Friday, October 7, 2016

Upside the head with a 2x4

I had this youth leader in middle school who perfectly brought to picture what happens when God uses happenings in our daily life to bring our attention to something He wants to teach us. She called these our "2x4 moments."

Basically, I want you to see in your mind our great, wonderful Father (however you picture him - clad in white with flowing hair, or big and burly with a manly, Tom Selleck-esque judgment) picking up a 2x4 piece of wood and giving it a grand old swing aimed right at the back of your head.

"Like being hit upside the head with a 2x4" is still how I find it best to describe these super hind-sight obvious instances where I have just a total fallen nature, human moment. And let me tell you, this week was one of those.

Our house officially sold today! Throw up all the praise hand emojis, please! Thank you, Lord. This is something that I, as well as so many others (you know who you are, thank you!!!!) have been hardcore praying for. It's been a bit of a financial weight on mine and Adam's shoulders, and it feels so good to be rid of - the weight, not the house. I will continue to mourn leaving my little yellow home behind. But anyway...

I had been praying and looking forward to closing for nearly two months now - praying that the sale would go through and looking forward to the sweet relief of it. It had been perfect timing - we would stop paying a mortgage one month before we would have to start paying rent again, no overlap. Perfect! But just two days ago, it seemed that it wasn't going to happen. A few minor issues came up right at the last minute.

 I'd like to say I handled the stress with grace and even more faith, but no. I crumpled. I had a full-grown woman (ha! yeah right) meltdown. I was literally crying on mother's shoulder with a box of tissues in my hands. All of a sudden, the thing I had been trusting God for, praying with faith for, and which had been so wonderfully in His timing, seemed to be falling to pieces. All the "what ifs" and "I can't handles" and "what are we going to do!s" came rushing back into my mind.

And that's when it hit me, with snot and tears freely flowing, that 2x4 out of nowhere, right upside the head. I was seeing stars and God was gently prodding me, "What happened to letting me handle this?"

His quiet whisper, "I am bigger than these details. I am bigger than your finances. I am bigger than your fears. I've got this. I've got you."

And He brought to mind what I told my dad when we bought that house. I remember telling him it was a total God thing. We needed space for ourselves, our pups, and we wanted a home of our own to use for ministry. We weren't even looking for it and God dropped that dream right in our laps in the form of that little yellow house. And I told my dad, I wasn't the least bit worried about buying it because God led us to it. And I knew that whenever He led us away, He'd take care of selling it too.

Granted, that day came a whole lot sooner than I ever imagined. But throughout the whole process, God had been working some major miracles in things that only solidified my faith that He would take care of it. And yet, here I was, going to pieces and worrying over things that I couldn't change, things that I could do nothing about, asking where God was and why He wasn't working on our behalf.

Like I said, His words were gentle but the reminder was solid. He had it handled.

Now, the results could have been completely different. The sale could have not gone through. We might have still owned a house today. But that wouldn't have meant that God was any less involved. It just might not have looked like what I imagined. He may not have done it my way.

Nevertheless, God's got me. My 2x4, this seemingly super simple truth, we're talking basic Christianity stuff here, was to hold on to that faith. Because even when especially when things are out my control and I can't see an answer or a solution, God is still there. He's still bigger. He's more than capable. And He's still got me.

"...God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'
So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.'"
- Hebrews 13: 5,6

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thoughts on going back to school

I remember graduating with my undergrad and thinking how I was sooooo done. The often asked, "thinking of going for your masters?" was quickly stifled with a "oh, heck no." And that was only two years ago! Well, a lot can change in two years I suppose.

So hear I am. Back in school. Again.

Now before I continue, let me tell you, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in school again. Over the last two years, my desire to teach has grown and grown and here I am finally being able to go after it. That makes me so happy!

However the actuality of studying, being slowly flattened under a ginormous load of required reading, and racking my brain for the precise words I need in order to properly convey my ideas in a paper - yeah, those suck. I have been quickly reminded why I said I was "sooooo done."

But, it's what has to be done. Hard work makes the dream work, right?

Let me tell you this as well, there were a number of general education classes that I managed to avoid in my undergraduate degree. I was able to skirt the system and take something a little more enjoyable. That has come back to bite me right in the tukus.

Yep, I'm talking about you, biology. I'm talking about you.

So with that in mind, here are a few of my (quite literal) thoughts on returning to school.

"Why? Why? Why??? WHY????? WHY!!!!!!!!"

"I cannot read one. more. single. page." ...50 pages later... "not another one!"

"I'm an idiot. I can't do this. That's it. I'm done. No more. Screw teaching."
Takes a break, wanders through the isles of Walmart. Get's a milkshake.
"Okay, I got this. I CAN do this. This will be worth it!"

"I am never going to have a social life again."

When seeing that biology is actually applicable to everyday life. "Did you know...." And continuing to inform my husband about everything I can remember concerning the growth patterns of plants. this has happened numerous times, "Wow, I guess biology is actually important."

"I'm gonna fail. I don't get this. I am going to FAIL!" ...gets a 94. "See!!!????"

"Hmmmm, this is why I've seen great declines in my stress levels the last few years. I haven't been expected to regurgitate 300 pages of reading in 20 questions."

And side note, "Could we please stick to questions that are actually important!?"

Watching Grey's Anatomy and telling everyone, "I know what that means!!!!" And again, going on to explain in as much detail as I can recollect. 

"This program is going to take me how long!!!????"

"Think about the children. Just think about the children."

"I can do this, right? Yes. Yes, I can."

So anyway, if you don't hear from me for a while, I'm probably reading a textbook.
And repeating my mantra of "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Taking it back to Curacao

...and taking it back to the end of May...

My first vacation of the summer (yes, that's right, there have been and will be more) was to the island of Curacao with my mom, dad, and brother. It was a dive vacation for the guys. They had both recently gotten their diving permit/license/sorry dad, whatever you call it, and were excited to experience the reefs up close and personal. It was a "relax in the sun and work on our tan" vacation for my mom and I. All such goals were met plus a whole lot of fun.

We visited so many different beaches and they were all spectacular. The inland terrain was not what we were quite expecting. It's pretty much desert, with lots of cacti and low shrubs, not much green and a whole bunch of sand. However, it had a beauty all it's own.

Some favorite experiences and places?

  • Shete Boka National Park - so hot, but pretty cool. The park is along the northern coast of the island which is very treacherous due to the winds and currents that hit the coastline. The water has created some very interesting formations in the rocks including a natural bridge and a hole that spits the waves into the air. 
  • Batidos - fruit smoothies! Seriously, you've never had a smoothie this good. There are stands all over the island selling this deliciously cool treat. Watermelon is my flavor of choice. 
  • Hato Caves - we took a guided tour through these caves. Again, it has some really cool formations. At one point the tour guide turns off the guide lights so you can experience how dark it really is. And we got to see a whole bunch of bats! 
  • Watching my brother attempt to navigate an island with not so exact maps and poorly placed (or not placed) street signs. Very entertaining. Although to his credit, I gave it a try too and didn't have much more success. 
  • "Discovering" and exploring an abandoned building on the side of a cliff and later finding out it was a quarantine hospital. The bricked off upper floors should have given us a far we have not experienced any adverse affects.
  • Discover Scuba Diving - since dad and Jordan were having all the fun diving, I decided to do a discover scuba class. The instructor began by showing us the basics of all the gear and how to use it. Then we got to try it out - underwater! Breathing underwater was a little freaky at first, and I'm not a huge fan of interacting with water creatures, but all in all it was really interesting. I'd do it again. 
All thanks goes to my dad for planning a pretty epic vacation :) And as always, please enjoy some pictures. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

An ode to friendship & family

...although this isn't really an ode, I suppose. An ode is meant to be poetic. And sung. This will meet neither requirement. But it's a catchy title, so sue me :)

Adam and I seriously have the best support system. We have not one, but two flesh and blood families that have encouraged us, loved us, and pushed us through all our lives. Throughout this process of transitioning to the Army, they have been so wonderful! They have spoken wisdom and offered guidance when needed. They have devoted so much time to writing letters to Adam and praying for us. I am incredibly thankful for all that they have done for us in the last few months.

We also have a wonderful group of friends. All throughout our married lives, Adam and I have lived a minimum of 16 hours away from our blood relatives. During all that time, I've been amazed at how God has created "family" for us in those places - He's given us beloved friends who are close by and provide all the nearness of family without actually being related. Inevitably, we've moved on from those particular locations, leaving behind those we love. But just like family, those are bonds that won't be broken anytime soon. No matter how much time passes between actually hugging their necks and laughing uncontrollably at each other's ridiculous stories and antics, we find it so simple to settle back into the routine of genuine friendship.  Again, just like family, their imprint on our hearts is here to stay. We haven't left them behind, we've only said so long for now. Now, we have the incredible privilege to have a family that spans multiple generations, numerous backgrounds, so many states, and even a few time zones.

One such branch of our family, some of those hailing from the great state of South Dakota, were willing and able to join us for Adam's graduation this weekend. They drove 13+ hours to spend less than twelve with us. Again, I am so thankful for their loving support.

Guys, you are awesome. And, we take adorable pictures.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My American Soldier

Warning: upcoming is one sappy post about one amazing husband.
If you have a strong gag reflex, keep a trash can handy.

The Soldier's Creed: 

I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient 
in my warrior tasks and drills. 
I always maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy 
the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier. 

Adam graduated from Army bootcamp yesterday. He is officially an American soldier. 
I had the opportunity to listen to him and 194 other men and women repeat this creed at the ceremony. It quite literally gave me chills. 

I am so unbelievable proud of this man. He has always amazed me with his strength of mind, body, and character. And his determination in this dream has only solidified my faith in him further.  He is an incredible husband; loving me, providing for our family and following God's call on his life all at the same time. I know he'll do all he can to be the best soldier possible because that's just how he operates - with excellence. 

He's proved time and again that defeat is unacceptable. Quitting? Not an option. He truly is a warrior, a servant, and a guardian of our way of life. He embodies the values the army holds dear - loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
 He is an American Soldier. 
Now he just has the uniform to attest to it. 

And gosh darn it, he does look good in that uniform! 

Babe, I love you. I am so proud of you. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Shew, the last month has been a blur! Vacation(s), going back to school, going back to work on the river, friends in town, birthdays, holidays, weddings, craziness - but so great! My dad keeps asking when I'm going to write a post about our trip to Curacao - I will, I promise. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. But it's coming. In the meantime...

Last week I got to spend 72 wonderful hours with some of my greatest friends in what is said to be one of the world's greatest cities. We were really rather proud of ourselves - we accomplished quite a bit of sightseeing on a rather slim budget. I can thank Chelsea for that; she knew where to get all the good deals. HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and Groupon were our buds.

Top Sightseeing Destinations and Eats:

My favorite part was definitely seeing Finding Neverland. It was my first Broadway show and I was not disappointed! Sooooo worth every penny! It was absolutely magical from the very beginning, it drew me in and I didn't want it to end. The stage, the props, the music, it was all mesmerizing. I fell head over heels in love with everything. I texted Adam afterward (...yeah, I text him even though I know he won't see them) to tell him that we will be going back to Broadway again whether he likes it or not. And I'll be listening to the soundtrack on repeat for the next few weeks.

Now enjoy an onslaught of pictures from our various sightseeing and touristy adventures.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

All moved in and ready to go

Well, we made it.

The long trek from South Dakota to West Virginia is over. Jordan helped me pack out the car, load up the pups, and drive the 1,000+ miles/20+ hours. Well, really I helped him drive, as he did the bulk of it. But, hey - who's counting.

We arrived yesterday afternoon so I had plenty of time to unpack and move back into my childhood bedroom. It looks quite different from the last time I lived here. All the walls are blank rather than covered in the myriad of posters I had hung. ...and there aren't clothes everywhere or stuffed animals jammed into every available crevice. It is now an adult's room! - yeah right. It's actually pretty bare. But as I'll be sharing this room with two dogs, I'd prefer it that way. Plenty of room for everyone :)

Tonight my family and I are heading to my grandma's. She'll be dropping us off at the airport in the morning for our flight to Curacao. I am so ready for some tropical relaxation!

Move to WV - check

Unpack - check

Quickly press on to the next adventure - check

I'm coming for you, sunshine!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Adventure Continues...

Side note: I wrote this post a month ago. However, I'm just now posting it because there are a number of people that needed this news to be told in person. Now that is done, so back to your usually scheduled programming...

I'm struggling with how to write this. What are the best words? I've started typing away only to get a paragraph or so written out before deleting it all and starting over. But why is it so hard? At this point mostly all of the people we care about most and who will be directly affected by the news already know. We've already pushed through the hard parts, the difficult conversations. Sharing it with the general public shouldn't be so tricky.

I guess it's because I'm a details gal. I like to know every fact and feeling that goes into making a decision. Big picture is great, but the good stuff, the meat, is in the details. And in this particular instance I feel that the details, the whys and hows, are really important. This big picture might not make sense without the pieces that created it.

...but there are a whole lot of details. We're talking about a decision that was recently made, but was sparked almost 8-9 months ago. How do you begin to break down that process of moving from point A to point B over the span of almost a full year? Maybe I'm making this too hard for all of us?

How about this. Let's start with the big picture and work out the details from there. Deal?

Okay. Phew. Here we go.

Adam and I have resigned from our positions at Family Worship Center. We announced this to the congregation and to our youth (almost a month ago.)

In addition, Adam (along with his super-supportive wife) has chosen to join the Army and will be leaving for Basic Training at the beginning of May - one week from today. Meanwhile, I will be spending the summer at home in West Virginia with my family. After basic and his AIT, which will be completed in mid-November, we will move to our assigned duty station.

Over the last year, God has been working us both through the process of separating our calling to be pastors from our profession. The process looked completely different for both of us but it brought us to the same conclusion. We have dreams and desires for our lives and ministries that can't be completed in our current positions. We felt God calling us onward and we've watched Him close and open so many doors throughout this process that we are certain we are doing the right thing.

Not only that, but let me tell you about the peace. This whole decision is just wrapped in the stuff. You'd think the prospect of my husband having a job that will most likely require him to enter a war zone at one point or another would totally freak me out. As mentioned (many times) before, my natural inclination is to worry before there is anything to worry about. But not here.

I've repeated to God so many times over the last few months, "just show us what you want us to do." I wanted signs. Peace was the biggest sign for me. Recently, I was listening to this podcast by Havilah Cunnington and her advice in making big (and small) decisions was "follow your peace." This resonated with me so clearly because she just put into words what I was feeling. My inner dialoguing self jumped up and down with hands in the air yelling "YES! YES! YES!" And let me tell you, this peace isn't mine. It's all God's. I believe I am fully experiencing that peace that transcends all understanding because if it made sense to me I'd totally be panicking. But peace just continues to prevail. And I can't begin to explain how comforting and wonderful that is to walk in.

So yeah, there you go. Not a whole ton of details, but hey, who needs those anyway!? This decision wasn't "easy." It hurts that we have to leave the friends we've made here and our youth kids - they're seriously the best and I'm gonna miss them like crazy. But I'm trusting that God has His reasons. It might not make total sense now (or ever, this side of Heaven) but I believe my God is good and I'll willingly place my life in His hands.

And as always, the adventure continues.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sometimes life gets real

To quote my ever-wise, little bro, sometimes "life just gets real."

I'm amazed at how real life can be so totally exciting and absolutely, flat-out, overwhelmingly terrifying at the same time.

I think Peter Pan might have had the right idea about things. Adulting is exhausting. Am I right!?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Professing my love for winter

I love snow. And winter.

Living in South Dakota, you wouldn't think I would, but I really do. I love the super, ridiculously cold temperatures (we're talking -30s here people) and the frost that coats my windows from November through May. I adore the ice covered tree limbs that make the world look like the inside of a snow globe. I always step outside to listen to the quiet, muffled hum of snow falling at night. I love to bundle up in my scarves, huge mittens, and fuzzy earmuffs. And seat heaters. Oh, how I looooovvvveeee seat heaters.

Just everything about winter - I love it all. Even the cold.

But my favorite is the snow. This is my view today and it just makes me giddy.

I'm still waiting on my promised blizzard though. SD is supposed to have some good ones, but I have yet to experience it. I just want to get stuck in my house for a few days - is that too much to ask for!?

I'm praying that it'll happen soon enough. I am a tad bit jealous of my folks though. The DC area is prepping for a doozy of a storm tomorrow. I kinda wish I were home with them to enjoy it :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 | Thoughts on goals & growth

I confessed to my journal this morning that I hate making New Year's resolutions.

Yes, it's true.

I am not a fan of inconsistency, and that seems to be all I am with New Year's resolutions. Seriously, I can not think of one of the tons of resolutions I've made that I have actually followed through with. Every year I drag my feet to set some goals for myself because I know they will all be out the window by March mid-January. It's frustrating.

So last year, I didn't set any. Purposefully. Instead I picked a word for the year, which seemed great. I think my exact words were "less guilt, more intentionality."

But that didn't really work out either. Dream was my word and dreaming was my goal. But that didn't really happen.

Honestly, 2015 felt kind of stagnant. I don't feel like I moved forward or made much progress in many areas of my life. And I am simply NOT okay with that.

So, this year I am setting a growth plan. This was introduced to me by our church staff. It starts with "statements of purpose," or big picture ideas then breaks them down into what I call the "daily details," or measurable goals to accomplish the big picture. This method kind of brings together resolutions and the word of the year to create a comprehensive life growth plan. You can see mine below.

A word of the year is great, if it works for you. It didn't work for me. I'm a detail person and I really have to break my goals down into the daily, bite-sized pieces if I want to see progress.

However, in the midst of this I realize that these goals of mine aren't meant for just checking off a list. If the only reason I strive to accomplish them is so that I can put that red check mark in the box next to it, I'm missing it and these goals become chores. And I think that's where the breakdown happens for me each year. I stop striving for life change and only see daily expectations.

I don't want to pray every day just to say I did it, I want to pray so that I can continue to learn to be led by the Spirit. I don't want to read Scripture just to feel like a good Christian, I want to be in my Bible to see and cultivate the huge dreams God has and how they can become my own. I don't want to open my home so people can think I'm a great hostess, I want to open my home to create opportunities to share God's love and hope with my community. I don't want a check-list, I want life growth.

While I'm still nervous that I'll totally blow it on these (and believe me, some will fall through the cracks at various times throughout the year), I'm setting them anyway.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

I don't want to be visionless. What about you?

 I have them pinned up in my office to see every day so that they stay right there in front of me, before my eyes. A daily reminder of where I want to see growth in my life. Hopefully, if I keep them where I  can see them everyday (and with a great, mighty dose of prayer & Holy Spirit power), I won't loose steam. So yeah, feel free to ask me how it's going come April.

And by the way, I'm sticking with dreaming this year. I still want to cultivate this discipline in my life. I desperately want to call myself a God-dreamer - to capture His heart and make it a reality, not through my capabilities but through His. So here's to dreaming in 2016!

What will 2016 look like for you?