A Church Hill Experience

Parish and I love to try new things. Give us a small town, a unique store, or a restaurant that serves food we’ve never tasted, and we are in our zone. As a couple, the experiences have brought years of fond memories, and individually, we’ve satisfied our love for adventure. How do you define adventure? If it’s skydiving and swimming with the sharks, then maybe our definition of fun will not appeal to you, but if you are looking for a lovely evening out in Church Hill, we’ve got you covered. Come walk with us.

Church Hill, due east of downtown, above Shockoe Valley, where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at St. John’s Church, which is apparently the highest spot in the city. (http://wtvr.com/2012/07/05/holmberg-which-are-the-seven-hills-of-richmond/)

We parked our car on a side street next to The Alamo BBQ on 2202 Jefferson Avenue in Richmond.

We started our walking journey here because of the smell.  Close your eyes and think of the wonderful, sweet and smoky smell of barbecue roasting on a smoker.

Combine that with a friendly walk-up window and outdoor picnic area on a breezy, sunny afternoon and, well, you are in paradise. The charm is the simplicity and the crowd.


You have Church Hill wannabes (us), all cultures and ages, and small children with their families, along with date night folks all dressed up. We shared a barbecue sandwich that had the perfect combination of smoke and sweet.  The cold slaw had just enough mayo and vinegar–not too runny, or tangy.  We resisted that temptation to try to the cornbread because we had reservations at Metzger’s Bar and Butchery further down the street.

Picnic area for larger groups

We left the Alamo and headed directly up Jefferson street to Union Market on 2306 Jefferson Ave. Along the way, we experienced the revitalization of the old charm.  Homes were experiencing a makeover for new families to move in. You could tell that the new was only created to keep the charm of the building. I love when you witness builders trying to keep the historical aspect of a building while also making sure the building is livable.

We noticed that most of the homes displayed their address similar to this style
Look at this beautiful day!

We did not realize that Union Market was an actual market along with a wonderful deli and eatery. They catered to the cyclist and dog owner. You had a place for your bike, a hitching post for your dog on a leash, or water bowls and treats for your pet as you sat on the patio.

As we ordered another small appetizer, we walked out onto the patio to music playing and lazy, Saturday afternoon folks gathering to socialize or read books.

As we sat admiring the beautiful color of the crepe myrtle in the sun, watching people, and talking about our future, we saw the large family from The Alamo restaurant walking back to their home. I could not resist the two-year-old little boy with red hair on daddy’s shoulders. What a cutie.

We had a 5:00 reservation for Metzger’s Bar and Butchery, so we loaded walking directions on our phone and started the short, but wonderful walk to our dinner date.

Along the way, we met retired couples relaxing on their decks, a man playing with his dog in the front yard, and beautiful, spring flowers. Many of the homes were historical with the information plaque on the building. What we noticed most was the people–the smiles, the waves, and the sense of community. In fact, across from Metzger’s is a church that seemed to be a part of serving the community, along with a family resource center.

We got to the restaurant 5 minutes early and sat outside waiting for it to open.

Clovers in Church Hill are HUGE!

The menu in Metzger’s is authentic and true to its name– German food only. If you want pizza and hamburgers, this is not your restaurant.  Try something new! We ordered the basket of homemade bread which included pretzel bread, sea salt crackers, Old Bay biscuit, and a nutty-type bread.  They were all homemade and warm with delicious butter.

Parish ordered the roasted chicken, and I ordered the pork chops. We were too busy chowing down, we forgot to take pictures! The serving size was plentiful and seasoned to perfection!

We were glad we had to walk back to the car after our wonderful dining experience. If you make a reservation at 5:00, right when they open, you’ll be in a quiet atmosphere.  As we were eating, the restaurant started to fill up. I enjoyed the lively mother-daughter conversations, the date-night couples, and the neighborhood locals.  You could see the staff waving to folks from the windows as they walked by the restaurant.

On our walk back to the car we figured out a short cut through an alley.

I loved this tree!

We started our journey around 3:30 in the afternoon.  We recommend making a reservation for Metzger’s because the restaurant is small.  We were able to stop at the points of interest and walk to the restaurant during the 3:30-5:00-time frame.  You can adjust your time to accommodate your desire to stay longer at a certain spot.  Of course, if you desire to stay out late, you could venture into Shockoe Bottom, Cary Town, Byrd Theater, or other areas of interest in Richmond.

Let us know if you venture out! We’d love to hear from you.

Parish and Anna

Don’t Quit

In most areas of our lives we can decide to move on or quit. If a job, friendship, or hairstylist is not working out, you can look elsewhere without serious consequences. Marriage is different. We face so many challenges and unexpected seasons in which we live out our vows of “for better or for worse”.  When the worse happens we stick it out knowing on the other side we will see God’s glory, provision, and faithfulness.

Gary Thomas’ book Cherish calls our attention to the word cherish versus infatuation. Cherishing your spouse means that even when things get ugly, I’m not giving up on us.  Infatuation is the kind of love with conditions and expectations so high that you are living in a fantasy world. Cherish means that I truly believe that you are the only one who can walk this journey with me, and I will treat you as such.

It’s easy to quit on someone who is not living up to your expectations. The question becomes are your expectations realistic, and are you in constant pursuit to call out the negative in your spouse? Every day I could pick a fight with my imperfect mate. They are, after all, human–imperfect and sinful beings.

“Without struggle, marriage is like melodrama.  If God allowed infatuation to remain, how many of us would do the day-to-day work to achieve intimacy?” Gary Thomas

You’ve seen them. Newlyweds or dating couples. It’s only a matter of time when disappointment and possible contempt sets in and the work begins.  Just on the other side of infatuation is cherish, and so many couples are unwilling to climb the mountain and experience cherish. They quit. It’s hard work.  It’s sacrifice.  It’s a battlefield.

Your marriage legacy goes beyond the toothpaste cap or toilet seat. It’s your God story for a generation not yet born.  As Parish and I read the chapter “Don’t Quit”, we looked around our living room. Parish smiled and said, “Anna, look around this room.  Our legacy and memories are many…..” He began to talk about Patty our cactus, the family tree that Valentina and Grandma Louise drew, the rocking chair from my great-grandfather that he refinished for Victoria’s birth over 27 years ago, the coffee table that belonged to my grandmother, the lanterns we use on snowy nights as we walk and marvel, the cast iron dog I grew up with and sits on our hearth…

Of course these are just material examples of our love, but they are reminders to us of a love that God has been working on for years. His hand in our love story.

There is no other love story like yours. Your God, love story is a shining example to the world of mercy, cherish, and the power of sticking it out even when by all accounts you could have thrown in the towel.

I encourage you to stop and look around your home. If the objects in your home could talk, what memories would they share? I encourage you to be crazy hopeful (my friend’s expression) about your future, and to celebrate the good things in your spouse. I encourage you to purchase the book Cherish by Gary Thomas and read it together as a couple. Take your time with it.  Parish and I have been reading the book for two months, and we are on chapter 7.

If you feel like quitting, remember cherish and seek the help your marriage deserves.

I dedicate this post to my parents who will celebrate their 60th, diamond anniversary in August 2017. They are not quitters; they cherish.

My husband and I sang this song as a duet at weddings in the 80s. I hope you will listen to this song for the meaning and be spurred on in your love story. Try not to be critical of the 80’s music, but be motivated by the words. 🙂

Love is NOT all you need (Sorry Beatles)

Yesterday we talked about clinging to what is good.  This morning through a series of readings in my devotional time and a text from my oldest daughter to watch a video on Millenials, I’m bursting to share. I’ve been married for almost 28 years come this February 4. When we said our vows in our 20s, I really don’t think we had a clue how words like to cherish, to honor, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, and for better or for worse would play out in our years to come.  We were in love, and “love is all you need”, according to The Beatles.

I was reminded of how habits form when my husband and I tackled taking down the Christmas tree and decorations for the season.  After almost 27 years, you would think we would be more considerate. It’s not a knock-down drag out fight, but we have our ways– a comment here, a jab there, selective hearing, and eye rolling commences.  It’s so ridiculous, and we end up laughing at each other and promise that in the years to come we will be different.

Our brains are wired for habit forming.  Most habits are good. If you desire to become an accomplished pianist, the daily habit of practicing creates an expert. A growth mindset has become the new area of focus in education and psychology. We have put into words what we know through experience–old habits die hard, and new habits take concentrated practice. Patience.


Most of us want what Gary Thomas calls a “watch marriage”. I want to put you on my arm as needed, and when I look at you on my wrist, I want you to fulfill the purpose or role. If you don’t, I’m frustrated or angry. I can quickly put you on the nightstand and walk away. Too harsh? Maybe.  There is some validity to the metaphor.  Love is great, but do we truly cherish our spouse?

Husbands and wives often treat each other according to whatever roles they expect from each other. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and try to look reasonably attractive while you’re doing it, and everything will be fine.” Gary Thomas

Cherish means to hold something dear and to delight in them. We can love out of obligation and duty, but do you cherish each other? If you are single, think of these words. Our culture supports the practice of going to school, finding a career, dating, getting married, having children, and buying the house.  You can be so tied up in the practice you are blindsided by the commitment you are truly making to the person standing next to you speaking vows.  To cherish someone and to build a meaningful marriage takes time, sacrifice, and something deeper than the giddy feeling when you hold hands.

My oldest daughter sent me this video talk on Millenials. I believe it’s spot on, but even at 50 something, because I use technology at a high level, I’m guilty. You must watch this–

God knew we would be a people of instant gratification. Jesus told us that if you want growth or fruit you must

hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. — Luke 8:15 NRSV

There is that word again with another word added to it…..

patient endurance…..


Maybe it would help if you understood that God delights in you–He cherishes you.  We all know God has to love us even when we mess up, but have you ever pictured God cherishing you? He has your picture on his refrigerator and calls you up just to say, “Hey– I miss you.  Let’s do lunch.”  He wants to spend time with you no matter how good you’ve played out your role that day. He adores you.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Talk about patient endurance. Thank you, Jesus.

Here is a love dare for you.

  • Examine your responses and actions to your spouse and ask if you cherish them.  If you are single, ask the same question about those who are closest to you in your life right now. How do you express this commitment to cherish?
  • What is one action you can take to change an old habit? Your brain can change, but it takes patient endurance.
  • Spend time with the One who perfectly cherishes you.
  • Take a hiatus from technology, and dare yourself to delete some social apps.

For the creative spirit:

  • Download the app Flipagram. Create a video with pictures of you, your spouse, and some of the blessings from your marriage. Choose a song that represents your love for the background music.  You will have to download the song to your music library and select the song once you are done with uploading pictures. If you do this, CONSIDER SHARING WITH ME!  I’D LOVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE WITH YOU!

Here is my Flipagram of Parish and me–ENJOY! Each picture has a special memory that we cherish…..


  • Write a poem, letter, or create a picture collage.
  • Understand Growth Mindset by reading this fabulous article that also gives you a fun challenge. (click on the words “this fabulous article”)
  • Read this post together and talk it out.
  • Buy Gary Thomas’ book and be committed to doing the Bible study together as a couple:

The Art of Cherishing Your Spouse (GREAT video in this article about the book Cherish, by Gary Thomas)


Gary Thomas



I was born the only girl in a family of 5 children. My first memory of being a woman, different from man, was in Kindergarten. I sat across from a boy who intrigued me. He played with toys I’d never seen before and spoke a different language. In my mind he seemed stronger than me and more adventurous. Like most little girls who grow up, this comparison, over time, becomes even more evident and confusing. When I read books on courageous women like Wilma Rudolph, I took notice of the instinctive courage of women. In 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. I dreamed of being courageous and strong like Wilma.

Born on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities to compete in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, and in 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. Later in life, she formed the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics. The Olympic great died on November 12, 1994, following a battle with brain cancer.


You and I could list all the women since the beginning of time who have overcome the odds and made the difference. Queen Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair and tears, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, Ruby Bridges, Corrie ten Boom…..  When you read the New Testament, you will discover how tender and loving Jesus was to women. He not only came to offer salvation to all, but, it seems to me, He came to set the record straight on why God made women.

There is a Hebrew term used in the creation of woman, “ezer” and  is used 21 times. The word “kenegdo” in the creation of woman is used once.

The Hebrew words used here to describe woman as a helper are ‘ezer kenegdo. The word ‘ezer means “helper” and is never used in the Old Testament to refer to an inferior or to a subordinate. In fact, the word is used in reference to God as our helper (Psalm 10:14; 30:10; 54:4; 70:5; 72:12; 121:2). Kenegdo is a Hebrew preposition and adverb meaning “corresponding to” or “face to face,” so it is best understood as meaning that Eve was a fitting partner for Adam, for she was like him. Eve was created as an equal to Adam. She was given equal authority and dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28).

Ezer translates as helper, or succor. Kenegdo translates as face to face.

What does that mean to me as a single woman or a married woman?

As I’ve walked womanhood for over 50 years, I’ve discovered the succor in the souls of my sisters. Women are warriors who “assist in times of trouble and distress” (succor). Despite our pain and struggles, we look outside ourselves and nurture the world. We notice the little things and provide a hand or a hug. We recognize injustice and rally around a cause. We go to bed weeping for the souls of all children, and we pray for a change. We ask ourselves honest questions, and we step into battle knowing that God will fight the battle for us.  We give up and let go even when our hearts are aching to hold on. Women have stood their ground despite the test of stereotyping, biases, and dismissal. We are the first one on the scene, just like Mary at the tomb of Jesus. We show up, provide, do, and face the judgment of our imperfect actions with courage and grace. Every day we fight the battle of the media god who depicts us as flawless beauties or nagging wives who over-do motherhood–control freaks.  Women, created by God to stand face to face with man, fights for this position despite exhaustion. We may retreat for rest, but we never give up.

God has placed within woman the same ezer that comes from Him to help His beloved. We could never love as perfectly as God, but we are the hands and feet of the One who loves perfectly.

My sister, know that you are allowed to rest. Close your eyes and imagine your childhood. God’s woman looks to her future with laughter and joy, but she also is the same little girl who needs to be nurtured and loved. We pour out, so we must fill up. No matter your age, position, role, color of skin, or background, women must unite and recognize our position of worthiness.

Fill up by acknowledging your position as woman–a God created being of strength and love. Go to Him and talk about your womanhood, and what lies you’ve believed, which have caused you to think less of yourself. Examine your history and believe that you are face to face, not behind or above. Women of all ages please have compassion on your sisters, knowing that our battles are different, but we are linked together by our Creator. No comparison, jealousy, or falling prey to the media god. Step up and out, holding the hand of God while encouraging your sister.

As a mom, I look back and would love to rewrite a few lines of my messy, God story. As a grandmother, I am hopeful for my granddaughter’s future. Looking back…..Moving forward……Creating the tapestry, and noticing the threads…

Sara Bareilles wrote a song “She Used to be Mine”.  In my simplicity, I thought the song painted an honest look at how I felt inside. My longing to understand my childhood as “woman”, and my understanding of who I am right now as mother, wife, daughter, and sister. It’s messy. God loves a mess. I don’t think this side of heaven the mess will disappear, but He promises to keep polishing us from glory to glory.  He sees the broken and spends every moment alluring her into the wilderness, so He can speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)

This video has the song by Sara Bareilles, “She Used to be Mine”  Creating the video was a creative, healing space for me.

My sister–You are stronger than you know. God is with you.


The Writings of Charles Spurgeon Lifted Us!

He did it again. My prayer devotional book, FerVent, by Priscilla Shirer has connected me to other believers who read my blog and with strangers during the course of the day.  Friday, while eating breakfast with my husband, my mom came over expressing her thoughts on the post about The Notebook.  My father and mother took the time to read the post and prayerfully consider my soul work.  Thank you.


With joy and a smile, she exclaimed that their daily devotional had a similar focus and added to my post.  Glory!  God connects us and affirms His message. Below is the beautiful devotional from the book Morning and Evening–the writings of Charles Spurgeon. Biblegateway also provides this devotional online.

“I am married unto you.”
Jeremiah 3:14

Christ Jesus is joined unto his people in marriage-union. In love he espoused his Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left his Father, and became one flesh with her.  Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening



The Notebook: A great expression of God’s love for us

Strategy 4, Your Family.

By now you know I’m reading the book FerVent by Priscilla Shirer. The chapter on “Family” was familiar.  I have three beautiful daughters, and I’ve been married for 27 years.  Most books and Bible verses on marriage, I’ve read a thousand times, or heard lectures with similar themes and messages. I’ve been to multiple marriage retreats, and we’ve led marriage workshops.  I offer premarital counseling as a therapist.

I praise God that I never quite arrive, and my marriage is a constant work in progress.  Because of this, His Word is fresh and new, and I have amazing encounters with Him.

I will admit, I skimmed over the chapter.  I know that my marriage is supposed to be a living example to the world of the covenant relationship we have with Jesus.  My husband offers me his life in a covenant relationship; He protects and loves me as Christ loves His church.  I am his wife who accepts and honors this love–clinging to him and surrendering to a love that provides security and joy.

Lets be real.  We strive for this example, but all marriages fall short. Don’t hang out there. Remember we talked about not focusing on the weaknesses and circumstances, but to trust and believe in God’s promises and provisions–what HE CAN DO!

Last night our family watched The Notebook.  I’ve seen the movie multiple times–a classic love story.  As we all gathered in the dark room, you could hear sniffles, mild moaning, then sobbing.  One of  my daughters said, “I’ve cried a river over here.”  As their mom I talked about the joy in the movie–their love, their full life, and their passion. In their youth, because they have not experienced marriage, they could only see the sadness of her illness and the loss. There is no amount of talking that can fill your children with all your life experiences–it’s their future story with God.

This morning, in Bible Study, I closed my eyes after reading the “Family” chapter and reflecting on the movie.  I loved Allie’s unbridled joy when she was with Noah. Her joy was brazen and untamed. With him, she was free to explore her dreams, talents, and take risks. Noah pursued Allie, kept his promise to build their house, and never left her side. Their relationship was filled with arguments and questioning, but their love for each other never ceased.

The Holy Spirit washed over me and connected the last 12 hours.  I worshiped and praised His name!

My favorite scene (video) is posted after these few lines.  In order to view the YouTube video of the closing scene of the movie, you have to be on your computer, or physically click on the post to go to the blog website if you are on your cell phone.

In this scene, Allie is on her death bed with dementia, and Noah, her husband, is in the same assisted living center with his heart issues.  He breaks the rules to come visit with her after his return from the hospital. Although she has difficulty remembering him, she misses him while he is away, which may be the reason she recognizes him during this scene, and, she calls him by his name, “Noah”.

Noah (or Duke) begins the conversation.

“Hi sweetheart” (Jesus calls you His beloved)

“I was afraid you’d never come back to me.”

“I’ll always come back” (Jesus promises to “never leave us, nor forsake us.”)

“What’s going to happen when I can’t remember anything…What will I do?”

“I’ll be here.” (Our Savior is always near.  He is gentle and keeps His promises.)

“Do you think that our love can create miracles?”

“Yes I do…that’s what brings you back to me each time.” (Jesus pursues us even when we turn away from Him, forget, or live in fear.)

“Do you think that our love can take us away together?”

“I think our love can do anything we want it to.” (His love for you can produce miracles and joy unspeakable!)

“I love you….Good night.”

“I’ll be seeing you…”  (His Word promises that “we may weep for a night, but JOY comes in the morning!”  One day we will awaken in the arms of Jesus.  We will see Him face to face. )


Why did my girls weep when they have not experienced this type of love with a man? It’s because God has placed in all of us this canyon sized void that can only be filled by His love. Not even realizing “why” themselves, they are responding to love–God’s love.  His perfect love. Our earthly marriage will always pale in comparison to this perfect love, but what a joy and challenge to try to emulate this perfect love that will never cease.

If your marriage is in the worst state it’s ever been, you are single, your spouse has gone to be with the Lord, or maybe you’ve just experienced a divorce–please hear THE love story.

Jesus loves you more….

He loves you more than any person or pursuit.

He wakes you up each morning calling you His beloved, and His love for you creates miracles.  He is building a house for you right now–He promised.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

As for me, I have two goals after reading my Bible study, reflecting on some Christian friend’s comments about the movie, and my personal reflections….

Passionately accept and enjoy my first love–Jesus.

Cling to my husband with unbridled joy and trust.

A verse that spoke to me this morning.  I want this above all else…

Matthew 11:28-30

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

I pray you will take the time to worship with this beautiful song on video. This song explains and connects the message–wraps it up in a beautiful song.  You are His bride!

Beloved- Tenth Avenue North


The Great Exchange!

The great exchange between man and wife is rooted in the love Jesus has for His church.  When we accept the love of Jesus, we become His beloved.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… Song of Solomon 6:3

We have watched Victoria and Spencer in their first year of marriage live out the great exchange! Spencer protects, provides, and loves deeply.  Victoria has become a woman of grace and beauty as wife and soon to be mother. She is preparing a home and a haven for her family through the power and strength of Christ, and the daily example within in her husband.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ephesians 4: 9-12

View More: http://opendoorsphoto.pass.us/lambwedding 015

Today, if you’ve been married one year or 50 plus years, take the time to reflect on the positive.  What has your marriage, the union, provided that only two can accomplish?  As an individual within a marriage, we can often resort to the “What about me?” cycle of thoughts and actions. Take the time to say, “What about us?” and thank God for the great exchange!

Happy one year anniversary sweet Lambs!

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