Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

pray for my friend, Sydney

The only pic I was able to get of Syd, as she held her new baby boy.
I am not sure how many actually read our blog, but I figured I would do a quick post asking for prayers for my dear friend, Sydney.
My beautiful Sydney was diagnosed with a brain tumor yesterday. She is 32 and just had her 3rd baby (Boone) on Dec. 1st. After suffering a bad headache, she went to the ER then had an MRI where doctors discovered a large tumor in her left frontal lobe. She has great doctors at Duke. But, more than that she serves and loves an Amazing God who loves Sydney more than any of us. I have been deeply saddened and shocked by this news, but so thankful that God is drawing us all closer to Him. Please pray for peace, comfort, healing, and provision.

I have wanted to be friends with Sydney for as long as I've been going to Hope (our church). There was just something about her I had to know. We briefly talked at church randomly, but never hung out. Then, this September we ran into each other at Carolina Smoothies and talked each other into going to our church's women's retreat later in the fall with plans to ride home together. And that is where it started; on the drive back to Charlotte from Montreat we discovered a new and exciting friendship. Sydney is one of those ladies who has a ton of friends and is surrounded by people who love her. She's unique, and beautiful and her own person. She's funky, real, honest, safe and loves with her giant heart. In these past couple months we've spent lots of time together. We share our love for Jesus, but also our love for the non traditional and thrift stores. When I'm at her house hanging out with her and her amazingly beautiful kids, I never want to leave. I feel so safe and wanted.

We were supposed to play next week. Instead I await news about her possible biopsy on Wednesday. Tonight we had a prayer meeting at our church for Todd & Sydney and the kids. It was beautiful to be a part of a community of people who love Jesus and love this family. And I believe with all my heart that God is in this; that He will be glorified and He will use it for good.
Here are a few pics I took a couple weeks ago while we were hanging out.

Haven, Boone & Vail

Vail with Boone

Haven and her giant personality!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Samosas by Aunty

Adam's aunt makes the BEST Samosas. Another great thing about Louisiana is visiting family and having some yummy homemade Indian food. I have these hopes of keeping recipes alive from both our families, but it turns out most people don't use recipes. But, on our trip, his aunt walked me through making homemade Samosas!!
Step 1:
Cook ground beef and drain ALL the oil; put back in pot to stir to get dry. Add salt, garlic paste, and ginger paste.

Step 2:
Let meat cool, then add chopped onions, cilantro and green onions (chilis optional) to taste
*this is your filling (notice how there are no measurements)
Step 3:
Lay out Spring Roll Pastry Squares (cut off 1/2 inch). Make "glue" out of flour and water--should be paste. Fold in half (long side)

Then fold down diagonally with edge

Pinch corner and fold down again making a funnel type pocket

Spoon in 1-2 spoonfuls of filling and press down into pocket

Put paste on pastry edge and fold over to seal, repeat for top and other "loose" edges.
Finished product is shaped like a triangle.

Deep Fry on Med - High heat until golden brown; let drain standing on one corner.
ENJOY. (we just ate these and they were AMAZING!)

DEEP roots

When I decided to go on Young Life staff in 2002, I had no idea I would end up in Louisiana. During my 2 years there, I repeatedly said that I would not have "deep roots" there. And, honestly I have no idea what I meant by that. It turns out I got those deep roots b/c it's where I met Adam. hello, deep roots! I also met one of my best friends & soul sistas, Laura Garcia, along with many friendships. I am so thankful for the 2 years I got to spend down there doing YL and for the people that God brought into my life during that time. In addition to the relationships, I discovered an amazing place in Southeast Louisiana...New Orleans.

One of my favorite places in Louisiana is the lake front (Lake Pontratrain) on the Northshore in Mandeville. There used to be a coffee shop there--Java Grotto--that I would spend countless mornings at. (...it never recovered after Katrina) The lake front was(is) one of the most peaceful places where I was able to be alone and it literally became a refuge for me during my internship.

the lake front what used to be Java Grotta us by one of the many giant oaks

On our trip back we visited some of our favorite restaurants. New Orleans has the best food ever!! EVER. Jacques-Imos is on this dark side street off of Carrolton where the street car runs. It is some of the best food ever. The fried green tomatoes comes topped with giant shrimp, everything is cooked in a rich, buttery sauce, and the atmosphere is spectacular. Another favorite place is Mr. B's Bistro which is owned by one of the Brennans (a local family of chefs). We always come here and at lunch b/c it's cheaper and they have $1.50 bloody marys. But, the best dish is the BBQ Shrimp. For most of us, this conjours up ideas of BBQ sauce or even a grill. Not in New Orleans. It is about 6 jumbo shrimp (heads and everything) cooked is a ridiculously delicious buttery and black pepper sauce (roux) and some french bread for soaking it up. You even wear a bib!! I took some pics of what was leftover. :)

Another one of my favorite things to do in NOLA is Magazine Street. It's a funky street full of funky places & people. A must do everytime we are there.

I am thankful for the deep roots.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Buckle Up for Safety!!

I first saw these seatbelt bags when I worked at Starbucks in college and loved them. So cool!! A purse made out of seatbelts!? amazing!
It wasn't until my first Christmas with Adam that I would ever get one...he gave me a small red seatbelt purse and i loved it. And, since it's made out of seatbelts it's virtually indestructible. Which is just what I need.
So, over the years I've kept my eyes out, but they are pretty pricey. I will be saving for the diaper bag one day for sure! anyway...
since we've been in Louisiana for a few days, I have been able to do some of my favorite things and have lots of pics and blog posts coming soon. We were in New Orleans yesterday doing one of my favorite things...Magazine Street. park, shop, drive, park, shop, have a drink, shop, drive, park...you get it. It's full of funky places and people...i love it. So, we're in Buffalo Exchange (a great consignment/thrift store that needs to come to Charlotte) and i'm checking out the purses thinking we could get one for his sister. then, out of the corner of my eye is a BEAUTIFUL BLUE (PEACOCK COLOR) SEATBELT BAG!! i literaly gasped. and it was only 25 dolloars!!! merry Christmas to me!!
check them out at www.seatbeltbags.com (i got the mini-messenger)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

blogasaurus rex

blogging is so the new thing and i love it. like facebook, you just get a glimpse into people's world that wasn't available years ago.
anyway...photography seems like the new thing (maybe not for all), but i know a lot of AMAZING photographers. (links are on the right...jen hunt, smitten, blue bucket to name a few)
well, i usually make my rounds on all 3 sites once a week to see what is new. one time i found this project that Amy Free is doing on hers (blue bucket)...here is her vision:
The quote:
"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."
Sophia Loren

The goal:
The goal? Empower you, the women around me, to see yourself from a new angle. To enjoy what others love seeing in you—grace, love, humility, confidence, talent, sincerity, fierceness, loyalty, laughter and joy. The fact of the matter is that we are bombarded all the time with images that tell us how we should define beauty, and I have had a lifetime of wrestling with how I fit within these definitions of beauty. This project is all about empowering women to believe in their own beauty.

Think about this: when you look around your house, how many photos do you have displayed of yourself? I'm guessing there are wedding photos, family photos, and maybe a few random snap shots. But what about a beautiful image of you? Just you? Well now is your chance.

The style:
Each image will be unique to each woman because our definitions of beauty can range and my desire is for these images to capture that uniqueness. I will shoot on location in natural light.

I wanted to do this with my sister. If I could, I would do it with all my girl friends. so i inquired and we had our shoot with Amy a couple weeks ago and i just got the disk. it was so fun. she is amazing at her job and it was sweet to do this with my gorgeous sister. so, check us out (and many others) at www.bluebucketphotography.typepad.com.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pack Rat

I know why I hold onto things.
I am on my second weekend of fall cleaning and I decided to go through our 2nd bedroom's closet. When we moved in, we put boxes of stuff and Christmas decorations and clothes and all sorts of office stuff and other random things in this closet. It's fairly spacious. I figured it would be good to go through and see what is actually in there and either keep it & organize it or throw it out.
I found some old cards & letters as I went through a box. Tied together was a stack of construction paper cards from my going away party that the staff & leaders gave me in Cab. Co. before I left for Louisiana to do Young Life back in 2002.

"I just want you to know that I think you are truly amazing. Yes, you are hilarious. In fact you are the funniest person I have ever met. But I want you to know that I see past that. I think you are a genuine and wonderful person, and I think you're an absolutely beautiful woman."
"I don't think you can imagine how awesome it has been having you on my team! you truly showed me what it means to be a YL leader and to serve and give of yourself for others."
"I've been blessed by our friendship and have no intention of letting it end here..."
"You are truly a woman of God and I'm thankful for all that I've been able to learn from you."

These are few excerpts from the notes I received. I was so amazed at what other people thought of me. I was so thankful for it. And I was so glad that I kept it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

celebrate under 30

i know i just turned 30, but i have to post about the excitement i feel when i fill up my subaru for under 30 bucks. it's amazing.
we all know it's hard-knocks right now for most of us, BUT, we can buy gas for under $2!!! that's freaking awesome! so, right now i get excited to go to the pump. i love to be on empty so i can fill up for a dollar seventy-six at Costco.
i know it's sad that my mood is based on the cost of filling up my car. (uh, and in reality, it's not)
pump it up!!

finally some pics of the 30th

my beautiful sister, julie

my sweet friend, leah

my awesome cake that my sister "designed" for me

really? do i need to say anything about this one?

so, there are a few pics from the night. there are more, but mostly blurry and random. none with me and adam. what a shame!! my friend, jessamy, has some good ones of the surprise.
it was such a great party.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

fall cleaning

I love a clean house, but i have to admit; we don't live in one. Adam accumulates a lot of books, printed articles and papers from Grad School. I accumulate a lot of stuff. Period. We have crazy schedules and a small apartment with a lot of stuff. Needless to stay it can be a real craphole. Which gets really old and hard to live in. ugh!
I spent most of this weekend cleaning out and cleaning up. I tried to get rid of stuff b/c I need to and Goodwill needs donations. Gotta start somewhere.
Trader Joe's sells these all-natural Lavender dryer bags that can be used for carpet scents after a few loads in the dryer. So, I sprinkled the Lavender across the cleared carpet. As the vacuum crossed over, the scent filled the air.
As I sit here admiring my work, I'm hoping we can keep it this way and not let it turn into a craphole again.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

books galore!

I love to read. Lately, I've rediscovered reading. I've never really been into buying books b/c a) they are too expensive and b) you only use them once. I like the public library too, so I try to check out books from there when I can. However, the books are usually checked out so I have to put in a hold request and inevitably I turn them in late. I could probably buy a book with my late fees.

Anyway, I'm just pretty jazzed about the book selections at my local Thrift Stores. I've shopped at various thrift stores (Value Village, Goodwill, etc) since Jr. High. Yet, recently I've found some great titles in their book section. Books here are from 50 cents to $3. Usually I come back with a stack, which lies around on our table for weeks. Even my English Grad Student husband gets annoyed at my book obsession. I just get so excited when I find a book I've wanted or heard about at a Thrift Store for so CHEAP.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri for 99 cents
a Jonathan Kellerman thriller (cheesy, i know) for a buck
Me talk pretty one day by David Sedaris for $1.49
the classic Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers for $1.49
Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich for $1.30
Taking Charge of Your Fertility for 99 cents
just to name a few!!

happy reading!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

turning 30

i never thought much about turning 30. until i got here.

i realized a couple months ago that i wanted (needed) to be celebrated on my birthday. i just wanted someone to do something for me. well, my hopes and expectations were blown away. a couple weeks ago adam told me that they (my sister and friend, Chaille) were planning a party for me. in the same conversation he told me that i am hard to WOW. i can't just sit back and let others wow me. i'm not sure why this is. so, i decided at that point i would do just that...sit back and be wowed. i didn't ask questions or push any more. the party was planned for sunday, the 9th at my dad's house in Tega Cay. okay.
once the e-vite was sent, there was absolutely NO talk of my impending celebration. i thought it was a bit strange that NO ONE would say, "hey, i'm excited about your party." or when i asked my friends if they were coming, they'd quickly say yes and that was it. i mentioned this to Chaille...just thought it was weird.
i woke up a 30 year old on saturday morning and was looking forward to hanging out with my husband and whatever he had planned then my party of Sunday. he told me to pack an over-night bag and be ready by 6:30pm. my other instructions were to straighten my hair and wear mascara. watch out!! by 6pm i was looking good!! we go outside to leave and there is a TOWN CAR waiting for us. i've never had a driver before. Lloyd drove us down..oops..uptown. our first stop--check in at the hotel, motel, holiday inn. then back in the car to the restaurant ZINk. adam told me we should have reservations under "patwa." uh- okay. so we are greeted by the hostesses and lead to our table. as we approach the black curtain, i thought, "that's weird, they must separate the restaurant by a curtain. this must be a private section." well--it was private all right. as i enter the "back room" there, standing before me are 30 odd friends and family who yelled "SURPRISE!!" i was beside myself. almost literally. i stood there for what seemed like 10 minutes with my mouth wide open in amazement. cue the tears. i was completely surprised and overwhelmed.
i've been doubting that people loved me. i'm not sure why. lately, i've just needed to know that people want to be my friend; that i am loved just because and for who i am. it's a strange place to be at approaching your 30th birthday. i was so ridiculously loved and celebrated Saturday night at my party...friends i've known for 15 years and some that i've just developed a friendship with recently. they were all there for me; to celebrate my life. it was simply amazing.
i kept wishing i could freeze-frame the whole deal. that as the SURPRISE scene froze, i could walk about the crowd of loved ones and just soak it up.
a few people asked if i had any idea. NOT AT ALL!! my sister kept saying how excited she was for my party...and now i know why. they were telling me about a fake party on Sunday while planning this amazing surprise party on saturday. it was incredible. my husband, my sister and best friend and everyone else really did it...they WOWed me. and i'm so very thankful to and for them. i needed this and they met that need. God really shows up in the lives of my friends and i'm so thankful for that. i love how He knows just what i need.
so, here i am. 30. i think my thirties is going to rock our world. i'm excited for what lies ahead...travel, kids, adventure, growth, friendships, and whatever else God has in store. i'm excited. (i will post some pictures from the night later)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

happy birthday cole!

I have been an aunt since I was 12. And I am aunt to 2 beautiful nieces and 5 handsome nephews. Last Saturday we celebrated my youngest nephew's 2nd birthday. And since I took a class with Sharon Clark (Smitten Photography) I think I'm some kind of photographer. I must say, though, that I love taking pictures. Here are some pictures of Cole and his big brother, Isaiah, and other friends from his party.

yay! it's my birthday!!
Cole with his uncle Adam and brother, Isaiah
my best friend, Chaille's, boys (Nick, Beck & Jack)
one of his pals, Hayden...very serious
finally, his pal, Landon.

It was definitely a fun day celebrating little Cole's life. The joy of nieces and nephews is you can give them back to their parents. I love mine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

things i REALLY like

i'm in a bit of a reflective mood and wanted to share some things i'm REALLY liking right now. granted, there may be things i REALLY like, and even love, not on this list. it's spontaneous (and in no particular order).

...Chic-fil-A corporate headquarters: nestled back in a wooded area 10 min from the ATL airport. hiking trails, free lunch (includes CFA sandwiches, icedream with toppings, diet dr. pepper & lemondade anytime), and friendly staff. what a great place to have a training meeting!
...a rental car: it's usually new and an automatic. i love driving a car that's not mine!
...the moon: it never ceases to amaze me that as a turn a corner and catch a glimpse of the moon, i gasp. literally gasp. it's huge, perfect and low.
...dark chocolate: needs no explanation
...business trips: it's rare in Young Life that i go on business trips. but, occasionally. and so my 24 hours in Atlanta has been nice so far. i'm enjoying being in a hotel, driving a rental, eating dinner alone, and learning more (of course)
...fall: i do wish it was cooler, but nothing is better than a fall evening.
...the mountains: adam and i got to spend (his) fall break in an amazing mountain house less than 2 hours from Charlotte. it was amazing and relaxing and extremely peaceful.
...the kite runner: i'm not sure how long ago this book came out, but i remeber it's following. i usually reject anything that becomes instantly popular. and i am aware that i miss out on things b/c of this. however, after seeing the movie first, i knew i just HAD to read this book. it's incredible. i don't have the ability to come up with words to describe it.
...my husband: he got up early to take me to the aiport today. that was kind of him. he's loving, kind, smart, witty, and just so fun to be around. i can't wait to see him when he picks me up from the airport tomorrow.

so, there you have it. my "REALLY like" list for the right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

T minus 30

In 30 days I will be 30. Just like that my twenties will be over. I'm not really sure how I'm feeling about the whole thing. My mom was 32 when she had me. I remember when I was 15 and the woman I babysat for was turning thirty...she said to me, "I'm twice your age!" Well, duh, I babysit your kids. Those girls are now 19 and 17. Crazy.
I'm thinking that age is a weird thing. I'm not really sure where I thought I'd be at 30. Of course, when you are 15 thirty seems SO old. But, now that I'm here, it doesn't really seem that old. I sometimes feel younger or at least feel like I act younger (than what I think 30 should act like). "They" are saying that 30 is the new 20. But, I don't want to be 20.
I do feel like our lives can be marked by the decades of our 20's, 30's, 40's and so on. I wonder what my 30's have in store for me? Travel perhaps. Probably kids too. A move. I'm not afraid of turning 30. It just seems weird, like I should have something to show for my 20's. I am thinking that this is going to be my year!! I may spend the next 30 days thinking about what I want my "Year 30" to be and go for it. As my friend CC says, "put yourself out there!"
I am looking forward to 30! And since I love birthdays, I hope it'll be a great one!! (no pressure, huh?) I think I'm going to set some goals for myself this year and live a full life!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

washer & dryer

So...sometime in the spring we finally got a washer & dryer for FREE. That ended my dragging all our dirty laundry (literally) to my sister's every Tuesday. And for about 3 or so months we did our laundry freely whenever we wanted or needed...it was pure bliss.

Until the week or so after our return from Colorado when our dryer ran all night blowing only cool air. I didn't want to believe the possibility that it could be broken, so I kept using it. Only for a day..I'm not an idiot.

Luckily my sister lives nearby and the following Tuesday I took our clothes. And something completely and utterly unbelievable happened...my sister's dryer broke. In my care (use). She had to buy a new one. Freak accident, right?

That was a few weeks ago...after our dirty clothes have been piled up I decided to bring it tonight. On my 3rd load something wrapped around the spinner thing in the washer and jammed it. It doesn't spin/move. Not to mention's my sister's parting words to me earlier today were, "don't break anything." Are you serious?! Is this even possible?

Tomorrow a repair person will come to her house and I'm really hoping (and pleading with God) that it can be fixed...not only so I have a place to do our laundry, but so that I don't have to help my sister buy a new washer. UGH!!

moral? we need a new dryer!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

her passion overflows

our models...doing some "action" shots (i.e. walking)

our beautiful models jumping!!

our teacher and her beautiful self. i love her pregnant belly

just a quick nature shot of some mushrooms. i liked it
This past Saturday I got to be a part of "Smitten Photo Academy." My friend, Sharon Clark, has her own photography business and it's simply amazing. (www.smittenphotography.typepad.com) She actually did our wedding stationery which was so cool, but as she was discovering her passions she decided to solely pursue photography. And it's been such a joy to see. (since i check her blog daily)

A couple times a year she runs a 4-hour class on how to use your camera and take pictures. What I loved most was sitting at Sharon's feet as she shared her passion...not just of photography, but of capturing the lives of children, families, events, and so much more. It's also super cool that she is willing to share all her "secrets." I would imagine that she blesses the people on the other side of the camera every time she has a shoot. You should check her stuff out!!!

I have no desire to be in the picture taking business...I just want to know HOW to use my camera and take great pictures. here are few from that day. (clearly i CANNOT figure out how to put my text above my pictures without deleting them)

This is Ridiculous

Is it appropriate to use a blog to vent? i am.

So--our gas light came on in the honda last night. I prefer to get gas at Costco b/c usually it's cheaper. After last week's gas hording & gouging due to hurricane ike, we filled both our cars up. No problem. Well, you'd think so, until it's time to get gas again...like this morning. I drove "all the way" to Costco to find it closed & empty. The station across the street...same thing. On my way towards the Dentist I passed a couple more that were down. UGH!!! ARe you serious that we live in a spoiled & developed country, but have run out of gas!? FINALLY...I see one with cars and pull in...they only had the low-grade, so I was in luck!! Relief. for now.

I was just so annoyed. Partly b/c I feel like I deserve to have everything (resources) available to me when I need/want them, probably b/c I live in a country that's created this in me. And partly b/c it's ridiculous that we ran out of gas (okay, not totally). We actually heard on NPR this morning that if the hurricanes get worse, the crisis will only get worse.

I'd like to be able to ride my bike anywhere or hop on a bus/train and not have to depend on gas. But, for now, I'm a slave to it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

funny stuff

this is about as political as i'm going to get...enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

swimming, dancing, & eating

Mady doing her Thriller dance
Lily doing her Thriller dance

Charlie getting ready for the pool...you need your Shark goggles for this!

we got to hang out with my cute nieces and nephews over Labor Day. i love them. here are some snap shots of the crazy kids in my family!

Charlie (6) is one of the most passionate kids you'll ever meet! next is Julian Cole, he's almost 2 and is rotten to the core! when i ask him to say "amy" he says "NO!" well, okay.
next is a sweet one of Mady (10) and Julian sitting by the pool. Then, in the purple life-vest-swimsuit sort of thing is Lily, one of the cutest 3-yr olds ever!! this was one of many pics of her dancing to THRILLER. The one of the boys in the water are Isaiah (11) and is little bro, Julian. they just adore each
we had a fun day at Pap Pap & Nana's.

(ps...it's obvious that i have no idea how to post pictures on this thing!!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

my 2 cents about T.V

I just wanted to get on a soap box...not that I really know what one is. I digress...

So, this week I watched two Season Premiers. I claim that I watch such shows because I do Young Life..."it's what the girls are watching." And that's true. But, it is extremely disturbing to me what is on television these days. Shows that paint this glamorous picture of high school. High School isn't glamorous and it isn't supposed to be. Is that wrong of me to say?

You've got Gossip Girl that shows a group of Upper Eastside NY teens who are absolutely gorgeous. They have more money than anyone can imagine..they have all the best things. They wear lingerie and drink martinis. Granted, I went to West Charlotte, but I don't think that this is how most teenagers live. Then, you have 90210, a re-release of the 1990's classic. Once again a parking lot full of ridiculously expensive cars and beautiful kids. But, kids that at 15 are wearing corset-type tops to school. Really?! Is that allowed these days? The girls I know in high school say that they have dress codes and can't even wear a tank top to school.

Now, I know these aren't real. Most of us watch television as an escape from "reality." But I can't help but think that there must be a part of our mind that thinks "this is how it should be" or "if only I had that or looked like that...." The lies we hear from our world and our culture are disturbing as it is, but is it necessary to penetrate at such a young age?

I was thinking back to shows I watched growing up. There was 90210, but I never got into it. Then--the one show I was thinking about that depicted teenagers was "Saved by the Bell." A classic. And this past Saturday we got to watch a re-run. They weren't wearing next to nothing or participating in lewd acts in the parking lot. But, I'm also not sure they were depicting real life either. You definitely have your "cool kid," "jock," "nerd," "hot girl," etc. But I think high school is about more than where one's locker is or seat in class. (as this episode was about) Nonetheless, it was easy to watch. Kelly wasn't trying to seduce Zach in some skimpy lingerie.

I missed GG this week and will probably opt out of watching 90210 tonight. But- a part of me still wants to see what "they" are watching even though it shocks me still. And hopefully along the way I can have some meaningful conversations with high school girls.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Non-Anniversary Anniversary Post

Amy is indeed right--we are unsatisfactory bloggers. But I guess it's because we don't have kids yet. I am only adding insult to injury with this post because I want to share something that occurred during the assignment this summer. It has to deal with Amy and marriage and how the last two years have been. I know...boring, but I hope to reveal a revelation I felt a long time coming.
Amy and I celebrated our anniversary while at Frontier Ranch. It was a humble, yet rewarding night spent over thin crust pizza while watching paddlers on the Arkansas River; I hope to remember it for a long time. But I would like to share some thoughts that came to me after a conversation with Stacey, the other female head leader who worked closely with Amy. I got to spend a lot of time with all the head leaders and they got a unique look at mine and Amy's relationship and how it functions.
Stacey and I were walking to the corral during the first week. I’m not sure how we got onto a conversation about marriage, but we did. She proceeded to compliment me, or more accurately commend me, for what she called an ability to allow Amy to be herself. She said something to the effect of me loving Amy enough to allow her to be herself. I paused and looked out towards the valley that stretched into the horizon. She saw something unsettling in my countenance. “I’m not saying that you’re completely noble” she clarified. I chuckled, trying to subtly agree. Letting Amy just be is the one thing that I don’t do. Every time she becomes a bit too loud, or yawns without covering her mouth or some other snobby social staple, I’m the one who's there to correct her. It was like this compliment was a rose with only the thorned stem to grasp; I couldn’t accept it without feeling its prick. This prick is the realization that I don't have the capacity to love well, even my own wife.

We continued to talk, Stacey and I continued to talk. I spoke about something that I've been mulling over the last year. In the song Amy and I danced to there is a lyric that goes, "man is fragile/fragile when alone." This is true for me; Amy is always there to remind me of what is true. I have seemed to gain a sort of confidence in marriage. It's not a confidence in Amy, who she is, or even in how people perceive us. It appears to be an intrinsic confidence in the sheer fact that someone else wants to spend their life with me. Ideally, this confidence would push me to love Amy and others better. Unfortunately, I’m tempted to use this confidence for ill purposes. I tend to be introspective and (re)think my life: Whether it's asking the girl that I wanted to take to the dance, saying what I wanted to say in class, or applying to the college I wanted to go to, I tend to relive my life within my head, using this new found courage in my fantasy world. It’s a painful existence living only to regret the past and fear the future. To love Amy well (or anyone), I need to be present in the moment.

C.S. Lewis said something interesting about humility; he said that it isn’t something that you actively do. He said if you were to meet humble man, you wouldn't think he was humble. But you would just think he is a happy guy who took an interest in what you had to say. (pharaphrase)

I can’t seem to set out to love Amy well; it happens when I least expect it. As soon as I look inward and curse my inabilities, she responds to me as if I loved her well (sometimes even explicitly saying that I love her well). I will joke by saying "maybe I should write it down so I can remember how to do it again." However, like Lewis' idea of humility, I don’t want to think about how to do it, I just want it to happen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad Bloggers

This describes us for sure. We had really good intentions. I'm sorry.

Today is literally our last day here at Frontier Ranch. We are packing up all our stuff and loading up. We will all have dinner together and party tonight, then leave extra early in the morning!

Adam and I are caravanning with his parents from here to Colorado Springs then to Amarillo, TX. So, we'll get to spend some extra time with them, which will be great. It's been SO great having them here!! We'll leave Amarillo and head back east to home. We can't wait to be home.

This month has been amazing! The community that we've been a part of has really been incredible. We've been challenged, loved, encouraged, supported, and so many other things that have made us stronger as individuals and as a couple. We've gotten a chance to be around some amazing families and adorable children. It's been fun to love on others' kids! No rush for us!! We've met some cool folks and been a part of something way bigger than ourselves. God has shown up in so many ways and He loves us enough to share it with us!

I'm am truly sad to leave, but excited to go back home to my "real world." School and Young Life will start up soon and life might get crazy. My hope is that we won't get stuck in the mundane or the busy because that is NOT the life God desires for us to live. My hope is that we will continue to grow and live and see and experience all that God has to offer. Babies, sunsets, relationships, travel, sleep, marriage, quiet, joy, grace, and love.

Thanks for praying for our month...you are so dear to us.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflections From Week One

Week One is over. It's Sunday, and I'm sitting in our cabin on the edge of Frontier Ranch. I hear the work crew members peopling the weed-eater and lawnmowers outside. Amy is on the other side of camp scheduling rides and finishing the housing requirements. By this evening about 400 high school campers and their leaders will ascend to Frontier Ranch for what is said will be "the best week of their lives." 
This is my first assignment. I visited Amy for a long weekend when she had an assignment at Windy Gap in 2004. We were still dating then, and I was just a visitor. This time I'm what is commonly referred to as a staff spouse. While this term is ostensibly gender neutral, I believe it is informally thought of as a female role. The first Monday of the assignment I attended the spouse's meeting; I was the only husband. Surprisingly, I left that meeting feeling more connected than before. Part of it was humbling: Seeing what Angel, a mother of three kids under the age of five, has to go through when moving to camp for a month helped me swallow my pride and move forward in my role. It gave me perspective and helped me realize that what I consider problems are really just lies that I need the Gospel to dispel. Since we don't have kids, I have more freedom in camp and also more time to get involved, which helps me feel like I'm a part of this mission.
Thankfully, Amy enrolled me in Real Life and the Broken Heart Skit when she came to Assigned Team training in the Spring. As this month approached, I became more unwilling to take my roles seriously, believing that Amy and the rest of her team conspired to take advantage of our non-parent status and hijack my free-time just so they could have a warm body in their little charade. However, watching the first set of campers leave last night, I was brought to tears. Getting handshakes and hugs from high school guys I didn't even know was a moving experience. 
Real Life is a unique way that we as adults share our story with campers. It takes place in three installments. We pretend to be the way we were in high school by pre-recording thought tapes of how we would process a week at camp. The first is our thoughts before leaving, followed by our response to the sin talk, and finally how we would spend our fifteen minutes talking to God. After this we then share a two-three minute version of our story. I, of course, was type-cast the party-guy, stoner, druggie, which was true of me in high school; however, thankfully I was able to give them the full story through my testimony. 
I have to admit that I didn't expect much out of this.  I knew that they wanted me up there because I have a colorful past and they need to have some variety. I didn't expect what I got out of it. First of all, I have told this my story to peers and members of authority before. However, every-time I have told it before I have been the one to do the work of distancing me from my past. This time was radically different. As I told my story to about 450 campers and leaders, I didn't feel chained to it at all. I think it was the first time in my life when I felt the victory of Jesus in this realm--He was doing the work, has done the work, of distancing me from the past. That alone is worth me inconveniencing my self by taking part of this, but it went further. I got to see kids, tough high school kids, in tears as they took a risk to come talk to me after the final Real Life. I don't deserve to experience this from another person. I don't have what it takes to care for another broken human being, but God chose me to be up there connecting with kids by sharing my past. I was trying to communicate these feelings to Amy, and I said something about not understanding why me sharing the darkest part of my past pushed kids from all walks of life to want to thank me, hug me, and just talk to me. It was the most unreal, counter-intuitive experience.
Today is Sunday, and everyone with a job is getting camp ready to do it again. I don't know if I can do it again. I don't want to cheapen the experience of the first week...I don't want the names of the kids that shared tears with me to be forgotten...I don't want this to be a formula. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't take a knife to a gun fight!!

It's been difficult finding time to sit at my computer and update the blog...but now I have sometime, so here goes.

Our trip from NC to CO was a blast...we got to spend some much needed time together and do some pretty amazing things. I want to tell you about the most memorable. Long's Peak. After our exploring of Denver and Boulder we decided to do some hiking and backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in northern Colorado. At some point we opted for a hike up Long's Peak with some camping at a place called Boulderfield. Let's just say we had no idea what we were doing!
The first warning sign came when I read this...the number one suggestion for hiking "high peaks" is "Be in excellent physical condition." I didn't bother to read the others b/c I didn't want to be discouraged. We are NOT in excellent physical condition...I'm not even sure what that looks like. But, we go on...at the Ranger Station the most precious old man gives us our Backcountry Permit and tells us about the hike. He has such confidence in us and our ability to do this thing. We have all the gear so we are looking the part for sure!!
Let me back up...in June when I called they said it could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to hike this thing. We start at around 9,000 feet and are carrying ridiculously heavy packs. We are off and excited about this adventure. As we climb in elevation it becomes more and more difficult. We see others along the way-passing us with small packs. We pass a variety of people. "We can totally do this...that 65 year old woman we just passed did it, we can too." So, 6 and a half hours and 6 miles later we reach Boulderfield...our campsite. It is exactly what it is...a field of ginormous boulders with 6 or so camp sites. Let me also say that along the way we met some very kind folks and saw a herd of Elk playing in snow, along with Marmots...or varmots as older folks say.
We set up camp, purify some waters, and eat some dinner. We are now at around 12,000 feet. We kinda sleep, then wake up to begin the rest of our adventure to the summit. This too attracts all kinds of people---ranging from 8 to 70 and older!! People are actually descending as we begin at 9am!! The "path" is marked by a red & yellow bulls-eye. There is the "trough" and the "narrows" which are frightening! There were countless times I was paralyzed by fear. But, the beauty we encountered pushed us forward. We had to do this!! We got this far, plus if you could see the people who were doing it too. So, along the way we begin to hear from other folks..."this is one of the hardest 14ners in Colorado...there are 52" or "I've done 10 14ners and this is the hardest one." At this point I am wondering what the heck we are doing. Who's idea was this anyway?!
After a few hours we make it to the summit...a mile from our campsite, but 14,250 feet in elevation. It's the highest peak in RMNP. It was beautiful and a major accomplishment, but the summit didn't necessarily have the best view. The sights we saw along the way were evidence to me that God loves me...that He created these mountains to reveal himself to us. And He gave them to us to enjoy and maybe even "conquer." But the process of the whole thing is what still sticks with me. It's not about how long or short it takes to get there, but what you see and experience along the way. Adam was amazing during the whole thing...I really needed him. And that was good for me. In those moments of fear, he comforted and supported me.
So, as we hiked back down and back to the trail head we were amazed at this whole thing. And that's when Adam said "it's like taking a knife to a gun fight." That's kind of what we did when we SUMMITED Long's Peak.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jackie Chan

Hello Friends!!
greetings from Boulder, Colorado. I just wanted to write a super quick note to say hey and let y'all know we've made it safe to CO. it was a long trip, but great! Lots to share...and we will. Internet access is sparse and so the updates aren't coming as often as I'd hoped.

We are in now Boulder staying at The Boulder Mountain Lodge (great spot) and heading to Rocky Mountain National Park in the morning for our 3 day/2 night backcountry stay and attempt at Long's Peak.

Oh, and I'm watching some Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson movie as Adam sleeps soundly. We will post pictures soon and tell you more about our trip through 6 states!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Colorado or Bust

At the end of this week Adam and I are packing up the Subaru and heading out west.  We are both excited!! Ultimately we are going because I have an assignment as a Head Leader at Frontier Ranch...one of YL's most amazing camps.  But we are taking a week to drive out there and backpack/camp/explore and whatever else comes our way.  It does feel a bit stressful to pack for 5 weeks and for two different kinds of trips.  

In addition I've been packing up my desk/office because when I come back my boss and I will have new office space (eventually).   

So, this week definitely feels crazy, but I am excited about what is coming up!!!  Now that I've figured out Picasa we will be posting some of our pics.  Plus we got a sweet new camera!! So, get excited!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wild & Wonderful

West Virginia means more to me than poverty and coal mining. I was actually born in West Virginia. I usually follow that up by saying "but I didn't live there long." Either way, it's my birthplace. And as I drove up 77 through NC and VA into WV yesterday, I was flooded with memories. I am so glad they changed the welcome sign back to "wild & wonderful" as opposed to the recent "open for business" tag line. Clearly West Virginia is wild & wonderful...and it's the most beautiful drive!

As I jammed out to Indigo Girls and Rosie Thomas with the windows down and felt the mountain breeze I was reminded of times long ago when my family would make the trip from SC to WV annually. I loved coming to WV to visit my family. And I actually enjoyed the road trip...even if it was filled with "if you cross this line I'll hit you," "If you hit me, I'll pinch you" and so on. The joys of siblings! But what I remember most are the sights and smells. In the fall, the drive up 77 is breathtaking! Rainbows of oranges, reds, yellows and greens. Even at a young age I was in awe of the glory of God's creation. As we entered VA to begin climbing the mountains I remember looking over the edge and seeing the stars. I was scared to get to close to the window for fear of falling out. Then there was the smell of cigars. I loved sitting in the far back seat of our old gray station wagon with my dad and the window down as he puffed on his cigar. Being a part of a large family meant eating on the road...literally. We'd stop at these gorgeous overlooks and eat lunch out of a cooler. I loved that...it was frugal, not cheap. right? But the best treat was DQ! They weren't around the south when I was a kid, so when we hit Charleston, WV we would beg and plead for a Peanut Buster Parfait.

Those memories came flooding back to me as I zipped around curves, hit the West Virginia Turnpike and paid my tolls in change, and caught glimpses of the same mountains I saw as a child. They are still BIG. And this time of year they are mostly green. It's a beautiful sight. But, the best part of the trip was arriving. Usually we went straight to Wheeling at the very tip of the state to visit my dad's big Italian family. I loved it. The smell of my grandparents' house, the endless supply of food, and the noise. Now it's a lot quieter up here. I don't make the trip as often as I'd like. But, I am so thankful for the memories that play like a movie in my mind.

If you ever get a chance, take a drive up 77. You can always stop at the Tamarack (exit 45) for food & crafts!! www.tamarackwv.com

Friday, June 13, 2008

First Thoughts

Welcome to our Blog. This is the first post on our first blog...so there will be more to come. This is just to get it started.