Category Archives: Bio

New Beginnings…

17880052_10154855786119270_7133823541196787549_oWednesday was my last official day in the office at Frontline. Thursday was a self-proclaimed rest day– a day to detox, refresh my spirit, renew my mind, regroup my passions, dream and drive. The day started over breakfast with Bryan and Kyle at Tandem in TR. Then Bryan took Kyle, and I took off for the mountains. Just before I left, Bryan wisely encouraged me to take the day to rest–not to plan or organize, but to rest, reminding me that God Himself rested. And Jesus rested, not necessarily because he needed to, but to set a precedent for us. It was just the reminder I needed.

I thinks it funny how you return to familiar places during times of rest. I found myself at a familiar coffee shop called “Quotations” in downtown Brevard–a place Bryan and I frequented a decade or more ago when we were getting to know each other and dating in that town. Then I headed over to Hendersonville for lunch at Life Leaf Thai Fusion restaurant, followed by a massage at YAM (for what it’s worth, I highly recommend both of these! The Crispy Fish with Red Curry Sauce still lingers on my palate). On my way home, I drove through Flat Rock. I tried to stop at the Carl Sandburg Home, but the parking lot was completely full, so I’ll have to stop there another day.

Finally, I met up with Bryan back at Tandem in TR for a Passover Feast to celebrate Christ with dear friends. It was my first Seder Feast, and it was perfect! Even the tables were decorated with candlesticks and fresh red and white flowers–perfectly symbolizing the blood of Christ and the cleansing only He can bring. Praise God for sending our Redeemer Messiah in Jesus! The hosts weaved in a book of readings, including traditions and explanations, Scripture, hymns and spiritual songs, as we washed our hands in a common bowl and shared a common Seder plate (unleavened bread, greens dipped in salt water, lamb shank, bitter herbs, sweet relish, eggs dipped in salt water), followed by a traditional Jewish Passover feast. What a great way to kickoff this Easter weekend! His blood has paid my ransom!

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Friday, I met up with my “frientor” (mentor/friend) Annette in downtown Greenville. We strolled through parks and drank coffee as we rehearsed all God has done and what we see Him doing in and through our hearts and minds in recent months. Praise be to Jesus!

I’m excited for new opportunities, fresh starts, good friends, and much grace from our Savior! “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1.16).

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My “March Madness Mama” Goals

Winter months are always harder anyway, so I know I’ve had a little extra “mama bear padding” between holiday celebrations and the natural “hibernation process” that occurs in colder months. This last weekend, I stepped on the scale and noticed that my weight has been inching back up over the last few months. After having my son two years ago, I found it relatively easy to drop my pregnancy weight, which I contribute entirely to nursing! Thankfully, I was able to nurse for a little over a year, but as soon as I stopped nursing–you guessed it–I almost immediately gained 10 pounds back! And the scale has been tipping upwards ever since that point. With spring around the corner, it’s time to take control, shed the pounds, and get trim again!

I HATE fad diets and am actually pretty, vehemently opposed to dieting in general, but I do agree with following a healthful lifestyle, which includes a healthful diet (“the kinds of food that a person…habitually eats”) as well as regular exercise, sleep, hydration, etc. (Check out my post about the inspiration of MJTL’s blog banner here.)

My ultimate goal in doing this is not a number on a scale or to look good in a bathing suit (see posts on Biblical views of Health and Beauty), but to be fit for service–service to God, my family, and my community. I debated between Trim Healthy Mama (THM), Whole30, and Paleo plans, and I may be a crazy-mad mama, but starting today, these are my goals for this March:

  1. Be in the Word every single day! (I’m currently studying the Gospel of Mark.)
  2. Get active 5 days per week, at least 25 minutes per day, and I must break a sweat!
  3. Drink 1 gallon of water every day! (That’s 16 cups or 8 16-oz. glasses.)
  4. Eliminate dairy from my diet (I may add this back later, but it’s easier to say “none” than “limited” and be tempted to eat it too often).
  5. Follow the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) basic principles (essentially, keep your fats and carbs separate; eat healthy proteins with every meal; and eat small meals or snacks every 3-4 hours to keep your metabolism up).

Below is a basic overview of THM that I found on Brea Getting Fit‘s blog. And I’ll be saving more tips and recipes on my “THM and Whole30 Inspiration” Pinterest board, if you need some inspiration.

What are your “March Madness Mama” goals? Even if you’re not a “Mad Mama,” will you join me on the journey to be fit for service to God and our communities?

Our Winter Wonderland

This past weekend, we got our annual winter storm, complete with 6-8″ of snow (which is a lot for South Carolina). But it makes for a beautiful winter wonderland and perfect weather for snuggling up with a hot beverage and good book (or three). Kyle and I bundled up on Saturday morning and headed outdoors. Whoever came up with the term “Winter Wonderland” must have been referring to a child’s eyes at the sight of snow flurries. It’s a beautiful site to behold, let me tell you! 🙂

We walked around the house, checked on Kitty and the blueberry patch, and walked down to the mailbox, digging for rocks on the snow-covered gravel drive and making snow angels along the way. I spent the rest of the weekend with a toddler bringing me his snow boots with wide eyes and “Please” on his lips. So sweet! Thankfully, he was quickly distracted with hot chocolate, toy trains, and books–though we did let him play in the snow for a few more minutes Sunday afternoon as well.

Bryan worked four shifts in a row–including spending the night at work last night, since the roads would’ve been a little risky before 6AM. At least the power didn’t go out this year (yet)! And, hopefully, Kyle will get to don his snowsuit one more time with daddy in the morning (if it’s not too cold) before it gets washed and goes back in the bin for next year. He looks so cute in it! This snow suit has lasted through 5 children–starting with my oldest nephew, who’s now 12!

This Northern girl has loved staring out the windows during nap times, snuggled under a fuzzy, knit, white blanket, between pages of Word-Filled Women’s Ministry and the historical fiction novel Celia Garth, coffee in hand. Reviews to come another day… For now, I’ll say goodnight, as I stare out the window for one last glimpse of the winter wonderland before sleep overcomes me.

 

 

Saturday Family Time

What a beautiful Saturday morning! Warm weather, gentle breeze, blue skies! We got up early and went to Tandem Creperie in downtown Travelers Rest to meet up with my cousin Anna from Boston and a friend Allison, along with the babies. So good to catch up! And the coffee and crepes are always a delicious start to the day!

Then we walked around various little shops in TR till Bryan had to go to work. Kyle fell asleep in the stroller on our walk, so I decided to keep walking the Swamp Rabbit Trail. He woke up about an hour later and this was my view: cute little fingers and toes, toddler trail mix (cheerios, goldfish, and puffs), and a sippy cup of milk and strawberry-banana smoothie–held on by a “SippyPal” strap (amazing invention!).

Came home, ate a little lunch, read “The Little Blue Engine That Could” and played with trains, dinosaurs and soccer balls (#boymom) till Kyle went down for his nap. Thankfully, he’s napping well today, so I got a chance to sweep and straighten up the house…and blog a little. peanuts-movie-sweeps_pbNext up is dinner with Anna and my sister’s family–grilled cheese sandwiches and the Pioneer Woman’s “Best Ever Tomato Soup” (I can’t stop making this soup!). And I picked up a copy of “The Peanuts Movie” to watch with the kids (throwback to Kyle’s bday party a few weeks ago).

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

A Snoopy 1st Birthday Party!

It’s hard to believe our little guy is already 1! We have had so much fun being his mommy and daddy! He loves to eat and laugh and play. His favorite word is “Daddy” with a close second of “Uh-oh.” And he just started shaking his head to say “no” and saying “Yeh” for yes. It’s fun to see his preferences come through.

For his first birthday, I gave Bryan 3 or 4 different themes I had narrowed it down to, and he picked Snoopy. It was so much fun putting this together for Kyle! And we’re so thankful to be able to celebrate this birthday in our new home! (Also thankful my folks could make it in for the party and help us by staying up late to hang curtains, pictures, and put final touches on decorations!)

I found Snoopy invitations here. And we got the “Peanuts Greatest Hits” CD by the Vince Guaraldi Trio that we played on loop throughout the party.

Since we just moved in one month ago and got new appliances, we had large boxes to use. So we decorated a Snoopy doghouse and Lucy’s Psychiatric Stand. The kids LOVED playing in these!

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The Menu:IMG_4126Bryan did made-to-order grilled cheese sandwiches (we had half a dozen types of cheese to choose from), and who doesn’t love grilled cheese with tomato soup or pumpkin chorizo soup?! I found some awesome little paper trays and styrofoam bowls at Joyce Equipment Store and Restaurant Supply (great place for anyone who likes to host parties!). And we decorated with The Peanuts figurines collection!
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Then there were the cakes made by our good friend Barb Illsley! She’s amazing!

IMG_4121photo 2Opening Gifts:IMG_4136 IMG_4141Finally, we sent each of our kid guests home with a little goody bag of play doh, snoopy stickers, and The Peanuts fruit snacks in personalized bags. We certainly won’t do this every year, but we definitely wanted to do something extra special for Kyle’s first birthday. And this was!IMG_4125

Happy Birthday, Little Man! We love you very much!

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Back on Journey

Hello again! It’s hard to believe how fast the last year has gone. And just because the blog has been silent, it doesn’t mean the journey ended. Our journey has changed directions a bit, however. Since the last post, Bryan and I have welcomed a new baby into our family! Kyle was born late February, and life during pregnancy and this new stage of parenthood has been a bit crazy–to say the least–but a wonderful, exciting kind of crazy. Kyle is absolutely beautiful and one of the sweetest kids we’ve met (we might be a little biased). 🙂 But we’re truly enjoying this new part of our journey. Pregnancy and childbirth has actually drawn us together as a couple–and family–more than we could have imagined or hoped for!quietlife

Bryan’s still in culinary school (only six and a half classes left), while working as a cook. I’m back at Frontline as their Development Coordinator and learning to juggle home life, mom life, work life, and childcare. We still love creating meals together and look forward to sharing those with you again.

We are also in the middle of negotiating the sale of our first family home and will be in a “house-sitting” transition for the next little bit while we look for the next property that we can call “home.”

If there’s one thing this new journey of parenthood and house hunting has taught us, it’s the value of leading a “peaceful and quiet life” (I Tim. 2:2). We’ve slowed down a bit, gotten to bed a little earlier (despite waking up multiple times throughout the night–especially early on), made family time more of a priority, and are enjoying family walks on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and around Furman Lake. It’s a simple life, but one full of joy in Jesus and grace towards one another (hopefully).

So, thank you for your patience, and stay tuned as we pick up on the next step in this journey of seeing and savoring Jesus as a family of three.

Recent Readings and Reflections…

I have don’t a lot of writing recently, but I have been doing a little more reading. So, I wanted to share some articles that I’ve been reading recently. Warning: many of these are hot topics in the Christian world today, and some are uncomfortable, but in order to preach the full counsel of God, we are forced to deal with the hard topics too.

My friend Holly Stratton recently wrote, “The world is changing fast, and we need God to fill us with a love for Christ that is strong enough not to be left in the dust w/ our petty preferences. We need ministry leaders who are too driven by gospel conviction & Spirit power to be hindered by fear that they’re not honoring the preferences of others. Not leaders who don’t care what others think, but leaders who care deeply what others think. Humble leaders who care enough to boldly & confidently call for a self-forgetfulness that doesn’t allow the demanding of one’s own way. We may not like change, but we’ll dislike irrelevance even more. For the glory of God, let’s move.” (Author’s Note: “Relevant: related, pertinent, connected, applicable. The gospel is always relevant. Always. Ministries & people, however, are continually faced with decisions within the bounds of sound doctrine & biblical authority that can needlessly render them irrelevant.”)

One interesting article, along those lines, that a friend shared was “Keeping Young Fundamentalists in the Camp” by Jeff Amsbaugh. Amsbaugh writes, “My heart is not to eradicate the fundamental movement but to correct the abuses of it. These words are offered as a friend from within, not an enemy from without. But if the caricature of fundamentalism that we have presented is not replaced with an authentic model, my fear is that we will lose even more young preachers in the coming days. And though part of it may be attributable to the ‘coming apostasy,’ a good portion of it may be because of the raging lunacy. God help us to keep the baby but get rid of the bath water, for the bath water is indeed dirty.”

One of the more difficult topics I’ve been studying is homosexuality. It’s been a taboo topic for too long, and lots of young people, especially, are struggling with same sex attraction. It’s time we came alongside them, empathized as fellow sinners, and showed grace and hope for change by conformity to the Word of God. Here’s an article that gives one perspective: “When Two Lesbians Walk into a Church Seeking Trouble” (an excerpt from John Burke’s book, Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus). Burke says, “Do you realize that Jesus is not shocked by the shocking things people do?” He gives examples of Christ dealing with Zaccheus, the Samaritan woman, and Simon the Pharisee, and goes on to say, “It’s all about love! Don’t miss this very critical point Jesus makes to us all: If you truly recognize how much it cost God to forgive you, it will flood your heart with love for God and others who need more of the same;” and again, “It’s all about love! Not a love that ignores the mud and the damage that destroys God’s Masterpiece, but a love that recognizes how much loving mercy God has given a messed-up person like me! … That great love brings grace and truth together to give hope to a broken world in need of forgiveness and restoration.”

Another topic is modesty, and Jefferson Bethke wrote an interesting articled called “The Idolatry of Modesty.” Regardless of what you might think of Bethke, he makes some good points in this article. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Above that though, bring glory to God through your clothes. Dress in such a way that points to your Savior and Creator, not yourself. … Remember that clothes (and the attitude that puts on those clothes) are simply an outflow of what’s in the heart. … So, ladies, let our Savior’s grace, rather than your righteousness, be exalted through your dress.”

And yet another topic I’ve been thinking about is marriage.  I read an article called, “What You Really Need in Marriage” by Mark Altrogge. Altrogge says, “Our culture is extremely self-oriented. We are continually bombarded by messages that tell us we need greater self-esteem. We begin to think, I need to do this for me, I need to be validated, I need to feel good about myself, I need to think about my desires for a change, etc.”

Often we convince ourselves that our desires, wishes, wants, and even lusts are actually needs. It’s an easy error to make, especially in an “It’s-all-about-you” culture. But it’s important to constantly go back to the word…ground yourself…intentionally…to know what God says is really a need.

Speaking of intentionality and marriage, one couple had a brilliant idea that I read about in an article by Sarah Lang, called “A Slower Cup“: “A couple reflects on the slow and methodical brewing technique [of coffee] that allows them to spend time together and offers a relaxed start to their day.” What a great way to start the day…slow, intentional, and calm! Lang writes, “A beverage as alluring, delicious and influential as coffee should be savored.” I couldn’t agree more. And whether you take time to savor a quiet, slow cup of coffee (or tea) with your spouse or your Savior or both, make it intentional and enjoy the moment.

Photographs by Chantelle Grady

And while we’re on the topic of slowing down and being intentional, I read two articles by Leslie Ludy called, “Running on Empty and Refueling Our Souls” and “When Your Soul Needs Rest.” I’m working on being more intentional about refreshing and refueling my otherwise empty soul. Ludy says, “Taking time away to refresh and refuel should flow from a motive of becoming even stronger and more equipped to serve Jesus Christ—not simply to ‘escape’ from the responsibilities of serving and godly living. … Instead of looking to the empty allurements of the world to find the refreshment we seek, may we remember that He alone is the One who can fulfill us, revive us, and meet our every need.”

Sometimes we allow our culture to dictate our beliefs, instead of the other way around. And sometimes we allow lies to creep in. Other times, we make excuses for our sin, or expect perfection instead of the process of sanctification. I’ve been reminded over and over again recently of Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NKJV). And the prayer of my heart is that I would focus on those three things. That I would be intentional about doing the next right thing. That I would love mercy and grace and love and truth. And that above all, I would walk humbly…not in conceit or pride or biting or devouring (Galatians 5, again), but that I would walk in reality of my depravity and the greatness of God’s saving grace that is both humbling and awe-inspiring.

Finally, I want to share two songs that have meant a lot to me recently. The first is one of my favorite songs, “Before the Throne of God Above.” It was a special part of our Baltic Musical Mission Team in 2003! Guitar, flute, and a bunch of crazy Americans singing their lungs out for Jesus on street corners and buses, in churches, schools, and hospitals, in Poland and Latvia. And it’s as powerful today as it was then.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
 
[Verse 2 from “Before the Throne of God Above“; Original Words by Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-1892), Alternate Words and Music by Vikki Cook]

And the second song is a new favorite “Across the Lands” (Townend/Getty):

May God give you grace to live intentionally, loving Him, loving others, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God. Enjoy the journey, friends, and find rest in God alone along the way.

Taking Time to Read

I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of Confucius, but he got this one right! And it fit with my current theme of reading more and watching less, so I thought I’d share it. Yesterday, I was able to spend a good chunk of the afternoon listening to an audio book–did you know they have audio books on YouTube now?! I listened to a few chapters of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Gamebefore falling asleep for my Sunday afternoon nap. (It’s a sci-fi classic and quite entertaining, if you haven’t read it before.)

After evening service and some really encouraging conversations with some friends afterwards, we headed home for a quiet evening in–without watching the Super Bowl, believe it or not. Bryan finished up a bit of homework, we had a quick dinner, and then both picked up books to read for the rest of the evening. Currently, I’m finishing up this one:

I don’t know much about this author, but so far, it’s been pretty encouraging. So thankful that God continues to work on each of us and gives the grace for each day. I’m looking forward to reading more of this book tonight…and maybe falling asleep to another chapter or so of Ender’s Game too.

Speaking of grace for each day, I found this article by Justin Buzzard that was written a few years ago: Grace Sufficient for Today. It starts out with the following quote: “Worry is interest paid on a debt we may never owe.” I’m not sure who first said it, but it was an illustration that hit me in a profound way. So thankful that God’s grace is sufficient in my weakness and available in the exact amount I need.

 

Writer’s Block Over: Reclaiming the Time

It has been forever since I actually sat down and intentionally wrote a blog post. I’ve written a dozen or more articles in my head, but they’ve never made it onto paper…let alone the blog. It’s felt like writer’s block, and for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s been an incredibly busy season in our lives–between work, school and church schedules; holidays and family time; and finishing up the back room project, on top of a water main breaking.
  2. We’ve had a season of sickness–about six weeks each during the holidays. (We’re both finally feeling better!)
  3. This particular season at work is recruiting and conference planning season, so it’s been especially busy; and when you add the general busyness to this, along with the lack of sleep from being sick, I was too tired to even think about writing.
  4. I think the fatigue and overall winter gloom made me lethargic; when I got home from work, the only thing I felt I had energy to do was watch TV, and that’s what I did.

So, though the season of busyness is not over yet, the sickness and fatigue is waining, and I’ve had more energy to want to think creatively again. Plus, I’ve been asked to write emails, manuals, and some ads at work recently, so I want to make sure I don’t lose my craft. And the only ways to do that are reading and writing.

I went to a book party last night, and it really encouraged me to start reading again. The last few novels I’ve picked up to read have kind of been flops that I’ve abandoned towards the beginning, so I was happy to get a highly recommended book to break the rut.

And if I want to have time to read and write, something else has got to go. So, as I talked with Bryan last night, I decided the thing that was getting the boot (for me) was television–at least for the month of February! That means watching on the TV, over the internet, Netflix, sports, movies, everything–it’s got to go if I’m going to reclaim my time! And Bryan’s promised to help me. 

I’ve been thinking about pulling the plug on television for a while now. It started with an interview our pastor did of a dear lady who turned 100 last year! She said one of the best decisions she made to improve her prayer life was not watching TV–and she doesn’t feel like she’s missed anything! I haven’t been able to shake that thought. Then our shepherding group leaders have been talking a lot recently about getting rid of everything that’s a non-essential: whether that means eliminating daily distractions or even as drastic as downsizing their home to give them more time to serve and less time working on a big, beautiful yard. Don’t get me wrong, God can use your time in the yard for His glory and He can show you the beauty of His creation through your work in it, but there’s a time and season for everything, and they have some good points.

So, I’m going to do my best to break the couch potato habit; and I’m not promising I’ll write every day, but I am promising that I will either read or write (or maybe a little of both) for at least a little while each evening. I’m also hoping that this will be an encouragement to my soul (as opposed to the needless drama of fictional characters and lack of edification on most shows these days).

Journey Journal: Days 232-256

Day 232-256: Tuesday, August 20, through Friday, September 13, 2013

I feel the need to write but am not sure where to start. It’s been almost a month since I was able to give some updates, but I don’t have a ton to say. We’re still enjoying our jobs, as busy as ever but enjoying it! We’re still active at church, although we’re taking a hiatus from teaching children’s Sunday school due to other responsibilities and to be part of an adult Sunday school again for a bit. We’re still working on the back room project–we’ve purchased everything at this point except final trim work stuff and are just waiting to finish putting the pieces together, but definitely making progress! Bryan’s well into his first semester of culinary school, and so far it’s going really well.

My handsome chef in the culinary lab.

Last week, I took Thursday off as a random vacation day. It was my first day off in forever and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I slept in till like 10! (It was amazing!) Then started my day with a cup of hot tea, cajun home fries and spinach asiago scrambled eggs for brunch before running errands. Priced flowers for an upcoming wedding, went to the bank, picked up flooring for the new room!, went grocery shopping, went to the Farmers’ Market, unloaded flooring…and actually took time to read! Plus, I was able to spend a long time in the Word and read a portion of my current Bible study book. Finished the day by making supper for Bryan, while watching some cooking shows. It was such a nice day, I got so much accomplished, and I feel human again! If you haven’t taken a random day off in a while and you can, I highly recommend it!

In other news, we had a week or so that we ate out a lot, primarily due to busy schedules, and we’ve decided that we do not want to make that a regular pattern, so we’re taking a moratorium on eating out for a month–unless it was already scheduled or a ministry thing, of course. And we’ve been experimenting with food. Here are a few of our culinary adventures:

A breakfast of grilled pita and sliced turkey topped with over medium eggs, Parmesan, and fresh pico!

Dinner of sautéed asparagus tips with shallots, garlic, red pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, topped with a few grilled, thin slices of turkey breast, crumbled goat cheese, and two over medium eggs with salt, pepper, and thyme; spicy tasting carrots with garlic, thyme, dill, crushed red pepper flakes, and some olive oil; golden mushroom caps; and mashed potatoes with crumbled sausage & parsley. Served with OJ…and a French Press of coffee (not shown). This was basically two full meals–so we packed some up for lunch the next day.

Spicy Asian Fish and Ginger-Scallion Scallops with Stir-fried Vegetables over Steamed Rice for Dinner

Sesame fried pork cutlets, red skinned mashed potatoes, and salad with honey sriracha dressing!

First attempt at clams and mussels…not bad. This was a roasted pepper and paprika cream sauce. I had no idea these lil’ guys were so cheap! Definitely going to keep experimenting.

So, that pretty much catches you up except for the nitty gritty of work and life, but I won’t make you read those details. 😉 It’s been pretty busy all-in-all, but things are starting to line up and fall in place and slowly get checked off the to-do lists on all fronts. We’re encouraged, and we’re thankful for how God is working in our lives and holding up our hands and providing strength and rest in this busy season of life.