Tuesday, March 30, 2010


About three weeks ago the snow started to really melt, the air was a bit warmer, and since the weather matched so perfectly to one of my favorite road trips ever, I started to reminisce. (That tells you a bit about how nice it has been, since the weather was exactly like our '08 spring road trip on the second weekend of March, but we took the trip on the first weekend of April!)

We called it Big and Ugly (or Weird MN). It was inspired by a coffee table book called Weird Minnesota that I received when I moved into my house in Brainerd. During that same time, my job took me through every small town in northern MN and I soon became curious about every huge statue these small towns had. After doing some online researching, I convinced my sisters that we should take a weekend and conduct a road trip entirely within the boarders of our own state. Our destination would be as many strange statues as we could fit into 72 hours. We made it to 52 cities and traveled over 1700 miles. There wasn't much sleeping (due to being up early and staying up late to drive...) but there was a lot of listening to music, watching DVDs on the computer, talking, laughing, and picture taking. We saw some AMAZING Big and Ugly statues. Here are a few of my favorites:

Let's be honest, I could post about 40 more pictures, but I'll stop.

Ahhhh. I love MN. I love road trips. I love weather that makes me reminisce.

So Long, Favorite Month

I can't let all of March go by without mentioning how it is my favorite month (although June could give it a run for it's money). I know I've mentioned it before, but I must pay proper respect to March, especially since this March has been pretty wonderful. My FB status a few weeks ago read: "Dear month of March: I love you for your snow melting powers and sunlight in the evening hours, but most of all I love you for your amazing basketball tournament!!"
  • MARCH MADNESS did NOT disappoint. It is the best sporting event of the year, and this year was very dramatic. I was up late a few too many nights, but it was worth it (hello, double overtime K State/Xavier game!!!!!!!!!).
  • The SUN! I. love. daylight. savings. spring. forward.
  • The WARM-UP! This is the first year in history (or since records were kept) that we did not get any snow in March. It is 70 degrees out right now!! Most of the snow has been gone for weeks. I really love it.
  • I didn't travel this March, but that was one of my favorite things, since I did SO much traveling at the start of this year. I really needed to do some "nesting" and "grounding", which I feel that I did, so I'm pleased.

Monday, March 29, 2010

No TV Week

I decided last night that I need a "No TV Week". I have a few shows that I like to watch each week (Amazing Race, 24, Lost, The Office) and even though I don't watch them live (I'm usually busy on those certain evenings, so I catch up online), they take quite a bit of time out of my week (probably about 4-5 hours when it's all said and done). I saw this article about not watching TV awhile back, so that contributed to me deciding that I should go at least one week without TV. (I'm not saying that watching TV is bad, because I agree that the Gospel frees you to chill out, but I would say that I know more people who need a bit more discipline and less TV - and I'm one of those people)

Why this week? Well, even though I have fewer "evening events" than normal, I am finding that I've started a few things that are taking away some of my "personal time" when I would normally watch TV. I decided that I needed to make them more of a priority than my TV watching this week. They are:
  • Half marathon training: My race is completely sneaking up on me, and I have been HORRIBLE with my training. I'll never be ready for it unless I take the 4 nights a week, an hour each night (at this point), that I need for running. Boring, but I gotta do it.
  • Nutrition: I'm taking a nutrition class for six weeks (more on that some other post) which dominates one otherwise-free night of my week, but it is also taking a lot more of my time in grocery shopping (which we all know I NEVER did, but now I have to go every couple of days to get more fresh food) and cooking.
  • Dog-sitting: I will be dog-sitting three days this week, and four-days next week, so that always takes a little bit more of my time
I have a feeling that I will be very tempted to turn the computer on and watch my shows on Hulu as I cook or clean my room or fall asleep, but I need to choose to catch up on sermons I missed while on vacation or read a book before bed (now that the late-night March Madness watching is over and I moved the TV back out of my room). NO TV Week! I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Real Simple 10th Anniversary Issue

I totally LOVED reading the Real Simple 10th Anniversary Issue. (I also love that I'm the roommate who always gets the mail so I can read through my roommates magazines before she gets home....)

I especially liked the feature where they compiled the best of new uses for old things. Some of my favorites:
  • a tissue box as a plastic bag dispenser
  • a dryer sheet as a pan cleaner (put it in the bottom of an especially hard-to-clean pan, fill it with warm water, let it sit overnight)
  • a tea strainer as a sugar duster for bars, etc.
  • a toothbrush as a corn on the cob cleaner
  • a ketchup bottle as a pancake-batter dispenser
  • a toothpick as a sewing aid (put it between the button and your clothing to create the right space - not too tight, not too loose)
That's all. I just wanted to write those down somewhere because I figured I'd forget about them unless I have them somewhere I can refer to. The whole issue seemed especially beautiful and informative to me. Loved it.


Thank you, Laura, for sharing some insight I needed to hear (from the book Journaling as a Spiritual Practice by Helen Cepero).

"Understanding the difference between hope and expectations is critical if we are to allow our future to be shaped by God. Hope longs for good but is able to be flexible about how that good might appear. Expectation grasps at solutions and becomes easily attached to outcomes. When we are hopeful, our imagination and creativity flourish. But when we are locked in expectations, it is easy to turn our picture of the possible future into an idol." (page 87)

I have lots of thoughts on this, but mostly it revolves around how I expected to be married by now, maybe even have a baby. I'm easily attached to that as the outcome I wanted. I still hope for that, but maybe I'm still expecting it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Encouraging Words

Mark 11:22-24 : 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Isaiah 40:27-31 :
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Encouraging Words

I'm not surprised that I didn't post at all last week.....it was a trying week. I was (am) dealing with a few situations that feel too big for me, and on top of that I felt very spiritually dry and not well equipped to deal with these situations. Sometimes I think "oh, HB, get over it - people are dealing with much bigger issues than you are", but at the same time, these things felt/feel a little daunting to me......so that's what it feels like......and now I'm rambling and making no sense.

Anyway. I was thankful for a weekend where I encountered many encouraging words. I was able to spend time with fun friends, in the Word, hearing the Word, and "talking it out" with friends/APs. I feel "better" about a few things. I went to those people and those places because I knew that I would encounter encouraging words to help my perspective and point me in the right direction.

Tonight I ran across encouraging words in a place I didn't expect. It all started last night when my AP and I were talking about how summer makes you want to listen to country music, and then we talked about a few of our top country songs that we like or that put us in "summery" moods, etc. She mentioned a song that isn't really my top choice, but I see why she likes it. So tonight when I hopped in my car, since it was 9pm and still 50 degrees out, I thought I should start pumping some summery music. The song on the country station just happened to be the very song that my AP mentioned. Normally I would have turned the dial (since it's not my fave) but because she had just talked about it, I kept it on. The next song that came on was Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood. I have only heard the song one other time, but I really like it. It made me cry tonight. It was an encouraging reminder that there is pain and suffering in this world because we weren't made for this world and this really is just a temporary home. No matter how big an issue or problem or sickness or spiritual darkness seems, it isn't bigger than God, and it won't last forever, because this is a temporary home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

If You're Interested

My sister wrote a Hawaiian Haiku about our trip, and also posted the (abbreviated) video of my jump from the cliff. If you're interested, you can check it out here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Make a Splash

I love living with a roommate who introduces me to new music. Here are some of the lyrics I like from the song Splash by Kangaroo:

You're gonna splash
Wherever you go
You're gonna crash
Like a wave

'Cause you're a party getting started
Everywhere you go
Bound to be broken-hearted
And make angels in the snow
Bound to love
Bound to hate
Bound to give and
Bound to take
Bound to make a splash

You're such a beautiful tornado
You could blow the century down
And still deserve a standing O
For any beauty you had found
You're bound to be someone who
People promise big things to
You're bound to cry
Bound to crash
Bound to make a splash

My favorite lyrics are "beautiful tornado" and "you're bound to be someone who people promise big things to".

New Shoes

It's appropriate that one of these boxes says "rampage" on it, because it feels like I've been on a shoe-buying rampage. I told myself that before I put these shoes in the closet, I need to select four pairs to send to Good Will.

I basically LOVE shoes, but I think these may be the end of my shoe buying for awhile, especially if these are the trends for spring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Patience, People

(I came across this post from November in my drafts this morning, and I still think I can learn from some of my thoughts in it, so I decided to post it, even though it's rather old)

I have really grown in my patience over the last few years, but I still have a long way to go. I got a good reminder of why I need to grow my patience this last week at Bible study: because the Lord is extremely patience with us, and I need to strive to be more like God.

The Lord’s patience is what really stood out to me while learning about Gideon. When Gideon was told he needed to save Israel from the Midianites, he doubted he was able to. So the Lord reassured him. But Gideon was still skeptical. So he tested the Lord. Gideon asked him to make his fleece wet and the ground around it dry. You start to think “ummm..Gideon. This is the Lord. You probably shouldn’t test him. You should probably trust Him.” But the Lord made the fleece wet and that was that. OR NOT. Gideon tests the Lord AGAIN. This is the part of the story where I start shaking my head and saying “nononononononononono, Gideon….Don’t test the Lord again! Just go with it! He will equip you!” This time Gideon wanted the fleece dry and the ground wet, and the Lord proved again that He would do as He promised.

This story also caused me to think about what things in my life I feel like I need God to prove for me (i.e. what do I feel like I need to lay a fleece out for). What things has God asked me to do but I have politely ignored him, thinking “that must not be right”. Or thinking “well, THAT’S impossible….I’ll wait for a sign.”

So, as I was thinking about the patience I’ve accrued in the last few years, it mostly has to do with day-to-day stuff. I’m used to waiting in lines, waiting in traffic, etc, thanks to my job, so things like that don’t raise my blood pressure anymore and I don’t (always) operate very sinfully when my minute-to-minute patience is being tested. But…..big picture things are another story. As my friends celebrate their fifth (!) wedding anniversaries and as I attend their children’s first and second birthday parties, I realize how impatient I am with my singleness. I see how patiently the Lord has delt with Gideon, and with Israel in general (for crying out loud), and with me (for goodness sake), so I will continue to strive for more and more patience. And trust, even though I have no fleece to lay out.

Big Mac Fan*

No, this is not a post about how I’m a fan of the Big Mac at McDonald’s (though that wouldn’t surprise you….); it’s a post about how I’m a big fan of my new MacBook Pro!

My sisters both switched to Macs at some point last year, and I have been a little jealous of them ever since. I decided I had to save my pennies until I could buy it with cash, and that moment came at the end of January…..until I had to cover the emergency dog expenses while my roommate was out of the country. She’s reimbursed me, so I dropped off my PC at the Apple Store for a data transfer while I was on vacation, and I’m currently fully entrenched in the tasks of switching from PC to Mac. I have absolutely no idea how a few things work, but I just have to be patient (not easy for someone who wants everything in its proper place RIGHT NOW) and figure it out little by little. I am THRILLED to have a computer with a battery life of longer than 7 minutes, and I’m excited about finally being able to conveniently Skype! If you’re a Mac user, you should comment on what your favorite features are so I can figure them out!

*This title comes from an inside joke that I’m not even a part of (my sister is), but I like the play on words, so I stole it. And the joke would be "lost in translation", so I won't even try.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

I've been back from my trip for a week (seems like longer than that, what with the crazy busy week at work and a weekend in Duluth with sisters and friends....) so I thought I'd write down some highlights from Lithuania/Latvia/brief stop in Finland:

  • The travel: AWESOME flights – personal TVs with a selection of 25 movies, 10 TV shows, video games, etc. Problem: never slept on the nine hour flights, which didn’t help with the jet lag. Also, the bus we took to Latvia was sweet – it had a coffee/cappuccino machine, restroom, TVs (that played creepy music videos), tables, comfortable enough seats for sleeping, etc. I didn't have any bad travel experiences during our nine days, except for a bit of fear in the sleeper train from Klaipeda to Vilinus (I kept thinking I was going to fall from the top bed).
  • The food: There is no better way to travel than with people who REALLY know the area where you are traveling, especially when it comes to the food. Steve and Laura knew exactly what restaurants to take us to and exactly what to order at those restaurants. I would say my favorite restaurant was Stora Antis: it was like going down into a cave - very quaint and very amazing food. We tried Saltibarsciai, a traditional Lithuanian soup (cold beet soup), and Kepta Duana, a traditional Lithuanian appetizer (fried garlic bread covered in some kind of cheese). Both were AMAZING and I could have eaten them every day! We had some yummy desserts during the week, but my favorite was the peanut flavored gelato (you could even have Coca-Cola or Red Bull flavors!). I was also SO impressed with the food we ate at Steve and Laura's home. I learned that when you live in a foreign country, you become a very "flexible" cook. When I make pizza "from scratch" in America, it means I buy the pizza sauce, toppings, crust, etc, and throw together a pizza. In Lithuania, it means that you even make the pizza sauce from scratch! You can't even buy sausage there, so we decided to use hamburger for our pizza, but Steve made sausage from scratch later on in the week for an egg bake recipe. I was very inspired by their improvisation and the tasty food they treated us to in their home. OH - we also ate at a GREAT Mexican restaurant in Vilinus. YUM. Mexican is my favorite!!
  • The sights: RIGA was my favorite city that we went to. Even though it was a snowy and cloudy day, I loved walking through Old Town and seeing the cool buildings. The Occupation Museum there was very educational, and we ate at the strangest restaurant, Hospitalis, that was very Hospital-themed with beautiful, delicious desserts. In Klaipeda (where Steve and Laura live) we saw the Baltic, Old Town, went shoe shopping, and toured LCC (the school where they work). Helsinki was a VERY short visit for us, since it was on a lay-over and also because it was FREEZING cold and we could hardly stand walking around for a minute more. We did see the Church in the Rock there (a church build entirely within a rock) which was very cool. Vilinus was another historical and beautiful city. I loved seeing the Genocide museum, which was in an old Soviet prison (CRAZY things happened there....). Again, the buildings were gorgeous and it was fun to walk around the city and see historical sights. We all made a wish (a Lithuanian tradition) on the Stebuklas (the "Miracle Block") - the place where 2 million people started a chain that stretch 650km to Tallinn as a peaceful protest of Soviet rule in 1989. Trakai is a city just outside of Vilinus where there is a castle that has been restored and now is basically a museum. It was AWESOME! The castle itself was quite the sight to see, and the tour was very informative and interesting. Needless to say, I learned a TON in all of the cities we went to about the culture and history.
  • The company: As I said, Steve and Laura were the BEST tour guides EVER. In addition to that, I loved catching up on their lives, having good conversations, playing games, etc. We also enjoyed meeting Steve's student leaders and playing Pass-It-Pictionary and Fill or Bust with them. All of our walking and chatting and sight-seeing was wonderful, but it was also great to relax in front of the Olympics in the evenings (even though it was in Lithuanian, and even though the US hockey team lost on our last night in Lithuania).
All that to say that I really, really enjoyed this trip. I've appreciated it more and more as I've been telling people about all the unique things we saw and did, and everything I learned. I'm sure there's even more that could be said, so I'd love to tell you about it sometime if you are curious! Thanks, Hansons, for all the great memories!!