Thursday, May 31, 2012

the one featuring isaiah 25

This week I have just been totally stuck in Isaiah 25 and 26. These verses are just so rich with truth about the character of my God that I serve and love. He is like no one else. Reading chapters like these make my heart swell with praise and my soul overflow with awe. It just leads me to worship - I can't hold it back. 

I love this verse at the beginning of chapter 25...

You and I - we are the weak, the poor, the needy, distressed... the ones who need shelter from the storm. And God has been our stronghold. He has kept us safe and He has provided all we need.

Later on in the chapter, it talks about the sure and promised salvation from the Lord. Praise Jesus these words are true and the work has been done!

Christ has swallowed up death FOREVER - let us be glad and rejoice!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the one with packing tips

We've started packing!! I thought I would be so overwhelmed and dreading the process but I am actually really loving it! It's great to just tackle it (when I have the time) and instead of worrying about how much work it will be, I can start checking things off my (ever-growing) to do list!

I looked up some tips for packing before I started so that we could make the process as easy as possible for our family members who will be helping us move. Here are a couple things that we hope will help simplify things:

-I scheduled out what rooms we need to pack up when. This week my goal was the laundry room and sunroom. We knocked those out pretty painlessly - although WOW we have a lot of books! This week I'll be packing up as much of the bathrooms as we can (besides our day-to-day things we need). Since I work full-time and won't be taking off any time before we move, it really helps me relax knowing we have it all scheduled out.

-We are marking all the fragile boxes with blue painters tape. I think this will help them stand out when we are moving.

-We are labeling the top of each box with neon paper, color coded with the room in the new house. So orange paper is for our office, and I just write "OFFICE" in all caps with a description of what's in the box underneath (to make unpacking as painless as possible). 

-One site suggested packing a couple "open first" boxes for the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. For the kitchen, it will include things like paper towels, our coffee maker, chocolate -you know, the essentials. We will also pack some "overnight" bags with our toiletries, change of clothes, etc so our first couple nights won't be too frustrating trying to find what we need.

-When we pack up our kitchen, we are going to stack our plates on their sides instead of laying flat. Apparently they are much more likely to break if they are laying flat. (I'll let you know if that works out! :) )

That's all so far! Let me know if you have any good packing tips to add in! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

the one featuring kristen wiig

Well, y'all. Saturday was a sad night for me. It was Kristen Wiig's last episode on SNL. I'm not gonna lie - I definitely was holding back tears during her last song (me and Jason Sedakis almost lost it).

She really is the funniest comedienne in my opinion. She is so talented and hilarious.

In order to help me cope with my sadness, I compiled a list of my top favorite Kristen Wiig characters from SNL, along with links to my favorite version of the skit. Your welcome, blog world, for distracting you for the next 30 minutes of your day :)

8. Two A-Holes. Do y'all remember this skit?? "It looks like a rabbit." This was one of her first ones that just killed me. We even mimicked it in a skit announcement we did for Cru at Carolina. Her and Jason = classic. Favorite"Two A-Holes at a Live Nativity Scene" (although the one at the adoption agency is hilarious as well)

7. Sue. She LOVES SURPRISES. "I'm just so freakin excited!" Favorite (because it features Christopher Walken): "Surprise Party"

6. Gilly. "Gilly? Uh huh Gilllly? Yes Gillyyyy? What's up? Did you throw a knife at me? Thorry." I remember back in the day when I figured out that Gilly was Kristen Wiig, I lost it. That's when I knew I loved her. Favorite: The Original Gilly Skit

5. Judice. "I found a dead cat on the side of the road..." Those baby hands! That enormous forehead!! I remember one night me and my roommates watched this skit like 5 times in a row and couldn't stop laughing :) Favorite: The Original "Lawrence Welk Show"

4. Kat (from Garth & Kat). I would be lying if I said Rob and I had not tried doing this before (me and my coworker Kristi confessed that we had both tried this with our spouses pahaha). Favorite (although they are all REALLY funny): Garth & Kat - Summer Songs

3. Target Lady. "Welcome to Tuuurget." How can she always do so many different voices?! Her haircut = hilarious. Her ideas for things to do with Target merchandise = so weird. She just kills me. In fact, just typing this out made me realize how much I love it :) Favorite: "Classic Peg"

2. Judy Grimes. "Just kidding, just kidding." Almost forgot about this one!! I die. Favorite: Judy Grimes - "You can pause me right here"

1. Penelope. I'm not kidding. I don't know HOW she does this character. It is just so so good. It makes me cry laughing every time. Favorite: "Therapy"

I seriously will miss Kristen Wiig on SNL! Please make lots of movies!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

the one focused on failure

There are times when I simply mess up. Whether I accidentally break something that I love (goodbye cake dome, cupcake holder, awesome goblet, etc etc), or I sin purposely - I mess up all the time.

I recently pulled a doozy. I won't go into details but oh man was I feeling terrible. I just kept thinking "What if I had done this instead? I wish I could go back and change it and just NOT mess up!" I kept beating myself up and feeling that terrible feeling where you replay it in your head over and over.

In the midst of this, I was able to talk it through with Rob and share with some co-workers at our All-Staff Prayer time. I could really feel the Lord using this situation to teach me more about myself and more about His beauty. I took away two important lessons:

1I don't expect myself to mess up. It's like I think one day that I will just stop making mistakes, stop sinning. I think this comes from being somewhat of a perfectionist. I fix a bad habit or learn humility in one way, and I subconsciously think that I am on my way to perfection. And then it crushes me when I realize I've messed up again. I've let myself down. Worst of all - I've let others down (this is seriously the worst for a people-pleaser). And I can barely lift my hands toward the Lord because I am so ashamed of how I've let Him down.
Lesson: I will always mess up. I am imperfect, sinful, selfish, clueless, and... downright clumsy. :) I will never stop making mistakes.

2. I need to learn lesson numero uno so that I can rejoice in the grace that has been given to me. I find myself getting SO wrapped up in the failure I see inside me, that I can't move past it and embrace the forgiveness and love that is freely mine. Even when I sin, God wants to redeem and use it as an opportunity to see more of His beauty, glory, and righteousness. But when I am so self-consumed in what I lack, I miss the beauty before me.
Lesson:  I will always mess up but PRAISE JESUS - He loves me anyway. There is nothing I have done or could do that would make God love me any less. He sees the mistakes I'll make and He loves me the same. I will never be perfect, but Jesus is and that's enough for me.

My prayer is that the Lord will continue to show me (and you) that our perfection is not important - Jesus' is. I've been praying this verse below - right now, I choose to rejoice in my weaknesses and thank God for them. I am confident (because of the Spirit's work in my life) that one day my heart will overflow naturally with praise when I see His strength in the midst of my weakness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the one with a final house list

Thank you for all the love and support about our new maybe-house! :) (I'm making myself saying "maybe-house" until it is officially ours and I can call it our home). A lot of you have been asking to see pictures, get the details about our house on ye olde blog. I can't do that yet but I wanted to update you on how we did on our "must have" and "would be nice" lists. (For more info see this original post and this one more recently).

 So yep. Thank you, Lord - we found a house with all of our "must haves". Honestly, it's hard to believe! Even looking at this, my heart fills with thankfulness.

We did pretty decently on our "would be nice" list too. Some of the things we knew were probably unrealistic (no siding in our price range = unlikely; garages are very uncommon in the neighborhoods we were looking in, and crown molding? psshhh).

Plus our maybe-house has a TON of awesome things that we love that weren't even on our list! But I have to leave some excitement for later! :)

Seriously so thankful for what the Lord has given us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

the one reuniting with michelle

This past week I got to have such a wonderful dinner with an old friend!! My sweet friend, Michelle, was my best friend growing up until her family moved away to New Jersey when she was 5 years old. Since then, we've written letters, visited each other, and tried to stay (somewhat) in touch over the years. Our moms are also really good friends so that always makes it easier :)

Michelle was in town visiting some of her friends that moved down here and so Mom and I got to grab dinner with her one night! It was really fun to hear how she is doing (she is SO funny) and hear all about her family. Mom even showed Michelle her old house growing up which was really special.

Thank you so much for visiting, Michelle! We LOVED seeing you and hope to see you again soon!!

Best friends, age 5 :)
Michelle & me

20 years later :) Love you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

the one sometimes are just making it through the day, without any spare time, enjoying life but barely having a chance to catch a breath. go under contract on a HOME (house o' dreams!) which makes all the busyness worth it :)

Will you forgive my brief blogging break? It's been an exciting week for us! I am so excited about our maybe-future-home and wish we were closing tomorrow. I've already got major plans in my head for decorating, painting the walls, and making it ours. But I probably won't share pics of our home until it is officially ours - so expect a burst-of-excitement-blog-post on our closing day :)

In the meantime, we are PRAISING GOD for all of His provision, grace, and faithfulness to us during the last few months. I know we are not there yet but we are thankful for where He has brought us thus far. Thank you, Lord! Praying that through every step of this process, and especially when we are living in our new home, we will bring Him glory and make His name famous.

Now excuse me while I catch up on my blog... :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

the one redesigning some blogs

Recently, I've been trying to learn more about html coding, and a few tricks about how to customize your blog look to make it unique. It's been really fun and makes me realize how much of a dork I really am :)

I mostly like to try things out on my own blog (ever-changing in appearance). I really like the latest background I made for it... it actually looks a lot like our comforter from Pottery Barn. I've decided that I really like a clean, simple, pretty look. Check it out:

I also got to help Morgan redo hers as well! I'm really happy with how it turned out. The header and tabs are off to the side, which was something Morgan really wanted. It was really fun to learn how to do! I totally think these colors remind me of her too. Love you, Morgan!

That's it! It makes my little beauty-loving, simple heart skip a beat :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the one with a highlight reel

The one & only, Josh Sliffe, came to the middle school retreat this past weekend to shoot some footage for a highlight reel of the retreat. We are so pleased with how it came out! The best part is the live footage of the firetruck and shaving cream fight :)

Check it out::

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the one featuring a middle school retreat

This past weekend, we had an AWESOME time at the FCA Middle School Retreat at Camp Oak Hill in Oxford, NC. We had 142 middle schoolers, about 30 high school leaders, and about another 30 adult leaders. There were so many great moments throughout the weekend, but the best part: about 30 students put their trust in Christ for the first time! Praise God!

Like I mentioned yesterday, it was really fun for me to meet so many of the volunteers Rob talks about, as well as getting to hang out with some Summit staff friends all weekend.

Here are some photos of our weekend. All of these were taken by an all-star volunteer, Penny! Thank you so much for sharing these photos with us!

Rob MC'ed the whole weekend. He was awesome :) He may have lost his voice by the end of the weekend. He fit in great with all the middle schoolers as his voice cracked every other sentence... they loved it.

I LOVE this picture of Rob and Jason on stage together. 

The kids had quiet times every morning. Such a sweet photo.

I never get tired of awesome huddle pictures :)

All of the kids were split into huddles with a high school leader to talk about Jason's messages and how it applied to them. They also got to do team-building activities in their huddles, like photo scavenger hunts & team cheers. 

I love this picture, haha. Rob and I made fun of "the band" for being so emo and band-ish here - sitting in rocking chairs and jamming out :)
Seriously, though, they were awesome.

I love this photo. One of the highlights of the weekend was a big shaving cream fight...the high school leaders ambushed the middle schoolers...this leader hid in the trash can to pop out and surprise them!

And the shaving cream fight begins....

It got CRAZY.

The BEST part was a fire truck came and hosed everyone down!! Rob called them a couple days before the retreat and they agreed to come out and hose everyone down for free! He also got to invite the fireman's son to come to the retreat as well - it was awesome!

It was like a giant sprinkler!

Of course that led to a mudslide contest :) A sliding tunnel!

You know boys love to be dirty...

And girls too! Love the girls pushing each other over to the right :)

On the last night, there was a Trashy Dress Contest. The kids had to use trash bags and duct tape to make the dresses. It mostly consisted of middle school boys wearing dresses and earrings and lipstick :) 

One middle school boy diva and Rob :)

And the judges! Barry, Julie, and Gaston :)

We are so thankful for a great weekend! Love being apart of what the Lord is doing through FCA!

*all photos provided by Penny Cavanaugh. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

the one on a sleepy, thankful monday

This past weekend, I accompanied Rob as he led the FCA Middle School Retreat at Camp Oak Hill. It was a truly wonderful, encouraging, fun, and exhausting weekend. I was so proud to be there to support Rob and meet a lot of the kids and leaders. It was also especially fun for me because there were 4 other Summit staff members there - it was SO fun to get to hang out with my co-workers outside the office and serve together.

I'll share more about the weekend later...but for now, here's a little list of what I am thankful for on this sleepy Monday :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

the one about tim & jody

We are some lucky people. Last week, we were treated to  dinner at our favorite place (Angus Barn!) by two of our favorite people - Tim & Jody Jackson. The first words out of Rob's mouth the morning of our dinner was "We get to go to Angus Barn tonight!" :) We were giddy excited about it and it was such a fun evening with them. 

One of the reasons I love my job is simply because I have an amazing boss. I have worked for Tim Jackson for 2 years now and I am realizing more and more how rare it is to find someone that you love working for. He has taught me literally everything about my job as a staff accountant and has shown me so much grace along the way. Tim is actually transitioning out of his job to move to Kenya with his wife for the next 2 years (at least). He will be moving in January and I am dreading that day. While I am so excited about this next step, I selfishly wish I could convince them to stay somehow - I honestly cannot imagine my job without Tim as my boss.

Tim and Jody have some of the biggest servant's heart of anyone I know. They give so much of their time, energy, and resources for others. And they do it all because of their deep & passionate love for Christ. I could go on and on and on about how much they have done for me and Rob. They are gracious, generous, and compassionate people.

One of the main ways they have served in the past few years is through a tutoring program at struggling public schools in the area. Our church recently did a video and interviewed Tim and a local teacher about their relationship... I think it shows a great glimpse of The Jacksons' heart and passion for loving others.

Check it out:

We love you guys! How about we make it a tradition until you guys move away? Angus Barn Thursdays. What do you say? :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the one with a house search update

(Don't worry - I picked the girliest most dramatic font for my ridiculously dramatic and awesome name for our house. It's inspired by the one and only Anne Shirley: "You'll have to come to Four Winds. It's the most beautiful harbor on the Island....we shall have to find a habitation for ourselves. I don't know yet what it is, or where it will be in reality, but I have a little house o'dreams all furnished in my imagination--a tiny, delightful castle in Spain.")

I wanted to take a minute and document where we are in the process of finding a home... mostly because I want to remember the middle parts of the process (even though they can be the hardest) and not just the exciting beginning stages and grand finale! :) (Here is my first and second post about our search, if you're just tuning in.)

Time-frame - We've been actively looking for a little over a month now... we reached our down payment original goal as of April 1 so that's when we really allowed ourselves to dive in. However, we've been looking online for much longer than that :) We were hoping to close on a home beginning of June and move in by the end of June. Our apartment lease ends June 30. It looks like we will have to renew our apartment lease for a month-to-month lease for a little longer... it's a little more expensive but better than moving out somewhere temporarily and then moving again! 

Our List - Our "must have" list hasn't really changed. We consider a half-bath to be an option on one of the two bathrooms (as long as their is the ability to expand/convert it into a full bath). Obviously we will add in the clothesline and rocking chairs to whatever house we get :) We also added privacy because we realized that we really need some space of our own where we feel safe and at rest.

How We're Feeling - It's been an emotional roller coaster for me so far. I just am really optimistic and then really pessimistic when it comes to houses (or life in general). I get SO excited when I see a home with potential that I like that is in our price range. Picturing us living there, having our first home, making it ours... it's just all so exciting! And then when we find things we don't like, or possible deal-breakers on the property... I immediately feel like there is no way we will ever find anything to meet our needs in our price range in the right location. Up, down, up, down.

Marriage is awesome because Rob is so steady. He will get excited and show interest in a place, but doesn't close his mind to all negatives and immediately start calling it "our house" (yeah, I'm that person :) ) He thinks about it from all angles, slowly considers it, and is not rash & emotional. It's really great to balance each other out and he's good at reminding me to take it slowly and remain open-minded. I know I will feel so confident in our decision when we find one because Rob is so thorough and careful. I trust him so much in this process. 

Our options - At first, we found this really awesome, huge fixer-upper. I was in love as soon as I saw it (maybe still am). But things just didn't come together for us to make an offer on it... they actually just kept falling apart and I kept trying to push through but it seems like that probably is not the house the Lord has for us. We've continued looking...and it seemed like we were stalled out for a couple weeks. Nothing was popping up. One afternoon we had scheduled to see 4 houses, and 2 hours before we were going to see them, all of them fell through. It was very confusing and exhausting. BUT this week, the market has really exploded and we are seeing new options everyday! It's really encouraging. We saw 8 houses on Monday! I really liked one of them but we'll see what happens.

We've also looked into some rental properties in our target area as well. Just in case we can't find the right home to buy...we still want to move to that area ASAP. Hopefully we'll find one to buy - but we are considering renting too.

How God has been Faithful - It's been a confusing and an emotionally draining time. I feel like every week, I've had to open my hands back up and say "I will go wherever you want me to go, and do whatever you want me to do". We both really mean that, which means letting go of a lot of control daily. It also means letting go of my anxiety and fears and house-attachment-disorder :) I don't care where God sends us - I just want to be exactly where it will bring Him the most glory. 

This process has also really strengthened our marriage. It has brought us closer together and it's been great to have someone reminding you of truth every step of the way. It's been stressful but also really fun for us to dream, plan, and talk together. I'm really thankful for this because I know that it can also very much divide people in their relationship with one another. Thank you Jesus for your grace in this way!

Our Prayer - Still the same as I first shared - the verse we are praying for our new home and neighborhood and ministry are the first words of Jesus' ministry, written in the book of Luke. As Christ-followers, we really want to follow His example. Obviously we cannot do miracles in people's hearts and lives by our own power - but Jesus can and we can carry His message of hope and new life!