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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Weekly Lineup

Hello folks!

We hope you read last week, because we are back at blogging - full force. This week, we won't disappoint, so anticipate some great posts.

Mystery Revealed
Find out what Christina is all excited about!!!

The Man Who Was Thursday
Take a closer look at this strange nightmare, written by theological great G.K. Chesterton. Maybe you can help me figure it out!

Design Lemons 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!

Phase II
Read about Christina's journey into this new territory (see previous post) - I guarantee it will be worth it!

Oh, yes, remember when we wanted to interview YOU. Well, apparently you don't want to be interviewed. Well, we can respect that, but that doesn't mean we have to stop asking. So, anyone? anyone?

Alright, expect some fun things to fill in the gaps. We are so excited and blessed to share the way God is moving and working in our lives. May all the glory be unto Him!

Controversy on a Sunday. Read and Discuss.

Read. Discuss.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Books and Rainy Days

Not to steal any thunder from Christina... I am waiting with anticipation to see what this mysterious graphic might represent... (just kidding I already know - you don't think she'd make me wait with the rest of you, do you?)

In the meantime, I'll give you something good to chew on: literature. I know you might prefer chocolate or tres leches cake or (insert scrumptious saturday afternoon treat). But today the treat are the two books I'm reading: The Man Who Was Thursday and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. In the past, I've referred to my love for books like some people's love for chocolate, except I'm completely convinced it's much healthier (I've tried the chocolate thing many times).

Anyway, back to the present. These two books I'm eating (I mean reading. I literally just wrote that without thinking!!!) are so very different. The former is written by G.K. Chesterton and it follows a man in his nightmare of fighting anarchy while an undercover anarchist. The latter is about a clever African woman who set up the first (and probably only) ladies' detective agency in Botswana after her father passed away and left over 200 head of cattle as her inheritance.

I picked up the detective book because my counterpart at the school brought two books along to read while we waited for parents at Open House this past Friday. I gratefully jumped into the fiction and will probably finish tonight or tomorrow. The book is part of a series I've heard recommended often, so maybe I'll get into that.

Chesterton's book, well, it's severely deep. I somehow picked up the annotated version, which makes it both interesting and annoying (do I really need to find out - when Ludgate Hill is mentioned - that someone edited his periodical at an office there?). In any case, I think I'm getting a much more distinct landscape than I would otherwise. I'm trying to piece together underlying theological meanings along the way and I'm glad to discover in the annotations that others are equally confused.

I am half-way through each book, grateful for days like this one where the rain drowns out the music and leaves me with the words.

Mmm. Delicious!

Saturday Linkage- what could it mean?

What could this mean?

I'll let you know on Monday :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led, Part III

Read part I and part II before you read on.
This little series is entirely fictional and based on my heart's desire at the time I'm writing. We all know if we
truly had our way, things wouldn't be so great, but I think there are desires God has given us that are okay (even good) to dream about.

As I hiked up the steep incline, with my cumbersome camping pack snug at my hips, I remembered why retreats are important. Some of the best advice I ever received came from a seasoned missionary, who said, "Take prayer retreats. Oh, once a month at least! at least!"

I'll admit, I thought once a month would be a bit extraneous (wasn't I supposed to be reaching out to people instead of hiking up and away from them?) ... But, as the air grew thinner, my head started to clear. The stress of the village and the weight of decisions fell like the
sprinkles starting around me. Grasping a sturdy limb, I tilted my head back to drink in the delight of the early morning.

The winding trail I followed had been blazed by the steady footsteps of women and children with water the destination at the base of the mountain. It was no more than 10 inches wide, but the path furrowed deep into the mountain rock. I prayed as I hiked... and the Lord pressed further on my heart a passion for this place. The people, whitewashed by tradition and necessity, appeared as snapshots across my mind: Natalia, Jesus, Mario, Gabriela, Maria, Carolina, and Juan Pablo.

I thought back to the previous evening I had spent with a family at the base of the mountain. They had attended our church for almost a year and each member seemed like my own relation. I remembered sitting down at Carlos and Andrea's table for arroz con pollo y vegetales, and I praised God for His presence
and faithfulness in our village.

My breathing was a little more strained when I realized I was reaching my destination, signified by a painted rock on the path. I stopped to breathe deep before I turned around to take in the glorious sight from my bird's perch. No matter how many times I looked out onto the mountain valley, I always always am amazed. Prayer retreats at this post are more like songs ... and come with little effort.

But, this morning, I knew I would be doing little talking. This morning God wanted me to listen.

Here's the next tidbit.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mission Trip RE: Cap Installment 2. Faith is not about "God Time"

Need my coffee!

Had a great day with Ruth Ann and Roman on Monday, and spent Tuesday and Wednesday with my PT nanny family, so I'm just now getting back to the blogging board from the romper room to try and put more of my mission trip into words.

The mission trip was a like a fast track out of my comfort zone. Not just because it was in an area of the US that feels like a foreign land, but because for being such a spontaneous gal, I'm extremely structured in some parts of my life. Like my morning ritual. Wake up early, read bible, make healthy breakfast and coffee, get ready for the day. It takes about 2 hours, and it gets my day going RIGHT! I am being truthful when I say that the world is better for it, as my morning crankiness has 2 hours to be turned into Christ's love by the time the world meets my smiling face. :) Anyway, of course this was not the case in New Mexico. Facing a day of cooking, cleaning, child-teaching, insulating and building without my full mornings with the Lord was way out of anything I'd be comfortable with in "real life."
But on a mission trip, you adapt.

I stumbled out of bed at 5:30 or 6, to rush to the kitchen to help our wonderful cook, Minerva, along with my team. With toothpaste crust flanking my mouth on either side, I tried follow simple directions without making a mess of everything or bursting out in tears from exhaustion and lack of "me" time. In my normal life, this would have made for a do-over day. You know, one of those days where you just want to go back to bed as soon as possible and wake up tommorow? Anyway, not an option on the mission field. So, you stumble through tasks, hoping for understanding for those around you, and use the bathroom as your pull-it-together spot. No one likes to wake up this early and work in the kitchen, not the head cook, not even the morning people. But you do what has to be done. You work because people need to eat- they need to eat so that they can serve the Lord by working hard all day long. So you do what needs to be done.

Along with the bathroom God-chats, I pulled into the reserve of hymns, memorized verses, and the Holy Spirit within me, and He was faithful. Faithful to fill me with His Spirit, faithful to work in this unworthy vessel.

Now that I'm writing about this, it really makes me a little embarrassed of how incredibly spoiled I am. Not just in material possessions, but in my walk with God. I have gotten used to a certain amount of time with Him, writing my prayers in my journal, no interruptions. So much so that if one little thing is off, it can throw off my whole day. How silly to think that if my journal is missing or an emergency happens, that I can't spend quality time with the Lord! I have Him with me- we can speak anytime! I have hidden (not much, but some!) his Word in my heart, and that is always with me! Faith is not about a "God-time." That's one lesson that the mission trip taught me. It's listening when he is speaking, instead of doing all the talking. It's about a wild adventure that he's taking me on, and not a 1 hour box that I put him in. Faith is about me, giving up me, over and over, and asking Him to take charge.

Lord, take charge today. Take this day and make it yours. I give this whole day to you, and everything in it. Not one hour, or one journal entry, or one chunk of scripture. This whole day. Fill me with your spirit and teach me in your word. Help me to give over more and more. Help me to become more like you. You are good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tankers, Helicopters, and Cruise Ships sent to save me

Today I woke up waiting for a call from an employer. Seems I've been in this place for 2 months now- waiting. Waiting and praying and believing that God will provide, but also wondering how long do I wait before I have to move towards another option? I'm in that place again. Somewhat frustrating to be here still, since August is coming to a close soon.

It's hard to figure out the place where believing in His ability to provide for you, and moving forward. Because you don't want to try and take over for Him who is obviously in control, but also, as our Mom says, "God doesn't drive parked cars."
Sidenote- of course, this isn't exactly theologically correct, because of course if God wanted to, he could drive a parked car. But I digress.
Meaning that we as Christians can't just sit around thinking, "Well, if it's God's will, it will happen." So, what do you do? I'm mainly doing a mixture of praying a lot, believing that God will provide, looking at my bank account a lot and budgeting like crazy so that the money I've saved will last me, and looking into different temporary PT job options.

My good friend Annie told me a story while we were on the mission trip. It's about a guy who was stranded out in the sea. He was a faithful man, so he prayed, believing that God would save him. He prayed and prayed, and soon a tanker came near. The driver yelled to see if the man would like a ride. The man said "No, I'm waiting on God to save me." Then a helicopter came by the next day, and shouted down to get the man on board to safety. The man had the same reply- "No thanks, I'm waiting on God to save me." Then the next day, a cruise ship filled with vacationers came by and asked the same question- Sir, we've come to save you, get on board! He had the same reply, "No thank you! I'm a faithful man, and, I'm waiting on God to save me." The next day the man died, and when he met God, he asked him frustratingly, "God, why didn't you save me?" And God says back, " I TRIED TO! I sent a tanker, a helicopter, and a cruise ship!"

Anyway, So I guess what I've decided to do is pray, believe, and look for the little ways God's sending me help in the meantime. Which he is! Praise God, he's been so good to provide for my needs by sending me jobs out of the woodwork! And I'm trying to trust him with the BIG things too, like the 3rd interview I have tomorrow, with an establishment that just might be the absolute perfect job for me. Actually, more than trying, I'm praying that he'll take every worry out of my hands and my anxious heart, and not let me have it back! And he is good, he is good to take care of me. What a great God we serve!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life in Honduras

This is one of the first things I posted in my classroom (well, the classroom I share with the curriculum developer, who is double-timing as 7th grade English teacher).

I found out a few days before school started that I would be in this particular classroom and because neither the English teacher nor I are full-time teaching, we didn’t have much time to dedicate to decorating. But, as I searched my brain for inspiration, I came up with this verse I first heard at CHALLENGE at Purdue University many years ago. I don’t remember much about the speaker, but I do remember she handed out a half sheet of neon green paper to each student present. Isaiah 7:9 was written in clear, bold script.

Why does this shine a light on my experiences thus far? Because, though I will never face the physical foes of the Old Testament, each day God gives me the exact amount that I can handle and the faith to accomplish it. And if we remember the stories from childhood - building on anything else is disastrous. Let me give you a few examples of what I could stand on here in Tegus:
  • my own ideas
  • selfish pride
  • my own knowledge
  • fear
  • anxiety
If your next question is, “Have you tried to stand on these?” The answer is yes to every one. And let me tell you - it takes much more energy to do something the wrong way! Just the other day, I came up with a great idea to expedite the guidance referral system, but almost before I puffed up with the idea, I found out the system was already in place.

Other such humbling experiences:
  • Today in psychology I was giving an example and I pointed to a student ... then promptly emptied my mind of anything resembling a name. I stood there for a few seconds with my hand outstretched and then I said, "Remind me of your name..." and then when he said it too softly, I just said, "uh-huh" and moved on.
  • Oh yeah, some of my students also thought I was 17
  • Having to wear the same clothes over and over again because my boxes have not arrived
  • Asking unheard of amounts of questions
So, the verse in my classroom is a reminder for me as much as anyone else. I’m just thankful the Lord gently guides and protects as I’m refined. Praise God for the things He knows that I don't!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mission Trip RE: cap [Installment 1]

Our group of PreK- 2nd graders!!

We're back!
Actually, we've been back for a few weeks... we were gone from the 1st- 10th I believe, a jam-packed week and a half, full of driving, teaching, working, sleeping, and spreading the Good News.

When we got down to the Navajo reservation in NM after 20 hours of straight driving, we had a meeting at a Chinese buffet (Will's suggestion :) ) to talk about the week ahead. This mission trip was very different than other mission trips I'd been on in the past in that we had to roll with the punches in a million new ways.

We found out what groups we'd be teaching on the drive down. We got the materials for teaching when we arrived. We didn't really know how many workers there would be until we arrived, either, so we were glad to see that small groups had come from IL and CO to help run the VBS.

All in all, though, we had 20 workers where there are normally 40-50. It was pretty insurmountable. So even from the very beginning, we were relying on God for every step. It was scary, but also awesome, relying on God this way. Trusting him for every next word to our little students. And working so hard each day with them that you fell into bed each night so exhausted, but fulfilled that you gave a good day of work to the Lord, and to his Navajo children.

I'll write more later today- I'm late to head off to spend the day with Ruth Ann and Roman.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekly Lineup


I know it has been SO long since we have written in any sort of organized way. In fact, I just realized that it might be a good idea to re-introduce ourselves. To save some space (and the eyes of those that know us well) you can just click here and here to read more about us and our blog.

We're going to try the lineup thing again and see how it goes. We're thanking the Lord for the blessing of skype... and hoping that we can continue to write together, separately on this little space of the web.

Here's our lineup for this week:

NM Mission Trip: REcap
Remember when Christina was on a mission trip to New Mexico and you were praying for her? Well, she returned and has much to share! Be sure to check out how the Lord worked and is working in their lives!

Life in Honduras: the things you have to learn for yourself

Read about how Caroline is adjusting to life in Honduras. Some things are easier than others and there are MANY reasons to laugh.

Praying, Believing, Doing

Christina has been deep in transition these past few weeks - ending a job, going on a mission trips, applying for other jobs, interviewing... and through everything the Lord has been Provider and Sustainer. Sometimes, though, it's hard to find the right balance of praying, believing, and doing.

The Adventures of the Life I Wish I Led

Read part I and part II before you read on. This little series is entirely fictional and based on my heart's desire at the time I'm writing. We all know if we truly had our way, things wouldn't be so great, but I think there are desires God has given us that are okay (even good) to dream about.

Dare to Design
Read some marvelous insight into the design world. We're not all gifted with an eye for color or fabric or artistic elements, but we can all read about people who are! So gain some insight from Christina this week and use what you steal to work for you!

Interview with ______

When we first decided to merge our creativity into this blog, we talked about wanting to do interviews. After our first interviewees fell through, we're thinking of trying a different tactic. What if we interviewed YOU, our readers! I'm pretty clueless as to how many people read this, but it would be WONDERFUL to start bringing more of you into this creative process. So, make a comment post on this weekly lineup if you'd be interested in an interview - because we're interested in YOU!

That's it for this week. Look for little pick-me-up posts during the week as well. Like we said, we're going to try to be as regular as we can, for two sisters living thousands of miles apart.

Friday, August 22, 2008

day two and muy cansada

So, my mom is a teacher. I have several aunts who are teachers. My brother is a teacher, my sister-in-law, several friends. I don't know if I just severely misunderstood the job description, or if I just flat out never gave them enough credit... but MAN! what a job they have!

I got through two half days and I feel like I'm still catching my breath. But, gloria a Dios for His will is perfect!

I have established a system for mornings here. It's called get up 2 hours before I need to be somewhere. I have time for breakfast, quiet time, shower... and enough space to collect my thoughts without rushing. The system works pretty well. I'm generally early ... so yesterday morning (first day of school) I went into my classroom and checked (and re-checked) to make sure everything was in place. Of course, I still feel like I have no clue what I'm doing, so everything is somewhat of a gamble at this point. I plugged in the overhead, which I had tried multiple times the previous day and discovered it didn't work!! So, after I sweated through my first day attire, I realized it was the outlet and made the switch in time.

Nothing else too exciting to report, except that I am constantly filled and challenged with the way God has provided community, fellowship, and opportunities here. The very prayers I prayed before leaving are happening right before my eyes!

Today I got to focus a bit more on the guidance side of things - which is beautiful! I am already creating a 7th grade transitions program (called SIT - students in transitions) because from what I gather the 7th grade have a really hard time adjusting. There is no "middle school" here. It's straight from 6th grade elementary to 7th grade high school - so you can imagine the wide eyes we saw this week! I'm working on a newsletter as well, but in a recent development.. I just found out I'll be teaching an 11th grade elective class - Journalism! I couldn't be more excited! I'm hoping to get the students writing a school newspaper by second semester.

Anyway, all that aside I just want to say again the Lord is good. We start each school day morning out with teacher devotions and I already know it will be a much needed grounding - to remind us of our missional purpose here at Pinares and in the community.

In other news... I know it's been awhile since we've heard from Christina. I get the feeling she almost has too much to report. I still don't feel like I've heard a decent account of her mission trip to New Mexico. From what she did say, it was an absolute amazing experience that God used to grow and challenge everyone involved.

Though we have strayed from our goal of keeping to a schedule, I think this next week we'll do better! Please spread the word that we'll be back to your regularly scheduled blogging in the next week!

Hope this finds you well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Okay... many of you know that life has been more than crazy lately - for Christina and I. Tonight finds me in heated preparation of the beginning of a school year. Tomorrow, we have our first day of school at Academia Los Pinares and tonight most of the teachers wandered out of classrooms at 7 or 8 o'clock, looking a bit weathered.

But, as I sit with my roommates tonight, we are marveling ... because we are teaching with Truth in mind. We have the opportunity to reach out to each and every student, unashamedly presenting Scripture as part of our lesson plans! I know and have heard about the struggles other teachers are facing in public schools everywhere - so I'm cherishing this gift of freedom!

We have set aside time to praise and pray tonight... for the school, the students, the leadership, and for our own words - that they may be pleasing to God.

Pray with us for this year at Pinares - that God's love and light will reach each student and beyond to the community.

Buenos Noches!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

love it, love it, love it

When asked if he wanted to go over to his grandparents house, my sweet cousin Craig Alan said, "Will I love it, love it, love it?"

I'm sure he heard it said somewhere before, but I can't get over the honesty of his response. Tell me if I'm going to love it and then I'll tell you if I want to go. That's a pretty transparent picture of human nature. How will this decision benefit me (or hurt me)? I find myself analyzing situations all the time with that in mind.

Well, God has a way of really stretching us in the areas we are weakest. Sometimes I start feeling the painful stretch before I even realize I was weak. Since I've been in Honduras, I'm feeling stretched in areas I never knew I had! For instance, let's just take this moment to give you a little snapshot into my stretching and confusion.

I am sitting in the Guidance office, but I have no desk, nothing to cover my wall space, a total of two binders and everything else jammed into my backpack. I am simultaneously trying to plan for my first year teaching psychology and also work on preventive guidance measures so I can promote good behavior instead of dealing so much with bad.

The constant cry from our apartment windows is "be flexible!" because we are all very much aware of our ever-changing job descriptions and of the greater mission: to live out the Gospel. We are each passionate about pursuing the Lord and we bring our unique gifts and talents as an offering. I have been so built up by relationships in our apartment alone and I praise God for His provision!

But, because God is great where I am weak, our failures will most surely show! So, I've made a few missteps the past couple days. It will take awhile to get used to this system and reach some level of comfortability with my position and purpose.

I've been reading through Romans and God is blessing me daily with reminders that He is infinitely more gracious than He has to be... and that His work is accomplished with or without me. I just must make a decision, as Esther did, to step into a time such as this for what the Lord is planning.

I guess sometimes we can't anticipate how or why we will love it love it love it. And maybe loving it is not about our enjoyment as much as it is about His glory? Either way, I do love it so far, there's just a lot of learning in the loving.

Please visit the webpage - I updated some links with new pictures of the market, the feeding center, and the choir trip!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buenos Dias!

Hello, hello!

I have very little time, but I wanted to say that I have arrived in Honduras! God is so amazing in how He works everything out - even the little details.

I feel so very blessed to be here and be a part of the ministry of Pinares. Please check out the webpage - I have updated an August edition of the newsletter and added pictures to Picasa. As always, there will be more to come.

Mucho amor!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

In the Air

I am on a plane flying North to South. Do you see me?

I finally packed everything - inventoried down to the pairs of underwear and bottles of ibuprofen. Yesterday I breakfasted with my friend Margee, went to town with my mom, lunched with my brother, played a round of putt-putt golf (and lost mightily), went to the library, packed, cleaned, stored, supped for the last time with my parents and grandparents, and rushed off to Omaha. WHAT a day!

I kept saying it would be “real” once I got on the plane, but now I’m hoping it will seem real enough when I land - right now it seems like any other crazy trip.

My time at home was especially sweet. If time off work was a twinkie, then Cass County would be the creme filling. There’s something about the rolling green hills, campfires, and beautiful people that will always win a comparison.

For some reason, this time when I was home an overwhelming feeling kept creeping up from my toes and would come out in waves under my eyelids. I’m not sure if I can say why, except for a foreboding feeling that things will never be the same. My friendships are changing - we are all getting older and stepping into a different phase of life. I think it was that, but also as my friends are changing... I’m leaving the country for an undetermined amount of time.

But, as I listened to my mentor at a little mexican restaurant in Atlantic, I scribbled her advice on a piece of paper that I stuffed somewhere in my carry-on. It said, “Do what you are doing now with your whole heart... your whole heart, Caroline, as unto the Lord.”


Because, the blessings God has given are more His than mine. It’s silly to hold too tightly.

I am on a plane flying North to South. Do you see me?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Photo Album

Here are pictures from leaving Austin and then coming to Iowa. I had a great trip - stopped in Branson to have dinner and pray with Liana and then stopped in St. Louis to spend some time with one of my favorite pastor couples (Schoenfelds!) ... then finally arrived in Iowa, where I've been gazing at green fields of corn and walking in them too! I spent an evening in Des Moines where I was hit on by a guy with a grill in the hood (he offered to buy me a phone so he could have my number!) and then we got lost in an inner city forest. Then I spent some time with my bro and we ended up at a local county fair.

Here are pictures from the family reunion at Lake Anite State Park. In the words of my brother Samuel, "Well, I guess this goes to show we don't need fancy jet skis and fine dining to make a Nichols vacation memorable - just each other and some superbly made water balloon launchers!"

We pretty much had a blast. And note the striking look of me on a motorcycle - get used to it, because I am getting one the next time I need wheels to get around. Well, a scooter, but it's basically the same effect, right?

So, when my Iowa friends get together, something awesome is bound to happen. And of course it did, when we got our sneak on at an abandoned school in Cumberland. Then, William, Grace, Patrick and I went to visit Heidi and Amaya in Lincoln. We took them to the zoo and had SUCH fun!

Here are some pretty great pictures from the fair. What can I say? I'm proud of my roots! My cousins showed beef cattle and pretty much owned the ring. I'll admit, I was a little more careful around the animals, but I loved it all the same!

Enjoy these little slide shows and stay tuned for more! Today I met with a brilliant mentor and missionary and I have much to process.


Weekly Lineup


Things are crazy around here.

Christina is in Whitewater New Mexico with our brother William and a team from our home church and I am packing the last few things, getting shots, and saying farewells before I leave on Thursday.


Tonight I jumped in the car with my parents and we made the local rounds - visited a couple relatives and friends and absolutely loved it.

I don't really know what to promise this week, so I'm not promising anything. I do very much hope to spend some sincere time writing, reflecting, and catching up before I get way behind again.

Please pray for Christina and the group in New Mexico and for me as I prepare for Tegus. Christina is currently trying to get over a cold, so just pray that the Lord would give her an enduring spirit and willing heart. Praise the Lord for His provision thus far with connections in Tegus - it has really been amazing to see how travel, lodging, and roommates have come together in the past few days.

As I've been able to connect and talk with some of you this summer (family at the Cass County Fair, road trip to Lincoln, frequent stops at the church, chatting after church, and playing cards), I am overwhelmed by blessings. Truly.

From Austin to Iowa to Tegucigalpa, the Lord has gone before me preparing the way for HIS work and I am delighted to be a part.

I know Christina feels the same way about God's faithfulness as she takes the next uncertain steps into a new phase of her life. What a life we lead - and what a treasure to serve our God.

Be blessed! Keep checking in for picture updates from our summer travels!