birthday weekend.

I can’t believe I’m 30.  A part of me doesn’t want to be 30 — I really enjoy the 20’s, but I guess I’m just going to have to wait and see what the 30’s are all about.

A few of my cousins and I celebrated birthdays this month, so we decided to take a group trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and rent a house together.  It’s amazing to see all the little kiddos between all of us — and with three more on the way!  We pretty much relaxed, played games (pictionary + mafia), drank lots of chai (thanks gigin!), gave gifts, had a cozy dinner, the boys went skiing while the gals chatted it up back at the house.  It was nice to see lots of snow since we haven’t seen any this year in Maryland.  Plus, it was the first time ever that Dhara got to play in the snow — she naturally loved it!  It was definitely a hoot trying to get all the kids together for a picture in the snow.

dhara and lucas bubble bathing

a cozy dinner of chili, cornbread and roasted potatoes at a long farmhouse table

the gang

nebo, north carolina. part I.

It’s where we spent our family vacation this summer.  My little family, including my immediate family, my uncle + his family, and grandparents [13 total] took our first summer vacation together as a group in late May.  We’ve been wanting to take a trip together for as long as we can remember [mostly to India] — but somehow, it never panned out.  So we did some research on VRBO, and found a lovely, lovely spot in the mountains of Nebo, NC, right on Lake James.

We stayed in a beautiful home made of timber.  It was full of the neatest little details.  We fished, swam, kayaked, canoed, cooked!, charged up the pontoon for boat rides at dusk, went zip lining, knit [me!], visited the impressive Biltmore Estate in Asheville, prayed + worshipped, and just laughed together. Laughing is something we love to do.  And not just any kinda laugh, but rather the kind that erupts from one’s belly. We had a grand ol’ time just laughing and being with one another.  [These photos are long overdue.  I took quite a few, so it was hard to narrow them down.  I’ll be doing a part II tomorrow.]

praising Jesus as a family

our woodsy, yet top of the notch home away from home

cruisin’ on a 15 passenger pontoon

our view everyday

[End of Part I.]

texas hill country.

beautiful texas hill country

It was such a blessing to have Greg’s parents take us down to Wimberly, Texas for a week of family and relaxation.  Wimberly is in Texas Hill Country — hill country is a region in central Texas that features tall rugged hills that consist of limestone or granite and is marked by wooded canyons cut by spring-fed rivers.  Wimberly is a beautiful little town full of trees, gravel roads, great local artists + shops and lovely views.

We stayed in the River House, one of Uncle Phil’s beautiful vacation rentals.  The River House had a little house next to it called a casita, which Greg, myself and the baby stayed in for a week, fully equipped with a washer and dryer in our bedroom — soooo helpful!  The week was spent hanging out there, as well as at Uncle Phil’s other two houses, the Sunset House and the Rim Rock House.  We spent most of those days on porches, rocking in rocking chairs and talking of days of old.  We also went tubing down the river, celebrated Uncle’s Phil’s 50th birthday, visited San Antonio, and squeezed in a lovely date or two with just the two of us.  (Mom, thanks sooo very much for watching the baby!  I know it was a great time for you both as well!).

Aunt Teri was so awesome to bring kolaches (a Czech delight) with her when she arrived in Wimberly.  My favorites were the blueberry + cheese kolaches, as well as the spicy sausage, jalapeno + cheese kolaches.  So yum.  When Greg and I lived in Baltimore we would make these all the time.  One of our favorites to make were kolaches filled with poppy seed jam, along with a steaming pot of tea — really made our Settlers of Catan evenings!

Here are some highlights from our trip.

meeting great granny lanny for the very first time

It was also Dhara’s first time meeting Granny Lanny.  The first meeting was sweet.  They just looked into each other’s eyes — Granny Lanny’s smiley ones and Dhara’s big bright ones.  Dhara is such a people person that she didn’t mind that she didn’t know this woman — this woman being her Czechoslovakian (or Bohemian, as Granny Lanny calls herself) great grandmother.

I actually spent alot of my time this trip hearing more stories of her childhood and married years.  She spoke quite fondly of her parents Sigmund and Eunice who came from Central Europe by ship and landed in Galveston, Texas.  She loved her dad — a very kind + good man.  She was one of five girls, and when the weather was chilly, her father would scoop each one of his daughters up in a homemade quilt, and place her on a stool in front of a wood stove to stay warm in the evenings.  As a child, she spoke Bohemian until she went to school and learned English.  Cultural dancing was a big part of her community growing up — babies were put on a quilt and placed under a table to nap while everyone danced.  She shared so many more neat stories.

dhara with great granny lanny, grandma smith + great aunt teri

eating aunt teri’s bracelet

sunset house pool overlooking the hills

hallway with a view, made with reclaimed wood

the uncle phil/dhara stare-down. uncle phil won.

aunt peggy and dhara

me knitting a cozy sweater for dhara

dhara with her uncle austin (greg’s cousin) and his sweet girlfriend, bonnie

granny lanny absolutely loved her new great granddaughter

uncle phil + his cardboard cutout at his 50th birthday bash, rim rock house

loved how aunt peggy decorated!

my little sweet sweet clapping her hands

dhara dancing and clapping her hands to the band playing “brown eyed girl”

granny lanny quietly enjoying the dancing from above

the end of a great 50th birthday bash

little toes in blanco river

she loved it

“remember the alamo!” san antonio, texas

on the riverwalk, san antonio, texas

with grandpa smith

with grandma smith

a family photo at the river house

lastly, this swing was a gift from greg’s parents to uncle phil for his 50th birthday — it swings from a great big tree at the river house and it’s officially been named, “the dhara swing”

short stories of a busy week.

A Pastoral Visit, by Susie Mey

There is surely something special about people who invest their lives into the lives of others in a very real way.  My husband and I were not only trained under Pastor Dale in international campus ministry, we were also mentored by him when it came to things like disagreements in our marriage, our personal relationship with Jesus, and the sinful state of our hearts.  To have someone who lives to see you and others walk into the life God destined for you is amazing.  Greg and I feel incredibly blessed to have him as a part of our lives.  God used him (among others) to bring about the supernatural thing we call our marriage.  He married us in a lovely ceremony 2.5 years ago.

So, it was a pleasure when he and his family paid us a visit this past week, and what a needed visit it was.  I felt really dry in the faith department.  The kinda faith that “moves mountains”.  He spoke a message, which I know was directly from the heart of God, that spoke faith into everyone that heard it.  It made me realize that simple faith in Christ, and relying on His grace, is needed everyday, every hour.  Without it, we can’t live an overcoming life.  We also invited him to speak to our students (of the Friday Night Bible Study) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Thirty students attended the meeting.  Many rededicated their lives to Jesus, and many stuck around late for Q+A.  It was an awesome, awesome time.

Before God called Pastor Dale into full-time ministry, he wanted to be a veterinarian.  So on Monday we went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore — Dhara’s first time!  Bless her heart, and her curiosity!

An Aunt is a Lovely Thing, by Susie Mey

Once upon a time, there lived an Aunt Beth.  Aunt Beth had a niece named Dhara.  One week, Aunt Beth decided to visit her niece for a few days.  They played and played and played.  Dhara loved her Aunt Beth dearly and greatly missed her when she left for her home at the beach.  Dhara had a blast playing with her aunt and gallivanting around town together.

As a birthday gift, Dhara took her Aunt Beth to downtown Baltimore to a snazzy bead shop called Beadazzled so that her Aunt Beth could design herself a necklace from the many beautiful beads found there.  They also went to a local farm and saw sheep, goats, cows, piglets, chicks, and 2 huge bunnies.  Dhara’s mom was in the mood for some of Twins Polish Boleslawiec Pottery, so they all headed to Aunt Beth’s old stomping grounds of Bowie to the Shops at Fabian House and some other antique shops.  Dhara’s mom also often frequented those shops when she lived in Bowie too.  Dhara’s mom picked up a Polish plate to add to her beloved collection, while Aunt Beth got an antique Maryland license plate to add to her own collection.  And lastly, Dhara got to introduce Aunt Beth to her 3 little woodland cousinlies in New Jersey.  Aunt Beth is super great with little ones, so the 3 woodland cousinlies loved her too.  They all played and had chocolate cake together.  The End.

Cousinlies, by Susie Mey

As a young child, I always cherished the days spent with my older cousins.  I remember my Ohio cousins driving to Maryland every year in their wagon bearing gifts of coloring books, stories, good laughs and secret cash — my aunt would secretly pull me aside before she left, take my hand, and fill it with a folded up $20 dollar bill — how surreptitiously exciting for a small child like me!

So you can probably see why I was excited to take Dhara to meet more of her little cousins for the first time and begin the tradition of summers together, slumber parties near a cozy fireplace, lemonade stands and their dear Betty Aunty reading them books like Anne of Green Gables.  It was the sweetest thing to see these four lasses together.  Also had the tastiest venison burger ever for dinner.  I wish I had one right now.  More photos here.

Red Mango, by Susie Mey

It’s the season we’re in.  A season of babies.  We went to Long Island, New York for my cousin’s baby shower.  The highlight of this trip was seeing Dhara as the most pleasant, smiley baby ever.  I just love this little girl to pieces.  She didn’t mind at all being passed around and around and around.  She gave great big smiles to everyone, and wasn’t the least bit homesick.  Maybe it’s that Karingatal blood in her — really gregarious people, my maternal side is.

My cousin told me about a yogurt place in Manhattan called Red Mango.  I am such a sucker for trying new yogurts or really great frozen yogurt places, which, by the way, are popping up all over the place.  (And I don’t mean TCBY).  We wanted to go to Red Mango, but for the sake of saving time (to get back home at a decent hour) we passed the savory offer.  But wouldn’t you know…  Our GPS, funny systems these things are, took us right through Manhattan and right passed Red Mango, which, by the way, we didn’t stop at because we were so caught up in all the hubwub of Manhattan traffic and stylish folks streaming out of every direction, that we missed it in the blink of an eye.  Just like that.  Boo.

just beachy. [plus, a give-away!].

Before I go any further with this post, please tune in tomorrow for my first ever give-away contest!!!  [Can’t…contain…excitement…]  : )

So this past weekend we drove off to the beach to visit Dhara’s Grandpa + Grandma Smith and her Aunt Beth.  We ate at the lovely Georgia House for lunch for the second time.  I think I love that place.  The food is just so simple + so yummy, nothing fancy.  I got a club sandwich on wheatberry bread with sweet potato french fries.  Soooo good.  I just might have to convince the husband to stop there every time we go to the beach.  Another place I wouldn’t mind stopping at next time is the local antique store Greg’s mom took us to.

I’ve been to many an antique store and I’ve only been to a few that actually have things I like, and this is one of them.  [The other 2 are in Dayton, Ohio and Carbondale, Illinois].  I picked up some goods for a summer garden party I’m planning for Dhara’s half birthday.  Something sweet, pretty and girly.  [Once I found out Dhara’s due date was around Christmas time, I knew we had to do a half birthday for the poor gal.  To have your birthday during the Christmas season is just not fair!]  So come June, we’ll be throwing her a fun little summer party in the woods with her little girl friends and little girl cousins.

Back to our weekend — I picked up some large, old, blue and green glass mason canning jars to serve as lanterns for candles, and as vases for wildflowers.  These are the old school kind with zinc lids.  I also picked up a linen, embroidered napkin, and a beautiful vintage girl’s dress made of the most thin, airy, wispy, yet crisp kind of cotton.  My most favorite kind — I wish they sold this kind by the yard — I would probably purchase the whole bolt and then some.  : )

It was also important to Greg that we got Dhara’s toes in the sand and ocean for the first time!  She’s definitely going to be a little water baby like her daddy.  Growing up, Greg spent his summers at the beach and in the water, and so we’re pretty sure that Dhara will look forward to her beach summers.

first beach.

Thanks to Greg’s mom who got these neato “30 plates” with Greg’s baby picture on them for his surprise party.  She always comes up with such great ideas!

[photo plates, from]


I am completely awed by the power of God.  Today during my quiet time I read Jeremiah 5:22.

“I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea,
   a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail;
   though they roar, they cannot pass over it.”

It’s so amazing that most of the known and unknown world is covered in water, yet, the seas and oceans cannot overtake land — and that is only because God says it cannot pass over.  If you’ve ever stood before the ocean, you know the overwhelming feeling of awe that I speak of.  It’s amazing that with one word from God, the oceans stop in their tracks.  If He wanted, we could all be consumed, but it’s only because of His great great love for the children of man [Proverbs 8:31] that we are not consumed [Lamentations 3:22].  “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”  How great is our God.


[The following celebrates my husband, while also documenting our travels in India in 2009.]  So, my husband has officially reached his thirties.  I can remember a time 7 years ago when I first met him.  He was the “boy-next-door-friend” — you know, the kind in the movies.  Just to clarify, I don’t mean boyfriend.  I mean “boy-next-door-friend.”  The kind you race with as kids.  Or the kind that your Indian mom lets come over because she knows, “he’s just a friend.”  Anyway, I never had a boy-next-door-friend growing up, so I was excited to finally have one in college.  

Little did I know that we would be married, have a darling Dhara, and live this beautiful life together.  God’s ways are amazing; that is, if we are willing to go there with Him.  And that’s what I love about my husband — he was willing to go.  

I’ve heard people say that when you’re in love, everything is more beautiful.  It’s true.  When in love, the world has a specialness about it.  It’s kind of like when you put on a pair of sunglasses — the world is tinted a different color — the same goes for when you love.  Life has a feeling of rarity, exhilaration and beauty because you want to live it with the one you love.  I feel so blessed to be married to the one I love.  On a God note, I think this is how Jesus wants us to love Him.  He wants us to love Him in a way that changes the way we view life — in a way that makes this life more and more beautiful each day we love Him.

One of the main reasons that drew me to this man was his devotion to Jesus.  [Second, was his playfullness and ability to love life and river dance.]  He inspired me to love Jesus more — and he continues to do so.  He’s always had a desire for righteousness and more devotion.  I love his understanding of growing in Christ.  We can’t rely on our yesteryear devotions — it must be a constant and ongoing relationship.  Greg is so good at reminding me of this.  I love his desire to see this kind of love for God unfold in other peoples lives.

The photo below was one of those beautiful moments I mentioned earlier.  As Greg was reading his bible one morning on a balcony overlooking Cochin, a pretty yellow butterfly found it’s way to his arm.  It perched there for several seconds before it flew off.  I personally feel that when God lives in us, even his creation is drawn to us.      

I think it’s neat that him and I could be going on a nightly stroll outside, and he always seems to be the one who sees shooting stars.  I always miss them.  He’s seen so many over the years I’ve known him.  I’ve only seen one.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that he’s like a watchman on the wall from Ezekiel 33.  God has given him the gift to watch and see the things that people wouldn’t normally see.  It’s even neater to see this characteristic in our daughter.  She is also an observant one. 

Happy 30th Birthday to the love of my life who makes this life so much more beautiful.  I love your enthusiasm for life.  I love the way you love our daughter.  I thank you for your selflessness — for putting the needs of others above your very own on a daily basis — it does not go unnoticed.  I love Christ in you, and who He’s made you to be.  I love you.  — your susie.

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”  Proverbs 4:18

2 years!


It’s crazy to think that we’ve known each other for close to 7 years now.  But today, Greg and I celebrate 2 years of marriage (actually it was around this time, 3 PM, that our wedding ceremony began).  It’s simply amazing when you get the chance to live your life with your bestest friend.  Greg has been the utmost most special blessing in my life.  His desire for God is so appealing to me.  His prayers for his baby girl every morning are the sweetest things (he speaks right into my belly).  His ability to carry himself in completely different circles really rocks my socks off.  His love for me is special beyond anything else I’ve ever experienced (except for God’s love of course!).  We feel like kids when we’re around each other.  We speak in funny voices when no one is around.  We have our own special sign language when no one is looking.  Oh God, I love this man so much.   

To celebrate our anniversary we whisked ourselves away to a cabin on Point Mountain in West Virginia.  There we rested, cooked good food, prayed together, built fires and stayed toasty, and lastly, conducted a little pregnancy photoshoot of my ever growing 33 week belly.  To all those who persistently asked, enjoy.

edit2edit3edit4edit5edit6edit7[point mountains, elkins, west virginia]