Wednesday, December 29, 2010

adoption process update...

so, i have not talked about it on here in awhile, but i thought i'd give you an adoption process update.  here are the highlights.
  • on january 10th, i will begin taking my foster to adopt classes with caring family network (CFN). the classes will take 5 weeks.
  • i am almost out of debt. i will be 100% done with my ridiculous credit card debt on january 11th (or before if i make the payment before the due date out of excitement)
  • i am going through "created to connect" (curriculum by michael and amy monroe based on karyn purvis' book the connected child) with a group of friends here in austin that have all adopted or are going to adopt.
  • i won't be able to complete my homestudy until i move out of the engstroms house and into my own place. so at some point this spring (i am thinking late march) i will move out of their house and into a place of my own. i will have to find a place and for the first time ever i have to take schools into account.
  • i am still driving borrowed cars,  but this year i will have to purchase a reliable 4-door car.  i am not sure exactly how this will go down.  i could afford a car payment, but would prefer not to have one, so i am still praying an thinking how that will go down.  but the lord has not failed to provide yet, so i am confident he will when the time comes.
so as you can see, this year is going to be one of a lot of change. i am curious to see what i will be writing about this time next year. thanks for your prayers and support.

new year's resolution...

so i love to read.  i don't always make the time for it that i want to but i love it.  this year, i am going to try to change up my reading habits. i am going to set my own syllabus so that i have a timeline and a goal and i am going to incorporate some other types of literature - maybe even some fiction other than john steinbeck (gasp!) i do not enjoy fiction. even if it is good, i always feel like it is a waste of time and that i could be learning more from some non-fiction. 

so i would love some suggestions of books to read.  especially your fiction suggestions.  perhaps your favorite biography.

so what would you recommend for me? i will make my syllabus after i have all of your suggestions.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gifts of Christmas...

I was challenged a few weeks ago to think through what I have been given because of Christmas. The following was a list I kept on my iPhone as I thought about these things. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have any to add.

Because Jesus came and was born the following are my true Christmas gifts. Because God is with me this is what is mine:

• I am loved more than I can imagine.
• I am saved from sin that has overcome me.
• I am free to love because I am loved more than I can imagine.
• I am free to be vulnerable because Christ became vulnerable. I can take some blows in order to restore relationships and share the gospel.
• I can love those who I typically despise (even if I won't admit it) because the gospel is for all and came to the despised and downcast of society.
• I can fight for justice and pray for his kingdom to come hear and now because I know it will. I can't lose hope.
• I have the responsibility to continue spreading the good news that all may know.
• I can trust that the fulfillment of god's promises are going to happen just as the fulfillment of his promises happened with the Messiah.
• I can take god at his word without fear even when things seem impossible (virgin birth).
• I can have no fear because god came to be with us.
• I know that Christ will return so I am free to serve him. Knowing where the victory lies.
• I can suffer well because Immanuel was a man of sorrows and can empathize with me.
• I can give up my freedoms and rights in order love and serve the orphan.
• I am free to go to the nations because He came to me.
• I can be wronged and just absorb it because as a man Jesus set that example for me.
• I can endure suffering and hardship because I have been reconciled to god through Christ and can have peace on earth.
• I can quit trying to improve and prove my moral value because when Jesus was born my soul felt its worth.
• I don't have to fear even the hardest circumstances because God came to be with us - emmanuel.
• I can let go of what I have always wanted and receive all I have ever needed - even though they look very different!

Monday, December 13, 2010

[thoughts during advent] just like he said...

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 
-Luke 1:68-75

as i continue this season to prepare my heart to celebrate the coming of jesus, who takes away the sins of the world, i read the scripture above this morning.  it is zechariah's song. i can only imagine the excitement he is feeling as he gets to see this plan unfold!  the one who has been promised for so long is almost here! the deliverer from genesis 3 is coming! the lamb whose blood would save us from god's wrath was coming.

years and years and years earlier, god had even described his son, the deliverer he would send. the book of isaiah has so many promises from god about what he would be like. and they are so accurate that one is tempted to think they were written after the fact. god gave his people this message of hope because he knew things would get worse before they got better (especially for the contemporary readers of isaiah because they were about to go into babylonian captivity).  and he wanted them to know how much he loved them.  that a deliverer was still coming. that he had not forgotten about his promise.

this is not just cool for us to see because we know jesus was born, but it should also be encouraging to us.  we already know jesus has come, but we (like the israelites) long for the day that he will come back and rescue us forever!   revelation is to us like isaiah was to them. god wanted us to know that he has a plan, and the birth of his son is a reminder that he will do exactly what he promises.

i often have to remind myself that the lord’s promises are true, his promises for my future and his promises to give me what i need today.  his promises for justice his promise that one day this world broken by sin will be restored! i have to remember that his plans are greater than my little mind can comprehend, even when things seem to only be getting worse. when i don't see how he could be keeping his word.  i hope that this message is one that encourages your heart and reminds you that he is good.  what promises have you forgotten or what promises have you given up on? he who began a good work, will be faithful to complete it!

(For more reading check out Isaiah 9:2-7, 53:1-12 and “Operation No More Tears” from the Jesus Storybook Bible)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

[thoughts during advent] the lamb of god...

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29)

so before you think i have my holidays mixed up, i wanted to clarify that i do in fact know that it is christmas and not easter. and that even though i am about to talk about passover and moses and the movie "ten commandments" comes on at easter, its message is just as wrapped up in jesus' birth. just hang with me here.

to set the back story, israel is enslaved by egypt.  they moved to egypt during the great famine of joseph's time, but years later the new pharaoh thought they were too numerous. he grew fearful and made them slaves. god raises up moses to free the israelites from slavery and take them into the promised land.  pharaoh would not let the people go, no matter how nicely moses asked.  so god sends 10 plagues to egypt to show his power over probably what is one of the strongest nations in the world at this time.   

the final plague is a horrific one. god is going to kill all the firstborn sons in the land!  god had moses tell the israelites that only one thing could save their firstborn sons; they kill a perfect lamb and put the blood of that lamb on the door frames of their houses.  then when the angel of death comes to kill the firstborn sons, he would pass over those houses because of the blood.  he would not punish them because he will see the blood of the innocent lamb. 

 we know that for years after this, people celebrated the passover only hoping for another lamb that would save them once for all, rather than the continual sacrifices that they had to make.  many still live like this, but we know we don’t have to!  we know that in lowly manger in a small town, a baby was born whose blood would save us all!  rather than seeing our sin and our rebellion, god would see the blood and the righteousness of his son and his wrath would pass over us, just as he passed over the houses of those with blood on the door frame! wow!

the lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world, came to us! immanuel! let us not forget to celebrate that this season!

Friday, December 10, 2010

go to christmas gifts...

if you are looking for some easy christmas gifts that people are sure to love, i recommend either of these books.  both of these books have helped me grow in my prayer life and have done the same for others. 

the valley of vision has taught me so much about prayer and has helped me express my thoughts and feelings in prayer.  i am telling you this book of prayers will change your life and challenge you. i have given this as a gift many times!!

operation world is a book that i just got this fall.  it has also changed my prayer life.  in this book, there is a different people group to pray for on each day of the year.  so in a year, you literally pray for the world.  it lists facts and specifics about each people group and give you specific requests to pray for.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

[valley of vision] amazing grace...

i read this prayer this morning. great timing. i have much to be thankful for.

amazing grace
from valley of vision

o thou giving god,
my heart is drawn out in thankfulness to thee,
for thy amazing grace and condescension to me
in influences and assistances of thu spirit,
for special help in prayer,
for the sweetness of christian service,
for the thoughts of arriving in heaven,
for always sending me needful supplies,
for raising me to new life when i am like one dead.

i want not the favor of men to lean upon
for thy favor is infinitely better.

thou art eternal wisdom in dispensations towards me;
and it matters not when, nor where, nor how i serve thee,
nor what trials i am exercised with,
if i might but be prepared for thy work and will.

no poor creature stands in need of divine grace more than i do,
and yet none abuses it more that i have done and still do.
how heartless and dull i am!
humble me in the dust, for not loving thee more.

every time i exercise any grace renewedly
i am renewedly indebted to thee
the god of all grace, for special assistance.

i cannot boast when i think how dependent
i am upon thee for the being and every act of grace;
i never do anything else but depart from thee,
and if i ever get to heaven it will be because
thou willest it, and for no reason beside.

i love, as a feeble, afflicted, despised creature
to cast myself on they infinite grace and goodness,
hoping for no happiness but from thee;

give me special grace to fit me for special services,
and keep me calm and resigned at all times,
humble, solemn, mortified,
and conformed to they will.


last sunday (11.28.10) i was returning to work after being off for 9 days (i worked the weekends and thanksgiving to my rest advantage). i was excited to be back at church, to see all my volunteers and kiddos. 

we had purchased christmas trees to decorate our large group room with at st. john. so as soon as i arrived, i grabbed a pair of scissors and went to open them and get them setup for the kids. after all, i was going to teach/reteach them the motions to the 12 days of christmas (now a tradition at the stone) and we needed to set the tone.  i opened up the scissors to cut the tape and as i was slicing the tape, somehow my right pointer finger slipped and i sliced my it instead.  it hurt. i gave it one look and knew it was deep.  i could not stand to look at it any more, but i needed someone to verify that it was indeed as deep as i thought and if it was deep enough to get stitches. 

i ran into our resource room where erin was working and tried to get her to look at it and help me.  she promptly handed me a tissue as i was bleeding everywhere and said that she could not look at it.  my adrenaline had kicked in and i could not stand still.  the cut did not hurt as bad as i would have thought, but the blood and the uncertainty of stitches was making me crazy! i asked (it might have been more like yelling) erin to get me some butterflies from the first aid kit. as she was looking, i just walked into the hall and screamed loud!

i started walking down the hall toward the foyer when i saw one of my lead volunteers walking up. i ran and opened the door and immediately greeted him with a "look at my finger. does this need stitches?"

he must have seen the panic on my face and just took me to sit down on one of the couches to work on stopping the bleeding first (things i should have known - after all i am first aid certified!).  people started to gather as rob was helping me and trying to put a butterfly on my wound.  a couple that i work with started looking up clinics i could go to (none of which were open yet -  it was before 8:00am still) so we started texting all the doctors and nurses that we knew would be coming to church.

well after a bit, one of the doctors that we texted (an OBGYN) came up to look at it.  he brought stuff to stitch me up right there on site if i wanted. i figured being an obgyn he has done his fair share of stitches, so i let him. :)  we walked right on back to green room bathroom and began.  i am not going to lie, the lidacaine shots were the worst part. i squeezed the mess out of my friend melissa's hand (who was with me the entire time btw) and forgot to breathe.  and just to put my pain tolerance in perspective for you, i did not cry when i broke my arm. so this hurt real bad. but within a few minutes it was awesome. i got 2 stitches and a very clean wound. thank you dr. erwin!

the pain has been minimal this week, until i bump my finger into something. looks like will be keeping my finger, though i am nervous using scissors still.  i actually made erin setup those trees for me because i could not bring myself to open the boxes. i made lots of jokes about my finger as i had to hold it up all day.  sang lots of "this little light of mine." introduced myself as lilo and pointed to my finger and said "this is stitch."

i have some pictures that melissa took below. i won't post the ones where she is stitching me up because they make me squeamish!  but if you are interested, you can follow @mdithmer on twitter and see them there.

me. clearly proud of my stupidity.

melissa may have jokingly tweeted that stew was going to sew me up and a few people believed it. so we took a pic afterward.

Friday, December 3, 2010

[thoughts during advent] mary...

    In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
    And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
    And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38 ESV)
have you ever thought about mary's reaction to this news? "behold, i am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

she was just told that she was going to have a baby, as a virgin, betrothed to a man who is going to think this is crazy and likely leave her. her life dreams were all changed by this proclamation. people would think differently of her. she would lose many friends and be talked about.  this is exciting, but make no mistake, it was going to be quite costly!

and mary just says, let it be to me. how was she able to respond this way? i know i would have responded more like zechariah did when the angel told him that elizabeth would conceive or like sarah did when god told abraham that sarah would have a son. a response out of what i can know or experience. a response of one that forgets that my god works in the supernatural. a response of one that has forgotten the promises of god.

mary is not some wonder woman with secret powers that you and i do not have. she is human just like you and me. it is god who gives her the faith to trust him. one of my prayers this week has been that he would transform and renew me each day and give me faith like mary. that when he calls me to something, rather than laughing at its impossibility or being fearful of all that it will require of me, i too can say, "behold, i am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

oh emmanuel - god with us! your nearness is our good. help our unbelief! give us faith to trust your promises and know that they are good.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

[thoughts during advent] waiting...

the advent season is about preparing our hearts to celebrate the arrival of jesus (emmanuel - god with us) and to remind us to look forward to his triumphant return. it was hard for israelites before jesus was born. there was a very long time between isaiah's prophecies (or even genesis 3) and jesus' birth. and it is hard for us now. it has been some 2000 years since jesus said he was coming back. so we wait.

but waiting is hard. it is easy to get distracted when we are waiting. shiny things catch our eyes and they cease to fixed on jesus. or we hear the serpent tempting us with the same lie as eve, "did god really mean that? he is holding out on you." we all at some point will or have forgotten what we are even waiting for.

henri nowen says, "fearful people have a hard time waiting. ...the more afraid we are, the harder waiting becomes." ("waiting for god" watch for the light"). a very true statement. our impatience is often rooted in the fear of losing something, not having something, not getting something, something bad happening to us, etc.

so how do we remedy this? nowen says, we must remind ourselves of the promises of god. we have no need to fear when we know what we are promised and that the one making the promises always is true to his word. this also keeps us from being distracted from other things that claim to be as good or better than god or his promises.

god is so good to us! giving us promises to give us hope! and boy do we need it!

nowen also says that this needs to be done in community.  he uses the story of mary and elizabeth as an example. they are able to encourage one another during the time of their pregnancy, reminding each other what god had promised. 

likewise, we need people around us reminding us what god has promised. calling us out when we run after other things or believing lies. we are waiting for our jesus to come back, but we need help. i hope you have those around you who are in your life and can remind you of god's promises (if not this is a good time to start). and i pray that during this season you get even more time to dig into his word and learn more and more about his promises. cling to them, even in hardship. he always comes through!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

[thoughts during advent] he shall bruise your head...

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
    He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
    And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
    The LORD God said to the serpent,
    “Because you have done this,
        cursed are you above all livestock
        and above all beasts of the field;
    on your belly you shall go,
        and dust you shall eat
        all the days of your life.
     I will put enmity between you and the woman,
        and between your offspring and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
        and you shall bruise his heel.”
 (Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

this is familiar story for many of us.  we know that adam and eve messed up, ate the fruit and got kicked out of the garden of eden.  but there is much more to this story!  first, let’s look at the lie that was told to eve.  the serpent told her that she would not die, but that rather she would be like god.  he was telling her, “god doesn’t love you.  he is holding out on you.  just try it and you will see.  just a little.  it won’t hurt.” mind you, she was in PERFECT relationship with god.  she had everything!  but the fruit looked better, so she ate. and from that moment on, all of mankind has struggled with this same lie!  we want our autonomy and independence or something we feel god is withholding from us, so we sin and leave god.  we are all like adam and eve.  we have gone astray and sinned.  we have all either lived or desired to live independent of god because we have thought that something was better.

i love how the jesus storybook bible puts it, “in another story, it would all be over and that would have been THE END. but not in this story. god loved his children too much to let the story end there.  even though he knew he would suffer, god had a plan – a magnificent dream. one day, he would get his children back.  …one day god himself would come.” 

oh how he loves us!  as god is telling adam, eve and the serpent their punishments for this sin, he tells the serpent that someday, a child would come from a woman that would bruise/crush his head!  this is the first we hear of the gospel!  the promise of a deliverer! a child that we know years later would be born in a manger, live a perfect life, empathize with our weaknesses, die on the cross, and rise again as he took and defeated the punishment we deserved!!!

we have hope because we know this deliverer!  i would encourage you to take some time this week to confess and repent, maybe even fast.  spend time confessing your sin and dwelling on the god that does not leave us even though we have left him. i think it will do wonders for your heart in as we prepare to celebrate christ's birth this year.

if you have kids, or even if you don't have kids, i would highly recommend reading "the terrible lie" from the jesus storybook bible. sally lloyd-jones essentially says the same things i have said here, but much more eloquently.

Monday, November 29, 2010

fun christmas music...

with christmas upon us, i thought i would share some of my favorite fun christmas songs.  after all, as a dj, that is my forte.  so here you go. my top christmas songs: (feel free to add your favorites in the comment section)

top 30 christmas songs (in no particular order... i do not have that much time)
1. all i want for christmas is you by mariah carey
2. merry christmas, happy holidays by nsync
3. jingle bell rock by bobby helms
4. rockin' around the christmas tree by brenda lee
5. a holly jolly christmas by burl ives
6. i want a hippopotamus for christmas by gayla peevey
7. pennies from heaven by louis prima (even though it technically is not a christmas song, but its on elf)
8. silent night by sarah mclachlan
9. i've got my love to keep me warm by dean martin
10. blue christmas by elvis presley
11. frosty the snowman by harry connick jr
12. let it snow by ella fitzgerald
13. jingle bells by wayne newton
14. santa baby by eartha kitt
15. a marshmallow world (live) by dean martin and frank sinatra
16. i'll be home for christmas by michael buble
17. christmastime is here by vince guaraldi trio (from charlie brown)
18. the christmas song by frank sinatra w/ bing crosby (nat king cole's version is good too)
19. mele kalikimaka by bing crosby
20. baby, its cold outside by leon redbone & zooey deschanel
21. we need a little christmas by the muppets
22. sleigh ride by ella fitzgerald
23. winter wonderland by tony bennett or peggy lee (it is a toss up between versions)
24. white christmas by dean martin
25. ave maria by josh groban
26. o come, o come emmanuel by christy nockels
27. god rest ye merry gentlemen by jars of clay
28. grandma got run over by a reindeer by elmo & patsy
29. the happiest christmas tree by nat king cole
30. rudolph the red-nosed reindeer by jack johnson

and as an added bonus - 12 days of christmas by relient k.  if your kids are in kidstuff or have been to winterfest at pine cove, they will know motions to this song. :)

what are your favorites? what do i need to buy to increase my library?

Monday, November 22, 2010

jesus storybook bible...aka best book ever!

this blog is long overdue! i cannot believe that i have not blogged about this before.  but another great resource for advent, and for life in general, is the jesus storybook bible by sally lloyd jones. seriously if you have kids, you need to buy this ASAP.  if you do not have kids, you still need to buy it.  it will definitely help you love jesus more.

this book goes through most of the stories in the bible and explains them in a way that is fun and engaging for kids and puts it in a way that is understandable for them.  but the best thing about this book is that it takes every story and shows you how it points to jesus or god sending jesus.  this book has helped me see how each story is a reminder of god's never ending, relentless love for us in keeping his promise to send his son.

this year in preparation for advent, we are using several of these stories to prepare the kids for the birth of jesus.  this book helps us see how the plan for jesus to come has been from the beginning. 

and just a fair word of warning, this book has made me cry many times! if you are reading it to kids or just to yourself know that tears can happen at any time.  so go ahead and order it, for yourself, your kids or as a gift!

you can also order this book in spanish here: Biblia para ninos, Historias de Jesus / The Jesus Storybook Bible: Cada historia susurra su nombre / Every story whispers his name (Spanish Edition)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

walton's [sandra's deli]...

so sandra bullock lives here in austin (though i have yet to see her here).  it would be a dream of mine to run into her and have a long conversation about life.  i think we would hit it off and be great friends. but i digress.  

sandra (i will refer to as if we are already friends) owns two restaurants in town.  bess bistro (which i have heard is good, but i have yet to try) and walton's fancy and staple.  my friends and i ventured down to walton's a few weeks ago.  it is a cute little deli/shop down on west 6th street.  it was tasty, but the atmosphere is what makes the place. SO CUTE!  i felt like i was in a small town.  there are better sandwiches in town, but you should experience this place at least one and it is a fun place to take out of town people.  i will go back simply in hopes to see sandra!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

chosen: marathon for adoption... check.

back in october, i ran my third half marathon. it was the chosen marathon for adoption.  it was the first year for this race, so it was fun, but it was not like the big city races.  the race route rural and was in new braunfels, pretty but with killer hills. however, the cause behind this race was huge.  money from this race goes to help families adopt.  we had a big crew from the austin stone run it as a team (about 40 i think) and a portion of all of our registration fees will go directly to the austin stone's adoption fund, which has already been used for grants and interest free loans to help families adopt. a pretty great reason to run.

this race was different for me for several reasons.  one, i had to start training in july.  i don't think i need to remind you that july in texas is life being on the face of the sun.  so it was hot.  too hot. i don't plan on training during that time ever again for as long as i live in texas.

two, i was crazy busy this fall.  and training for any race takes time.  you spend hours running. you have to watch what you eat and drink. you have to make sure you get enough sleep, etc.  all good things, but things that took a back burner to my schedule. needless to say, i was not as ready for this race as i would have liked. midway through the training, i gave up on finishing in under two hours. 

third, i have never run a race with so many people i knew before.  most of us had the same running shirt so we could spot one another.  this was helpful because there were not many people out on the course cheering us on.  in fact, the course was an out and back kind of course. so you got to see everyone running the race at some point.  it was great to cheer on each other (kind of like a biblical picture...)  i started thinking about it while running (since i had 2 hours to myself) and actually started crying at one point - not good when one is trying to breathe and run.

my roomies came out to cheer me on and they also happened to be the first people i saw when i crossed the finish line.  i might have cried again if i hadn't felt like i was going to puke.

GTB was excited to see me run and to wear my medal.  he wanted to race me after to show me his speed.
olivia painted the boys' chests.  as you can see, deuce loves me and donuts!

here are a few of the women i ran with. victory!
and after the race, i treated myself to relaxing at rachel's lake house. check out that sunset!

Friday, November 19, 2010

mary margaret tells the story of jonah...

i came across this via somone's twitter post. so cute! i am thinking about recruiting this girl for kidstuff.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

family tradition: the state fair of texas...

since my parents moved back to texas about 5 years ago (i think) it has become a new tradition to go to the state fair. and i love it!  my brother was not able to fly in from san diego this year, but my parents and i went for my dad's 50th birthday.  and boy was it fun.  when we do this, we make it an all day affair.  i think this year we were out there from 11am until 7pm.  we hit just about every exhibit and try as many fried foods as possible.  here are a few pics of our adventure...
excited to try the fried beer.

highly disappointed. fried beer... so gross. gagging thinking it.
the rents and big tex!

me and my mama with big tex.

hoping this is better than the beer.

and it was! much better.

testing out the tempur pedic beds.

checking out the livestock. rooster.

duck with afro.

LOTS of bacon.

john deere.

frozen pickle juice. the salty popsicle.

my dream truck. ahhhh...

bumper cars with mom and dad.

fried peanut butter and jelly. my favorite! so good!

come thou long expected jesus...

this is another book that i purchased in order to do research on advent.  it has 22 readings in it from authors such a martin luther, john calvin, jonathan edwards, and john piper. i have only read a few so far, but it has been good for my heart to stop and focus on what this season means.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

glory in the highest & behold the lamb...

i love me some christmas music!  in fact i own 24 hours of it - that's 430 songs - perhaps i have a problem.  anyway, christmas music is fun but not all of it is worshipful. i mean who doesn't love "merry christmas, happy holidays" by nsync or "all i want for christmas is you" by mariah carey??? classics. but not exactly the music that gets my heart ready for the coming of my king.  (nothing wrong with listening to them by the way, i plan on it)

these two albums however, are worth every penny (and they are cheaper on amazon than in itunes right now).  music is one of the ways i connect easily to the lord, so these two albums have really helped me worship christ during this season.

chris tomlin's album glory in the highest takes some familiar christmas songs that perhaps we have forgotten due to their familiarity and calls us back to worship. i love his version of "joy to the world" and "angels we have heard on high."  (we will likely use those in kidstuff)  "come though long expected jesus" is another favorite of mine (and not just because it is sung by christy nockels). anyway, most of the songs you have heard before, but these are some of the most worshipful versions i have heard.  so just go ahead and buy it. you won't regret it.

andrew peterson's behold the lamb of god album is SO GOOD!  it is not your typical, play in the background music.  it is the kind of music that you need to pay attention to.  the entire album tells a story, the story of jesus coming starting with the old testament.  it is PERFECT for advent. in fact , if you have a chance to see this live, you need to go. i got to see it three years ago, and it messed me up! it was by far the most worshipful thing i did that christmas.  it is not a cheesy christian concert (like i thought it was going to be). check here for tour dates. also, you need to buy the whole album, don't pick and choose songs on this one.  you really need to hear the whole thing to hear the whole story.  my favorite songs on the album are "deliver us", "labor of love", "behold the lamb of god".

watch for the light...

i bought this book to use for research on advent.  it is a book with short daily readings beginning november 24th and going through january 7.  i have read a few of the articles in here (mainly the ones by dietrich bonhoeffer and cs lewis) and i like it so far.  i am planning on reading the rest throughout the advent season.  i am sure i will be sharing my thoughts on these as i learn this year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

preparing for advent...

i have spent the last two weeks doing lots of research on advent to write our december curriculum for kidstuff.  until being at the austin stone, i had only heard of advent but i had little to no experience with it. even over the last few years, i have heard more about it, but i still felt my understanding of it was weak - something about a wreath and some candles, maybe some hope, peace, love and joy in there. this was clearly not enough to write children's curriculum from. so i hit the books and it has been so good for my heart!

advent means "arrival" or "coming". the advent season is a time of year when we are to be preparing our hearts to celebrate the coming and arrival of our king and looking forward to his triumphant return. (similar to the way lent is to prepare you for easter).  this is a great time of year to stop and evaluate. to confess and repent. to dwell on our father's relentless pursuit of us. to remember the hope and grace that came to us in a child. taking time for this is something that is hard to do when it is the most wonderful-busiest time of the year. 

so my hope is to post thoughts, songs, books and resources on here that the lord is using to prepare my heart to celebrate his coming.

come, thou long-expected jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

alamo drafthouse sing-alongs...

so one of my favorite things in austin is to go to sing-alongs at a local movie theater here in town, called the alamo drafthouse. the drafthouse has different sing-alongs all the time. 

"what goes on at these?" you ask. well  each one is themed (i.e. michael jackson, justin timberlake, ladies of the 80's, etc).  they play music videos that fit the theme and they have the words one the screen and everyone sings along. literally.  i have left these things hoarse!  they often have props that you get too (glowsticks or flashing rings) and other fun surprises. sometimes people dress up according to the theme, as you will see below and people dance in the aisles or on the stage and well it is just awesome!  if you are an out of town friend, i am going to for sure try to take you to one of these!
this month, i got to go to two of these.  for my friend, olivia's birthday, we went to a michael jackson sing-along and my friend sarah got us up into the balcony.  that is why we are sitting in awesome recliners!!  we had our own dance space and it was awesome!  we made olivia wear a sequin glove in honor of michael to this sing-along.

this was my third time to go to a michael jackson one (clearly i LOVE his music). so fun! i had forgotten that michael's music videos are like short films. i think that bad is like 15 minutes long.

just two weeks ago, i went to a beyonce and jay-z sing along. i think this was in honor of beyonce's announcement that she is pregnant.
 as you can see, we decided to dress up! and it was awesome.  there were about 12 of us that went together, which made it even more fun!  one of my favorite outfits, not pictured here, was a jean jumper. i am going to have to find one!  but for now,  my tiger sequin shirt and my pleather leggings aren't so bad.
me, sadie, natalie, and whitney

cassie! old roomie reunion. this girls LOVES some beyonce!
i love that kimberly lives here now! kindred spirits!

Monday, November 8, 2010

juan in a million...

i love breakfast tacos! and that is the number one item on the menu at juan in a million.  i have no idea if the rest of their menu is good, but the don juan (el taco grande) is what you go for.  it is mound of eggs, cheese, bacon, and potatoes.  and it is awesome!  each don juan makes at least 3-4 normal breakfast tacos and it only costs around $4 depending on how many tortillas you get.  if you want to change up the don juan, you can have them make it however you would like, but i prefer the orginal!

juan in a million is located on east cesar chavez and is what you would describe as a hole in the wall.  but if you go on a saturday or sunday be prepared to wait.  this is place is good and everyone in town knows it!  i think it is worth the wait personally. 

if you order any drinks but tea and water, beware that they come in cans or bottles (no refills).

my friends staci and emily enjoying their special order don juans.
and juan (the owner) usually comes around to great and thank everyone in his restaurant.  which i think is awesome!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

i like to read...

i really like to read. well maybe it's just that i really like to learn! nerd alert! anyway when i was in college i longed for the day when i could be more focused in my learning. when i could just read one book at a time.

well college came and went and i am still reading multiple books all the time. oh well. the pic below is of just the books i am reading on my nightstand...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

just a fun night in october...

so tonight i had some friends over to hang out with me and the roomies (minus todd, he sadly is out of town and had to miss the fun). the night started with this....

after an epic battle with the superheroes (yes we all sword fought and there were lasers and light sabers too), we got to work carving some pumpkins. and here was our result...

we still have 2 pumpkins left to carve. hopefully we will finish those out tomorrow. hope you are having a fun october!

[diabetes] the "sweet" story...

i am diabetic. 

i have type one, or insulin dependent, or juvenile diabetes (depending on what you want to call it).  this month, i will have had diabetes for 16 years.  it is just a part of my life, seems normal to me now.  it is hard to remember life before finger pricks, insulin pumps, carb counting, doctor's appointments and blood work. but is used to be different.

in october of 1994 there was a traumatic experience that literally would change my life forever.  i was in 8th grade and as active as ever. (i think i was leaving my awkward phase of life, but that still is debatable.)  i remember starting to get tired all the time, very easily.  which you know is anything but normal for this girl.  i would get in from softball practice and head to my bed to sleep.  i was thirsty all of the time, which of course meant i was going to the bathroom all of the time. i lost a lot of weight, fast, and i lost some hair.  i wasn't feeling right but we couldn't quite figure out what was wrong. we went to the doctor several times, but none of my symptoms were ever picked up on.

i don't really remember what happened over the following weeks (probably because i was so sick) but unfortunately, its something my parents will never forget.  so i asked my mom to write up what she remembers happening. after all she was coherent through it all.  so here is the story of my diagnosis...

"I made an appointment to take you to the doctor to remove several warts that had come up rather quickly.  Not much was made of them.  Dr. Payne froze them and we expected them to drop off.  However, they did not.  On Monday, October 24, 1994, I took you back in and they were a little baffled as to why they were not coming off.  You were not feeling very well and I let you stay home.  Later that evening you began to throw up.  It was intermittent but persistent.  I took you back to the doctor the next morning.  They gave you some meds and told me to give you All Sport to keep you hydrated.  Little did I know that would only make you worse. 

As the day went on you only became more lethargic and the vomiting did not get any better.  Late in the evening you became delusional.  I had taken a rest for a couple of hours and your dad was up,  You evidently went downstairs and talked to him about Mexican Wallpaper.  When your dad headed to bed the plan was to wake me to sit with you.  I was sitting in your bed with you when you began to talk about International bankers.  I knew something was not right.  I began to really pray.  Not sure how long that went on but around 1 AM I was on my knees at your bedside praying when I heard a voice tell me to go get your dad.  Your dad did not wake up well and I was like uh what but again I heard the voice.  I went immediately to get your dad and he woke up clear headed (and not grumpy). God thing!!  I went downstairs to call the doctor when your dad yelled that we needed to just take you.  In the minute or two since I left you your eyes had rolled into the back of your head, and your hands were drawn up.  I ran upstairs and as I got Jon up dad carried you to the car.  I was getting in the back seat with you when Jon said no mom please let me watch her.  He placed his head on your chest as you lay in his lap and he listened for your heartbeat the whole way to the hospital. 

At the hospital I jumped out of the car and ran in and asked for help.  When they came to the car you were alert again and talking.  It took some convincing that you were not ok.  Thankfully they took you back quickly and God blessed us with a nurse and doctor very familiar with diabetes. 
Your heart rate was racing and you began to act unusual again.  They asked me lots of questions when the nurse asked about diabetes.  She began trying to get blood out of you and none would come.  She immediately went to your big toe and managed to get a drop of blood from there.  Your blood sugar level was 680. 
They immediately began trying to get an IV in for the insulin drip but you were so dehydrated that your veins were collapsing.  Your organs were all close to failure.  We actually had to restrain you because when they were trying to do the IV because you were really wild.  I was letting you suck on a wash cloth because you were so thirsty and you actually tried to bite me. They had to put you in restraints after that one. 
After probably 10 attempts to get and IV in the nurse looked at  me and said we would lose you within the hour if they could not get a vein.  I just prayed out loud.  I asked God to spare your life but that if He was going to take you to not let you suffer anymore.  I told Him I knew you were His and I was letting go of my claim on you. 
It was at that moment that the needle slipped in and stayed put.  I guess I have known from that day that you were only on loan to me and that your life and heart were God’s.  Anyway, God gave us grace and allowed us to keep you.  You went into a deep, deep sleep almost comatose for about 16 hours.  When you were stable enough they moved you to ICU and kept you there for a couple of days.
When you awoke I had gone out to the waiting room to talk to Brad Nelson who was there to check on you.  They came and got me and when I went into the room the first thing you said to me was “I will never have babies”.  My heart sank.  We had watched Steel Magnolias that weekend before.  I promised you that we would do whatever it took to help you be healthy but that required you to do the same.  I told you that I felt God would allow you the desires of your heart and would not fail you.  I still believe that! 

 You were discharged too early because we wanted you transferred to Houston to a clinic there.  The doctor was an idiot but again God took care of you.  I remember being so scared.  For months I would go into your room at night and check on you several times. Even still every night before I close my eyes to sleep I pray God will watch over you and that He will let nothing happen to you,"
needless to say, i am still alive today and god has used diabetes to teach me many things. this thorn in my flesh has been used many times to give him glory and to build my trust and faith in him. someday there will be no more insulin pumps, no more needles, no more blood work or out of whack blood sugars, no more scares when i am sick, but until then, i know that i am only here because he sustains me. and that is sweet.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

introducing ginger ciminello...

this weekend before i was tricked searched at the airport, i was in the hot state of arizona for my wonderful friend ginger's wedding.

ginger is one of those friends that you hope and pray the lord let's you keep up with for the rest of your life.  she is not only hilarious but she loves jesus so much that when you are around her, you can't help but do the same.  we became friends when ginger took a full time job at pine cove. our mutual friend amy was excited to introduce us because she said we were going to be great friends. and boy was she right!

well years later our friendship is going strong even across timezones and states. i love this woman and i was so blessed to be a part of a very big day in her life! about a year ago (not long after the picture above was taken) ginger met the man of her dreams, dr. david ciminello and this weekend (october 17, 2010) they were wed.  here are some pictures from the weekend. (all of which i stole because i stink at taking pictures - that is why i am a DJ not a photographer)

 and this one is just for your viewing pleasure...