Saturday, April 28, 2012

[ Congrats Valedictorian ]

My beautiful sister, Kara, received an incredible honor this weekend at college graduation. She was nominated as valedictorian of her class. An incredible humble woman, she would never want this to be announced- let alone have this published online. However, for her hard work and dedication, she needs to be honored. Below is a video of her valedictorian speech delivered at the grad banquet. Even if you are out of college, it is a stirring message and strong words.

Watch and feel free to leave a comment of encouragement to her! 
It's an awesome honor and something to celebrate!

All film credits go to Bodacious Production

Thursday, April 26, 2012

[ Weekend Vacation ]

We go on vacation today. I get really excited about things like vacation and weekends. For being such a habitual person, I really enjoy not having anything to do and being able to do whatever, whenever. It doesn't really make sense in my head and probably partially because I'll still have to-do lists running through my head on weekends and vacations. Regardless, I'm excited.
Yep, I'm that excited. In case you didn't know, that's my excited face. It only happens when something really awesome is going to happen or has happened. Like the time my mum flew through Minneapolis and I got to have dinner with her. This is what I looked like:
Excited Face. I'm excited for vacation so I'm sure if you could see me right now, you'd know that I'm really excited! We drive to Canada tonight, overnight, so we can make it in time for my sister's college graduation banquet. It's going to be a ball!


On a completely different tangent, did you know there's now Instagram for Android phones? Shut the front door, no one told me! I'm in love. I like making my pictures look way cooler than they really were when I was there. Seriously though, I love Instagram.

Happy Thursday to you!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

[ To My Faves ]

Kirsten, Me, Kitty, Kara & Casey

These are some of my favoritest people in the whole world. The 5 of us are sisters. I bet you couldn't tell, right? All about the same height, same build (kinda), same shoe size. I'm sure you would have never guessed! Growing with four sisters usually brings about comments like:

"Your poor dad. He's a brave man"
"I bet your dad is excited to finally have some men in the family"
"How did your dad survive?!"

Well, let me tell you a little something. I might be a little biased, but girls are awesome. Until I was 9 years old, I thought I was going to marry my dad. He was my night in shining armor. He was my hero. He was my everything. At 9, I realized that he was a married man and that he happened to be married to my mum and that it was actually no longer cute to want to marry him. But you get the point. 5 girls, 6 if you count my mother, adored my father growing up. Yes, there were certain times of the month when World War III broke out. There were times when I'm sure he had no idea why we were crying or why we were even upset. But you know what? My dad loved it. I'm not making this stuff up, you can ask him. Loved it.

[ps. I don't like those kind of comments. Girl rock. Enough said. My dad ain't the kind of man that needs a boy to complete him.]

Anyhow, remember, we were talking about my sisters? And their awesomeness? Right...

As I was saying... We're all a year and a half (give or take a month of two) apart from each other. Meaning, there are only 6 and 1/2 years between me and Kitty, the youngest. There is only a year and 1/2 between me and Casey, the second oldest. Growing up, I never had a shortage of friends because I lived with 4 of them. High school definitely brought its challenges, but since we've all moved away, most have gone to college and some have graduated, life has changed. Life has changed for the absolute better. There is not a group of 4 ladies (let's include my mum too) that I would rather spend an afternoon with drinking lattes, have a text conversation with, sharing blog and pinterest ideas with, or email back and forth 44 times in one evening. My sisters are incredible women and I have the opportunity to call them MY sisters.

to: Kirsten, Casey, Kitty & Kara 
all of ya'll are my favs.
ps. please don't kill me for putting up some of these photos.
pps. Kirsten, I told you I'd give you a shoutout.
much loves.

[ Women & Relationships : Part I ]

I was asked to be on a discussion panel to be asked questions by college age ladies. My first react was, "Goodness gracious, balls of fire, no." Any thought of talking in front of a group of people makes my heart skip a beat. Add in the fact that we'd be talking about relationships and struggles and relating to men and modesty and so on. The thought of this made my palms start to sweat and I hadn't even agreed to do it yet. So, you know what I did? I agreed. Even better than that, I survived.

There's a few things that I am passionate about. The first one is always, at all times, continuously pursuing being a better woman of God. I do realize how redundant that sentence is, yet that's how I see it and approach the topic of who I am in Christ. The second thing I am passionate about is helping others see the same thing. I am passionate about them seeing their potential, seeing their opportunities for growth and seeing that they should never-ever, under any circumstance stop growing in Christ. I'm not someone who usually accepts mediocrity or being okay with where I am at. I am not someone who is okay with making it work and then just going along with it. I want to improve. I love efficiency. I love learning how to do better at everything. My marriage. My friendships. My job. My womanhood in Christ. Does that seem like a lot to swallow? It is. Yet, it is something that flows naturally into everything I do and who I am. While it can be exhausting at times, I have been given this passion for a reason. A reason that I can't ignore. Because of that, I agreed to do that discussion panel. If what I have to share can help in some way or some part of a woman's journey, then count me in!

A number of questions that were asked were good, thought provoking questions. Questions that I've asked myself at some point in high school or college. Questions that the Hubs and I worked through as we dated for 3 years and then moved into being engaged before getting married. The following questions were asked of us:
  1. How do you know when you've met Mr. Right?
  2. Is it possible to be physically beautiful and modest at the same time? Why is modesty important? Do guys even notice modest girls? Are godly men actually looking for women with a quiet and gentle spirit?
  3. Is is possible for all of us to learn how to be content in life like the apostle Paul? Or do we seriously need relationships?
  4. Is there someone out there that God wants for us? 
  5. How come as a college, we tend to focus more on relationships, rather than independence in women? Is this harmful?
  6. Is it true that a man desires respect above love?
  7. As a woman, is it appropriate to be the leader of the relationship?
These questions are important not just because they help define how you approach relationships but they are important because women are asking these questions. They submitted them, which means someone somewhere is wondering about each one of these. So, this is going to be Women & Relationships Part I. I'll have Part II and if that gets way to long, we'll do a Part III. I'm not an expert. I'll always have an opinion and some thoughts. But more than anything, I want my experiences to speak into the lives of others and to allow God to use how he's working in my heart to touch the hearts of others.

[ Women & Relationships : Part I ]

1.  How do you know when you've met Mr. Right?

Most of the time you just know. However, that's a horrible 7 word answer and this wouldn't be a very fun blog if there wasn't more to it. Luckily, there's a lot more. A whole lot more that goes a whole lot deeper. 

Here's my story when I began to ask that question, but first, let me give you a bit of background: I met my husband at college. We started dating a month and a half after we had met for the first time. Both of us will admit that it was fast. We talked about all sorts of dreams and connected on a level far too intimate too fast and both of us look back and would admit that to anyone. Even though we jumped in head first, there was not that moment where I thought to myself, "This is the man," and had sun beams glow around him and the angels started singing. It was a gradual process. One that I asked for guidance from my parents with.  I journal and read my Bible a lot. I prayed. I wondered if I was in love with him. I didn't want it to be something trivial. I had said to other boys before, but always casually and not understanding the weight of my words. This time, I wanted it to be something special. Those were words that were meant for one man and if I chose to love him, it would be a choice I couldn't take back. 

So what did I do when I had an huge life changing decision and wanted to dig deeper? I asked one of the smartest men I know, I emailed my dad and asked him 2 questions: 
How do you know when you love someone? 
How do you know when it's more than like?
It took him a couple of days to reply [his eldest daughter was asking about falling in love with a young man, a couple days in a timely reply in light of the circumstances!], but when he did, it confirmed everything I had thought and prayed about. Everything I had wondered was answer by God through the words of my dad. Here's the jist of what he said:

#1: What does God say on this topic?
It’s important, first and foremost, to ask what our divine Creator has to say on this topic of falling in love and romance and spending a lifetime together. I look Godward first because I believe that as the One who created us, He has every right to take the role of Leader in our lives. The fact that He can and does dictate how I live is not a painful thing, but a beautiful thing because He is not only sovereign (with full right to reign over me), but He is also a loving, compassionate and merciful God (who knows and desires what is best for me). Therefore serving Him and asking what He wants is not difficult. So I ask: What does God say? What does He want? To summarize the imperfect understanding I have from the Scriptures: God gave men to women and women to men as a gift. The gift they offer to each other is the gift of relationship. Outside of my relationship with God, the greatest gift of my life has been my friendship with your Mum. I believe God gave her to me and me to her that we might – with God’s wisdom and strength – craft a beautiful life together that is filled with knowing and serving God together to bring glory to Him. You can see that our marriage is this intricate dance of three persons, each of whom is essential to the success of my friendship and marriage with Mum. Obviously we need other to have a marriage. It may not be so obvious, but we also need God to have a marriage; He is essential to our matrimonial success. He really is. 

#2: What is love?
In the West, we tend to view love in the Hollywood style – romantic, you fall into it, it’s feeling based, it’s subjective, it comes and goes, it almost catches you by surprise and you just go along for the ride as long as the ride lasts. In the East, love is very different. It is decidedly un-Hollywood, will based, more objective, it comes and stays, it’s a decision you make and the ride you choose lasts a lifetime. You may need to be reminded that the Bible was written from a decidedly Eastern mindset which knew nothing of the Western view of love that dominates the media and our mindset today. 

This means: Love is more about commitment than it is about emotion. Do we fall in love? Yes, I think the phrase “fall in love” is fitting to describe what takes place when we are “captured” by someone’s presence in our lives.But at it’s very core, love is more decision than feeling and you choose to love. Of course, feelings are important – hugely important – because we are emotive, relational beings whose feelings are dependent upon feeling a connection with another person. But we also need to recognize the commitment that love and marriage take. There will be times with whatever YMOI (Young Man Of Interest) you end up marrying when you will have to choose the path of most resistance – the path of loving commitment. And out of it you will forge a beautiful marriage which I contend will be more beautiful because you chose to love rather than because you felt like loving.

Those two questions have huge implications. They changed how I view love. How I approached the idea of finding Mr. Right and whether or not he was going to be THAT man. 

So how do you know? Asked yourself some questions: 
  1. Can you see yourself doing this with your YMOI for the rest of your life? 
  2. Are you crafting the kind of life together right now that brings honor and pleasure to God in the way you relate to each other? 
  3. Are you growing closer to Jesus as a result of your friendship or is your friendship getting in the way? 
  4. If your friendship is getting in the way of growing closer to Jesus, do you really want to pursue a life together? 
  5. Can you picture yourself staying committed to loving your YMOI for the rest of your life? 
  6. Do you see that component of commitment in yourself? In your YMOI? 
  7. Can you see yourselves living that life of commitment to each other?

So, how do you know when you've met Mr. Right? Most of the time, you just know. Call it intuition, call it whatever you want. It's an age-old answer and stands true for most people. You will just know when you've met him. But for me, someone who doesn't just take a intuition at face value and has to dig deeper, digging through each of these questions and finding where they fit in my heart, that's how I knew when I'd found my Mr. Right.

*** I'll be back with more answers to questions *** 

[ Women & Relationships : Part II ] 

Friday, April 13, 2012

[ Friday Good & Bad ]

Hello Happy Friday!

Good Stuff:
Looking forward to a number of things this weekend including my semi annual hair cut. I know, I know... that's not very often. Which is all the more reason to be excited!

I finally used a new nail polish color. I'm in love with grey. Love.

Refound my love for quinoa.
 It's high in protein, mixes with any vegetable and is delicious with chicken or venison! 

Discovered my favorite of all favorite candies at our local grocery store. 
Seriously? Who know Wine Gums were so easily accessible!

Bad Stuff:

Felt pretty sick last night. It might have been something I ate, but it sure made for a short night and super early morning this morning! Luckily, I'm starting to feel better so I'll still get to enjoy my weekend!

It is supposed to rain this weekend. Rain is good for my plants, but not good for someone who really wants to get out and work in her newly plowed vegetable garden! It was so muddy last week, I couldn't do anything while I waited for the beautiful black dirt to dry out. 

Hope you have a happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday Blues kind of Tuesday

Today felt like Monday all day. So did yesterday. It's just been one of those days, ya know? Nothing bad happened. Nothing extraordinary happened. Everything was pretty chill. Just woke up late, forgot to make my coffee, had leftovers for lunch and am counting down the hours until I get to go back to bed. It's been THAT kind of day...

Despite having the Monday Blues on a Tuesday, my office has the cutest little pansy on my desk. It's just a little reminder that spring is coming out in full force, lilacs are about to bloom and my tulips are stretching for sunshine. Hurray!!! Oh and while I'm on the topic of happy things, I got to watch a full 2 episodes of Downton Abbey. Oh happy day, I love that show! The characters, the drama, the way it just sucks you in that it takes you 3 hours to fold 3 baskets of laundry. Love it!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

4 months. 12 pounds. 1 Huge Lesson.

I've been on a journey for the past 4 months pursuing a way that balances a healthy lifestyle along with the normal busyness that surrounds everyone with family, jobs, house and pets. I originally wrote about being The Biggest Loser back in January when I started this whole expedition into this scary unknown.

There's a lot to be said from a lot of different people about weight loss and being skinny. A lot of what I hear is from the media with skinny celebrities, yada yada yada. I'm sure you're familiar with what I'm talking about- Skinny is beautiful. Well, I disagree. I don't just disagree. That message makes me mad. The pressure put on women, of any age, is sickening and I don't want to fall prey to it. Everyone is built differently. Beautiful women start on the inside, reflecting the wonderful woman that God has created them to be. Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes we just forget the part of taking care of the outside. Just as spending time with God is important for the inside, we need to spend time taking care of the outside. What we put in our body reflects on the outside.

All of this is what started this journey in January. I had put on some weight and wanted to live in a way that I was choosing healthy things to put in my body and healthy activities to stay active. I did NOT want to live in a way that my weight, size or anything of that nature controlled everything I did. There is nothing wrong with a piece of cake. However, there is something wrong or unhealthy about having a second or third piece of cake. That's unhealthy and unnecessary eating. As I started this journey, I wanted to eat in moderation. I wanted to eat healthy things. I wanted to cut out sweets. What I choose to put in my body effects how I feel, weight gain, weight loss, moods and the list goes on.

Realizing the importance of this might be the first step, but it's such a minor step compared to the actual decision to follow through with all of these choices. However, I did it. For the past 4 months, I have been choosing smaller portions, cutting out fatty or sweet foods and eat better food (veggies & fruits).

HOWEVER and this is key, when I do slip up and have something, like a candy bar or cookie, I move on. A lot of dieting seems to rely on guilt and feelings of remorse that are not helpful, discouraging and downright dumb. Yes, dumb. So, I move on. The next hour is a new hour, the next day is a new day and I'll always have a chance to do the right thing next time. This is not something I learned alone. While I do have a group of wonderful women that support each other as we are all on this journey to healthier living, I have to give a lot of credit to my one and only mother. A woman wise beyond her years, the same woman who modeled what a healthy outlook on eating and activity is for all my growing up years, shared this small huge nugget of wisdom with me. Guilt has no place in my healthy lifestyle.

Along with eating and staying active, I've also been weighing every single week with my awesome group of women. I'm down 12 pounds. 12. That's no minor accomplishment either considering how much I hate working out. I'm down inches in my bust, waist, thighs, you name it! It's exciting to celebrate with women as they experience the similar accomplishments. It's been a great 4 months of Biggest Loser and we have 1 more to go!

Here's my motto for the past 4 months:

I AM: 
Learning a healthier way of living through eating right, exercising regularly and establishing betters lifestyle habits with other women who hold you accountable.

I am going to continue doing the Biggest Loser group even after our last weigh-in in May. If you would be interested in joining, either comment on this post or send me an email. We have weekly weigh-ins and monthly measurements which are shared with a group of other ladies who are supportive regardless of numbers and progress. We are all built differently and I choose to celebrate that!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday Night BBQ

I had a group of gals over last night for a midweek BBQ in our backyard. It was a perfect night with almost no breeze, warm sunshine and good food. Everyone was told to bring their own meat and then some something to share. It's a miracle, but we had no doubles of anything except chips (which you can never have too many of)! 

It was a great evening of watching the three dogs chase each around the yard, talking to good girlfriends and just enjoying being in relationship with others. Busyness is an easy excuse when it comes to girlfriends and one that I often find myself letting slip. Girlfriends are important for many things, but especially to process and talk thing through. Last night was a good reminder...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Motors & Tree Tag

We had a great weekend pulling weeds, replanting lilacs where we actually want them, moving hostas around, raking up years worth of leaves and playing with the pups.

This crazy little pup loves tractors, trucks and chainsaws. He gets so excited when the big John Deere tractor comes out and just trots along behind it. He's finally learning to watch out when a truck is driving forward, which is so nice since I can now avoid minor heart attacks when he just stands there and watches the approaching vehicle. For a smart dog, he did NOT connect the dots there.

His other favorite thing other than things with a motor is to play chase around the trees.

First, he hides just so I can barely see 
him on the side of the tree.
 Once he can see me, 
he takes off...
Then, he'll switch directions,
squeeze past me and the whole game starts over.

It's so childish that's its fun.
He loves it and lets me know he wants to play 
by hiding on the other side of the tree. 
Goofy pup.

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