The Little White Church

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Gravel crunched under the tires as we pulled into the small parking lot. I don't even know that you could really even call it a parking lot-- it was more like a little dirt patch right by the road.

The church was adorable- like something off a Christmas card-- traditional white clapboard, the quaint steeple pointed to the sky. It looked like it had been transplanted, amidst all the close-together houses and long-neglected businesses. Everything around it needed paint, and the crisp whiteness of the church looked out of place.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from this tiny little church in this tiny little town.

Don't get me wrong- it's not like rural Iowa is bustling- but what kind of congregation could come out of a one-horse, run down village like this?


O Come, O Come, Unexpected Immanuel

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Our honeymoon was months in the making.

We had shiny, slick paper brochures and Pinterest boards. We had circled must-see spots on crinkly, weathered maps. We knew just what we wanted to see, and when, and how long we wanted to stay there.

Finally, the day of our departure arrived. Trevor and I packed the car with our sleeping bags and tent and clothing, filled it with clothes and food and our big plans.

And you know? Lots of things happened that were... unexpected. Surprises, if you will.

The rental car broke down outside of Salt Lake City and we had to switch vehicles- which meant a trip into the city we hadn't planned and a delay that wasn't part of our schedule. We'd expected to camp at the Grand Canyon, but a snowstorm made that impossible and we had to find a hotel at the last minute. We'd allotted too much time for some places, and not enough time for other places.

In spite of all of our planning, surprises still popped up.


The Advent Devotional Wish List

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Ah, Advent.

Can you believe that we're only one short week away? I can't. It came up quickly this year.

One of my favorite things about Advent, though, is the books. Yes, I might overdo it with Advent devotionals, so I've limited myself to just one a year. And this year it seems especially tough.


The Love of Money: finding security in identity

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Frugal. Thrifty.

That's the nice way to say it.

But I've also been called stingy, a cheapsake, a scrooge.

I may have avoided buying groceries before winter break in college and spent two days eating brownie mix and milk.

I just might mend my husband's shorts over and over until I'm putting patches on top of patches.

I know how to stretch a penny, how to feed a bunch of people with one box of Hamburger Helper, how to comb through thrift store racks for specific items.

I'm kind of proud of it, actually.

And I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong about being cautious with our family's budget. Being intentional about how we spend our money has allowed us to go on vacations and make some pretty awesome memories.

But it can definitely go too far.


Blessings this Week: 11.11.2016 and 11.18.2016

As I take the time to reflect over the past two weeks, only one word comes to mind. Overwhelming.

Just... overwhelming.

And it's not terribly surprising, given what's been going on these days- new jobs, new home, settling in, flying to Chicago, saying hello and hugging goodbye, building and changing and growing.

But even more than all that, amidst all this hard stuff, I'm overwhelmed by the blessings. God is so good.


Preparing the Way

I know preparation.

For four years, I served in the office at a Bible Camp- processing registration forms and preparing, always the preparing, for a new group to encounter the love of Christ.

I sent emails, gathered details, prepped rooms, made door signs and name tags, printed schedules, coordinated with leaders. When I wasn't actively serving one group, I was preparing for the next one. Always, always preparing.

Most of the time, I enjoyed working to make the best possible experience for our guests.

I'll be honest with you, though. Being the prep person is not glamorous. It's often thankless, unnoticed, and unappreciated. Serving well as one who makes the way for others requires the right attitude. I don't usually have very much of that right attitude. I get bitter, tired, worn out, grouchy and impatient. Serving and preparing requires humility.

As we think about preparation, I can't help but think of John the Baptist. After all, he was the voice in the desert, crying "Prepare the way of the Lord!" And like any great servant, John's preparation was marked with humility.

I'm honored to be guest posting today for Kris Camealy! This post was inspired by her new Advent devotional:  (affiliate link) Come Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting.

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Planner Update: Or, "Oh My Goodness, I Got a SmartPhone"

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I love my paper planner. For real. But last month, I got a fancy smart phone (and joined the 21st century!), and to be honest, that changed some things. Like the ways I plan. I use apps, now. (WHAT?)

I didn't really expect it make a difference for me- especially since I was so staunchly opposed to getting a smart phone in the first place. The ability to get pictures of my (adorable!) nieces and nephews sent right to my phone tipped the scales in the favor of upgrading. Well, that, and the fact that my "dumb phone" finally bit the dust (after five years! I know!).

But honestly, having a smart phone has changed the way I do stuff.

And so, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to tell you about the apps I've started to use, and also the things I still (still!) use my paper planner to accomplish.


Stuff : how identity changes our values

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In middle school, I desperately wanted one thing. I wanted it so much that it consumed my thoughts, brought jealousy into my heart, and became the scale with which I measured all the people around me.

I wanted an Abercrombie t-shirt.

Nothing fancy, just something (anything) that had those magical words, "Abercrombie and Fitch" emblazoned across the front.

Looking back now, it is a little silly, but the power of that t-shirt really captivated my pre-teen mind.

It wasn't the shirt that I wanted, really. It was the status.

See, all the cool kids, all the popular girls, had Abercrombie clothes. All of them. And I, well... I did not. Those name brand clothes were expensive (still are, I'd assume), and my family didn't make fancy clothes a financial priority. I had lots of clothes. But they just didn't have that glorious brand name.

And heavens, I wanted that brand name. Because if I could wear that shirt, then I could be "in."


Blessings this Week: 11.04.2016

We've been here in Colorado for a couple of weeks, now, and I still can't get over the beauty of this place.

This beautiful rainbow and the fog over the mountains

My husband who called me out of the house to come and see it


Faith and Baseball: or, Why the World Series Was a Big Deal

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Image Source: Kansas City Star

Last night, the laundry sat in a pile in the middle of my bed. The soup I made for supper was left to congeal in the pot still on the stove. I was busy. Busy glued to my laptop, and the seventh game of the World Series.

I'll be honest, I am not the most faithful Cubbies fan. I don't watch every game. I don't even have a Cubs cap anymore. And I've really never been much of a sports-watcher. That's why my poor dear husband - who isn't a sports guy himself- was a little confused by my instant dedication to this game.

Thankfully, he's patient and he's also used to me flaking out on my housework and getting emotional about people I've never met. And he's also very good at reading between the lines. He knew it wasn't just about a baseball game. And while I didn't have to explain myself to him, thinking about why this game resonated with me- with so many of us, really- made me realize that baseball is a lot like faith.

Maybe this is something that the sports lovers know already, but for me, watching the Cubs win last night was an almost religious experience. And I think it just may be because God designed us this way. He designed us to long for...


Worry : how insecurity can be reshaped by claiming identity

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I finished writing the fourth page of the note with a big sigh.

"Okay. Don't let me forget to give this to them," I said to my husband.

He looked up from his game and smiled, amused.

"Don't you think it's a little overboard?" he asked, stifling his laughter. "It'll be fine. It's only a week, and he's a dog."

When we "adopted" Bear in December, I had no idea how quickly he'd find his way into my heart. For that matter, I didn't realize that he'd also uncover a deep-seated layer of my own insecurity. 

We were headed on vacation for a week, and Bear would be in the care of some friends from church. While I had no qualms about this wonderful family watching our dog, I did feel uneasy about what they'd think of him. I was worried about what my dog would say about me. 

I'm not crazy. I know that Bear can't actually "say" anything about me. But his appearance, his care, his behavior, could really say a lot about who I was as a person. So I worried.

I'm honored to be guest posting today at His Endless Love!

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