life is like the dentist...

I'm sure there is something profound that could come from that thought... but in the meantime, this is such a delicious tidbit of reality that I had to pass it on. I originally found it through a cousin of mine (thanks Michelle) and then decided it should be shared.

http://www.tangle.com/flash/swf/flvplayer.swf

Oh, my! How did this dad keep the camera straight???

hearty whole wheat bread, and other things I should do more often

I wasn't so sure when I started out. All I knew was that I discovered a gem (whole wheat flour) randomly on the shelf at a grocery store and I simply couldn't let the opportunity pass without a good attempt at homemade bread.

I am good at making excuses. I'm pretty great at it, actually. Homemade bread takes an ENTIRE afternoon - that's a big chunk of time and I boast a pretty packed schedule. Blah blah blah. But, today, after efforts to meet with students failed, I decided I would put the time to good use. I chose the "hearty whole wheat bread" recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my roommate brought back after Christmas. I had to do a few things on the fly after forgetting items and wrestling with the ice cream bucket (still our only bowl big enough to mix in)... but, four hours later the results were remarkable.


I think I could have consumed both loaves if not for the carb-guilt that follows!

I wish you could see the steam coming off these delicious pieces of goodness! And taste the hint of brown sugar in the hearty mixture!

As I was thinking and waiting and grading and punching down dough and thinking and rising and flouring and waiting... I came up with some insight I want to start applying. Nothing new really (is it ever?).

It is simply this:
I'm going to set out to change my should(s) and could(s) to did(s)

Grammatically a mess, I realize, but after watching four hours turn into a glorious creation, I knew there was more to be had than an absolutely fabulous piece of hearty goodness.

I'm very much like my dad in many ways - I laugh a lot, I live for conversation, I like to really know people, I am constantly scheming about the next thing, and

i
am
a
dreamer

I can easily pass an entire day writing about dreams of what could be and what should be. Dreams are enchanting; in fact, sometimes I would rather live in dreams for the absolute endless possibilities . When it comes down to it (and where my mother is such a great balance for my dad), things just need to get DONE.

Hearty, whole-wheat bread is not an impossible thing. It's not a dream that can never be realized. On the contrary, in a few short hours, many can be blessed by its goodness. In the same way, there are very practical things that can move from the 'dreaming' category into the 'done it' category.

Let's see how that works out!

What are things you'd like to move from 'dreaming' to 'done'?

Christmas countdown

I don't know about you - but there are certain things around Christmastime that make me feel so grateful for this life. I've compiled a short list, but not in any order and definitely missing things. I hope this brings back memories (or gives you ideas for this Christmas!).

Movies
1. White Christmas
2. Home Alone
3. It's a Wonderful Life
4. A Christmas Carol (both the original AND the Muppet version)
5. Elf

Songs
1. All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey
2. Happy Holidays by NSync
3. Soundtrack to Charlie Brown Christmas
4. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (acoustic style)
5. ALL the Christmas carols with all the verses ... so beautiful!
6. Whatever Christina and I end up performing for church

Activities
1. trying to snowboard for the first time behind a four-wheeler
2. road trips in the middle of snow-storms to Chicago and Indianapolis
3. sledding down a hill on a picnic table
4. hot chocolate, tea, coffee - anywhere, anytime
5. cards, cards and more cards (especially at my friends the Kolts')
6. board games with the fam!
7. COOKIE DECORATING contest (I always lose, but sometimes I manage to get some award for creativity)
8. Cranium
9. baking and cooking ... and being in the kitchen when it's being done
10. breakfast! early mornings are the best!
11. Looking at ridiculous Christmas displays

Traditions
1. Christmas caroling to neighbors
2. cousin sleepover with all the girls
3. Christmas Eve service with candle light "Silent Night"
4. Christmas Eve dinner before the service and gifts afterward
5. Christmas day with G&G Sponsler, and whatever day works for the Nichols masses
6. DOUGHNUTS with Jane at the Nichols'

There are too many to list! Oh, how thankful I've become by the bottom of the list. Wow! Please feel free to add your Christmas countdown favorites here and let me know if I've missed some of my own!

Lineup and gift-giving

At a recent Christmas outreach to our students, we asked them to think about what Christmas would be like if they didn't receive a single gift. In my group, I only sensed a slight hesitation before the, "No," followed a shake of the head. I don't know what I was expecting... sunday school answers, I guess. But, when I heard their honest admission, I asked the same question of myself.

Lately, I've been racking my brain, trying to think of things to put on my Christmas list. You know - family and friends are thoughtfully asking what would make the perfect gift and I'm grateful to oblige. I hear myself saying, "Well, I have several pairs of slacks, but I could use a few more. I've been wearing these for several years now ... I guess I could use some money on an iTunes giftcard, you know I'm always wanting new music ... You know, now that I think of it, a toaster oven would be so nice to have in the apartment so we didn't have to toast bread over the open flame on the gas stove ..."

Even writing these now sends a shameful shiver up my arms. We only get one life and I'm asking for a toaster oven? Really?

I know that part of giving gifts is that they have to be received on the other end. I get that.

I guess I just wish I would understand that I do not need gadgets and frills and, well, stuff. Why is it I desire things that are so... I don't know, rusty. That's it - things that will rust. Why, instead, don't I find contentment in the necessities? I know - it's the same question every year.

Looks like I'm going to need to be in prayer this week. I know the return trip to the States will be more than overwhelming in all sorts of ways. But, I am so so so excited to see my family, play in the snow, have wrestle fights with my brothers, drink coffee in the mornings with my sister and mom, and YES sit on the heater in the dining room in the early morning when it is cold!

Here's the lineup for this week, we'll see how it goes:

feelings on leaving
I'm not sure how I feel about leaving this place. I've settled into life here and I know that 2 weeks throws a pretty large wrench in the system.

Christmas countdown
Here's a list of things I LOVE at Christmastime.

creative gifts
I have been in the past, but this year I'm trying even more to give gifts with meaning and my own personal touch. My family has been sending out gift lists for awhile, but I hope they don't mind me doing my own thing. :)

adventures of the life I wish I led
I realize that every adventure I write is only an introduction to the actual action ... so this week I'm going to try to write when something actually happens :).

grab bag
pictures, updates, comedy, art ... who knows?

much love to you all this week

ruined

Here I am, feeling a mix of Walden Pond, hippie, gypsy, dusty road, crisp lempira bills, the tantalizing smell of fresh bread baking, disgust with things material, these keys under my fingers, the sunset view from this thatched-covered rooftop.

It's not supposed to make sense.

Have you ever felt inextricably bound? Have you ever felt you simply couldn't do without ______ (you fill in the blank) in your life? After a couple days in Copan Ruinas, home of the ancient Mayan civilization, my sleeping philosophy is quite alive. So, here I am on this thatched-covered rooftop, typing away my thoughts on life while the little town buzzes many, each with their own story.

Right now, I'm reading two more Elisabeth Elliot books. The first, "Slow and Certain Light" has been both challenging and punctual. It seems to leaves question marks in my life where I was satisfied with periods. The second, "The Shadow of the Almighty" has left me feeling a bit depressed about the progress of my pilgrim journey. The things Jim Elliot thought about and wrote about make my faith seem very small.

But, the sun is setting now on this little town of Copan and tomorrow I'm going to leave my 'ruins' here (get it - Mayan Ruins) and start new.

crazy routine - delightful and unexpected (guest writer!)

So, our mom took the bait and has shared this little gem. Hop on over to her blog to read more about her crazy, routine adventures!

Crazy routine - delightful and unexpected


Two phrases stuck out to me when reading this blog last night:
"....routine.......crazy"

"..delightful, unexpected, life things..."

So, because she was asking for guest writers for this week (and it's already Thursday), and because I am enjoying a wonderfully relaxing day while my students are at an honor choir, I am sharing this tiny space of ...space... with her.

At some point in everyone's life, if they are productive and passionate and purposeful, (please note alliteration- I worked very hard at that), they find out that, oddly enough, routine and crazy actually work out very well together. The key is realizing that each have their time and place, and knowing when to roll with routine and rock with crazy. Flexibility! Those of us who are control freaks have a hard time with this, but believe me it's one of the most valuable lessons to learn in life. Side benefit: aids in learning to trust our Heavenly Father!

Which leads to the second phrase rolling around in my head. If we are flexing, trusting, rocking, and rolling, we will discover "delightful, unexpected, life things!" Those serendipitous moments that push us out of our routine and into crazy. Those "out of control" things that happen when we least expect it, but we learn to cherish because of their infrequency. Things like unexpected compliments, deep conversations, touching compassion, random acts of kindness, surprise encounters.
Enjoy your crazy routine, my daughters. In it you will find the delightful and the unexpected.

sunshine

The mountain finally has power! After three days, my mountain has electricity. I heard a transformer blew, but I'm wondering if it might be because of a little confusion in the wiring.

I don't know, I'm just saying.

So, the past three days have been a mix of chilling rain and murky clouds on the mountain and blue, bold skies in the city. I thought I would share a few pictures of other things that make me think of sunshine:

Pictures of Myla Paige French

The thought of my family gathering around to sing, "Count Your Many Blessings," next week in Iowa.

The half painted walls in our apartment ... which means it's becoming our home!

These are just a few things - what makes your day sunshine?

nobody wants to be lonely

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to be included. I'm not sure if it's because I'm immersed in junior high drama, counseling around the ins and outs of friendship circles, or if it's because I'm still getting used to the idea of being a resident and not a foreigner in this land.

Either way, today I'm reminded of the song, "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely" that was popular when I was in junior high/high school, sung by Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. (Come on - I can't help the ridiculous songs that get stuck in my head!)The song is thick with illustrations of exclusion, interwoven, of course, among heartsick expressions of "love and longing."

I'm trying to find a way to fit all these things together... to make some sense of my thoughts on the stronghold of self-pity in relation to my experiences of the necessity of human interaction.

And what I've come up with is this: the world likes it when we feel lonely, excluded, outcast, disregarded, cut down, ashamed, and worthless. I say the world, but what I really mean is the king of this world, our enemy satan. The tricky thing is the world is both the source of all these feelings and the seeming solution. Somehow, satan positions himself in a way that, though he deceives us first into feeling this way, he also manages to deceives us into thinking only he can get us out.

Am I making sense?

It's kind of like that old, old story of the two people who were deceived into thinking they could become like God. Nothing good came of their being deceived, but their first line of defense was to cover up with some flimsy leaves, thinking they could hide the feelings of shame.

It's frustrating. The world promises all sorts of things, like: thinness, self-confidence, wealth, fame, friendship, love, and satisfaction, but when it (inevitably) fails to deliver, there are endless worldly antidotes, like: therapy, diet pills, luxury vacations, divorce lawyers, ice cream, and get-rich-quick schemes.

Frustrating.

I suppose I'm no closer to understanding junior high drama, nor have I captured completely my transition. But, I do know that the schemes of our enemy satan constantly seek to frustrate my Creator's plans of redemption.

I can be frustrated - the righteous indignation kind - but I must know and believe that, though the world will fail us, God will not. And His plans will not be thwarted.

Growing Pains

Found this over at (www.batikbatiknakariktan.blogspot.com)

So, last week I experienced breakdown number one.

Before I came down here, I thought I was alright - you know? I was confident in myself and my abilities and the way that God made me. Hm. God has a funny way of reminding us that no matter how He has gifted us, He's still in charge.

Last week, standing in front of my class of 10th graders I literally felt powerless. College conversations flashed through my mind where my friends in the Ed. department spoke of rubrics and management and lesson plans. And as my vision blurred when I spoke the words, "Seriously, for the last time I need your attention up here," I wondered at my calling to this place. I finally sat down in the front of the class, with 10 minutes left, and just stopped teaching. A few students noticed my frustration, but at the end of the day I was more frustrated with myself than the students or the situation.

"Why don't I have the tools to make this work?"
"How come I didn't take a few of those education courses?"
"Why does it seem like I'm doing the very thing that I can't do, that I'm not good at?"

These are a few of the questions I picked through. The strange thing is, last Wednesday (two days before my breakdown), I joined my co-worker to pray through the school. As I prayed through the halls, I kept saying, "It's about souls." Because it's so easy to think that my post here is about my growth or about the students learning or about creating new guidance systems or (insert another). But, then the Lord showed me as I prayed more that even thinking it's about souls is a detour from life true purpose. It's about the LORD.

It's about the LORD.

"The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever."
-Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 1

I walked away Wednesday night with wet cheeks and a humble heart. And then Thursday and Friday happened.

Last week now seems miles away, but over the weekend I was reminded that the battle for our effectiveness is waged in our weaknesses. Satan tries here to get a foothold while the Lord offers to be Strength. And my weakness is where I am least comfortable.

And so it is with growing pains. Well, I hope it's growing I'm doing.

Application to Date my Daughter

My uncle, after seeing the line-up, sent me this great application to "Date my Daughter." As a youth leader, my application would be a little different, but kind of the same gist. I wouldn't as much threaten bodily harm as threatening me as a chaperone at their next dance, butting in and creating space for the "Holy Spirit" between them and the lady. Anyway, this is the dad version- enjoy!

Application For Permission To Date My Daughter
Note: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless
accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history,
lineage, and current medical report from your physician.
Name:________________________ Date of Birth:_________________
Height:_________ Weight:__________ IQ:_________ GPA:__________
Social Security #:___________ Driver's License #: Number:_______
Boy Scout Rank:_________________ Telephone:___________________
Home Address:______________________________________________
City:__________________________ State:__________ Zip:___________

1. Do you have one male and one female parent? ____
If "No", explain:

2. Number of years your parents have been married: ____
Any brothers or sisters? ____
Are they normal? ____

3. Do you own or have access to a van? ____
A truck with oversize tires? ____
A waterbed? ____

4. Do you have an earring, nose ring, or belly button ring? ____
5. Do you have a tattoo? ____

If you have answered YES to #3, #4 or #5, discontinue
application and leave immediately.
(I actually disagree with #4 and #5, I think an explanation would be in order though  )
6. In fifty words or less, what does Late mean to you?

7. Who did you learn your dancing styles from?
a) Rap videos
b) The movie “Dirty Dancing”
c) The Puritans

8. In fifty words or less, what does Abstinence mean to you?

9. In fifty words or less, what does Real Pain mean to you?

10. Church you attend: ____________________________
How often do you attend: ____________________________
11. When would be the best time to interview your mother, father
and youth pastor?__________________________

12. Please fill in the blanks:

a. If I were shot, the last place on my body I would want
wounded would be my ____________________________
b. If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken would
be my_____________________________

c. A woman's place is in the ____________________________
d. The one thing I hope this application doesn't ask is
______________________________

e. When I meet a girl, the one thing I always notice about her
first is______________________________

Note: If answer begins with "T" or "A", discontinue and leave premises--keeping your head low and running in a serpentine fashion is advised.
13. What do you want to be if you grow up?

I swear that all the above information is correct to the best of
my knowledge under penalty of death, bodily harm, dismemberment,
torture or mental abuse.
Signature of applicant _________________________________
Signature of father _____________________________________
Signature of mother ____________________________________
Signature of pastor ___________________________________
Signature of State Representative _________________________

Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and non-sexual.
Please allow 4-6 years for processing. You will be contacted in writing if approved. If denied, please never apply again. Don't call me, I'll call you.

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/rock-start...it'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!

The God of Small Things

Moving to a new country requires a certain amount of faith - some might say a great amount - but I'm finding that the faith the Lord requires is no less in the small things. In the past couple days, I've been blessed with a deeper understanding of the faith-filled relationship God desperately desires.

I just finished reading books by Elisabeth Eliot and Isabel Kuhn. Have you ever been in a place where you look at someone else's faith and say, "When God was dishing out faith, why'd she get such a big helping?" To be honest, it wasn't jealousy I felt, just a bit of resignation. Though I was reading and believing God for the faith he gave these two remarkable ladies, I was still meeting Him in the morning with sleepy eyes and a tired heart.

Well, last Sunday on the way home from church, we stopped for groceries at La Colonia (Honduran grocery chain). I ride with my church groupies Hayley and Tiffany in Tiffany's car every Sunday. As we're leaving, Tiffany gave her keys to Hayley to open the trunk to put our groceries away.

Everything seemed fine until the key did not come out. The only key on the ring was for the ignition and the trunk opens by a button. So, picture this: we are in the grocery parking lot, none of us are fluent in Spanish, our usual fourth (and fluent) church groupie went to the early service, and we have no idea where we are or how to tell someone to find us.

We jiggled, coaxed, consoled, lamented, brainstormed... asked two taxi-drivers and a worker for help, listened to scattered advice about oils and mechanics and directions to a place that wasn't open on Sunday, and heard endless solicitations for rides.

Hayley called Elisabeth (fourth, fluent groupie) to try to figure out how to have someone pick us up when Elisabeth responded, "This has happened before and here's the solution: pray and jiggle." Hayley told Tiffany, who of course had been jiggling. And in my mind I said, I am praying!! I was already on to the backup plan: let's call someone and figure out how to get them here so we can make a new key and tie down the trunk and go up the mountain and ....

But, Elisabeth was insistent on the phone: "Really, you need to pray and jiggle. Trust me, just pray."

As Hayley was relaying this same information to Tiffany, she closed her eyes and was about to give a final shove when the key all but dropped into her hand.

I know this story is hard to read from your side of the computer screen, but as we screamed delight into the phone and jumped into the toasty seats, I started to find perspective in the small things.

Nothing surprises God.

No accident, death, lottery winner, winning sports team, mountain climber, or new scientific discovery surprises our Sovereign Creator. His hand is in it all.

So, when I think about the 'huge' faith of some of my Christian heroes, I wonder at the little tests of obedience. Maybe a mustard seed is an obedient heart - a heart that prays about keys and conversations, impulse buys and interesting flowers.

Maybe the hearts of my heroes are made up of layers upon layers of these types of prayers - prayers that invite God to be Lord over the details.

lights off

So, picture this: four girls huddled around a gas stove, roasting marshmallows on little wood skewers in an apartment completely candlelit. Tonight (and many times in the past few days) the power went out for several hours. No skype telephone calls, no internet updates, no microwave, no fridge, but a LOT of creative fun in the form of night frisbee, rummikub, and scattergories!

Tonight I realized again (as if I could forget) the insistence of competitive blood in my family. Well, I can't really blame them - I can take full credit for arguing "rats" as farm animals and "stones" as something cold and arguing heatedly against other propositions. I think my sister-in-law put it best when she said our family can get passionate about anything... even if we're not entirely sure or informed about said thing.

Well, all in all a good night was had. With six candles lining our dining room table, a headlamp, two flashlights, several cups of tea, and a few games we found unadulterated entertainment that I would highly recommend.

Just a note: If anyone knows or can find the OFFICIAL scattergories rules, can you please let me know!!

When more than miles separate...

So, my best friend Meg is having a baby. Nothing prepares you for the anticipation you feel when new life is about to begin (even when it's your best friend!). These past few weeks, Meg has been on my mind and my heart... I'm praying for all the little details - that she won't be eating fantastic chinese when she goes into labor, that she will be wearing comfortable shoes, that she will be randomly very close to the hospital. :)

But, really, as often as I think of her, I praise God for the new life He is bringing into this world. Last week, I started to feel the miles of separation when I realized how long it will be until I see her and the baby. I gave my mom the go ahead signal to send the package waiting at my house, but I still wanted her to know how much she's been on my heart. So, on her due date, all my emotions worked themselves out in a song, which I composed with the help of my roommate Heather who can play a mad guitar. We recorded the song (entitled "Today's Your Due Date") onto my computer and then I called and left a skype message with the recording.

If I do say so, it was a brilliant success. The lyrics may not look like much, but the tune is kind of catchy! Picture this message sung on a skype voicemail:

I woke up this morning
with one thought on my mind
you're about to be a momma
and I'm sure the greatest kind

today is your due date
but she may not be ready
your girl's got a big heart
I'm just prayin' it keeps beatin' steady

BRIDGE
this auntie can barely stand
the distance from your hand
and though I'm very far away
I know my prayers will reach you
and comfort you this day

I woke up this morning
you were on my mind
I'm sending you some Spanish love
to be right by your side

After power outages the past couple days, I just got word that we are praying for delivery tomorrow morning. Pray with me that the baby and mommy are healthy, that the doctors would have wisdom, and that Meg would rejoice in the blessing of new life! My dear kindred spirit Nicole has vowed to be my eyes and ears at the hospital - she told me she's been carrying around a camera for a week, just in case! Oh, what blessings we have in friendships!

Farmers Market Pesto and Sin

So, just got back from the local farmers market with my Cousin and resident BFF, Crystal. We love frequenting the market and now it's on my way home, and Iowa nights have been to die for lately, so I was excited to check it out after work. We stopped by a few of our fav stands- I came home with a sweet zucchini, sampled flavored honeys, and people watched for awhile, and jumped over to the pesto stand before we headed back to our cars. I LOVE their asiago artichoke pesto, so I spread a big ole glob on the wheat thin provided, and mmm it went down easy. As we walked away, I remembered... what I always remember when leaving the pesto stand. That the aftertaste of the pesto aint worth it. And I said to Crystal. Hmmm. The garden market pesto stand is kind of like sin. It goes down easy and delicious, but the aftertaste is horrible and it just lingers around. How profound!

Here's to staying away from sin today and avoiding the lingering aftertaste!

Life in Honduras

This is one of the first things I posted in my classroom (well, the classroom I share with the curriculum developer, who is double-timing as 7th grade English teacher).

I found out a few days before school started that I would be in this particular classroom and because neither the English teacher nor I are full-time teaching, we didn’t have much time to dedicate to decorating. But, as I searched my brain for inspiration, I came up with this verse I first heard at CHALLENGE at Purdue University many years ago. I don’t remember much about the speaker, but I do remember she handed out a half sheet of neon green paper to each student present. Isaiah 7:9 was written in clear, bold script.

Why does this shine a light on my experiences thus far? Because, though I will never face the physical foes of the Old Testament, each day God gives me the exact amount that I can handle and the faith to accomplish it. And if we remember the stories from childhood - building on anything else is disastrous. Let me give you a few examples of what I could stand on here in Tegus:

  • my own ideas
  • selfish pride
  • my own knowledge
  • fear
  • anxiety

If your next question is, “Have you tried to stand on these?” The answer is yes to every one. And let me tell you - it takes much more energy to do something the wrong way! Just the other day, I came up with a great idea to expedite the guidance referral system, but almost before I puffed up with the idea, I found out the system was already in place.

Other such humbling experiences:

  • Today in psychology I was giving an example and I pointed to a student ... then promptly emptied my mind of anything resembling a name. I stood there for a few seconds with my hand outstretched and then I said, "Remind me of your name..." and then when he said it too softly, I just said, "uh-huh" and moved on.
  • Oh yeah, some of my students also thought I was 17
  • Having to wear the same clothes over and over again because my boxes have not arrived
  • Asking unheard of amounts of questions

So, the verse in my classroom is a reminder for me as much as anyone else. I’m just thankful the Lord gently guides and protects as I’m refined. Praise God for the things He knows that I don't!

love it, love it, love it

When asked if he wanted to go over to his grandparents house, my sweet cousin Craig Alan said, "Will I love it, love it, love it?"

I'm sure he heard it said somewhere before, but I can't get over the honesty of his response. Tell me if I'm going to love it and then I'll tell you if I want to go. That's a pretty transparent picture of human nature. How will this decision benefit me (or hurt me)? I find myself analyzing situations all the time with that in mind.

Well, God has a way of really stretching us in the areas we are weakest. Sometimes I start feeling the painful stretch before I even realize I was weak. Since I've been in Honduras, I'm feeling stretched in areas I never knew I had! For instance, let's just take this moment to give you a little snapshot into my stretching and confusion.

I am sitting in the Guidance office, but I have no desk, nothing to cover my wall space, a total of two binders and everything else jammed into my backpack. I am simultaneously trying to plan for my first year teaching psychology and also work on preventive guidance measures so I can promote good behavior instead of dealing so much with bad.

The constant cry from our apartment windows is "be flexible!" because we are all very much aware of our ever-changing job descriptions and of the greater mission: to live out the Gospel. We are each passionate about pursuing the Lord and we bring our unique gifts and talents as an offering. I have been so built up by relationships in our apartment alone and I praise God for His provision!

But, because God is great where I am weak, our failures will most surely show! So, I've made a few missteps the past couple days. It will take awhile to get used to this system and reach some level of comfortability with my position and purpose.

I've been reading through Romans and God is blessing me daily with reminders that He is infinitely more gracious than He has to be... and that His work is accomplished with or without me. I just must make a decision, as Esther did, to step into a time such as this for what the Lord is planning.

I guess sometimes we can't anticipate how or why we will love it love it love it. And maybe loving it is not about our enjoyment as much as it is about His glory? Either way, I do love it so far, there's just a lot of learning in the loving.

Please visit the webpage - I updated some links with new pictures of the market, the feeding center, and the choir trip!

Weekly Lineup

Okay.

Things are crazy around here.

Christina is in Whitewater New Mexico with our brother William and a team from our home church and I am packing the last few things, getting shots, and saying farewells before I leave on Thursday.

SIGH.

Tonight I jumped in the car with my parents and we made the local rounds - visited a couple relatives and friends and absolutely loved it.

I don't really know what to promise this week, so I'm not promising anything. I do very much hope to spend some sincere time writing, reflecting, and catching up before I get way behind again.

Please pray for Christina and the group in New Mexico and for me as I prepare for Tegus. Christina is currently trying to get over a cold, so just pray that the Lord would give her an enduring spirit and willing heart. Praise the Lord for His provision thus far with connections in Tegus - it has really been amazing to see how travel, lodging, and roommates have come together in the past few days.

As I've been able to connect and talk with some of you this summer (family at the Cass County Fair, road trip to Lincoln, frequent stops at the church, chatting after church, and playing cards), I am overwhelmed by blessings. Truly.

From Austin to Iowa to Tegucigalpa, the Lord has gone before me preparing the way for HIS work and I am delighted to be a part.

I know Christina feels the same way about God's faithfulness as she takes the next uncertain steps into a new phase of her life. What a life we lead - and what a treasure to serve our God.

Be blessed! Keep checking in for picture updates from our summer travels!

Where we are...

So, we've been a little detached from the blog and technology lately. Well, I guess maybe me more than Christina, but as you probably know, we are going through some pretty serious changes in our lives. Yesterday, Christina said goodbye to her company for good and today she's decorating a community building for best friend #2's wedding and tomorrow she is leaving for a mission trip to New Mexico. Pretty crazy.

I really don't have any excuses for not writing, except that there are so many things I'd rather do. No offense, eager readers, but I'd rather meet up with my old friends, drive the countryside, or (honestly) sit out on our porch swing, than pin myself down to this silly computer. After bugging and nagging my parents for so long to get the internet, now that they have it there are so many other more interesting things to do...

Like shucking corn.

Today we shucked $100 worth of corn and my grandma and mom cooked, cut, and bagged it. This is how we've grown to be the corn snobs we are - don't ever try to serve us corn from a can! It just doesn't beat sweet corn cut right from the ear and frozen in our freezer.

Anyway, there's my short explanation. Take it or leave it.

Speaking of leaving... Next Thursday will be my last day in the United States and it's starting to sink in. Wow.

Things on my mind/ Why i'm not returning people's phone calls

Best friend baby, Ti. Isn't he just amazing? I love him so. Can't wait to see him at (other) best friend wedding next month!

1) Giving 2 weeks at job, next week

2) Mission Trip, in August

3) Roommate is moving out tomorow

4) Accepted p/t position yesterday for when I return from trip, trusting God and applying for other p/t positions

5) House-sitting in Ankeny all week this week

6) Budget crunchdown to save for job-quitting and mission-trip

7) Sister moving to Honduras in a few weeks

8) Planning Meg's bach party with other bestie, Tina

Hmm, I think those are the biggies. Lots going on, eh? I wouldn't say I'm stressed- I have my moments but all in all I know that this is God's best plan for me, and I'm thrilled to be along for the ride. LOVING IT!

{going to lunch now- will write about one of these topics when I get back :) }