Friday, November 30, 2012

Applauding all parents

Hello friends.  It is Friday night, and not quite 9pm and I am about to write a post informing why all good parents ought to be applauded, congratulated, offered prizes and large sums of money - something to reward them for all the hard hard work that they do.

Last week Lindsay asked if I was free on a few different dates, one of them being tonight.  She asked if I could watch the boys while her and Rob ran some errands and had date night.  I was free and agreed. I remembered how much I loved doing crafts and projects when I was a kid, so I searched Pinterest and found a cute idea - to use brown paint and use the children's feet and hands to create a reindeer.  The fabric squares are to be sewn into pillows and cherished forever.  Seemed simple enough.  The key word there being "seemed."

So Rob and Lindsay finish up dinner with us all and after some encouraging, head out the door (there's always one more thing to do before leaving, isn't there?).  So I had told the boys there was a secret surprise for them and I started getting things ready.  Whilst playing some kid friendly Christmas music from Pandora, which included far too many Chipmunks' songs, I said "no" or "maybe" to the boys' guesses as they guessed what their secret surprise was.

So finally I filled them in on what the game plan was and there were mixed thoughts - things like, oh...pillows?  I promised it'd be cool after it was done.  Oh and how could I forget that throughout all this, Kian, the almost two year old, is screaming and crying and refuses to stop.  He keeps asking for mom or dad.  While this is going on Brayden (oldest at 8) calls mom, probably telling her I'm an awful babysitter and have no idea how to take control.  I talk to her and she suggests a bottle.  Kian normally only gets one bottle in the morning.  After a bit more screaming and carrying on, I gave in and warmed up a bottle.  It was like magic, he stopped crying and forgot about mom and dad.  Ha, awesome.

Throughout the chaos of Kian carrying on, I attempt to explain to the boys the process of covering one foot with paint while not getting paint on anything else.  That proved to be quite unsuccessful.  I think I might have overestimated the dexterity skills of children.  Oops.  We had a garbage bag on the kitchen floor to lay the fabric squares out, and plastic bags for each kid to stick their foot in, post paint.  I wouldn't say it was quite a "disaster" but it was definitely not an easy process.  The boys didn't always have the best aim with their feet and some were upset that their reindeer head wasn't centered like Brayden's was (at 8, he had pretty good aim for the center of the square).  I tried to turn that into a teachable moment about how its good to be different, it makes one's project special and it makes it yours, it'd be boring if they all looked the same, etc, etc.

After attempting to corral them into the bathroom to wash their feet, and after getting Kian to calm down, we moved on to the hands.  This process was a lot easier as it could be done at the table and they didn't need help for it.  After they were done and found out that's all there was for the project (as they need to dry before we glue on the google-y eyes, add the red noses, and before I sew them together), they were kinda bummed at how lame that was.  Then I told them to find something fun to do, and that we'd have bedtime snack in an hour (which would be at 7pm).

{this post might continue to be a bit lengthy...I apologize!}

So Langston starts coloring, Brayden gets frustrated because he can't get the game system he wants to play to work, and Benson is playing on his Leapster while I find a book and read to Kian.  All is going well, for the moment.  I ask the boys if any of them want to dance to the Christmas music with me.  None of them did, so I danced by myself in the kitchen.  Kian must have thought that was fun, so he joined me.  He at one point licked my left thigh.  Do jeans taste good to little kids or something?  It made me laugh.  Benson joins the dancing, but then wants to color like big brother Langston.

Langston and Benson get in a tiff about who gets to color what Transformer picture, blah blah blah.  I try my best to pacify.  Oh and earlier, Brayden was playing what I think was Wii Golf, and kept getting really mad at himself.  At one point, he had a turkey.  But after he missed one pin, he started getting really hard on himself.  He would restart the entire round if he missed only one pin.  He was really quite mad.  He said he wanted to get all 10 strikes.  I tried to explain to him that not everyone's perfect and that one should play to have fun.  He stated that he was not having fun, that he was trying but that it was impossible.  He said that yesterday he was awesome and that he was playing terribly tonight.  I know Brayden likes football and I started the topic of how even pro football players have "off nights."  He went into some story about Denard, who I am guessing is a football player, but yeah.  The story didn't really work and he continued to be frustrated.

So a bit before 7pm, I get out the cinnamon graham crackers and some peanut butter.  I put pb on some and leave some without.  I tell the boys its bedtime snack time.  They eat.  And eat.  And eat.  It's like they hadn't seen food in days, when we had just finished dinner at around 5:15.  My goodness.  Brayden says he wants to make liquid chocolate like mom does sometimes.  He told me how they melt chocolate chips.  I oblige and he starts the process.  Oh yeah, did I mention that at one point during the night, he grabs a rather large knife from the knife block to cut up a kiwi?  I only knew this because while I was trying to calm down the screaming Kian in the other room, one of the other boys tattled on him.  I'm glad they did!

Yes, so back to the chocolate chips.  Brayden puts some chips in a mug and starts microwaving.  I take the massive bag of chips away because he just kept pouring.  I turn my head for one moment and before I know it, he had added about another half cup of chocolate chips.  He said mom always uses two cups of chocolate chips.  Right Brayden.

After much chocolate melting and everyone seems relatively satisfied.  I announce its time to get ready for bed.  The three youngest go to bed around 7:30 and Brayden at 8.  Langston heads up first and as I am rounding up Benson and literally 30 seconds after Langston heads up, I turn the corner to head up the stairs and what do I see?  Langston is at the top of the stairs with his pants off, underwear pulled down and he is peeing.  Langston is literally peeing down the stairs.  The carpeted stairs.  Oh my goodness.  He claims it was an accident.  He didn't know he had to go to the bathroom.  Mm hmm.  Explain the impish grin then, I think to myself.  Ughh.  How am I going to explain that one to Rob and Lindsay? Ughhhhh...

So I get Kian's diaper changed and put him in bed with his favorite blanket that gets dragged around the house every day.  He screams, cries, and carries on for about a half hour before passing out.  I read a book to Benson and Langston.  It was reallllllly long but it was nice to stop thinking and just read.  I love reading out loud.  Then Langston reads a bit of his chapter book out loud and then it's off to bed.

I go downstairs to tell Brayden to start getting ready for bed.  He throws a fit saying that he earned 3 gold stars today which means he gets to stay up a half hour later.  I have no way to verify this so I ask him to go to bed and that I would talk to his mom and dad when they got home.  This is unacceptable to Brayden.  Thinking on my feet as best as I could before the 8-year-old melts down on me, I offer him a choice:  either go to bed now like I asked or stay up an extra half hour, but no screen time.  Screen time includes computer, TV, video games, etc..  He doesn't like this.  After some moaning and complaining, I'm frustrated so I start the timer on the microwave and say that he has one minute to decide.  The minute passes and without even speaking to me, he's mad, he gets a book and reads on the couch.  Eventually he heads to bed a bit after 8:15.

I head to my room because I'm still in my work clothes at this point.  Before I know it, someone is knocking at my door.  I say "just a minute" but that didn't stop Brayden from coming in.  Thank goodness I was wearing rather large grannie panties and still had my shirt on!  Haha.  Poor kid.  He says he can't sleep because he can't find two of his stuffed animals.  We locate one and after being unable to locate the other, I offer him my teddy bear.  He didn't want it.  At least I tried.  Now, they are all in bed and if not sleeping already, hopefully will be sleeping soon!

Phew.  I cleaned up the table, cleaned the paint off the kitchen floor, swept, and tried my best to undo the damage of the night.  I am exhausted.

Props to all the good parents out there!  You are all rock stars.  I'm still excited to by a mom someday, but WOW, not for a while.

I'll write more about the rest of my life later, like shooting guns for the first time and other items of fun, but for now...back to the dishes.

Love you all!

UPDATE:  Moments after publishing this post, Rob and Lindsay got home.  I started to fill them in on the night and warned them that the stairs might be wet and might smell like urine in case I missed some spots when cleaning it up.  Lindsay immediately gets Langston out of bed to talk about it.  Rob, Lindsay, and Langston talk for five or ten minutes and I'm washing dishes throughout this, hearing him whimper and I kind of feel like a tattle-tale in middle school or something.

A few moments later, I hear shuffling and Langston, head down, is approaching me.  After 15 minutes with coaching and support/frustration from Rob and Lindsay, Langston, teary eyed and embarrassed, apologized to me for being disrespectful and peeing down the stairs.  It was hard - for me!  Ha.  I say that only because he was kind of pitiful looking and he must have been terrified.  I mean, I'm an "adult' (or something?) and he was embarrassed because he knew that what he did was wrong.  Anyway, Rob and Lindsay are awesome.  They are just so incredibly awesome.  I am definitely learning some awesome techniques for parenting down the road someday, and for marriage too.  I am so blessed to be where I'm at right now.  Praise God for this family!  For opening their doors, and their arms, and welcoming me into their home and their family.  I praise you Lord for life's miracles!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My God is so good!

Whew.  It has been a couple of weeks since I last checked in.  Let me fill you in a bit.  When I last wrote, I filled you in on the escapade of my brief jaunt to California and the job offer that brought me back home immediately.

The job has started, today was the start of week two of training.  Thankfully I am training in first shift (9-4 or 8-5, depending on what our training schedule dictates).  It's nice to be working every day and feeling like a productive member of society, and working within my field.

My first two days last week I shadowed.  I was given my official headset for taking calls.  [A reminder for those who I might not explained this to - my job is basically to answer phone calls when anyone in the state of Michigan calls to report abuse or neglect of a child or a vulnerable adult.  I pick up the phone, ask and record all of the important details, names, dates, ages, bruises/signs of abuse or neglect, addresses, any possible detail concerning the alleged abuse/neglect.  My titles is "Centralized Intake Specialist" and I work for DHS CPS (Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services) in their office in Grand Rapids.]

So Monday and Tuesday me and my other two cohorts being trained for CI (Centralized Intake) were matched with different people and we basically just listened in like flies on a wall to the workers taking complaints and watched how they handled conversations, what kinds of questions they asked, and how they maneuvered the many complex computer programs/systems.  Fun!  And I'm not even kidding!  From what I've observed, it seems like it's going to be a great fit for me!  I get to talk to people, hear their story, listen for details, and organize it all in a report!  I love being organized, I love people, I love details - plus sometimes I get to do a bit of investigation/research on various families - which is interesting to me too.  I have good feelings about this.

Then on Wednesday we started the State mandated Child Welfare Training Institute.  In 2008 a children's rights group sued the State of Michigan and as part of that settlement, we have a pretty intensive and long training - which I am grateful for because I get to know the ins and outs of DHS-CPS.  The training is more geared for CPS workers, but it's been really interesting so far.

Wednesday and Thursday we focused on Forensic Interviewing (interviewing child victims) and then Friday was focused on interviewing alleged adult perpetrators to get their story - and hopefully the truth.  While it was all interesting and very informative - it was pretty rough and brutal at times as well.  Thursday focused on CSC (criminal sexual conduct) and we heard a lot of actual case studies.  Our trainer was a CPS Investigator for 12 years!  You have to be pretty darn tough to last that long in the CPS field, especially investigative!  So that was pretty brutal for me.  Then Friday was worse.  We focused on an actual child fatality that occurred in Michigan in 2004.  We saw video footage of the house where it occurred, as well as video footage of the perpetrator trying to explain away the death of the 4-year-old boy, and 26 photographs, most of which were different angles of the deceased and bloody innocent child after he had passed.  It was pretty horrific.  The girl sitting next to me seemed to be near tears for most of this part of the day.  I had to work really hard to not get emotional, but I did feel nauseous for most of the day.  Ugh... it just makes me sick what people are capable of doing to innocent children.  I won't go into the gruesome details because I don't really want to think about it too much, but it was quite gruesome, let me tell you that...

Then today (Monday) we discussed mostly Child Welfare Policy.  It was interesting and our teacher today was engaging and full of personality and spunk.  So I am excited to continue to learn from her.  She's feisty and I like it!  Haha.

So that's work.  I don't get my first paycheck for another couple of weeks, so that's kind of rough.  My parents and church from SJ has been super generous, as well as my church here in GR - Ada Bible Church.  Someone from the church I grew up in in St. Joe lent my parents a manual beater on it's last leg so that my parents would be able to lend me their dependable Jeep.  A fantastic Ada Bible staff (thanks so much Debbie Jo!) drove me to and from work a few times last week as well as Lindsay, John, and one of Lo's nursing friends, Annie - and now I have the use of the Jeep for a bit - so that has been suuuper helpful.  I am so truly blessed!  I have been looking into buying a car but until I have a paycheck or two or three under my belt - its not really something I can look into all that seriously.

Also - if you remember - I have free housing!  I moved in a little over a week ago (the Saturday before I started work) in with Rob and Lindsay Freidhoff and their four boys.  They are an amazing family!  I can gush about them for a long time.  Rob and Lindsay are so full of love and generosity and their faith and trust in the Lord oozes in their every action and word.  I am so incredibly blessed to be living with them.  They have four boys - 8, 6, 3 (almost 4), and 1.5  Such fun ages!  They are busy boys, but I feel like I am just one of the family and I love them all.  Lindsay and I have had some great conversations already.  One night we were up until nearly 1am just getting to know each other, and Lindsay was so encouraging yet wasn't afraid to tell me what she thought concerning different topics.  She's just so incredible and such a role model for me.  I'm loving living here and I feel like this is home and I have been here only just over a week!  Thank you God!

I can't end this post without mentioning my Johnny boy as well.  He is and has been such a huge support to me.  We celebrated 1.5 years together on October 23rd.  And what a wonderful 1.5 years it has been!  He is so good to me.  We are just so good together.  I definitely got spoiled living so close to him for so long (2 minute walk if you cut through a yard/two).  This past week we carved pumpkins during the week and then we hung out a ton over the weekend.  I got to go to my first college football game!  We went to Ferris State's game where John's cousin Alex plays.  It was fun to watch, plus I caught a t-shirt being thrown into the crowd!  Haha.  Yay free stuff!  (It's an XL so I'm going to have to sew it smaller, but who cares, it's free!).  So yeah, I know we're still going to have fun even if we won't see each other every day - and we'll cherish our time together more I'd imagine.  But it's still going to be an adjustment for sure.

You might have noticed that this post isn't including anything from the #abcntc.  I am unfortunately way waaay behind.  I have read a bit since my last post but I am a couple weeks behind.  I have the day off tomorrow and am hoping to get a good chunk read.  But I don't know how much that will actually be as I have to work on continuing to unpack and move in yet.  So we'll see how far I actually get.  I really enjoyed Jeff's sermon from this past weekend about keeping verses in one's satchel.  You should definitely watch/listen to it via the Ada Bible website.  It was really powerful for me as far as having certain Bible verses to fight temptation in different life scenarios!

On a side note - I was in an Ada video that they showed during a service one weekend.  It just so happened to be the weekend that I was in California and I didn't know I was in it until a bit later.  I contacted the guy in charge of media (he was my small group leader at one point) and he sent me the video.  I'm posting it so that you can see it too!  ...  Okay I tried to post it but am unable to figure out how.  If you want to see it - give me your email address and perhaps I can email it to you!  It wasn't all that exciting, it was just cool to know they used some of my footage!  Haha.  But anyway.

It is almost 9:30p.  I am hoping to Skype with JBaby in a bit and then head to bed.  I don't have to work tomorrow (apparently Election Day is a holiday!  Who knew?!) so that's nice.  Thanks for reading guys.  I appreciate you.  If you're in my life - or even if you're not necessarily in my life - I appreciate you.  You are loved!  Remember that.  Sometimes it's easy to get super discouraged and frustrated with life.  I can definitely attest to that!  But just remember that God is so faithful and if he can clothe the fields with beautiful wildflowers and take excellent care of the littlest birds - how much more does he care for you - his child!  He loves you so incredibly much.  Don't you ever forget it!

Let your light shine!  (Product of pumpkin carving with John!)

...And I will leave you with a verse that was encouraging to me when I was at Calvin.

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord.  [Psalm 45:11]

Friday, October 12, 2012

#abtntc Days Four thru Ten + Other Musings

Okay friends, so I'm a bit late.  Today I just finished reading last week's readings.  I know Jeff instructed us to skip the end of a week and start each week fresh, but my love for lists and crossing things off just doesn't permit such actions, haha!  So here's my attempt at catching up the end of the first week and all of week two in one post.  I won't be going as in depth as I have with other readings, but that's okay.  I think I'm just going to stick to the discussion questions this time.

1.  What was new or compelling to you?
--I found encouragement when it said in Acts, "...they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."  Can you imagine never stopping teaching and proclaiming the good news?!  That is so awesome.  What a witness and message to me that I need to be more vocal about my faith.  Yes I believe in living my life in a way that is pleasing to God as an example to others, but I need to be more vocal about my faith as well!  I was reading The Books of the Bible on my break at Biggby and one of the Tom's employees asked me what I was reading.  It was such a cool thing and a good challenge for me to be completely open about my faith.  
--I love how in Acts it says "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."  Amazing.  They are in prison, praying and singing hymns to God.  I can only strive to be that faithful and that much of a witness!
--In 1 Thessalonians I liked how Paul, Silas, and Timothy refer to their care of the people of Thessalonica as nursing mothers, and as a father deals with his own children.  How neat - what a cool relationship that is.  I hope that as I continue to grow in my faith and knowledge of the Lord, I too can encourage others in that way.

2.  What questions did you have?
--In Luke it discusses divorce and how if anyone divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.  What does that mean for our modern world today?  What if someone divorces their spouse who was abusive?  Or unfaithful?  Or...a number of other seemingly valid reasons?  Hmm...
--This is more just a thought of "wow, I had no idea this happened in this Bible!" kind of thought.  In Acts "an angel of the Lord struck him (Herod) down, and he was eaten by worms and died."  It sounds like the making of a good and creepy movie, one that John would probably like!  :)

3.  What did you learn about God?
--God is so merciful and just.  Rereading when Jesus was on the cross next to the criminal and Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise" - I just think how awesome is our God that while saving all of humanity past present and future, he saves a criminal dying on a cross for the crimes he's committed.  What an awesome reminder.
--In 2 Thessalonians it says "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."  I didn't know that was in the Bible, and I guess I had never thought about that being God's ideas on the matter of work, but I like that it's in there and I like that I read it and am reminded of my responsibility to work.

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
--I learned that I love songs and can remember song lyrics way better than any scripture memorization!  I loved reading in Acts "For in him we live and move and have our being."  In my head I totally started belting out that song with those lyrics from church growing up.  Love it!

5.  How might this change the way you live?
--I liked in Acts how "So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off."  My church in St. Joe does this - they lay hands on people or groups going on missions trips before they leave and bless their work.  I think we need to do this in more day-to-day life!  What a cool thing!  Hopefully I can and will integrate this in my life as well.
--I love reading that verse in 1 Thessalonians where it says, " Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" - what an amazing reminder!  Also a few verses later it says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  Amen.

Better than money, sweeter than honey, is the word of God!
Check out this beautiful ocean pic from my trip to California!

Alright, so the past two weeks have been insane.  A bit of a whirlwind, to say the least.  Friday, October 5th, John drove me at the crack of dawn (5am) to East Lansing where I hopped on the Megabus.  The driver got lost but we eventually got to Detroit where my good college friend Alyssa and her daughter picked me up.  We spent the day together before she took me to the airport and I flew to LAX where my cousin Brook picked me up.

Saturday, October 6th was a busy day!  Brook and I woke up, grabbed coffee and started our day of doing touristy things.  We first went to Santa Monica, which is where the ocean pic is from, walked around, walked the pier, then headed to Hollywood.  In Hollywood we grabbed Sprinkles cupcakes and Sprinkles ice cream before we ventured down Rodeo Drive.  We walked around ooh-ing and aah-ing at all of the expensive things (I even tried on rings at Tiffany's!), and then headed back to her condo.  We changed clothes and picked up her boyfriend and went to dinner.  After eating delicious Chinese food, we went to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride!  I cannot believe I did not pee my pants.  It was so fun though!  We had two celebrity spottings - the main blonde actress from American Beauty (which I haven't seen) Mena Suvari and Elvira "Mistress of the Dark" - haha - also had never heard of her, but whatevs!  :)

October 6th marks 3 years of growth and 3 years of God's provision.  I won't go into great detail but I do want to say that God is faithful and cares for his children greatly, me being one of them.  No tears were shed on October 6th this year.  I did remember throughout the day how blessed I am and how far I have come from 3 years ago.  Thank you Lord!  My God is so awesome.

Next was Sunday, October 7th where Brook and I headed to Disneyland for the day and met up with her friends!  What a day!  Disneyland's claim to fame of being "the happiest place on earth" isn't lying! Okay well I don't know if that's true, but once I stepped foot onto the property, I was as giddy as a little girl.  It was so fun!  I absolutely love Disney and enjoyed every moment of being in such a magical place.  :)  We got to ride rides and try on different mouse ears.  Oh man, so fun!  We were exhausted by the end having had two very full days.

Monday, October 8th was relaxing and wonderful.  Brook had to work and so I stayed at her condo.  Brook's roommate drove me so I could hang out at Starbucks which was nice.  I just relaxed and drank good coffee.  I loved it!  I walked home in the beautiful sunshine!  When Brook got back we hung out and talked for a good hour or two and then went to the grocery store to get stuff for tacos and chocolate peanut butter pie, oh and wine too!  What a night.  We ate yummy tacos, I made Red Ball Jet's chocolate peanut butter pie and we dined like queens.  We watched a few episodes of Modern Family and then both went to bed.

Tuesday, October 9th is when the "fun" began.  What a day Tuesday was.  I talked to John on his lunch break lamenting my financial situation.  Brook's roommate had overheard me being upset and after I got off the phone, asked me if I was okay.  I was in the middle of talking with her and literally had just gotten done saying "I just need a job" - the words were hanging in the air, when my phone rang.  It was a job offer!  The one I reallllly wanted!  I had applied for this one in July, interviewed for it on August 30th and here it was, October 9th and they were offering it to me!  Since it's a state job, they said I needed to take a drug test within 24 hours.  I told them I was in California, they said that wouldn't be a problem, and told me to keep my phone by me for further instruction.  Yay!

So I'm all happy and calling family and friends with the great news when my phone rings again.  They called to tell me they had to rescind the offer.  There was no way for me to take the drug test in California.  I was crushed.  I asked if they could scan or fax it, but apparently they could not.  I asked what if I make it back to Michigan in 24 hours, could I still have the job?  They said yes.  Soooo amidst a good 3-4 hours of tears, I made phone calls, checked the internet and made it back to Michigan!  Ben and Kristen let me borrow their credit card, I booked a flight to Chicago, arrived around 1am Chicago time where mom and dad picked me up, drove to St. Joe, slept for an hour and a half, left for Grand Rapids around 6/6:30am, stopped at John's work where he had brought me my social security card, drove to my new place of employment, filled out some paperwork, drove to the drug testing place, and peed in a cup!  Hooray!  I'm now just waiting for the results and a start date.  :)

I also have free housing lined up in Ada, Michigan.  Through Premier, I met a fantastic couple, Rob and Lindsay, and their four boys.  Last week they offered me a spot in their house, rent free!  What a blessing.  Oh and they go to my church - Ada Bible Church - as well!  

So while I was in California I had left my car with a friend of a friend to look at it for me as it had been making funny noises.  Since I got back earlier than expected, he hadn't had a chance to look at it yet.  So I drove it back to Portland.  I took it to Joe's Auto Service in Portland yesterday to get a diagnosis and an estimate.  The diagnosis?  Not worth fixing. I am car-less.  I really think God is trying to pound into my brain that I just need to rely on him and depend on him for everything.  While I know this, it still just feels like one more thing to add to my to-do list.  I know God will take care of me, but I just want things to go smoothly!  Anyone have a car I can borrow until I have a few paychecks under my belt to start looking at buying one for myself?  My last resort is to bike to work, but since I work third shift starting at 11:30pm, and I will be living about 8 miles from work after I might be a bit dangerous.  But that's my plan for now.  :/

Whew!  Word vomit.  Today has been a good day.  I loaded up last week's sermon that I had missed on my iPhone, grabbed Shelby (Ken & Cindy's dog), and went for 45 minute walk.  It was fantastic.  God is so good to me.  I know things will work out; they always do.  

Thanks for reading guys, if you made it this far.  I love you all and appreciate your encouragement and support in this season of constant change and transition.  I know I just gotta keep trusting and smiling, with two thumbs up as depicted by me in the following picture:

Yeah fun Disney Toy Story hats!  :)

Love always, Emily

Alice Kingsley:  Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
The Mad Hatter:  That is an excellent practice.
     [from 2010 Alice in Wonderland]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#abcntc Day Three

Loving the sky chair out my sliding glass door,
soaking in the fresh air along with God's word.

I wanted to open this post with this picture because reading today's reading was amazing even regardless of the content of the section, simply because, well - look at that!  Beautiful.  I stepped outside of my sliding glass door in the basement where Ken (John's dad) and John had set up a comfy hanging chair for me to use while I'm living there.  It was damp/rainy recently, so the white material you see at the base of the Bible is actually a large garbage bag in which I treated as a quasi-diaper.  I poked two holes in it and slid my legs through so that my clothes wouldn't get wet or dirty.  Ha!  Love it.  But anyway, back to the good stuff - The Books of the Bible!

There was so much good stuff in here.  Wow!  I'm loving it.  Two "theme words" if you will that struck me today were - 1) sacrifice and 2) worry.  Sacrifice was touched on in various parts of today's reading, starting with the first page (page 25) when Jesus talks about leaving everything, not working, not waiting for your family to die so you can bury them, just sacrificing your earthly world to serve our heavenly father.  I also thought the imagery of sending us out like lambs among wolves was so perfect. A familiar verse with a new viewpoint - I am reminded that while I have had a nice life, we are really like lambs among wolves.  There's no woodsman to hack us out of the wolf's stomach - we're not in a Grimm fairy tale...or perhaps we are?  I dunno, I don't feel like getting into folk/literary analysis.  Haha.

So, also touching on the sacrifice, and combining it with the worry aspect, I am brought to the image of Mary and Martha.  Here's Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching.  Then there's Martha scrambling to scrub the floors (or sweep in that time perhaps), maybe checking Pinterest for some amazing recipes to make for dinner (ha, can you imagine?), lighting candles or adding some decor to the house.  And she has the nerve to complain to Jesus because her sister wasn't helping.  Mary sacrificed the cleanliness of the house, the readiness of the meal, to sit and just be in the presence of Jesus, while Martha is just a worried, hurried, mess of complaint and negativity.  Let's all put away our Martha hats and become more like Mary - sit at the feet of Jesus listening to what he's saying to us.  Amen.

It's also good to reread the Lord's prayer.  One thing that I really like that my church from home does is in the bulletin every week, they have a "prayer bookmark."  In it are the prayer requests of church members.  The really neat thing they do is that it's set up in the format of the Lord's prayer.  I wish I had a visual to show you.  It's neat, you'll just have to trust me.

The section of verses that many people know, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  Yes!  I just need to ask, seek, and knock.  Simplistic, yet oh so valuable to be reminded of that.  And from that Jesus talks about how our father in heaven knows how to give such amazing gifts.  {mushy gushy alert} He most certainly does!  I thank God for John Patrick Lawless every day.  And obviously, for my friends and family too.  But as this summer has been a truly tough transitional season in my life, John has been nothing but wonderful, and I am so grateful for his steady, calming, encouraging, joyous presence in my life.  If you're reading this John - thanks for being so wonderful!  :)

Okay, moving on - there's so much in here, man oh man.  Umm, we are to be lights in this world of darkness.  That reminds me of I think it was either the 6th or 7th grade at Trinity growing up when Mrs. Krokker (I think? Or that other lady I can't think of her name...oops) had us singing "You are the salt of the earth" from Godspell (which if you click here you will hear this song and see it with lyrics too - youtube is a wonderful thing!).  But anyways, yes we are to be the light of the earth!  Amen!

Ahh, and touching back on the worry piece that I mentioned earlier - Jesus goes into talking about sparrows and how five sparrows are sold for two pennies, and we are worth so much more than many sparrows.  Yes!  I know that birds are super trendy right now, I even have two doves tattooed on my right ankle, with a cross in the middle there, but, we are worth way more than they are - so much so that the very hairs on our head are all numbered (although my number sure seems to be decreasing rapidly every time I wash/brush my hair!).  But yes, then later Jesus goes on to talk even more about worry and how we are just not to do it.  He uses ravens (again with the birds, love it!) and the flowers, and the grass of the field to demonstrate just how important we are to God, and to remind us not to worry.  I love this too "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."  Amazing.  Simply amazing.  Beautiful imagery - little flock.  :)

I love reading "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  That's good to read to remind myself to reevaluate where my treasure truly is.  And lastly, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  I'm not saying I have tons of stuff, I'm definitely not living in the lap of luxury as far as material possessions go, but I have truly been blessed with the people that God has placed in my life, and the lessons I have learned from/through them.  So to me this verse reminds me that since I have been given wisdom and life lessons from others, I am to use that knowledge to help others as best as I can and know how.  And that's part of why I feel like social work is such a good fit for just to find a job in the field - ha - but that's another story.  :)

Onto the questions!  (number one was covered in the above response)

2.  What questions did you have?
--I have always wondered about the part where it says "anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."  I suppose what I'm looking for is a really good/solid definition of blasphemy so that I can understand that verse better.  Also, another question I have is when Jesus appointed the 72 others and sent them out two by two, and he says not to greet anyone on the road - I'm curious what that was all about?  Is that more of a cultural thing?  A safety thing?  Hmm...I have absolutely no idea.  

3.  What did you learn about God?
--I learned that, while obviously God knows us, God really knows me.  He knows that I am feeling worried lately and that I needed to read and soak in those verses about not worrying.  Because I am worth more than a sparrow.  I am more valuable than a raven.  I have ample clothes like the wild flowers and grasses in the field.  While right now I feel like a homeless gypsy wandering from place to place, not sure where my next meal is coming from, or how I'm going to put gas in my car - I need not worry - because God will take care of me.  Hands down, no questions asked.  Best life insurance I've ever had and will ever need.  Can I get an amen?!

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
--Piggybacking off question 3, I learned that I am indeed a worrier.  I knew this before, but now am reminded that I should make every effort not to be.

5.  How might this change the way you live?
--Hopefully, based off of questions 3 and 4, I will be less of a worrier, and live life with less anxiety and frustration.  And be more joyful.  I can't wait until we get into Philippians in this challenge.  :)  I've always liked Philippians.

See you guys at the next blog post!  Until then, adiĆ³s mis amigos!

One of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems.  :)

#abcntc Day Two (a day late!)

Hello hello!  Sorry this is a day late.  Somehow yesterday seemed to fill up and before I knew it, my eyes were heavy and I was falling asleep in my onesie (yes I have and wear a onesie from time to time!).  So I decided to postpone yesterday's reading and do it today, and later in the day I will do today's reading.  But anyway...

There was a lot of good stuff in here as there was from the day before's reading.  I underlined a lot of familiar things to me, but some of the things I read were unfamiliar, and some of the familiar things hit me in a new light.

The first underlined section I only noticed because it was written about by Union leader Brad Holmes in his blog response to yesterday's reading (which can be read by clicking here!) in which he discusses Simon's mother-in-law who had a high fever, was healed by Jesus, and then got up immediately and began to wait on her guests.  What a neat thing!  Now I understand there might be feminists out there who hate this because she's playing the traditional "female-role" blah-blah-blah.  I understand feminism to a degree, but this is way bigger than that.  It shows the power of God and how we are to respond - by passing along his care to others!  Amazing.

I also like this- "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."  I definitely need to do that more often and more intentionally.  To step aside from the day's busy and hectic schedules and to do lists, to be alone and pray and be in relationship with our heavenly father?  What a noble and important thing that I must be more intentional about doing.  Even taking a walk on the river trail, without my prayer journal, spending time with God would do my soul so much good.

Day two's section definitely has a lot of good stuff in there.  I love when Jesus says "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance."  And also what most Bible call the Beatitudes is in this section too.  It's so good to be rereading it with fresh eyes in more of a love letter format.  The section though after that, or perhaps it's even part of the Beatitudes, where it says "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.  Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."  I don't really remember reading this before, though I know I have.  It makes me feel that I'm not allowed to laugh, or have people speak well of me.  I don't know what I'm supposed to be learning from this section, except maybe perhaps that we are to live for our heavenly world and future, not our world here on earth.  Hmm...

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you..."  Amazing reminders.  And for those who know me a bit more personally know that next week is going to be a hard week for me.  It's a three year mark.  Wow.  So much has changed since then.  I need to remember to love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, to bless those who curse me, and to definitely pray for those who mistreat me.  I might have to remember to reread that next week.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned."  This speaks to me because in my life I have definitely felt judged, and I am sure others have felt judged by me.  I need to remember to just not do that!

"For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."  What is my heart full of?  I suppose I should listen to myself and find out.

Ahh - the section where the sinful woman came to Jesus, wiped his feet with her tears, kissed his feet, and poured perfume all over them.  For some reason, this section made me get a bit choked up today.  I am definitely a sinful woman.  I have a huge debt that God has forgiven and continues to forgive.  I need and want to show my faithfulness to him with acts of gratefulness, thankfulness, and complete devotion.  I need to wipe Jesus' feet with my tears, kiss them, and pour perfume all over them.  What a beautiful image.

"Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace."  I yearn for the time and hope and pray for the time when my faith will heal me from my demons - and when I can go in peace.

It's good to be reminded that I must deny myself and take up my cross daily and follow Christ.  I must not be ashamed to proclaim the Son of God!

Okay- so there's my regurgitation of some verses as well as some of my thoughts on them.  Now I'm going to jump into the discussion questions.

1.  What was new or compelling to you?
---All that I wrote about pretty much.  :)

2.  What questions did you have?
---Again, I wondered about the "woe" verses - "woe to you who laugh now" - I'm curious about that, and hope that I can keep watching Parks and Rec, and New Girl because man those shows make me laugh!  (And Community too - can't wait for the next season!).

3.  What did you learn about God?
---I learned that I serve an awesome God.  I mean, I knew that before, but it's just so refreshing to be reminded of just how awesome he is.  I'm digging this New Testament Challenge.  I know I am going to grow and that God is going to challenge me and use this to really shape me more into the woman he wants me to be.

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
---I learned that I need to live and serve more whole-heartedly, with more devotion, and faith.

5.  How might this change the way you live?
---Similar to question number four, I am going to be more intentional.  That seems to be my buzzword.  I am going to be more intentional.

Alright, that's it for me for now.  Please feel free to comment if you have any comments!  Or questions. Or answers!  :)  Hope you are all having a great day and that you truly feel God's love and joy in your day today.

I sure hope I'm allowed to laugh, because these things crack me up!

(This following verse will speak to me even more next week - especially as it is permanently inked on my ankle - but I'm going to use it today too.)

I love you, oh Lord, my strength.
[Psalm 18:1]

Monday, September 24, 2012

#abcntc Day One

Today is the start of Ada Bible Church's New Testament Challenge.  I wrote about it briefly yesterday to kind of introduce the challenge.  Basically- Ada is challenging the congregation to read through the entire New Testament in 8 weeks and grow together as a congregation through the experience as well as through small group discussion and messages at services during those 8 weeks.  They're encouraging everyone to read a version of the Bible in NIV entitled "The Books of the Bible."  Basically this group "revamped" the Bible and put it in a different, more chronological/make sense kind of order, took out chapter and verse markings, and made it more of the love letter that was its original design (check out the video I linked in yesterday's post).  I just completed reading day one and really wanna talk about it, so here I go!

Actually, before I start processing my own thoughts and questions, I wanted to quote the blog that Ada is running throughout these 8 weeks.  I really liked what Anne Ferris, Children's Ministry Worship leader, said in her response to the reading this morning (Click here to read the entire post):

"I think it can be so easy to plan our lives around our own dreams, even our families' dreams.  We can organize every detail and schedule every moment.  What is harder to remember is it doesn't matter how carefully we choreograph, God's plan is not like ours."
[Anne Ferris]

Amazing.  And so true!

So my experience was pretty much blissful.  I know that might sound cheesy, but read on.  I'm curled up in my bright pink cozy pajama pants, a warm fuzzy zip-up hooded sweatshirt; I have a ginormous fleece blanket wrapping me up like a burrito, and I'm sipping a piping hot cup of Folger's Columbian, that I turned into "Maple Spice" coffee (coffee + cinnamon + maple syrup + cream & sugar = amazing) and turn the pages to page 1, the invitation to Luke Acts.  Luke Acts?  To be honest, I'm not sure how they put together Luke Acts, whether they took different pieces from both and mashed them together, or what.  I'm sure they explained it and I must have somehow missed it.  Hmm...I'll have to look back into that.  But anyway...

So scanning through the reading, and looking simply at what I underlined, this section truly spoke to me!  There is so much in these verses, so much wisdom and knowledge, it's amazing!  My first underlined chunk was Mary when she said "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant."  Wow.  Okay that is cool.  What a good reminder that God is taking good care of us.  I definitely needed to be reminded of that as I sometimes forget in all of life's busy-ness, that there is a plan and God's in control.

The next section I underlined, to be honest, is a familiar and well-known verse, that I don't 100% know why I underlined.  It's again referring to Mary and it says "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  I guess, now, after rereading, to me that's an excellent reminder to treasure things and ponder them.  I know that might seem simplistic, but how often do you treasure things and ponder them?  And in this case, she is treasuring and pondering her encounter with the shepherds who spread the word of Jesus' arrival.

Next is the quote saying "She (Anna, daughter of Penuel) never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying."  This was so convicting for me.  I so often get caught up in life's crazy schedules and endless to do lists and I think, man how am I gonna find time to write in my prayer journal today?  But Anna never left the temple, worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  That is amazing.  What a solid reminder and amazing encouragement for me in my life.

These next few chunks are things John said while traveling around and baptizing folk.  He said "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."  Yikes.  Okay - that is helpful for me in that I need to truly look at what kind of fruit I am producing on a day to day, moment to moment basis.  Hmm.

John also said "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."  Hello social work!  Love this reminder of helping our brothers and sisters in need.

This verse I don't know that I have ever really thought about, or remember reading.  It's probably not even an entire verse, but John says "be content with your pay."  Wow.  Wow!  I work part time at Biggby Coffee, I have student loans up the wazoo and bills to pay on top of that.  What a good reminder.  God always has and always will provide everything that I need, so why shouldn't I be content with my pay?  I should!  I should be content with my pay, and I am definitely going to work on that.  That is a very convicting five words for me personally.

The last few things I underlined are things Jesus said that were written in the Old Testament.  One) "Man shall not live on bread alone."  Two) "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Three) "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."  These remind me that yes, even Jesus was tempted (Jesus quoted these things when the devil was with him in the wilderness), Jesus did not sin and also was really amazing at quoting scripture.  Yes we here on earth need food to eat, but we need so much more than that - we need the grace of God!  Also, what a good reminder to serve God alone.  I spend a lot of my time pursuing various hobbies and interests, but God is my number one and needs to remain that way always.  And not testing God.  What's that Bible story about the sheep's wool getting dew on it or something?  Well, I'm not setting up elaborate ways to test God or anything, but in my own way, I do test him.  I need to be more aware of that, and then just not do it.  God will take care of me - that's all I need to know and remember.

Okay, next comes the discussion questions.  Ada has provided five discussion questions to think about and discuss following each day's reading.  I feel like I might have already worked through some of them, but let's have a go anyway.

1.  What was new or compelling to you?
---I think pretty much what I underlined was new and or compelling.  The one that I think seems to be sticking with me the most at the moment is being content with my pay.  I think that might prove to be a challenge, but it was definitely new and compelling for me.

2.  What questions did you have?
---I am curious about how this version of the New Testament spliced together Luke and Acts.  I might just have to find someone at church this next weekend and ask, or google search it or something.  But other than that, no questions are coming to mind at the moment.  Or, well, I guess I'd like to know more about Anna and her story.  I'm not familiar with much information about her.  That intrigues me a bit.

3.  What did you learn about God?
---I learned that our God, my God, is awesome.  Simply put - he is awesome.  There is so much in just those short eleven pages that I learned today and that is in God's love letter to me!  How many religions and beliefs have a whole love letter written directly to them?  None that I'm aware of.  I am so refreshed from the reading today about how amazing my God is, and I definitely needed to be reminded of that in this season of seemingly endless transition, the land between.

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
---I learned that I need to get into the word more, and more often.  And I learned that apparently, writing about it really helps me process, and helps whatever I have read, sink in.  Perhaps the endless essays they have students write in school, really do have a purpose!  :)

5.  How might this change the way you live?
---All the things I have read today, been thinking about and processing, have changed the way I live in that I am going to try and be more intentional about spending time in the word.  I am fairly decent at adding prayer time to my daily to do list, but for some reason, spending time in the word makes it on that list waaaay less frequently.  So yes, today has given me new resolve and new encouragement to be more intentional about spending time with God's love letter to me.

Okay!  That's it for today.  Another novel so it seems as I scroll through.  Haha.  Good thing I'm a relatively fast typer, and hopefully you are a relatively fast reader.  Until next time!

A homemade Clay Carlson mug next to the best love letter ever written.
Two gifts from the best father's I have ever known, and ever will know.

"God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage.  Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to your honour and glory.

4 Months of Fun + Premier + California Planning + Biggby Barista-ing + #abcntc + A Million Other Things = one busy girl!

Hello there readers who are few and far between (possibly non-existent even!) - hello!

Since there are few, if any of you, I am going to use this as a way to unload some thoughts.  More of a journal that I won't be able to lose to process some of the past months changes.  Love it.

Since I last wrote, much has changed, and when I say much, I mean preeettty much everything in my life.  It's almost kind of weird.

So April ended with John and I celebrating our one year, which I wrote about, and me graduating with my Masters of Social Work.  Since then I filled out the paperwork and am now a "Limited License Master Social Worker" - or Emily Carlson, LLMSW.  You can even see the proof of it on the licensing website by clicking the following link and searching my name - Click here! - pretty neat, huh?  Love it.  So since then I have been trying to study for my licensing exam, and trying to find a social work job - both of which have so far proved to be pretty unsuccessful, but there's still time.  :)

In the meantime, I continued to live with my girls in Grand Rapids until the end of May, and then I packed up and moved to quaint little Portland, Michigan - where I am currently living.  John's parent's graciously offered me a spot to live for some time in their basement which has been such a blessing.  It made such a world of difference for me and John too, from living 45 minutes away, to literally a block away from each other.  I think we've become a bit spoiled.  Actually - today marks 1 year and 5 months of dating!  Pretty neat, huh?  ;)

However, John's parents (Ken & Cindy) are currently in the process of selling their house, which means I'm in the process of finding a new place to lay my head.  At this point I'm still kinda perusing my options before I make any decisions and move any furniture.  We'll see where I end up!  Always an adventure.

Umm, what else?  Oh!  John and I have embarked on a fun mission that I have dubbed "Four Months of Fun!"  Our goal is to go on four fun dates a month for the last four months of the year 2012.  So far for the month of September we have gone to a drive in movie (the Getty Drive-In in Muskegon where we saw Hit and Run, but got rained out for the next movie of The Bourne Legacy, unfortunately).  Then the next weekend we were able to squeeze in a trip to Grand Rapids amidst a busy weekend where John was a best man in a friend from high school's wedding, to visit the Eastown Street Fair!  It was fun to walk around and stop by the little booths and grab some good food, of which I spilled most of it on the street because I'm just a wee bit clumsy.  :)  I got to make a button, I also picked up a cute tie-dyed headband, and a journal made out of a repurposed children's book!  Neat!  Then our latest date for the month of September was 8 weeks in the making!  John and I participated and competed in the Dunes Duathlon in Saugatuck.  Unfortunately, due to weather, they cancelled the biking portion, but we were still able to complete the 5 mile trail/dune run in the wind and rain!  Hooray!  Haha.  We had been training for 8 weeks, working out about 5 days a week, plus we gave up pop and fast food - and we were able to finish it without walking one step of it!  (Although we both had to stop at various points to tie our shoes - mental note - double knots).  So yes, we have both lost a bit of weight, and have had fun bonding over sweat and scraped knees (okay, so that was just me when I fell off my bike on a hill once, ha!) throughout the whole training period.  My legs are quite sore today, but I'm feeling good.  And after our race, we treated ourselves to fast food, me to Taco Bell, and John to McDonalds.  Yum!  Oh and here's a funny side note, I won a trophy for my division!  I got 2nd place in the female 20-24 age range.  Although I think there might have been only two of us to begin with.  I'll have to get back to you on that one though.  :)  They're posting times within the next week or so, online.  :)  Okay----phew that was a long section - next!

So four months of fun, what else has been going on?  Today I had my training show to become a Premier Jeweler.  Premier is so cool.  It's a company that was started in 1985 I believe, by a retired married couple who wanted to continue to support missions while in retirement.  So they started Premier.  Premier is a home based jewelry show party selling thing.  Basically I (as a jeweler) would come to your house and help you host a party and also help you earn free Premier jewelry!  It's a win-win.  So I had my training show today that my mom so graciously hosted (too bad only two people could make it since it was thrown together last minute!), but it ended up being a smash success.  I think everyone had a ton of fun, and really got to enjoy each other's company because of the small number.  We drank good coffee, ate some snacks, and got to try on some fun pieces.  If you are reading this, and think "hey, I could use some free jewelry for myself, or to give away as Christmas gifts" or "I love Emily, she's awesome - I'd love to help her get started in this new business venture" - then please, by all means, please feel free to contact me!  My email is  I'd love to hear from you!

California planning.  On October 5th, which is next week already, I fly out from Detroit to LAX to spend some time in California!  Hooray!  I am so excited I cannot even express to you.  Lo (Lauren), my roommate from the dorms, and housemate/roommate for a total of 6 years, is going home to visit her family and friends, and has invited us girls to join her!  Nikki and I will be going out there and hanging out enjoying the sights and having adventures.  I can't wait!  I fly out the 5th and get to spend some time with my cousin Brook, hanging out at Disneyland, and going to a 1920's themed party, and then I'll change gears to meet up with Nik and Lo and her family and friends until the 17th when I fly back!  :D  At this point all I know is that we're camping and spending time at the ocean.  Other than that, and hopefully hanging out with a college friend Nehemiah who also lives in California, there aren't a whole lot of concrete plans that I know of.  I am beyond excited.  Woo-hoo!

What else, what else?  Oh yeah, I'm a Biggby barista!  I love it.  To be honest though, it's a bit weird to be a barista.  Here's why- my last two years in high school I worked at Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins in St. Joe making coffee.  Now six years later, post college, post grad school, where am I?  Making coffee.  It seems kind of silly.  But I just have to remind myself that I will not be making coffee forever. I mean, not for a job anyway.  Haha.  It's a temporary, gotta pay my student loans, kinda gig.  And I'm enjoying it for the most part.  I don't like the drama that comes along with certain types of workplaces, but I'm learning to deal with it, and I enjoy the regulars and the ever present smell of coffee is pretty fantastic as well, so it's pretty much a good thing.

Oh man, how could I forget the main reason for writing this blog post?!  #abcntc  You might be wondering what that's all about!  Well, don't worry - I'm going to tell you!  I love Ada Bible Church.  It's the church I went to in college, in grad school, and I try to make it to GR when I can even now while living in Portland.  I love it.  It has fed me in so many ways over the years, with the financial ministry, their mentoring program, volunteering with the kiddos, Union (young adult group), and great worship/messages!  Well starting tomorrow (Monday September 24th), Jeff (one of the pastors) is challenging the entire congregation, middle schoolers on up, to read the entire new testament in 8 weeks (#abcntc = Ada Bible Church New Testament Challenge).  I opened up my blog to document that experience as well as to kinda keep myself accountable for reading and processing the experience.  What's even cooler about it is that they're using an NIV translation that has been "revamped."  Don't be too skeptical.  Click the following hyperlink and scroll down a little ways to watch the video and learn more: Click me! So did you watch it?  Pretty cool huh?  I'm excited.  They're having us read about 12 pages a day, 5 days a week.  I wanted to join one of the small groups to discuss it, but being gone for about 2 weeks in California, and living quite a ways away from GR, didn't make much sense.  But John is going to do the challenge with me, so hopefully we will be able to get some good discussion in about it, with just the two of us.  So yeah, I'm hoping to document bits of my journey, either when I have questions or thoughts, or just plain ole have time to post about it!  :)  I'm excited for this journey!

Umm...I'm trying to think if there's anything I have missed.  But I am guessing that at this point this post is probably quite long.  If you think of it, I'd appreciate some prayer as I try to study for my social work licensing exam.  That's coming up pretty soon here.  I am looking forward to that being done, provided I pass.  Haha.

Actually why don't I just have a whole prayer request section, in the off chance that anyone is still reading this:

--For wisdom of where to live next
--For a social work job to work out and be an excellent fit, in a great location, as well as high paying!
--For Premier to start well, for me to network well, enjoy it, and earn some loan repayment money
--For John and my relationship to continue to grow and strengthen as it has the past year and five months
--For travels and time spent in California to be fun, refreshing, and overall just a great time, as well as that I am safe whilst traveling
--For God to really use the #abcntc to grow and challenge me and my relationship with him as well as a way to witness to others as I post about it on this blog
--For God to use me at Biggby in the lives of people I work with as well as serve those who happen to want a cup of coffee that day
--For me to carve out time to study, soak in the material, and pass the exam!
--For God to continue to shape me into the woman that he wants me to be as I struggle in this time of what seems to be endless transition, for him to teach me great lessons and impart much wisdom, for me to truly learn the meaning of trust as I feel like a gypsy moving from place to place, not knowing how I'm going to pay my next bill, or put gas in my car, and just kinda feeling like I don't have a "home base" anymore...
--For all the other either requests somewhere in my head and heart, or the requests that are on my list for loved ones, family, friends, coworkers, old classmates, customers at Biggby, passersby looking downtrodden, I ask for prayer for comfort, healing, direction, endless joy!, freedom, encouragement, strength, admonishment, amongst a multitude of other things..

Thank you!  Thank you for reading all this way.  I appreciate you.  You are awesome.  You are truly awesome!  Remember that when your day gets crazy, or stressful, or busy, or whatever is making you not remember the joy of the Lord!

Here's a picture that brings me joy-

John and I having fun with jumping poses late one night at Crystal Lake!

Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
[Psalm 47:1]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The times they are a-changin'

As the great Bob Dylan once said "The times they are a-changin'."  Wowza!  Let me just say SO much has changed since I last posted.  Where to even begin?!

The man I introduced to you in the last post, John, is still in my life.  In fact, we celebrated our one year anniversary this past week!  This is us at the Tigers Rangers game.  Tigers lost but it was exciting because it went to eleven innings!  :)
In the last post I mentioned that Ben and Kristen were getting married, and get married they did!  It was a beautiful July day and the wedding was wonderful.  They are living out in Tacoma, Washington right now.  I'm sad that they're so far away, but happy that they have each other.  :)

My internship which I talked about briefly in the last post has officially ended.  And my classes are officially completed.  Tomorrow is the social work ceremony where I will be celebrating with my friends and classmates.  I can't believe the program is over and that soon I will have my LLMSW (limited license master of social work).  I filled out all the paperwork today, last step is to get my fingerprints taken tomorrow!  Fun fun.  

I'm still living at Birchcrest with the girls right now, but at the end of May will be moving out and into John's parent's basement in Portland, Michigan.  So that's exciting.  I'm definitely going to miss my girls, but what is life without a little change?  In the meantime I will be filling my days with job applications and studying for the social work licensure exam.  Can't wait to get that over with! :/

Oo, something else to look forward to, my old housemate and good friend Kelsey is getting married next month.  This picture is of me and her at her bridal shower in Indiana in March.  I'm so excited for her!  I get to be a bridesmaid and everything! 

Oh and I do want to mention, I had a super fun opportunity in February to go on a short road trip for a long weekend with some high school friends.  My good friends Anh, Kim, Kathryn and I drove down to Chicago and hopped on a Megabus and took the bus all the way to Memphis!  It was so fun.  Here's a pic of us visiting Sarah, who lives in Memphis, when we're at the zoo.

Oh and I can't forget to mention the fun that I had with my housemates in December.  We all went to see Les Mis together!  Here we are!

There's just so much new-ness in my life, its hard to know what to highlight!  I hope all is well with you all.  Love and miss you.  *muah*