Fall Reflection + Quince Recipe

Fall Foliage

If one were to casually peek into our window, either literally or virtually, it would appear as if we are oblivious to the pain and suffering happening around the world. We consume the news in small doses and discuss some of it in code or late night conversations, consciously careful to protect this nest and the pure hearts of the littlest birds in it.


Like a diet, we restrict our intake of the harsh ugliness in the world and binge on the joyful beauty; not to delude ourselves but to avoid being subsumed by the weight of sorrow and despair which would rob our hearts of hope and our nights of sleep. We have never used this tiny bit of bandwidth and memory for political commentary or news reporting. Instead our commitment is to share and document beauty, light, and love and be healed by it, as we pray that it offers healing to others.

For you

Even in Ankara, we saw a major tragedy last month. We digested it, reflected on it, and prayed for the whole world of “us” afflicted by various crimes, tragedies, and injustices. But, for the sake of our souls and children, we move on. We continue to savor peace where we find it and express gratitude for what is. As unfair as our world may seem, we believe in an Ultimate Judge and an Eternal Justice, without neglecting our responsibility to affect change on a spiritual, communal, and social level where we are. As it has been said, “the two wings of the believer are hope and fear”. We are trying to chart our path through this temporal world with balance and would like to share some of our joy as of late with no disrespect or disregard to those who are still mourning.

Wild Apples

It has been years since we’ve experienced the fall. I almost forgot how much I enjoy this season. The earthy, warm colors; the cool, crisp weather; the feel of fuzzy textures and layers are all very comforting. Most days here have been sunny, so I can take Lil’ Z and Moulay out for walks or to the park in our quiet suburb. Some days, we pick wild apples behind our apartment building or buy seasonal delights like figs, mandarins, walnuts, pomegranates, and quinces from a local produce seller. Because of our limited Turkish, I actually bought quinces by error but tasting the pear lookalikes foreshadowed the pounds of them we would soon receive from a friend’s yard.


The coarse, gritty texture of a quince is not as smooth as a pear and the taste not as sweet. I tolerated the first few but found them difficult to eat because of their starchy density. To consume the pounds in our fridge, I searched for recipes but most of them were for super-sweet jam or jellies. Eventually, I found this recipe and tweaked it be a lot simpler and with a lot less sugar. If you find yourself in a Mediterranean fall, give quinces a chance. Enjoy!


Stewed Quince with Dried Cranberries


8-10 quinces

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

3 tsp. of vanilla powder

A pinch of salt

1 handful of dried cranberries

Cut Quinces


  1. Wash, peel, seed, and chop the quinces into small pieces
  2. Add quinces to a pot with enough water to cover half the depth of quinces
  3. Cook the quinces covered on a high flame
  4. Add all ingredients except for the dried cranberries to the pot and simmer once the water starts to boil
  5. When the quinces are soft and easy to mash, stir in cranberries, and turn off the flame.

Stewed Quinces over Muesli

Turkey Adventures: Weekend in Kastamonu


One of the advantages of living in a country versus visiting it for a holiday is that you can slowly explore and absorb the land that you’re in. You don’t have to plan to see everything all at once and can gradually discover the culture, language, and sights without haste. As visitors, we would’ve overlooked a long bus ride trip to see not-as-popular parts of Turkey, but as residents, we took advantage of a group tour organized by Urbndervish’s employer and discovered a pleasant province in the Black Sea region.


Day 1

Slipping into the rear of the charter bus just a minute before departure time, we readied ourselves for the journey ahead. What was advertised as a three-hour trip was actually a five-hour trek. Thankfully, the bus was not packed, so we spread ourselves out and took comfort in knowing that we had enough snacks, activities, books, and diapers to reach our destination.


Venturing north of Ankara, we watched urban landscapes disappear and reappear and saw brown plains turn into densely green forests and mountains. Our first stop was the Münire Sultan Sofrası, a classy restaurant serving local dishes. Instead of the typical lentil soup easily found elsewhere, we ordered their tomato-based, brown lentil soup with vermicelli. Complimented by spinach- and potato-stuffed breads, we left satisfied and hopeful about our food prospects for the weekend.

Rug Weaving

In the streets surrounding the restaurant, we saw historical mosques, traditional guesthouses, and artisans of various handcrafts. Walking through town, we passed through a drumming procession to invite guests to an upcoming wedding, beautiful tree-lined streets, and a rug weaver’s workshop.

View from Clock Tower

We stopped at the Liva Paşa Konağı Etnografya Müzesi, where photographs, artifacts, and mannequins transported us to the region’s past. Thereafter, made our way up two sets of tall staircases to reach Kastamonu’s iconic clock tower.

Mahmut Bey Camii

Our last stop for the day was the Mahmut Bey Camii, a simple mosque made using an overlapping construction technique that requires no nails. Built more than 600 years ago, it was humbling to pray in a space that has witnessed centuries of worship in the humble village of Kasaba.

Iskir Resort Town

By sunset, we arrived at Iskir Resort Town in Daday and checked into our rooms. In spite of a cot for Lil’ Z and a playpen provided for Moulay, the room still felt comfortably spacious and peacefully serene. We swiftly slipped into the dining room for an amazing dinner spread that included an appetizing array of desserts, veggies, homemade bread, and fresh fruit, and then returned quickly to our room to settle the little ones down to rest.

Day 2

Parting Gift

With an unfortunately early departure, we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the resort grounds. We had to quickly grab a breakfast of freshly baked breads, fruit-based marmalades and molasses, sesame seed paste, and a small bowl of cereal paired with the non-dairy milk I carried along. As soon as Lil’ Z and I finished our last bite, we dashed to the bathroom and were the last to board the bus again. One of the resort managers came aboard to distribute complimentary bottles of red wine to all of the passengers. We politely declined, so the manager rushed off and returned with homemade rosehip marmalade and local garlic for our parting gift instead.


We appreciated their kind gesture, especially since Kastamonu is known for its garlic. Regretfully, we didn’t have more time to enjoy more of the resort’s kind yet professional hospitality, their varied and enticing meal spreads and some of the recreational offerings like horseback riding and mountain biking.

Horma Canyon

We were warned that the day’s itinerary would be intense, so we strapped on our sneakers and braced ourselves for a strenuous day. In the Pınarbaşı municipality, there are three main attractions and they were all on our agenda for the day. We met our local guide at a mosque in town and headed to the Horma Kanyonu where we walked over suspension bridges and anchored paths to penetrate the beautiful canyon.

Simple meal

We stopped for lunch at a small family run restaurant where they generally serve a fixed meal of fruit, salad, meat and rice. For us, they ordered a potato-stuffed bread instead.

Ilica Waterfall

For our last stop, we walked through another forest to reach Ilıca Şelalesi. After sleeping through the last two hikes, Moulay decided to sit this one out with Urbndervish. So, Lil’ Z and I had a lovely long walk and talk through the woods. When we finally reached the waterfall, Lil’ Z wasn’t content to view it from a distance. She saw the rest of our “team” climbing down over rocks to sit by the pond, and I didn’t want to dim her bravery. We persisted over the slippery rocks and leaves to sit on a large boulder and savor the beauty around us.

Moulay's Ride

Our weekend adventure was an opportunity to step beyond our usual urban boundaries. While we want nature appreciation to be a part of our family culture, actually immersing ourselves in the natural world is not always easy. We need a bit of hand-holding and guidance and this trip did both without totally sanitizing the experience for us. Even though our last nature walk resulted in checking for ticks and Lil’ Z bawling “I don’t like nature!”, this time around she had to admit, “Nature is kinda cool sometimes”.

My bravebird

Let’s win some cash for women who need it


Everyone knows how much we <3 Amal and the work they're doing, right?

Originally posted on Life in Marrakesh:

Dear blog readers, it’s been an eon since I blogged, but the good news is, I’m still alive, I was only in cyber-hybernation.  It’s almost like there’s too much going on, I can either live, or blog, nawmean?  The Amal Center continues to blossom and grow in a beautiful way.  I was there yesterday for the tsunami wave of couscous customers. It was epic.  All 180 of them seemed to have agreed to arrive at exactly the same time, which was 12:47 (hashtag invade Amal?).   To make matters more…interesting, we were working with a newbie crew: our 5th class of 16 women just started a few days ago.  They are a very cool group of ladies, beautiful souls and smiles, lots of potential there just waiting for the right conduit.  And yes, the chef used his chef voice.  Yet, amazingly, things went smoothly, and there was much eating of…

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Our First Eid in Turkey

Ali Pasha CamiiAfter a few weeks of settling into our new home, our first Eid holiday weekend was upon us. We weren’t sure what to do or where to go but we wanted to take advantage of the four-day weekend, and that we did.

Empty Prayer Hall

The first day of Eid started quietly until Lil’ Z started writhing in her sleep. She woke enough to tell us she felt sick, and I knew that she needed to vomit. Her dad got her to the commode in time, and afterwards she felt much better. By the time we all got dressed and left the house it was about 6:50am. A taxi up the road saw us and swiftly transported us to the nearest mosque just in time for the 7:00am prayer. Everyone filed in casually without special attire or fanfare. The men’s prayer hall was full but not packed tightly and the women’s prayer hall was wide and spacious. From what I’m told, many Turkish women don’t attend the Eid prayers, so our children had plenty of room to stretch and wiggle without encroaching on anyone else’s space. After a lesson delivered in Turkish, followed by a reminder of how the bi-annual Eid prayer is performed and a sermon delivered in Arabic, we commenced the congregational prayer. We concluded with a collective supplication in Turkish and dispersed as peacefully as we entered.


Returning home by bus, we were eager to prepare our special Eid brunch. We went on a special expedition to scout out tofu and thoroughly enjoyed it as a veggie scramble paired with chocolate pancakes. With only an hour to spare, we cleaned up the kitchen and packed our bags for Konya. Lil’ Z didn’t eat much before leaving, but I gave her a homeopathic remedy to calm her tummy. She slept on the bus ride and gave one healthy hurl on the subway floor before she was totally better and ready for the adventure ahead.

High-Speed Train

Traveling by high-speed train, the usually three-hour journey by road was shaved down to an hour and forty minutes. The check-in process was much like boarding a plane, complete with train stewardesses, in-train magazines, and on-screen entertainment. Upon disembarking, we took a taxi to our hotel and began exploring.

Sulemiye Camii

Being the day of Eid, most restaurants in Konya were closed and the few that were open didn’t have more than salad to offer vegetarians.  Near one restaurant, we saw a group of folks wearing thread-worn genie pants, gypsy skirts, and open sandals.  Some were speaking English, so we approached them about finding vegetarian food.  The prognosis looked dim, but they took us to a place around the corner where we could find other vegetarians and inquire.  Stepping into the dimly lit basement hall, we removed our shoes, passed a room full of backpacks, and found ourselves in the middle of a group dance lesson.  Giddy and noticeably hairy, the men and women whirled and spun ecstatically.  Fuzzy beards and matted locs swirled around us while we figured out that these young people were in town for a Mystic Music Festival taking place that week.  They offered to share some of their communal meal with us but it was not yet ready and we felt sorely out of place.  The loud sounds stirred Moulay from his sleep, so we took our cue to leave and try our chances elsewhere.

Roasted Vegetables and Rice, Salad, and Freshly Baked Bread

Our best attempt at a vegan meal was found at Mevlana Sofrasi.  The family-owned establishment welcomed our family, especially our children, with open arms and free treats and desserts. The meal itself was a modified traditional meal and was scarce in protein, though tasty. Overlooking the Mevlana Museum and surrounding garden, we had a spectacular view of the heart of the city.  We returned to our hotel to catch up on some rest before unfolding into the next day.Mevlana Museum

On our second day, we had breakfast at our hotel and headed straight for the Mevlana Museum where we saw artifacts from the early Ottoman period and relics from the famed mystic poet, Jalal ad-din Rumi, and the community that surrounded him. Making our way through the crowds we found ourselves with nothing left to do but drink fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Konya Tropical Butterfly Garden

The Konya Science Center was closed for the holiday, so we took a chance and headed to the Konya Tropical Butterfly Garden at the outskirts of the city. Totally deficient in any real amount of Turkish language skills, we braved two dolmuş minibus rides and a taxi to find Konya’s newest attraction similarly closed. Thankfully, the well-designed play areas were open, so the trip was still worthwhile. Thereafter, we made our way to a shopping plaza for dinner and took a bus and tram back to our hotel.

Play Area

For our third day of Eid, we took an early morning train back to Ankara. We wanted to stay in Konya longer, but the returning trains were scarce due to the holiday weekend. Instead of returning on Sunday, we returned on Saturday to meet with new friends of old friends. We were kindly invited to Gölbaşı where our new acquaintances have a lovely summer home nestled amongst a variety of resident fruit trees. With the perfect appetizer of freshly-picked, tree-ripened fruits, we had a lovely meal of bulgur pilau, roasted eggplant, and salad, alongside an assortment of baked goods and freshly brewed Turkish tea. We picked apples and grapes until the sun set, prayed our evening prayers, and returned home wholly satisfied by our first Eid in Turkey.


Arriving in Ankara


We had one singular reason for flying Azerbaijan Airlines. It wasn’t an interest in transiting through the capital city, Baku, or experiencing Azeri hospitality. AZAL had the cheapest flights to Ankara and we bought the tickets the very day we saw other airfares jump by almost $200 per ticket. Requesting vegan meals and a baby bassinet for our flight tediously involved several days of attempted phone calls to a U.S. phone number routed to Azerbaijan with repetitive caller menus, multiple extension transfers, and at least half of the calls ending in the silence of a dead line. When faced with unavoidable visa delays, it took several calls to change our flights, but our new tickets would only be issued after paying the relevant fees in cash at the airport prior to our flight. Clouds of regret started to loom when Urbndervish told me the ticket agent offered him a handwritten receipt on notebook paper, then left to board the day’s flight. Much like our last experience with a small national carrier, I pondered if the saved money was worth the hassle.


Surprisingly, our check-in process was smooth. All six of our bags, containing four seasons’ worth of clothing for four people, remained under the dreaded 50-pound weight limit. All of our possessions for the next year of life– books, learning supplies, vitamins and supplements, clothing, coats, shoes, a few towels and a cast-iron skillet—were surrendered in about fifteen minutes. With our backpacks and laptops in tow, we proceeded to our gate. The call to board was made, so I quickly made my way to the restroom just before hearing my name over the announcement system. I was summoned for an important matter—another random U.S. customs and border security interview to verify that we weren’t carrying large amounts of cash out of the country and inquire about our interest in Turkey. The questions never change and neither do the answers, so I was cleared to board and so our journey began.

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Though Azerbaijan Airlines scored low for customer service in our book, our flight experience was redemptive. Flight attendants greeted us warmly in an inviting lounge area situated between the business and first class sections of the plane. We received the usual complimentary flight accessories—headsets, night masks, toothpaste, and toothbrushes—as well as pillows and blankets. Just before our refreshments were served, we were handed heated disposable washcloths, a bassinet for Moulay was installed and our vegan meals were delivered as requested. Lil’ Z enjoyed the inflight games and magazines about the competitive European Games held in Baku earlier this year.

Baku Airport

Our transit through Azerbaijan was efficient and brief. The small yet modern international airport was spotlessly clean, serene, and well-equipped with WiFi. We sent emails to our family and before we knew it, were embarking on the last leg of our trip. Lil’ Z finally rested after more than 13 hours of travel and we arrived in Ankara without incident or delay. For our very first experience in Turkey, we were quite impressed. Urbndervish’s employer welcomed us warmly, loaded our luggage, and swiftly delivered us to our new apartment. For now, in sha’ Allah, we will call Ankara home.

Our View

As we often tell people, we didn’t choose Turkey, Turkey chose us and we were glad to oblige. Much like our last post in Morocco, sometimes there’s only one train moving and it’s yours. However, unlike Morocco, we are prepared to stay for the next two years. We needed a nest to settle ourselves for a while, an opportunity for professional development, a new landscape to explore and this is where we found it. Our suitcases are unpacked and out of view, our shelves and closets are filled, and we are relieved and grateful to have our own space again. Slowly, we are meeting our neighbors, discovering the city, and finding our groove. All that’s left for us to do now is find some wholesome, good company for Lil’ Z and ourselves to make our hearts feel at home here too.


Rediscovering Queens

Beautiful Farm Day

I’m a Queens girl who loves Brooklyn.  On every visit to New York, I find myself sneaking to the PRB (People’s Republic of Brooklyn) for a taste of the vibrant culture, free activities, and delicious food.  But crossing boroughs with a baby gets taxing, so we’ve redirected our attention to Queens and have been pleasantly surprised.

Queens County Museum Farm

This lovely oasis was a convenient answer to Lil’ Z’s questions about how things grow.  Visiting an active, functional farm with animals, a farmer’s market, and a community compost program was a relaxing way to spend a summer afternoon.

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Queens Botanical Garden

This garden is patch of peace in the bustling Flushing neighborhood.  The rose and fragrance gardens were our favorite.  Take note of the free admission days and hours.

Jamaica Breeze

A new spot for veg-friendly dining has popped up in Queens.  They’re offering a refreshingly new concept for Jamaican dining in New York– a self-serve hot bar where you pay by weight.  The word buffet is a bit misleading, so be forewarned.  They consistently have one tofu dish and an ital bean stew on the hot bar.  Their rice and vegetable dishes aren’t cooked with meat, so fill up and enjoy!


Nurturing Friendships

Road Trip BuddiesEvery summer, our visits to the United States fly by so quickly. Whether we’ve stayed three weeks or three months, time never seems adequate enough to visit all of our relatives, let alone our friends. This year, however, we received invitations so warm and sincere that they were hard to decline. With pregnancy behind us and Moulay reaching six weeks of age, we didn’t see any harm in taking a few short trips with him. We felt guilty, as if we were stealing time from our family, but they understood that we have special friendships that mean a lot to us, so away we went.

From New York, we headed to Pennsylvania where we met with one of our very first friends in Oman and two families that are very dear to us. Our children played while we snacked and chatted in the park. After a while, we prepared for an epic event—the ultimate Muslim vegan barbeque—with the only other Muslim vegan family we know. It was an amazing meal that included grilled seitan skewers, veggie burgers, barbecued drumsticks, vegan macaroni and cheese, collard greens, potato salad, and kale chips. And if the spread wasn’t satisfying enough, we had German chocolate cupcakes and raw blueberry cheesecake for dessert.

Epic Muslim Vegan BBQ

Our interrupted conversations were unceasing until we put the children to bed. Thereafter, we reconvened in blissful silence for prayer and hot tea. To be able to chat about faith, parenting, popular culture, veganism, and marriage all in the same day felt thoroughly satisfying. I’m sure I slept with a smile on my face that night. The next morning, our hosts were anxious to share their trademark Sunday breakfast with us and we were glad to receive it: homemade sausage biscuits, stewed apples, veggie potato scramble, and more kale chips. They gave us great ideas for developing some of our own family food traditions.

Sunday Breakfast Spread

Lil’ Z loved their cozy home, often commenting on how beautiful it was. Between the amazing food, rich assortment of books, and brightly colored walls, she was smitten. The spacious yard included a sandbox, garden, and plenty of space to freely play with her new friends. Before leaving, she asked if we could live in their home and has been praying for a home of our own ever since. We have yet to find a home base for ourselves but delight in the idea of having a constant space to extend and return the gift of hospitality, as well as a canvas to demonstrate our aesthetic, values, and way of life.

Sandbox Play

From Tampa, we flew to Georgia where we united with friends that we hadn’t seen in about seven years. Our hosts were always close friends of ours and we were eager to not only see each other, but introduce our children to each other. Their children embraced Lil’ Z, just as their parents embraced us. Our friends welcomed us into their home and we stayed up late talking as if no time had passed. We cooked together and hosted a fast-breaking meal in Ramadan with others, including the family of the imam who married us. Sitting with the blessed guests that evening, I felt stifled not knowing where to begin with the dozens of conversations I wanted to have. And all being parents, our words and thoughts were punctuated by the cries, complaints, and needs of our children. The time, albeit short, was just what we needed to rekindle our connection and recommit ourselves to staying in better touch.

Georgia Friends

After a delicious meal and filling conversation, the imam stood to lead us in prayer. He reminded us to ready ourselves and concluded with four words that moved me deeply: “May Allah love you”. Tears filled my eyes remembering the very sweet fellowship of the beloved teachers and friends we reunited with. With them, I was reminded that the singular pursuit of Islam is attaining the love of God and the best friends are those who aid you in that pursuit. To share that common aim with people you love makes for a deep and meaningful friendship. Aside from our genuine connection to each other, we can plug into the same Source and bow down to the same Lord. We may come from varied backgrounds, cultures, and experiences but we share an ethereal bond that makes us like family.

Though scattered in different places, virtual companionship has kept us in contact with our beloved friends but seeking out their physical presence helped to recharge our friendships. As Lil’ Z gets older, we’ll have to help her navigate how to select and sustain her own friendships. Until then, we’ll continue to convey the value of good companionship and the imperative to pursue it, regardless of the effort and energy it entails.

Nature Walk


Review: Sweet Child O’Mine in Tampa


Sweet Child

Earlier this month, I had my final postpartum visit. After six weeks of care both preceding and following the birth of Moulay, it was time to bid farewell. Even though prenatal care, birthing assistance, and postnatal care are services we paid for, I felt largely indebted to the staff of Sweet Child O’Mine. They supported our family through a delicate and beautiful time in our lives. They made us feel safe in their care and I felt like I owed them something. I thought of baking something or sending them flowers but settled on a thank you card and a picture of the new life they helped to deliver. My midwife reminded me that Moulay delivered himself but her team helped cultivate a safe landing place for him and me to emerge.

Birthing Suite

Birthing Suite

From my first visit at 34 weeks pregnant, I walked through the deep purple doors of a homelike abode. Diffused scents of lavender filled the air and complemented the floral décor. Each room was impeccably neat, tidy, and pleasing to the eyes. The birthing center felt as relaxed as a neighbor’s home but as professional as a doctor’s office. The lending library offered a thorough selection of books, cd’s and dvd’s for both experienced and novice mothers alike.  The two birthing suites were as cozy as a bed and breakfast with all medical tools thoughtfully removed out of view. The bathrooms are filled with all necessary amenities for personal hygiene and remain spotlessly clean without feeling uncomfortably sterile. The birthing tubs are sanitized after each use with birthing balls on hand for use.

Lending Library

Lending Library

The childbirth preparation classes were conveniently scheduled on both weekends and evenings, giving families great flexibility to ensure attendance. On a weekend class I attended, I was the only mother of color in attendance. But at an evening class, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the number of Black and Latina mothers who attended with their husbands, boyfriends, mothers and friends. I was encouraged to know that such great care was available to so many women.

Waiting Lobby

Waiting Lobby

Sweet Child O’Mine also succeeds at selecting personable staff who care about mothers, their births, and their babies. I was informed of care decisions and given room to ponder, accept, and decline at will. Everyone from the receptionist to the midwives were warm and friendly, while proficient in each of their duties. Though I assumed that they would forget my birth amongst the others, each staff member recalled my unique birth story and took joy in watching our son grow and develop in subsequent postpartum visits. Their inquiries regarding my wellbeing were heartfelt and sincere. I felt nurtured by their firm hugs and encouraging words.

Birthing Team

Birthing Team

While I will miss my visits to the birthing center, I assured them that I hope not to return too soon. They were excellent caretakers and I would love to give birth again in their care…a few years from now, in sha’ Allah (God willing).

you are my ramadan

Moulay at 5 weeks

sighting the moon as you suckle

cooing while i recite

nibbling suhoor* as you snuggle

changing diapers in the moonlight


my night vigil begins with your cry

your milky kisses break my day’s fast

your smiles are sweeter than dates

holding you is my i’etikaf**


comforting you is my remembrance

nursing you is my charity

thoughts of you are my prayers

tending to you is my hajj journey


selflessness is my sacrifice

God’s mercy is that which I seek

motherhood is a spiritual path

placing paradise beneath our feet***


*suhoor:  pre-fasting meal eaten before dawn

**i’etikaf:  spiritual retreat

***reference found here


Marital Advice That Works for Us

Celebrating our ten-year anniversary at home with the children

Celebrating our ten-year anniversary at home with the children

My cousin is getting married today and unfortunately, we can’t be there to attend.  Our newborn is not yet six-weeks old and we’ve had to rework our travel plans accordingly.  In lieu of our absence, we wanted to congratulate the newlyweds and offer ten practices and principles that have really benefited us in our years of marriage.

Be committed to a common aim, purpose, and spiritual path.  There should always be something greater in your life than yourselves and each other.  Your lives should orbit around a constant that is unchanging, not the temporal.

Express gratitude generously for things both big and small.  Everyone wants to feel appreciated, even when they do what’s expected of them.

Be committed to your personal development.  Always set goals for self-improvement and support each other respectively.

Avoid blaming each other and instead work together towards solutions.  Blame is rarely productive but teamwork most often is.

Share new things that you read/learn/think about and be reflective.  Sharpen each other’s intellect and rediscover each other through stimulating conversation and thoughtful introspection.

Value each other’s interests.  Understanding what a person loves or enjoys helps you to better understand them.

Be selfless in your service to each other.  If you are both sincere in your giving, there is no need to keep tabs.  In a healthy relationship, giving and receiving is mutual.

Maintain attractiveness, health, and well-being.  Value your self and spouse enough to take care of yourself both inwardly and outwardly.

Honor each other and your families.  Never tear each other or family members down, in public or private.  Always seek to build, not destroy.  Offer criticism constructively and advice sincerely.

Choose your companions wisely.  Surround yourself with friends that value marriage, fidelity, and family.  Build a community around you that nurtures your marriage and a marriage that nourishes your community.

Our warmest congrats to you both.  We pray that your union is blessed for many years to come.  Welcome to the family, Fiona!