Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Month of Thanksgiving

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Everyone seems to have done the “Month of Thanksgiving” posts on Facebook/Twitter this year – you know, where every day you say one thing you’re thankful for. Well, for half of this month, I was in Peru…and the internet is shotty AT BEST there. So here is my list of 30 things I’m thankful for :)

  1.  Jesus – Without him, I would have no life.
  2. Chad – He’s the best gift God could have given me! He’s so loving, patient and kind. He’s a truly genuine person – something that’s hard to come by these days. He’s never fake, never spiteful, never arrogant. He’s humble, a great leader, and my best friend. I could go on forever!
  3. Toilets and toilet seats – I told you I’d been in Peru for half the month! I peed in a hole and toilet seats were very hard to come by. I’m telling you, it’s the little things!
  4. Family – Between me and Chad, we seriously have some of the coolest relatives EVER. Of course, I love my own mother and sister to death, but I feel the same way about Chad’s mom, sister, brother and stepdad! And of course Payton and Lilly have special places in my heart :) Not to mention our amazing aunts, uncles and grandparents!
  5. Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card – Not that we need a credit card, but we put our monthly gas, groceries and some other expenses on this bad boy in order to earn frequent flyer miles. We went to Vegas for free in August, and we’ve earned two more round trip flights already!
  6. The gym – It always makes you feel better, even if you didn’t feel like going!
  7. Homemade meals – I love to cook, and I really love trying out new things. I’m glad Chad is open to eating what I make! And it makes me feel really good to cook delicious, healthy meals for us :)
  8. Pictures of corgis and dachshunds – We WILL be getting these dogs when we get our first home. Mark my words!
  9. Christmas decorations and music – Christmas is my favorite time of year, and seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds, smelling all the smells and tasting all the foods of the season makes me SO HAPPY!
  10. Laughing – Chad and I are ALWAYS laughing – and if you ask me, there isn’t enough of that in the world! We’re even able to laugh when the times are tough, which is always great.
  11. Fleece-lined tights – Seriously. These things are great! They keep me warm in winter (they wouldn’t cut it in Chicago or somewhere with a REAL winter), and allow me to wear something besides pants every.single.day.
  12. Mexican food – I really don’t think this needs an explanation.
  13. Cuddle time – There is really nothing better than curling up on the couch with your husband, in your PJs or sweatpants and fuzzy socks, and watching TV. Promise.
  14. Football – How about the Texans this year?! AWESOME. And the Longhorns did better than last year…that’s about all I can say about that. But YAY TEXANS!!!
  15. Employment – In a time where so many are jobless, I’m very thankful to have a job that allows me to use my degree, talents and passion. The paycheck is nice too :)
  16. My charity/cause-loving friends – Every time I turn around, someone is raising money for a cause that is near and dear to their heart. That is so great. THANK YOU, friends, for dedicating yourselves to such worthy causes!
  17. G-chat – Because I live in another state, G-chat enables me to talk to some of my best friends almost every day. Whether they’re in Texas, New York or somewhere in between, it enables me to stay connected to their lives, despite the distance.
  18. White sand beaches with turquoise waters – Sadly, we did not make it to the beach this year. But that does not take the beach out of my list of loves! There is nothing like sitting under an umbrella with your toes in the sand, the wind  in your hair, and the waves crashing around you.
  19. All things pumpkin and gingerbread – Are there better cold weather/holiday season flavors? I think not. My first attempt at pumpkin bread went AMAZINGLY WELL, so that is going to be a new tradition. Gingerbread lattes are like Christmas in a cup, and how could you not like that??
  20. The Walking Dead – I know, a silly thing to be thankful for. But we really do look forward to it Sunday nights! Plus, it gives us cuddle time, since it’s filled with scary and cringe-worthy moments. See #13.
  21. Elf – My sister and I watch this together EVERY YEAR. We can quote the entire thing, and sometimes do so via text. Until I got married, when I’d go home for Christmas, Kourt and I would share her room/bed (because the kids are in my old room) on Christmas Eve night. We would always watch that movie and then wake up together just like when we were little kids. TMI? Get over it – this is my blog!
  22. Coffee – It’s delicious. It’s a great way to start my day. And it’s always made and given to me by my amazing husband – BONUS!
  23. Your prayers – We’ve had so many people praying for us this year, through some really tough times. I cannot tell you how much this means to us, and how much it has lifted our spirits. There aren’t enough words to say how much we appreciate all of you and your prayers!
  24. Blake Shelton – He’s hilarious. He’s attractive. He can sing. Need I say more? The bromance between him and Adam Levine is hilarious on The Voice, and I’ve been a fan of his long before he became the megastar he is today.
  25. Our church family and friends – We’ve been so blessed to meet so many great people here in Little Rock, who have really taken us in as their own. These are some really genuine, loving people with servant’s hearts – and I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know them over the years! From inviting us over on a random Tuesday to letting us spend major holidays with you, we REALLY appreciate it!
  26. Immanuel Baptist Church – Our church is amazing. We unapologetically stand for what the Bible says and Jesus. My faith has been strengthened and I have spiritually grown so much, thanks to the teachings of Pastor Gary and the other leaders in the church.
  27. Loganberry Frozen Yogurt – It’s Chad’s favorite place, and I can always convince him that we need to go there for a guilt-free treat :)
  28. Old school Christmas movies – I love them all! Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty…you name it! And I’ve scheduled them ALL to record this year. JOY!
  29. Pastor Victor and Pastor Roger in Peru – These are two extremely hard working men, who face incredible hardships in their work every day. It was a pleasure to get to know them while on my mission trip, and I pray that God continues to use them to further His kingdom!
  30. YOU! – I have so many amazing friends, who fill my life with laughter, pride and joy every day. Thank you for always being there for me – whether I needed a sounding board, a shoulder to cry/freak out on, or a room to stay in while in town :)
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Hostages, Presidents and Vampires – OH MY!

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To say I have eclectic taste is to put it lightly. If you look at my iPod, I have everything from Elvis Presley to every 80’s hair band you could think of, from Nirvana to Britney/N*Sync/BSB/Christina/Jessica/Mandy (all that “great” late 90’s bubble gum pop), from Rihanna’s S&M to the soundtrack of The Notebook, from Michael Buble to Ke$ha, and from all the major Christian artists of the day to 50 Cent and back again. It doesn’t take much to entertain me – I don’t have high standards, and I generally like whatever you put on the radio (sans The Beibs). I don’t judge you, so you don’t judge me.

So it should really come as no surprise to you that in the past few weeks, I’ve seen movies that center around foreign hostage crises, presidential quests to change the world and some horribly acted sparkly vampires. Two of these movies were great, and one was just fine, given the nature of the movie and the fact that I knew to come in with very low expectations :)

First, Argo. Argo is based on the true story of the American hostages held in Tehran, Iran, from 1979-1981 (I believe. I didn’t go and re-look it up.). I love me a good “based on a true story” movie. The truth of how these people escaped from Iran (through a CIA-devised story about filming a sci-fi movie in Tehran) was classified until the mid 90’s, when President Clinton declassified them. The film was packed with action and suspense, and I LOVED IT. Even though I knew the ending (hello, based on a true story!) I still found my heart racing and my hands gripping the chair arms, hoping they’d escape Iran safely. Two thumbs up!

Second, Lincoln. It’s the story of how little-known president of the US Abraham Lincoln fought to pass the 13th Amendment, which would abolish slavery. Chad was PUMPED to see this movie, as he, too, loves a good historical film. Plus, Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones are awesome. And I”ll never turn down an opportunity to see JGL :) There was so much wit in this film – I’m willing to bed that DDL and TLJ get best actor and best supporting actor Oscar nominations, come February – it’s definitely worth seeing. And, like in Argo, when they’re counting the votes for whether or not the abolition of slavery will be passed in the Senate, you find yourself anxiously anticipating the final count…even though I think we all know how that one turns out :)

Finally, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. I love a chance to hang out with friends, and when my friend Samantha asked me to go with her, I happily obliged – so long as there was a giant tub of popcorn. I’ve seen all of the other Twilight films (they’re no HP or Hunger Games, let me be clear!), so I felt I should finish out the series…even though none of the films have been all that great. But at least each one was better than the first, which was laughably terrible! The film was what it was – it stayed true to the book – and there you go. I will say that one character – Garrett, who I didn’t even remember from the books, but it’s been a LONG time since I read them – totally stole the show. He was sarcastic and snarky and hilarious – so thank you for that, Lee Pace!

Have you seen any good movies lately? Any you WANT to see? I know I want to see Les Miserables and Anna Karenina over the Christmas holiday. You KNOW I love musicals and you KNOW I love period pieces (HELLO – I watched Pride & Prejudice for the 12 billionth time on the way home from Peru!)

Where to Start?!

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After 20 days out of the office (Peru and Thanksgiving), my head is spinning a little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be back in the office – I’m a creature of habit who loves a routine schedule…and being off just promotes being lazy, eating and spending. All of that must stop!

But I’m staring at my inbox right now, feeling overwhelmed. Where to start?! I guess I’ll follow the advice I give when managing a big project/announcement and other people look at me with a distressed look that says “WHAT DO WE DO?! THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO!” And that is to just pick something – one thing – and do it. Do it well. And then move on to the next.

You probably think I’m crazy, but I’m really glad to be back in the office. I love what I do, and I love working. Granted, if I had some kiddos to attend to while at home, I’d probably like staying home a lot more (not that it’s not great…it just gets old after a while!). But for now – and probably for the future as well – it’s time to get some work done!

Peru – I went. I saw. I lived.

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I’m BACK! As most of you know, I spent November 7-16 in Lima, Peru, doing mission work with my church. It was a long, hard trip – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausting – but I’m so glad I went.

You always go into these trips thinking you’re going to be helping people out. And you do – but you also get a lot out of it as well. These trips always teach me perspective – you often get bogged down by your “troubles” (I say that in quotes because they’re always blown out of proportion, never as bad as they seem), but then when your eyes are opened to the world around you, you realize things aren’t so bad. In fact, you have it pretty good.

That’s definitely what I walked away from this trip with. A sense of perspective, a thankful heart, joy and some accomplishment. Yes, I was able to help out a lot of people – but they also helped me.  You really can’t put trips like these into words, but the photos speak volumes.

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Here are a few of the highlights from the trip:

1. The plane rides. You think a 6 hour, 18 minute flight sounds sucky? Not if you have your own TV screen and a choice of AWESOME movies. That really made time fly!

2. The American people. Yes, the people I went to Peru with were great! They were really funny and full of great stories – but my favorite American person was my roommate, Clara. She’s my new adopted mom!

3. The Peruvian people. These are some of the warmest, most friendly and loving people I’ve ever met. We were always greeted with love and affection, and told goodbye with lots of squeezy hugs. A SPECIAL love goes out to the translators we had every day – Jhonatan, Linda, Adrianna, Oscar and Miguel. These guys are SO SO SO fantastic, and really love Jesus. I wish I could have brought them home with me!

So what did we do every day, you ask? Each morning, we drove an hour and a half to Pachacutec, a really, REALLY poor area about an hour and a half north of Lima. We hiked sand mountains (LITERALLY) to tell people about Jesus and invite them to church. In the afternoons, we held Bible studies at the church and in church members’ homes. Then, we held healthy lifestyle and healthy parenting classes before hopping back on the bus, traveling non-paved and insanely busy streets until we arrived back at the hotel. One day, we did an evening service in the middle of the gang-infested heart of Lima – that was scary, yet awesome. I gave my testimony that night, which I’d never done before in front of a group of people. And on the Sunday we were there, we attended a Spanish church service in Pachacutec – and I was asked (told) to lead worship. You guys know I can’t sing a lick, but I got up there and did my best! Plus, these people may never see me again (until we get to heaven, when I will totally be a great singer because our faults will be erased), so it’s all good!

You’ve probably also heard that 5 our of the 8 people in my group came down with SEVERE food poisoning. It was NOT pretty. Thankfully, neither I nor my roommate were among the sick – thank you JESUS! By the last day of the trip, they’d recovered enough to go sightseeing and make the long flight home. HOORAY!

During our trip, lots of people gave their lives to Jesus. We talked with hundreds of others. We heard from a missionary about his plans for the further reach to Lima. We heard a choir of Peruvian women sing in a private girls’ German Catholic school – they sang a song written by a Frenchman, in Latin. How’s that for culture?! And we all came back a lot more thankful than we left. How appropriate for this time of year!

Peru Bound!

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That’s right! Tomorrow I leave for Lima, Peru, for a 10-day mission trip with some fellow members of Immanuel Baptist Church. I am SUPER excited for what God has in store for us in Lima – I know He will do some big things in me and through me!

Of course, you go on mission trips to change people’s lives. Literally, when I started living for Jesus, my life changed forever – and I’d love to bring that to someone else. However, having been on a mission trip before, it can end up feeling like God made a bigger change in YOU than in the people you’re serving! It’s impossible to go into a third world country, see the things you see, hear the stories you hear, etc. and not be changed forever. It really puts things in perspective and allows you to focus on the blessings (and responsibilities) God has given you.

I’ve been asked a lot – specifically by my non-believing coworkers – why in the world I would fly to the other side of the planet to talk to strangers for a week. My simple answer? Because the Bible tells me to. I’m unapologetic about my allegiance to the truth of the Word, and it very clearly states that we are to go, make disciples of all nations and that faith without works is dead – so that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

Will I be uncomfortable? Maybe. Probably. I love talking about Jesus and want people to experience the abundant life that I have, but sometimes I get a little shy, and the language barrier is intimidating. When I get uncomfortable about sharing the Gospel, I just chalk it up to the Devil trying to defeat God’s power – God has already won me over, so Satan is trying to prevent God gaining one more person in his Holy army, through me. So in a way, being uncomfortable – and then proceeding with what you know to be God’s will – is a great thing! It’s defeating the enemy through God’s power – and that is an awesome thing!

I would appreciate anyone and everyone’s prayers while we’re gone. We travel all day November 7, do mission work all day November 8-15, and then travel November 16. I should be back in Little Rock around noon on Friday, November 16 (barring any plane delays). Please pray for the people of Lima – that their hearts would be open to hearing and receiving the gospel. Please pray for the members of our mission team – that we would be filled with boldness and the Holy Spirit. Please pray for travel mercies, good health and good spirits throughout the trip. And please pray for Chad while I’m gone!

Love you all!