Wednesday Web Suggestions

1) Have you heard of Mark Driscoll?
He rocks. He's to the Left of the Right, to the Right of the Left. And he rocks. Heard him speak at Catalyst West last week, and he was every bit as good in person as the sermons I hear online.

2) Stuff Christians Like. This is hands down my favorite blog of the year. I own his book, have met him in person, and Jon Acuff is the real deal. Or if you have a bit, or want some cubicle listening, check out this- a video of him speaking. He's HILarious.

3) Just for fun, check this out. Somehow, beards have become a big part of the lives of some guy friends in my lives. Saw this site that one of the aforementioned bearded men posted. Hilarious! I think most youth pastors stay in the neutral area of beard trustworthiness, thankfully.

4) Every Day in May. I'm doing it. At Catalyst, I was struck by the fact that I'm a painter... who doesn't paint. And why not? Well, to get myself back in the habit of doing what I love, I'm committing to painting every day in May. Doesn't have to be good, doesn't have to be big, but it has to be a painting. Follow me on twitter to hear about how its going! :)

5) Favorite new blog here. Happens to be my good friend and boss at Valley, and a legit guy who writes from the heart about life, youth ministry, and funny stuff. Check it out!

Hope to write more about Catalyst soon, and will definitely be keeping you in touch as far as how Every Day in May is going.
Night, friends.


Fit, Fat, and Following God

First of all, this post is going to probably rile you up a bit.

OK, you've been forewarned.

Check out this article.

It's a controversial article on Fat and Christians written by a Christian doctor. Here's an excerpt, from a list of 6 things Christians should do about their fat...

1. Reject Your Fat

The first step to overcoming obesity is to not tolerate it. Do not excuse it. Do not comfort yourself about it. Do not rationalize it with your reasons, whether emotional, spiritual, medical, or genetic. Say to yourself, I am fat and I need to get rid of it!
2. Recognize Your Eating Patterns

People don’t get fat for just any reason. They respond to all of their cravings, and eating discipline doesn’t exist. Over-eat and you will become fat. This may not happen in a week, but it will happen. The law of physics applies; if you continue growing fat cells, they will extend everywhere and invade every inch of your body. Obesity leads to early death, but fitness extends life.
3. Stop Hiding Behind Religion

The very evidence of fat in a person’s life demonstrates that there are some spiritual areas that need attention regarding compulsions and lazy behaviors. Hiding behind your Christian faith (or fat) by saying what matters most is that you are growing in your spirit is an insult to God when you fail to address an area of life that matters to God. God is faithful and will point out the sin that causes the fat to exist in the first place.

Wow. I have rarely read anything like this in Christian circles. Usually we read stuff more like "accept yourself" "love yourself!" and "Jesus loves you for who you are" as answers to not liking how one looks or feeling self-concious about a little too much "junk in the trunk."

My question is, dear readers, where do you think 'self-esteem and loving what God gave you' and 'rejecting fat and circumstances that got it there', fit together?

Anxious to read your thoughts!

Come here often?

Some conversations around the coffeepot this week have centered around this question- where are our people hanging out?

No, not coffeeshops.

No, not at the Mall.

We're talking about online!

The big question of our week involves, where are our people hanging out on this big world wide web of ours?

Here is my question to you loyal blog-readers. Where do you 'hang out?' I'll come clean, here are my biggest online hangouts, in NO particular order.

1) (Yes, embarrassing.)
2) Twitter. (Love it. Connects me to my amigos y amigas y FAMILIA!)
3) Facebook. (Mostly for ministry.)
4) Gmail. (For everything- documents, spreadsheets, email, pictures. You name it, gmail has it.)
5) Blogs. (,,, and, and OF COURSE, this blog :) are frequent-visit places.)
6) Hulu. (The perfect solution for people who aren't at home when their shows are.)

Where are YOU hanging out?

Beyond the 'Bobblehead Jesus'

Have you seen this video?

It's a funny (hilarious, actually) look at the way some people view Jesus.

At Underground (the High School worship service my ministry puts on every Sunday) we are exploring for the next 3 weeks, the huge disconnect between what is true of Jesus and what we believe of him.

For instance, I find myself thinking He is disappointed in me, frustrated with my slowness, and weary of my missed or lackluster 'quiet times.' I think He's up there in heaven, shaking His head at how I just can't get it together. 'My goodness, Christina, you're 27 years old! Time to get a few of these kinks worked out!'

But when we look at Jesus of the Bible, he's not weary of people not being spiritual enough. In FACT, when people were super-spiritual, He was not that big of a fan. He liked faith. He liked neediness.

Check it out.

Mark 2:1-12 (New International Version)

Mark 2

Jesus Heals a Paralytic
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

This dude was so needy that he couldn't even bring himself to Jesus! And (from what we see) he was relying on his friends not just for a free ride, but for the faith to heal him too! And Jesus not only healed him, but forgave his sins as well. Wow.

Question: What is the disconnect in YOUR life between the Jesus that IS and the 'Bobblehead version' that you replace him with?

It's up to you (New York, New York)

Have I mentioned, dear readers, that I am FINALLY TRAVELING BACK TO NY this Spring Break? After 3 years away? I could NOT be more excited to travel back to the mother ship, my home away from home, my happy place. Thinking about traveling back in time to 2006 and the role NYC had in my life, I've taken a look back at my blog posts from that year. In honor of that-here's a thought from Christina of 2006. So different, yet so similar. Check out this post, from August of 2006.

Just got back from the library. Being in the library, looking at the stacks and stacks of books, reminds me more and more that I'm not who I want to be, or not who I percieve myself to be. See, I'm wandering through the stacks of books, attracted to the simple girly titles, all the while feeling guilty that I'm not looking for F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sylvia Plath. Isn't it weird how you have this idea of who you are, even though it's crazy different than the truth? I wouldn't know what to do with Sylvia Plath even if I bought the cliff notes.
I'm learning more now than ever that I know myself less and less. I mean, I KNEW who I was in college, I knew that I was the one to call if you didn't want to study, the one to throw the dinner party, the one to call if you needed some free counseling and "wisdom" from someone who's been through it. While I was IN college, I loved the social life much more than the classes. Now, being out of school, I wish I could go back and have 24 more hours in every day and suck all the learning out of Iowa State. Now that I have every night free, I long for the textbooks I sold back, wishing I had my advertising books so I could read up at night and feel a little more confidant when applying for jobs the upcoming morning. I don't know, it's just so weird to not have "student" "advertising major" "Iowa State University" and "Campus Crusade for Christ socialite" to define me. What defines me now, that I'm not an advertising student at Iowa state spending too much time socializing up the school? What kind of music do I like, now that I can't depend on having a Christian radio station to put on whenever I need some tunes? What kind of books do I like when I don't have a discipler or the local Christian culture telling me what the next big author is? Tough.
Man, my life is strange right now. I never in a million years would have expected for this to be my life right now. I feel like this year is such a long waiting moment in my life. Waiting for adulthood, waiting to find out who I really am without Campus crusade telling me, waiting for New York to feel like home, waiting for a "real" job. It's strange, this life of mine. I am so used to "glass-half-full" life theology that it's hard for me to really look at my life and ADMIT that it's tough. But the thing is, I'm doing alright. Little by little I am finding out who I am. Making the decision to be faithful even when I don't understand. Praying that my self-righteous pride will shut itself up while I just try to do the best that I can. And try to push the mother guilt away while I attempt to raise these children the way their parents want me to and push away my questions about whether they'll turn out really weird after watching this much T.V. What a year. :) But the thing is, I'm smiling my little face off right now, listening to John Legend on the computer (a singer I found all by myself and LOVE LOVE LOVE him) and thinking that I wouldn't trade my life for the world. because I know this is where I'm supposed to be. I know that learning all this is going to make me who I am, future tense :). I'm making no sense, right? Well, somehow in this moment, I'm happy, standing in this gap. I suppose these next couple years after college, I'll be climbing that mountain on the other side. And I'll come out on top,

you'll see :)

So thankful for God being faithful to introduce me more to myself in these last 3 years. To mold me and shape me and make me more and more okay with who I am. And SO fun to look back and see where I was, how far I've come! And to realize that, even though I certainly know myself better now than I did 3 years ago, the "mountain" will take a lifetime to climb. And I'm ok with that!

Question- dear readers. What grew you up? When did you really get to know who you were?


It's not personal- it's business

"It's not personal, it's business." - quote from my favorite movie, You've Got Mail. The Tom Hanks character says it to the Meg Ryan character as he's putting her little Shop Around the Corner out of business.

Reminds me of something I've been talking over with a friend of mine lately. Over Thai food this Friday night, the question kept coming up- what's personal, and what's business? As someone who notoriously does not keep my cards held close, a difference between business and personal used to make little to no sense to me. A relationship is a relationship! Screw me over in business, you've screwed me over in life, end of story. But after 1 year nannying someone else's babies in NY, 2 years in a poorly lit cubicle at a Marketing Company (ironically, with the aforementioned Thai food buddy,) and now knocking on the door of the typical 18 month life span of a youth worker, I've seen that this is not the case. Turns out most people feel that business and personal are different.

-For instance, you can trust someone as a friend, but not as a colleague.
-You could admire someone as a family man but not as a businessman.
-You might enjoy someones jokes at a BBQ but not during a board meeting.
-You may respect someone as a professional but not as a person.

The problem is- seems that everyone has a different idea of the blurred lines between the two. It appears that everyone in today's workplace attended a different "Standard Business Practices 101" in College, rendering us in not only different pages, but entirely different books when it comes to these matters. This can be very frustrating! Bears to mention, of course, that looking inward has me even more frustrated in this area. Why am I so confident in 'real life' but lose it when it comes to a big meeting with the Big Dogs at the Big Ole Church where I work? Why do I trust my viewpoints in life, but not at work? Seems I have my own double standards going on.

So here's the question- where are the lines in your life? Do you have the same confidence as a professional as you do in 'real life'? Are you as trustworthy at work as you are as a friend? Are there people in your life that you like as a person, but not as a co-worker?

Last Names- A Wish List

Caroline's recent book crush, author Lauren Winner, has got me thinking of last names. Since I am currently unmarried, (and don't have a certain boy in mind that I'd like to hitch myself to permanently,) my future last name is still up for grabs. As someone who sees all things as opportunities, this gets me thinking. Wouldn't it be a great strategic move to use this "new last name" thing for the greatest gain? Like, marry someone with a cool, funny, or random last name just for fun? Yes, this does really cross my mind. Therefore, when I meet someone with a cool last name, I can't help but think...

Do they have a brother? :)

Here are some last names I'd love to get my hands on. (All real)

-Christina Nation (Christina Nation sounds like a SWEET PLACE!)
-Christina Winner (Lauren has got to feel good about herself in the morning with an affirmative last name like that)
-Christina Star
-Christina Fox
-Christina Speaks
-Christina Beach
-Christina Pigg (at least my middle name wouldn't change to ISA- but still...)

Some names I would NOT like to marry into.

-Christina Butt (kids would get beaten up, for sure)
-Christina Lame (opposite of the daily affirmative, daily downer!)
-Christina Pain (If I became a doctor, kids would not want to come to me with this last name)
-Christina Fager (Couldn't do this to my kids either)
-Christina Mrtwentyfourhours (oops, that's not his real name, just what my co-workers call him... ;) )
-Christina Lowersherstandards (just kidding- this one's not real)

Any other last names I'm missing?

Days I hate being a girl (youth worker)

Christina here, guest-blogging for Caroline. An annoyance of today turned into a little bit of a rant, but it's a glimpse into my life, so enjoy! Feel free to comment about what bugs you about being a girl today!

-Days when you're in a business conversation with someone and they can't keep their eyes off your chest. Even though you're very modestly dressed. And your guy coworkers notice this exchange. Awkward and disgusting.
-Days when I can't walk as fast as my (guy) coworkers because I like to wear heels and not tennis shoes
-Days when I have to worry about why the sophomore boys want to hug me.
-Days when I have to hear about pooping more than I'd like (aka any.)
-Days when we are going swimming and I have to spend lots of time finding a modest-enough swimsuit to be around high school boys. AKA usually a tank top and shorts. While my co-workers run around shirtless.
-Days when I start making lists in my head because the topic of conversation turns to MMA. Again. :)

There are also MANY days I absolutely love being a girl (youth worker.) But today is not necessarily one of those days.

Reflections on Samuel

1 Samuel 3:19 “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.”

Wow- what an incredible verse. I read this yesterday and I still haven’t gotten over it. I’m still trying to figure out what it means honestly. I keep thinking… what would it mean for none of His words to us to fall to the ground? How amazing would it be for us to take His words to heart (not head) and do what He says, transforming our lives. What would it mean for none of my words to fall to the ground, like Samuel? What would it mean for me to be so in tune with God’s Spirit that every word that comes out of my mouth makes him greater? What would it mean for us, as hearers of God’s Word, to take what he tells us and DO it.

During Jesus’ life- even at his trial, out of all the questions he was asked, he only answered two. In response to all their questions, he would only say that he was born to be a King, and that he was the Son of God. Jesus could see people’s hearts- and to what their genuine intentions were. At the trial, the intention of the people was to find fault in Him and find a reason for Him to die. He saw that these people had hard hearts to his gospel, and that they were not open to his life-giving words. Jesus also spoke in Parables, because it made his messages easier to remember, but they also communicated truth to believers but hid it from people with hard hearts.

In Matthew 13:15 Jesus says in regards to why He spoke in parables… For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

I fear that we say many empty words, have faith without works, knowledge without life-change. I fear that the Lord’s words fall to the ground with us as well- that we read our Bibles out of obligation and for a “nugget of truth” to get through the day. I pray that, like Samuel, we would truly understand what this life with Christ is about and DO it and that our words would reflect that. Let’s start with Acts 2:42-47 What would it look like if we actually changed our lives and were the church? What if we loved each other like this? Let these Words not fall to the ground, but let us be transformed by them, see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and understand with our hearts.


A week of tears

Hello long-lost friends! Christina here, your long lost other half of the foreign heart team. At least, I hope Caroline still considers me part of the team. I started a new journey about 4 1/2 months ago (quitting my job and getting a new one in youth ministry- ahh!) and it has changed my whole world. My life has turned upside down, and I wouldn't want it to go back. But I do miss you all, and having time to talk to my dear sister every once and awhile...

Anyway- it's been quite a week... kind of not in a good way. I've cried this week more times than I can count. Big, fat crocodile tears in the shower, in a meeting, and driving down the road. It's just been one of those weeks. Started Sat. with some car troubles, but has continued into something that's taken on a life of its own.

Honestly- I can't remember a time that I have felt like this- so hopeless, so despondent, so free of true joy. I was trying to explain it to Tina on Tues. night and after awhile she just said- Christina, nothing you are saying is making sense. Are you sure you're not being attacked? After trying to talk her out of this insane and frankly, offensive accusation for awhile, I realized she was right.

And why not? Why wouldn't satan attack me with accusations of worthlessness, alone-ness, and sadness? Why wouldn't satan whisper to me lies of discontentment, uneasiness, and distrust? Why wouldn't he try and make me ineffective for God's gospel and glory? When things at Valley Church are MOVING, when things are SHAKING up, when EXCITING things are happening, WHY WOULDN'T HE ATTACK THAT?

So I fight. For joy- for time with the Lord- for unity in our team.

Will you fight with me? Will you pray that God would continue to move mightily in Valley Church Student Ministries? Will you pray that satan's attacks on our team would be useless? Would you pray that our staff retreat this weekend will sustain us and give us communication we desperately need? Would you pray that we would come back ready to fight for his kingdom?

Thank you, friends. I love you all.


Moonlight sledding, top ten lists and lots of coffee: snapshot into my week

Hello long lost friends!
I don't have much time to write, but I thought I'd give you a quick snapshot into my week this week. We had an awesome moonlit sledding party...

I drank lots of coffee... between coffee dates with students, staff meetings, and the new coffee-shop like addition that was just added to my church, I have had to remind myself to drink water before working out because it's mostly coffee flowing through these veins. Notice what's in my hand...

And had a simply hilarious time with the rest of the student ministries staff. This is more the norm than the exception. Isn't that great! I love how our offices are separated from the other church offices so we can be as loud and goofy as we want. Here's one of the things that made me laugh out loud this week- my boss was working on this for Underground (Sunday School.)
Ahh, I love youth ministry. :)

Ten Christian Reality Shows that DIDN’T make it

10. Run and Not Grow Weary: contestants run continuously until all but one has grown weary

9. Catacomb Survivors: contestants fight rats, unending darkness, and slimy stuff as they try to outlast each other in a succession of big-city sewer systems

8. Crossover: contestants alter the lyrics of popular mainstream songs in an attempt to be the first to convince a Christian music station to play their Christianized song

7. American Idols: contestants take turns competing with modern-day prophets of Baal as they call down fire on alter sacrifices

6. Hour of Power: oh wait, that’s actual a reality show

5. BIG Brothers and Sisters: obese people from the same congregation use competing Christian weight-loss programs to see who can get in the best worship shape

4. So You Think You Can Pray?: contestants vie to see who can achieve the highest prayer-to-answer ratio

3. Big Name Pastor Apprentice: contestants try to win a spot on Joel Osteen’s pastoral staff by competing in preach-offs and book authoring deals

2. The Biggest Loser: contestants compete to see who can most thoroughly “lose their life” in order to “gain it”

1. The Courting Bachelor: male contestants compete to see who can convince Stacie Orrico’s parents to let him ‘court’ their daughter


Happy Birthday, Dear Caroline!

This is your present from your dear sister, sending you happy birthdays from up North. From Iowa, to Kentucky, to Canada, people all over the world love you, sister, and we wish you the best of days today. You are so special, and we love and miss you!

From your cousin Heidi and honorary niece, Amaya in Lincoln, NE:

Caroline! I have so many memories with you! You have been such an encourgement in my life! I can remember layng in the hospital, being somewhat drugged, and seeing your beautiful face. I could NOT believe that you traveled two hours just to support me. Even though I was just laying there, Amay inside me still. You are so loyal and so caring for others. Today, you need to be selfish and take a "Caroline" day. It's your Birthday! Have an AMAZING day Care! Know that Amaya an I love you and are praying for you! Happy Birthday!

From your cousin Anna at Truman State College in MO:
I love Caroline because she is hard-core! We have kayaked all the way
across clear lake and back because she is tough and likes to take on
challenges! Every time we kayak we have the best conversations because
Caroline is so personable, easy to talk to, and full of encouragement
and wisdom! I love her passion for missions and for serving others.

Anna and Jaime in Kentucky:

Caroline, remember the time we were at Impact in Des Moines. You, Me, Margee, and Crystal stayed in the same room. You woke up really early one morning and started singing "Naked Parade, Naked Parade!" at the top of your lungs. Margee thought it was funny and Crystal and I were so annoyed because you woke us up early! That was a really fun time! I miss you and hope you have a beautiful birthday.
Happy Birthday Caroline!! We love you!!

From Mitch and Karen in Canada:
Happy Birthday Caroline! We wish we could be with you to eat......whatever it is they eat in Honduras on birthdays! Well the Lord has you (and us) outside the good 'ol US of A for His purpose and His glory. Our birthday prayer for you is that you continue to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and seek His will for your life day by day as you serve Him. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." We love you as a daughter, and know that you are blessing others and being blessed as you serve the Lord in a foreign land. We look forward to a day when we can give you a big hug and talk about our adventures. Have a Groovy Birthday.
We Love You!! Mitch and Karen

From Jared, Tina, and Titus in Indianapolis:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We miss you and think about/pray for you often! So... we would love to think of a hilarious story to send your way, but instead we are going to be sentimental... thank goodness you aren't Christina and can handle a little mushy stuff... haha. I hope you know by now that we absolutely adore you... you are honestly one of the most thoughtful, caring, loving, and selfless persons we know!!! You are always smiling and Jesus' love is reflected so amazingly in you! You are like a little sister to us and we love you SO very much! We are planning on sending you something soon.... until then, have a marvelous birthday...
Love, Jared, Tina, and Titus

Crystal Becker in Des Moines, IA:
Happy Birthday Caroline!

I've been putting off writing a birthday note to you because I wanted to come up with some smart, memorable thing to say. But then I realized that you are the one who does that. You always have such insightful things to say. So I gave up trying to come up with something original... and I'm just going to speak from the heart.
You are a JOY Caroline Marie. Every time I see you that's what I think. You bring joy to all those around you. It's been such a joy for me to be able to know you the entire 24 years that you've been here at our temporary home. And I've seen God do such a might work in you throughout the years. You've always been the mature, insightful one... and I've been the dramatic and... well, the dramatic one. :) And our bond is strong because of one little word: cousins. I've learned so many things from you over the years and I look forward to learning from you in the years to come. And I'm excited to share in all the joys that the Lord blesses us with.
Happy Birthday Care. I've included a picture of the Nichols cousins... and whenever I see it, it makes me smile. It's my JOY to call you cousin and friend. And I take great joy praying for you daily.

I love you,
Crystal Minnie

From the Maakestad Family in Pella, IA

Dear Caroline,
How well I remember you as a toddler, with a china doll face and such a big heart. And you haven't changed at all - you are still awesomely beautiful and so very caring that you are halfway around the world caring for kids. Please know that Aunt Sherry in Pella, Iowa, is very proud of you and I wish you a very blessed day on this your birthday. You are so precious and important, and you are loved by so many.

All our love,
Sherry, Mike, Hannah, Kirsten and Sara Jane

From Margee in Mexico:
I wish I had my pictures with me! There are so many photos and memories! One of my favorite pictures is of us lying in my bed when I had a very bad cold,drinking ice cream floats and being ridiculous. It always reminds me how much fun we had doing everything (which was usually nothing).
Happy Birthday!
Love, Margee

Aunt Jane in Atlantic, IA:
Sweet Caroline~! Just like the song--I hope you can sing your way through this day and remember that back in the USA there are alot of people that love you and are wishing you the VERY BEST on this your 24th birthday. Your testimony, your faith, and your ability to care and show that you care I'm sure are speaking VOLUMES as you are doing God's work this year.
Hope you have a GREAT day and again, remember, we love you and miss you!
Aunt Jane

Mom and Dad in Lewis, IA:
Dear Caroline,
If you were here we would make a Caroline sandwich (like the picture) and hug you to death! But since you are in Honduras, you will have to get your new friends to do this for you and pretend it is from us!
We love you.
Mom and Dad
If I could give you a birthday present in person, I would give you a flashlight to take on future adventures! ....and a Garmin...and some trail mix....and some hiking boots....and some Puma repellent!!!

From your friend, Amanda Hoye at Dordt College in Iowa:
Hi Caroline!
Just wanted to wish you happy birthday and say thank you for all you've done for me over the years. You've been such an amazing example for me and my sister! I am always surprised during camp to find that I get as much (or more) out of the speakers than the campers do! It was true this year, as always, and your message throughout the week reminded me how much I want to be involved in missions- even if it's a mission to Atlantic, Iowa. Remember being my counselor, by any chance, at Bethany Camp about...oh, 5 years ago? I do, very well, because you were such an encouragement to me. All the late-night cabin talks...we were in the smaller lower room. I learned a lot that year, especially from you. You're an incredible person, and I've been blessed by knowing you. I'm really excited to see where God continues to use you, because it's going to be awesome! Happy birthday again, and I hope you enjoy your year!

In Christ,
Amanda H.

Grace from UC Davis, CA:

So when I thought of fun memories, I thought of our road-trip to "New
York." And specifically, the "series of unfortunate events" that we
encountered when we decided to stop at Bob Evans.... dun dun dun! Between
you sliding off the road and almost hitting whatever that big thing
was, William losing his phone, and the crazy winter storm that we ventured
out into that was one of the craziest days I have ever experienced!
Happy Birthday Caroline! I love you!

Hope this makes you smile on your special day!
I am sure missing you on this day- wishing I could give you a big hug and an even bigger care package. But alas, I'm not on the ball enough to get a package ready a month ahead of time! So you can get excited for your gift that is to come, all these birthday greetings and more from the many people who love you, made into a hard bound book for you in Honduras. It’s called

Hugs to Honduras.

I love you, Sister!
PS- Maybe you should take a cue from when you were little and lost at the state fair- and some nice person brought you back to the fam b/c of a shirt that said your name. Might be nice for your next "lost" experience? A shirt with your name and where to return you to? :)

Interview with a Dreamer

We're interviewing Kathleen today, of the Blog Cake Dreams, and one of Christina's fave people in Des Moines. Welcome Kathleen!

What do you do?
I am a registered nurse at Blank Children's Hospital. Right now I work in general pediatrics on the 7pm - 7am shift. Later this year, however, I'll get certified to give chemotherapy and will work as a pediatric oncology nurse.

What are the coolest and weirdest things you've seen in your years in that career?
Oh gosh! There are so many cool things that happen at work. I am always amazed by families that pull together when their children are sick and get really involved in their children's care. I see it a lot with kids who are in the hospital for a long time with car accidents. It's neat to see a kid come in totally broken and then be able to walk out after all of the work everyone has done to make them better.

I have also seen a lot of weird things. One of the wierdest things was when my patient's lips fell off...they got a little too dry and crusted together. When he opened his mouth the top lip stayed connected to the bottom one. Gross. I had no idea what to do. But with a lot of care, pain meds, and Vaseline, it got cleared up.

What are your hobbies outside of your career?
I have a lot of hobbies...usually I get really excited about something for a while and then move onto another thing. Currently I'm pretty into making cakes and learning French. Before that some of my hobbies were knitting, painting, playing guitar, and jewelry making. I still love to do all of those things too, but they've taken a backseat at the moment to cakes and French. Another one of my favorite things to do is photography! I love taking and looking at pictures.

I hear you date a genius/rock-star. Tell us about that.
I love it! Ryan and I have been friends for several years. We went to church retreats together in high school but were just acquaintances then. We've been closer friends for about 5 years, but when we were hanging out, I usually just talked with the girls and he talked with the guys. Last winter he was going to buy my favorite book and I got really excited about it. He thought it was pretty cool that I liked to read, so we started considering each other as dating possibilities.
As far as him being a genius/'s so true! I've never met anyone who was so nerdy yet so cool at the same time! Way to go Ryan!

How do you know the girls of Musings of foreign hearts?
I know the infamous Christina through Ruth Ann. I am in a girls' Bible study that used to meet in Ames every week when Ruth Ann lived with Christina. She is probably one of the funniest people I've ever met and her stories always make me laugh! I have never met Caroline, but I do love reading about her adventures and hope to meet her if she ever comes to visit Christina.

Do you know what you are on the Meyers/ Briggs test? Does it hit the nail on the head? Explain.
I don't know. Sad day. What do you think?

What is your favorite thing about fall or are you a fall-hater?
I must admit that I am half fall-lover and half fall-hater. I love the beautiful changing colors, the smell of outside, pumpkin patches, pies, etc. But I hate to think that winter is getting close. Some people just get cold if the temperature is below 80 degrees. I happen to be their leader.

Are you an obsessive blog-checker? What blogs do you check daily?

I have been addicted to blogging since 2004 (with about a 2 year lapse between late '05- late '07). On my blog there's a list called "good people" of the blogs I faithfully check. Being nosy is one of my favorite things to do!

Tell us about your blog- Cake dreams!
Originally it was entitled "why dorms are bigger than vans" because I used to live in a van traveling the country conducting youth retreats. When I went to college and only lived with one girl in a dorm room compared to 9 other young adults in a van, I realized how much bigger of a space a dorm really was.

Cake dreams was the name I came up with after returning to the blogging world in 2007. I figured that I hadn't lived in a dorm in 4 years so I should figure out a new title. At the time I was preparing for my roommate Kim's wedding and she was going to make cupcakes for her wedding. So, at least weekly we would try a different cupcake recipe and practice decorating them. It was a lot of fun! So I decided that it was a good title for my blog and began pouring my little heart out once again.

I hear you are a hard-core Jesus- Lover. Tell us about how this affects your day-to-day life.
I do love Jesus! Being a Christian is the most important part of my life. I love knowing that God is with me every moment, helping me through hard times and celebrating with me during good times. At work or school or with friends I try to witness to His love. God is so good!

Garage sale- More trouble than its worth?

  Every once in awhile, my sister likes to guest blog on musings. I don't mind because, frankly, she's attracts way more readers than I ever will! 

So, I had a garage sale this past week. A big, honking garage sale. A garage sale that I thought would be great fun, that turned out to be... hard!

I had been planning for months for this garage sale. NOT. I decided to do it last week on a whim. Without consulting all my tried and true friends to see if they'd be around. Yes, there were many missteps in the garage sale process... But I was just so EXCITED! About getting money in my savings account! About stregthening my emergency fund (thanks, Dave Ramsey!) About getting rid of clutter I had lying around.

Low notes: Well, I didn't have enough time to devote to pricing. I didn't get many signs around the neigborhood. I thought I could handle it all alone. And it wasn't the best weekend of my life. Lessons learned.

High notes: My grandparents showing up, like garage sale angels, and helping me out for a few hours by re-arranging the merchandise and sweet-talking customers into buying things. 2 friends who spent hours keeping me company- Zac and Sarah- you guys are awesome! The 140ish dollars I made- going straight to savings! The great opportunity it was for me to meet neigbors! Kind of awkward meeting your neigbors over your used clothes, but still nice!

Next time, I'm picking a weekend my mom can help, putting lots of posters up, and paying cute elderly folks (hehe) to sweet-talk. A recipe for success :)

Trip down Pumpkin-Spice Latte Memory Lane

Today was one of those yearly monumental days... the first day of fall latte weather. I just returned back to my desk with a Pumpkin-spiced coffee by my side. Makes me feel kind of happy and kind of sad - sad that summer is over and happy that beautiful fall is here. And this fall I'll get to revel in football season in all it's glory, as I can see the Valley football stadium out my office window :) LOVE IT!

Anyway, walking back to the office feeling kind of pensive because of the sad feeling I always get by fall officially being here, and I remembered a blog that I wrote about this very topic about 2 years ago... for those of you that may remember, I wrote a little blog called NY Nanny diaries two years ago.

Below is a post from that popular little blog. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!
Pumpkin Spice Latte weather
Wow, it's been awhile, huh? I've been thinking for a couple weeks now that I needed to update you all on my life, but then more, more, and more things kept happening that I needed to add! So today you all get the big ole royal update, I imagine it will take a couple of posts so I better get started. Alright, I'm seeing that my last post was on 9/28... well, 2-3 weeks ago, not bad.

SOOO in that last post, I wrote about how we were starting to interview nanny candidates and were flying a nanny out that could potentially send me packing in a matter of weeks.

Well, of course things turned out quite differently than what any of us thought was coming. The nanny candidate totally spazzed on us and blew off her interview. That's right, people. She didn't get on the plane- she didn't use the ticket we got her, she canceled the hotel room we reserved for her, and she didn't return our calls! I KNEW I had a bad feeling about her! The NERVE! So that was pretty crazy. Pretty stressful, but also good. Like, in that week scare that I thought I was going home in weeks, I realized how much I want to be here. How much more I want to do and experience and money I need to save. So it's been a blessing, actually. Also I just had to get over the whole deal and stop stressing, because as we saw with this nutcase, apparently it's going to be awhile before we find the perfect nanny replacement, since you have to sift through so many wierdos. :)
Also, something else happened since I wrote last.
Fall happened!

You know that day, when you go outside, kids in their tee-shirts, and you realize, woah, it got chilly! And you have to shuffle the kids back inside for more clothes. That's the day fall happens. Up until then you can try and and convince yourself that if you really wanted to, you could still spend more time at the beach and stretch out the summer a bit longer, but then that day happens. Fall day, a little happy, a little sad. But mostly happy! I've just been throwing on more layers for the kids and me, and taking them on walks around the gorgeous New England landscape with a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. How great is THAT? By the way, I know that one isn't grammatically, supposed to capitalize the names of coffee drinks, but if you tasted it you'd know why it's worthy of such grammatical liberties :)

I'm love love loving fall here. Driving the kids to school is even more fun, with all the trees turning beautiful colors all around. I just love the crisp fall wather, just love it. I feel like I've been given a gift, of still being here in NY, and I'm just loving it.
alright, part 1 done

Can you imagine this happened 2 years ago?

Listen while you work (la da da da da da da)

Just a quick plug from Christina today- I was gone on a day- long work trip today (so fun! yeah!) so I haven't had any time at the computer. But for people that spend a LOT of time at a computer (like I USUALLY do,) you might want to check out this website.
You can find all the messages from great Sovereign Grace pastors and teachers. If you are looking for great, gospel-rich messages to listen to at work or on the road, THIS IS IT.