Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Countdown


Now don't be mad at me.. I know it's been quite some time since i've updated on here.  I've just been so darn busy working for Santa at the North Pole.  That's a lie.. but I do think I would make one fantastic elf.  Speaking of elves.. I love Christmas!! I love everything about it and this whole month of December has been an amazing month filled with so many amazing Christmas rituals, scents, movies, etc..

Jeremy and I got our first Christmas tree together. We strolled through the isles of trees disagreeing on what size would be best for our little living room.  Jeremy of course wanted a huge tree that would overflow onto the couches and make it impossible for us to move about (slight exaggeration).  Me on the other hand, wanted something on the smaller side so we would have plenty of room to gather and gaze at the beautiful lights without being swallowed by the branches.  One thing we have definitely learned from being married is how to compromise.  After we compromised on what we wanted, we actually ended up with the perfect tree.

Our very first Christmas tree
The week after we got the tree, the bristles started falling off at a record breaking speed.  Our tree looks great, but just don't touch it.  And YES we water it.  Lesson learned: don't buy Christmas trees from sketchy tree lots.  Next year we will cut it down ourselves.
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Jeremy and I also got to go into Boston and enjoy the Christmas tree with some good friends of ours.  We had dinner in the City, accompanied by a fabulous coupon which gave us more than half off.  Following dinner we enjoyed hot eggnog lates from Starbucks and took a stroll to see the tree.  It was such a fun night with friends, and it really started to get us excited about Christmas.

   
Jeremy and I at the tree in Boston    

The next few weeks were filled with Christmas shopping, oldies 103.3 Christmas music, and the official countdown until Christmas.
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I have also spent a lot of time on Martha Stuarts website (don't judge).  There are a lot of great decorating ideas for the holidays.  Also some pretty fabulous recipes.  This weekend I made fudge with my Nana to give out as gifts to some loved ones.  Also, Jeremy and I made some Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps (recipe from Martha Stuart dot com).  The final product made me so happy.  It was just enough Christmas on one plate, and I had an amazing time baking them with my husband.

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps (image from Marthastuart.com.. ours obviously looked a lot better!)



Recipe for Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps: 

Makes 18
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Confectioners' sugar, for coating
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners' sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.
  3. Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our new apartment!

Hanging on our door right before you walk in

The hallway as you walk in the front door (the living room is the first room on the left, the bedroom is second door on the left and the office is first door on your right)

The living room (I was standing on the couch trying to get a good angle.. most of these pics don't do our apartment justice because I didn't know how to take the pictures.. duh!)

Living room

Living room

Office 

Office

Office

Bedroom

Bedroom again (notice our awesome bedding!)

Bedroom

Bedroom

Kitchen (reminds me of my nonnies house!)

Kitchen

Kitchen

And wa-la! This is our new place! These pictures don't really do justice to our awesome apartment, but it kinda gives you an idea.  I also just realized that I forgot to take pictures of the bathroom, I will take those at a later date.

Gobble Gobble

I am so excited that Thanksgiving is only a few short days away!  I love Thanksgiving simply because it's an excuse to get together with family and eat good food.  Speaking of eating good food, this will be my THIRD year cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family.  I have had so much fun cooking the past three years, and I love the fact that my mom gets a holiday off from cooking!  So I thought I would take some time to share some recipes that have been a hit in the past, and also ask for some new ideas from you guys!

I guess I should start with the turkey.. Now, this is something that my mom usually does because it's easier for her to just throw it in the oven when she wakes up in the morning.  I was planning on sprucing it up a bit when I get to their house, but I need help! What should I do to this turkey to make it fabulous!?

Moving on to the sides..
I usually make a baked Macaroni and Cheese, green bean casserole, yam casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, and a pecan pie.

I usually get most of my recipes from allrecipes.com.  It's a pretty good site and is fun to look at when you have nothing to do..

Baked Macaroni and Cheese:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Four-Cheese-Macaroni/Detail.aspx#

Green Bean Casserole:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grandmas-Green-Bean-Casserole/Detail.aspx

Yam Casserole:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Yummy-Yam-Casserole/Detail.aspx

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Red-Garlic-Mashed-Potatoes/Detail.aspx

Please feel free to share recipes with me! I am looking forward to making some new things this year! Gobble gobble!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update!

I just thought I would write a little update about what is going on with my life.  I guess I should start a couple weeks back and then work my way up to today.
So two weekends ago Jeremy and I went to North Carolina to visit family.  First of all, let me start by saying I love the fact that I now have more family!  Since marrying Jeremy I have gained a mother and father in law, four sisters, two brothers, three nieces and two nephews (if you count Rebekah and Will's dog Max, which I do because I love him and he is such a cute little baby!)

 Me and Jeremy with our nephew Max.  Aunty Nicole loves you Max!

I love this so much! They are such great people and I love hanging out with them and getting to know them more.  So Jeremy and I stayed with Will and Rebekah in North Carolina at their log cabin.  I absolutely loved it! I honestly didn't want to leave.  We had such an awesome time with them, laughing, talking, and relaxing.  They were such good hosts! It inspired me to be just like them (I'm sure most of this was Bekah's doing, but I give Will credit too!)  Next time we have guests over, I'm going to have the bed set up, towels out for them, and plenty of food.  I also had some great conversations with Rebekah.  I am honestly so thankful for her.  She is so caring and loving and I really love being around her and feel comfortable talking to her about anything.  She has probably become one of my "go-to" people when I have a problem, or need to talk (and we all know I don't have too many of these people).
On Saturday we drove down to Virginia to visit Matt & Tascha and the kids.  It was such a treat! I love this family so much.  I think that Matt is the funniest guy ever and I love seeing him and Jeremy interact, it's priceless.  I also love just being around Tascha because she is so laid back and fun.  Evan, Maya and Talia are the cutest little kids I have ever seen! I absolutely love being an aunt and I can't wait to see these kids grow up.  I'm hoping Jeremy and I can visit them more in the future.
The girls: Natascha, Maya, Rebekah, Natalia and me
 
Overall, this trip was amazing.  It was a wonderful time spent with family and I came back feeling refreshed and loved.  I can't wait until we go back for New Years.

Once we got back from North Carolina we hit the ground running.  Our days were filled with faith groups, navigate, and lots of packing for our upcoming move!  Well, we finally did it! We moved!! We now live in a two bedroom apartment near Dane street beach.  I am so in love with the apartment, it finally feels like it's our home.  I can come home and relax and unwind without feeling stressed or overwhelmed or scared.  I will post more about the apartment soon.  I want to be able to put pictures up to show you how awesome it is, but I have to wait until our internet at home is working.

Besides that, things have been pretty good.  We are still leading faith groups, and I could not be happier.  I love faith group and all the girls in it! They are such special girls, and I really do care about them so much.  We are also still doing Navigate on Wednesday nights.  It has been a great experience and we have both definitely learned a lot! One really awesome thing that we just found out is... At the end of the year, our class is going to INDIA! Holy monkeys! I cannot wait!!  I will keep you posted as to what exactly we will be doing and how you can support us as we go over there :)

Another awesome thing is happening this weekend.. My family is hosting a fundraiser for my Uncle Bob who is currently fighting lung cancer.  It's going to be an awesome time! I am so proud of my family because they have really all come together to make this happen.  My dads band, Flounders in the Wind (don't ask me about the name..) is going to be playing and there will be awesome raffles and such.  I'm looking forward to it and I really hope a lot of money is raised for my Uncle and his family.
My awesome cousin Mark designed this flyer.  If you are around on Saturday and would like to come and take part in the festivities please let me know! 

Jeremy and I have been pretty busy the last few weeks, and I am definitely looking forward to a low key weekend with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turns out i'm actually the "Biggest Loser"

Jeremy and I have our date nights on Tuesdays.  This is our night where just him and I get to relax and spend time together.  This summer we started watching the show "The Biggest Loser" together.  Now on Tuesday nights, we will have dinner together, hang around the house, and watch the Biggest Loser from 8-10.
Last night I realized I have a very serious problem.  I am actually the biggest loser.  I have a big problem with the show.  It's not that I don't like it, or don't like watching it, nothing along those lines.  I have come to realize that I actually like it a little too much.  It's no longer just a show for me anymore, I am actually invested in these peoples lives.  I can't just watch it like a normal show, careless and relaxed.  Instead, I am on the edge of my seat every Tuesday cheering them on, listening to their struggles, and learning about their lives.

I don't know what to do about this problem.  I almost knew this would happen when I started to watch the show.  I knew that I am a very emotional person,  I am empathetic and really care for people and their lives.  I just never thought it would carry over onto this show.  At the end of every Tuesday night you will find me on the couch curled into a ball crying.  Not just shedding a couple tears, but full out, hyperventilating, sobbing! I love the people so much that it literally makes me weep when one of them gets kicked off at the end of the show.  I cannot handle it! I think about their lives, and why they need to lose the weight and when I see that one of them has to go home it breaks my heart!

Although, I'm pretty sure last night was the worst.  Not one, but TWO of my favorite contestants got kicked off the show last night.  Jesse and Aaron were two of my favorites, they were personable, humble, kind, and funny.  They worked their butts off in the gym and were honest and true friends outside of the gym.  I couldn't handle seeing them get voted off.  I thought about Aaron's little son and how he needed to be there to set a good example for him.  I thought about how much I would miss seeing Jesse's commentary and how he always made me laugh.  Once the last vote was revealed that Jesse and Aaron would be going home I broke down into a sobbing mess.  I  pulled the blanket up over my head and SOBBED for about a half hour (not even exaggerating).  I am going to miss them so much!

Jesse

Aaron

So in conclusion, I really do have a serious problem.  I wish I could see myself through Jeremy's eyes when I am sitting on the couch crying over two people I don't even really know.  He doesn't even know how to comfort me because I'm crying over something a little ridiculous.  I just can't help it though! I don't know how to make this show just another show.  To be honest with you, I don't know if I would even if I knew how to.  I like knowing that this show is actually making a difference in peoples lives.  Maybe I'm a little over the top with my reactions, but I guess I would rather be the biggest loser actually watching the show than unattached and emotionless.  So, it turns out I'm the biggest loser, and I think I might be okay with that!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A love story

So I sometimes get in these funks where I am just blahhh.. I miss the big picture.  The picture of God's love for me.  The picture of my life and how far I have come.  I need to remind myself of the greatest love story of all- the one between me and God.  Sometimes when I think about my life and where God has brought me from I get overwhelmed.  I can see time and time again His faithfulness and love for me and it brings such joy to my heart! I thought I would take this time to remind myself of this love story..

I grew up in Salem.  My life growing up was okay.. I didn't grow up a Christian, and didn't come to know the love of God until College.  I'm not really going to go into much detail about growing up just because it's pretty personal.  My parents did the best that they knew how to at the time and I am so thankful for them.  I can say with all my heart that God has restored my relationships within my family.  I no longer hold any grudges with my dad, I can fully love him and my mom without expecting anything in return.  I have been set free from the desire for my family to look and act a certain way and show love a certain way.  I treasure the relationship I have with my sister and I find myself more and more being able to respond with love and kindness as opposed to reacting out of insecurity and anger.  God has done a lot of work in my family and I know He isn't stopping here!
 (My family)

Growing up there were a few negative things that were kind of engraved in me.. These things play a huge role in who I am today and how I operate.  The first being, I always thought I had to take control of every situation.  If I wanted to get something done, I would need to do it myself.  I saw a lot of failed promises and from that place of disappointment I decided that I would need to be in control of everything.  Because I saw time and time again promises that weren't fulfilled I started to believe that people would just say things to make you happy but wouldn't really follow through with those things.  From that place of brokenness I started telling myself that I could do everything better by myself anyways.  I convinced myself that I didn't really need anyone's help even though I desired it, I just didn't want to bring myself back to that place of being let down by another person.  So two things that even still play a big part of my life are trust and a spirit of independence.  Now don't get me wrong, I think independence is a great quality to have but when it comes from a place of insecurity and thinking you can do everything better than everyone else and wont even listen to authority or peoples input that is now rebellion. Anyway, God is doing so much healing in my life in these areas.  I thank God for Jeremy, because I know for a fact that God is using him to sift through these areas to bring full healing and restoration.  That is one of the joys of marriage.  It's hard though! It is so easy to respond negatively to that person and to just shut down when the areas of deepest hurt and pain are brought back up.  I know I am guilty of that and I just thank God that He has given Jeremy and I grace to learn how to be married and lovingly deal with each others junk.  I am so happy to be married though, besides the fact that I love Jeremy so stinkin much I really believe that God uses marriages to restore your ideas of family and He also gives you the gift of starting your own family.  Alongside with that He uses the person that is closest to you in the whole world to be your partner in working through your pain and hurt.  It's a beautiful thing!

I try to forget all the years before high school, mostly because I had no friends, watched wrestling, wore shirts with horses on them and spent most of my free time convincing myself that I was going to be a professional wrestler.. Bad I know.

High school was better for me.  I started to get friends (once I got my braces off and learned that horse shirts were NOT cool).  I also got my first boyfriend.  Things were good.  I lived in my little world, thinking things were perfect.  I wasn't a terrible kid, I did things mostly by the books.  Although I wasn't really a girl with much character, I wasn't kind to my family, I made fun of people who weren't as "cool" as me, I spent my high school years being comfortable because I was finally accepted.  I did have some good friends though.  This was my new family, and outside of this group of friends I was lost.  I am so thankful for the friendships I made in high school and I am still good friends with some of them.  My best friend Jess in high school was my matron of honor at my wedding!  Because I was so comfortable with life, I thought that nothing bad could happen to me.  I thought that my life would be how it was in high school forever and I was excited about that.

When I was 16 I was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember going away with my family around Christmas time.  I had lumps all up and down my neck and ignorantly I thought they were just swollen lymph nodes.  After all, nothing bad could happen to me I finally had the perfect life.  I was hoping for mono or cat scratch fever, anything besides cancer..  Turns out I had Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer.  I was knocked off my feet.  Me, the invincible girl had cancer.  I was scared and insecure and even though I was surrounded by friends and family, I have never felt more alone.  I started my treatment right away.. At the end of everything I had received 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 12 of radiation, 4 surgeries, and more CT scans than I can remember.  But I was done!! Or so I thought.  During this whole time of treatment I very rarely got sick, I didn't lose any of my hair and my life was still pretty "perfect".  I thought I was untouchable because cancer couldn't even shake me!  Three months later I felt another lump under my armpit.  My cancer came back.  Once hearing that I had to do all of this again I became depressed.  I no longer wanted to see any of my friends, I didn't want to talk about it or do much of anything.  I was finally knocked out of my perfect little world.

There were a few people who I felt like being around and a few of them were from my hospital.  Finally I had someone who I could relate to.  I didn't have to feel different any more, like I was the cancer girl that everyone stared at. I had a friend who understood me and could relate to me.  Her name was Alison.  We would spend many hours together in the back room playing Uno together, or just watching a movie.  She was always so happy and secure.  There was something different about her and I wanted to be around her as much as possible because she made me feel better, she made me feel alive.  After I had relapsed and started more treatment I lost all my hair (and I mean ALL of it), I was sick all the time, very weak, very pale and very skinny.  I looked like I was dying.  But when I was in the hospital I felt free, I didn't have to think about how I looked because I knew there were people there who looked and felt just like me.  After months of chemotherapy at my hospital I felt like the hospital was my home.  I had my family of friends and nurses and I felt safe there.

(My hospital friends, me, Bruno and Alison)

Alison and I both were scheduled to have transplants after our treatment of chemotherapy.  I was scheduled to go in first.  Transplant was like a jail cell.  First they lock you in a hospital room with only a bed, nightstand, chair and TV.  They put an exercise bike in my room too, wishful thinking on their parts.  I could barely focus my eyes enough to watch the TV let alone ride a bike.  Although, it probably gave my visitors something to do while they visited because most of the day I was sleeping and could barely string together coherent sentences.  You wern't allowed to leave your room the whole time you were in there.  I stayed in the same room for almost two months.  I felt like I had all of the life that was in me sucked out and all I could do was lay in my bed while being kept alive by the different tubes and machines that pumped little bits of hope into my body.  And then, once I got my new stem cells things began to get better.  Slowly I began to be able to see straight and walk around without feeling like I could collapse.  Getting up to brush my teeth was no longer a chore.  Then, one day I was strong enough to leave.  I could finally pass through the doors that felt like a prison.  I was on my way to recovery.  I no longer took life for granted anymore because I came so close to death I could literally taste it.  I tasted it when the chemotherapy came into my body and tried to kill all of my living cells.  I tasted it when the inside of my mouth was so raw that I couldn't even swallow.  I tasted it when all I could do was throw up.  I tasted it the most when I saw my family and friends cry over me.  It did not taste good.

I remember visiting Alison when she was in her transplant.  My hair was finally starting to grow back and I was able to rock the afro for a short period of time.  I came into her room and felt my heart fall to the ground.  The gifts I brought for her were suddenly meaningless and I started to wish that I didn't bring them.  I then realized as much as it hurt laying in the bed being the one getting the treatment, it hurt even more seeing a person you love go through it.  I sat with her on the bed as she held her nose to try to stop the nose bleed.  I only stayed a short while because I knew the pain she was in.  I left the gifts that I brought for her.  Things I thought would comfort her- a journal, a cd, a teddy bear.  I told her to write down all the things that she wanted to do in that journal.  It was something that kept me motivated during my transplant.  I told her that it would get better and that she would be able to accomplish the things on her list. That was the last time I saw her.  Everything I said to her was a lie, she didn't get to check off things from her list, she didn't get better.  That was it.

I cannot even express the pain and guilt I felt after this.  I was alone again and no one knew how I felt, no one could relate to me or comfort me.  I was back at the same place I was in the beginning.  A few weeks later I went to Alison's memorial mass with my best friend Jess.  I went expecting to feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow and pain but I was surprised when I was met with the feeling of hope even through my sadness.  I sat there and listened to the pastor talk about Alison and her love for God.  I watched as her family sat in the front and had confidence that Alison was in a better place.  I was met by the love of God and I was transformed.  I knew that there was something different about Alison from the first time I met her, and I finally found out that it was God living inside of her that made her different. 

My life has been drastically different from that day.  I have now found security in God.  My identity doesn't come from my family or friends.  It doesn't come from the title "cancer survivor" or what I do.  My identity comes from the fact that I am Gods daughter.  I am loved, and known and understood by Him.  I always have someone who can relate to me.  I have someone who fights for me, who believes in me, and who is faithful to me!  I have been transformed by the love of God because He truly loves and cares for me and because of that love my life will never be the same.


This love story is real, and it puts all the "blah" moments to shame.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

College Retreat

This weekend we went away for the Harbor College retreat! It was a lot of fun!! We grew closer together (especially as a faithgroup) we learned about our identity in Christ and we got to be surrounded by amazing fall foliage.  It was a pretty awesome weekend.  Here are some pictures from the trip:

Some of the girls from faithgroup (Rooted 2010)

Silly and in love!
Co-leaders!
Me and Jer!



Friday, October 29, 2010

Submission

I have been doing a lot of thinking about submission, and what exactly it means.  For me, I guess I never really took it too seriously.  Why you ask? Well why would I take submission into account when I am always right? When my way is the best way?.. You see.. That is the exact problem! I can  be so stubborn and rebellious sometimes and that is not good.  Submission never really has played a huge role in my life because I haven't truly understood it.  I grew up thinking it was good to be an independent woman who knows what you want.  A woman who doesn't let other people walk all over you.  A woman who has her own thoughts and isn't afraid to express them.  I still think that those are all great things, but can also be dangerous when you think your way is the only way, and your opinion is always right.

The past few weeks the topic of submission has come up a lot! The chapter we were assigned to read in the book "Celebration of Discipline" focused on submission.  Last weeks sermon at church was focused on submission.  As if that's not enough proof that the Lord wanted to teach me something about submission He brought it up again this morning!  As I sat here in my cube at work, I felt like God wanted me to read in Hebrews.  So I pull up my e-bible (online bible) and found Hebrews.  I decided to start at Hebrews 4.. I read through Hebrews 4 and got to Hebrews 5.  As I read on I was not surprised that the topic of submission was brought up again.  This time it became real to me.


"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission"
-Hebrews 5:7

Wow! I was really blown away!  Submission never really appealed to me before reading this.  It wasn't until this connection was made that I truly grasped the important act of submission.  If I want to be more like Jesus, which I do, I want to mimic everything He has done.  Jesus was the king of reverent submission! He gave His life up on the cross to show this!  I am so silly to think that my way is the best way!  The best way for me, is to follow the path of Jesus and if that means submission then I need to be all about that.  

Reverent submission isn't this wimpy thing either! Which is probably the reason I had such trouble with it. 

I looked up the definition of reverent and it is a very honorable characteristic! The word reverent means humble, respectful.  "feeling or showing deep and solemn respect".
The word submission means: surrendering power, yeilding.
Reverent submission means you literally have to die to yourself to make others better than you.  You humbly yield towards other because you have deep respect for them.  It is completely opposite of everything we are used to hearing in this world.  We are always told to put ourselves first, to take care of ourselves before anyone, to make sure we have everything we need before we do anything else, especially for others.  We grow up our whole lives thinking that we are number one! Thankfully we are set free from that! There is such freedom that comes with not having to get our own way all the time.  We no longer have to argue our point to prove that we are right.  We no longer have to weasel our ways into getting what we want.  We are called to live and act like Jesus, and in doing that we are called to submission.

And look at all the great things that come from submission.. It said in Hebrews 5:7 that Jesus was offering up loud cries and tears to God to save Him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Because Jesus was obedient he was heard by God.  He was in tune with everything God wanted to do, and could walk in full freedom because He knew that the path he was walking was the right one because he was submitted to God.  

Even though submission sometimes gives people a bad taste in their mouths, it is a beautiful thing.  When looking at submission I have found that it is one of the greatest acts of love.  Not only to God, but to the other people around us.  That is the life I want to live!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our family photo


Here is our family photo! Jeremy wont let me have a dog or a cat, so we have a stuffed bear instead.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're moving!

So, I know it's been a while since I have last updated so let me fill you in with something major...

Jeremy and I are moving! Yes, it's a royal pain in the butt to move but I am almost positive it will be worth it.  It just wasn't working out at our current place.  Some examples: I couldn't even come home alone at night because it was so creepy and dark, I would drive around in my car until Jeremy got home at night.  Another example (the main example).. We just didn't see eye to eye with our landlords.  They were VERY set in their own ways, and if you didn't take the trash out the way they do then they would let you know it! The way they let you know was usually in a way to make you feel like you're a small child again.  I had more freedom living with my own parents than I did living with them (not really sure if that's saying much.. but you get the idea).

Now let me tell you about our new place. First of all, I love it! It's exactly what I wanted in the first place but for some reason I settled with the one bedroom studio (I think because of all the excitement of apartment hunting with my soon to be hubby.. i'm sure a cardboard box would have looked nice at that time too! Although.. there were some nice things about living in our cozy 1 bedroom).  So it is a two bedroom! And no, we are not expecting any babies anytime soon!!  We are going to be using the second room as our office/ guestroom (we just bought a futon to go in there too!).  So when you first walk in the living room is to the left off the hallway.  It is a large room that will fit all of our furniture (including the piece we couldn't take with us because it wouldn't fit).  As you continue to walk down the hallway the guest room/office is to the right, it is a decent sized room with a pretty big closet (which I love!).  As you continue down the hallway our bedroom is a little further on the left.  It is the perfect size for us.  Not too big, but not too small, and once again has a great sized closet.  As you continue down that main hallway you come into the kitchen which is a pretty good size.  It has a lot of cabinet space (not crazy about the cabinets itself, but that is the only downfall to the apartment so I can deal with it).  Then off the kitchen is the brand spankin new bathroom! Everything in it is new, which I am super pumped about! I can't wait to get in there and take a tub :)
Baaahahahaha!! It's Slushy in my tub!!!

Also, there is basement storage, and also a washer and dryer hook up (we are currently looking for a washer and dryer on craigslist too.. let me know if you see anything).  I love the location! It is right near the beach, and also right near downtown Beverly and walking distance to most of my friends apartments.
So any who, that is why I love our new apartment and I can't wait to move!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A wonderful kick off to the fall

The past week it has really begun to feel like fall.  Good bye shorts and tank tops, hello pants and long sleeves! As much as I love the summer, the transition to fall this year has been a good one. I have enjoyed some of the fun activities that fall provides: apple picking, camp fires, brisk mornings.

Last weekend was our navigate retreat, it was great! I love love loveee being with that group of people.  They are all so full of life and personality.  I really am treasuring the moments of getting to know them.  This weekend we went to a camp in Andover MA.  The two groups (Mod I and Mod II) split after worshiping together.  Worship was awesome, there was something so special about worshiping God in nature, surrounded by trees, animals, and friends you love.  After worship, Mod I gathered around in a circle on these small wooden benches.  We began the afternoon by sharing our testimonies.  It was such a powerful time! I really feel like I know these people a lot better, and I love seeing what God has done in each one of our lives.  By the time we all got through our testimonies it was time to get ready for dinner.  I wouldn't have had it any other way!  There is something so powerful about a testimony.  It really makes you reflect of all the good work God has done.  He is so faithful! Overall, it was a really fantastic retreat.

Then on Sunday, after having a nice breakfast with Liz we went apple picking as a faith group! It was so fun just to be with one another.  I am really excited that God is already making some amazing friendships through this group.  It was also the first apple picking adventure of the season, so that made it very exciting and special.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Navi retreat this weekend!

Let's talk about how stinkin' pumped I am to go on the Navigate Retreat this weekend!  From what Jeremy tells me, it is a really powerful time where you really learn a lot about your fellow navi classmates.  I am really excited to learn more about everyone!  Navigate has been pretty amazing.  I love the people, the fellowship, the teachings.  I really like how we are stretched outside of our comfort zones and normal ways of thinking!  I am so excited to see what God is going to do here.  He already has been teaching me so much! 

Wednesday we watched a video called "The Father Heart of God".  It was a very powerful video (once you look past the terrible filming and crackling sound).  It really emphasized God's love for us as His children! It is nice to be reminded that.  That we are loved as children! Now, I don't have any kids but I can imagine that when I do I will love them with my whole being! I will love them to the point where it hurts my heart.  Now, to think that the God of the universe loves us like that... It's powerful!

Back to the retreat.. We will be meeting tonight at church and listening to a speaker (forgive me, I don't know who it is or what he will be talking about.. It actually might even be a she.. I dunno!). Then, we will go back home and be meeting up at a camp in Andover MA (wow.. we were just there for girls weekend!! Andover really is a bumpin place!). We will split up into our groups (Mod I and Mod II).  Now, I guess it's tradition that the Mod I group shares their testimonies on the retreat, so that is what we will be doing! It's always a little nerve wracking to share your testimony with someone.. It's like the most intimate part of who you are.  Even saying that, I know it will be worth it! You really grow close to one another when you share your testimony and let people into your life.  It also really shows how good God is! He is so faithful to us!

I am so excited to grow closer to these people and really function as a team!  Next year we are going on a missions trip together.  I know that during missions trips it is crucial that you act and function as one complete team.  A team that really looks out for one anothers interests and safety.  and I can't wait to look back on this time and see that all the preparation was well worth it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Faith group :)

So, once again I am leading a Faith Group through the Harbor.  Things are a little different this year, new leaders, new name for the group, new vision.  I was thinking a lot about what I really wanted to be accomplished through this faith group and I ended up writing some what of a missions statement.  I thought I would share it! I am so excited about this group.  I know that God is going to some pretty amazing things, and i'm so thankful to be a part of it.  Oh, the name of the faith group is "Rooted" it is targeted for college aged women.

“Rooted”
Living a fruitful life

What we’re about:

We are all about living a life that reflects Jesus.  We believe that God really does work through these small groups to bring people together, to reveal himself to us and to refine us in our walks with Christ.  We really strive to be a faith group that welcomes everyone! We encourage people to bring their friends, whether they are believers are not.  That is one thing that makes the group so special, we have women who are at all different stages of life.  We have women who have been following Jesus their whole lives, people who have come to know Christ within a few years, and people who are just starting their journey with the Lord.  In faith group, we want to provide a safe environment for women to ask questions, share their struggles and celebrate their victories with one another! Our prayer is that we will truly come together as friends and sisters in Christ to support, encourage and spur one another on.  We pray that the women who have known Jesus their whole lives will have a chance to pour into the newer believes and be challenged by their questions.  We pray that the newer believers will be provided with a place to openly ask questions and grow in their faith.  We want this to be a place where everyone is welcome, no matter where you are in your walk with Jesus.  Our prayer for this is that we may be a group who is challenged to think outside of our every day thinking.  That we may be taken outside of our comfort zones to invite our friends that do not know Jesus, and for this to be a place where even they will feel comfortable.  We do not want to exclude anyone from knowing the love of God, and what He has done for us. 

This year we were really led to focus on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).  It is clear in the Bible that followers of Jesus are known by the fruit they bear.  Everyone who is walking with Jesus should be bearing good fruit that reflects the character of Him.  Each week we will be focusing on one specific fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control).

As your leaders, we are dedicated to you.  We are open (and highly encourage) your feedback on the group and how we can better lead.  We are so excited to see what God does in and through this group and we look forward to walking with you this year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First day of Navigate!

Today is the first day of Navigate and I am soooo excited!
After watching the ways Jeremy and some of my close friends have grown through this training school I can hardly wait for it to start.  Here is a little blurb about navigate from the church website:

The focus of the first year of the Navigate Training School is on the heart attitudes & habits of a disciple.  Life-transforming teachings on topics ranging from the father heart of God to disciplines such as prayer & fasting to key attitudes such as brokenness & humility constitute the curriculum’s core.  Regular Bible verse memorization, a nine-month read-through of the Bible, and the reading of classic discipleship books such as Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God ensure that the student is feeding an ever-growing hunger to know and follow Jesus. 

SO PUMPED!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Single!!!

To all you single ladies out there:

Let me introduce you to my friend, John Prickett.


Not only is John Prickett a dear friend to me and my hubby he is also College Pastor at The Harbor (that's right ladies, eat your hearts out!)
John is an athletic, loyal, funny, dedicated man who is really seeking after the Lord!
He is a fantastic surfer and would be more than willing to give out free surf lessons. 
John has a wonderful way of making people feel welcomed and loved (such a great quality especially for a lady!)

Now ladies, you would be down right stupid to pass this up!

(Note: I do not have permission from John Prickett to be soliciting him like this.)

Against all odds..

It seems as though sometimes the odds are all stacked against us.  Like there is nothing we can do to overcome what the world has thrown our way.  Like there is no possible way we can change our circumstances or alter the odds that are against us.  It seems true.  It seems hopeless, and miserable, and a waste of time.  Life seems to do this to us a lot- it tells us we can't succeed, that we will never make it, that we are failures, and so on and so on.. Life challenges our character, faith, relationships, and health.

I just found out that my uncle got diagnosed with bone and lung cancer.  I feel so discouraged, sad, guilty, and just confused. It makes me so angry! Cancer in general is one of the terrible ways that life tries to tell us that the odds are against us.  And since I have experienced cancer personally, I know how it feels to have all odds stacked against you.  To fear that you won't make it through it to see your loved ones again.  To be afraid of how they will deal with life when you're gone.  To think that you will never be able to do all the things you wanted to do in your life.  I know what it feels like to just give in to those odds.  To accept that your life will be nothing that you had thought it would be.  That it would end early and you would have to deal with it.  What are we supposed to do with devastating news like this?  What do we do when the doctors gives one of  your loved ones six months to live?

When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 I felt so scared.  I felt like the world was going forward and that I was going to be left behind.  I felt depressed and alone, like no one could really relate to me.  I felt tired of all the chemo and radiation. I felt defeated when I had relapsed six months after finishing my treatment.  I felt like dying when I had to get a bone marrow transplant.  I had given up. I had come to accept that my life could end and that I would never see my loved ones again.  I had come to terms that I would never graduate high school, go to college, get married or start my own family some day.  The odds were against me, and I was starting to be okay with that... But there was something I was missing as a 16 year old girl.  Something that would have replaced despair with hope. Something that would have encouraged, and persevered even through the hardest times.

The thing is- even when we give up and feel as though there is no way we can defeat the odds against us, we have a God who is fighting for us! Even when the doctor tells us we have only six month to live and it is highly unlikely that the treatment will work, we have Jesus who has already overcome EVERYTHING in the world.  We don't need to listen to what the world is telling us, because we have been set free from that burden.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."- John 16:33

When I hear that someone I truly care for has been given six months to live, I feel angry! I feel angry that he has to go through one of the toughest battles of his life.  I feel angry that his family has to sit on the sidelines and feel hopeless. Yet in the midst of my anger and sadness I feel hope..

When I think about my dad during the times that I was sick, I know for sure that he was giving everything he had to help me! That he was fighting for me like no one else I knew.  He was pouring out all of his love, dedication, patience, and hope on me.  He was willing to die for me.  When I think about the love my dad has for me especially in times of despair I cannot help but think about God.  Because from what I know about the character of God is that he  deeply loves us as His children.  I know He would give ANYTHING for us.  Another thing I know about God is that He knows what He is doing and He is in control.  So, when it seems as though nothing else makes sense in the world I need to remember that God would do anything and everything for us because He loves us like no other and that He knows what he is doing.

We face so many different trials in this life.  We are knocked off our feet and many times are literally staring death in the eyes. We can't do it alone, and thankfully we're not! We have the creator of the whole Universe on our side fighting for us.  When we have given up, and can't fight anymore He stands in and fights on our behalf.  I don't know why things like this happen and it makes me so sad to see the people we love go through such difficult times.  Still, when I am lost and nothing makes sense, I try to hang on those three truths about God: That He deeply loves us, He would do anything and everything for us and that He knows what He is doing.

Me and my dad dancing at my wedding. 
My dad is still wearing the Livestrong bracelet that he put on when I was first diagnosed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Labor day weekend with the ladies!

I am so excited for this weekend! Me and four of my best friends  are going on a mini girls weekend.  We will be driving to Andover on friday, spending the night in a hotel (which is just awesome in itself).  Then we will be driving to Kittery ME the next morning where we will be doing a little shopping at the outlets. After shopping has been completed we will drive to Portsmouth NH where we will enjoy a nice dinner and maybe listen to some live music or something.  THEN, as if that's not awesome enough, we will be going back to the hotel and spending another night there taking full advantage of their hot tub.

It's gonna be an awesome weekend!  When the five of us get together, things get a little crazy...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where does our money belong?

I wasn't shocked when I found out that the number one reason for divorce in America is money.  Money is such a dangerous thing, especially in a marriage.  What do we get to spend our money on? How much do we have to save? Does it matter if one person works more than the other? There are so many questions that are hard to answer and that can leave some people running for the door.  What should we really be doing with our money?  This topic is something that has gotten me thinking lately..



Is it okay to spend some of your hard earned money on things you want?  I have worked a full month at my first full time job and I feel as though I want to be able to go for a day trip and spend some of my money on clothes, maybe a new pair of shoes, or a nice dinner out with the girls.  Is money something we should always be saving? And how can we effectively work as a team with our spouse to find a middle ground for spending and saving?

I think as humans, we think we deserve the money we have.  We take pride in our hard work, and in turn take pride in the money we make from working a full forty hours.  No wonder so many married couples have gotten divorced because of money problems.  Are we actually submitting everything (including our money) to each other? And forget about submitting our money to each other, are we fully submitting all of our money to the Lord first?  If we were, do you think we would be having so many issues with money? If we were really listening to how He wanted us to spend our money would we be arguing with our spouse about it?

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
- Matthew 6:33

So how often are we seeking the Lord on these situations? I feel convicted writing this because I know I am guilty as charged.  Maybe we wouldn't get in so many arguments with our spouses about finances if we were on the same page together.  If we were fully submitted to the Lord and what He wanted to do with His money.  Now, I also don't believe that this means He doesn't want us to spend money on a new shirt, or going out to dinner with friends, I believe that He delights in making us happy and he can use money to do so.  But I do believe that He wants to be included/consulted with how we spend money.  I believe that He should be thanked when we are blessed with the opportunity to get new clothes or go out to dinner with friends because he is the giver of these gifts!  He really is a loving, generous father who knows how to take care of His children.

So yes, money is the number one reason many Americans get divorced.  It can tear apart two people and leave them with nothing.. This is when our money isn't fully centered on the Lord.  Like anything that isn't centered around the Lord it can be used for evil and can be torn down in an instant. Although money can be stressful and overwhelming, I think like all things God can use it for His glory.  When we learn to be submitted to His plans and take partnership with what He is doing, the things that once caused us stress and worry begin to be more of a delight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1 John 4:7-21

The other night I was sitting on the couch before Jeremy got home and I was just reading through 1 John.  I really felt romanced by the Lord when reading this again.  So easily we forget about the true character of God.  God is love!  Love is the one thing we as humans strive for.  We want to feel loved and we want to give love. Yet when we put God on the back burner we end up wearing ourselves out trying to get this love from all different places. We try earn other peoples love, we give gifts and compliments in hopes that we will get love in return.  We try to look pretty or act sweet to gain love.  We expend all of our options to try to achieve love.  At the end of the day, when we have worn ourselves thin and still have been left empty handed God reminds us that He is love.  He is the true source of love.  He has given us the ultimate sacrifice to show us that.

It is impossible to feel real, lasting love apart from God.  When we try to find love through our spouses, friendships, our families, etc. we end up feeling satisfied for a short period of time and then we go on to find the next thing that will fill the hole temporarily.  I am guilty as charged!  There are so many times when I feel as thought I need Jeremy to act a certain way or to do a certain thing for me to feel love.  I put an expectation on him to be the ultimate source of love, and there is no way that he could fill those shoes.  There is no way any of us could love the way that Jesus has.  We need to get our security from the love He has given us!  When we do this, and realize just how special we are then we are able to love from that place.

There is such freedom with not trying to earn love.  Not trying to do deeds to receive love. Not having to impress anyone or be anything that we're not.  We have already been given the greatest gift of love when Jesus came.  We do not need to look to another person to feel loved and that is such a huge weight lifted.  "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us" 4:16.  This is my prayer! It is so easy to get caught up in the world, and so easy to forget that we have already been given the greatest love of all.  There is nothing we can do or say to change that, and that is a relief!  Thank you Lord!


Monday, August 23, 2010

The reality of it all

The reality of this world is sad.  It's very very sad.  I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in our "christian bubble" and our own way of life that we forget that the majority of this world is suffering.  I was awakened to this by my younger sister this weekend.  Her and all of her friends are very similar, so the story she told me made me very sad because it immediately made the think that this could be her.
She went to visit one of her friends who was locked up in a pshyc ward on Sunday.  She didn't know why she was there because they had a falling out a few months before.  When she got there she was informed of all the things that were going on in her friends life.  She found out that when they were sharing an apartment together her friend would find guys off of craigslist to have sex with her for money.  She found out that she started dating a 40 year old heroine addict.  She found out that soon after dating him, she was raped by some of his friends and then got addicted to heroine and cocaine.  This is the sad truth about our world.  People are lost, broken and in need of a Savior!
So what are we doing? I feel so hurt inside and I know from the deepest part of me that Jesus can free them from the addictions and lies that are tying them down.  I know that He can make them feel loved and beautiful.  He can make them see that they have a purpose and that they belong.  He can satisfy them.
What can we do to make the people we love see that there is a way out? That there is a chance to have a new meaningful life?  It is so easy not to be optimistic about the people we love coming to know Christ when we know everything (good and bad) about them.  When we have seen them reject his love again and again.
  
But there is hope! Even as i'm writing this, I feel as though God is reminding me that I used to be like that.  I was broken and lost and I was the one who was rejecting His love.  Now, because of his grace I know that I have a purpose and a future.  I know that I am so loved by the creator of the universe and nothing can separate me from that love.  I also know that if God could call me to Him in my darkest loneliest times, then He can bring my family to know Him too!  It is so easy to put God in a box and set limits to what he can do.  But in reality, He can do anything! There is no box that could contain his power and love for His people.  He could change it all in one minute.  I don't know the reason that he doesn't but I do know that His ways are perfect.  He could do it all on His own, but instead he chooses to use us for His glory! He lets us play in the game! Even when we don't feel like we know what to do or say He chooses to use us.

So, even though the reality of this world can somewhat be sad and depressing we thankfully have a God who loves His people and would do anything to save them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's off to camp we go!

I hate it when I let my emotions take over me.  It's like some crazy psycho has taken over my body and there is nothing I can do to stop the tidal waves of crazy emotions.  
Last night Jeremy and I went out for our one month anniversary.  It started off as a great night, we enjoyed a boatload of sushi, had good conversation and were really celebrating what God has done in our lives.  Then it took a turn for the worst.  Jeremy had planned a surprise evening for us by renting a room in the Marriot.  When I walked in, the room was lit by candles forming a heart and everything was perfect.  Instead of being swept off my feet by it all, I was suddenly uncomfortable.  I hate surprises.  I never really knew why I hated them so passionately but this night made it a little more clear.  I'm not very good at adjusting to new circumstances.  I couldn't let myself get excited about the night because I  hadn't prepared myself for it.  Control freak? Maybe. Crazy wife? Could be.  I'm not sure what happens when I hear the word "surprise" but something inside me feels not right.  Anywho, it took me the whole night to adjust to the surprise and by that time I had already ruined everything.  I was a sobbing mess, and I wasn't even sure what I was crying about.  I felt terrible.  I knew Jeremy had worked so hard to make everything perfect for me and I blew it.  
Well,  Jeremy if you ever do read this.. I want you to know that I loved everything.  I may not have showed it, but I am so thankful that you took the time to plan a romantic night away for me.  God has really used you to expose weakness in my life.  Maybe I do need to let go of some control.  Maybe I need to truly learn how to trust another person in all aspects of life, not just the ones I'm comfortable with.  Whatever it is, I am so thankful that I have you by my side to work through it.

And now, it's time to venture off to camp!  This is the most pleasant "trailer park" I've ever been to! And trust me, I've been to a lot!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fridays are alwasys the longest

Yes, its has come to this!  I have been sitting in my cube for hours now with nothing to do.. I have been on every website known to man (well, only the PG websites of course), so it has come to this- I have made my very own, very first blog.  I think I might like this though.  I enjoy writing my thoughts, feelings, jokes, just random things but I'm not to fond of writing everything down by hand (anyone else get severe hand cramps when writing?).

Well, now there is only 15 minutes left until the end of the work week and I have completely lost hope that my boss will let me go early.. Actually come to think of it, I think i'm the only person left in the office.  I am the lone sole in the deserted cube land!

I am excited about tonight though.  Jeremy (my hubby) and I are going out to celebrate our one month anniversary! I can't believe it's already been a month.  The time sure does fly by.  The fun doesn't stop there! We are then going up to my family's campground tomorrow with a bunch of friends.  The camp has an annual beach party that I love going to.  It has a buffet line full of delicious food, good people, and my dads band provides the entertainment. 

Anywho, It's time to depart from cube land.  I'm very excited to be blogging now.  Although I can't promise it will be anymore exciting.. But then again, you should listen to what goes on in my brain..

Oh, this is where Jeremy and I are going out to dinner tonight.. It's one of my favorite restaurants and I suggest you check it out if you like Japanese!