Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy birthday to Kyle!

Today, my husband is an old man. He’s 30 years old. As I reminded him this morning, I’ll always be younger than him. He then proceeded to remind me that my time was coming.

He was referring to the surprise party I threw for him Friday night. Technically, it was NOT a surprise party. I informed him there would be a cake. I informed him there would be people. What I neglected to inform him included how awesome the cake was and how many people would be arriving.

And he had no idea.

I also served as editor and producer of the film, “Kyle Turns 30: A Story.” I wish I could put it online, but it’s a bit long, and, while I can edit the heck out of some film footage, as I proved Friday night, I barely know how to operate our DVD player. Sooo…yeah, there’s that. ;)

I must say, I hosted a fairly excellent party.

Catherine pets Vicki
Kyle, Catherine, and Charlie 
BFF Molly and Sarah Kate
Molly pets Vicki...or gets ready to pet Vicki =)
And now I am married to the sweetest 30-year-old I know. Happy birthday to my handsome husband.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zombies, Run!

Let’s talk about the coolest running app ever invented.

Zombies, Run!!

I am going to do my best to describe how fun this app is. If you run (and even if you don’t), this is the app you need to buy. It’s $8 and worth every cent.

So last weekend, Kelsey and I laced up our shoes and headed for a dusk run. Perfect. We joked that if we ran in the woods, this app could actually be quite scary.

I placed my iPhone in my running armband and started out. There’s a story involved, though due to some wind issues and as I had the phone on speaker so Kelsey could hear, too, I might not have the first part of the story all correct. But it sounded like there was a crash of some sort…and you – or in this case, I – were in the crash but survived. And now I (and Kelsey) was the only survivor with (apparently) a headset connecting me to people who could see me on various cameras. They were going to lead me to the safe zone. But first…I had to outrun the zombies.

This app also has missions for you to accomplish. Granted, you basically have to do the missions, as they only involve running. Run to the hospital. Run get the first aid kit. Run, run, run, zombies are after you!!!

You became Runner 5…because the surviving humans use runners to get supplies. And you find out what happened to the previous Runner 5…

You can actually use your own songs with this app…if you know how to use your iPhone. I’m not an iPhone aficionado. I like my phone just fine, but I do wish my Android had worked better so I could have kept it. Therefore, I do not know how to do too much on my newer phone. I just learned last week how to take a screen shot. And I don’t know yet how to access my iTunes account on my phone. But when I do…oh, this app will change my running life.

At one point during our run, which was around the campus, some poor guy in a car pulled up next to us to ask directions. Unfortunately, it was this time when my contact starts yelling, “Run, run! The zombies are after you! The zombies are after you!” So I had a choice. Let the zombies catch me and eat my brains out or make this dude think I was crazy and run like zombies were after me.

I chose the latter.

The zombies did catch me – twice. The first time, I didn’t even realize it until I checked my stats near the end of the run. I still am not sure how or when that happened. The second time I was running as fast as I could to outrun them. Unfortunately, we had eaten dinner less than 30 minutes before the run, so running at full speed for about a minute quickly took its toll…and I decided the zombies could catch me and eat me.

So what happens if the zombies catch you? Really, not much. You lose some supplies and you hear some very scary zombie noises that get louder and louder. It definitely revs up your adrenaline. But, thankfully, you don’t die in the game. After all, if you got caught at the very beginning, what’s the point in running?

The part that I think gamers will like more than me (because I am not a gamer) is that after your run, you divide your spoils among the townsfolk. Who gets the first aid kit, the military or the hospital or the civilians? Who gets the food packs? The clothes? The technology? And depending on how well you make those choices depends on how many lives you save. Somehow my township went from 60 to 70 people after my first run. Guess the end of the world makes people want to have babies.

You can also do this app if you want to walk – just during the zombie attacks, I guess you need to walk faster. Your speed has to increase for about a minute. And I love the storyline so far and that more missions are being created.

This was my first phone app I’ve purchased, and it was a great decision. If you’re looking for a fun run app, I’d highly suggest this one…and maybe, just for kicks and giggles, you’ll go for a night run. Alone. ;) 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dirty Thirty

My husband turns 30 on July 30. I almost bought him ESPN’s collection of 30 for 30 films…but I bought something much more frivolous for him instead – and can’t say yet, as it’s a secret!

In celebration of his landing on the big 3-0, I have compiled a list of thirty of my favorite memories of him – that aren’t mushy! ;)

1. The day we decided to play our own version of “Office” Olympics in our house. I slid very well across our hardwood floor…he did not. Luckily, we did not have to go to the hospital!

2. The day he stopped by the side of the road to pick me wildflowers…and when he picked them, he got mud all over his pants!

3. The day he yelled my, ahem, school nickname (probably shouldn’t broadcast it online) when I graduated with my master’s, and my mom was certain someone would shank them.

4. The day we did the Warrior Dash together. Epic win.

5. Every time I scare him in the house. He’s gotten smart, though, and if he thinks I’m hiding, he goes immediately into Defense Mode. It’s getting harder and harder to hide and scare him, ha!

6. When we wrote an article about the Left Behind series authors – even though, um, technically, I put myself on that article with him. However, he was such a sweet gentleman and allowed me to co-author the article.

7. Speaking of writing, we wrote a book!! Getting up early every morning and drinking coffee with him while we wrote – good memories.

8. Going to the Viking Cooking School together – including the time he slammed his head on the vent hood and cut himself. He was such a trooper – hair was hanging down from the vent hood, and he was bleeding, but he didn’t complain once. I, on the other hand, nearly passed out.

9. When he cheered me on for my first and second half marathons. Nothing is sweeter than a champion-sized hug after running for two hours.

10. Ah. That makes me think of another happy memory: all of the Saints games we’ve gone to – and watching them win the Super Bowl together. We were both on a winning high for a month.

11. Kyle goofing off at Misti’s wedding. And Kyle having to leave after being particularly smart-aleck due to an, ahem, wardrobe malfunction, lol!

12. The Redneck Water Park summer at Chris and Angie’s house.

13. The phone call he made to me before he flew to Hawaii the first time: “If my plane goes down and we’re ‘Lost,’ I’m joining up with Locke.”

14. Bwahahahaha!!! The April Fool’s Day prank I played on him last year when I had a REAL positive pregnancy test…but it wasn’t mine! ;)

15. How he plays music. Swoon. Okay, so this wasn’t supposed to be mushy, but MAN, he can play the keys.

16. When we moved to NOLA, and he told some dude who carried a gun and walked a Chihuahua and lived in the apartment above me, “Oh, no, we’re not living together. She’s here all by herself, and I’m living forty minutes away in Luling.” FYI, we switched homes that. night.

17. How sometimes he’ll laugh so hard he cries. It makes me crack up every time.

18. The best vacation ever: Boston. Everything about that trip was perfect.

19. Riding rides at amusement parks over and over and over and over again. I’ve never met anyone who likes to go on rides as much as I do other than him.

20. Trail biking at the parish park during the summer with friends.

21. Walking in the rain – and not caring.

22. When we “compromised” on what breed of dog to get – I wanted Chihuahua, and he wanted a Siberian husky, so we decided on a pug (don’t ask). And then thanks to Misti’s Chihuahua, Sophie…we got Vicki the Chihuahua!

23. Exploring our new backyard trails with him.

24. The first day I met him. I was a freshman in college, and he was so kind to me, and I remember thinking, “That dude is hot! But I bet he already has a girlfriend…” (He didn’t, but we both dated other people that year.)

25. I convinced Kyle to become a coffee connoisseur. I LOVE that we drink coffee together…though sometimes we may compete over the last Wild Mountain Blueberry or iced coffee!

26. Getting our master’s degrees. We’ve never graduated together, but that’s okay. That means more parties!

27. When he and a bunch of our friends put up Christmas lights at our house and their houses. They spent the day working to put Christmas lights up on everyone’s house.

28. Our wedding, when he pulled open his shirt to reveal his Superman shirt underneath. Priceless.

29. Going everywhere with him. I love our vacations. It’s just so great to always travel with your best friend.

30. Watching fireworks one Fourth of July in a parking lot in Hot Springs. We were the only ones in the parking lot, and it was just a sweet time standing up through his car’s sunroof watching the fireworks.

…and many more!!! Happy birthday, love!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The gift of repentance

I do my best repenting in the middle of the night.

Also, for those of you keeping up with “how many words can I not spell,” repentance is one, turns out. Thanks, spell check!

I knew it wasn’t going to be the best of nights. As I semi-jokingly texted a friend earlier in the day, I had a “horde” of items that needed to be forgiven.

And thankfully…He forgives.

I’ve noticed that my last few posts have delved into some religious aspect. This isn’t for any particular reason other than it’s what’s been on my mind lately. I write what I think, and I’m thinking about the church and Jesus. And, as evidenced last night about 3 a.m., it was about repentance.

I woke up in a cold sweat, humiliated and guilty over some of my sins from the previous day. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fairly overwhelmed with guilt on a regular basis. And as I laid there in the dark wondering if I’d be able to go back to sleep, an evil thought crept in my head: “You deserve this. You know that, right? You deserve to get no sleep tonight.”

And I believed it…for a time.

Thankfully, though, I had attended Bible study last night. And we talked about repentance. And I spelled it with an “e” instead of an “a” every time in my study book. But here’s the greatest truth I took out of that lesson: Repentance is not a punishment. It’s a gift.

Repentance is a way for God to say, “Hey, it’s fine. You’ve turned around and come back to Me, and I love you. It’s okay.” That’s what I heard Him telling me last night – it’s okay. You’re forgiven. Let’s put it in the past and move on with life.

Do I deserve pain and suffering and the guilt? Of course. But Jesus died on a cross and took away my punishment. I don’t have to suffer for my mistakes; He already did. For me to believe that I deserve punishment is true. But for me to wallow in it is wrong. All I have to do is repent. And, honestly, I had never thought of it as a gift until Beth Moore stated it in our study video last night. But it really is.

Today, I woke up refreshed and ready to go. I ran three miles and drank iced coffee for breakfast. And, most importantly, I chatted it up with God. And I thanked him for last night, because it brought me closer to Him this morning.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Second chances

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. -- Jonah 3 (emphasis mine)

The words, “Just give me a second chance,” have never crossed my lips.

When I mess up, I don’t believe I should be given a second chance. I know I’ve messed up; I’ve hurt someone or let someone down. And, usually, when I mess up, it’s a royal mess, or at least I think it is. I may work hard to repair a rift or make up for a wrongdoing, but, in the deepest corner of my mind, I don’t believe I should receive a second chance.

I store a lot of guilt. When I was, ahem, requested to leave one grad school for another, I carried the guilt for years – and didn’t even know it for a long time. It wasn’t until I burst into tears when Kyle mentioned it in passing one day that I realized how deep that wound still cut. And it took a lot of prayer and a lot of love from Kyle to realize that my guilt was unfounded.

I doubt myself after the most meaningless conversations. I mentioned this to Kyle one night after a Wednesday night Bible study, about how I hoped I didn’t offend one girl because I felt I had not talked to her enough. On another occasion, I actually emailed a friend about a particularly bitter comment (I felt) I had made toward her – and was surprised to receive a response that she actually had not given it a second thought.

My guilt is nothing more than another aspect of my pride coming out. I should be perfect, but when I fail to live up to my own expectations, I condemn myself and decide that there’s no hope for restoration. Not only is this wrong for myself to live a freeing life in God’s mercy and grace, this also has a negative impact on what I call “outlier” relationships.

Outlier relationships are the surface relationships – the ones of people you don’t see all the time but you’d still say “hey” in the grocery store and ask how their day is. Outlier relationships include a lunch every now and then, but you don’t go too deep; you don’t ask personal questions, and you don’t give personal information. It’s a “test” relationship, skin deep.

With outlier relationships, you can take ‘em or leave ‘em. And, if someone is particularly annoying one night or rude one day, you can chalk it up to a failure in a potential friendship and not worry about that individual anymore. Or at least I can. Or I could.

But that’s a person. That’s a daughter – or a son – of God. They have feelings and worries and joys and pains just like I do. She’s looking for a job. He’s looking for acceptance. She’s looking for friendship.

If I don’t allow myself second chances, why would I allow second – or third or fourth or so on – chances for other people?

Outlier relationships are tricky, precarious. You have to give of yourself in expectation that the other person will give as well. And if that person for some reason fails you, well, you’ve just got to hope that when you fail them, they’ll give you a second chance, too.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Love the church

“Here's the story of the Christian faith: We love the church. Jesus loves the church. Jesus loves us, and we love him back.” – Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church pastor
I sure am glad the church is filled with imperfect people, because I would hate to pretend that I was perfect so I could attend. 
I hear a lot of preachers talk about how no one is perfect. They hammer this point home, but most of the people I know realize they aren’t perfect. They realize they are flawed. They realize other people are flawed. So if no one’s perfect and we know that no one else is perfect, why do we expect such perfection from everyone?
Well, frankly, I know why we expect it from some people. We expect perfection from our church in particular because Christ is perfect. We’re supposed to be mirror images of Christ, right?
True. But so far I’ve never met a perfect church. I’ve never gone to a church where everyone in it agreed with me on everything and did every item I wanted. Thank God for that, because, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m sure I’m wrong every now and then. ;)
I cannot state enough about how much I do love my church. I love my Sunday school class, I love my friends from the church, and I love our church staff. I love the ministries, the opportunities, and the worship. I am quite grateful for my church and my church's leadership. I am encouraged my the leadership's vision, and I am thankful to worship with this body of believers.
Gasp – do I attend a perfect church?
Of course not.
But that doesn’t mean that I love my church any less. I’m not a perfect person by any means, and I’m technically, I guess, a leader in the church, as I teach Sunday school. But if I am looking for perfection, all I need to look to is our God. Not a human. We’re all fallible, therefore all churches are fallible. Jesus is not.
I want to bring people into our church, not push them away. How can I do that if all I do is bash my church? I can’t. It’s hard enough to get people to come to church! I don’t want to do anything to give them an additional reason to stay away from the Christian faith.
Since I do teach Sunday school, our minister of education sends us updates about membership. You know where most of our members come from? Other churches. It’s not often that we have people not involved in another church join church.
I think people are looking for a place where they can be accepted, flaws and all, but they don’t think they’ll get it from the church. In particular, I believe that women are looking for love from the church. Women in the church and women outside the church need encouragement. It’s not easy juggling everything! It’s not easy trying to hold everything together, but our society has made us believe that it should be easy. We should do everything perfectly. There’s a funny Internet meme going around that the perfect woman should have five things: a great body, a full-time job, a clean house, dinner cooked on time every night, and a great sex life – and then it says pick two of five.
If we expect ourselves to be perfect and beat ourselves up when we don’t succeed, it’s no surprise that we expect the same from others. But we shouldn’t do either.
We need to love each other, support each other. Then, just as we do it for each other, we need to build up the church as well. Our church is supposed to be a haven, a comfort – not a place of derision. Prayer request time should not become a gossip fest. Worship needs to be whatever you need it to be, whether it’s quiet time with God or a moment for rejoicing. 
And we need to quit thinking that everyone who isn’t Jesus should be perfect.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer swinging

June 2011, I was packing my bags. My house was on the market, and I was getting ready to move into our new home.

This summer, it seems like there’s been a lot of movement, too!

One of my best friends moved away this summer – and I’m still not happy about it!! However, I like to see the glass as half full, so at least she moved to a fun city (Pro No. 1) that’s within a half day’s drive from my house (Pro No. 2). So I’m already planning on my weekend visit when she gets settled into her new, gorgeous house.

However, she’s not the only one moving this summer. =) In the next couple of weeks, my sweet Rindy is moving basically next door to me!! It’s a four-minute walk from her house to mine, and a five-minute walk if we choose to go by the park. I’m so happy about this that I could burst.  Her new house is precious, too. It’s a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a front archway and a wooded backyard that is just made for hammocks.

Speaking of hammocks…

We had a laid back day at the lake this weekend with Matt and Tara -- and Giselle.

Giselle did not get to ride on the boat, but I'm sure she was okay with it. ;)
When I compare this summer to last summer, the difference is so extreme. I was taking 12 hours of grad school, which was a massive hassle; dealing with the illness of family members, including my husband; and trying to sell and buy a new house. Thankfully, that summer went by quickly, and I finished up the last bit of my doctoral classes and sold our old house to move into another one -- in record time, too!! Through all of the trials we dealt with last year, I can still see how much God blessed us in the midst of them -- including a beautiful new house and letting me get finished with my school work.

And is pretty swell. 

Me and Tara on the boat
My handsome and brilliant husband
I'm very intrigued to see what changes will be made next year. It's scary, really, in a way. To be excited but apprehensive, knowing that a year, a month, a day, a phone call -- can change everything.  

What a difference a year makes.