Friday, March 29, 2013

Rise and Shine

In the past Easter has tended to sneak up on me, especially now that I'm out of school and don't get a Spring Break or even a day off for the occasion. And it's not like the weather lately has been screaming "Spring and New Life!" But still this year has felt different, I've been more aware of His presence in my life and in the world and more grateful for the blessing of this coming Easter.

Maybe it's because our family lost Anna. That gift of eternal life, bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Christ, has greater meaning. We've longed for heaven this year and clung to the hope that we will be reunited with her again one day.

And maybe it has something to do with my decision at the start of Lent to make morning quiet times with the Lord a priority in my life. I want my days to start with Him, not some of the time, not when it's more convenient, but each day.

"The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes."
(Matt Redman- 10,000 Reasons)

I can do at least 15 minutes each morning- that's hardly a sacrifice. It's giving up an extra few minutes of deciding what to wear or straitening my hair and applying another coat of mascara. Usually I read the daily passage from Jesus Calling and it directs me to bible verses and passages and sets my mind wandering. I journal some, sit quietly, pray and then head off to the metro. The more time I spend in the Word, the more I want it. I set a timer so  I don't miss my train as I get swept up in that devotional that seems to have been written just for me, that bible passage I'm reading for the 20th time but it feels like first.

15 minutes is not enough.

And yet at the same time it is enough to set my day on the path I want it to follow. It's enough to light a spark in me and focus my attention on Jesus. My daily routine may look the same but it feels totally different because I woke up and committed to walk with the Lord. No matter what happened yesterday, or what I might face this new day...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

(warning...I have no idea where this post is going so bear with me)

It's just been a regular work week and not a very exciting one.
I didn't have Young Life on Monday because the kids are on Spring Break. I feel like the week is missing something when I don't get to hang out with my high school friends.

The last club we had was a "Hoedown Throwdown". We joined up with another high school in a barn and it was so much fun! It involved a lot of flannel, cowboy boots, Wagon Wheel, cricket spitting, and probably not the safest corn on the cob on a drill eating competition (see this video to get an idea of what I'm talking about). That's me below with the guitar getting ready to lead the Virgina Reel.

And it was totally worth the extra 40 minutes of driving to get to the barn because it meant an extra 40  minutes in the car with my girls. A longer window into their lives.

*** (indicates a drastic shift in content)

Tomorrow I'm skipping out of the office a few hours early and hopping on the Amtrak to spend the Easter weekend with my parents and sister.

Friday night we're having dinner in the city with our old neighbors from England. I think I'm most excited to just listen to them speak. Hear that accent and be transported back to the village that was home for too short a time. Maybe they'll know if the commons are covered with the ferns yet... 
Oh how I miss Spring in England.

Speaking of England... I've decided to participate in the A-Z blog challenge. I will be posting everyday in April (except Sundays) and making my way through the alphabet. I've decided to stick to a theme because if I'm going to post everyday I better be organized about it.  As you know I've been stir crazy and itching to hop on a plane to somewhere exciting. Since that is not currently a possibility I've decided to relive some past adventures here on the blog.

I'll be posting about vacations and places I've visited, airport mishaps, memories and lessons picked up along the way. These are trips I mostly took during my time as an expat and, as much as I hate to admit it, my memories are already fading. Which is another reason why I want to quickly get them documented.

Hope you don't mind. It's my blog, I do what I want. Also this will help me cross off #75 on the big list- post 4 times a week for a month.

Right now however I am freaking out. I have not one post written and it starts on Monday! I definitely want to get a head start so I'm not scrambling each day to dust the cobwebs off pictures and memories.

Anyone else around here participating? Wish me luck!

P.S This is my 400th post! Yippee!

Monday, March 25, 2013

So this is Spring?

This weekend started out with a fun date-night with my roommate on Friday. We very rarely have time for just us girls and it was so nice to go out and really catch up. We went to dinner at Seasons 52 which I love! Everything is so fresh and really healthy and in season...
I'm so glad my roommate doesn't think it's weird to take pictures of your food. We shared one of their yummy flatbreads with goat cheese, spinach, and artichoke. I also got a spinach salad with raspberries and Gorgonzola. I pretty much always get scallops if they're on the menu so for my main course I had caramelized scallops with roasted asparagus, and sun-dried tomato-mushroom pearl pasta. I highly recommend a visit if there is a Seasons 52 by you!

After dinner we ended up renting Pitch Perfect from On Demand which we both LOVED! Neither of us had seen it before and it was so fun!

Saturday I did a big grocery shopping and then  spent the rest of the day in my sweats. We both did a little Spring-cleaning, except I refuse to call this crappy weather Spring. I washed all my sheets, towels, bath rugs, and the cover on my day bed. I put away all the laundry that was clean but still scattered around my room. Nothing feels better than getting into bed at night with clean sheets and a clutter-free room.

Sunday we went to my church together. She usually goes into downtown DC for church and I head the opposite way, out towards where I lead Young Life. It was such a nice treat to go together. AND they had a special guest leading the worship music, For King & Country, which made it extra fun.

After church her boyfriend made us omelets which were followed by more relaxing on the couch, more chick flicks and then the pre-finale of The Walking Dead. Nothing too special, but an entire weekend with that roommate who is always on the go was much appreciated.

Today we woke up to actual snow... the week before Easter... almost April. That groundhog was a big fat liar!

Unfortunately the Office of Personnel Management didn't give us the day off or even a delayed opening. Unlike like before, when we just got rain,  we have about 4 inches on the ground and it's still coming down.  Apparently they base their closures on media hype and not the actual accumulation of the white stuff on the ground.

I'm over this never-ending winter. And I am sure everyone is ready for the East Coast bloggers to stop posting about this fluke-y weather. Hope there is actual Spring wherever you are!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Brand Spankin' New

Both my roommates were basically gone all weekend so I spent most of the time in my yoga pants, eating candy and re-designing my blog. I'm still making some tweaks here and there but overall I'm loving the simpler, cleaner look!

I also updated my design pages:

If you're looking for a face-lift for your blog or any other design services, look for this image in my sidebar:

And in case y'all are still debating which platform to use once google reader shuts down, I've opted for bloglovin.  It's really simple to set up and you can easily transfer all your Google Reader info over.  It also has an app for your iPhone or Android so you can read on the go.

Well... that's all the blog business for now.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reading & Following

So the big news in the blogosphere today is that Google Reader is shutting down in July.
Lots of people are upset by this since it's the most popular site for reading blogs.

Of course I didn't know any of this.
I simply follow and read all my blogs on my Blogger dashboard.
Is that weird?
Have I been doing it wrong?
I think I'm might be missing something. But I'm not sure.

What this means, I think, is that while my daily blog reading wont be affected,  the people who follow me with Google reader will have to make a switch to a different platform. I think it's all part of Google's push to force people to use Google+ , which I also don't get.

Lucky for you, lot of bloggers have already posted some suggestions and tips for this new change:

According to Nina
Mrs. In Training
The Wonder Forest

Also if someone could please fill me in on why I should be using a "reader" instead of just Blogger's dashboard reading list that would be great.

And if someone else could explain what Google+ is, I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Wednesday Hodgepodge

I linked up at my mom's blog for this week's hodgepodge. Click below to share your answers as well! 
1. Do you play games of luck/chance for money? Have you ever played bingo for money? Visited a casino? Placed a bet on a horse? Bought a lottery ticket? 
Most games of luck and chance involve math and that's really not my thing, like I am horrible at math, still count on my fingers bad.  So while I should probably avoid all games where winning money is dependent on my math skills, I have experience with all these activities, somewhat:
  • The last time I participated in Bingo was in elementary school at the senior living center with my girl scout troop- money was not involved. 
  • I have been to one casino in Ocean City. It was just slots and automated games- no real skill involved, just pull the lever and lose money.  I can handle this-my wallet cannot.  
  • I've been to a few horse races before (see here) but never bet on them.  
  • I did buy a few lottery tickets when it was nearly $600 million, because you just have to. Obviously I did not win.
2. Will you be preparing and/or dining on the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage meal this St. Patrick's Day? Mashed-baked-hash browned-french fried...your favorite way to have potatoes?
Another multi-part question. If I was going to be at home I'd be enjoying my mom's corned beef and cabbage. I always loved this growing up and I love corned beef sandwiches for lunch the next day too. Maybe I'll make this for my roommates this weekend. As far as potatoes are concerned I love them pretty much anyway as long as I don't have to be the one to peel them. Does peeling potatoes make anyone else's hands feels dry and red and itchy or is that just me and my mom? Speaking of potatoes, I just pinned a new slow cooker recipe for scalloped potatoes that I'd like to try.

3. What's the last thing you felt 'green with envy' over? 
Let's just say I'm not a fan of the facebook updates that say "so and so got engaged."

4. What's at the end of your rainbow? 
Something much better than any old pot of gold...
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

5. Besides your blog, do you keep any sort of diary or journal? Was this a habit you developed as a child or is journaling something new for you? 
That would be a big fat yes!
These are all my journals from February 2007 till now. College is when I started seriously journaling and writing during quiet times or whenever my mind would wonder and worry and daydream.  They are filled with some of my favourite memories and also some memories that make me cringe or cry when I re-read them. I love emptying my head onto the page, I pour out my fears, my wild erratic dreams that I would never share out loud, my struggles and prayers. It's like writing to God. They're the most personal objects I posses and I treasure them dearly.  I also still have diaries from elementary and middle school that are just hilarious to read now.  I think I might have to dedicate an entire post to my history of journaling- you should try it if you don't already.

6. What's an item in your home or closet that contains every color of the rainbow? 
My tie-dye Young Life sweatshirt blanket:

7. Write a limerick with you as the subject. You can do it!! 

There once was a daughter whose mother
was anything but a bother.
She liked to ponder and pose
tough questions in long prose.
I love her and wouldn't want another.

8. Have you tried my new favourite treat?
Chocolate and pomegranate is the perfect combination! I basically ate this entire bag in one sitting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In 3 Months

Yesterday was a bust. We got zero inches of snow. DC sure does know how to freak out about weather.  Oh, well.. a day off is a day off. It was nice to be at home with both my roommates on a Wednesday afternoon.  It pretty much requires inclement weather for that to happen.

We were all hanging out in the kitchen, gabbing and enjoying our free afternoon and suddenly I had this revelation:  I am going to be 25 years old in exactly 3 months.

A quarter of a century.
The big two-five.
I know that 25 is not "old" but it still sounds a lot "older" than 24.
I don't feel 25. I feel like I just graduated when in fact that was 3 years ago. 
So much has changed since that day- when I left behind the beautiful happy bubble that is college and entered the "real world."  And yet I still feel a lot like that wide-eyed girl (far right in the above picture).

Sure I'm now 100% completely independent from my parents (woohoo, go me!), and I pay taxes, and my hair is a lot shorter, and I book my own plane tickets, but I don't feel like an "adult" or really that much older or wiser...

I'm still figuring everything out and I'm totally winging it as I go.
It's fun but weird.
Yes I have "responsibilities" but not really.
I'm settled but I could pick up and leave, move anywhere if I wanted to.

I have no idea what's in store for the next three months and five years. And even though I've ranted posted about my restlessness here and here, I'm actually OK with the unknown. God has a beautiful plan and if it was all clear and laid out for me to see it would totally ruin the surprise.

In the words of Taylor Swift...
"It's miserable and magical, oh yeahhh..."

Darn it, I wish that song came out when I was 22.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day, Sweaters, & Stethoscopes

We have a snow day today!! Yipee!!
I was like a little kid last night watching and waiting for the first flakes. I was also stalking the US Office of Personnel Management's twitter feed waiting for them to announce the federal government was closed. I didn't stay up late enough to see either of those happen so it was a nice surprise when I got the notice at 4am!

My plan is to stay bundled up in yoga pants all day and only venture out to scoop up enough snow to make "Snow Cream" and maybe enjoy and walk through the winter wonderland. Except right now we only have a dusting... pretty lame for the only snow day of the year. Hoping it steps up it's game so we can get a second day off.

Question, I know it's Wednesday but I can still talk about last weekend, right? 

Fun fact:  I bought the sweater below (from Forever 21!?) on Saturday and then wore it for 3 days. Out to dinner Saturday night, to church on Sunday, and then to work yesterday. Is that gross? I don't know and I don't care because it is so cute and comfy.

Fortunately all those outings involve different people so my roommates were none the wiser... until now. 

Last Friday we made pizza again and it turned out  much better than the last time thanks to the tips left on this previous post.  And what else do you do after enjoying pizza and beer than get your physician's assistant roommate to check your blood pressure? That's totally normal right? 
Some of us take our health very seriously in my house. My roommates will probably not agree, but I think this photo is hilarious and couldn't resist posting it. We're a wild and crazy group I tell you.

Speaking of wild and crazy....I'm going to move from my bed to the couch now and watch some Law & Order SVU. I'm sure there's a marathon on today. There's always a marathon on. 

Hope you all have a great day, with or without snow! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

What I Read in February

March is here and it's Friday! And that means were are even closer to spring! Yipee!!

Here's what I read in February:

Roses-Leila Meacham:  I started this saga last month and I finally finished. It was long but I really got wrapped up in the story and enjoyed the ending.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky: LOVED THIS! So wonderful and quirky and endearing. And I felt like I knew the narrator and I just fell in love with him. It's written as a series of letters to an unknown recipient so it feels like he's writing to you. I think all parents and youth leaders and anyone with a heart for high schoolers should read this. I still haven't seen the movie but will definitely be checking that out as well!

The Secret Keeper- Kate Morton: I've read several of Kate Morton's books (see here) and I've enjoyed them all. This one focuses on a daughter who witnesses her mother murder a man in their home. They never speak about it and now years later that same daughter is bent on figuring out this family mystery and discovering her mother's secret. It'll keep you guessing-I thought I figured out the mystery a bunch of times and the ending was still a surprise. Plus I love how all of Kate Morton's stories are tied to historical events and take place in England.

The Art of Racing in the Rain- Garth Stein: "A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it." This overview from B&N says it spot on. Be prepared to cry...

I would love to know if you all have read any of these and what you're thoughts were. And I'm always looking for new suggestions to read.

Hope you all have a great weekend!