Monday, December 29, 2008

This Old House

Here at the Corner of Monroe, we've had some great times. Being in the old house on the corner has been fun for several reasons. We enjoy the several people who drive by and honk, we like having a large basement that works for worship practice, and mostly we love having the room to host our life group and an annual New Years Party.

But, with every fun thing comes its counterpart. We can't figure out where the mice are coming in, and are not happy that they've made the nooks and crannies of our house a small mouse maternity ward. We can't seem to get grass to grow in the back (and we do lock up the dogs now), and today we had to pay a guy $125 to snake our plumbing ... again.

I remember when we first moved into this place, I heard a short devotional on the radio talking about old houses and the history they have as I stripped off two layers of nasty kitchen wallpaper and painted the walls a light lime green. What stood out to me about the message was to think back and try to just imagine what has happened in the place before you.

I can't even imagine everything this old house has seen. It was built in the late 1920s, so it could probably compete with anyone's precious old grandma's stories about the 'good old days.' It's seen the Great Depression, several world wars, presidents, social movements, recessions and more depressions, and so much more. It's gotten central heat, a new bathroom, electricity, remodeled kitchen, cable, and other enhancements since it was born.

As a new year approaches and this 80 year old house sees yet another year come, may she continue to keep us warm, sheltered and entertained. And may we learn from her as we keep standing in a scary economic time, adapt to changes and improvements, and realize the times when we need a fix and have the prayer and humility to do it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lately I've been wasting a lot of time on this site.

Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe it takes my mind off of things. But whatever the case, I think I'm addicted.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Unacceptable

The past few days I've thought about and discussed many of the reactions to the Presidential election outcome on Tuesday. I do admit that I lack a passion that several of my peers had for the outcome of the race. I will admittedly say that we were on the fence up until a few days before the election, so either way of the outcome, I was going to be content.

I knew that several others had strong views about one side or the other though. It was encouraging to see our generation rise up and take ownership in how we will be governed. To see people research the issues, form an opinion and then communicate why they felt how they did was encouraging. I respected the many views that came from both sides of the race.

And then Tuesday happened.

While I laughed at first and actually had a 'make up the most outrageous Facebook status game,' what has since followed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning has been a great sadness and concern for our community - mainly I mean the church community.

To read posts full of hate, worry, fear and lies coming from those who were Anti-Obama have been discouraging. He's a politician. He won fair and square. And to post statements that attack not his policies but more his character is wrong. I understand what it is to disagree with Obama's politics. But to publicly post such rude and hateful comments because your guy didn't win is unacceptable - and especially when it's coming from a group of Christians.

We are called to love. We are called to serve. And we are called to pray. There is a way to disagree and be disappointed with tact. Many red flags have been raised this week, but it's not because Obama was elected into office. Instead, it's been the overwhelming outcry of the conservatives and the statements that have come from either their mouths or their keyboards. I've been burdened and disappointed with where we're at as a community, and hopeful that this might be the spark to get to real change.

I encourage us all as we move forward to be careful of what we say. If you have an argument, state your argument. It's okay to disagree - but it's not okay to slander and bash another person, no matter who they are. I encourage the church to take a good look at itself and address these issues. I'm usually one that likes to keep the peace, but on this issue I could not keep quiet. There's a bigger problem than having Obama in office when Christians will be known for their rude and hateful comments following results night, and I do hope that Change is here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tag I'm It

Thanks to Jen for spurring me on to update this blog. She tagged me on her blog, so here I go.

Here are the rules for this tag: *Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog. *Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. *Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog…


FACT 1: I play Fantasy Football and my team's name is the danielleagories. I also tend to always drop in the fact I won the first year I played and beat all of the guys. I like to think of our league's traveling trophy as the "Danielle Ripley Trophy."



FACT 2: I've recently started grocery shopping at Aldi. I have avoided this for a few years, but when gas went up and I was tired of spending almost my entire grocery budget in one trip, I started looking for some other options. I've been truly amazed at how much money I save.


FACT 3: I've started boxing and kickboxing at the Title Boxing Club. I started this workout in late August and have loved it.




FACT 4: I cannot stand the show Price is Right. No reason, it just annoys the crap out of me.




FACT 5: I have several nicknames. I'm Angel Face to Mom, Punkin to Dad, Yells to Andy, Diva to Em and Leah, and B to Mike and now my growing list of nieces and nephews.



FACT 6: I took piano lessons when I was a kid. I can still play a few songs by ear.





FACT 7: Mike and I started dating 8 years ago today - October 28, 2000. Happy Anniversary Babe!






YOU'RE TAGGED:

Sarah

Kelley

Natasha

Luckie Leah

Randzig

Monday, September 29, 2008

To Ella

To Ella,

Dear baby girl, I was honored to see you born the other day. To see you enter the world, hear you take your first breaths and watch you become more loved in your first minutes than you'll probably ever realize.

You were prayed for way before any of us ever knew you were on the way. Your mom and dad were faithful to seek God's face every night because they desired you so much. Your aunts, uncles, grandparents and other friends pleaded with God to bring you here. Even when we thought there was a chance we might not ever meet you, we had faith and God answered our prayers and the desires of your mom and dad's hearts. Your name carries that legacy.

As your Aunt B, there are so many things that I want to teach you. As a little person, I wish there was a way to give you a crash course on life right now, before the world comes in and tries to convince you otherwise. And while I know that's unrealistic, here are a couple of the most important things I want you to know:

  • You're beautiful and you have been from the very second you were born. Your skin tone, hair, eyes, mouth and nose are absolutely perfect. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Don't compare yourself to the other girls on the billboards or TV. They're not you, they looked differently when they were born, and you're absolutely the way God intended you to be.

  • Your mom and dad love you so much. I know that as you get older, you might not believe it all of the time, but it's true. Your dad locks the doors not to prison you in, but to protect you (he was doing it before you got here.) Their rules and guidelines are there to help you grow, even though they might not feel like it.

  • Live for your passions. Find out what you're good at and what you love - and focus on that. Don't let the world tell you you're not good enough. Just keep going. If you love to sing, sing your heart out with your mom. If you're into sports, play with Uncle Mikey. If you love to bake, go to Aunt Heather's. If you want to kickbox, come with Aunt B. If you draw, paint, learn karate, love pottery, go fishing, play soccer, or whatever it is - do it with all your might. Don't give up when it seems hard. It will set you back years that you can't get back.

  • Love Jesus. Little girl, you were born in 2008 for a specific reason. You're here because throughout your lifetime, you will meet so many other people and your job is to keep telling others about Jesus. Know that He loves you. He died for you. And the only thing to make sense of world that gets crazier by the minute is to cling to your relationship with Him. Put effort into knowing him. Be still and let Him talk to you.

  • Know that everything happens for a reason. Life is hard, and it's easy to see all of the bad and none of the good when you're in pain. But remember that God works for the good of all things, and right around the corner will be a blessing in disguise. Keep the faith. When I got sick and found out I couldn't have my own kids, I could have been really sad and mad at God. But He had blessings in store for me that will far outweigh any loss I feel. Your mom and dad have become lifelong friends who gave me an opportunity that only David and Jonathan-like friends do, I watched you come into the world. To become family with someone who's not your blood-family is a supernatural experience I hope you have one day. I don't wish pain, sickness, grief or anything bad ever happens to you. But know that when it comes (because it will) - that you can make it through and there is a bag of blessings beyond your belief on the other side.

I love you and I will always fight for you. You're precious and I'm so glad you're here,
Love,
Aunt B

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Adoption Day Lindley



This is the first time in two years as pet owners that Mike and I have remembered to celebrate our dog's adoption day. We better get better at this if it applies to our kiddos one day.

Anyway, today we've had Lindley for two years. Oh what a far way she has come since that first day with her. When we met her outside of PetCo, she was pulling the Furry Kids Refuge worker around the sidewalk as he took her for a walk. Her name was Summer. We were amazed at her muscles and gentle, yet ferocious, personality. I was excited at first, but when she got home, I got really nervous. I wasn't sure if I would love her as much as Joey. Silly how I hear that parents expecting their second child feel the same way. That was quickly reversed, as she's become 'my dog' around the house. We named her Lindley to go with our dog-naming theme of Dawson's Creek names. We didn't really think "Jen" fit her very well, so we took a last name from the show.



It's been a great two years with Lindley. We've seen a timid, abused little dog come into our home and with a lot of love, laying on the couch and treats, she's turned into one great pup. She's pretty easy to train, and it actually looks like she's smiling when she's happy. While she still might bark when people come in to help guard our house for us, she really has become a loving little thing.


My favorite Lindley memories:
- Finding a Gentle Leader and actually being able to take her on a walk.
- When we found a used kids swimming pool and she jumped right in and was cracking us up.
- On a walk, she basked in a realtor's really nice fountains for a little splash. We had to pull her out b/c we were scared of the security cameras.
- She bit Matt Hays. Sorry Matt, sad for him but a humerous story. Similiar to the story with my step-dad.
- She was a partner-in-crime with Joey a few weeks before Christmas and ended up completely tearing up our living room in the middle of the night and shredding ornaments, leather wallets, pillows, etc. Bad experience, good story.
- She caught a mouse in our house!
- And my favorite of all time -- she knew Kelley was pregnant before any of us. Crazy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Cancer First

This weekend at the Big Dam Walk, I had a first.

In my cancer journey, I've had many unique experiences. I had to sit in a cafeteria without any food, masking the reason of having a colonoscopy the next day with the lie that I wasn't hungry.
I had a massive surgery on the day of a big test, and worried about having hair for prom more than what dress I was wearing that night.

I can't count the number of raised eyebrows from doctors, nurses and strangers when they learned I had colon cancer at age 17. I've been the "baby" of most cancer groups, and been the youngest person in the room to be diagnosed with colon cancer when I'm with a bunch survivors.

But this weekend, I met a gal who was diagnosed at age 16. She is 29 years old and has been a survivor for 13 years!

When I walked up to be introduced to her, I felt mixed feelings. Half of me was in disbelief that I was actually meeting a fellow teen diagnosee. I was ecstatic that the purpose of the Colon Club had come through for me! I was actually meeting someone else "just like me." On the other side, I was very humbled. My unique age and situation had built up walls of pride that quickly came falling down when I realized I wasn't the youngest in the group anymore. It was a very needed, timely and appropriate experience for me to have this weekend.

Each time I get together for a cancer cause, I am remembered by how blessed I am to still be here, and inspired to live my life with the mindset that I am still here for a reason. Now let's go find it.

Enjoy some pics of the day...

.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Exposed

My favorite quote from this past weekend's Living Proof Live simulcast:

"Every time you expose yourself to the Word of God, he wants to accomplish something." - Beth Moore


A few runner ups:

"When the season of testing exceeds the season of believing, we are headed toward a season of falling."

"The root cause of anxiety is feeling a loss of control, or fear that we are losing it. Anxiety shows that we are not trusting Christ."

"God will birth your passion from your pain."

"God's not going to change your life if you don't let him change your day."

"Whatever God has you on earth to do, it will take sticking with it. Do not quit before your harvest comes."

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Story - Symptoms

My side is aching today, I'm pretty sure it's my left ovary that has flared up for some reason.

Taking a lot of prescription medicine without drinking much water can cause a mean urinary tract infection.

The way I found out I had cancer was blood in the stool after I went number two - and for many years.

And why do I say all of this?

Because it could save your life, or someone's that you know.

This past week, I've been processing my weekend at Lake George, New York and how to describe what I experienced on this blog. I was honored to fly to upstate New York to meet 12 other young colon cancer survivors and take photos for the 2009 Colondar.

I've debated writing in detail about my feelings that came up such as pride for being a cancer survivor, relief about meeting others who could relate, or anxiety about the looming thought of recurrence that I try to brush off most days.

But what I have chosen to focus on today is the inspiration it gave me to spread the word about colon cancer and my experience. I've been quiet about it for the most part, but I was woken up to how many lives I could help save just by telling my story - both in the physical and spiritual sense.

MY STORY - THE SYMPTOMS
The reason I underwent such an aggressive treatment when I was diagnosed was because I didn't say anything when I started seeing blood in the stool. I was royally embarrassed which led to me being royally sick. Nobody likes to talk about going poop - or at least what happens when they go. I was in high school when I started noticing a lot of blood, and the least thing I was going to do was bring it up. I thought the blood would just go away.

Nobody likes to discuss when something is going wrong with their bodies - in an embarrassing area. Bowels are off-limits unless joking about farting or telling peeing your pants stories. Girls hate talking about their female problems just as much as guys won't discuss their prostates. But what it comes down to is when there's something wrong - tell a doctor. It's worth it to get it checked out.

Maybe nothing is wrong and things will settle down in a few days. But maybe something is wrong. I was too young for my symptoms to be colon cancer, just as you're too ______ for your symptoms to be _____________.

more of my story to be continued....

Monday, May 26, 2008

The News

I don't watch the news. I don't read the news either, and now that I don't drive to Crown Center every day, I don't listen to the news. I have my homepage set to gmail, so I don't even see the top headlines of the day. (I'm excluding Sports Center right now as I do watch that almost every morning thanks to Mike.)

I've been overly proud that Mike nor I keep up on the news and have seen some good effects: I'm not as scared. I haven't been exposed to the horror stories of last night's midnight shooting or kidnapping. I can actually drive through Kansas City's Mid Town and appreciate the old stores and history of the city. I am working on forming my own opinion of the political candidates. And I don't get down about the weather forecast because I have no idea what's happening. It's always a surprise when it rains.

But today, I had some bad effects and some big-time humility. My family was hanging out at my brother's house and started talking about a Mormon polygamist colony in Texas and some guy in Europe who locked his daughter up in his basement and had kids with her. Mike and I hadn't even seen traces of jokes about these things on SNL, so we had NO idea this had happened recently. And everyone at the table replied "Don't you watch the news? It's been all over it for weeks!"

A professor in college used to encourage us PR students to read/watch/listen to the news because it makes us conversational. I saw what he meant today. But I was convicted because it also is what makes us missional. Not only can talking about current events help me find common ground with someone for a discussion, but it also helps me find ways to show my friends how needed Jesus is today, and with real-life examples. (I could not have come up with a crazier story than a polygamist colony in Texas to demonstrate our desperate struggle with sin and need for a Savior.)

So friends, today I'm convicted. I am currently looking through good news source websites to decide which one will get the glorious position of my homepage. I'm going to make a more concentrated effort to stay on top of what's happening. I am going to start reading the news.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kind Regards,

Dear Readers,

Sorry everyone, I warned you this would happen. Here's a tangent that has me side tracked for the moment.

Does it bug anyone else as much as it bugs me when someone signs off their emails with "Kind Regards"? or how about "Warm Regards" - that's even worse. But today, I'll focus on the Kind.

What is that supposed to mean? Kind regards - even though I've never met you in person. Kind regards from right now on - but not for the rest of my email? What if the entire email was about how much you had screwed up lately - would you still send it signed "kind regards?" Kind regards because if I don't sign it "Kind Regards" I'll be sending "You Suck Regards?"

And what are Kind Regards? I've never heard anyone say "Hey Mom, it was great to see you on Mothers Day! I'm going to go home now - Kind Regards!" Yeah, I don't think so. Or "Leah, I thought I'd send you some Kind Regards today and hope you have a good day." Doesn't make any sense.

In the spirit of constructive criticism, here are a few suggestions as replacements that get across the same message, but in a little less freakish, yet still unique way:

  • Hope you're having a good day,
  • Eat a big piece of pie for me,
  • It's been great working with you even though we've never met,
  • I'm really nice,
or really - and old-school Sincerely or Thanks! will do.

Appreciating your readership in a really nice and kind way,
danielle

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Behold the Power Of ... The Vacuum

I don't know if it's the same around your house as it ours - but the vacuum has power. Mike and I equally enjoy using the vacuum, and love it even more after it's been used by the other person.

As much as I love it when Mike surprises me by a quick sweep up around the house, he loves it just as much when he comes home and sees fresh lines on the carpet. It's a small, easy way to show your spouse you were thinking of him/her and helping out.

It seems like something so small and obvious, how can it be missional? First, it's serving one another. If you both get a kick out of having a vacuumed house it's a win-win. Second, it could lead into a conversation where you tell your spouse thank you and how it's just one of the many Christlike actions you've seen in them lately. A lot of times things go unsaid because there's not a comfortable situation leading to those conversations. So get out that vacuum and start talking!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lunch Box Notes

I want to theme our blog and have it be a bit more focused. Because God made me sporadic, I'm sure there will be an occasional unrelated post, but I'm going to do my best to keep it on topic.

At The Avenue, we say "missional" a lot, but I'm finding that many people aren't sure about what it means, or really care. I don't have all of the answers, but I have a lot of ideas about what it can mean, and why it's really awesome and important. And then I thought Mike and I could use our blog to showcase an easy, everyday idea. He and I both are all over this missional thing.

Because it's our "Love Week" (AKA our 3rd wedding anniversary was yesterday and we make a big deal out of it for about a week), I thought we'd kick this thing off by ways to be missional to your spouse. Thus,

Idea 1 - Lunch Box Notes
This practice isn't just reserved for the moms who pack soup in a thermos for their elementary school kids and find ways to tell them hello in the middle of the day. No, this long going expression of love and thoughtfulness is great for your marriage too. For starters, you're actually serving your spouse by packing his or her lunch (which everyone loves), and two - you're able to express your heart in a way that you might never say the thoughts in person.
Here are a few tips on writing notes:

  • Don't let them see you writing the note. Slip it in there as a secret. It's best when it's a surprise.
  • Place it near something tightly sealed, and try to keep it away from something frozen that might sweat on it and make your XOXOs run together.
  • It's fun to put it on the same paper each time so when they see the bright orange sticky note, they know exactly what it is.
  • Make sure to sign your name, or your nickname.
Here are a few suggestions for what to put on the note:
  • Just a really big "I Love You" or "You're the best _______" (fill in the blank)
  • A thank you for something specific.
  • Something you've learned from them recently.
  • A bible verse you read and are praying for them.
  • Some sort of inside joke.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Come Dwell With Us

I am extremely burdened tonight in what feels like every area. I have situations going on with my friends, my family, my church and my culture that have caused my heavy heart, and the only thing I can reason is that God has something to say.

I just finished a 10-week Bible study from Beth Moore that taught the history and significance of the Old Testament tabernacle. The point of the study was simple: God created us so He could dwell with us, and Christ is how we experience that today.

Our generation is missing that point as a whole. The simple truth that our job as humans is to be in God's presence is lost in the midst of a mess. There's a lot of problems going on, and several things that aren't "right" at this moment. We've got severed relationships, false idols, misguided focus, unforgiveness, financial issues, bitterness, and much more that's getting in the way - all Satan's attempts to get our eyes on this world and not on the one to come - and especially not on Christ.

Tonight I'm humbled as I find myself in a boat that's been floating on top of things of this world. I've been numb to the emergency that Christ is not being made known to our culture because of the sin issues that I've been trying to personally deal with, or help others walk through.

As I look back on the words of encouragement, support and hope that I find for myself and others, the only anchor I see that's going to keep all of us afloat is repentant hearts joining in unison chanting "Jesus, you are enough. Come dwell with us."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Working From Home

Benefits:
1) I worked in my pajamas until 11:00 this morning.
2) No lost time in commuting, I can get straight to work.
3) I can master multi-tasking by eating breakfast, feeding the dogs and reading emails all in a few minutes.
4) I can play music as loud as I want.
5) I get to hang out with our dogs all day.

Disadvantages:
1) I was working in my pajamas until 11:00 this morning.
2) What's work and what's not work?
3) My dining room table is also my desk at the moment.
4) I keep finding home improvements to do.
5) Dogs just aren't the same as co-workers.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My First Dundee

THE OFFICE IS BACK
Last night I celebrated the return of NBC's show "The Office" at the Burns' The Office is Back Party where I played many fun office games and won a Dundee for having one of the best costumes.



Me as Pam on Diversity Day

The party was way fun. I would definitely do it again. That's what she said.
Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Here are a few more pics of the party guests and hosts , and some fellow Dundee winners.....


Danny as Michael Scott


Emily as Karen on Sales Call Day


Ashley as Angela on the day of the big race



Billy as 3-hole punch Jim


Jill as Dwight. Every great party needs a Dwight.


.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A handy trunk organizer

I've seen cash, blenders and autographed baseballs. But the North American Savings Bank has gone above and beyond in the world of desperately trying to get new checking accounts by offering a FREE trunk organizer. What a deal.

FREE JUMPER CABLES
These days, us marketers are scrambling for the latest, greatest and most nitch thing we can think of in order to get people to give us a chance. I admit, I did it with jumper cables at my dad's office. I was thinking "maybe THIS will be the grand hook that turns heads, gets our office noticed, and gets people into the door. Maybe jumper cables are the key to getting people to see just how genuine we are, and how much we really do care and want to help with insurance!" It hasn't worked - yet. But I'm still trying.

FREE JESUS
But what happens when I think about how to market the church? What if we offered FREE Bibles, coffee, or bobble-head Jesus figurines? What if everyone who came to our new church left with a t-shirt, a CD of the worship team or a neat poster to hang on their wall?

That would be really great, and maybe even put us on the list of "cool churches" - but unfortunately we'd be missing the point. Sure those ideas are useful in small doses, but you have to look at the meaning behind it. Where's the relationship, where's the quality in what you're offering, and how is it going to change a life? Peter Drucker says "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him (or her) and sells itself." I think that the church most definitely has a product or service that can hit any person who comes through our door, and sell HIM-self. My job as a church marketer is to help know the person, and give others inside our church tools to do the same.

We sell Jesus. Actually we don't sell him, He's FREE. And he's absolutely enough to get people to come through the door. We make relationships, we invite people to know Him like we do, and He'll do the rest. He's the best thing we can offer them. He's the best thing they can leave with.

So sorry, we won't be offering a trunk organizer this year.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One Girl Army

It's interesting to be a woman in the ministry, and especially a woman who does not focus on children or other womens ministries. It's a unique calling, one that makes me think that I'll be kicking back with Nehemiah or Esther one day in Heaven over frozen fruity drinks and telling stories about how God called us to something we had never seen happen before.

Here's a glimpse of what I've learned so far as a woman called into the ministry to help start a new church, yet not primarily focus on children or women, and raise my own support:

1) Pray a lot. Pray for patience, vision and the strength to keep going even when I'm not sure where to go next. Or- when I've forgotten why I'm in this spot in the first place. God has called me here, hang on to that and just keep running.

2) Rest. Yeah, I suck at this, but I'm learning more and more why God rested on the Sabbath. You get tired, sick, not fun to be around and those dark circles under your eyes when you don't. And yeah, even if at age 24, I can't hide from those dark circles. So rest up.

3) Ask. I can't do this by myself - I've been trying but it's not working so well. God's teaching me each day to ask for my needs and my wants. It starts with asking Him first, and then other people.
I need help from others to do my job with excellence.
I need help financially as Mike and I step out more and more in faith and rely on support. (I'm asking everyone who reads this and feels God nudging them to help to email me. I'll give you details. Ahh that was hard, but I've put it into practice!)
We need friends to hang out with us, and to call and check in.
I need humility and patience as time goes on.
We need God to put an amazing and anticipated musical opportunity in Mike's path that allows him to fulfill his calling and rock his heart out.
And I need to ask other friends how they are doing.
I need time to be still, listen and know that God is most definitely up to something and going to provide.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Uncle Sam

I've recently gotten to know Uncle Sam. My parents held the relationship with him for most of my life, and I never took the time to know him. But, since we've gotten married, Mike and I have become acquainted with him.

The first year he visited us, my mom helped with the introductions. I was actually pretty pleased with his visit, and felt he was quite generous. He must have had pity on me as a college student. But, last year that was not the case. I'm not sure why, but his generosity ran out with us two full-time working kids and he didn't return any favors. He actually made us pay for his trip. Luckily, I met with one of his consultants who gave me some tips on his visit for this year.

So after this year, we're friends again. He really liked our house. After his visit, he decided to be very kind to us again. But I'd like to think it wasn't just Uncle Sam's generous heart. I think that God was up there looking over us, and using Uncle Sam to bless us. With our support raising journey in process, he couldn't have come at a better time.

So I look forward to meeting with Uncle Sam again next year. Too bad he doesn't visit at Christmas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Few Wonderful Things

Here are a few things I've come across lately that I think are just wonderful:

1. www.freerice.com - Bored at work? Play a vocab game and help the world, all at the same time. Incredible!

2. Google Reader - thanks to my friend Sarah, I've learned how to subscribe to the blogs I read so they all feed into one place, and I don't have to visit each site individually. Man that saves me time.

3. iGoogle homepage - I sound like a Google freak right now, but what I've stumbled upon lately has really improved my quality of life. From iGoogle, I can check my mail, use a calculator, read great date ideas, keep a to-do list, a prayer list, and access my google reader! Now that's a homepage.

4. Doozens coffee - a cute and artsy coffee shop over by Raintree off of Ward and 150 Hwy really has me hoppin these days. Their drinks are great, particularly their Irish Nut.

5. Beth Moore's study 'A Woman's Heart.' I've been going through this with some of my girlfriends for about four weeks now and it's blowing me away. A study of the Old Testament tabernacle really has given me an eye opener as to how God really desires to dwell among us. Incredible!

6. My red Kitchen Aid mixer. I liked making cookies before, but I love it now. And for some reason, I'm convinced they taste better too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Spontaneity is Good

I tend to be a planner. I really, really like to be organized and be prepared. I feel like I can do my best work when I have a good foundation set before me and I know what I'm doing.

But last night, for the first Valentine's Day since I've been with Mike, we were not prepared or planned out. We didn't have any plans. We didn't have anywhere we had to be, tickets we had to use, or food we had to cook. I wasn't sure about it at first, but I just sat back and trusted Mike that our night would turn out okay.

And it was more than okay, it was awesome. Maybe even the best one yet.

We stopped by a couple of restaurants but quickly left when we heard of the over 30-minute waits and settled on a new Thai restaurant here in our city. After dinner, we went to a new ice cream shop in Downtown LS and had some awesome homemade ice cream with very cool and unique flavors. Then it was on to home where we watched an old movie we DVR'ed off of TMC (The Odd Couple) and finishing off the night with a bag of microwave popcorn and Asti.

It paid to sit back and not plan out anything. It was great to hop from place to place and focus on the time spent together rather than the agenda. It was so great, I don't even have any pictures of the night.

Lesson learned: Let Mike plan many, many more nights like this. It couldn't have been better.