Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Tragedy and Christmas

It seems the world is filled with tragedy recently. From Newtown, CT, to tragedies much closer to home, to events in our own lives that maybe don't seem tragic to most but are tragic to us, the world is a crazy, sad and confusing place sometimes.

As I was reading an article about Newtown, a man there said that he had bought a Christmas tree before the shooting, but hasn't put it up because it doesn't feel like Christmas. As I read that, I felt so sad, because events like Newtown, and the tragedies that we all experience in life, are exactly why we need Christmas. The sin that caused this is the reason God sent us a Savior. It is the tragedies such as Newtown and others that we are experiencing right now that make us realize how much this world needs Jesus and should cause us to celebrate Christmas all the more.

Jesus came in a time of hopelessness in Jewish history. The people had not heard from God in 400 years and were under Roman rule. They likely thought that God had either forgotten about them or didn't have the power to do anything about their situation. And it was in that moment of hopelessness, that the chasm between Heaven and Earth was bridged, and a Savior was born to make a way for God's people to return to Him.

And so, in this time of tragedy, this is exactly why we can celebrate Christmas. Because God did not leave us or forsake us, but came into this world to save us. So that these tragedies are not the end. So that we can still have hope even in the midst of the worst that life has to offer. God made a way. We are not forsaken.

One of my favorite lines from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

In the wake of the recent tragic events, let us celebrate the birth of our Savior with more joy and love than ever before, as it has been made explicitly clear the evil that He came to save us from.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Fun Little Trip to DC

The week after Thanksgiving I got to go to Washington DC for work. I've had the privelage of serving on the core committee of our company's Proffesional Growth Network (PGN). The general idea behind the group is to engage people who are in the first 10 years of their career in the company, and help them to grow in their careers. There are several committees that make up the PGN and I amthe co-chair for corporate citizenship. We encourage people to get involved in the community through competitions and other fun events. I won't go into the details, I just say all this to say that the reason I was in DC was for the PGN's yearly strategic planning meeting.

I don't talk very much about work on my blog, mostly because it probably wouldn't make for very interesting reading material, and also because I don't want this blog to be mistaken as any sort of represantation of my company or any of the projects I work on. But I did want to put up a quick post about the PGN and my trip to DC because getting to be a part of this group has been such a great experience for me. I'm a big proponent of community service and volunteering and I love that our compnay supports that, and that I get to be in a position where I encourage people throughout the country to go out and get involved in their communities and do things that will make the world a better place. I love getting to work with people in our company across the country and to have the opportunity to meet and work with senior management to figure out how to make our company a better place for young professionals and how we can encourage our young professionals to make our company better. It as really been a unique experience that I am so grateful for, and I am really looking forward to getting to serve on this committee another year.

Our trip to DC was jam packed and I unfortunately scheduled my flights so that I arrived right when the meeting started and left as soon as it was over. I basically just saw our hotel, the office and the restaurants we went to, and the White House, thanks to my good friend Keith's brother who works there. After dinner one evening I hightailed it over to the White House (after initially heading the wrong direction and getting lost) to meet Scott for a tour of the West Wing. It was so cool to get to see where all the business of the White House takes place, the Oval office and the room where the cabinet meets. Unfortuantely pictures are only allowed outside and in the press room, so here is all I have.

This is Scott, who gave me the tour.

Here I am, holding my own press conference.
I also had so much fun getting to know the other people on the committee. We had people from various cities in California, Seattle, Chicago, Indianopolis, Baltimore, New York and New Jersey. It's so interesting and fun to talk with people who are in a similar career and time in their career as I am, who live in other parts of the country. Also, I don't really have any friends who work in a corporate setting like I do, most people either stay at home with their kids or are teachers or nurses or counselors, so it's really cool meeting people who I have that in common with and talking about life with them. Especially because we have work in common, but so many other parts of our lives are different. I wish we had more time together and am already looking forward to the next time we're all in the same place.

So...I'm not really sure what the point of this post was, other than I just felt like I needed to write about my trip. And share my awesome White House pics. And I guess give a little glimpse into my work life that so rarely gets discussed here on the blog!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I'm a little late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We went to nky to be with Derek's family and I made my first Thanksgiving dinner! Luckily I had been to Columbus a couple weeks prior and my mom and I made a practice turkey, and my mother and sister in laws were super helpful the day of, but dinner was a success and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. I may or may not have had dreams about things going horribly wrong and dinner being ruined, or the turkey still breathing while I was cooking it.

The only potentially bad thing was that the turkey innards were not contained to a bag but instead were just sitting there inside the bird and needed to be taken out. I got hot and kind of nauseous when I saw them, but Linda came the rescue and took them out for me. I think I would have been able to do it, I just might have needed to go outside and get some air and work myself up to it. Maybe next year :)

Anyways, here is the finished product, my first turkey.

We also celebrated out nephew Connor's birthday over the weekend. We got him a lumberjack shirt that matched Derek's and a toy chainsaw so he could be a little mini lumberjack.

Oliver wanted to get in on the toy chainsaw action. He even was a fan of the safety goggles!

All the grandkids with grandma and pap pap. 
We are blessed with wonderful family and are so thankful for them. We're thankful that we were able to be with half of our family for Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing the other half at Christmas. We're also thankful that Linda is halfway through her chemo treatments and is doing well. (Doesn't she look great in the photo above?) She was even able to help pull Thanksgiving dinner together on Thursday! We have so much to be thankful for, most especially our Savior whose birth we anticipate as we wait to celebrate the moment in eternity when God entered the world in the form of an infant to save us when we were helpless to save ourselves.

Friday, November 2, 2012


A little late, but I didn't want to miss out on posting pictures of our Halloween.

 We carved pumpkins with some friends on Tuesday night. Moose loved eating the pumpkin guts. Who knew? Is there anything he won't eat?

Here is a picture of my pumpkin and Charissa's. Charissa is an art teacher. It is obvious in the quality of our pumpkin carving. Derek carved a pumpkin with a mustache.  He was so proud of it. And so psyched when trick or treaters and/or their parents commented on the mustached pumpkin.

We dressed Moose up as a squirrel. My real dream is to get a little dog and name it Squirrel, so we can have Moose and Squirrel. But dressing Moose up as a squirrel will have to do for now. He tolerated it fairly well.

As always, we had a great time passing out candy to all the cute little trick or treaters. And they all loved that Moose was in costume. Some of them even tried to come into our house! No fear, those little crazies looking for candy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It's been a bit quiet around here. I'm not quite sure why. After the very busy weekend of celebrations things at work were real busy, but I made my nearly impossible Friday deadline, and now work is manageable. It's good to not feel rushed.

We finished up our fall soccer season. We had such a great time coaching our little girls. Practices and games were always a highlight of the week, even when little ones had a hard time paying attention or didn't quite pick up on what we were trying to teach them. I think they made great progress this season, and we have some really sweet girls on our team who brought lots of smiles and laughs to our lives each week.

We also got to spend a few days watching the 2 youngest boys of an LCA family. They really aren't that young, 10th grade and 6th grade, but young enough that they need someone to take them places and feed them. Old enough however to put themselves to bed, wake themselves up, get their homework and make plans with friends. We didn't need to entertain them, just make sure they ate and slept. But, let me tell you, we were only with them for about 4 days and keeping track of the schedules was no joke. Since one is high school and the other elementary school, they had to be at school at different times, got home from school at different times, had different football practice times, and then in the brief time we were there a senior football dinner, early morning football workouts, football pictures, a game, practices and the making of a Spanish appetizer for class were also thrown into the mix. Neither Derek nor I remember being that busy growing up. We think kids now are much busier than they used to be.

We had a few pretty low key days last week, and then this past weekend capped off wedding season 2012 for us. Our good friends Alex and Laura tied the knot on Saturday. Derek and his brother Kevin were both in the wedding party, which meant that we had the treat of Kevin and Kayla staying with us, as well as getting to go to the rehearsal dinner Friday night.

A few people came over after the rehearsal on Friday and we didn't make it to bed until 3 am! I can't remember the last time I was up that late. Luckily Kayla and I had no where to be until Saturday evening, so we went to Windy Corner Market for some breakfast and then laid on the couch and watched Friends while we dozed in and out of sleep. I can't remember the last time I did nothing all day, but it was pretty glorious. We met some friends for a little pre-wedding snack at Drakes and then headed to the church for the ceremony. The reception was at the Lexington Country Club and was absolutely gorgeous. They had delicious food, cake and other deserts, and the reception even included some square dancing - a Young Life favorite! Angie and Micah had a little after party, and it was another late evening. It was great to spend time with so many friends this weekend.

Sunday consisted of church and small group, as well as christening our fire place for the winter. I love cozy fires! Yay for being lazy all weekend long!

I think Derek may have some pictures of these things on his phone. I'll try to find those, but for now, just words. Sorry, I'm a bad blogger!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Guest Post from Derek: Light Always Wins

I've been asking Derek for years to do a guest post on my blog. And he has finally complied to my request. So here it is, Derek's blogging debut!

Light always Wins!

Anne and I had the pleasure of going to the Power and Love Conference last week and got to hear a few amazing speakers (Dan Mohler, Todd White, Bob Hazlett)! After having a few days to reflect and think about what I have learned, I thought I’d share it with you.  So here I go…

Life is hard. Circumstances, family dynamics, broken friendships, health issues, work struggles and yes even death swirl around us like a Texas dust twister. Some days it may feel as though you have traveled across the unforgivable terrain of a barren desert barely holding on to survive. You might feel tired, beaten up, mistreated, and too tired to love or give anymore.  Why did God have to make life so hard?

This is what I learned this past week…I realized the structure of my question (Why did God make life hard for me?) was what had been making life so hard…I had been blaming God for why life is hard. God wasn’t making life hard…I was. I was letting the circumstances of my life determine how I felt. If life was good it was easy to thank God. When life got tough it was hard to be thankful for much of anything. It was like when God didn’t answer my prayers I just kept my hands in my pockets on Sunday Morning worship because I didn’t have anything to praise.

In a nut shell I was letting the circumstances of my life become the idols and gods I served because they impacted me greater than God himself. What a selfish mess I am! This week at the Power and Love conference these truths were spoken to me from the Holy Spirit Himself:

Life and circumstances will always be tough. You need to Embrace Me (Jesus!) Let the Light in and let the darkness out. Otherwise you will be praying the same prayers the next week…just about different problems.

The Gospel is not about God taking care of you, it’s about God transforming you!
You were never made for you! You were made for God!

Stop giving your flesh a voice, give the Spirit the platform to transform your life.

Life is not about Providing, Provision, and Prosperity – it’s about Transformation!

You are a new creation. The old is GONE! The new has COME! Embrace your new life!

-----Have I lost any one yet?------Cause this is just the beginning!

You must become the Word – stop trying to apply it.

Why do you find yourself offended by others?! You died to yourself! Derek – A dead person cannot be offended. Go try it. Go to a graveyard and try to offend someone there. It is impossible! Therefore, because you denied yourself stop feeling sorry for yourself and turn your focus to Christ!

Don’t let life eat your lunch! Let Love (Jesus) be the Food you eat and feed it to others!

Do not yield to your feelings. You don’t have to feel ok! You already are!

You don’t need deliverance; you have already been delivered!

Then God really poured on the Truth….

Don’t sell cheap! You have been bought very costly!

You don’t have issues, circumstances, bad days….YOU HAVE JESUS!

What you fix your eyes on you will become! The eye is the lamp of your body!

If you are thinking wow…what Truth…What I shared with you thus far is only 1 of 6 talks I heard!

You see what they preached to me last week was Jesus. They did not preach to me something I did not have, they just gave me access to what I already had! They taught me to be intentional with my time, with God, and with others. They taught me to seek the Spirit throughout my day. They taught me to seek out others to pray for and lay hands on.  I learned from multiple testimonies (some that happened that very week) that Healing and Miracles isn’t just something that happened 2000 years ago, it still happens this very day because we have the same Holy Spirit that Jesus’ Disciples had! Amen!

I left last week changed. I see things differently. I no longer see God or others from a worldly point of view (Read 2 Corthians 5:16-21). You see, God makes beautiful things. He has already made beautiful things out of us. We don't have to wait for God to make us beautiful, he already has! That is the Gospel. And that is what we get to share with others! We get to tell them they are beautiful! And I am so excited to spend the rest of my life sharing my life and the Gospel with others and tell them that they are beautiful!

1 Thes. 2:8,19-20 – “We loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you have become so dear to us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy!

You see guys I have been filled with the Light. I no longer live but it is Jesus inside of me. I have been spending so much of my life trying to fix things I just needed to let die. For so long I have tried to control my selfishness. This was so hard! Why was this so hard – It was because God didn’t create me to be selfish……..Dagger!

Therefore, life wasn’t intended to be hard. It became hard at the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. At the point we became broken, bruised, damaged and a damned people. The Good news is that when Jesus died for us he took on all of that brokenness, hurt, and sin and has reconciled us back to God. We don’t have to wait to clean up our life before we can encounter God; God has already restored us! We just need to accept and believe in his restoration, because it is then and only then life stops being hard and becomes life to the full (John 10:10)! You see Light always beats Darkness. So let’s let God’s light shine on us and lets absorb His rays! Let us be the Salt and Light of the world! For Light always wins!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Weekend of Celebrations

We've been doing a lot of celebrating around here. It seems that all of our friends are either getting married or having babies. Which means that nearly all of our weekends these past few months have involved some sort of shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding, birth, etc.

Well, this weekend might have broken a record for us.

I woke up on Saturday to a text from my best friend from high school, Amy, saying she was in the hospital in labor! That morning, one of my best friends from college, Jen, was having a baby shower. That evening, one of Derek's best childhood friends, Jordan, was getting married. Then on Sunday, we had a bridal shower for another great friend, Laura. After I got home from Laura's shower on Sunday, I got a text from Amy's husband with a picture of their new sweet baby girl. Yup, she was in the labor the entire time I was at 2 showers and a wedding.

It was a crazy weekend (I also managed to squeeze a garage sale, church and church small group in there as well) but I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate these wonderful events of our friends' lives. I even managed to take a couple of photos.

You can see more about Jen's shower here. And below are a few pics I took.

I love the pink and navy bicycle theme - the decorations were so cute.

Jen's aunt from Germany knit here this little sweater and these baby booties. Amazing.

UK booties - are you kidding me? I can't stand it!

Unfortunately I had to leave Jen's shower a little early so we could head up to Columbus, Indiana for Jordan's wedding. The ceremony was at Irwin Gardens downtown, and was a gorgeous venue.

They had a typewrite that guests could use to leave notes. So fun! Our letter was full of typos!

This is an Italian tradition we had at our wedding too - the cookie table! Unfortunately I have no self control and ended up not feeling so hot after eating too many cookies.

They had a dollar dance with the groom and Derek was of course the first person to get in on that action.
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at Laura's shower. But that doesn't mean I love her any less, I was just pretty worn out by that point. But it was lots of fun, and we can't wait for her and Alex to tie the knot in a couple of weeks!

And finally, here is sweet little baby Hannah!  I cannot wait to meet this little one!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Boxer

When I'm at work and I have a tedious task that I need to get done, I like to listen to music. There is something about it that allows me to drown out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Today it was excel work. So I decided to listen to the new Mumford and Sons album. Derek has pretty much had this on repeat since it came out, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

The first time I heard one of the songs on the album I got really confused and said to Derek, "Hey! This is a Simon and Garfunkel song!" I grabbed the iphone, and sure enough, it was "The Boxer" featuring Jerry Douglas and Paul Simon. I managed to impress Derek with my knowledge of music that came out before I was born, although the real credit goes to my dad.

One summer when I was younger, I can't remember which one exactly, but I think it was between my 4th and 5th grade year, my dad, my grandma and I drove to California. We loaded up the car (I think it was my grandma's Saturn but it could have been my dad's, I don't remember) and drove across the country for 4 days. In anticipation of all the time in the car, my dad copied a bunch of his favorite CDs onto cassette tape, since we had a CD player at home, but there wasn't one in the car. We had hours of Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues, James Taylor, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and many more whose names I can't think of right now, but if a song came on I would probably still know all the words.

I remember sitting in the backseat with a little pink tray that sat over my lap so I could color in coloring books or whatever else would keep me occupied. I remember vowing to hurt someone or myself if I ever had to see another soybean. I think this was also the trip where I made up the Waffle House song. I also remember playing a game with my dad where we would guess how long it would take for him to pass the semi that was miles ahead of us. That was a great game to play in Kansas.

I remember when we got to California going to see the house my grandparents built in Lake Tahoe. I remember staying at the houses of old family friends, and waking up to sun streaming into the window. Lots of the people we stayed with had pools, which I thought was fantastic. I remember visiting relatives who that would be the only time in my life I would ever get to meet them. We went and saw the redwood forest and San Francisco and the pacific ocean. I remember thinking it was a waste to have an ocean that you couldn't swim in.

The 29 year old version of me wishes I knew what a cool experience that had been. I think I tried to journal about a little, but I wasn't very consistent, nor was I very detailed. (As a side note, Derek has the spiritual gift of finding all of the random stuff I wrote as a kid when we visit my parents house, and he LOVES to read it to me. It is pretty hilarious, and I vaguely remember reading entries from the California trip. I started off strong but then it just ended.) I'm sure there are pictures somewhere. But I wish I had a better memory of all the details, the people I met, and the things I saw.

My dad and I flew back to Columbus after a week of being out there. My grandma stayed out there visiting with friends and family, and a few weeks later my dad and younger sister flew back out, my sister got to visit for a week, and then the 3 of them drove back to Ohio. She got to visit a ranch in Wyoming, which I'm totally jealous of, although I'm sure I wasn't at the time.

I remember on the trip back there were bad thunderstorms in Chicago, and my dad and I had to get a hotel room since our flight was delayed til the next day. We didn't have our suitcases because it was a connecting flight. That was the beginning of my dislike for O'Hare airport, and now I never connect through O'Hare due to multiple bad experiences.

It's funny how one song can bring back so many memories. Next time I'm in Columbus I'm going to go searching for some pictures of the trip. I'll be sure to scan them in and share them if I find any.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Really Great News

In March of last year, we found out that Derek's mom's ovarian cancer had returned. Surgery was performed to remove the cancer, however, they found some that couldn't be removed. After surgery she started chemotherapy, and 16 weeks later, there were no traces of cancer. Praise the Lord!

Since then, Linda goes to the doctor every 6 weeks to have her CA125 levels measured. This number is a cancer indicator. And as long as it stays low, we are in the clear.

A couple of weeks ago she had her levels tested and they were high. Higher than they had been last March when they found cancer in various spots and couldn't remove it all.

Not good. But we were hopeful that maybe the test was wrong. Maybe something else triggered that number to go up. She was tested again, and the number went up, again.

This was not good news. This indicated that the ovarian cancer had returned for the 3rd time, and this would be the fourth time in her life that she would battle cancer.

A CAT scan was scheduled two days later that would show where the cancer had spread, and would determine the treatment plan.

The dramatic increase in the CA-125 numbers, coupled with the fact that last time the cancer had spread to various part of her abdomen (now in an open cavity rather than contained) had us very worried. We asked many friends and family members to pray that the CAT scan would show that the cancer hadn't spread to vital organs and that it would be treatable with chemo. It was a rough couple of days as we waited to find out what the future would look like.

Last Friday the doctor's office would call Linda and tell her the results of the CAT scan. Derek and I knew that this would be big news, regardless of the outcome, so we decided to to head up to NKY to surprise her and spend the day with her.

We arrived around 11. Linda had already called the office and been told that the nurse practitioner who would discuss the results with her would not be in until 11. So we would wait. Until 4:30 when they finally called. I know that every patient at this doctor's office is a cancer patient, and so everyone they see is a life and death situation. But didn't they realize that the magnitude of the outcome of these results?

Looking back, I'm so glad we were there. I would have been a mess at work, and not been able concentrate or get any work done. Linda would have been home all day, waiting. I'm glad Derek and I were there to help pass the time, take her mind off of it etc.

When Mary, the nurse practitioner, finally did call, we all held our breath. Linda walked into another room and I heard a gasp. Then she stepped out with a big smile on her face and a thumbs up. The scan was CLEAR!!!!!

She cried. I cried. We all cried. We hugged. I'm getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

Linda had been praying for a clear scan. Our friends and family had been praying for a clear scan. And me with my little faith was just hoping that it could be treated.

God is so, so, so, so good. He is faithful.

We are ecstatic.

Linda will still go ahead and start chemotherapy treatment. The rise in the CA-125 indicates that there is likely some microscopic cancer activity. But we feel confident that this round of chemo will totally get rid of it. We joked that we've never seen someone so happy to be starting chemo.

But no surgeries, no surprises about where it has spread to. Just really great news!

We went out to celebrate Friday night. It was a wonderful night. Enjoying the blessings of a God who cares for us, and who answers prayer. We are thankful.

You can still pray for Linda as she goes through another round of chemo. It's not easy. But Linda is strong and when she is weak we know that God will be her strength. Praise Him!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I just read this post, and couldn't not share it.

Do you ever find yourself upset? Worried? Discontent? Afraid? And then you think about how it could be so much worse, and then you feel guilty for having those feelings?  Read this post.

Our problems are real, even when they seem silly. But they are problems not because of our circumstances, but because of our hearts. Our problems can't be fixed by changing our circumstances, they can only be fixed by changing our hearts. And only God can do that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Weekends

This weekend was a good one. It started out with some really great news. (I'll share more on that soon because it deserves its own post.) It involved a little girls soccer game, time with my parents, an apple orchard, apple cider and apple donuts, a trip to Lowe's and the purchase of some mums (yay for fall!), college football, delicious dinner I didn't have to cook, apple pie, church, reading in bed and snuggling with a kitten, Bible study and a BBQ and Blues festival at church. I love weekends!

Feeling very grateful today, not just for fun weekends, but because God is good, whether your weekend is wonderful or terrible.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Smallest Nephew

I became an aunt again a couple of Fridays ago, and this weekend Derek and I got to meet the newest nephew, baby Elliott. He is really little and really sweet.

And we got to spend some time with his older brothers. These guys were lots of fun.

In addition to family fun time this weekend, we also had 2 soccer games on Saturday. Derek and I coach a sweet little 2nd and 3rd grade girls soccer team. Even though we're in the 2nd to 3rd grade division, our whole team is made up of 2nd graders, and even a couple of 1st graders who are playing up. We have been the smallest team in every game we've played so far. But they are playing tough, and we have only been beat by 1 goal in one game and tied the other two. Which considering how much they mature and grow in the course of a year, is really good. I think next year when they're all 3rd graders we will be the team to beat.

After our second soccer game we went up to Cincinnati to go to a Reds game with our friends Brent and Karin, who live in Florida and were up visiting for the weekend. We had been planning to go to this game for a while and it was just our luck that it happened to be the game in which the Reds clinched the NL Central Division. It was a really fun game to be at.

Afterwards we went back to Brent's parents' condo, which has a great view of the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati. Yay for little babies and fun weekends!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One Year

My apologies in advance. This is a long post with no pictures, but I needed to write it all out. 

It's been a little over a year since Derek and I stopped leading Young Life. A lot has happened since then. Not a lot of big things that I could easily list, but a lot of things in my heart. I have changed. I have learned and have grown, and I continue to do those things.

There has been a lot that has been hard in this past year. I haven't really written about it on the blog. I've thought about it, but have never really had peace with the thought of putting very fresh, raw, feelings and hurts out there for everyone to read. I know that a lot of people do open up on their blogs, and honestly, those are usually my favorite blogs to read. But for me, it just hasn't felt right. As I look back on my blog recently, it has been mostly just an attempt at recording what is going on in our lives so I don't forget. Not much about what is really going on. Maybe one day I will feel comfortable sharing everything, but I'm not there yet. {Mostly because my emotions and thoughts are all over the place, and one day I feel really good about things and what God is teaching me, and the next I feel frustrated and mad at life. So in the hopes of not appearing to have it all together when I don't, or to come across as a crazy person, I've decided that when it comes to posting things that will be on the interwebs forever, I will try and use discretion.}

One fun thing that I haven't written about is a little book club I started with some of the women I work with. We started out reading Blue Like Jazz, which is one of my favorites and today just finished discussing our second book, Peace Is Every Step. I started the book club hoping it would turn into more of a Bible study, but, the group is made up of people with different beliefs, and knowing that, I don't want to wear anybody out of only hearing my beliefs. I believe that if I want people to listen to and discuss what I believe, I need to afford them the same courtesy. So we have expanded our books to more than just my favorite Christian authors. But I still love the opportunity to talk about deep, meaningful subjects, to share our beliefs, to be able to share the hope I have in Jesus, and to deepen friendships beyond the surface of most co-worker relationships.

The next book we are going to read is called The Happiness Project. As we were talking about it at lunch, I said how I am excited to read this book as I am really beginning to figure out what makes me happy. I didn't have much free time in the first 5 years of my marriage (and before that I was in college, which is a lot of free time but in a whole different way). I was definitely happy, I loved doing Young Life, but one of the things I have had to learn over this past year is what to do with free time. I often find myself in the position of being so overwhelmed by all my options that I just end up wasting my time by watching tv or doing something stupid.

I am beginning to make progress though!. Just this past week I decided to start following along with the Lil Blue Boo journaling project. I got myself a new journal with no lines and have started following the daily prompts. I am learning that it makes me happy to be able to create without an agenda or a "right way" of doing things. Just to be able to get thoughts, memories, ideas, etc. onto paper, sometimes writing those things, sometimes drawing them. It's only been a couple days but I already feel like I have a brighter outlook.

I've also started sewing. I'm learning that it is good for me to take time to be creative, especially since I have a very analytical job. I'm finding I enjoy using different parts of my brain.

Another thing I've discovered is that I really like exploring new places and trying new things. Our church small group went geocaching this weekend and I loved it. I love the idea of going someplace that you've been many times before and discovering new parts where you would have never been as your look for hidden things. It would also be a great way to discover new places that you've never been.

Finally, I have found that I have more time to invest in friendships. This has probably been one of the things I have enjoyed most. I think I'm learning how to be a good friend. I used to try and hang out with people mostly just to catch up and make sure that I still know what's going on in people's lives and they know what is going on in mine. Now I am really trying to go into spending time with people by being intentional about encouraging them in Christ and helping to sharpen them and allow myself to be sharpened as well.

One last thought...I read Donald Miller's boo A Million Miles in a Thousand Years last year and it left me frustrated. And I see that lots of people in the blog world have been reading it and loving it and that makes me frustrated too. I want my life to be a good story, but when reading the book, I had no idea what I was passionate about, other than Young Life and it was clear that God was getting ready to finish up our time in that ministry. I still am not sure what the next "big thing" is going to be that God will make us a part of. But I think I'm on the right track as I begin to discover what really excites me and makes me really enjoy life. I think journaling, creating, exploring, and being intentional with friends are all beginning to work together to point me in the right direction

So...It's definitely been a year of growing and learning how God has created me, what makes me excited, what re-energizes me and what drains me. I don't have it all figured out yet, but it has been good to have this time of just being. I'm excited for whatever is in store, and for God to continue to reveal Himself and His plans to me as I continue in this process I have begun. It's not been easy, but it has been good.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bryan and Fran Got Hitched

We had such a fun weekend as we got to celebrate Derek's best friend Bryan, getting hitched to the fabulous Fran. They got married at her family's home way out in the country. The weather and scenery were beautiful to match the joyous occasion.

Of course, Bryan is one of our favorites,and God couldn't have given him a more perfect wife than Fran. She embraces everything we love about Bryan. We're so excited for these 2 starting out their married life together. I feel so blessed that we were able to be a part of the big day, and that we get to share life with them. Congrats, Bryan and Fran! We love you!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

August...A Look Back

August went by really fast this year. It was full of lots of celebrating, and enjoying the end of summer. Of course I find myself looking back with very few pictures to document this month, which I say I will try to get better at and never seem to do. Never the less, here is a quick little look back at the month of August:
  • August 3 - We acquired a little house guest for the weekend. His name is Oscar and he belongs to one of my coworkers. Having a bull dog is very different from having a retriever, but everyone got along well and I would say it was a success. 
  • August 4 - Baby shower for a friend from church. She is having twin boys (crazy!) who were actually just born last week. They definitely have their hands full. 
  • August 8 - Katie's birthday dinner celebration. Our birthdays are less than a week apart, along with our friend Ryan. We are already making big plans for our 30th next year!
  • August 10 - Taco Truck pool party at my boss's house. The weather cooled off substantially, so we didn't swim, but we did enjoy some amazing tacos from the coolest little taco truck, and some wonderful Mexican themed beverages.
  • August 11 - Holly's bachelorette party at the lake. I love going to the lake, and this was the only time I made it there this summer. Again, it was a little chilly, so I never actually got into the water, but enjoyed the boat ride as well as time spent relaxing with good friends and celebrating Holly's upcoming marriage.
  • August 12 - Birthday shopping with Derek! He took me to Target and let me pick out my gifts. It was lots of fun!
  • August 14 - My 29th Birthday! It's the last year of my 20s, which started out well with some surprise birthday donuts from Derek, followed by a little birthday dinner with friends and Graeters afterwards. 
  • August 18 - Holly's wedding. The reception took place at a beautiful bed and breakfast out in the country. And the weather couldn't have been more perfect for a wedding in the middle of August. We love Holly and Matt and are so excited for them to begin this adventure together. Before Holly's wedding I made it to the farmer's market for the first time this year, and then Moose and I went to the dog park to wear him out, so he would be well behaved at the Woodland art fair. He did a great job letting all the little kids come pet him, and especially being in a very crowded area. We both had lots of fun there!

  • August 24 - Derek and I headed up to Columbus to visit my family, but first, we stopped at the Kings Island water park on our way up. My goal all summer has been to go to a water park. I can't tell you the last time I went down a water slide. We were a little disappointed when we first got there and a lot of the water slides weren't open. But after a few trips around the lazy river, we noticed that some more slides were opening up, and it ended up being a really fun time. We were also able to go over to the regular park, and ride a few roller coasters without waiting in line! We ate some funnel cake and drove up to Columbus. 
  • August 25-26 - Spent time with my family. This was so so good, but also hard. My grandpa has had some health issues recently, so he was not feeling well. Also, because of his health, he isn't able to take care of my grandma right now, so she is in a nursing home. It's a hard situation that there really isn't a good solution to. Prayers for them and for my parents and aunt and uncle as they take care of my grandparents would be much appreciated. I love my family so much, and it's definitely hard living so far away from them. 
  • August 26 - Jenna moved in with us! Jenna gets married in a little over a week, and is moving, so we were so excited to have her stay with us for a little bit. I love having girl roommates!
  • August 28 - First soccer practice! Derek and I are coaching a girls 2nd and 3rd grade soccer team this fall. What was supposed to be our first practice the week before was cancelled due to weather, so this was our official first practice. About half of our team are girls that we coached last year. I'm excited to get to continue to invest in them this season, and for all the new girls we will get to know and love as well. Also - wow, what a difference a year makes. We are noticing that they listen much better this year and their skills have improved too.
Well, I think that hits the highlights. Sorry I'm very wordy. I struggle doing short and sweet recaps, but I want to get it all down before I forget. And here's to taking more pictures in September!

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Summer Fishing Trip

Our little fishing trip took place back in June but it was such a fun evening and I had lots of fun taking pictures, so I wanted to make sure I documented it.

Sweet Kaelyn and Hunter invited Derek and I out to Kaelyn's family farm to have a picnic and do a little fishing one Saturday evening. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery, and I had lots of fun taking pictures out there. It's funny to look back on them now, since we went in the middle of a drought, and everything is really brown. It was still very pretty though. I'll try to limit the pictures to just my favorites, but it will be hard.

There is an awesome old house on the property that needs fixed up, and this little cemetery is right outside of it.

"Take a fishing trip" was on my summer bucket list and this little fishing trip was perfect. We caught lots of fish and enjoyed being outside on a beautiful summer evening.