Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And This is Love...

So much took place this weekend, but I just want to take this time to share three wonderful examples of love...

First, there is Amos and Jess
This couple has two small children, just took on the extra hassel of having a sister (me) move in, and are involved in everything under the sun, from choir practice to football practice. There isn't much time for them, as a couple. But they make it. They make time for each other. To appreciate each other. To love each other. To just be a couple in love. Yes, it takes work and time and effort. But it is worth it to them. The love they have for each other is important. Does it take away from their love as a family, for their children? Definitely not, for it only strengthens it. And this is love...

Next there is Clay and Becky
Now I have really only spent time with Clay and Becky and their family together once, but have had several ladies nights with Becky and Jess. And yet, I learn more and more about Clay in the process. Why? Because Becky loves Clay and shares stories of what he does for her or their family. She loves to lift him up. She admires him, respects him, appreciates him, and they are a couple that works as one to raise a wonderful family. And this is love...

Then there is Chris and Sarah
These two have loved each ever since high school. They have faced certain challenges together but have found comfort and strength in one another. They lean on each other. They encourage one another. And they know how to have fun together!!! It amazes me how they each think of the other...always. And now they are sharing that love with a beautiful little boy from Ethiopia. And we all got to gather together and celebrate that love. And this is love...

If there is anything anyone can teach you, show you...let it be love...
Have you shown love today?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Will You Starve...?

I just had a tremendous weekend of awakening. I was blessed to celebrate the wedding of the Sanders' as they had a reception here in Indiana though they live in Utah. Saturday, of course, was the Apple Festival in Nappanee followed by some great time with my niece and nephew. I even get a call from a great friend letting me know how she thought she just saw me and that she was thinking of me. Seriously, it was a weekend that filled me with happiness. But the world is not as blessed as I am, as we are.

This morning, I saw the words, "Will you starve That They Be Better Fed?"

It is International Day of Prayer for Peace and I can't help but examine my life, the opportunities I have... to eat whatever I want whenever I want, to be lazy and watch football, to spend quality time with friends...to... I wonder how many times my wants and desires have taken away from others...how many times I got something and ended up hurting someone else in the process just because I wanted "it"...how many times I put myself above others.

Isn't that all at the heart of fighting with others, hating others, hurting others. Doesn't that lead to the destruction of others? Have I built others up? Have I showed others love?

We prayed for peace today.

I listened to a gentleman share his story of being a conscientious objector during the time of war. He chose to use his service to better a life. He was actually a part of the Great Starvation Experiement which was a controlled dietary experiment in which he was fed 1000 calories and expended 3200 calories a day. All to help understand the best way to rehabiliate those in other countries who are starving. You know he got my attention, as he willingly gave up food.

He wanted to build up others...

We prayed for peace today, and I prayed for an open heart to remember the effects of my actions, the love God fills me with to share with all, the peace that comes from life lived as He has commanded.

What is your prayer?
Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pressure...Do You Feel It?

Okay, so just yesterday, I get the second email from my amazing friend Carrie mentioning that she should start a blog...and we all agree (Jess, Jackie, and I).

So here it is! I know she reads this! and so it is time for a little blog pressure ;)!

I am going to be doing a series of blogs until she caves and sends us her new blog address!

The series of course is about Carrie and why she should start a blog. I ask that you dedicated readers and blog stalkers leave comments of encouragement for her.

Let me first, introduce you to Carrie

Carrie has been such a great friend throughout the 11 years we have known each other! We first met this fabulous person when registering for classes at Manchester College! Yes, college seems to create the strongest friendships. Who would have thought our lives would have changed with such a simple introduction?! It was a great welcome to Manchester and we were inseparable from then on! Doesn't she already sound like someone who should start a blog?

Stay tuned to learn more about our crazy adventures together...

Monday, September 15, 2008

There Just Isn't Enough Time!

As soon as I made the step to enter the international mission field long term, Jess and I decided that we would definitely take atleast one weekend and spend some great time together just appreciating the time we have together and the fact that we are SISTERS!

Everyone who knows us knows how close we are. They know how much we love each other. And it is just amazing the friendship we have! Just before we took off for this weekend together, I had to laugh. Because I am now living with her and her family. Yes, I see her everyday, and yet, we are leaving for the weekend to spend more time with each other! WHY?


show her how much I LOVE HER..

THANK HER for encouragement and support
tell her just how INCREDIBLE A SISTER she is
show my APPRECIATION for her
treat her even a portion of the KINDNESS and
COMPASSION she has shown me and others
and the list goes on...

We had a plan! We were heading to Indy to stay at a hotel, shop, eat at a new mexican restaurant, go to opera in the park, and then eat at a cajun restaurant. But our plans changed...only for the best!

We shopped!

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, with our brother Scott, at PF Changs!

Followed by Starbucks!

We explored Greenfield!

And hoped that Jess wouldn't blow away!

We ate nachos while watching football!

I had such a great time with my wonderful brother, and my fabulous sister! I thank Scott for the time we had together, for allowing us to stay with you, and for being our brother! I thank Jess for always making time for me, for making me laugh, and for being my sister! It was difficult to leave. There Just Isn't Enough Time, but the time we had was INVALUABLE!

P.S. Check out the fun headlamp purchase for the trip. Do I get the mark of approval Matt and Jamie?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Do You Get...

when you ask for help?

12 amazing friends surrounding you...

Incredible food provided by a family who are all great friends of mine...

How can you doubt the presence of God at work?!?

It was moving time yesterday evening, and I already was feeling overwhelmed as I had no idea how emotionally draining and physically tiring it all would be. I asked some friends for some help with moving some of the bigger boxes and furniture. And they all said "yes!". Becky and Clay even provided dinner for all of us! And it was delicious! It definitely beat the pizza I was going to order and it was such a huge burden taken off of my shoulders. By the way, Becky, we are all eager to get the recipe for the roast and fruit salad...oh and the cookies!

Kevin brought a trailer, which was such a help, and we were able to just make one trip. The guys mostly loaded the heavy items, as the rest of us ladies cleaned out the house and carried some lighter boxes all while watching the kids. It was amazing how fast it went and I couldn't believe all the support I had. Everything that needed to be stored fit nicely in my closet sized rental unit while Jess and Amos are able to use some of the furniture pieces. As I pulled down the door to the unit and locked it up, I felt the finality of it all. This is actually happening. And you know what? Everyone was there, understanding how emotional it was, and they just surrounded me.

I know I couldn't have done it alone, and I didn't have to! God provided the help. And He provided the love. I can do nothing but praise God for all of it!

Thank you Amos, Jess, Matt, Alicia, Kevin, Chris, Sarah, John, Jessica, Jamie, Victoria, and Jamie, Clay, and Becky for all your help and support last night! Your love was seen and so very appreciated!!!
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lifting UP

Okay, it is Monday, and I can't believe the weekend is over already. There is just so much to do and so little time, and it is a struggle as I don't want to miss out on great time with friends either. So it is quite the balancing act.

First, I am thankful for one last roomie hoorah Friday night. Dina and I spent our last night together as roomies around a pot of rice crispy treats and just enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great send off, and another great memory I will cherish. I am so grateful for her friendship!!! I am also thankful for some great scrapping time with Jessica, Alicia, and Jess on Saturday. It is just some good time to be creative and relax and eat of course. So thank you ladies for these times together. I am looking forward to our next one! Then I was able to meet up with Jamie and Sarah. Sarah and I cheered on Jamie as she coached and then we all met up to eat at Cerulean's for some delicious sushi! I will definitely be back, as soon as I save up some money for it. Thank you ladies for such a wonderful evening. And to top it off, you know I have to mention the incredible football game where the Bears were victorious over the Colts...

Go Bears!

Now you might wonder, what else is going on? Well, I am packing and preparing for missions too. There comes a point in the packing process where you just want to burn it all and be done with it. You wonder why you collected so much and what the purpose of all the "stuff" is. I am hoping that there are more garbage bags to toss than boxes to move. It definitely isn't easy. But what is easy, is the ability to get so overwhelmed with everything. And here is where my title comes in...

I need to lift up two ladies in my life who have lifted me up over the past few days. First, there is Sarah. Sarah has been an extraordinary friend. She has helped me relax by inviting me to some fun activities, she has supported me as I step into the mission field, she is going to help me move though she lives kind of far from me, and she has been creative to help me work out logistics in moving. It has helped tremendously and I just have to say Thank You. And of course there is my sister, who just listens to me and lets me cry when I just need to let it all out...when I just need rest. And I couldn't be more appreciative!

There is a lot more to do, but God is providing the strength and perserverence with a little fun mixed in and I give Him praise!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sounds of the Evening...

What does an elephant say?

I think Matt answered it quite nicely!
(forgive the "trial version", as it is the only software I have to edit videos)

This was a great initiation for Matt into the role of dad. He always made this sound for Grace, albeit, we always had her go and ask him this question as it always made us laugh. If I would of thought of it, Alicia could have been initiated into her role as mom by trying to explain to Grace what a wrap is. It took the entire trip to Buffalo Wild Wings to try to do that, and I ended up just telling her it was a sandwich!

But in reality, no initiation is needed for these two as they already are filled with the love of parents. Jess, Victoria, and Jessica did a wonderful job organizing a celebration for these wonderful friends of ours. Friends from all over northern Indiana came together to celebrate this growing family. And what baby shower is complete without dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings first? Yes, we decided to skip the fancy foods and punch and just enjoy some nice wings, or wraps, or chips, or whatever we were in the mood for. It was delicious.

Of course we did have some fabulous games and cake at Jamie and Victoria's who provided us a great location to share our excitement. You know it is a great evening when it is filled with laughter, and the occasional sound of an elephant!

I send a huge congrats to Matt and Alicia!
I know the journey has not been easy
As we celebrated I couldn't help but recall the following scripture verse...

~Micah 7:7
But as for me, I watch in HOPE for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me

Thursday, September 04, 2008

10.5 Hours and Counting...

It is almost time...
I can hardly wait...
Most of you know why...
But check back tomorrow to see what this is all about!
Until then...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Hit The Road"

"Hit The Road" (quoted from my niece)....and is exactly how I spent my weekend!

I took off last week to Indianapolis to meet up with the wonderful people of LifeNets to update them on my last trip to Africa and learn more about how I could help them. It was such a great visit as the time passed too quickly. I am always eager to meet with this organization as they have such a passion to help others. I continued to be surrounded by that kind of passion as I attend the Indiana Grantmakers board meeting, where I continue to learn about the growing field of philanthropy by my fellow collegues. There was great conversation and of course delicious food.

While down in Indy, I spent some fabulous time with my brother, Scott. We had a great time traveling to Rhi's soccer game in Yorktown, and Spencer's soccer game in Bloomington. It was great to see Rhi and Spencer's games and I am eager to learn a little more about soccer so I can follow along better. Scott was great at answering all my questions, because I had quite a few. On the way down to Bloomington we were able to stop by one of Scott's hunting spots to set up a camera, and he is even going to take me deer hunting sometime, which I am very excited about. It was just wonderful not only catching up on everything, but learning more about my brother and his passions.

I returned home on Saturday in enough time to turn around and head to Chicago with Jess and Jessica. Ha, just realized that I was the odd one. Anyway, we thought it would be fun to spend a day in Chicago, shopping, eating, and just enjoying this fabulous city! Jessica does a great job recapping the trip, so you must check out her post (link to the right). We kept our tradition of eating at the same restaurant for lunch, getting coffee at starbucks, and shopping for some christmas presents and for some fun stuff for ourselves. But we mixed it up a little by trying out this frozen yogurt place that was recommended by a sales person in one of the stores. We were excited as it was a warm day, and perfect for something cool. Well, sad to say, that was a mistake...but it makes for a funny story and we definitely know where we won't be getting dessert our next trip to Chicago. I just love this time with these girls and look forward the future opportunities to learn more about these ladies!

Finally, it was time to rest. I spent Labor Day with the Frye's just relaxing and spending time out on the boat. It was great to do nothing and rest up for another exciting week.

I am just so thankful to God for such opportunities to strengthen relationships!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Does Anyone Have Clay?

Okay, so that would be a normal question asked in the exciting game of Settlers. But not exactly how it was asked last night as I played this game with Amos, Jess, CLAY, and Becky. Due to his name, it was best to ask for bricks instead. And that is exactly what we did, except for the few times we slipped up and Becky would quickly respond with, "I do", as she is Clay's wife. It was too cute...then I found $50 (usually what I have to add to my stories to make them interesting).

And there is my long intro to begin sharing about my faaabulous evening with this group of friends. It is actually quite fitting as well, since we all could talk about anything and everything, all feeding off the many tangents in our conversation.

We all live less than a mile from each other, and you would think we would get together often. Unfortunately, with busy schedules, that does not allow, but recently, God has really opened up our time to be refreshed with each other's company. And we jump at these opportunities.

Which brings me to last night!

We gathered at Clay and Becky's and talked while preparing (and snacking on) dinner. The children all playing together or watching Clay grill. Which I must say, is a definite skill of his. It was a feast! Grilled pork chops, grilled asparagus, vegetables, homemade rolls, and peanut butter pie. I am glad I walked there, because I am pretty sure I rolled home. We played settlers, we talked, we laughed, and just learned more about each other.

I thank God for this friendship which teaches, loves, encourages, and reminds us of the fun He blesses our lives with. Thank you Clay, Becky, Micah, and Evan for a great time. Thank you for being your wonderful selves! I am excited for all the opportunities we have to grow, to see God's hand in each other's lives, and I praise God for your friendship, that has already touched my heart!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do They See Jesus In Me...

Such a beautiful song by Joy Williams (check it out). And as I sit here at work, my eyes full of tears from words that touch my heart, I see Jesus...

I see Jesus in Jess!

Who would have thought that such a delicate woman would have such an impact on those around her. She has encouraged me when my nerves are rattled. She has cried with me as we talk about our journey of stepping into the unknown of what these next few years hold. And as I share with her the areas of life I need to work on, she lifts me up.

I have heard this humble woman share how much she desires to grow spiritually. I have heard her talk about how far she has to go. But I already see Jesus in her.

Every morning we share with each other what we thank God for. And I am thankful to know Jess. To truly know her, is to know love. She isn't perfect, but I know that God is using her and I know she is open to all He is calling her to.

I write this in thanks and praise to God for filling Jess with love and encouragement to share with us all. For she lifted me up this weekend and today (and you know I will blog about this beautiful lady again :)

Do you see Jesus?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stop Eating The...

Tomatoes...Green Peppers...

Okay, so Kevin, Cheryl, Chris, and Sarah didn't really say that, but I bet that was what they were thinking! I can't help it! You really can't beat fresh vegetables! You see yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with some good friends of mine. They supported me during my presentation at church, and spent time with me as we enjoyed a delicious lunch afterwards.

We then returned to Kevin and Cheryl's house so that I could watch the canning process of making homemade salsa!...and of course get a few fresh vegetables to take home with me. We all ended up participating in making the salsa, starting with preparing the tomatoes and cutting up the rest of the veggies, to tasting it after it was all mixed together! Did I mentioned eating tomatoes and green peppers throughout the process? It was all delicious! I had such a great time! And I can't wait until we get together again.

As I returned home I thought of the wonderful weekend I had. I spent time with Jess and Becky on Friday. Then on Saturday, I went to Amos' football game to cheer him on along with Matt and Alicia. And then had a great day with Kevin, Cheryl, Chris, and Sarah. I love the friends in my life, how different they are, and how they each add something special to my life! How blessed am I to be surrounded by such love. It is kind of like salsa, all these fabulous ingredients coming together, all different, and all adding something to the mix, creating something incredible.

So I thank each one of you for the contributions, investments, support, and love that I am so very blessed with through our friendship!

* Picture of Grace doesn't really have much to do with the post, but she is cute, it is festive, and doesn't she look like she just took a bite of salsa?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cared for...

What an amazing visit!!!

Yes, mom, I used the word "amazing" once again :). But it truly was. My parents came up to visit this weekend and it was such a blessing to see them. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as it was a weekend when I definitely needed their love and support. Friday, my co-workers and I had a grief counseling session that really made us breakdown. I had to be broken to be able to express all the emotions I had, and it was hard, but very refreshing. God was there in every moment. And He was present as my parents cared for me. They hugged me as I cried. They listened as I explained how much I missed my friend. They were there, 100% there, present, not thinking about anything else. They spent the weekend showing me love and I hope I they felt the love I have for them. It was just a wonderful visit and great to catch up with them...to hear what God was doing in their lives and all the activities they have been involved in recently. I can't wait until we are reunited once again! So thank you mom and dad for all your love!!! Thank you for giving of yourselves!

May you all be blessed to have such love in your lives!

Are You In A Bears Club?

That is the question we received from the gentleman seating us for lunch! And can you see why?

It was our third annual Line of Scrimmage Fantasy Football Draft! I love spending time with these ladies, and on top of that add football and food, and it doesn't get much better than that! We had another successful draft and helped each other along the way. Thanks ladies for making the job of being commish so very easy and extremely fun! I look forward to another great season, and of course leading the standings!

In true commish style I end with... Go Bears!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Como Estas?!?

Okay, so really this has nothing to do with Mexico except for the fact that we ate at a mexican restaurant, but how fun to catch up with one another.

We met in college, and God has led us to different locations, but our friendship keeps us close.

We rejoice with each other in the ways God continues to bless our lives and we listen to each other as stories are shared. There is a much better word to describe our friendship, for we are far more than friends...

we are family!... and I love my sisters!