Friday, 31 December 2010

Out With the Old, In With the New

I suppose this is my "obligatory" New Year's Eve blog post. On Facebook, my news feed began to flood with NYE well wishes and plans. And I hadn't really been thinking much about the New Year at all before that. But here it is, right in front of me!

2010 was an eventful year to say the least. I got engaged and married to the most wonderful man on the planet. We went on a dream honeymoon - a cruise to the Caribbean Islands! Some of our dear friends got married, as well. And my best friend revealed to me that I will be an aunt early next summer! But there was also much sorrow this year. Family emergencies and friends who lost their daughter after 36 precious hours with her. Friends with failed marriages. Losing our jobs and home. A death of a close family friend after a long battle with cancer. Not being able to attend her memorial service because we had to finish moving out of our home.

So many things have changed this year. I won't place a "good" or a "bad" label on 2010. But I am most certainly not sad to see it go. And although I know there is nothing magical about the changing of the calendar year, I am looking forward to 2011, hoping it bears more good news than bad; more laughter than tears.

I can tell you one thing, though. Tonight I will get my first ever New Year's kiss :)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

23

Today is my brother's birthday!

My brother is an incredible person, inside and out. He is extremely compassionate, an excellent listener, and a fiercely loyal friend. He is a very talented artist and is incredibly creative and original. He excels at anything he puts his mind to. He is intelligent and is intrigued by all things military - he can cite facts to you like an encyclopedia. He listens to artists like Aphex Twin but will often surprise you by jamming out to Lil Wayne. And he is so much fun to be around! I am so thankful for my brother, and I love him very much!

Happy birthday brother! :)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

First Married Christmas

This past Christmas was so different from any other Christmas I've ever had, and in many ways it was exactly the same.

It was different because it was our first married Christmas. Because we couldn't really afford to get people gifts. Because we didn't ask for anything (after all, it would just get packed into a box in the garage). Because my extended family were all out of town so we didn't have a huge Christmas lunch to look forward to the day of.

But it was the same because we had a steak dinner on Christmas Eve. We ate sausage cheeseballs on Christmas morning. We did our Lord of the Rings extended editions marathon.

We also went to go see a movie on Christmas day - "The King's Speech". I wasn't entirely sure I would like it, but I loved it. It was really, really good! I would definitely recommend it. There was a lot more humor than I anticipated and it was a very captivating story (based on a true story, even!). You will also recognize many of the actors as those who played Dumbledore, Captain Barbosa, Wormtail, and Bellatrix Lestrange (but let's be honest, Helena Bonham Carter is known for a lot more than just that role...she's brilliant!). Colin Firth is extremely convincing as the Duke of York (aka King George VI), and has mastered a speech impediment to make it entirely believable.

And tomorrow my little brother turns 23! My, how time flies.

Anyway, I hope your Christmas was absolutely wonderful and full of joy, memories, and laughter.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Was Losing Our Jobs a Blessing? - Part 2

So why did God see fit to remove the blessings of good jobs and a lovely home from my husband and I? I think it would probably be ridiculous for me to authoritatively answer this question, as I am not God and can never begin to fathom His reasons for doing or allowing things (although I can say that I do know that He ultimately works everything for good and for His glory). Perhaps in time the reasons will be more clear, but for now I can only speculate a few things that God wanted to reveal to us.

As I have chronicled our experience on my blog, so many people have come forward to say they are praying for us. People that I haven't seen in years are rallying around Matt and I and are lifting us up in prayer and surrounding us with encouragement. Many also offered suggestions and their expertise - whether it be a job opportunity they knew about or sharing how to improve our resumes, people were willing to offer anything they could. Talk about a blessing! To know that so many people care and that so many people are pleading with God on our behalf is overwhelming (but the good kind of overwhelming).

My family has been a huge blessing to us through this whole ordeal. My parents are allowing us to stay with them, eat their food, watch their tv, use their internet, and store all our belongings in half of their garage. They are gracious and understanding, and pray for us daily. My extended family and Matt's family have been praying and have been extremely supportive, as well. I am so thankful for the family that the Lord has blessed us with.

Matt and I are spending more time together than we have in a long, long time. When we got married, my job often required me to work 60 hours a week or more (during the busy seasons, which Fall most definitely was). Some days I went in to work at 7:30 and didn't get home until almost midnight. And Matt worked long hours, as well. We rarely had any days off together. It has been precious to spend so much quality time with my husband. And again, such a blessing!

I have spent precious quality time not only with my husband but with other dear people that I love. People that I never got to see while working in the middle of nowhere.

We are back in cell phone reception all the time now, and it is wonderful to be able to keep in touch with friends and family.

We are within 5 minutes of a grocery store. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to run to the store to pick up something if we need it. And it is wonderful to not have to take the entire day just to run to the grocery store!

We can go to church again! Working with retreats usually meant that I worked Sundays. In an entire year, I probably went to church less than 10 times. Because I was always working. It is wonderful to join a fellowship of believers in praise and worship of our Great God. It is wonderful to be continually spiritually fed and poured into.

We are forced to rely on God for everything at this point. We must trust that He will provide jobs. That He will provide a place to live. That He will take care of us. We must trust that He has a plan and even though we are confused and clueless, He is in control and is not worried in the least.

Those are all incredible blessings. Blessings we would not have received had we stayed at our jobs. Blessings we would not have received if we still had our own home. So while I don't know if it was a blessing to lose our jobs and our home, I know that we have received abundant blessings as a result.

So today is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow is Christmas. Remember your blessings. Even the small ones. Or the ones that often get on your nerves. The ones that you don't often think about (clean water, clean clothes, access to clean and healthy food, health care, etc.). And especially remember the greatest gift and blessing of all - reconciliation with the Almighty God through Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Was Losing Our Jobs a Blessing? - Part 1

That's a really hard question. We considered our jobs and our situation to be such a total and complete blessing. So to lose it all in one fell swoop...?

I've thought for a while that blessings don't usually look the way we think they do. As Americans, we live in the most free nation in the world! And while the American dream now has many versions, they all still involve wealth, comfort, and happiness. I am very thankful to live in America, and I am extremely grateful to those who fight for our many freedoms. I think we take so many things for granted. And it seems as if only the incredibly up front, obviously good things are called blessings. But is that really it?

Let's take a look back at who Jesus says is blessed (all from Matthew 5):
-Blessed are those who are poor and realize their need for Him.
-Blessed are those who mourn.
-Blessed are those who are humble.
-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.
-Blessed are those who are merciful.
-Blessed are those whose hearts are pure.
-Blessed are those who work for peace.
-Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right.

None of those things mention anything about having wealth or excess. In fact, none of those things are about material possessions at all! All of them are about characteristics. Christ-like characteristics, to be exact.

I'm not trying to say that material things cannot be blessings. I just want to make sure that material things are not where our focus lies. Our Almighty God blesses us with so much more than material things. Things that mean so much more than the material things of this world!

And that's definitely something to remember around Christmas. This Christmas for us will not have many material gifts at all. But there are gifts that were given to us that cannot be taken away. Jesus Christ. Salvation. Grace. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, my friends. I feel like our Christmas this year can be likened to the tree that Charlie Brown picks out. It doesn't look like much. It's small, different, and kinda wimpy. But with a little love and care, it transforms into so much more. Charlie Brown saw worth in that little tree. He knew that the meaning of Christmas had nothing to do with flashy commercialism at all (thanks to Linus). So this year, our Christmas is small, different, and kinda wimpy. But with a little love and care, it will transform into something so much more meaningful than a Christmas full of presents and boxes and bows. Choosing to still see worth in our Christmas, despite it's barren nature this time around; knowing the true meaning of Christmas, we are truly blessed.

So while our jobs and our home could definitely fall under the category of material blessings, God saw fit to remove them from our lives. And I think I'll explore that a bit in my post tomorrow.

I Told You So: My First Cavity

For a couple years now I have been complaining about a toothache on the top left side of my mouth. I've asked the dentist to check it numerous times, and each time they just say "I don't see anything. It's probably just a soft spot in your enamel."

Last week I went to get my teeth cleaned and they took xrays. Nothing unusual. Everything looked fine, apparently. But last night my mom (who, by the way, moonlights as my dental hygienist) said "Lauren, I have some bad news." At first I got nervous, but then I figured that since we were at a family Christmas gathering and were in the assembly line for food that it really couldn't be THAT bad. After all, who would break terrible news in front of the entire family? While piling food on our plates?!

Confirming my suspicions that it was not the worst news ever, she says "You have a cavity." She went on to explain that one of the dentists in her office took a closer look at the xrays from last week and lo! That problem tooth - the one that I have mentioned time and time again, the one that hurts, has a cavity.

But she didn't have to tell me which tooth it was. I already knew. And I said "I told you!"

Sunday, 19 December 2010

This is Very Real Indeed

Some days I feel like this is all a dream and that I will wake to find that nothing has changed. Being at my parents' house at Christmastime really enforces that feeling, I think. Because it seems as if I am simply taking off all the time I was supposed to take off this month.

But then I walk into the garage and see all of our belongings - everything we own, sitting in boxes. And then I remember that this is very real, indeed.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

It's like this: NCIS

As it turns out, some days are harder than others to think of something to say. However, I have so much spare time on my hands these days that I almost feel like I should blog. And that probably makes no sense.

However difficult it may have been to think of something to talk about, I eventually came up with something. It's like this: NCIS.

Ever since Matt and I started dating, we have loved sitting down and watching NCIS together. Since we lived somewhere with no television, we of course borrowed the show from some friends of ours, as they had all the seasons currently on DVD. We (I) were (was) devastated when Kate died (sad, I know; sorry if I ruined that for you NCIS probies) and it took forever for Ziva to grow on us (me).

Then I started finding the seasons on ebay for super cheap, and so began our quest to own and watch all NCIS episodes. Matt got some for Christmas last year. Then more ebay. We made it all the way up through season six, but then decided to wait on buying anymore because hey! Christmas was right around the corner!

So yesterday a beautiful brown envelope arrived in the mail containing our Christmas present from Matt's mom. I'm sure by now you have a pretty good guess as to what was in that envelope. If you guessed the next season of NCIS, you are correct! If you guessed anything else...really?

Anyway.

Last night we watched the entire first disc. Greg even joined in! We went to bed at 1 AM. Today we have watched 2 episodes off disc 2. At this rate, we're going to finish the entire season by Christmas.

I think it's safe to say that this Christmas present was a success.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

On Being a Mad Scientist and Master Chef

I have always loved baking and cooking. It's therapeutic to me. And it's fun. I think that my mad scientist side truly shows because I love to try new things and experiment. And I break the rules all the time. I love adding things that I think will add pizzaz and sparkle to something ordinary.

So yesterday for dinner I made Boeuf Bourguignon (for those of you who don't do French, that's Beef Burgundy). The recipe called for a bouquet garni (a special fresh herb arrangement that you can purchase in France), but since I don't live in the French countryside (*sigh*) I made my own blend of spices - fennel seed, marjoram, oregano, basil, rosemary, and a bay leaf. I would have done thyme, as well, but I couldn't find it. You know, because all of our spices are packed away somewhere.

Anyway, the recipe also calls for an entire bottle of red wine. Let's be honest - you really can't go wrong with that!! After it was done, I was a little nervous. I mean, I'd never made it before. Heck, I had never even EATEN it before. But it was wildly successful! We all loved it.

Tonight my bff Heather came over and we (I) made Christmas goodies and we visited. It was so good to get to spend that time with her. I've definitely missed her. And I love Christmas goodies. I missed those, too, but not as much. Also, I dared Heather to go see if she could fit through the doggy door. Matt has posted some photos of the hilarity that ensued, and will be posting the video soon. I was literally laying on the kitchen floor I was laughing so hard!

So even though our situation has not changed at all and things can still be really hard at times (still lots of tears), I am so thankful for the little things. For cooking and experimenting and enjoying delicious new foods. For best friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin through the years. And for laughing and being able to find joy in a time of pain and confusion.

Monday, 13 December 2010

We Just Don't Know

It's been a while since I've last posted. I think there are several reasons, but the main one is just that I haven't felt the strength or the freedom to speak. Last week we met with our former employers; it's hard to say how it went. I left that meeting feeling utterly defeated. I felt defenseless. It seemed as if so many things that I had said were taken completely out of context or twisted into something else.

I just haven't had the energy to say anything more than what was already said. But I also realize that I left you hanging. So where are we now? What are we doing?

Matt and I are faced with a decision that we didn't think we would have to face until years down the road: Where are we going to live now? Our hearts long for Colorado. We both want to return there. But what about when we have kids? We want them to have a strong family support base, and in Colorado, that's something they just won't have. So does that mean that we stay in TX or move to PA? We really just don't know. So we pray. And we wait. And we listen. But for how long? How long until the Lord reveals His will and His plan to us? We just don't know.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Now Let Me Make This Clear - Losing Our Jobs Part 3

I think this will be my last post with "losing our jobs" in the title, although I am positive that it will be a reoccurring theme for a while. After all, it's kind of a big deal.

Matt and I have been so touched and encouraged by all the prayer, support, and kind words of so many people. Thank you for loving us - it makes this difficult time somewhat easier.

I do want to make a few things clear, however. I want to make sure that I communicate openly and honestly so that there are no misunderstandings.

Matt and I are deeply hurt and saddened by the way things were handled. We are confused and in shock. And my desire in writing about it and making it public is simply to be real. We know it is not conventional to openly share that we lost our jobs and our home. We also realize that in keeping it a secret, we would not be getting so much prayer or encouragement, which we desperately need.

My desire is not (and never has been) to get even or smear Camp Eagle's image. I still believe that Camp Eagle is a wonderful ministry full of great people with beautiful hearts. People who love the Lord and desire to serve Him. And I still believe that about the staff members who made these decisions.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it was handled very poorly. It was all just so wrong. But let's be honest. We are all human. We are all imperfect. In desperate need of a Savior. Praise God for His love, grace, and mercy! God chooses to use us - imperfect, flawed beings to do His work. And sometimes that means that things like this happen. I am in no way making excuses for what happened. But this is the truth. We all make poor decisions. We all have moments where we don't fully think things through before we act. We all hurt others. We all need Jesus.

We are still hurt. We are still confused, shocked, and sad. But we know God has a purpose in this.

I do not want to discourage anyone from going to Camp Eagle. I know God still does big things and works mightily there. And that is what matters.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I Hope Every Night Won't Be Like That - Losing Our Jobs Part 2

Last night I remembered what insomnia is like. I also remembered that I hate it.

Tears streamed down my face all night long. I thought at some point they would run out and leave me be, but that was an empty hope.

I didn't want to be awake, but I didn't want to be asleep either. No matter...sleep evaded me most of the night.

I felt as if the darkness was so heavy. It just pressed down on me, crushing me until tears trickled out of my eyes, down my cheeks, into my hair, and onto my pillow. The silence was so loud. So much more obscene than someone shouting a string of profanities in my face.

I really hope every night won't be like that.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Emotion Gumbo - Losing Our Jobs Part 1

Today has been a crazy up and down, all around, reconnect with your emotions kind of day.

This morning my boss pulled me aside and simply said "We are letting you go." I must admit, I never saw this coming. Ever. There was no warning. No "you might lose your job if..." No hint that anything was slightly amiss. As he proceeded to give me what I felt to be a somewhat confusing and less than satisfactory explanation, all I could think was that this must be some kind of joke. Any minute now someone was going to come in and say, "Oh man! You should have seen your face!!"

About 10 minutes after I was told that I no longer had a job, I was informed that my husband was also being let go. They were firing both of us. Their reason for letting him go? His relationship with me (well, that was what I was told. Word for word. Matt was told that he would not be able to support us on his salary alone and THAT was why he was fired).

And that was it. No paperwork. I gathered my things from the office - the computer with the emails left unanswered. The jacket and scarf that had only been taken off an hour before. The breakfast that never got eaten. The Sugar Plum Spice tea (I was so excited about that...) that I never got to drink. And then I went home. And Matt and I sat. And we cried. And we prayed. And cried some more. I literally got dehydrated from crying so much.

We know God has a purpose. We know He has a plan. We know He is good. And He will provide. We want to honor and glorify Him through this. We want to have full faith that we will find jobs and a place to live (did I mention we were told that we no longer have a house? We have to move by December 15).

We have to trust that my boss really does believe he made the right decision. We have to believe that he really did pray about it. But there are so many questions left unanswered. Why was I never told anything was wrong? Why was there no warning? Why was it handled this way? How did it seem like the right thing to do to fire a newlywed couple and kick them out of their house? At Christmastime, even?

Last night I had a dream. I've always thought that God occasionally reveals things to me through dreams. I remember dreaming something about Habakkuk 3:6. I didn't know what it said. I just knew it was really important. So when I woke up I read it:

"When He stops the earth shakes. When He looks the nations tremble. He shatters the everlasting mountains and levels the eternal hills. He is the Eternal One!"

This is the God Matt and I serve. This is the God that is taking care of us. This is the God who loves us.

And then I turned the page over and read this, not knowing how true it would be of my life just one short hour later:

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights."
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Even though we lost our jobs and we lost our home; even though we lost our community and we lost our friends, we must choose joy. The Lord IS sovereign and He WILL enable us to make it through this. Even so, we would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Can I haz email plz?

So Camp's email server has been down for the past 2 days, and I am literally going crazy. I normally get anywhere from 10-30 emails a day, and I spend a good portion of my day typing little digital letters.

So...when I have a retreat group in that is fairly self-sufficient and doesn't need me for everything, without emails I am somewhat at a loss for what to do!

It's silly how debilitating this is. Pathetic, really. Ahhh the advances of modern technology.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Narnia Tree

Every single day I walk to work, and every single day I walk home from work. There is a tree in the field on my way home, and the trunk splits into two and twists somewhat like a double helix.

However, I think it looks like the Narnia tree that Aslan sends the Pevensie kids through to return them to their world.

Secretly I sometimes think that the tree will untwist revealing a secret doorway that will transport me into Narnia. Of course, I would want to take Matt with me to live in Narnia.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

On Fine Dining Experiences

Last week Matt drove to Texarkana to run an errand for Camp, and at a whopping 10 hours from our home, he was going to have to be gone overnight. I wasn't ready to spend a night alone just yet, so I tagged along. I'll spare you the boring details of our long drive, but we did have some interesting food experiences...

Once we arrived in Texarkana it was almost 8 PM and it was dark and rainy. We checked into the hotel and asked about the closest place to get some food, to which the answer was "there's a Denny's right across the street." She was hard to understand because her Southern drawl was so thick, but we figured it out. Knowing that we couldn't spend a lot of money on food and we were tired, we took the desk lady up on her suggestion and headed over to Denny's.

I think before that night I had only ever eaten at a Denny's once before, and it was in college. The only other experience I have had with Denny's was watching Tim Allen and his son eat there after burning the Christmas turkey in "The Santa Clause". So obviously I wasn't ready for what we were walking into.

As we walk in, we are seated by a nice man who allows us to pick any place in the restaurant. Turns out, the table we chose was right by the kitchen and right by the counter that all the staff stand behind. And oh my goodness! Never have I ever heard or seen such unprofessionalism, even if it IS a Denny's! Matt ordered a peppermint hot chocolate, which was simply hot chocolate mix with 2 candy canes in it. The girl that brought it out said "I promise I didn't make this" and then later looks in the mug and says "Ugh! I REALLY didn't make this!" The look of disgust on her face was so reassuring.

The whole time we sat there we listened to our waitress gripe to another coworker (supposedly a manager) about everything under the sun and talk about how they were neglecting customers...on purpose ("Please tell me they weren't a secret shopper!!" "I think they were...I'm pretty sure."). At times they were even shouting these things across the restaurant to each other. The food was sub par (all I ordered was chicken noodle soup - how do you screw that up?!) and the service was terrible. And the floor was sticky, which is gross. Needless to say, I was relieved to get out of there!

On our way back to Camp the following day, we stopped at a McDonald's for dinner - again, because there were no other options. And do you know what we discovered? McDonald's now has computer games at their booths! As if the little kids who are eating the unhealthy, greasy, fatty Frankenstein food need to play any more computer games! Sure, there was still a play place, but I didn't see any kids jumping up and running in there if they could play on the computer instead! On the positive side of things, they sanitized the computer screens (they were touch screens) whenever no one was sitting at the booth - that surprised Matt and I, but in a good way.

But really, I still didn't enjoy the food at McDonald's, even though I ordered chicken selects products. It was still super greasy, there were strings and wads of fat in my chicken, and after picking at it, I eventually gave up and just ate fries (the irony!).

And really, it's good to be back and eating home cooked meals again. Even the Sysco food down at camp is a million times better than the food we had on our trip (but then again, our camp food is better than most ;) )!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Jumping on the Yoga Debate Bandwagon

My first experience with yoga was with my dad in high school. My dad went to yoga class every week, and so I tagged along one day to see what it was like. We laid out our mats in the back of the room and began the class...and I can honestly say that is the most I have ever laughed in a fitness gym. I constantly fell over and knocked into my dad. My shirt kept coming up over my head. My muscles were so tight I could barely make my body even slightly resemble the crazy pretzel people in the room. And when the instructor told us to allow and imagine our kidneys floating up into the sky, I lost it. I laughed so hard that my dad even started laughing. We got in trouble.

Now I do yoga with a good friend of mine using Baron Baptiste DVDs. I can honestly say that yoga is one of the best workouts for someone with as many joint issues and injuries that I have. I can also honestly say that concentrating and focusing on the poses and my breathing (it's Vinyasa yoga - it means "with breath") has made focusing on daily tasks much easier. And believe it or not, I think yoga is even beneficial to my marriage.

Over the past few weeks I have seen more little blips on my computer screen pertaining to yoga. The first was a Yahoo! article that asked "Should Christians do Yoga?"...I don't remember if it ever came a conclusion or not. Since then I have talked with several people about the issue and read articles with opposing viewpoints. I believe the main concerns Christians have with yoga are that originally it was meant as a form of worship to the Hindu gods, it was a form of prayer, and many forms of yoga encourage the participant to empty their minds...all things that go directly against Scripture. In America today, however, yoga is simply marketed as a relaxing exercise which strengthens and tones the body and the mind. So then what is it?

I do see the very valid concerns of critics. I believe in the one true Almighty God and none other. He alone is worthy of any form of praise or worship. He alone is worthy of prayer. And the whole emptying your mind thing is simply foolish and even dangerous. We are told to guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:7), not to just empty them and allow anything to enter in!

I do firmly believe that we need to be careful. We need to pray about things. We need to check things with Scripture - does it line up? I also believe that most (not all) evil things are good things that Satan has perverted. I believe that there is nothing evil about stretching our bodies or maintaining poses that work on our strength, flexibility, and concentration. But I believe that stretching our bodies and maintaining poses in worship of ANYTHING or anyone other than the Lord God Almighty is evil.

I also believe that there still are yoga classes and yoga practices that stay very true to their roots. I believe we need to make wise and informed choices. I believe we need to check our hearts and continue to lift them up in prayer to the Lord. Continue to pray that He reveals truth to us. I think it's very possible that yoga is just what you make it.

As of right now, I don't believe my overall opinions on yoga have changed. I will most likely still do yoga with my friend as a form of exercise. I believe that, being filled with the Holy Spirit, I would feel convicted while doing yoga if it was wrong. If and when asked to clear my mind, I will continue to fix my thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. To think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable, and to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). And I will continue to thank the Lord for giving me a healthy body that is able to stretch and grow stronger.

And you know, I am open to discussion. I love to hear the opinions of others, even if they differ from mine. And I promise you that if you offer your opinion, I will listen and think it over; I will not quickly dismiss it.

So talk to me. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

It's the Most Busiest Time of the Year!

That goes well with the Christmas tune, right? I think so. Never mind the blatantly incorrect grammar.

Well, folks...for the month of October I was officially transported from the realm of the blogging world to the world of non-stop guests and groups (meaning non-stop work!). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (it's so close!) and I am excited!

Don't get me wrong - having all these groups here has been fantastic! I have met so many fantastic people and heard some pretty incredible stories. Some of them are downright hilarious and I laughed the whole time they were here! I have thoroughly enjoyed working with every group that has come out here this month.

It's just...I'm exhausted!

My final group of the month leaves tomorrow around lunch time and then I will get some rest (when I finish the work day)! I haven't had a day off in over 10 days at this point (I did get a half day this past Monday, but I ran some camp errands with Matt)! And let's face it - when I sleep 7 hours a night but am still having a hard time keeping my eyes open at 10 AM...I need some rest!

We were even so busy that Matt and my 2 month anniversary went by without either of us thinking about it! Oops.

November.

*sigh*

:)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Just Call Me Finn...

I decided this afternoon that I would take a "Which Glee Character Are You?" quiz. This is funny for a few reasons:

1. I have never seen an episode of Glee. Ever.

2. I had no idea what the possibilities were.

3. I don't really fully know what my results mean.



So. Me being Finn...is this good or bad?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Do I know you?

You know those people that always remind you of someone else? Your bff when you were 5, your college roommate, some celebrity...???

Apparently, I am one of those people. For YEARS I have been told "You remind me so much of my best friend! I mean, you look like her and you talk like her and...!!!!" or "I feel like I know you. Do I know you? I swear I know you! You look SO FAMILIAR!"

One time when I worked at HEB I was checking out a lady (you know, scanning her items. Get your mind out of the gutter). She goes "OMG! You so look like Jennifer Aniston!" And proceeds to pull People Magazine off the rack and hold it up to my face. "See?!" Her friend agreed. I smiled, nodded, and said "Thanks!" I don't see it at all. But she's not the only person who has said that, either.

Other things I have heard:
"You look like Maggie Gyllenhaal!"
"You look like Kirsten Dunst!"
"You look like that one girl from Blue Crush (Kate Bosworth)!"
"You look like Amanda Bynes!"
"You have the same smile as Renee Zellweger!"
And most recently (yesterday): "You know, have you ever been told you look like Maura Tierney?"

I had to look her up. I had no clue who she was. I don't see that one either.

Interesting how I always remind people of someone else. I don't get it! I mean, I'm flattered - all those women are beautiful, but they all look so different! I can't look like all of them!

I'm trying to come up with some theories, but so far the best I've got is that I have some strange chameleon-like tendencies that I am completely unaware of.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Abundant Blessings

Numerous times since Matt and I have moved into our home here at camp, we have talked about how truly blessed we are. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that we are abundantly blessed.

Think about it. We are newly married. We went on a wonderful honeymoon that I will remember for the rest of my life! And as newlyweds, our living and working situations are wonderful!

We get to work at the same place, and we don't ever have to drive to work.

We get to witness beautiful sunrises over the hills every morning...except for when it is cloudy/misty/foggy. But then I can pretend I live in Ireland. Or the English countryside. And I do (pretend, that is).

We have a beautiful house with plenty of storage, and we don't have to pay for it.

We live in a loving, supportive community.

We have friends all around us, and all of them within walking distance.

Our bosses care about our marriage and go to great lengths to protect it.

Our meals are provided a lot of the time.

I could go on and on. I just love living here! This afternoon as I was walking home from work I decided to stop by my friend's house to ask her a question and visit briefly. She and her husband have chickens and those chickens lay eggs, which they let us have! They are cheaper than the grocery store and I feel good knowing that there are no chemicals or weird things in the eggs. I feel good knowing that the chickens are well taken care of. But I love the fact that I can stop by a friend's house to ask about eggs and then be able to visit for 45 minutes. It makes me feel like I don't live in 2010.

There are also some pear trees around camp (Well, 2. And they are right next to each other.). Last week I climbed up in them and shook them to get the pears out! I came home with 15 pears without paying a single cent (although I did get some scratches and a bruise), and that night I made pear meringue pie with the pears I got from the trees and the eggs we collected from our friends' chickens. It was just so...satisfying! And the pie was delish!

So I think I have made my point that I feel like Matt and I are blessed beyond measure. Yes, things can be hard sometimes, but when it comes down to it...wow.

Recently, a family I went to church with in college moved to Haiti to share the love of the Lord. I have read their blog for years now, and it's always been interesting. She always has something to say, and she has such a gift for words and story telling! Her family is hilarious, and she had some wonderful ideas for being a good steward, but more than those things, her blog was honest and raw and filled with such wisdom! Now that they have moved to Haiti, her posts are heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.

And now more than ever, I realize that my clean house and American life are luxurious compared to the lives of those they live with in Haiti, and most people around the world. By American standards, Matt and I don't amount to much, but America has some pretty "high" standards.

I know Matt and I will not always be here. At some point, the Lord will call us somewhere else. And up until recently, I never really thought much about where that would be. I never even considered anything other than the US. Now I'm not saying we are going to move to India and never be heard from again, but I do realize that I have to be prepared for whatever God asks us to do. He may not call us to another country. He may call us to ministry here in the States as He has for years now. But I don't know.

Just some things to think about.

P.S. - Can you tell I went into work at 6:30 this morning? I sure can...

Monday, 20 September 2010

First Married Post!

Well, hi! I know, I know. I said I was going to do a better job at blogging. And for a while there, I totally was. I was rockin' it! But...then I got married. Boy does that throw a wrench in your blogging plans!! You won't hear me complaining, though. I love being married! :) Of course, if I were married to anyone other than Matt, I think I wouldn't like it near as much.

I will try to be brief in my description of what has happened over the past month (yes, Matt and I have been married one month as of today!!!).

The ceremony was beautiful. All the music was Trace Bundy, our favorite. My dad stepped on my dress while giving me away, thus not allowing me to walk up to Matt. It was hilarious and probably one of my favorite memories of the day (not sure if he did it on purpose or not, though...!)!! The reception was alright. A lot less people than we were expecting (and hoping) were there. Mostly extended family. Don't get me wrong - I love my extended family! But I would have loved to see more friends there. I was, however, extremely glad to get to spend time with the friends that did make it!

Our honeymoon was fantastic! We went on a cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Thanks to my little Ewok, Heather, I had some awesome sunglasses for each bathing suit that matched each destination perfectly (not planned - it must have been destiny! ;) ps - i love sunglasses.)

In Jamaica we opted out of the super packed beach excursions and went to Croydon Plantation in the beautiful mountains! We were the youngest couple there, but that didn't surprise us at all. It was beautiful! It started out sunny and then a storm rolled in over the mountains. It rained on us and MAN was that rain COLD! You don't really expect Jamaican rain to chill you to the bone, but trust me. It does. Anyway, we got to eat starfruit, coconut, some citrus fruits, 7 different kinds of pineapple, and got to try ginger beer (non-alcoholic. Very tasty but man does it have a bite!) and pineapple juice made from the skin and husk of the fruit rather than the actual fleshy part!

In Grand Cayman we met a really nice guy in a store who was there from the states on an internship. He gave us some tips about getting around the island without getting ripped off, so we promptly took a bus to 7 Mile Beach, which was nothing short of glorious. Afterwards we made it back downtown for our excursion - snorkeling along a barrier reef! It was beautiful and so fun! We swam with a stingray (I think we were the only ones out of the whole group who saw one) and that coral is HUGE! I even swam TOWARD giant fish (like the length of my arm) and not AWAY! This was by far our favorite day of the cruise.

In Cozumel we went to a resort which had an open bar, water toys, and a lunch buffet! We had rum punch, strawberry daiquiris, and pina coladas. I didn't like Cozumel as much as the other places - it seemed dirty to me. However, it was still enjoyable!

The ship was fantastic! I have never seen anything like it. It was so elegant on the inside! We ate in the Monet dining room, which was decorated with the Eiffel Tower (everywhere!!) and one of Monet's Water Lily paintings. The crew was wonderful and the waiters danced on the tables every night - it was always HILARIOUS! The food was fantastic and I don't really have many negative things to say about it at all!

We have been back at camp for a little over 20 days now, and I am still loving it! It is interesting balancing working and cooking meals and keeping house for 2 people, but not bad! I really enjoy it all, actually! I don't feel like living together has been a huge adjustment, either. The most difficult part is when I have to work really late nights - I hate not being able to spend evenings with him! But I do love my job, and we are so blessed to be here.

Matt definitely has his work cut out for him! He works 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. He works so hard and I am so proud of him! He is also getting to experience the "in sickness" part of our vows rather often. On the cruise I got sick with a few different things and the promptly caught a cold upon returning. Since then, I have taken a hard fall in the office and bruised the crap out of my leg. The following day, a steering wheel burned all the skin off my elbow! He has been so sweet, making sure that I am taken care of, bandaged, and medicated with ibuprofen and lots of kisses!

Today is my day off and I have spent the majority of the day cleaning and doing laundry. I don't really mind, but I wish I had a little more time to just relax! In about an hour I am going to start making dinner...so I think I am going to try to get some reading in :) We'll see how well I do with blogging now that I am married and the next 2 months of my life are going to be super busy (busy season for retreats!!)! :)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Scuba Diving: Lauren Edition

Yesterday as we were swimming laps, I got called over to the end of the giant slides to help a sponsor find his glasses. They fell off his face at the very bottom of the slides.

You know what is also at the very bottom of the slides?

River weed. Jungles and jungles of river weed. I mean, whoever says that our forests and jungles are in danger need to see this part of the river. Because they are WRONG.

I spent an HOUR diving into malicious plants that tried to strangle me as I searched for the misplaced spectacles.

The plants wrapped around my ankles. My arms. My stomach. My NECK. But I didn't give up! No, no! We had some glasses to find!

Eventually Josh found them, and so we finally got to go eat dinner! 30 minutes late! But y'all, I was so proud of myself. I didn't scream at all (I screamed 4 times).

But do you have any idea how big of a deal it is for me to WILLINGLY dive into that stuff? It's a big deal.

In other news, look for a new Josh and Lauren episode soon! It's going to be good.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Turtle Rescue!

This evening I decided to make a run to the dump. You see, when my trash bag overflows, I don't have a trash man to come take it away for me. I get to drive it to the camp dump! It's no big deal, really, but I'm lazy.

As I was driving along the road to go back home, I saw something moving ever so slowly across the road. I was still a ways off, so I wasn't too sure what it was. Skunk? Armadillo? Chupacabra?

Nope.

Turtle.

Turtle?! What the heck?! What is he doing on this blazing dirt road in the hottest part of the day? I mean, you could practically see the heat radiating off the road through his shell cooking his insides! So I did what any normal person would do.

I stopped and got out. And went over to him. And started talking to him. "Hi! What on earth are you thinking?! Well, I'm going to save you."

I slowly and gently picked him up. He retreated into his shell as quickly as he could, and proceeded to release all the liquid from inside said shell onto my leg. I screamed a little, but held on tight (what kind of rescuer would I be if I dropped him?!). I then put him in the front seat of Jose (my car, btw), steadied Pete (did I tell you? That's his name. I decided.) with one hand, and slowly drove down to the river.

When we reached the river, I picked Pete back up and told him that I was going to put him back in the water where he belongs and his poor little reptile brain was fried from overexposure to UV rays, so he should probably get that checked out.

I set him on the edge of the water so that he was in deep enough for the refreshing chill of the river to get inside his shell. Ever so slowly he poked his head out, looking for his new bff (read: terrifying giant being who subjected him to the bumpiest ride of his life and wouldn't. shut. up.). He knew I was going to wait until he was safe in the water, because we were tight like that. And as he swam off into the mossy sunset, I waved goodbye.

It occurred to me while I was escorting him home that he may have known precisely where he was going. And I may have totally ruined his evening. Buuuut...I'm banking on the confused-helpless-turtle-needing-a-friend theory.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Changing Tides

It's been a while since I've posted last. Probably because life has kicked into high gear and some things I have just not been sure how to handle. And I most certainly didn't feel like blogging about them. But then I wasn't much in the mood to talk about anything else, either.

So here I sit, ready to enter the blogging world yet again.

Life has just been ridiculous lately. And I mean ridiculous.

And not even necessarily in the bad way (not all the time, at least), just in the...ridiculous way. In fact, things are much better today than they were when I last posted.

You see that little countdown ticker thing up at the top of my blog? You see how it says "1 month to go!"?! I get to marry the love of my life in exactly ONE MONTH! How the heck did we reach this point already? I mean, it feels like we have been engaged FOREVER and like it has taken such a long time to get here, but at the same time it feels like it has just flown by.

My life is very scheduled up until the wedding. I have a lot to do and to take care of before the wedding. Every weekend is pretty much booked solid. Maybe even overbooked. And during the weeks, well, I work.

I am so ready to marry Matt! Forgive the excessive gushing. I am just so pumped, and it's hard to think of much else!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Despair

Guys, I am probably the worst person in the world when it comes to getting discouraged easily (or best? Whichever means I do that. A lot).

Life is hard. Everyone knows this. It's not a shocking fact that t-boned me like a drunk driver from out of nowhere. But it just.keeps.getting.harder. Or at least parts of it do. But I feel like for a while now it has just been one thing after another knocking me down.

It's like being in the ocean during a storm (or at least, I believe it is...I've never personally experienced that, thankfully). You get knocked under by some crazy waves. When you finally orient yourself well enough to come back up to the surface to breathe, you get knocked back under by another wave. And another. That's how I feel at this point, and that is when I start to lose hope.

At this point (because I am just weary), I find hope something rather difficult to come by. I automatically start thinking of what is wrong and why it is wrong and how long it has been wrong and why it is still not better. And I look at the situation and don't see how it could possibly change for the better.

I don't necessarily walk around with a raincloud above my head or anything, but I think about it a lot.

Matt has done a good job at comforting me and reassuring me that there is hope (even things are rough for him, as well). And I have a loving family and loving friends who care about me. And I am so thankful.

I'm really not writing this to complain. Actually, the point was just to admit what a lousy job I do of not despairing when things get really hard. And it's not really something that I am proud of.

This morning I read Psalm 6, and I felt like I could have written it. I don't really think it's wrong to feel the way I do. I do kinda think it is wrong to continue to feel this way and not allow the Lord to come in and do some healing. I don't know how long the turnaround was, but Psalm 9 is a much more joyful Psalm. I think it is ok for me to go through a valley, because at some point, I have to come back out. And then I will have even more to praise the Lord for. I think that was my point.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Nine

July 9, 2010

18 months ago today I was interviewed for my job at Redcloud.

17 months ago today I moved up to Colorado to work at Redcloud. I met Matt that day.

10 months ago today Matt and I started dating.

8 months ago today I moved out to CE and Matt drove back to PA.

6 months ago today Matt gave me pearls for my birthday.

:)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Dancing Yogas!

I feel rather accomplished today. It was a pretty productive day at work - I am revamping the lesson plans for our OE program, and I feel like it is coming along very nicely.

After work, I came home and had a 45 minute dance party with my good friends Jason Derulo, Jay Sean, Black Eyed Peas, and Cobra Starship. My AC is still broken, so it was hot. And awesome. I think I worked out all major muscle groups. And I must say. I'm pretty sure I can DANCE. I mean, I'm no Robert Muraine, but I bet you if I had a choreographer, I could hop on into any HSM production and not ruin it.

Nobody really knows how much I like to dance. I think my office mates have begun to get an idea because I often dance at my desk as I type (I told you. I'm talented). But I LOVE it. It's really fun!

After the crazy dance party, I did yoga with some friends. We decided to step it up to level 3 (from level 2). It was harder for sure, but super fun. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. And I was impressed with my skillz. I have gained a level of flexibility that I have never attained in my life until now. And I am building strength and balance. I love it!

Like I said. I feel accomplished today. Let's see how tomorrow plays out.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Jalapeno Facial

Have you ever had one? I wouldn't recommend it.

I helped make dinner tonight - fancy hamburgers. We had the works - grilled bell peppers and onions, sauteed mushrooms, provolone cheese, queso, bacon, avocado...and grilled jalapeno peppers, to name a few. My job for the evening? Cutting all those delicious (and not so delicious (mushrooms! sick!)) veggies.

I was awesome. I was like Samurai Mince-a-Lot! Trained by monks in Japan, I have perfected the art of samurai kitchen finesse. (OK, so that last part is a total lie...)
I was totally cranking out the vegetables!

Then I got to the jalapenos. I don't mind jalapenos. In fact, I often enjoy eating them! But as I tired, my samurai mind wandered, and I stopped paying as much attention to what I was doing. I rubbed my nose. It caught on fire.

30 minutes later, after multiple hand rinsings and an avocado hand treatment (read - slicing 3 large avocados - one of which was not at all cooperative), I rubbed my eye. I think a volcano erupted in my cornea.

Then another 30 minutes later - after dinner, mind you - I licked my finger to get something off it (ice cream? I don't remember), and spontaneous combustion occurred in both my lips and the tip of my tongue. I remembered immediately that it was the exact finger I had used to "gut" the jalapenos. Nevermind that I had rinsed my hands multiples times AND eaten dinner (with my hands) and had no problems there!

Suffice it to say, I left the kitchen feeling as if nothing short of my face being covered by ice cubes (Sonic ice, preferably) would remedy the situation. Thankfully, here I sit a good 4 hours later and the only thing that still burns is my eyes. Or maybe that's because I'm exhausted?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

How I Am Like a Smoothie

I'm not going to lie. My life is a complete roller coaster right now, and it is one of the most unfun rides I have ever been on. I am not really at liberty to discuss what is going on here on my blog (but if you don't know what is going on and you really want to know, facebook me or something), but I AM at liberty to vomit my feelings into my blog.

I am not usually good at expressing any feelings other than anger and happiness. For some reason, I have always viewed sorrow as a weakness and a vulnerability. To reveal my weaknesses was to take a bigger risk than I was willing. But I'm getting better.

Now, I'm not going to go into a deep psychological and emotional evaluation of myself or anything. But I do think it is...interesting...how differently each person deals with trauma.

I don't really know what to feel right now. Or what I am feeling. Maybe it's because there really isn't just one thing. It's about a million things all at once, crashing my emotional capacity.

I'm mad.
I'm confused.
Baffled, really.
I'm in shock.
I'm grieving.
I'm numb.

I'm kind of like a great big smoothie of emotions. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, so let me explain. Each of those emotions can represent a fruit. Well, I feel like all of them have been thrown in a blender and mixed together (in a violent manner, mind you) so that you can no longer separate one from another.

I feel like no one knows what I need. And like no one understands what I am going through. I don't want to be alone but I don't really enjoy being around other people. I don't want everyone to be sad but I get annoyed with people for being so darn happy and carefree.

And sometimes I wish that Matt had a normal job. A job where he was done at 5 and could come hold me until things get better.

I have to believe that somewhere in all this, God has a purpose. And somewhere in all this, something good will come of it.

I'm not trying to complain, really. I just need an outlet. And right this moment, this is all I have.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Billy Kicks Butt

Yeah. Mine hurts. As do my arms, thighs, abs, and lower back. It's only been just over an hour since we finished working out - tomorrow is going to be one of those move-really-slowly-but-not-at-all-if-possible days. I've consulted my muscles, and they all agree.

I have been swimming and doing yoga so often that I have totally neglected my tae-bo times! And my muscles know it. In fact, they are screaming out in pain at me. Loudly (shut up!). But it's the good pain, you know? The kind where you know you did something hard and productive and good for your body!

In other news, campers leave tomorrow and the summer staff get a 4-day weekend! They are super pumped, as I would be if I, too, got a 4-day weekend! But even though that is not the case for me, I am still pretty excited about this weekend, because 2 of my friends are getting married here at camp! Which means about 80 of my other friends are coming to witness it! Hooray! It's going to be a blast.

But the biggest reason Friday can't get here fast enough? Matt is coming :)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Relocation to Middle Earth

Ok. I have decided that I am going to pack up and move to Mordor, because it is clearly a much more comfortable temperature than my house right now.

When I got home from work to change into my swimsuit, it was 88 degrees in my hallway. My room was even hotter. I don't even know how that is possible!!! But thank goodness I was heading down to the river!!

I have had my fan and the living room fan on all day long. And the windows have been open all evening. The only bad thing? Bugs. Stupid, dumb, bugs!!! Even though I have screens on my windows, the little ones still make it in. And they still land on my computer screen. And they still buzz around being annoying. And they still fly up my nose. Oh! And some of them bite!

There aren't bugs in Mordor, right?

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Well, another weekend has come and gone, folks. I feel like my entire week is full of anticipation of the up and coming weekend, and then that weekend which I waited so (im)patiently for is over really fast! Like, so SO fast! Like, faster than MC Hammer's career was over. BUT that is a different story, and that is my ADD kicking in. Now where was I?

Friday after work I headed out to YO for dinner (YUMMY!) with Matt and then we drove to San Antonio. We got to hang out with my family some, watch the Cosby show (it doesn't ever get old!), and saw the best Cover Girl commercial EVER. Featuring Ellen Degeneres (who is absolutely hilarious), it was the funniest commercial that I have seen in a long time (nevermind the fact that I don't have a tv and actually haven't had one in 1.5 years...).

Saturday Matt and I drove to New Braunfels to pick up our new bed! Thankfully it fit into my parents' mini van, so we didn't have to borrow a gas-guzzling truck to accomplish said task! The sad thing is, we have the headboard, frame, rails, and footboard, but we don't have a box spring or a mattress. Not sure when or where we will get one, or have the time to find one. Or any furniture for that matter!!! So if any of you know where we can find a queen sized box spring and mattress, and any furniture (couch, chairs, kitchen table...anything, really) at a good price, you should let us know!!

After we grabbed the bed, my whole family came back to camp with Matt and I, and we took Greg rock climbing. I caved into peer pressure and climbed, as well. I get so frustrated when I climb these days because I am just not good at it anymore! I am out of practice and due to my severe accident prone ways and all-too-willing-to-break body, it is far from pleasant. However, I kept going and made it 3 feet from the top of the climb before my arms gave out for good.

Today has been nice, all except for the saying goodbye to Matt part. I hate that I only get one day a week with him and that during that one day a week, we are usually doing some sort of busy work (getting a bed from a different city, for example). I just wish that we had more time.

Anyway, I took my family down to the river and we swam and played and sunbathed for a bit, and that was really nice. While I was laying on a dock, a dragonfly landed on my lips! It was really funny and it seriously tickled. I also saw the largest scariest bass ever. I wanted to shoot it with a harpoon gun, but sadly I left mine in the pocket of my other board shorts.

Now my family is gone and I cleaned up my house a little and am looking forward to a relaxing evening at my house before going back to work in the morning. I almost feel like going straight to bed.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What My Day Looked Like...In My Mind

Oh yes, all 5 of you who read my blog, the impossible has happened! I have just blogged two days in a row! Don't start thinking I will blog EVERY day, though. No, no. Life is too busy for that!

Today we did some major construction in my office. We have been assembling these cabinets from IKEA all week long and they have just been sitting in (mountainous) piles on our floor...until today! Because today, we mounted them on the wall! And you know what else? We put some AWESOME lights on the underside of them. Our office looks SO LEGIT! And not only does the office look legit, it was a perfect job for my adjusting-to-ADD self. What I did changed so much from minute to minute (clean this bookcases, hold that board, drill these holes, sweep that sawdust, put up those shelves, clean that desk!!) that I wasn't able to get as restless or distracted as I have been just sitting at my computer all week! And I got stuff done! In fact, we did such a good job at getting it done, I commented as I listened to some Renee Olstead and Dean Martin that I felt as if I were sitting in a swanky New York office (minus the swanky clothes. Chacos are hardly classy).

At 5 o'clock, I promptly left my posh New York workplace and traveled through and arid desert (read: the hot walk from the office to my house) to a sparkling river in the Texas Hill Country to swim some laps for fun and exercise (and I must say, I made good time!). I absolutely love swimming, especially in a river that sparkles green like it flows from the Emerald City, itself. I am so blessed to live on such a river, and to get to swim in it nearly every day! And I do! I definitely do not take this river for granted - I LOVE IT! I also love swimming with my friends.

And doing yoga with my friends.

And doing Tae-Bo with my friends.

Working out with friends in general is just fab!

To cap my day, I cleaned my bathroom while singing at the top of my lungs to showtunes on my computer!

I guess the day isn't totally over yet, so I believe I will find some more adventurous things to do until phone date with Matt! <3

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Whirlwind

Um...FINALLY here are the pictures from May! I made Matt a homemade cheesecake for his birthday...can you tell how excited he is?!?!




I love this man!


Anyway, things have been so ridiculous in the past 2 weeks. We have been going through a family crisis (hence my complete absence after promising to do better at blogging) and I have just been at a loss. The whole situation made me question whether or not I really believe that my God is mighty to save. I mean, it's the title of my blog, but when things get so hard, do I really believe it? Turns out I do, but simple faith is not always easy!

Anyway, things are improving on that front, and so I would rather not dwell on it for the time being.

In other news, I am pretty sure that I have developed a serious case of ADD. And I'm only half kidding. I've always been easily distracted, but ever since things went down with my family, I have not been able to concentrate at all. I will start on a project at work, only to forget I was doing it and pick it up again hours later. I start emails in the morning, get started on something else, and then forget the email until the end of the day. And it's that way ALL THE TIME. Not to mention, I can barely stand sitting at my desk for more than 10 minutes at a time. What is wrong with me?!

So...this feels like a good stopping point for now.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

I could start...

Well, I really should be working on the details of my wedding, but I have neglected this blog for far too long!

I don't really know where to start.

I could start with the fact that I had an awesome group at camp last week. They were really fun. 8th grade graduates from a school in SA, and my cousin (second cousin, technically, but does that really matter?!) was one of my campers. Imagine her surprise that her older, more mature, usually-somewhat-quiet-and-withdrawn-at-family-gatherings cousin is really just older. Not so much more mature, and not so much quiet.

I could start with saying that the past month has been such a blur. I don't know where it went. I feel like I haven't slept a proper night in months. And now the summer is here, and I can go to a normal 8-5ish work schedule! What?!

I could also say that since summer is now here, wedding planning is back in full swing! I tried my dress on again this past weekend and didn't want to take it off. Matt and I bought our wedding bands, purchased a bed and paid off our honeymoon just this past weekend. We still have so much to do, and while I am not stressing out at all (which is amazing), I feel a sense of urgency to get everything done.

I could tell you about how my room is a wreck because for the past month, I have only had time to run in, throw things down on the floor, and run out again. I can barely stand to be there. The rest of my house is fine. Pristine, even. Sometime this week I would like to clean my room, but we will see how soon that can happen.

I could also tell you about how my roommate has finally left me. She has summer responsibilities to attend to, and that means living with the people she is in charge of. So she no longer lives with me, and this makes me sad.

But I just don't know where to start. So I will leave you with the promise of updates as often as I can afford them, and that's pretty much it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Paris, je t'aime



So, roommate-Emily recommended this movie to me, and I finally had a chance to watch it the other night. Last time she recommended something to me, she recommended the book "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer. She said it was her favorite book of all time, and so I thought I would give it a shot. I wrote a review on it a while back. If you missed it, you can read it here.

It was a good experience for me to read that book because it is something totally outside my normal box of reading choices. It wasn't something I would have picked on my own to read, and while it was not my favorite book ever, it definitely has made me think a lot. And that's good, right?

Well, it was a similar situation with "Paris, je t'aime". I had actually never heard of the movie, but Emily said it was her all time favorite movie and I should watch it! It didn't take much convincing - I love Paris (haha, that's the movie title...)! I had the chance to go for a week 3 years ago and was an unforgettable experience. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. So last night, a freshly showered me sat in my bed with Caroline (my computer) for a movie night.

It took me about 5 minutes to figure out that I was going to need to turn on subtitles for the movie. I thought that if it was in French, it would automatically have subtitles, but it didn't. Usually I hate watching movies with subtitles because I am so ADD that I end up just reading everything and never watching what is going on on the screen. It's not as bad when you don't understand everything they are saying, though.

The movie was incredibly interesting. Something like 20 different directors were each given an arrondissement (essentially a neighborhood or region of Paris) and a time limit of 5-10ish minutes to film what their interpretation of love is. So there are 20 different and completely unrelated scenes and stories in the movie. It was not explained to me before I watched the movie that it was 20 different directors and that things would not tie together. So about 20 or 30 minutes into the movie, I realized that none of the stories would connect, and it was like watching a lot of really short films.

It was actually a lot like a collection of short stories in a book. They don't necessarily have anything to do with each other, but they are all in the same book and it is accepted as such. I guess, though, that all the short stories in the film did have 2 similarities - love and Paris.

Some of the stories were incredibly touching. (If you don't want to know specifics in the event that you want to watch it, skip the rest of this paragraph.) In one story that was especially touching, a man is about to leave his wife for a young mistress. He tells you of all the things that irk him about his wife. As they are sitting at the restaurant where he is planning to end things with her, she hands him a paper from the doctor that says she has terminal Leukemia and that she doesn't have much longer to live. Right then and there, he completely changed his mind, breaks it off with his mistress, and takes care of his wife like he never has before and rekindles that love he thought was long gone. The narrator described it as saying, "By acting like a man in love, he became a man in love again."

Some other scenes are totally weird. Like, really.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I would watch it again, although I would not say I loved it. I think it was really interesting, it made me think, and it was extremely creative. Kudos to whoever thought to do something like that! I think I would probably recommend the movie to others. The more I think about it and the more I process it, the more I like it.

And I'm not gonna lie, I really liked listening to all the Francois! It is such an interesting and beautiful language, and so different from English. And maybe deep down inside, it makes me feel cool.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Why I could never be a mermaid, and my re-entry into the swimming world

Today instead of doing Tae Bo or yoga like I normally do to work out, Anne, Stacie and I decided to swim laps! It has been a while since I have swam for exercise.

I swam on a swim team in middle school and my first year of high school, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a full body workout and super fun! I loved the sounds of the pool auditorium, and I loved the smells. I loved drinking my blue Powerade after an especially difficult set. And I was really good at swimming. I always did really well in practice and at meets - I had a lot of promise! My best stroke was butterfly.

Unfortunately, over time, my shoulders started to wear. This is not surprising since the most common swimming-related injuries are associated with shoulders. Anyhow, because I was a stubborn child (would you have ever guessed?) and proud (shocking, I know), I pushed through the pain thinking that I would be fine and I should just tough it out. No big deal! But one day we were doing dry-land training (you know - sprints, lunges, crunches, push ups...), and in a push up, my shoulder just quit. I couldn't really swim anymore...or really do anything with that shoulder for a while. So I ended up having to quit the team.

For a while I held on to all my swim gear - my pull buoy and kick board, goggles, my swim cap and several suits. Over time I ended up getting rid of the pull buoy and the kick board since I never used them, but I held on to the swim cap, the goggles, and 2 suits. I used them a little bit when doing lifeguard training in the summers at camp, but other than that, they just sat untouched forever.

Then last week came. And last week I manned the blob tower at the waterfront. And the cute little tankini that I have just doesn't seem like appropriate lifeguard attire. I mean, it's cute and all, but you just don't feel legit in a tankini when you lifeguard! You need a speedo! So last week, my old swim suits came out of retirement.

Who ever would have thought that my suits that I wore in middle school and my freshman year of high school would still fit me?! I mean, that means I am pretty much the same size I was when I was 13! I'm not too sure what to make of that...

ANYWAY...

Today we made our way to the river to swim laps. I really, really enjoyed it! I have missed swimming a lot. I just didn't really realize it until I dove into the river today. I was a little anxious about my re-entry into the swimming world. Would I be able to swim any distance at all before getting so tired and out of breath that I would be wishing for a life jacket? Would I be able to keep up with the other girls? Would I remember the technique at all? Thankfully, it was much easier than I anticipated and it all just came back naturally.

The only setback to swimming in a river is that...I am TERRIFIED of fish. Not like Nemo fish or cute little fishies you keep as pets. I mean gross ugly river fish. Or really any kind of fish that is bigger than my hand. If they are bigger than my forearm...oh dear. Well, there are plenty of large bass and catfish in the Nueces river, and I think it is an understatement that we are not friends.

As we swam, I kept pulling up short in my stroke and frantically searching for Anne or Stacie because I thought I saw a huge shadow coming at me, which of course means some sort of giant mutant sea monster fish has heard that I was in the river and is out to get me. (This is just further evidence that I can never be a mermaid like I dreamed of being when I was little)

Oh, and to make matters worse, at some point camp is supposed to be getting some crazy 4 foot long fish in our river because they like to eat the river weed, and we have too much. I don't know when this is going to happen, but someone had better give me a heads up when it does so I can avoid the river like the plague. I mean, I had a nightmare about it the other night!

ANYWAY. I like swimming. Hopefully I will continue to have a great variety in my workout schedule with great friends and lots of laughs. And hopefully I will make it down to the river a little more often than I have (and have no run-ins with giant fish of death).

Monday, 17 May 2010

Blogging....about blogging...kinda

I have been meaning to update this for like the past week, but time has just been something that I have not had much of! This month is non-summer's busiest month out here at camp - there are something like 1,500 people coming through here just this month! As a result, most of my work days range from 9-16 hours and I only get 5 days off for the whole month. We are halfway there and I am ready for the summer! It will be nice to stop and breathe. I imagine it could be compared to running a half marathon and collapsing at the end...??

Last Monday was Matt's birthday and I have wanted to post pictures, but haven't had the time to put them up on my computer! So maybe more on that later...???

The summer staff arrived yesterday, and that is just so weird to me! I feel like it was just yesterday that we said "OMG summer staff comes in 12 weeks!!!" But nope, they are here now! It is also weird to think that they will be here for the next 3 months - I am so used to people coming and leaving again in 3 DAYS.

Don't get me wrong - I am totally psyched that they are here! God has awesome things in store for this summer and has called each one of those precious college students out here for a purpose. And I am totally excited about that!

I hope to get to blog about a few things soon: Matt's birthday, results of a huge storm at camp, and a movie review (and with pictures!)!!

I promise I haven't disappeared completely, but until June rolls around, I don't stop running ;)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Why I Don't Read Anymore

Well, I bet this is a little confusing since I just posted about how much I love books and I love reading, and I even wrote my first book review on my blog!

Life has been so crazy lately and some things have been brought to my attention that really need some serious prayer. First of all, prayer is not my strong point. That's not really a good thing, but it's true. I get all ADD and in the middle of my prayer I find myself thinking about cheesecake. I don't even know! But I do know that in the recent past, I have not made much of an effort to improve.

I also realized that my quiet times each morning were just not enough. I was giving the Lord *maybe* 15-20 minutes of my time to work in my life. And that was just reading and saying a quick prayer. I wasn't digging and I wasn't really devoted. So I have been convicted about getting up earlier and spending more time in the Word and in prayer before I start my day. So far, it has been excellent!

So are you wondering what all this has to do with me not readying anymore, yet? I guess I can tell you now. I knew that I was being called to fast and pray over certain matters, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to fast from. Sugar? No, I can't fast from sugar! I feel like I would have a total double-motive for doing that...I mean, I need to get away from that stuff anyway!

I was having a hard time thinking of something to fast from, and then it hit me! I am supposed to fast from reading books for enjoyment (this excludes the Bible and devotional books, etc.). That was hard for me. I don't want to not read books. I have always had a book to read ever since I was a kid. I don't like not reading! I am (was) in the middle of the Percy Jackson series - I was in the 3rd book (of 4) with less than 50 pages to go! Surely God doesn't want me to fast from reading until after I finish these books, right?? So wrong. I mean, what does that attitude say about what I think about the things I know I am called to fast and pray for?? So looking at it from that viewpoint, I have indefinitely stopped reading for pleasure.

I don't know when I will start reading again. I don't know if it will be before these things are resolved or not. I will have to keep praying about that, as well.

So for now, instead of reading, I pray. When I think about books or how much I want to read (WOW I sound like a nerd!), I remember why I am not reading. And then I pray for it more.

The reason I share is not so that I can boast about fasting (after all, it's not like it was my idea...totally can't take the credit for things God does), but so that you can pray for me. I need prayer. I'm sure you need prayer, too. So if you think of something you want me to pray for in this time of fasting and prayer, let me know and I will add it to the list! :)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

What Destroys Beauty

I have had a lot on my mind lately. I mean a LOT. I won't go into detail, but my life just continues to grow more hectic daily. There are so many things that are out of my control and must be entrusted to the unlimited strength and power of my Almighty God.

I have had a lot of time to think about everything going on and I have most certainly asked "Why?" about a lot of things. It got me to thinking about how God created everything and He declared it as good. It was beautiful. The garden was beautiful. The animals were beautiful. The plants were beautiful. And the people were beautiful. Their relationship with the Lord was beautiful. But then Satan (coincidentally once the most beautiful of all the angels) came in and worked his deception and twisted truth. And he destroyed the beauty that God so lovingly created. He perverted it and twisted it into something it wasn't.

How often does he do this in our lives? God blesses us with something beautiful, and Satan does his very best to pervert, to distort, and to destroy. He tries to convince us that his "beauty" is better. That what he has to offer will satisfy us more. Sometimes we listen, and sometimes all we are left with are broken pieces of the original beauty.

The wonderful thing is that God is a god of redemption. He doesn't leave us in a state of depravity - He loves, He saves, He conquers, He rescues and redeems!!! He can take the pieces of something so broken we don't even remember what it once was and put them back together into something beautiful again.

I am so thankful for this. And I am so thankful that I don't have to worry about taking control or micro-managing each situation on my plate right now. God is in control and always has been (despite my best efforts to control things myself), and it is much better that way.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

On how this past week was like a movie

Ok. So. This is one of those stories where I can try and try and try to exactly get the point across to you just how ridiculous my week was and you will never fully get it...but I am going to try anyway (so it will be lengthy). Because this week has been so ridiculous, it seems more like a plot for a comedy rather than my actual life.

Last week kicked off with a killer Monday. I had a school group coming out for 3 days, and Anne had another school group coming out (at the same time) for 4 days. However, instead of me staying around camp and actually hosting my group like I am supposed to (and like I would like to), I drove into Kerrville to see the doctor. Because Oh My Gosh my throat hurt. I mean, I felt like I had tried to swallow hell. So I go into the doctor, find out I don't have mono (good) but do have strep (bad). They prescribe me some drugs and after hitting up HEB and buying popsicles, ice cream, pudding, and soup, I head home.

Matt comes by to take care of me and make sure that I get my rest (not my strong point) Monday evening and all of Tuesday. He is wonderful. He makes all my meals. Watches whatever movie I want. Takes care of my every need. But I still feel horrible. And I still just really want to be able to spend time with my group and take care of them while they are here!

I make it into work Wednesday morning just in time to see my group leave ("Hi. I'm Lauren. Sorry I haven't seen you the whole time you were here. Oh, you're leaving right now? Ok, bye!").

Thursday morning I wake up and go straight to the kitchen where I learn that the water pipe busted during the night and main camp has no water (thank goodness I didn't try to shower). And lots of kids and staff are sick with some weird stomach bug that causes some pretty serious diarrhea. And there is no water. So toilets can't be flushed. We get buckets of water from the pool so that people can flush their toilets. You know. Because diarrhea is gross.

We get water back. We then learn that the water might be what is causing the stomach yuck. What with all the rain and flooding here recently, some nasties may have washed into our well. Awesome.

10:30 rolls around and I am sitting in my office when a fellow staff member walks in, looks at me, and says, "You and Emily know you have to be moved out of your apartments and into your new house by dinner today, right?" No. NO. I had no idea! I knew it was going to hopefully be sometime soon, but now? Right now? Today? By dinner? Nope, no one told me. Is this a joke? No, it's for real? Ok. Haha...!!

Have you ever been told you have to be completely moved out of your house and into a new house in less than 8 hours? And have your old house clean? Spotless? Me either, until Thursday. I must admit I actually thought it was pretty funny. I mean how else can you deal with a situation like that? You can either get really mad and frustrated at something you can't change...or you can think it is hilarious. The latter sounded like a much better option to me and everyone else at camp.

We take the first truck load of stuff up to the house and run into one of the Amigos (the guys building all the houses) who says, "You aren't bringing all that stuff up here to move into this house today, are you?" Yes. We are, actually. You see, we were told this morning that we have to be moved into this house by tonight. To which he replies, "Oh no..." and then starts talking rapidly in Spanish, rushes into the house, and starts talking to the other Amigos.

Getting funnier, right? (Did I mention that this whole time it is drizzling??)

We then have to return the truck to Meredith so she can drive into town and gather produce for the weekend.

And did I mention the other (not my) school group has not left yet (or that my uncle and second cousin were 2 people in attendance)? Their bus is late. Like an hour late. Funny! And the retreat we have this weekend is a men's retreat. Some men show up (a day) early and are walking around camp smoking cigars...before the 6th grade Lutheran kiddos leave!

Finally their bus arrives, gets stuck in the circle drive (oh how to not hit all the rocks?!?!), and eventually makes it out in 20somethingish minutes. And we find a vehicle that should suffice to move the rest of my stuff (when did camp get this vehicle? We rebuilt the engine? The stick came out while driving it last week? Cool, hope it works!). At this point there are 6 staff helping us move. When a small SUV is packed with your stuff, only 2 people fit in (the front seats of course)! So we had 4 people hanging on to the OUTSIDE of the vehicle as we drove treacherous dirt roads to my house. And one of the people hanging onto the outside of the vehicle was pregnant Erin! What the heck was she doing out there?!!

Somehow, by the grace of God (and lots of help from our friends), Emily and I were moved into our new house by 3 pm (and when I say moved in, I mean all our boxes were taken into the house and quickly placed on the floor wherever was most convenient at the time). And then we got to go clean all of camp! Yay! And then cook dinner for the 40-some-odd men who came early (we knew they were coming though).

I have spent the past few days feeling so disoriented. I didn't know where any of my stuff was. I mean, I knew it was at the house, but what box or bag did I throw it into?

It is now Saturday and we are just now moved in enough to be able to sleep (on the bed I borrowed from friends today) in the house. I am looking forward to it. Wait. Did I tell you that I don't have any furniture? Oh, well I don't! See, I have been living in the Cowboy apartment which is fully furnished. So I don't have ANY furniture. No dresser for my clothes. No bedside table. No couch. No chairs. No table. One bookshelf.

Looks like I am going furniture shopping sometime soon!

Like I said, crazy week. Ridiculous. It might not actually sound that funny when you read it, but I promise it was. It would truly make for a good comedy (I think the visuals and the irony help out a LOT). I truly did try to convey with accuracy what has transpired the past 5ish days (and mostly Thursday), but I know it's probably one of those had-to-be-there things.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Ok, so I read this book because my friend and soon-to-be-roommate-for-only-a-month-ish Emily said I should. We were talking about books and reading and how much we liked reading books (imagine that!), and she told me it was her very favorite book. So I read it!

Written by Jonathan Safran Foer, this book is different from any other book I have ever read. The main character of the story is 8 year old Oskar Schell, and main part of the story is set in 2003. Oskar's father died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and things just have not been right since. Oskar is a ridiculously brilliant and eccentric child, and his mind is fascinating. He deals with the grief of his dad's passing by beating himself up (giving himself bruises). When something makes him sad, he says it "gives him heavy boots". I am really interested to know where that came from!

Oskar narrates most of the novel, although there are 2 other narrators at various points throughout the book, as well (more on this later). Because Oskar is brilliant and eccentric, his viewpoint is captivating. At the same time, Foer does a good job writing a narration from a child's point of view. It can be rather comical!

After his father's death, Oskar finds a key in an envelope in a vase in his dad's closet. The word "Black" is written on the envelope. He goes on a lengthy quest through all of New York to find the lock that goes to the key and to discover the significance of said lock and key. On this mission, he meets all sorts of people and makes some new friends.

I haven't decided if his quest was really a healing process for him. I guess it was a healing process, it was just different from what I expected. I don't think there was as much closure as I would have liked.

The other 2 narrators are Oskar's grandparents who narrate their lives starting in Germany and ending...somewhere. Oskar spent a lot of time with his grandmother and was really close to her. He had never met his grandfather. All three narrators have one unifying quality - tragedy. Each of the three have been through extremely traumatic experiences.

One other thing that makes this book interesting and unique is the use of pictures throughout the book. Pictures often take up entire pages, showing you things that Oskar sees along his journey. Some pictures included in the book were of a 9/11 jumper, someone who chose to jump to escape fire and the imminent collapse of the building (Oskar has singled out the man in this picture as possibly being his father - there is some resemblance). At the end of the book, Oskar rearranges the pictures of the jumper so that when you flip through them, he is floating up toward the sky as opposed to down towards the ground.

I had a difficult time with the fact that the book included pictures of an actual jumper. It was just really difficult for me to know that in that photograph was a person who had a life and a family and had to choose between a number of horrible deaths.

Overall though I think I enjoyed the book. It took me a while to figure out if I liked it or not. Like I said, totally different from anything I have ever read before. And not something I would have just picked off the shelf to read myself. But I am glad I read it. It was interesting. It made me think. It made me feel.

So would I recommend it to you? Probably. I would say if you truly enjoy reading and you are looking for a book that is different and interesting, then go for it!! I will warn you, it is not a conservative book. There are a few curse words here and there. The book touches on topics of bullying, suicide, depression, bombings, terrorism, grief, pre-marital sex, broken marriages, and abandonment. In Oskar's words, sometimes it gave me heavy boots. I am glad I read it. I don't regret reading it, and I don't feel like it was a waste of my time. Will I read it again? Maybe. Probably not.

Have you read this book? Any thoughts on it?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Bookworm




You probably don't know this, but I love to read. I love love love LOVE to read. I always have. I don't remember a time in my life where I have not had a book that I read before I go to bed. I was the kid who loved the Book It! program at Pizza Hut and thought it was incredible that I got free pizza for reading books I already wanted to read!

I was the kid who would read ahead in my reading class even though the teacher told me not to.

(But isn't it funny that instead of wanting to teach reading I chose math and science?! I guess it doesn't matter much since I'm not a teacher in a "real" classroom anyway!)

Most people probably don't peg me as an avid reader, but believe me, I am! You can ask Matt!

I remember when my mom bought me the Chronicles of Narnia series. I was in 4th grade and it was through a Scholastic book order. I thought she had bought them for herself and didn't want to read them - I had no clue what they were about (and therefore no clue what I was about to get myself into when I first cracked the cover of "The Magician's Nephew"). Since then, I have read the entire series over 40 times.

I read The Boxcar Children. And the Sierra Jensen series. And the Christy Miller series. And the China Tate series. And A Wrinkle in Time. And Goosebumps (even though I wasn't supposed to). I read almost everything I could get my hands on.

I'm not much different these days. I still really like (and stick to) certain genres (my favorite authors include Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Ted Dekker, and Madeleine L'Engle), but every once in a while I branch out.

I just finished a book by Jonathan Safran Foer called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Not something I would have picked myself, but it was good. I will hopefully write somewhat of a review on it later.

As of yesterday I have started the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. And so far, it's pretty darn good.

I think it would be cool to start writing about the books I read, although I don't know if anyone would even be interested. I think I will do it anyway! :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...