Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

So I got to see my little bro in the Nutcracker this weekend. He was awesome! It's so amazing how talented that kid truly is! I tried to take pictures, but it didn't work out so well for me. I'll try to have my camera figured out by the next performance. Here is one of him just being his cute little self:

The 23rd of December is kind of a funny day. The anticipation is there, but Christmas still kind of seems far away.

I had the day off today so I got to do some of those final things before Christmas. I wrapped a gift, baked some bread, and finished some shopping. Tonight, I hope to read the Christmas story. It kind of helps me center the season on what's important.

Christmas is just one of those things that immediately transports me to my youth. Right now, I am watching "Babes in Toyland" with Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reaves. It's one of those movies we almost ruined on VHS because we watched so many times. (Remember how VHS's could be ruined with use?) We also had the same predicament with the Care Bear's version of the Nutcracker. Same goes for Mickey's Christmas Carol. We were big Christmas movie-watching kids. Although we aren't going to watch any of those movies when I get home, I am still looking forward to spending some time with my siblings and family for Christmas.

I am working tomorrow so I will get to Christmas Eve services a little late, but I know that I will get there in time for my favorite part. For as long as my dad has been a pastor, the very last part of Christmas Eve services has remained the same. It's so special to me. We pass out the flimsy candles and sing, in candle light, "Silent Night."

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is Bright
Round Yon Virgin,
Mother and Child
Holy Infant,
So tender and Mild
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Silent night,
holy night,
Son of God,
Love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

I just love reflecting on the importance of that quiet, still, cave-dwelling (most likely anyway) moment. Even as a baby, Jesus was Lord. And his purpose, although not yet realized, was to save us with redeming grace. How powerful. Birth is always powerful. I can't even imagine at this point, how powerful it will be when I go through that process and meet my child. But for our savior, his birth was such a blessing for all of us. I don't remember every day. I don't even recognize hima quarter of the time that I should. But on this one day a year, we all get a day to remember the one who redeemed us. Who saved us. Who bought us even though we were worth nothing. Wow.

May this Christmas time be a time of remembrance, redemption, family, and tradition for all of us.

Here's to Christmas. And to Silent Nights. Merry Christmas and May 2009 be blessed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I wrote On Monday and Forgot to Post So Here it is...

Monday is always an interesting day. It seems like, no matter what happened last week, you never know what you will get on Monday. This Monday has been a little odd. We had a weird occurrence last night that interrupted our sleep. Thanks to that, I am exhausted but caffeinated today. Thank God for a husband who works in a coffee shop. Today is also the youngest Walter’s birthday. He is 21 and, from what I can tell from our texting, loving it. Congrats, Mark.
This weekend was really pretty great. I traveled Saturday to see my parents. First, I saw my mom at church. For 26 years, she has been directing children’s choir performances. That is true dedication. I watched the latest group sing, dance, and goof off. It reminded me of my childhood and made me realize how young I was. It also reminded me that I may, in fact, be the bossiest person alive. I walked straight into a group of stranger children and started giving directions. Wowee zowee. I have no scruples. I keep praying for God to teach me to keep my mouth shut. It is a slow lesson. Mom laughed it off and we grabbed lunch, hit Wal-Mart, and I finished my Christmas cards.
The real reason I came home was to see my dad. He and I have spent many a Christmas season ringing bells outside Wal-Mart. When he signed up to do it this year, he asked me to tag along. I have to say there are few joys as great as ringing bells during the Christmas season. Sure, it’s freezing. And some people avoid eye contact like the plague. But most of the time, it’s heartwarming. People teaching their children to give to others. Strangers wishing you a Merry Christmas. Friends stopping to chat about their shopping trip. OK, I don’t have any friends in Salem, but my dad’s friends stopped to chat. The neatest part is that, even in these times of economic turmoil, people who look like they don’t have much to give fill the bucket. Families with lots of children who pour out of an old car will hand you a five, or a little old lady who can barely walk into the store will stop with a few bucks. Even people that look like they could possibly be on the receiving end of such charities seem to find anything they have to give. It’s so inspiring. I know not everyone who gives believes in the true meaning of Christmas, but to watch the generosity of people who have no incentive to give reinforces to me that there is a God. One young man even stopped to pray for the recipients of the donations. I was truly humbled by my experience this year. If you have never taken the time to ring the Salvation Army bell, I encourage you to volunteer. Those will be two hours of your life that you will never regret.
May the Lord bless you and keep you during this Christmas season. May you remember, as I am learning each day, that every gift comes from above. And may you begin this January, a new year, as a new beginning.
I hope to blog again before Christmas, but if it doesn’t happen, Merry Christmas to all.
Here’s to Christmas blessings.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Little Brother

Happy Birthday to Marky Thomas. He is 21 today. From the day he was born, he was MY baby. And today, he is my grown up friend. I love you, Mark! Have a great birthday and I will see you on Friday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Biting Winter Cometh

Being back in CoMO is a great thing, but I got here right in time to usher in winter. We had our first big snow in Missouri while we were at the MU/kU game. Yes, that's right, while we were there. We got snowed on. Dumped on. And then we lost. What a day!

On the positive side, Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful. We got to go around the table and tell what we were most thankful for this year. I have to say, I had a hard time coming up with just one thing. I feel like 2008 has been such an incredibly blessed year. I feel like I have grown in my faith, my job, and my marriage. I love my family, and I have shared a great year with each member. It's incredibly humbling to know that everything I have has been given to me, not on merit, but just by God's blessing. And, in the same manner, everything could be taken away. Today alone, over 15,000 people will lose their jobs. Everything we have is fragile. Our lifestyle, our lifes themselves. I can't help but be thankful for my current circumstances. Life truly is good. And, without all the blessings, life would still be good, but different.

So I bought --gasp-- the new Britney CD yesterday. Yes, it's true. I'm not perfect. Honestly, it's not bad. In other pop culture news, I saw Twilight on Tuesday, and I loved it! My reward when I finish the GRE will be to be able to read the book series.
We are going to get our Christmas card photos done this week. I will try to post when they are complete.
Here's to winter!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home again, Home again!

Oh man. It is a Monday morning, and, not only am I in my own city for once, but I have the day off and am staring across the table at my gorgeous groom. What an amazing treat for this holiday week. Wow! I love my job more than any person should, but, after a long fall on the road, it is nice to be home, sipping pumpkin lattes and worrying about Christmas cards instead of deadlines and index cards (I write all info about prospective students on index cards). Anyway, it's just so lovely.

So before I post a few pics, a little about my current thoughts. We are reading a book in my small group called "Humility" by CJ Mahaney. If you haven't picked it up, I highly encourage it. It's a quick read, and easy enough. It is changing the way I think about my human condition. As a human, I am inherently flawed. That's easy enough for us all to remember, right? "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 8:28. That's something I have been told for most of my life. But what Mahaney does is takes it a step further. Not only are we all flawed, but our flawed nature makes us focus on our pride. On us. We try to take the glory away from God and away from his power. I live for me. But as a Christian, I don't get to live for me. Jesus sacrificed himself so that I could live AT ALL. And as a gracious act of thanksgiving of that sacrifice, I am to self-sacrifice. Be HUMBLE. And how often does this play out in my life? About 1 percent of the time. That's probably an overstatement. As a human, even when I do good things, I don't always have good, humble motives. We all want to be recognized, to be noticed. But God tells us, throghout Mahaney's book, that he notices those whose lives are humble and motives are pure. So my heart has really been focused on that for the last day or so. I want to have clean hands and a pure heart. How do I get there? Daily resignation to my sinful nature. Daily recognition of my savior's great love and sacrifice for me. Daily submission to his word. Living it out. I am not there. And probably won't get there. But I need help. So, feel free to call me out. Question me. As a body of believers, we are called to lift each other up and support each other in our goal to be immitators of Christ. So, off I go on my journey. Really, if you have about an hour, read the book. And then if you are in CoMO and want some coffee, call me and we will discuss.

So this week is Thankgsiving! Finally! We are headed out tomorrow to my parents to enjoy the holiday. Family is such a huge part of my life, I am thrilled to have a great family that I enjoy so much! Hooray for family!

My pictures are taking too long to load. I will post next time.

Here's to family, faith, and thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Platte City

This week has had a lot of nostalgia and so I just have some wierd comments...discombobulated comments.

I have a huge cold and I am grumpy so forgive the short post.

First, I got to drive past the house I lived in as a preschooler this week. I hadn't seen it in 15 years. A weird feeling came about me, being in a town that had a help in shaping me but I don't remember well. Being there felt like shadows of memories. I couldn't remember everything but I knew important things had happened there. I took pictures of the house, and I would love to show you, but I left my connecting cord at home this week.

Next, I am staying in Platte City, a town very near the town I lived in as an elementary student. My favorite grocery store closed, and is being replaced by a Price Chopper. How awful!

Finally, the church where I grew up was smashed into by a drunk driver last night. The driver drove all the way through the church office and is now being held on drunk driving and immigration charges. I can't believe it!

So yeah, weird, nostalgic stuff. I am ready for Thanksgiving.

Here's to childhood memories.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Greetings from Omaha. I realize I am a bad blogette for not blogging in a long time. However, I don't exactly care. Traveling kind of sucks the life out of me. I have enough life tonight to blog... hooray.

Special shout out to my birthday friend Melissa! So glad I got to see her this weekend!

Now, on with the fun. Only two weeks left of travel for me. It's almost unbelievable how quickly it's gone. I have to say that I might like Omaha even better than Minnesota. I was blessed to get some zoo time. I will add some pictures. At the zoo, I had a zoo volunteer with time on her hands who personally walked me through the zoo. It was such a treat! I really felt like God blessed me with a little friend. I got back and the hotel upgraded me to a suite. I also got to go to the Durham museum today. It's been a pretty terrific week outside of work.

Inside of work, well, Omaha kids really like the Huskers. Boo! I have had a couple of just fantastic visits with enthusiastic kids. A few of my visits only had one kid. One was a no-show. I offended a ton of kids when I said that we killed the big N in football. But, I only speak the truth! The kids that I have seen have been great--the counselors too.

I am ready to go home and see my husband! I am also ready for that extra hour of sleep on Sunday. Hooray for sleep! I haven't worked out all week because of a stinky cold. Maybe an extra hour of sleep would be just what I need.

On an unrelated note, one of the bloggers I read consistently just had her beautiful baby boy. Her son was originally told he would not live because of a heart condition. He is not only alive but he is doing so well, he isn't even in the NICU. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. If you have an extra second, head over to http://www.mycharmingkids.net/ or just say a quick prayer. What a cool blessing.

Well, I am off to a bubble bath but I will try to keep up more in the future. Here are some pictures for the road.

Here's to awesome zoos and wonderful women who bless your path.

Monday, September 29, 2008


who doWell, yes, I am in Minneapolis! That's in Minnesota for those of you who don't get out much. So far I have done two FANTASTIC college visits. The high schools here are a new kind of huge. The last high school had a map of ALL FOUR FLOORS posted in front of the door. I took a picture of the building but it doesn't do it justice. I will try to post some pictures of my journey sometime later this week.

I was hunting for wireless and found a coffee shop. You know it's not going to be a good coffee experience when you order a traditional cappuccino and the guy says, "so what do you mean by traditional?" Oh no. I should have run then. But I didn't. I asked what he would recommend for food. The kid's response "Well, it's lunch time so I would order a sandwich." Mind you, ALL THEY HAVE FOR LUNCH IS SANDWICHES. Wow. Dense? I think so. So I ordered. They microwaved somthing and came out with my coffee in a styrofoam cup. Styrofoam! At least I have wireless. The other plus is that it is absolutely gorgeous here. I think I will head off in search of better food however, because after ten bucks, I am still hungry. Oh well. Not all coffee shops are created equal.

Here's to my Southern (ha!) accent and the Minnesotans who love it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Maryville is... Maryville

I am currently in Maryville, MO. What is in Maryville, you ask? A nice Italian restaurant, a hotel room in the Comfort Inn that is the largest I have ever seen, a TV that has weird green and blue disruptions in the picture, a high school, about a dozen other college reps, and ME! So, nothing. I am on the road once again. I had a college fair today in St. Joe, did a little shopping, and now I am in the room. There is nothing on TV. I believe I will be going to online TV soon. On a side note, I got some GREAT deals at Old Navy. Eric, I am certain you do not read this. However, you have a new shirt waiting for you. So cute!

So, it was my birthday this week. I had the best birthday. Possibly the best ever. I had my presentation group unexpectedly sing me happy birthday on the actual day. Ashley also made me some great cupcakes. I left at one and went on a winery picnic with Eric. I always forget how beautiful that view is. Then Mom and Dad got to Columbia, and Mom and I had pedicures. I have adorable pink polish on my toes. Eric got me a completely unexpected gift. It is awesome! I got a framed replica of the Missourian cover when Mizzou was ranked #1. Eric said he chose that specific one because, not only was Missouri #1, but it was our first year married and our first year in Columbia. He is so cute! Pete also went in on it, and it will be hanging in our home soon. Eric also got me a diploma frame. My diploma has been hiding in a closet for too long. The frame has a picture of Jesse Hall at night, completely appropriate for me. He was just so thoughtful!
Mom and Dad took us all out to Olive Garden (well, not Pete; he went to hunt) and we just had the best time. They also gave me my gift: a new camera! So I will officially have photo blogs now! Hooray!

Thanks to everyone who wrote me messages, sent me emails, and called. It really was the best birthday!

Here's a picture of me and Eric at dinner at Olive Garden!

Here's my mom and dad showing how cool they are at Olive Garden. Yes, they are simultaneously talking on their matching phones. Cool guys, really cool.

Here's my darling husband with the adorable (and TASTY!) cupcake he baked especially for my bithday!

And finally, Here is a pic from the gorgeous game on Saturday. It was after the win! We are going to call a win a win on this one, pretty or not. No surprise that we were bumped down one this week in the poll--but I have high hopes for two weeks from now. We just love being tiger fans!

Tune in soon, as I have a whole blog worth of pet photos. I know you wish I was kidding, but alas, I am not!

Here's to birthdays and family!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Latte Land!

Although it feels like my whole life is a land of lattes, today I am literally in a coffeeshop in KC called LatteLand! It is the only place where I will drink a chai latte, because they BREW their chai. No kidding. It's incredible. So, since I had a half hour before I could check into my hotel, I am sipping a chai latte and updating work emails here in LatteLand. It's fun to be here. Speaking of coffee, I haven't checked it out yet, but I am supposedly on the Kaldi's official blog. So, if you want to check it out, you can go to www.kaldiscoffee.com and click on the blog link. Wahoo!

My first taste of the counselor luncheons was today. It was a long but good time in St. Joe. I have one more tomorrow before heading home. It's interesting to hear statistics from the other campuses. Probably the most interesting part is hanging out with the reps and seeing their personalities. I also got to meet some of my counselors from my new area. They seem to be great people. I know that I am "from" the lake, but I definitely feel more at home in the small towns of Northwest Missouri. The people are just so kind. I had to drive past the Dearborn exit twice and twice I almost stopped. Maybe one of these days.

I am unloading for the luncheon in 45 minutes so I best get going.

Here's to REAL chai!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On the Road Again

So it's been a while with the blog. I would say it's because I have been busy. And I have been busy. But the real truth is that I am just not always sure what to blog about. Here's a sampling of the activities in the last three weeks.

*Our lovely cousin moved into town to go to school. I have seen her several times, and she seems to be doing well. She promises to cook for the boys while I am on the road.

*We had a family reunion. The newest addition to the family, a ten month old, was there for her first reunion and it was soooo fun to watch her. Maybe "family reunion" is not an accurate title for the weekend. It maybe should have just been called "The Molly Show." Yeah, we all just watched her. And football.

*Speaking of football, MU is 2 for 2. And we are 2 for 2 watching. The IL game was stressful, the SEMO game, not so much. The funniest thing--our score both games was 52. Weird.

*I am finally on the road again! I am writing from a hotel room in my territory. After watching 5 episodes of Notes from the Underbelly, it occured to me that I am officially not busy and that I had time to write.

I am enjoying my first night on the road, even if it did include a Mexican dinner that did NOT automatically come with chips and salsa. Yeah, have you ever even heard of such a thing? Me neither. So I paid 5 bucks for my chips and salsa, making my total order 18 bucks without tip. NUTS I tell you! I barely got to eat any of it since I was so full from chips and salsa. UGH!

Other than that, I am enjoying the road. The boys had poker night tonight so I didn't miss much at home. I will be out two nights this week as opposed to my normal 5 so it's kind of a nice start. I know I will be ready to come home by Thursday.

Not a profound post but a post nonetheless.

Here's to fall!

Monday, August 18, 2008


I am currently staying busy scheduling for the fall. It's not that I don't want to write, it's that I am having trouble finding time.

In my free time, I am watching the Olympics with great fervor. And not just that Phelps kid either. Go Cantwell!!

I will return soon with a new entry.

Here's to the Olympics!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fabulous Friday

Well, did you miss me? I am officially back from my break from blogging. I will admit, the break was unintentional. Still, it feels good to be back.

Our anniversary in Chicago was great. Someday I will get brave and learn how to post pictures. We had amazing food, a great hotel room, and an overall fabulous time. If we didn't love Columbia so much, it would be easy to move to Chicago. But we do love Columbia and as long as God wants us here, here we will stay. It was nice to retreat to somewhere with fun parks, great sushi, and easy-to-reach eggs bennedict. We are hoping to go back again soon. Plus, having time without any responsibilities allowed us to reflect on how thankful we are for the gift of our marriage. I am so blessed God gave me a great man to spend my life with. It's been a fantastic year and I can't wait for the ones to come.

Getting back to work was good but tiring. It's always hard returning from vacation, even when you love your job. Just catching up and feeling part of things again takes a couple of days. Plus, when I got back, we had two new hires, so I had new people to meet as well. Since then (it has been a week) we had more office changes. Mary Ann got a grant to go back to school full time and Ashley will be taking her position. We will hire one more newbie, leaving me the senior traveling rep. Weird. I also get to choose my territory. I am completely torn. Stay tuned on that.

Yesterday was our last day of Bible study for the summer. What an incredible summer study it has been. I feel like I have learned so much about God, humanity, and myself in the study. Also, it has really left me for a yearning for more God. There is no better yearning in my opinion. The more I learn about God and the more I pay attention to the lives around me, the more I believe in total depravity. We are all a mess. Our pride has us so entangled in ourselves that we sometimes can't see that the only way to get out is to give up. In the past six months, I have spoken to people whose lives are torn with debilitating accidents, cancer, debt, divorce, death, addiction, and so much more. It pains me to see all the hurt in the ones around me, and even in my own life. And yet, through all of this, it only makes me see more our need for Christ. Specifically, for God's grace. In our study last night, we went over how we mistakenly think grace only means forgiveness. But it is everything that Christ did for us... free from pain, from hurt. Comfort from all our ailments. And there is no time more than the present that each of our lives need this Grace. The good news is that our God promises us, "My grace is sufficient." Torn apart lives? My grace is sufficient. Pride that keeps getting in the way? My grace is sufficient. What we do never works, but we keep trying. All along, Jesus keeps saying, "my grace is sufficient." And the part we always forget is without all of that pain, we really never would recognize our need for him.

Here's to grace. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In(dependence) Week

Last weekend was incredible for several reasons. Here they are:
  • Eric and I got a whole weekend away from our responsibilities to play and enjoy each others' company.
  • We played tourists in STL, which I am sure neither of us had done in a very long time. This included watching adorable animals, climbing like a monkey (hit up the STL city museum if you haven't), watching an awful(!!) cardinals loss, playing with fireworks, and taking pictures at the arch. Incredible!
  • I got to see my fabulous friend Melissa. This was one of the best parts. I just LOVE her and never see her. Plus she introduced us to her new special man friend. It was just a blessing to hang out with them, enjoy our time, and pretend for a weekend that we all live in the same city.

Yes, it was a great Independence weekend. We are expecting another fabulous weekend this weekend, although I would call it more of an In(dependence) weekend. That's right, it's our anniversary! One year! We are celebrating being In a Dependent, marriage relationship for one year on Sunday!! We are headed to Chi-town to meet up with friends and enjoy some time together. I can't wait. If I ever get my camera to work, maybe I will start posting pictures from my journeys.

Seriously, though, being on the brink of celebrating this milestone reminds me how truly blessed I am. I have a God-fearing, wife-loving man that I adore. God really gave me a treasure on July 13 of last year. I still go to bed and wake up thinking how blessed I am that such a special man chose to marry me.

Here's to In(Dependence) weekend!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lazy Weekend

I haven't posted in a week, so I am basically just posting for the sake of posting right now. I am sitting at Eric's work waiting for him to finish up so we can go to the pool. Oh, the pool! How thankful I am for the pool. Nonetheless, I was decently busy this week, so I haven't posted. But I have been thinking about posting a lot.

Bible study this week was incredible. We said goodbye to a friend who has been with us for this study. She moved on to a new life, a new state, and a new start. We will miss her, but being able to pray for her and think of the ways she has touched my heart was a true blessing. I can say confidently I love the women that make up my Bible study. God has brought us together to share in his word and learn from each other. Each woman is so different and yet each week we come together to pray and cry, to learn and grow. It is always such a refreshing experience.

This week also at Bible study, I was introduced to a blog, audreycaroline.blogspot.com. In two days time, I have read every single entry and cried my way through a beautiful story of struggle and faith. It's always beneficial when you can see stories of real life women where God is weaving himself into their stories and showing his truth. I am blown away by how much a blog about a little unborn person can evoke so many emotions. If you want to cry and praise God at the same time, check out the blog.

My parents have been in Africa for 3 days now. Even though I don't see them when they are at home, I talk to at least one of them every day now. Three days without any emails, texts, or phone calls. I pray for them and think about them, but I miss them! I know God is working through them in Africa. Still, I worry. I can't get the text that says, "We're fine!" And, when something happens that reminds me of my mom (this happens several times a day), I can't call her to talk about it. It's so weird. This trip is a blessing for all of us but I will be thrilled when they make it back to America.

I don't know that I have anything profound to say so I think I will just sign off for the day. Maybe more will come to me tomorrow. Until then, I will just enjoy the lazy Saturday.

Here's to lazy Saturday pool adventures!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thank Heavens for Friday!

Wow! This week has been so great, but I don't think my body could handle much more. I am completely worn out from work and kids club. How fun! Tonight we conclude kids club. Without unforseen rain, we should have a fun time outside with stations for the kids and their families to enjoy each others' company. Eric and I will be serving world foods. It should be a great place to make contact with lots of families.

I had a touching moment yesterday. I had a woman come apologize to me for a comment that she had made earlier. This comment was something that upset me a little at the time, but I had moved on and not really thought about it. She pulled me aside to make a formal apology, and it really touched my heart. I had read the verses in Matthew tons of times about being speedy to reconsile yourself to your neighbor and always thought that meant in BIG cases with HUGE disputes. But the kindness this woman showed and the good example she set by apologizing for something so small really had a big impact on me. It made me think about how powerful our words are and how carefully I should guard my tongue and keep all of my words in check. It was just a beautiful moment for me.

Today is a big day at work. We officially decided to stop taking applications for fall. We are already hearing plenty of comments, but I ultimately think it is a good decision. I am anxious to see how it is represented by those not in the MU community.

One last comment... I'm all over the place today... it's Friday the 13th! For some people, this may conjur up ideas of fear or superstition. For me, it is a day of love and tradition. Eric and I got engaged on a Friday the 13th, married on a different Friday the 13th, and have officially decided that Friday the 13th is our day. We celebrate the love we share on this very special day! We are planning to have dinner tonight after Kids Club to celebrate our special day.

Here's to Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Eric and I are volunteering at Kids' Club for church this week. It is incredibly fun but I am so worn out! We have fourth graders. Twenty-one fourth graders who like to climb, have piggy back rides, dance, and all-together enjoy themselves. It's fun to see Eric with the kids because all of the boys in the group just adore him. I personally feel we can never have enough examples of cool, fun guys who love the Lord and are willing to share that with kids. I mean, it's one thing to see women but quite another to see men serving in their church. Something boys don't see nearly enough of, but something that is great about kids club. There are so many men who help.

It's also really cool to see when the kids "get it." Our lesson last night was that God has compassion for all people in the world and he wants us to also show that compassion. A kid who was riding on Eric's back last night willingly gave up his spot so that a girl, who hadn't had a chance to have a ride, could get one. He gets it! I love to see them begin their journeys. They've got such a long way to go (I've got such a long way to go) but any ounce of admiration they can get now for our glorious God will plant and manifest itself later. So cool!! I will say this... by the end of this week I will be truly glad to have Saturday to rest and enjoy some time with my husband.

Other than that, not much has been happening. We had a full house of guests this weekend and have been doing kids club every night so there hasn't been much time for moving. We still have quite a way to go. I am hoping to hit the grocery store tonight, time permitting. Our cabinets are bare but we haven't had time to notice.

What a fun, unpredictable week!

Here's to no rain for kids club for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Change is A-Comin

Lots of changes have been happening in my life lately. To follow up on my last post, I have a new fake tooth. Though the super glue holding the frisbee-catching tooth could have lasted a while, Dr. Miller chose not to take that chance. He fit me with a temporary crown yesterday afternoon. I will receive a permanent one in three weeks. The temporary is a bit lighter than my regular teeth so it makes the rest of my teeth look dingy if you stare too long. I try not to stare too long. In the time it takes to get the permanent crown, I am being very careful about what I eat. Right now, the gums are still a little bruised. I am hoping to wake up tomorrow to no more bruising.

Speaking of waking up, I am waking up in a new place these days! Pete, Eric, and I (along with Jack, Rodrigo, Tinkerbell, and Monkey) moved into a new duplex. It is a little more spacious and much nicer. We are enjoying the extra space, including more kitchen cabinets and a landing the boys have claimed as a "manloft." It's really all quite lovely. We are about half moved. We are also doing a little more decorating in this new place, and the boys promise that it will be MUCH cleaner. If not, evil Jess will probably rear her ugly head. On top of that, we love our new neighbors. We are in a neighborhood with quite a few kids and pets. The neighbors have almost all introduced themselves and seem to be upstanding people. It's been a great move so far, it's just going a little slower than I would like.

We also have changes in our office. We are doing interviews for several positions. I know change is unending and necessary. It's still hard. Hard to see people leave, to try to fill the shoes of those who are moving on. Hard to guess the dynamics of what could be if we hire someone new. It's incredibly exciting to see all of the potential. Probably the hardest part for me is waiting to see. I try never to pray for patience even though I know I need some. I am a firm believer that the only way to get more patience is to go through more events that try your patience. Though I know God would get me through any trying event, I am still not at a place in my faith that I actively pray for those trials.

I want to write so much more but I am getting wordy. Tune in later this week for an interesting (well, interesting to me) commentary on my current Bible study. Until then, I am off.

Here' s to change

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This is Why I Don't Play Ultimate Frisbee

Interesting title? Let me explain. Last night, against my better judgment, I went with Eric to Stankowski field to play ultimate frisbee. We played for about two hours when, out of nowhere, a kid threw a hammer throw directly at my head. The frisbee crashed into my mouth, I hit the deck, and Eric found my tooth laying on the green field. I am now the owner of a busted lip and I have some 'dental super glue' holding my front tooth into my mouth.

The good news is that I have the best dentist ever. Eric and I rushed to get some milk where I could throw my tooth. Then we called Dr. Miller. He met us at his office (at nine pm, mind you) and proceeded to fix my tooth without delay. I was amazed at his kindness. I am going back in today to have it "buffed." Eventually I will need a crown overlay on the tooth.

As we left the scene of the crime, so many emotions were running through me. I was embarrassed for being the girl that didn't see the frisbee and paid the price. I was terrified of what actually occured. Worst though, is that I was also angry and frustrated that some object could have hurt my precious tooth. I felt incredibly vain. My pride actually hurt more than the nerves in my tooth. It's a tooth, right? I mean, it doesn't define who I am. I was born with it, and although I have worked to keep my teeth nice, it's not something I can really credit to my hard work that I have nice teeth. Genetics and dentistry have made my teeth nice, not my talents and abilities. Yet, in all of this, all I could think was how much pride I take in having nice teeth. I have always (well since my multiple dental surgeries and braces and professional whitening in adolescence) been 'the girl with the good teeth.' Last night, that was taken away for a moment. I was a jack-o-lantern. It terrified me. When I realized how upset I was over something that was entirely physical-appearance-based, I became somewhat ashamed. I know it's important to take care of yourself and protect your body since it's the only one you get. Last night though, I realized how much my entire life is really all about me. Not in a good way.

So where do we go from here? Well, I am praying that God will change my priorities and make me more like him. I am also praying that dental insurance will prove its worth in the next few months. You can barely tell, except for the busted tooth, that I had a decently traumatic experience last night. Hopefully, it will change me on the inside.

Here's to boasting in the works of Christ and not in physical appearance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No Finals for Me!

So Summer is quickly approaching. Although I am done with my Lenten Promise, I am going to try to start blogging again for my personal benefit. Yes, I am reading celebrity gossip again. But, hopefully I can still have insights in life.

First, Mother's Day was uneventful for us, with Pete, Eric, and I going to eat at Houlihan's and then hanging out at the Rec Center Pool. It was lovely. We did call Mom but she was asleep.

I got to spend some lovely time at "3 G Weekend" in Canton with Mom and Grandma. Mom and Grandma bought me some great shoes, a swimsuit, and some other great stuff. It was good just to spend some time with my mom and grandma and nobody else. I don't know how long it's been since that has happened. My gifts were appropriately "Thank-God-You're-Not-A-Mother's Day" gifts. Hopefully it will be a while before I can celebrate that holiday.

I have been watching all of the students prepare for finals. It's a funny feeling. I remeber feeling so stressed and uncertain during finals. Senior year in particular was a perilous time. Looking back now, I am so glad it is over. It really seems that every single incident in college is such a bigger deal than it becomes in the "real world." I try to be supportive and remember how dificult it really was. The lifestyle change is so huge--what a difference one year makes for post-college grads. There were parts of college I loved but I don't think I could ever go back. I will take stress-free weeks in May and going to bed at 10PM thank you very much. Good luck to all my college friends. You, too, will soon become old. And you, too, will learn to love it.

Discombulated post, but it's good to be back. Here's to a sunny day in May with no finals and no studying.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Catching Up

Well, it's been quite a while but with good reason. I was out on the road for most of last week and then worked most of the weekend. Hopefully this respite will have allowed me a great deal of introspection. Don't hold your breath.

Being on the road last week allowed me something I hadn't had in a long, long time: cable. Eric, Pete, and I don't do cable. For us, it's a wasted expense. We're not home very often and barely get to watch what we have on those precious 4 channels we do get. So, there's no reason to buy extra channels. We do rent a lot of movies (Martian Child= adorable, The Brave One= Jodi Foster goes nuts) but we have just decided it's not necessary. So what this has meant for me throughout lent is that I have had no temptation for E! Entertainment Television, Vh1's Best Week Ever, or any of the other multitude of gossip shows. On Monday when I went to see mom and dad, I saw all of those options and was completely overwhelmed. And what does my mom do? Turns on "The Soup" on E, of course. Well, no one argues with their Momma, right!? OK, so maybe I am using her as an excuse. She did say I could turn it. But I watched 20 minutes of Soup. It's funny, it's interesting, and it's against the rules in lent. Oops.

I had another "oops" moment last week. I was standing in line to buy bananas and chicken breasts at Wal-Mart and before I realized that I had picked up People, flipped to Christina Aguilara's baby photos, and looked at every page. Yeah, oops. I really did this without any thought. That's the sad part. Her nursery was adorable and I loved every second. But it was hard to feel guilty for something I didn't realize I had done until it was over. I know there should be a religious discussion inserted here about the relevance of that statement, but I will spare you. Mostly I will tell you that I have held on to that one piece of gossip all week and shared it with the world as a talking point. Why is that? Why do I feel I have to talk about that sort of stuff, even when I have committed not to even be looking at it?

The Oscars also happened last night. I love movies. LOVE movies. And I love dresses. And beautiful hair, and costly jewels borrowed just for the night. I love the whole thing. So I allowed myself, guilt-free, to watch the Oscars. I got on oscar.com today to watch the fashion, but I did not get on any sites to see what they thought about the fashion or any other gossip for that matter. It's a tough journey.

I am doing a study right now on learning how to pray. Why is it that talking about other people to other people comes so easy but talking to God about anything comes so difficult? He is our maker, creator, father, resting place, shepherd, and so much more. Yet, it's hard for most of us to even feel competent enough to pull together a two-minute conversation with this amazing deity. To me, the struggle comes from many places. One, being a busy person myself, I figure the creator of this and every universe has to be busy. Why does he want to hear how much I adore him, or why I am frustrated, or what I need. He knows the basics. He needs to spend his time worrying about Sudan or babies addicted to drugs, not to a small-town, relatively comfortable, self-centered working wife, right? Plus, sometimes prayer reveals what's really in my heart and sometimes I don't want to know. I mean, it makes me realize how much I worry about silly things. I want to have eloquent, deeply meaningful prayers worthy of being cross-stitched onto some old lady's pillow. Instead, I come out sounding like a bratty teenager. I just want to be more. I guess that's what it comes down to. I can't pray until I am more and I can't be more until I pray for God's guidance. I must overcome that little annoyance called pride. UGH!

Here's to humility. JWS

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

I don't have too much to write on this Valentine's Day. It's pretty exciting to have my first Valentine's Day as a married woman! I was never a big fan of Valentine's Day in years past. This year, though, it makes me very appreciative of the wonderful husband I have and the times we get to share every day.

The gossip thing has its ups and downs. I have to turn my head from computer screens in my office or strategically tune people out throughout the day but I am really not missing the celebrity gossip. I have no idea where the celebs will be for Valentine's Day tonight or what they bought their sweeties. I am not upset about this.

The everyday gossip is harder to control. I think gossip and complaining go hand in hand. I hear myself starting a lot of sentences with, "ugh! You'll never believe what this person said to me," which is both a mix of gossip ("let me tell you how much better I am than this person") and complaint ("let me tell you how much worse my situation is than anyone elses"). Ultimately I think it comes to ridding your life, and vocabulary, of the negative wastes. I mean, I have found I have a lot of free time to think about my life, my finances, my faith, and so many other topics when I am not wasting my energy on negativity. I read a caption today that said, "Celbrity photos are good, bad celebrity photos are better." We watch celebrities because we want to see them screw up, I think. We want to see how we are so much better off than they are, even with their fame, money, status, etc. I have to become a more positive person.

On a different note, I have been totally bummed for the past few weeks because I have lost my Bible. I am not sure if it is in a car, shoved in a box from moving, shoved in a room from cleaning, or missing altogether. Still, I need it. I am getting sick of online scripture. And I might just buy a new one, but it won't have the commentary and notes and highlighting that the old one has. I'm totally bummed (not to be negative:-)) and I have to find a new solution soon.

May all of you enjoy the love of those around you today, whether it be your family, significant others, or just truly basking in the love of your creator. Here's to a day remembering that each one of us really is loved...JWS

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week Two: Harder than I Thought

Between going to the Midwest Barista Regional Championship (which was very fun, everyone should attend!), getting sick, and doing the traditional Sunday stuff, I haven't written in a while. I am so ready for cold and flu season to be over! Sheesh!
Anyway, as far as my quest for No Gossip goes, it is a little more difficult in some ways than I anticipated. I am trying to cut out both gossip on a local level and especially celebrity gossip. The tricky part about the celebrity gossip (my main focus for now) is that it is EVERYWHERE! I mean, EVERYWHERE! Radio, regular news, front page of news websites. It's impossible to live in today's society without hearing somebody talk bad about somebody else--particularly about somebody they've never met. Though I am taking this challenge very seriously, I am not going to the extreme measure of turning off the radio. I am changing TV channels, and trying to ignore websites and checkstand magazines. But this stuff is everywhere!
On the personal gossip side, I found myself writing an email today specifically with the sole purpose of badmouthing someone. Not the mean, lying sort of badmouth, but the everyday, I-can't-believe-this-person-isn't-the-exact-person-I-want-them-to-be sort of thing. The good news is--I deleted it. Hooray for small steps!

My task reminds me greatly of the sermon my pastor (who tells us never to introduce him as pastor) Keith preached this Sunday. It was about Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gesthemane and, specifically, about temptation. He talked about how the Bible is our first line of defense against temptation, since it tells us the specifics of Satan's tactics. It tells us how, when, and who will tempt us. It blows all of his methods right out of the water. The best way to avoid temptation is to know when it's coming and ready your defenses. So I started to think about when I am most succeptible to temptation. I was looking at all forms of temptation, not just gossip. I dug back into my life to think about when I gave in in the big ways. Keith told the story of a girl who was a committed Christian who met a man and slowly turned her life to Islam, cutting off her family and all of her friends. And I think this demonstrates greatly the fact that the devil doesn't really have to tempt us when we are not following him. He really has to lure us when we are following our commitment to Jesus. Looking back at my times in college, the times when I started to follow closely with God and push for a deeper relationship is when Satan really let me have it. Up until yesterday, I couldn't figure out why I had such deep swings in college--from heavy commitment to complete abandonment. Then it hit me--I was not preparing myself, even amongst my great commitment, for the sneaky, small temptations the devil would use to lure me away from the good stuff. Had I prepared for temptation, or even thought through some of the small, bad decisions for sin, I would have realized that the riches of God were so much greater. But that is the trouble... Satan is studying our every weakness while we are not preparing ourselves for the battle.

I have now realized that when I get cocky in my faith, Satan gives me little slips to make me fall away. When I am firmly planted, the devil gives me doubt. When I am solidly standing above gossip, Satan makes me lonely and gives me someone who just LOVES to talk to me about all the stuff other people are doing wrong. And when I am on top of the world, Satan lets me know just how much better I am than everyone else, and the pride sinks in.

I don't know all the answers on how to defeat sin. But I do know two things: 1) It's all in the Good Book and up to me to find at 2) Knowing my weaknesses is the very first step into making them strong.

Matt 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak."

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Luke 22:46 "'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them, "Get up and pray so that you may not fall into temptation."

This has been incredibly long and a little more philosophical than I intended. But when you aren't gossiping about others, you have a lot of time to think about yourself. Here's to a lent of self-exploration...JWS

Thursday, February 7, 2008

So lent started yesterday. I have found that, in my life, one of the hardest things for me to rid my life of, is GOSSIP. It's awful. Maybe it's because I am a woman, and, while the men in my office chat about SportsCenter, we women are fully engaged in the latest celbri-scandal. Nonetheless, I have decided it is sin and is detrimental to my growth, both with God, and as a person. I have decided that lent is a great time to start weeding out the gossip in my life. So, for the next 40 days, I will be very strict with myself on this issue. That is not to say I will not continue to pursue a life without gossip after lent. This is just a starting point.

I have created this blog for two reasons. One, I need accountability. So, this will allow me to freely talk about how this pursuit is going for me and force me to be honest with the online world about this sin. Two, I will need something to do when I am not scouring one of the multiple gossip sites I have committed to memory or headed over to one of my co-workers' desks to discuss the aformentioned sites. Instead, I will be bloggin here or trying to find more beneficial readings online and posting about those.

I am horrible at coming up with creative online handles or names for blogs. Thus, the name is just my goal: a time of lent without gossip. This name may outdate itself, but for now, it works. Feel free, if you happen to find this blog, to post about my journey or about yours. You can also post interesting articles, verses, or other media for me to check out. I may be writing several times a day.

Here's to an enlightened 40 days, sans the gossip. JWS