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Summer 2014

July 17, 2014 — 2 Comments
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Our sweet friend, Leslie, gave us this book after we lost Sam. It made me cry and cry, of course!

It’s been quite a summer, really.

Six weeks ago today, we said goodbye to our sweet Sam. It’s still sad when I think about that day. Or when I still reach down to pet the top of his head when I’m sitting at the table. Or when I think about getting home to let him out. Or when I’m left with a piece of sandwich I can’t finish. We do still miss him, but like grief usually does, it gets better every day. In the place where we buried him, Jason has created a beautiful garden with flowers and a bird bath.

The week we lost Sam, we took time slowly. We worked few hours and spent lots of time at home. Jonas was with us (and his friend, Chris, who is part of our family).

But since then, time has gone very quickly and there have been a lot of things going on. Vacation Bible School, a family camping trip with Jeff and Stefanie to the Turkey Run Area (Indiana), the High School Mission Trip to New Jersey, the Middle School Mission Trip to Paducah, KY, various adventure weekends for Jason, a trip to backpack in Medicine Bow, Wyoming for Jason, a trip to Biloxi with his mother for Jonas, time spent with much loved friends and family, and several evenings spent in our kayaks on local bodies of water.

camping familyIt’s been a bit of a blur! A really fun blur. A blur filled with knowledge of God’s goodness in our lives. But a blur, for sure! When this summer is over, Jason and I will have spent more nights apart than together in the June-August window. I still have my 2 week school intensive and he still has a trip to the Boundary Waters. We will spend our 12th anniversary 400 miles away from each other as it will happen during my time at UDTS.

During the high school mission trip, my first University of Dubuque Theological Seminary “class” started. It was an online orientation (no credit, of course) to help us get used to using the online system and give us a chance to meet our classmates, I’m enjoying it very much. Also, this summer, I’ve been dealing with financial aid, buying books and preparing to do my first August intensive. I’ll take three classes in August: Theological Research (1 credit), Foundations of Christian Worship (3 credits) and I’ll meet daily with a Spiritual Formation Group (1 credit). Yesterday, I got my first pre-load assignments for both my Worship and Spiritual Formation classes. Because I’ll kayak beckyonly have two weeks on campus, the August and January sessions will require a two week pre-load and a two week post-load, meaning that class actually starts before I leave and continues even after I get back. The assignments this very first time include a lot of reading, a 5-7 page paper, some journaling and some memorization.

I’m anxious, excited, and terrified. But ready or not, it’s time to get busy. I realize that for the next four years, life will always include homework, papers, books, memorization, critical thinking, bibliographies, lectures, exams, discussion and everything else that goes along with a Masters degree. I also hope it will be full of deep conversation, deep understanding and interaction with Scripture and theologians, ancient and modern, and deep relationships with my classmates near and far.

A lot will happen in the next four years, just as a lot has happened in the previous four years.

But for now, I’m sipping a second cup of coffee, looking out at a beautiful day, and getting ready to crack open a brand new book!

 

Photo Credit: Nibby Priest (taken in Church Fellowship Hall)

Photo Credit: Nibby Priest (taken in Church Fellowship Hall)

(…or any group fitness class.)

You probably know that for the last one and a half years, I’ve been participating in Zumba classes that are held at Presbyterian Church in downtown Henderson KY. Three instructors teach in the gym at the church on Mondays (5:30 p.m.), Tuesdays (5:30 and 6:35 p.m.) and Saturdays (9:00 a.m.).

Almost all of the participants are women. Many are mothers. Some bring their children with them to Zumba. Sometimes the kids play in an attached classroom, but sometimes they watch or participate in the class. The instructors are very gracious, and I think it’s great when kids are there.

Yes, it’s great because they are exercising and kids exercising is a “win.” Yes, it’s great because they are learning some basis dance moves (cha cha, mambo, salsa, single single double). But it’s also great because they are seeing something they don’t get to see everywhere: women of all ages and body types, of all abilities and inabilities doing something fun and healthy.

We worry about daughters in our society. The media available to them is often full of air-brushed and plastic body parts. We worry that they’ll try to obtain something that’s impossible–the perfection that only comes with personal trainers, personal chefs, personal plastic surgeons and Photoshop.

In my Zumba classes on Tuesday night (I took 1.5 classes on Tuesday), there were several children present. At one point, there was a part of a song where we were all facing the north wall of the gym and shaking it. I mean, that’s the instruction: face that wall and shake it out. Bodies of all types, created by God and beautiful in each one’s own way, shook and moved. Young and old, short and tall, thin and curvy, full of energy and exhausted after a day at work or at home. Women, who got up that morning and themselves may have looked in the mirror and made a face because what they saw was not the impossible perfection they wished the were seeing, were smiling and shaking and laughing and encouraging each other.

When you take your daughter to Zumba, she gets a different message than the traditional media gives. She sees real bodies,none of them completely alike, being strong and healthy. She sees real women, some of whom she may look like when she grows up, doing something fun and energetic. She learns that “normal” isn’t airbrushed, and “perfect” isn’t impossible. She sees that “healthy” involves laughter, that “strong” can mean trying something new and that no body moves exactly the same way.

When you take your daughter to Zumba, she may just be learning to love her own body. And that’s truly a “win.”

Kayak Opening Day

March 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

Today is the day! Spring is here, and despite the threat of snow (again) midweek, we’re getting the kayaks out to paddle them around Audubon Lake this afternoon. Here’s hoping for sunshine and mild temperatures!

Other things happening:

I filled out my enrollment paperwork for UDTS. First day on campus: August 2!

I’m two months wheat free (or mostly wheat free…there was Fat Tuesday when I hate pizza and last weekend when I ate some breaded shrimp on Friday and some dutch oven corn bread on Saturday)!

I get to see Jenny, Zach and baby Samuel this week while they are in Jenny’s hometown visiting her family.

We scheduled our dog, Samson, for surgery in less than two weeks. He has a tumor that needs to be removed. We struggled with whether to put him through surgery at his advanced age, but we’re going to hope it improves his quality of life for the years (God willing) he has left.

I filled out a bracket for March Madness. After yesterday’s games, I’m at 37.3%. Ohio State lost and Harvard won and for some reason I thought Virginia would lose their first game. Basically everyone else in my bracket challenge group picked Virginia to be national champions, so apparently they know something I do not. And I know nothing, actually. It may as well have been a monkey pointing at team logos for all the knowledge and sportiness that went into my bracket.

Wearing the same 7 items of clothing all week has not really bothered me. I am tired of wearing the same pajamas every night. Go figure. Also, my zumba shirt smells like a campfire this morning because I wore it when I sat at the fire pit last night. It is ridiculous that I have over 300 items of clothing in my closet, considering that I sincerely do not spend a lot of time worrying about my clothing. I’ve been working to pull items to donate and box up items to save.

I’m floundering in the EmptyShelf Challenge. I’m mid-way through so many books. I need to finish some and move on!

In addition to kayaking this afternoon, tonight we are grilling out for the first time this season.

Hope you have a sunny Saturday, wherever you are!

What’s a Picture Worth?

March 17, 2014 — 1 Comment

I sat on the back of the borrowed four-wheeler, leaning into my husband as we pulled to a stop.

“Cut the engine,” Jerry, the driver of the second ATV advised. Four of us (Ashley was the fourth) sat in silence for a moment.

It was twilight in Pike State Forest and the landscape was beautiful. The day had been full of sunshine and the afternoon had not required a jacket. We could see the sun setting and the moon rising. The land also rose and fell all around us. We were at a high point and we could see a good distance.

It was a beautiful. More beautiful than I would have expected when we went off road just half a mile back.

Jerry broke the silence. “They call this place [explicit name for a specific sexual act] Hill,” He explained. “And if you want to know why…”

The quick reply from the rest of us was, “We don’t!”

The ride was bumpy, too fast in some places, too slow in others, muddy and fun. We ended up at the banks of the Patoka River. We stood together, shooting the breeze, talking about what it was like there in summer (overrun with mosquitoes, apparently) and telling stories about toboggans and weird dreams the full moon brought, of all things.

At some point, we decided to head back. Both vehicles required headlights for the return trip. Over tree limbs and through mud puddles, in and out ruts forged before us, up and down hills to the main road, where we sped through the darkness faster than I was comfortable riding, but not fast enough to keep up with the vehicle in front of us. Taking the wrong turn at a fork in the road, we found our way to an old fire tower. Realizing our mistake, we turned around and headed back the other direction and found our way to our friend James’ house.

Several times during the hour or so we were gone, I thought, I wish I had a camera. I had left my phone behind because I didn’t want to break or lose it on the bumpy ride. It’s not every day…or any day except this one, really, that I get splattered with mud riding on the back of a four-wheeler. Or that I have such a beautiful vantage point at sunset. Or that I get to spend an hour holding tight to Jason while we ride around river bottoms.

What is a picture worth, anyway? I think about how important our cameras have become. Yes, they capture memories, but they also get instagrammed and facebooked so we can let our friends (the world) know what we’re doing. I love sharing pictures of fun moments and interesting things and I love seeing the pictures and interesting things that are shared by others.

Every time I thought about my left-behind camera, I stopped myself and soaked up the memory and thought about what I might miss by looking at the evening through a camera lens or fooling with photo apps on my phone. I love photographs and the memories they secure…but sometimes I think about the things pictures can’t capture. Those are things I don’t want to miss.

Breathe deeply. Enjoy where you are now completely. Live life in all its muddy grandeur fully.

Never, Never, Never Give Up

January 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

GS Cards 023These ten Girl Scouts are amazing.

When they had to think of a project to “take action” after they worked through a series about friendships, bullying and self-esteem, they all agreed: they wanted to do something to help kids who might be bullied at their school. I think that’s awesome.

Their solution? Give each student in their school some uplifting words. They picked out quotes they wanted to share, we printed them on card stock and then the troop personalized each one. All eight hundred of them had the words, “From your friendly Girl Scout Troop.” (It took them twenty minutes to agree on that phrase.)

So, they picked quotes, wrote their message, attached a small magnet to each one, had a meeting with the principal and brought notes to school so they could stay after yesterday.

Here’s something: there are about 700 students in the school.

Here’s another thing: there are about 1,100 lockers in the same school.

This created some adversity we had to overcome. We divided into four groups and, of course, ran out of cards in all of the sections very quickly. We had enough cards for all of the students, but not for all of the lockers. In some cases, it was easy to tell if a locker was unoccupied. In other cases, we had no idea. Pretty soon we discovered that the seventh grade hall only uses the top lockers, so we fixed that by taking back all of the bottom locker cards. Then we tried to cover sixth and seventh grade and figured we’d make it up to the eighth graders later.

GS Cards 012But that didn’t seem right to some of the girls. We said we were going to do the whole school. Why would we quit until we figured out a way to do it?

So they figured out a way. I know I was ready to just throw up my hands and call it a day, but I learned a good lesson instead. There’s usually a way and there are usually people who are willing to help if you tell them what you need.

We are thankful for the ladies who were working in the library with a group of students this afternoon. They helped us copy some of our cards so we could finish our project. It wasn’t the same–the copied cards were white and had no magnets. They were kind of crookedly copied and crookedly cut (I’ll take credit for that), but every student in the school has a card hanging 1/4 of the way out of his or her locker this morning and that was the dream.

Feeling beaten down todayt? Here are a few of Troop 1884’s quotes!

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” J.K. Rowling via her character Albus Dumbledore

“You’re Worth More Than Gold!”

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

“The greatest thing that you will ever accomplish has not happened yet.” unknown

“When you get into a tight place and everything seems against you, and you think you cannot hold on any longer, don’t give up then. That is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

A quote we could have included:

“Never, never, never give up.” Winston Churchill

Weekend Adventurer

September 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

This weekend was full of adventure…as it seems so many of our weekends have been as of late.

On Friday Night, we went to Hovey Lake and met up with a group from our Adventure Club. Yes, that’s right. Somehow, I’ve become probably the least adventurous member of the Evansville Adventure Club. Mostly I joined because I like kayaking and the occasional bike adventure and I was tired of being Jason’s +1 on every trip.

We kayaked Hovey Lake in the dark.

Photo Credit: Chris Norrick

Photo Credit: Chris Norrick

Hovey Lake in the daytime is probably really pretty. We caught a glimpse of it while there was still some daylight, but for the most part, our evening was lit by the waxing gibbous moon and our head lamps. And a lantern that Jason left onshore at the dock so we could find our way back to shore. Of course, before we came back to shore, some jerkface came along and stole our lantern. Luckily some in the club have better navigation skills than yours truly or it’s likely we’d have been in Hovey Lake until dawn’s early light.

Hovey Lake at night is creepy. There are cypress trees growing all over the lake (in the water). There are also cypress tree stumps that one’s kayak will roll right over before one realizes she’s about to hit them. Asian Carp jumped around our boats (over our boats, near our boats, but thankfully never in our boats) and created excitement.

It was fun. And I love kayaking, so I sucked it up and braved the creepiness.

Around 11:00 on Friday night, we were home, unloading the boats and Jeff and Stefanie arrived at our house. They came to help with Mom’s yard sale yesterday morning and to participate in the Riverbend Academy Art On The Ohio 5K. This is a race that I helped organize. I served as the Volunteer coordinator.

Stefanie and Jeff running through the Pink station.

Stefanie and Jeff running through the Pink station.

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Photo Credit: Gisele Purdy

Color 5Ks or Color Runs are fun because as you run the race course, volunteers squeeze and throw color on the runners. You start the race in white. You end the race in rainbow. Obviously this is not only fun for the participants, but it’s fun to volunteer for anything that involves attacking strangers for a good cause.

Here is a picture of the committee that coordinated this race. I only really knew Abbie (far left) before we started meeting several months ago, but the rest of these people (Megan, AJ, Steve, Karrie and Tiffany) have become friends as well.

Photo Credit: Matt Mortis/Abbie Grove

Photo Credit: Matt Mortis/Abbie Grove

Jason’s business sponsored the Yellow station, so he had a group of people working with him to apply yellow powder to race participants.

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The Color Throw Countdown after the race

The Color Throw Countdown after the race

Last night, it was time to sit by a fire in our backyard fire pit with family and friends. This morning, we worshiped together and I taught children’s Sunday School–a true adventure if there ever was one. Jason spent the day fixing every little problem in the house (with a little electrical help from Jeff before he and Stefanie left to head north), for which I am grateful.

How was your weekend?

Our Fire Pit

May 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

IMG_3761There has always been something so wonderful about a fire. Not a forest fire or a house fire or an out of control, wreaking havoc kind of fire, of course.

But a campfire.

I love the smell of wood burning. I love the embers glowing. I love the flames dancing around.

Our backyard here in The Hills is wonderful. It has a secluded feeling (even though we have a neighbor on either side) and we’ve worked to make it simple, yet relaxing. A hammock, a swing on the patio, a grill, a table and chairs, bird feeders and a garden…. There are trees for shade, yet plenty of sunshine. Open spaces for cornhole and tag when kids visit and a tree that’s perfect for climbing. It’s fenced in, which means that the dog (or visiting children) can run without us worrying so much about any dangers lurking in the street or beyond our property lines. It’s a comfortable place to sit and read or chat or meditate.

Now we have a fire pit.

And we’ve been using the heck out of it since it appeared in our yard less than a month ago.

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We expect to get lots more use out of this wonderful addition to our yard this summer. If you’re driving through the hills and you smell a wood fire, stop and visit! We’ll add a chair to the circle!

 

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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20

 

Tuesday Ten: My Sister

October 16, 2012 — Leave a comment

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My sister, Carly, is more awesome than your sister. But not more awesome than Carly’s sister. Here are 10 things about Carly Jane:

1. My sister is 4 years younger than me. That means she is thirty (30).

2. For the first 12 years of her life, she had a share a bedroom with me. It was torture. I was the neat one and it was her fault our room was always messy.

3. Currently, Carly lives in Asheville. With someone named Villain.

4. When I was 12 and she was 8 and we got our first dog, she begged and pleaded for us to agree to name him “Trousers.” We did not. (We named him Bojo. Discuss amongst yourselves whether that’s any better.)

5. When choosing a college, Carly was SMART. She spent 4 years living on the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida.

6. Carly is a BLOCKER for the Blue Ridge Roller Girls.

7. My sister can crush you. But she probably won’t because she’s really super sweet and nice.

8. My sister’s partner is a girl named Jessie. Jessie is pretty fantabulous.

9. She has a new hobby! Geocaching! (oops, that may have been my fault.)

10. She does amazing stuff and I love her! She’s my favorite sister!

 

Asheville!

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

Today, I spent a few hours with my sister and her partner, Jessie, in Asheville! It was so fun and Asheville is beautiful. We ate lunch at Neo Burrito and then went downtown and wandered around.

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There are lots of fun sculptures. Here’s Carly with an iron:

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And while we were at lunch, I started to tell them all about how Jonas and I have been geocaching, and they were all–NO WAY! We’re expert geocachers! …

Okay, that’s a lie.

But I was such an exciting geocaching storyteller (my only conclusion), that Carly really, really, really, really wanted to find a geocache. Not surprising, there were tons in Asheville. So we found 4 of them.

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This Sculpture itself was a cache called “Paley’s Passion.”

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Then, I realized, “Hey, I don’t have my car keys!”

Then I said, “But I’m not going to panic.”

And then, on the inside, I panicked.

We drove back to Neo Burrito and found my keys! They were in the ignition of my LOCKED car.

Which means I had to hire this guy from ACME Locksmith to break into my car for me.

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Oh well. Even waiting 30 minutes to pay a bunch of money to a locksmith is more fun when it’s spent in Asheville with Carly and Jessie!