Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Garage sale- More trouble than its worth?

So, I had a garage sale this past week. A big, honking garage sale.
A garage sale that I thought would be great fun, that turned out to be... hard!

I had been planning for months for this garage sale. NOT. I decided to do it last week on a whim. Without consulting all my tried and true friends to see if they'd be around. Yes, there were many missteps in the garage sale process... But I was just so EXCITED! About getting money in my savings account! About stregthening my emergency fund (thanks, Dave Ramsey!) About getting rid of clutter I had lying around.

Low notes:
Well, I didn't have enough time to devote to pricing.
I didn't get many signs around the neigborhood.
I thought I could handle it all alone.
And it wasn't the best weekend of my life.
Lessons learned.

High notes:
My grandparents showing up, like garage sale angels, and helping me out for a few hours by re-arranging the merchandise and sweet-talking customers into buying things.
2 friends who spent hours keeping me company- Zac and Sarah- you guys are awesome!
The 140ish dollars I made- going straight to savings!
The great opportunity it was for me to meet neigbors! Kind of awkward meeting your neigbors over your used clothes, but still nice!

Next time, I'm picking a weekend my mom can help, putting lots of posters up, and paying cute elderly folks (hehe) to sweet-talk. A recipe for success :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Hello faithful friends and random readers! It hardly seems a week, but it's going to start again whether we're ready or not. You may have noticed last week that Christina was out of commission. I sure did! We kept missing each other... and I hate for our only communication across countries to be me badgering her about putting up a blog post. But, no worries, this week she's back in action and you'll find out what was holding things up.

God shows up in the small things
I guess small and large are all relative here, but either way I am amazed when God provides at exactly the right moments. Many times I find myself doubting His provision and filling my mind with back-up plans, but I'm always reminded that He is in control. Here are a few such stories...

For Sale
So, Christina had quite a week, much of it due to the neighborhood garage sale she decided to organize, completely solo, on top of her other mounting responsibilities and her new job.

Going to be aunties!!
You've already heard my excitement for Meg and Christina's for Jared and Tina... there's no way you can prepare for our excitement over our very own niece/nephew that is on the way! That's right, our dear bro and sister-in-law are going to have a baby. I'm sure this will be the first of many posts about our prayers, hopes, and joys for our growing family!

Application to date my girls
Part of Christina's great new gig is to disciple girls. Recently after a high school dance, her protective nature was appalled at the stories her girls told. So... she decided the next boys wanting to ask her little flock out on a date would have to go through a very intense application process.

Teacher vs. friend
I'm sure every teacher goes through the phase (and I don't even have the technical training), where they try to find the boundary between teacher and friend. I'm finding myself in that place right now. Where I stand in front of my 10th graders and just think how much I would rather meet up with them on a Saturday then hand back a red 'D' on the top of their test.

That's what we've got... be looking for an interview with Kathleen in the near future. And once again, if you have ideas, suggestions, questions, or if you have a random urge to be interviewed, let us know!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

lights off

So, picture this: four girls huddled around a gas stove, roasting marshmallows on little wood skewers in an apartment completely candlelit. Tonight (and many times in the past few days) the power went out for several hours. No skype telephone calls, no internet updates, no microwave, no fridge, but a LOT of creative fun in the form of night frisbee, rummikub, and scattergories!

Tonight I realized again (as if I could forget) the insistence of competitive blood in my family. Well, I can't really blame them - I can take full credit for arguing "rats" as farm animals and "stones" as something cold and arguing heatedly against other propositions. I think my sister-in-law put it best when she said our family can get passionate about anything... even if we're not entirely sure or informed about said thing.

Well, all in all a good night was had. With six candles lining our dining room table, a headlamp, two flashlights, several cups of tea, and a few games we found unadulterated entertainment that I would highly recommend.

Just a note: If anyone knows or can find the OFFICIAL scattergories rules, can you please let me know!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fright stories... again

So, I quietly hoped moving to a different country would cure the irrational frights I frequently experience... or at least that I could start over with a new group of people who knew less about this absurdity.

Well, of course neither did I lose nor could I hide the unexplained outbursts at the sound of fireworks, a loud voice, dropped dish, or clapped hands. Within weeks of arrival, most of my co-workers and all my roommates knew I was prone to full collapse whenever startled. Still, I was holding out hope that my students would not find out.

Here are a few of the stories:
A couple weeks ago, we were outside and I was talking to a group of mischievous 10th students, when with no warning I hear "MISS NICHOLS" from behind. I immediately fall completely forward onto my knees (on the grass, thank goodness) in my skirt and heels. After feigning concern, they just roared. I knew from that point on, there was no turning back.

So, it didn't surprise me when a couple days ago a student came up at the end of class wanting to show me a little toy. I immediately suspected foul play and asked him to shoot it first. All the kids were encouraging me and after he showed me how, I aimed at the wall and put the toy in front of him, so if any water shot back it would be in his face. But, then to my surprise a shock went through my fingertips and on the floor I went. Again with the roaring laughter.

It really is quite the endearing quality. Everyone seems very concerned as I try to get up from falling. But, it must just be too wonderful to watch me go down, because it just keeps happening:)

IN OTHER NEWS: Meg has a baby! I'll write more on the details, but thank you for those who prayed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When more than miles separate...

So, my best friend Meg is having a baby. Nothing prepares you for the anticipation you feel when new life is about to begin (even when it's your best friend!). These past few weeks, Meg has been on my mind and my heart... I'm praying for all the little details - that she won't be eating fantastic chinese when she goes into labor, that she will be wearing comfortable shoes, that she will be randomly very close to the hospital. :)

But, really, as often as I think of her, I praise God for the new life He is bringing into this world. Last week, I started to feel the miles of separation when I realized how long it will be until I see her and the baby. I gave my mom the go ahead signal to send the package waiting at my house, but I still wanted her to know how much she's been on my heart. So, on her due date, all my emotions worked themselves out in a song, which I composed with the help of my roommate Heather who can play a mad guitar. We recorded the song (entitled "Today's Your Due Date") onto my computer and then I called and left a skype message with the recording.

If I do say so, it was a brilliant success. The lyrics may not look like much, but the tune is kind of catchy! Picture this message sung on a skype voicemail:

I woke up this morning
with one thought on my mind
you're about to be a momma
and I'm sure the greatest kind

today is your due date
but she may not be ready
your girl's got a big heart
I'm just prayin' it keeps beatin' steady

this auntie can barely stand
the distance from your hand
and though I'm very far away
I know my prayers will reach you
and comfort you this day

I woke up this morning
you were on my mind
I'm sending you some Spanish love
to be right by your side

After power outages the past couple days, I just got word that we are praying for delivery tomorrow morning. Pray with me that the baby and mommy are healthy, that the doctors would have wisdom, and that Meg would rejoice in the blessing of new life! My dear kindred spirit Nicole has vowed to be my eyes and ears at the hospital - she told me she's been carrying around a camera for a week, just in case! Oh, what blessings we have in friendships!

Solution for Mahn-days

When I wrote the weekly lineup, I happened to be in a discouraged mood (and it also happened to be Monday). Two days and many power outages later, I'm finding encouragement and joy for the simple reason that I am doing better than I deserve. I stole that line from Dave Ramsey, who responds to the question, "How are you doing, Dave?" on his radio show with, "Better than I deserve."

It's not that I'll never feel discouraged, but I guess it's sort of an issue of perspective. In any case, I want to change it up a bit and make a musical suggestion.

If you’ve not heard the musical stylings of Jon Foreman, you are certainly missing out. After the startling success of the West Coast band Switchfoot, lead-singer Foreman broke out on his own to blaze a new trail.

His songs may not be getting the most radio time. You may not be able to hum a familiar melody off his new four CD collection: fall, winter, summer, spring. The tunes might not catch on and sweep across the country like his past top hits. But, I can tell you this: Jon Foreman inspires, convicts, and speaks where other artists fear to say a word.

One of his songs, “Instead,” talks about the misplaced comforts of modern day Christianity. Foreman sings through frustrations with Christians who put on a show every Sunday but miss the point. “Instead, let there be a flood of justice, an endless precision of righteous living, living. Instead let there be a flood of justice... instead of your shows, I hate all your shows.”

Pretty strong language. He must have been reading up on Isaiah 58:5-7 when Isaiah admonished the Israelites, to whom fasting had become such a show. True sacrifice is to “loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke and set the oppressed free...” Revolutionary, yet strangely familiar is Foreman’s new tune.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekly Lineup

(best lineup picture I could come up with)
Hello again! I hope you had an amazing week and weekend!

I found the most wonderful rest yesterday, which is why I did not quite get around to sending out the customary lineup. But, how about the random, surprises from last week? I'm even excited to read what shows up on our blog! We're playing this thing like a duet and it keeps it interesting:)

Well, for this week we want to share some more stories, lessons, and insights.

Interview #2
This time around, we'll interview Kathleen. I'm so excited to learn more about her - so learn with me about her life as nurse and cake decorator.

When more than miles separate...
So, the due date for my best friend's baby has come and gone and I am waiting for any sort of word. In all the books and resources I've read about missions, culture shock always hits the top 10. Now I'm realizing that being separated from dear ones means more than missing conversations.

A Case of the Mahn-days
Monday or no, I seem to be having frequent days where I get discouraged. That scene from "Office Space" comes to mind, where the main character is trying to focus amidst layers of distractions. When he responds in short to the over-eager, colorful secretary she says, "Oh, does somebody have a case of the mahn-days?" In these discouraging times, I return to what I know and cling my fragile, little mind to the anchor of hope.

Something creative...
I'm not quite sure at this point, but you can count on Christina or I rolling out the creativity this week. It may be lesson plans or wall decorations or bathroom remodel or a clever conversation... but in some way or another the creativity is sure to appear!

Grab bag
Who knows - we're good at random, so expect it!

That's the lineup for this week. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy writing!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

White Party 08!

A few weekends ago my amazing friend Just Jen threw herself a big old birthday party. The theme was "white party" modeled after the huge parties P Diddy throws every year. See picture.

So, she borrowed a sweet loft with a view of the capitol (amazzzzzing,) sent out beautiful invites, and hired a DJ to provide the music for her bash. In the weeks leading up to the event, I was so excited to help her ring in her 29th in style. In the DAYS leading up to it, though. I started remembering. That I'm not particularly cool. Anyway, a handful of my other good friends would be at the party, so I knew I'd at least have a few other people to chill with.

So, the night comes. Crystal and I spend the first part of the night at a rainy football game cheering on our cousin Vince (because we're family- and that's how we do :) ) And quick changed at McDonald's before heading over to the party. When we got there, there were folks in white chain smoking outside the building, along with a white tutu wearing free spirit, so I knew this was the place. We hopped on the elevator to take us up to the loft(along with the free spirit,) and when we got off the elevator, a sea of white awaited us! I was at once, elated for Jen that her dream of a white party had turned out so well, and terribly awkward. Not only do Jen's friends tend to be really eclectic and cool, but also weirdly tall? I saw a few people I knew, that I went boating with this summer, and they apparently think I'm hilarious (yeah!,) but when people say that in conversation it always makes it pretty awkward. Like, Them- "hey! good to see you! when you left, we kept talking about how great and funny you are!" Me- "Wow, thanks! it was great to hang out with you too!" but then I feel the need to like, do stand up comedy or something! They thought I was so great next time! What did I do last time to be so funny? Can I think of something like that to do now? Ahh! Anyway, I said goodbye to those friends and bee lined to my friends Katie and Byron, who were thrilled to see some friends arrive. We chatted for awhile, tried to move around the party but avoid the dance floor. After awhile, hyped up on endorphins and awkward energy, I started getting in the mood. I started telling people funny stories, engaging strangers in conversation, and doing a little bit of dancing. Apparently my sweet moves were a hit, because yesterday this picture

hit the internet. Sigh. What can I say? I love to make people laugh. I love to be around people. And things that embarrass other people- I think are awesome.
So that's the story of the white party!

Here's a pic of Birthday girl Jen- with her painted lace glove! She had a body painter there who painted pearl necklaces, gloves, white tattoos, etc. So cool!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bakers Dozen- 13 kids and loving it!

Are you a parent of young children? Are you frustrated and overwhelmed? Check out
this blog- . It's called Baker's Dozen, and it's the daily blog of parents of 13 children- some adopted and some biological. One of the children they adopted when the mom was 9 months pregnant with one of her biological children because there was a need. Pretty amazing!

PS this picture is one that came up when I googled 13 kids on google images. how funny! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Farmers Market Pesto and Sin

So, just got back from the local farmers market with my Cousin and resident BFF, Crystal. We love frequenting the market and now it's on my way home, and Iowa nights have been to die for lately, so I was excited to check it out after work. We stopped by a few of our fav stands- I came home with a sweet zucchini, sampled flavored honeys, and people watched for awhile, and jumped over to the pesto stand before we headed back to our cars. I LOVE their asiago artichoke pesto, so I spread a big ole glob on the wheat thin provided, and mmm it went down easy. As we walked away, I remembered... what I always remember when leaving the pesto stand. That the aftertaste of the pesto aint worth it. And I said to Crystal. Hmmm. The garden market pesto stand is kind of like sin. It goes down easy and delicious, but the aftertaste is horrible and it just lingers around. How profound!

Here's to staying away from sin today and avoiding the lingering aftertaste!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Design Lemons and Limes

Well, I have only a little time, but I did something very exciting tonight in the way of design... I bought fabric!! I went to El Centro (the city's center) and looked at the most fabulous fabric store - rows and rows and second floors of more rows of all types of fabric. For dresses and curtains and upholstery and blouses and fancy and plain and quaint and just wonderful things waiting to happen.

So, I went straight to where any woman in my family would go - the scrap pile. There was a table with odds and ends haphazardly collected and I found two wonderful pieces... one for my bedroom that ties my yellow walls into my leftover maroon college decor and the other more earthy tones to give our common area a more homelike feel.

This is only the beginning - I love the inspiration that comes from a color or a fabric...

But, unfortunately for me the follow-through doesn't always seem to happen. My design 'lemons' usually happen when I give up on a project. Like the time I took to painting a canvas for my office in Austin. Great inspiration, great time spent painting, but my ideas took way too much time and before I knew it I was packing an unfinished mediocre piece of art into the car for Iowa. Or like the time I thought it would be a good idea to cut up a couple ARIZONA tea cans and frame them in front of some fabric... as it turns out, the can is very thin and not easily straightened out. I collected frames and fabric and ended up packing those up too.

Anyway, to prevent any further diatribe on my design failures, I'll leave off tonight. I am pretty excited to see what inspiration comes about (and carries through) with this new fabric, though! I'm hoping it won't be another lemon story!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Things I learned traveling in a developing country...

I learned many things on our trip, here are a few:
  1. When traveling in a third world country, never assume you can pay with a card (or find an ATM). Places like restaurants, hotels, boating expeditions, they only deal in cash.
  2. Don't expect a local vacation destination to have the same luxurious flavor as we are accustomed. When they say two single beds and a futon - that's really all the furniture you've got... when they say "mini-bar" they mean small college-size fridge. But when we said 'get-away' we got EXACTLY that!!
  3. When you arrange for a boat to take you to a random island, don't expect a glass bottom... expect a converted row boat with a motor thrown on the back and a piece of fabric stretched across the top.
  4. When you find the sincerely local get-aways, you don't have to worry about touristy resorts. Our hotel was right down the gravel road from an orphanage. We looked to one side and saw the sea and to the other and saw steep foothills stretch for miles.
  5. Last thing to remember when traveling in a developing country... never, and I mean never plan to take a bus on Independence Day. Every little town, pueblo, and village is having a parade or some such festivity with the townspeople in full dress and full blockage of the main road. And, of course the main road is also the only main highway going through said pueblo. Our bus took many detours on side streets (which of course are dirt, rock, and pot-holes), but we also got to see some pretty splendid parades! We drove right alongside a beautiful float with children dressed as beautiful animals (even in the heat!!).
Maybe the most important thing I took away from this past weekend is God's ordained time to rest. I spent time searching His Word, reading good books, and having delightful conversations. Resting is so very necessary for a productive life and I'm thankful for this past three-day weekend (afforded by the Day of Indpendence on September 15) and the rest it brought with it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Well, if you haven't noticed, this week is already slightly irregular. Instead of trying to catch up, this week Christina and I will be officially "un-planned" and write whatever, whenever. I just returned from my maiden Honduran excursion with three other co-workers to the north coast. I'm pretty tired, but relaxed and excited to begin work again tomorrow.


Surprises are in store! That's the lineup, folks. If you don't normally get excited about routine and hate knowing what to expect, then this week is for YOU!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bathroom Re:design

Check this out- the tub without the shower, the cool design behind the tub, the shelving with towels. Check out Aparment therapy for more cool bathroom ideas!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trip down Pumpkin-Spice Latte Memory Lane

Today was one of those yearly monumental days... the first day of fall latte weather. I just returned back to my desk with a Pumpkin-spiced coffee by my side. Makes me feel kind of happy and kind of sad - sad that summer is over and happy that beautiful fall is here. And this fall I'll get to revel in football season in all it's glory, as I can see the Valley football stadium out my office window :) LOVE IT!

Anyway, walking back to the office feeling kind of pensive because of the sad feeling I always get by fall officially being here, and I remembered a blog that I wrote about this very topic about 2 years ago... for those of you that may remember, I wrote a little blog called NY Nanny diaries two years ago.

Below is a post from that popular little blog. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!
Pumpkin Spice Latte weather
Wow, it's been awhile, huh? I've been thinking for a couple weeks now that I needed to update you all on my life, but then more, more, and more things kept happening that I needed to add! So today you all get the big ole royal update, I imagine it will take a couple of posts so I better get started. Alright, I'm seeing that my last post was on 9/28... well, 2-3 weeks ago, not bad.

SOOO in that last post, I wrote about how we were starting to interview nanny candidates and were flying a nanny out that could potentially send me packing in a matter of weeks.

Well, of course things turned out quite differently than what any of us thought was coming. The nanny candidate totally spazzed on us and blew off her interview. That's right, people. She didn't get on the plane- she didn't use the ticket we got her, she canceled the hotel room we reserved for her, and she didn't return our calls! I KNEW I had a bad feeling about her! The NERVE! So that was pretty crazy. Pretty stressful, but also good. Like, in that week scare that I thought I was going home in weeks, I realized how much I want to be here. How much more I want to do and experience and money I need to save. So it's been a blessing, actually. Also I just had to get over the whole deal and stop stressing, because as we saw with this nutcase, apparently it's going to be awhile before we find the perfect nanny replacement, since you have to sift through so many wierdos. :)
Also, something else happened since I wrote last.
Fall happened!

You know that day, when you go outside, kids in their tee-shirts, and you realize, woah, it got chilly! And you have to shuffle the kids back inside for more clothes. That's the day fall happens. Up until then you can try and and convince yourself that if you really wanted to, you could still spend more time at the beach and stretch out the summer a bit longer, but then that day happens. Fall day, a little happy, a little sad. But mostly happy! I've just been throwing on more layers for the kids and me, and taking them on walks around the gorgeous New England landscape with a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. How great is THAT? By the way, I know that one isn't grammatically, supposed to capitalize the names of coffee drinks, but if you tasted it you'd know why it's worthy of such grammatical liberties :)

I'm love love loving fall here. Driving the kids to school is even more fun, with all the trees turning beautiful colors all around. I just love the crisp fall wather, just love it. I feel like I've been given a gift, of still being here in NY, and I'm just loving it.
alright, part 1 done

Can you imagine this happened 2 years ago?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

living enlisted

So, Elizabeth Elliot is turning out to be one of the most practical women I've ever encountered. She reminds me quite a bit of my dear friend and missionary Treva Turpin, who expresses in beautiful boldness the urgency of our calling.

As I read Elliott's book "Discipline," I am constantly challenged to think about what it means to be a soldier in the army of God. I remember the childhood zeal that accompanied my strained vocals and exaggerated movements, singing, "I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. I may never fly o'r land and sea, but I'm in the Lord's army."

Looking back, I realize the absoluteness with which I sang. I didn't know exactly what my enlistment entailed, but my allegiance was complete.

Elliott writes about the first phrase her high school interest wrote in her yearbook, "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4

Of course, neither Elizabeth or John could know at that point what the Lord had in store (and praise God for His plan for this couple!). This Scripture reminds me that my allegiance as one in God's army is not to make great personal sacrifices - denying myself each day in heroic acts of service. Rather, to live as Christ is my duty each day.

There's nothing extraordinary about that.

When Elizabeth describes discipline, she writes, "We have said that Christian discipline is one's wholehearted yes to the call of God. It is of highest importance that we understand the necessity of two wills, the one created by the other and ordained free, both operating in accord."

God did this amazing thing - in creating us to participate in creation. Man has extreme liberty in making decisions. Yet, if we rely totally on God's sovereignty we may forget our own responsibility as disciples. And if we rely totally on our own efforts, "we make ourselves God."

The more I reflect on this life of enlistment, the more my desire grows to fulfill my duty as a true servant would. Servants don't wait around for their master to assign tasks. No, instead good servants fill their days with things that please their masters. When the day comes to a close they seek no credit, having just done their duty to their master.

What a drastically different mindset.

I've had a complex mix of emotions since arriving here. Sometimes doubts of inferiority creep in to steal my joy, and I feel myself requiring more affirmation and man-made credit for the work of my hands. Then, I think about my duty to my Savior and Master and realize my steps to please the Father are exactly the expectation.

I can rejoice in that. I can sing praises knowing that God designed me for discipleship. In the very smallest particle pieces of who I am, God knit together a creation to reflect His glory and serve completely.

"How do I know I'm called?" Elliot writes as she quotes every man's fears and suspicions. But instead we should ask the question, "How do I know I'm not called?" We can be sure God designed us for service to display His glory, just as surely as we can be sure the Sun was made to shine and a flower was made to bloom.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Listen while you work (la da da da da da da)

Just a quick plug from Christina today- I was gone on a day- long work trip today (so fun! yeah!) so I haven't had any time at the computer. But for people that spend a LOT of time at a computer (like I USUALLY do,) you might want to check out this website.
You can find all the messages from great Sovereign Grace pastors and teachers. If you are looking for great, gospel-rich messages to listen to at work or on the road, THIS IS IT.

New Honduran Horizon!

Here's just a quick note to those who read this: I just published the September issue of Honduran Horizon. You can find it by going here and clicking on September in the left column. I'd love for you to join me in this ministry through prayer (or just read about some sweet things going on in this part of the world)!!

Christina and I just wanted to give our bonafide "we recommend" stamp to this little bitty publication. :) Enjoy!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Weekly Lineup

What a week it's been! Praise God for the blessings of the past week... Christina is now working in her new position at Valley E. Free and I am falling more in love with Tegus every day. We know God is so good - sometimes we can see His goodness through blessings and other times we just believe His goodness is there by faith. Either way, God continues His remarkable work and we're glad to be a part! This week, we're hoping to have some more variety. Enjoy! And, as always, leave comments - we LOVE your comments!

Phase II
Read more about Christina's transition... After being faithful in pursuing the Lord and receiving what you asked, a lot about life changes. Christina has been realizing that God is still and will always be in the work of refining.

design lemon and limes

Okay, so you've probably already figured out that Christina is the design whiz around here (when I say around I mean theoretically, because we're obviously countries apart). But, that doesn't mean I don't try to spin a little creativity every once in awhile. Read about the great and not-so-great results!

'in' and not 'of'
Paul's charge to be in the world, but not of the world turns out to be a pretty hard fight. We struggle each day to make decisions that shine the light of Christ amidst darkness, yet it's hard to know how our light best shines. Do I watch that movie or read that book? Do we support that company? So many questions... We'll ask some this week.

being a woman of discipline
So, I just finished reading Chesterton's "A Man Who Was Thursday" and I'm still reeling from the resolution. As I process, I'm moving onto a bit of non-fiction in Elizabeth Elliott's "Discipline." I have really felt God lay on my heart to seek and desire a more disciplined walk.

what to do at a white party?
If you've ever been somewhere and got the sudden urge to be the life of the party - read this! Christina is pretty good about bringing laughter to almost any situation and this recent event was no different!

There might be more, might be less. I am learning that our 'lineup' our really mere suggestions and reminders to ourselves of the direction we think we'll go.

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ruth Ann on life, motherhood, and the joyful pursuit of Christ

Christina and I feel so very blessed with the people God has placed in our lives. We truly believe our relationships reflect God's heart for community and affirm our unique role in displaying His glory. We are finally starting this series, where we will interview some of the special people in our lives. Let us know if you have a story that needs to get out - we would love to interview you as well!! Our first interview is with Ruth Ann Pometto- we hope you are blessed by her story.

Christina and Caroline (C&C) : Give a little background – who are you?
Ruth Ann (RA): Hello friends! My name is Ruth Ann Pometto. I am a stay at home wife and mom to my amazing husband, Joe, and my adorable son, Roman. Joe and I have been married for two and half years and Roman just turned one in June. We love our little family!

I guess, to go back a bit, I grew up in Iowa. Most of my life, I was raised by a single mom (my parents separated when I was 8 and my dad was killed in a tractor/train collision when I was 9). I have one brother who is now married – and recently I became a proud aunt to a beautiful nephew, Carter!!! I graduated from ISU in 2005 with a degree in Elementary Education.

A few things I love: JESUS, Joe, Roman, my family and friends (I seriously couldn’t have picked more incredible people for God to put in my life!), cooking, sweatpants, good conversation, coffee, hugs, chocolate, people who are nice when they don’t have to be, babies, getting notes, soft blankets, flowers, starting sentences with “I feel like…”, laughing, trying new foods/restaurants, traveling, JESUS.

C&C: How did you happen to read our blog?
Well, my freshman year of college, I lived in an apartment with three other girls. The summer before my sophomore year, one of the girls moved out, so we needed to find someone else to live with us. One of my roommates, Andrea, said she knew a girl from high school that needed somewhere to live, so Christina came over one day to look at the apartment, and a few weeks later, she moved in.

Let me tell you that Christina is one of the most fantastic people I have ever met in my life. Literally. She is the most amazing friend!! She is so thoughtful and always such an encouragement to me. We have been through a lot of stages in our lives together…what a blessing to have a friend who walks with you and prays for you all the way! Anyway, all of that just from a “random girl” moving into our apartment! God works in the little things.

Also, I just have to give you this quick story about the day that Christina moved into Apartment 123. So, we are helping her carry her things up to our 3rd floor apartment,(keep in mind I have known this girl about 10 minutes) and we sit down in the living room to take a break, when Christina decides now would be a good time to tell us the story about peeing her pants while riding in the car with Caroline. HILARIOUS. You need to have her tell the story in person sometime, because she is the best storyteller ever. Anyway, we all laughed hysterically, and that is where our long road of friendship began. Pee.

Needless to say, Christina is how I came to read this blog. I have met Caroline on a few occasions: her visiting our house, me visiting theirs. She is a sweetheart! I am praying for you while you are in Honduras, Caroline!

C&C: You recently became a wife and a mom. How is being a wife/mother different than you thought it would be when you were single?
RA: Big question! I love it. Having a family is such a journey. I always say it’s a good thing that God designed the family so that you get married (and adjust to living with and for someone else) before you have children (and adjust to giving even more of yourself to more people)!

I think that thing that surprised me the most (in a good way) was that I seriously didn’t know I had the capacity to love two people so much. If you think that you have really been committed to someone in prayer, or that you have loved someone so much you could really rejoice with them and mourn with them, or that you have been truly loyal to someone, just wait until you get married. Then double that when you have a child. I love being able to completely share my life with my husband – no insecurity involved. Two become one. And knowing that our love is rooted in Christ, I never have to doubt our relationship... not ever. Before we got married, we promised each other that we would never even say the word divorce. I have prayed for Roman more than I have prayed for anyone else in my life….and I have prayed for some people. What a blessing – what a beautiful way for God to share his love with us.

What surprised me the most (in a not-as-good, but realistic way) was that marriage is hard and parenting requires more selflessness than anything I have ever done. I know, what a revelation! But, it is. I heard a message one time that went something like this: Loving someone is easy when you feel in love. Like the day after your wedding, you wake up, and you can’t wait to do something wonderful for that person you are lying next to. But, true love, mature love, is when you wake up feeling like you don’t want to do anything for the person you’re lying next to. You don’t feel like doing something to show you love them, but you do it anyway.

There are those days. But, it’s good to know that Joe is doing that for me on some days and I am doing that for him on some days. It’s not always fun. There are hard decisions to be made, compromises that have to be worked out, there is give and take. There are times when we struggle in our walk with God. And when one person is struggling (and two became one, remember?) that is tough. It is our obligation to carry that other person if need be, to help them get back on their spiritual feet.

As for the parenting, I have never worked harder in my life. I have had some good jobs and some boring ones, and being a mom is, by far, the best, most exciting, most rewarding, most exhausting, most patience-requiring, job I have ever had! It takes 100% effort 24 hours a day. You don’t have the option to take a quick break when you are feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have the “go home to peace and quiet” option. But, when you hear a little voice call you mommy…priceless.

C&C: How has your relationship with God changed since having a baby?
RA: I think the best way to answer this question (since I have been so wordy on the other answers) is for you to go read my blog: www.rapometto.blogspot.com.

Having a child has radically changed my relationship with God – in almost every way. About every other post on my blog is a lesson I have learned from Roman, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find out that I have learned more about grace, patience, our selfishness, and God’s unconditional love, than I ever thought was possible.

C&C: Can you tell us a funny story about Roman?
RA: He is the most hilarious kid ever. I can’t wait until he can carry on a full conversation (he is also really smart, so it probably won’t be long!)

He is really funny about dogs. He talks about puppies all the time. My mom has a dog, Joe’s parents have a dog, my brother has a dog, the neighbors have a dog…you get the picture…he is exposed to them frequently. And, if you came to our house, you would see his stuffed dog, Murphy, who he loves. You would also hear him say “puppy” about every 15 minutes. Loves them. In theory.
When Roman gets close to a dog, he freaks out.

Example #1: The neighbors have a dog named Rocky. You can see him in his cage outside from our kitchen window. So, about once an hour, Roman says “Wah-kee?” and I lift him up so that he can look out the window, bark at Rocky, and talk about puppies. However, when we are drawing with sidewalk chalk on the walk in our back yard, and Rocky barks, Roman runs to me crying.

Example #2: We stayed the night at my brother and sister-in-law’s house a couple of months ago. Rom
an gets nervous around their 2 dogs, so they were in their kennels. He was crying because one of them barked, so I picked him up and was walking them into the kitchen to get him a drink, and as we walked by the dogs he says (through the sobs) “Hi puppies!!”. So funny. He just really loves them…but not in real life.

C&C: Are you an obsessive blog-checker? Which ones do you check daily?
RA: I can be pretty obsessive about the blogging. Joe makes fun of me about it all the time. You can find my favorites (I check them almost daily) on the left side of my blog – under “Blogs I Love”.

C&C: Are there any blogs that have especially inspired you lately?
RA: www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com

This blog is written by Angie Smith – her husband sings in the Christian band, Selah. They were pregnant with their fourth child when they found that the baby had several problems that would be fatal. They decided to carry her to term despite the doctors’ recommendations to terminate the pregnancy. They named her Audrey Caroline…she lived about two and a half hours and their blog is the beautiful story of her life and the life of their family.

I love it because Angie is so real about her suffering. She is honest about the struggles that she has giving it up to God. She is transparent about the pain that it is to lose a child. But, she is brave enough to offer it up to Christ…for HIS glory. It’s not about us. Nothing about our life is really about us. It’s all about bringing honor to the One who gives us everything we have ever had. It’s about knowing that God is enough. He is sufficient for us, despite our circumstances.

C&C: Thanks you, Ruth Ann, for being our first interviewee! We praise God for you and the life you are living for the Lord!
RA: Thanks so much for thinking my crazy little life worthy of your blog interview! So fun! I hope lots of other people do theirs soon!!

**If you have a story to share, let us know! Post a comment here and we'll get in touch for our next interview!**

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Futbol in Tegus

Okay, so if you're not already aware, soccer is a pretty big deal here in Latin America. Right now I'm playing once/week with the staff we can get together, but tonight I had the special treat of going into the center of the city to watch a Honduras team play Argentina at the large stadium.

It was quite a site - US fans have nothing on these characters. There was FIRE coming from a cheering section... several times and pretty big! They also shot off fireworks and burned memorabilia (right there in the stands!!).

We asked our friend Malvin how many gringas (that's us white folks) were in the stadium and then he looked at us and counted and then said, "four." So, we're trying to do culture here the way it's supposed to be done. We don't want things sugarcoated... and there was no fear of that. I was glad to not know a lot of Spanish slang, because I'm not sure what some people were yelling... and there were lots of different things flying through the air.

But, the main thing is this: I am seeing more of the city and developing a greater heart for it. If you haven't heard the Chris Tomlin song, "God of this City," then you must. My roommates and I have been in prayer about the vision God is giving for this place, for the students, and for outreach to the community. We want to be a part of those claiming this city in His name. And, getting to know the city is a great place to start.

Montagua (the Honduran team) lost tonight by one heavily contested goal, but we enjoyed every bit of it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Someone took the bait!

I just wanted to get everyone excited... we've got an interviewee!! This week we will be interviewing Ruth Ann - I can't wait to hear her story!

Hopefully she'll be the first of many!

The Man Who Was Thursday

I fell asleep last night reading Chesterton's book, so I thought I would better know how to articulate my thoughts on it. Not the case. So, my apologies for what seems slightly haphazard. And... I just happen to be horrible at summaries.

Let me just lay out the general idea: Syme, a pronounced poet and intellectual stumbles upon a very uncommon looking policeman in England. Upon questioning, the policeman reveals that he's no 'ordinary' cop, but actually part of the elite undercover force whose quest is to root out the spreading evil of anarchy. Syme's interest peaks when the cop in question suggests he would be perfect for the squad. So, Syme ends up in a pitch black room with a voice confirming his qualifications to fight evil, though he had no prior training.

Syme happens upon a radical anarchist, whose poetry had captivated an audience on the outskirts of town. And the strange, twisting, unpredictable journey begins. In dreamlike sequence, we follow Syme into the most unlikely of situations as he tries to uncover the destructive plans of the anarchy underground.

I've been reading different reviews, and of course the heavy annotations, but I think it will take me the whole book to understand Syme's journey. Why do the 'bad' guys keep being unveiled as 'good' guys in disguise? Are all the anarchists actually good guys undercover?

That would be a statement. I guess it's kind of like being 'of' the world to fight the evil of the world, but in the effort you are self-defeating. Like I said, I'm a bad summarizer. I'm an even worse philosopher without a good bit of processing time.

So, I'm just asking: Has anyone else read this marvel, called a nightmare by Chesterton? I know it doesn't sound like it from my review, but I've completely enjoyed it. I'm actually about 100 pages from finishing.

No plot spoilers, but leave your comments!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mystery Revealed: I'm a working girl!


The answer to the post a few days ago linking to Valley Evangelical Free church's website is... that I have accepted a full-time job there! I am thrilled to start working there this week as their Student Ministries Administrative Associate. They have basically written a job description just for me, which will include all of the design for Junior High, Senior High, and College Ministries, heading up the discipleship ministry, and various other administrative tasks. For those who don't know, this is my DREAM JOB, doing advertising and design for a church, and being able to do hands-on ministry along with it makes it all that much better. :)

I'll write later this week about the crazy, awesome journey God has brought me on these past few months, I guess right now I'm still trying to wrap my brain it. How he works things out, every little detail, to take care of us. How he answers prayers perfectly. How he loves his children so much and completes the good works he's started in us!

God is so, so good!

Anyway, I start there this week, and am thrilled to jump in on the new adventure God has for me, at Valley Church.