, it means you have more to learn. If you’re leaving a season, it means He wants you to learn something new in the next one. But guaranteed, the next season will be harder, will stretch you further, and grow you deeper than the one before.
I am seeing this even as I leave my single years and enter married life. 
I LOVED being single. I was beginning to think I was made to be single for forever I loved it so much. I wasn’t the type to eagerly await the next romantic relationship. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when the next thing I hear is, “Ok, Case; you’re done here.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond excited to be married. I am three weeks out exactly as I write this, but I would marry him this afternoon if I could. Sometimes I feel like I couldn’t wait another hour I’m so excited. But at the same time, I know that I’m about to be thrown into the most dangerous, exhilarating, unexpected whirlwind of an adventure that I have ever experienced. And that brings along a sort of terrifying sensation that comes with something you know you’re meant to do but aren’t sure if you’re ready for yet.

So these words don’t have much of a purpose except for welcome you into my mental process as I get ready to jump into an entirely new stage of life. 
I'm thrilled, but my soul sort of trembles at the grandness of the adventure I am about to set out on. I had no idea how much my trust would need to grow in the Lord when I said "yes" to Jon. While I can trust that the Lord never leads me somewhere He hasn't prepared me for, He also never prepares me beyond needing Him. Every new stage in life is a greater opportunity to trust Him more, but trusting Him completely is the safest place to be.

All you single girls: Never hear from me that you should cling to your singleness as long as possible because marriage and relationships are hard and they aren’t as great as singleness. BUT. You are where you are because it’s where you’re supposed to be. I know that sounds kind of fruity, but don’t throw away the gift of your present situation. You’ll never have a time like this again, and live it out until there’s nothing left to live in it! Be wild and adventurous and laugh a lot and spend tons of time with your family and your college/high school friends. One day you’ll be out of this season, and you’ll be thankful you can look back on it and be ready to leave it because you lived it out with gratitude and full experiences. Learn a lot, and love where you are. The Lord knows; He knows where you’re going and He has bigger dreams for you than you do. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Meet My Future Husband

I don’t know how to start writing this, so I’ll just start with where I want to end up:

I’m engaged.

In 15 days, I will be a married woman.
And it’s strange because it feels like the most natural and sensical thing to do, but also feels like the craziest thing I’ve ever done and could never be ready for because I don’t know how to be ready for it. 
But instead of rambling on about that, how abouts I just jump into the story and introduce you to the greatest guy on the face of the planet, hm?

His name is Jon Capra. I met him through Young Life; he’s a leader at the high school in the county next to the high school I lead at. That’s pretty much the only thing I knew about him for a year, besides hearing his rare contributions to our weekly leader meetings or seeing him hanging out with his high schoolers at camp. He was quieter, and didn’t seem to feel the need to prove himself among the rest of us Chesapeake leaders, but everything I saw him do had an appearance of intentionality to it, a maturity that I didn’t see in some of the younger guys. What I heard from his close friends confirmed that, and nobody seemed to have a bad thing to say about him. Even before I was ever interested in him I respected him as someone with character. (Oh, but did I mention I thought he was the best-looking guy among all the others, and that he made me super nervous every time he talked to me? Even during the first "significant" conversation I can remember, last July on the way home from camp, when he oh-so-smoothly asked at the vending machine, “Uh, are you gonna get something? or can I…?”)

As far as I was concerned, though, he was “off the market.” I didn’t really pay him that much attention. Even when he did become "available," my contentment level with being a single lady was at an all-time high and I was not at all interested in another relationship (this was after I had written “Yet Without a Wedding Dress,” and about the same time I wrote “I’m Single… You’re Not.”).
Things started to subtly change right before New Years. Seemingly out of nowhere, he had gotten my number and kept me company my family’s drive down to Florida by texting me almost the entire time.

As soon as I got back from my trip and started school again in January, I would see him “randomly” studying in the library at my school, or get snapchats from him in places I could meet him nearby. A few short weeks later, we’re in the hall outside my dorm room door and he’s telling me that he wants to be more intentional about getting to know each other better.
While I had been thinking he was just an awesome guy who wanted someone to do homework with, he had been telling his guy friends for a month that he was going to date me… and telling himself he was going to marry me.

Three weeks later, February 27 we started dating. 
11 days later, this ball-cap-clad handsome man steals my heart when he tells me he loves me in a Food Lion parking lot. 
A month later, he buys a ring. 
May 29 he asks my dad if he can ask for my hand in August. 
He consents; 
Jon instead asks me June 7. 
I, of course, said yes. 
August 7, I’ll be Mrs. Capra.

I couldn’t begin to tell you all of the ways I’ve seen the Lord at work in these few months. Some of them are big things, like the vision he has for a future family; some of them are small things, like the way he makes me laugh, or how good he is at guessing the flavors of sour patch kids. But he is everything I asked the Lord for, and more than I dared to dream of. It really is true that God has more in store for us than we could ever ask or imagine...
He is so supportive of me, incredibly passionate about ministry, and the most selfless man I've met. (And have you seen his smile??)

So why have you not heard from me a lot on Cattails, Rabbittrails, and Thistlefish? Well, lately, I’ve been wedding planning… and before then I was too busy getting swept off my feet;) But I'm sorry for keeping secrets.
I have not stopped writing, and won’t stop writing, and hopefully I’ll keep ya’ll more included in my life from here on out. But for now, that’s my quick update;) I have more - and more detailed - writings to come, but give me some grace... I get married in two weeks;)

Much Love,

P.S., follow our wedding adventures on Instagram at #countdowntoCapra