Monday, October 31, 2011

Unintentional-Turned-Intentional Blogging Hiatus

Wow. I've been gone for seven months! At first my blogging break was completely unintentional - I was busy (more on that later) and blogging took a back seat. Then the break became so long that I decided to make it an intentional 6-month break. Then that date came and went without me realizing it, so the hiatus continued. I don't assume that anyone still even reads this blog, but I've missed writing. I especially miss that I haven't documented the last months when I look back at the few years worth of documented moments, memories, and lessons that I have on this blog and want to remember.

So. Here we go again. SO much has changed in the last seven months. I haven't been to this site at all in the last seven months, so I had forgotten that my previous post from March 22 was titled "Starting Over". Reading that post tonight was a little crazy for me. I am in such a different place (literally and figuratively) and I felt a wave of total blessing to know all that has changed in a short time. I really have started over in so many ways - new territory, new state, new home, new age (as in number, not religion).......

I think (for my own sake when I revisit this blog in the future) I'm going to start with a month-by-month catch up. Thanks to my obsession with Google Calendar, I should be able to recreate the last few months fairly accurately. Then I think I'll follow that up with a few posts reflecting on some of the bigger changes in the last few months.

[This is the part of the post you skip because a month-by-month catch up really serves no purpose for anyone but myself. There is nothing insightful that follows, just a list of what has been happening]

APRIL: Brother/Sister game night, small group game night, Pinstripes with church friends, TK's Minn. coaches Hall of Fame induction dinner, Matt Wertz concert, trip to LaCrosse to visit AD, trip to PA to start my job search, Beav's bday in Cannon Falls, Family Easter brunch at the Lake Elmo Inn (YUM), trip to Kansas City with BD to visit HW and fam......

MAY: Kickball started/basketball ended, bonfire in Belle Plaine with church friends, race in GB with Dad and Beav, cabin/project weekend with Mom and Dad (my first solo painting project completed!), I MOVED (April 15th was the first mention of me switching territories and I was packed and moved to WI on May 23rd), and three days after I moved I went to FL for the Next conference.....

JUNE: Four days after I got home from FL I went to CA for a week for work, my new territory started on June 13th (for the first month I drove about 2000 miles a week!). Many people went to my cabin, but I never made it there in June. I got older and had a much more low-key birthday celebration than usual (but very pleasant all the same), went to LP for Prairie Days and a dedication of a garden at Camp Lebanon to my Grandparents, auditioned for a new job (yes, auditioned).........

JULY: FINALLY to the cabin, dinner in St Paul to say so long to a dear friend headed out of the country to be a missionary, Saints game with church friends, Chicago trip with SL and my parents to see the Twins and eat amazing food, brother/sister cabin weekend in PR, FINAL audition for new job (which I didn't get, btw), family reunion in Iowa, goodbye dinner for BL, cabin weekend with BD, NK, HW and fam, small group pool party......

AUGUST: Bethel friends cabin weekend, movie night with church friends, Twins game with sis, Chicago Half Marathon with BW, Welcome Team meetings, CA for another week for work, straight from CA to PA to meet up with my family on vacation and "enjoy" Hurricane Irene.....

SEPTEMBER: Final cabin weekend (SO FUN), GreekFest, Jesse James Days, dinner at Spill the Wine with girlfriends, lots of kickball fun, friends' 30th bday parties.......

OCTOBER: trip to KC with the fam for the Vikings game, time with my bestie while she was in town, brother/sister game weekend, Mom and her friends visit WI, Ang's bday dinner at Marx (YUM), a blind date (complete with embarrassing moments), Pampered Chef party (FREE stuff!), Bethel friends slumber party (ten girls!), Vikings/Packers game in the Dome, Dad in the hospital for a week.....

Some reflections to follow......

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Starting Over

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43: 18-19
I feel like I am starting over. Or that I need to start over. When we "spring ahead" with our clocks, I always feel that nature is starting over, and I have a chance for a fresh start, too. And while the weather this week isn't nearly as pleasant as it was last week, the longer hours of daylight and the grass that is showing itself give me hope that a new season is on it's way.

Some of my starting over has to do with "little" things, like the fact that I had finally gotten to the point where my driving record had no tickets on it for five years, and then I went and got a ticket last week. So I'm starting over on working toward a ticketless record. And I had begun to see some improvement in a shoulder injury that has really been bothering me....until I fell on the ice last week and really messed it up. So I'm starting over in my treatment plan with a doctors appointment this Thursday.

Some of my starting over has to do with "big" things, like my employment. I've honestly been in a "desert" when it comes to my job. I've considered for awhile if I should stick it out or move on. I'm starting a job search, and while I'm also waiting for the dust to settle on a few new developments at work, I'm somewhat convinced I'm being called in a new direction. Which might actually mean I'm being called to a new state. Which is scary and exciting. I'm praying about the timing of these new developments and that my choice would be made crystal clear - and I'd love it if you would join me with prayers of your own.

My AP gave me the above verses from Isaiah a while back, and I keep coming back to them. Throughout much of the Old Testament, the Israelites clearly wondered what God was doing, but in these verses He reminds them that He has, does, and will care for them in their literal wilderness and desert, or in figurative wilderness and desert (captivity in Egypt, being under Babylonian rule). He will make a way. He will provide a river.

Another note my AP gave me a long time ago (have I mentioned how encouraging my AP is?!?!) was a note from a sermon that said "God is sovereign over every famine". I remember at the time she gave me the note, I was going through a discouraging time as a home owner. It felt like a famine financially. I've been encouraged by the ways God has provided even without me having a renter at the cabin. God is sovereign over every famine. He will make a way. He will provide a river. Sometimes being single feels like a famine. Sometimes work feels like a famine. Sometimes my relationships leave me famished. But God has a purpose for my life and has ordained every step.

I'm facing some fear in making decisions about work. What if I make the wrong choice? What if nothing good comes along and I'm stuck in the desert? What if I move and don't like it? What if, what if, what if. I was SO encouraged by the words from the song "Completely Done" that we sang on Sunday. Even if my future at work isn't clear, my future in Christ is clear. I don't need to fear failure, because Christ will keep me. I don't need to fear making the wrong choice, because God has already completed my story - he performed a miracle to save me and He will guide and direct me.

So I'm starting over. I'm looking for a new thing, all the while holding tight to the "new thing" mentioned in Isaiah that has God has done for me; He saved me to redeem my story, and he cares about every step of it.
"Completely Done"

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There's no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I'm leaving my fears behind me now

The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We're heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don't know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You'll keep me to the end
I'm leaving my fears behind me now

By Jonathan Baird, Ryan Baird, and Rich Gunderlock

Monday, March 7, 2011

What I Learned on the Cruise

What a great week of vacation! Sun, food, laughing, games, more food, shows, islands, water, more sun, more food, more games, more shows...........all fun. I wish we could have stayed another week!

I didn't remember much about the only other cruise I'd been on (in 5th grade), so there were a few things I learned this time around:
  1. The shower in your cruise stateroom is the most DIFFICULT place to shave your legs.
  2. You can very quickly get used to having a card that you flash to get free pop. This does not work once you leave the boat, so don't embarrass yourself by trying it at the airport.
  3. It's stupidly funny to say "well, we're all in the same boat" when you are, in fact, literally on the same boat.
  4. Cruise staterooms have mirrors everywhere. This makes it amazingly easy to fix the back of your hair. It also makes it depressingly easy to see what you actually look like in your swimsuit from behind (especially after five or six days of non-stop buffet eating).
  5. The sway of a cruise ship makes everyone walk very clumsily. This is a great way to blend in if you typically are the only person who is stumbling around on dry land.
  6. I'm still allergic to fruit. I usually tolerate fruit in small amounts here and there. But each night there was a delicious cold fruit soup at dinner, plus other fruit that I mixed in throughout the days, and I got hives on the final night. Good things about the situation: it was the final night, the hives were VERY mild, and I had plenty of Benadryl on hand.
  7. Fly in the day before you leave. If you miss the boat, you basically miss a good chunk of your vacation. In our case, the earliest you could have caught the boat would have been on Wednesday at St. Thomas. One couple in our group got delayed all day on Sunday to the point where we thought they wouldn't make the ship. They made it by less than five minutes - maybe less than one minute. Lesson learned: fly the day before. (they only made the ship by not even going to baggage claim at all, so they spent the week without luggage!)
  8. Go with a group. Being on a cruise with 16 people in our group was so fun! We always had people participating in every event that was held on the ship, which made the events fun to watch and cheer for. We held our own little card tournament, and there was always someone to find to grab a bite to eat, lay by the pool, walk on the deck, learn a line dance, shop, etc.
All in all, it was a WONDERFUL vacation! Unlike any vacation I've ever been on, but so very wonderful!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blogging Hiatus

Haven't been here in awhile. Haven't really had much to say, so I haven't really missed it. I mean - I haven't missed it in a day-to-day-wanting-to-blog kinda way. And I guess I've had things to say, but they are mostly just whiny and full of self-pity, so I haven't said them here. But this past weekend I was stuck in my house for a solid 3+ days, so I caught up on most every single thing in my life, including the 130 "starred" blogs I had in my Reader. Going through them reminded me that I do want to blog, so here I am.

So....what's been up? Well, in the immediate sense of the question, another snowstorm has had me on lock down. I started my weekend with a massage on Friday night (thanks to a shoulder injury that gets worse everyday...) and a movie with my roommate. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I had the house to myself to pack for the cruise (FOUR DAYS! FOUR DAYS! FOUR DAYS!), cook and bake (roasted squash, carrots with brown sugar sauce, red pepper and tomato soup, sloppy joes, cookies...), and watch about 4,599 episodes of Bones. Church was cancelled because of the storm, so other than some texting and a few short phone conversations, I was a total introvert and had a chance to work on some things I wouldn't have gotten around to for a long time had I not been snowed in. A much better weekend than the last time we got dumped on.

As far as the last month goes, to say work has been difficult would be an understatement. And since so much of my week is devoted to work, there is definitely a spill-over effect into the rest of my life. Last week I finally made it through a day without crying about work, so that was a change from the last 4-6 weeks. I don't know what to do....a job change? A city change? Blerg.

And now I can't think of anything else to say. I thought I had so many things to catch up on, but I guess not. Beyond wondering about work and wondering about moving, not much is going on. But that's been plenty.

Actually, I will add one other thing I've been thinking about that I was reminded of while I went through my "starred" blogs. It has to do with hospitality, which is one of my core values, so it is appropriate. I'll share the text (from Mark Driscoll), and then I'll share my thoughts:

Hospitality is not just hanging out with Christians. The word “hospitality” in the Bible literally means to welcome the stranger. Fellowship is when you hang out with all your Christian friends. And that’s great and it’s good and you should. Hospitality is when, in addition to your friends, you invite strangers to hang out with your friends so that they too start to become friends.
That’s exactly what Jesus is talking about here. Hosting a party, hosting a banquet, hosting a feast, having a generous menu, having a generous guest list. And as we do these things, what we’re showing is something of the character of God, that we can party to the glory of God. We can have a great time and laugh deeply and eat well to the glory of God. And as we do, we’re showing something of the character of our God and something of his heavenly kingdom.
I really need the reminder about the difference between fellowship and hospitality. I do feel called to be hospitable, but sometimes I feel sad that I'm missing out on the fellowship that I love - especially lately. My favorite people in the world, the people I really want to have fellowship with, are in a much different stage of life. And I'm not just talking about one, two, or three families....I'm talking about my top 20 favorites! And I know the past few months have been harder to have great fellowship because of some new babies, the holidays, etc.........but when I have a night out with my good friends (like I did last weekend), I realize just how much I am really missing that particular kind of fellowship. The kind where so many things just go unspoken because you know each other so well. And the ironic thing is - the people I'm missing often feel like they are missing it, too. (We definitely talked about that while we were away from husbands/babies/homes)

Being hospitable is important and I've really tried to invest time there - hanging out with long-lost friends from college, planning events for singles at church, etc. But when I don't really click with new people it feels discouraging. I know new friendships and relationships take time, but sometimes you just want to wear that favorite pair of jeans because they are so comfortable! So I'm keeping my eyes open for what the Lord wants to teach me in this season of new friendships, and I'm keeping my heart open to making some new friends and breaking in a new pair of jeans (both literally and figuratively).

Having said that, I'm SO SO SO SO SO SO SO blessed that the people I'm most comfortable with - my sisters - are in the same stage of life as me. As much as I'd like to see all of us get married tomorrow and start popping out cute little babies, I'm so thankful that we have this season to spend together. And I'm thankful we actually enjoy our time together and are such good friends. So, when we pile on a plane at 8am on Sunday morning, I will be one happy camper looking forward to a week of laughing, lounging, and fellowship.

AND, because I cleaned out my blogs, I came across a few things I wanted to share - probably more for my sake than anything that I know where to find these gems in the future.

First of all - a coffee chart that is much needed on my end of things. Love coffee, can't figure out the nuances.

This chart on the Enjoyment of Snow Over Time makes me say "AMEN!" (I think you'll have to click on it to get the full effect....)

And because I love grammar and language and talking and is a video that I think is awesome.

Okay. All caught up. Also, I love that after posting a video about grammar and stating my love of language, I'm going to write a disclaimer that I didn't go back and edit this post. Too tired. Deal with it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Hiccups

You guys. My Favorite Toddler spent the night at my house on Friday and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! I want to do it again, and again, and again.

The plan was to pick him up after work on Friday and head to my cousin’s basketball game about an hour away, but since Minnesota has decided to SNOW EVERY DAY this winter, we changed our plans because of the awful traffic. Instead we headed straight to McDonald’s and had a fun time at the Play Place. Then we went to my house and played on the drums, played piano, played “Ka-chow” (the name of a car from the movie Cars), and played hide-and-seek. In the middle of a game of hide-and-seek/Ka-chow, Favorite Toddler came out of the bathroom (where he had been “hiding”) and said, “I had a BIG hiccup!”

In his toddler mind, “big hiccup” = throw up. And it was big. The poor buddy had puke down his shirt, and there was a big pile in the bathroom, as well as a trail down the hall where he had run to tell me about his big hiccup. You may be aware that I have the strongest gag reflex in the history of the world, so of course I gagged REALLY hard at the smell. Then I started laughing because I knew that I was going to have the hardest time cleaning it up. I pulled off Favorite Toddler’s shirt and let it soak while he watched me attempt to clean up the mess. Within about three minutes, I threw up ALL over. It was hilarious….especially when Favorite Toddler kept saying “You have big hiccup, too!”

It was already a little past his bedtime (shhh…don’t tell his parents), so I was thankful that we hadn’t already gotten into pajamas and that we hadn’t gotten into bed yet, because cleaning up hiccups in bed would have been a NIGHTMARE. Instead, it was about as straightforward as it could have been – on the tile of the bathroom and wood of the hallway. After the mess was cleaned up, we got into our pajamas and settled down with a VeggieTales movie, and fell right asleep. At breakfast the next morning, when asked by my roommate what we had done the night before, Favorite Toddler said “I had a big hiccup, and HB had a big hiccup in the bathroom!”. It was too funny.

Sunday morning, I got a call from Favorite Toddler’s mom, who was VERY sick with the flu. I picked up her kids to take them to church (her husband is the pastor, so he was already there with other responsibilities). At church, her husband and I commented that our stomachs both felt a little funny, but didn’t think much of it………

Until a few hours later.....when I got BIG HICCUPS for the rest of the day. Seriously. It was SO miserable. It was accompanied by a nasty fever, severe chills, and general WANTING TO JUST SLEEP SO THAT I WOULDN’T FEEL SO DISGUSTING. Ugh. Thank GOODNESS my sister is a doctor – she called in a script of the MIRACLE drug Zofran so that I would stop retching and actually get some sleep. My wonderful friend (who has a three-week-old baby) picked up my meds and some ginger ale for me. And I survived. It actually left about as quickly as it came, and I am feeling almost completely better. Whatever that bug was, it was nasty!

I think the best thing I'll take away from this experience is Favorite Toddler's euphemism for being sick. "Big hiccups" is a much more pleasant way of putting it! But I sure hope I don't have any more big hiccups in my near future!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kidney Humor

I have a medical history that is somewhat more eventful than most, including severe kidney complications. Because of that, I spent many years in and out of hospitals as a youngster and I have some pretty sweet scars stretching across my mid-section to prove it. My little sister never went under the knife, but we shared many years of taking nightly “kidney” medication and we now share a love for kidney humor.

“Kidney humor...."?? Yes, kidney humor. Trust me, there is such a thing. Have you ever seen the picture of me as a toddler in nothing but a diaper and shoes holding a bag of my own urine that is connected to a tube coming out the side of my body? Now that’s funny (probably not so funny to my parents at the time who had one very sick little girl on their hands).

My little sister is “my kidney”: should I ever have the need for a transplant, I have appointed her to give me a kidney, and she has (willingly?) accepted. So we make kidney jokes, and we laugh extra hard at the episode of 30 Rock where Jack is going to give his dad a kidney. We've also been known to say "I love you with all of my kidney".

And because of all this, my day was made when my sister emailed me the following picture:

HA! Greatest kidney humor ever!


A New Approach

My sister shares some incredibly encouraging thoughts on scripture reading. I definitely need encouragement in this area, and she expresses much of what I've thought or felt in a new way. Here is her conclusion:

I like the food analogy. There is a time for feasting. There is a time for life-changing, emotional encounters with God's Holy Word. It's like Christmas dinner (which, some would argue, can be a life-changing, emotional experience itself). And when the time comes for such an experience, it should be treasured, celebrated, enjoyed, and valued. But it might not be the norm. And it certainly isn't necessary on a daily basis.

Sometimes you just need a piece of toast to hold you over until dinner.

The funny thing is that these "forgettable" meals are actually the important ones. They are the life-sustaining ones. You can live without an annual Christmas feast. You can't live without all of your forgettable meals. You would probably only eat on holidays and even then, you wouldn't be able to enjoy it. Your stomach would be so shriveled - so familiar with your starvation-that the feast would sicken you.

So, here's to a new approach to Scripture in 2011! May it be a life-sustaining year. And may it prepare me for the feast, should it come.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: By the Numbers

States Visited: 6 (HI, WI, TX, CA, LA, IL)
Countries Visited: 3 (Finland, Lithuania, Latvia)
Weddings Attended: 5
Trips to the Cabin: 12
Triathlons: 0
5Ks: 3
Trips to Green Bay: 2
Football Games (in person): 4 (3 pro, 1 college)
Blog Posts: 99
Half-Marathons: 1
Funerals: 2 (both of my Grandmas passed away this year)
Books Read: 13
Times Pulled Over: 0 (WOO HOO!!)
Dates: 1
Resolutions Kept: 1 (half-marathon)
.....and MANY babies born to good friends!!

New Year, Similar Intentions

I had some pretty simple resolutions as I went into 2010. Read my Bible, run a half-marathon, and possibly complete another Olympic triathlon. My bigger focus in my resolutions/intentions revolved around the core values that I developed for myself around this time last year.

I'm really thankful for the focus that having core values has provided for me over the last year. Because of that, I intend to approach this year with pretty much the same resolutions/intentions (read my Bible, run a half-marathon, possibly complete another Olympic triathlon, and focus on my core values). There are a lot of little things I need to improve on (drink more water, work out more consistently, eat a more balanced diet, etc......), but I always try to implement too many changes all at once and then none of them stick. So.....small, consistent changes are what I'm going for.

I do have one BIG goal for not use a credit card. This will be a STRETCH goal for me, but I need to make this change. I think that if I can maintain some discipline in this area, it will spill over into other things I desire - less clutter, less materialism, fewer piles of clothes all over.......

Oh, also.....I'm still single. Which means I'm still waiting. And I know that waiting is not unique to being single, so I thought I would share a quote that I came across that I thought was encouraging.

"To wait is not merely to remain impassive. It is to expect -- to look for with patience, and also with submission. It is to long for, but not impatiently; to look for, but not to fret at the delay; to watch for, but not restlessly; to feel that if he does not come, we will acquiesce, and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that he will not come." - Dr. A.B. Davidson, Waiting on God (quoted in The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre)

So, here's to a great year - one full of love, belief, hospitality, generosity, service, prayer, and joy!