Just So You Know...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The days leading up to my birthday were full of "Oh, my! Your birthday is in ____ days." and "Um...Not to disappoint you, but we don't have anything for you." and "So, our auditions are on your birthday." With a September birthday, it's rare that we celebrate ON my birthday.

When I was growing up, my friends (my two closest friends happened to be a set of cousins) were always out of town on a yearly trip their whole family took. When I was a little older, my brother's football season took precedence. And then there were work schedules to work around. I've learned not to set my hopes too high or to expect too much. By September 12, summer has come to and end and people are trying really hard to settle into their fall routine.

My expectations are low, but birthdays are my favorite. I can't help but be excited and a little hopeful that SOMETHING great will come my way. Just about every year SOMEONE comes through with a surprise up their sleeve. This year, it happened to be my sister.

I woke up knowing that the day would be FULL and yet also realizing that the birthday activities would probably happen on a later date and that was okay by me. I was hoping for a dinner at home with my family in between all of the running around that the day held. Well...First thing that morning, (after my Mom and I got back from driving by a house we might have wanted to buy) my sister said, "If you're taking a shower, you need to go do that. You need to get ready! We have things to do!"

My sister (like the brother that falls in line between us) is TERRIBLE at keeping secrets. She wants to tell you what she is getting you or doing for you and she basically BEGS you to make her share her secret. I am the person that loves those kind of surprises so I plug my ears and say "lalalalaaaaa" and refuse to let them let the cat out of the bag.


I got ready to go and packed a jacket and some water and my camera and we were off for surprise number 1. Once we were on the road, she told me that there were three surprises and that she was going to need a bit of help navigating. She asked me questions about road names and I helped us get to destination number 1. All along the way I was secretly hoping that it was our favorite Chinese buffet, but it was a little early yet, so I wasn't sure if there was something else going on....We got closer and closer and SHE TURNED ON HER SIGNAL! Destination number 1 WAS our favorite Chinese buffet.




We got out and took pictures in the parking lot and then we went in and got seated and she was BEAMING. I mean, I was EXCITED, but she was REALLLLLY excited. When I first got my driver's license, I used to take my brother and sister to do fun things out of town. The thing that meant the most to my sister was going out for Chinese. The year that I taught them, I would take my brother and sister along for afternoon grocery runs and we would stop for a late lunch. It's been a little tradition of ours to make time for a sister lunch on HER birthday. This time SHE wanted to take ME out for MINE.

The food was excellent and we had a great table and we ate until we couldn't eat any more.


Next up was a stop that I couldn't figure out. We drove and drove and we went to a part of town that I knew had NOTHING birthdayish in it. I knew there was a Sonic and a Wendys and a WalMart, but that was all I could think of and neither of us were ready for any more food or drinks. I was genuinely confused. This made my sister even more excited than she already was!


Finally, we pulled up to this mini golf place and surprise number 2 was out of the bag. We got out only to learn that it wasn't open. Now, this surprise meant more to me than you have any way of knowing. In the PNW mini golf consists of wood boards with holes in them set up at the ends of green carpet. One of my favorite summer activities in SC was going to putt-putt golf courses complete with waterfalls and caves and bridges and basically a real golf course made just for families who don't have the time or the skills for real golf. My sister, a PNW girl, has never been to what I call "REAL putt-putt" and I've made a promise that we WILL do it together some day! So, she found the closest mini golf and made it her goal to take me. Again. I loved it!

Since surprise number 2 didn't take as long as my sister anticipated, she said we needed to do something to burn off some of our food. She let me choose, so I asked her if she wanted to walk a trail that reminded me of the one I walked by the canal in MA. She was up for it and I said that it would work as long as we could find a place to park.

We drove and drove and due to college having started back up and a MAJOR construction zone, we couldn't find a good (or legal) place to park. The good news was that our food was burned off AND we were right by destination number 3. The funny thing about that is that my sister wasn't EXACTLY sure how to get to that stop or how to ask me how to get there without totally giving it away. We pulled into the complex where it was to do some walking there instead and she said, "Oh good! It's here!" I said, "What's here?" She said, "Oh, nothing. Stop reading the signs."

It was too late...This is a complex I'm very familiar with and I thought for sure that our last stop was going to be for frozen yogurt. We wandered around for a bit and then headed down the street. Straight toward the frozen yogurt place. But, then, she said, "We're HERE!!!!" I looked up and realized that she was taking me to a bookstore/coffee shop. It's one I've been wanting to go to WITH her since we were here on vacation back in 2014.



Now it was my turn to TOTALLY BEAM. We wandered around looking at books and journals and just checking out the whole store. We weren't in there two minutes when MY SONG (Drops of Jupiter by Train) came on over the sound system. The minute the first chords played I got quiet and said, "This song WOULD play." Everything was PERFECT. We made our way around the store a little bit more before ordering a chai tea (my sister) and a hazelnut latte (me) that we took out to a bench in the sun.



We made it home in time to rest for a little bit before heading out to their auditions....As soon as their auditions were over, we booked it over to a Mexican restaurant (at my Mom's planning and insistence).




We ordered their cheese dip and heaping plates of food (I got a beef burrito with rice and beans which actually turned out to be a bean burrito thanks to our lovely server, but I didn't notice until the next day when I was heating up some leftovers) and just had an all around great time. I spotted my old science teacher and his wife and an older guy sitting on his balcony reading the evening away. All through dinner the phone rang and rang with people hoping to catch me for a quick birthday chat. By the third call, I was laughing when I answered the phone. We finished dinner JUST in time for my brother to make it to call backs.

Call backs lasted and lasted and lasted. I sat in the car reading and catching up on phone calls as the sun set. It was a great way to close out the first day of my 26th year and left me with plenty of time to reflect on how special this "Just so you know...." day turned out to be!

Thank you, dear sister!!!! Your joy in helping me ring in 26 meant a TON. You know that I go back and forth between loving our life in this town and wanting to run for the hills. This day reminded me that there is nowhere else I'd rather be. I love you and your love for me. Running around to each and every one of your surprise destinations was THE most fun I've had in a long time. I <3 i="" nbsp="" u="">

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Are you a surprise keeper or a "Oh, let me just tell you everything!" kind of person?

What I'm Into Right Now

Friday, September 16, 2016


FYI: I'm having major issues this afternoon. The font won't cooperate with formatting and when I click "update" to save changes on the formatting to see if it worked, a new post is created. Something is wacky, but I'll fix it as soon as I can. :) 
 I've had this post sitting in my draft folder collecting additions for a few weeks. As I write this, the air is crisp, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I can hear my neighbor's lawn mower which reminds me that summer is still hanging on. I love the way summer hangs on. Don't you? 

Everything that I predicted about the first weeks of September was right on. We've been coming and going at all hours of the day and night. If you care for a recap, here it is:


On Sunday, Aubry texted us to invite us over to the S's house for hot chocolate and a hang out. It was nearly 8:30pm...I went, but it felt so strange to head out at that time of night. We stood around visiting and snacking and pretty soon everyone decided to pull out some games. My sister played cribbage and I joined the rest of the people for some Liar.

On Monday, my brother had his first day of homeschool co-op, my sister surprised me with a three part birthday excursion (pictures and a post to come!), and my birthday dinner was squeezed in between the latest round of auditions and call backs.

Tuesday through Thursday were full of the usual things like more boxes being brought up and rearranged, helping my sister pack for her upcoming trip to Ohio for her friend's wedding (since when is my little sister old enough to have friends getting married???), appointments, house viewings (still nothing on that front), shopping for a dress for said wedding, and basically, the feeling that EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE.

Last night, my brother had a performance during CYT's orientation session. Afterwards we (all of us + a slew of their theatre friends) went to see Finding Dory. Have you seen it yet? Oh, man...I cried. I think I enjoyed it even more than I did Finding Nemo. And just think, I almost didn't go!

So, that's life. Now, to get to what I'm into.


My Reading Chair

Fall reading is probably my favorite reading. The days are growing shorter, but there is still room to take a book outside when the sun warms the side of the house every now and then. During the fall months, I love cozying up with historical fiction, biographies, literary fiction, or a really good mystery. I'm currently reading "Dead Man's Folly" by Agatha Christie.

I'm super intentional about the books I read in the weeks leading up to putting another candle on my cake. This year I chose two books. You can read more about them here.

The two books from my summer reading list that I will be suggesting for a good long while are: "The Lake House" by Kate Morton and "Rediscovering Holiness" by J.I. Packer.


 In the Kitchen 

It's been all about comfort food lately. Think of dinners that consist of things like bbq chicken with mashed potatoes and peas (made this on the 29th of August). Speaking of dinners...We're still not back into the swing of me having people around to cook for. Not cooking really throws me off. I'm hoping we figure it out soon. I need to cook and they need to eat GOOD meals.

I'm excited to do more baking. Cinnamon rolls (check), biscuits, banana bread (check), cinnamon raisin quick bread, and who knows what else I'll dream up.

I made a batch of Clam Chowder the last time it rained and I can't wait to put soup back into rotation.

I'm treating every tiny watermelon I buy as "the last one" while secretly hoping that I can keep picking them up for $2.96 for weeks to come (update: I'm pretty sure the last one, was the last one).

Sneak peek at the birthday shenanigans from Monday.
Around the Internet

This typing game my Mom found. My best score so far is a high of 115 wpm, an average of 96 wpm, and anywhere from 76-100% accuracy.

FB Memories. I'm really into seeing what I posted and what people shared with me over the years. Lately, I keep seeing REALLY good things that I posted five and six years ago. Those were some TOUGH years, but looking back on what I was choosing to dwell on is really encouraging to me now.

This video. We have this table too. I may or may not be the genie behind its powers.

Oswald Chambers' words on abiding in and obeying Jesus Christ came just when I needed a good swift kick in the pants!


What are YOU into right now?


Three Books

Thursday, September 15, 2016

With my summer reading list being finished nearly finished, I have moved on to some fall reading. My September stack consists of a couple of Christie's mysteries, a book that I've been meaning to get to forever and a day, and one cozy novel featuring Jane Austen and a bookshop in London. They're on my nightstand and I can hardly wait to get into them! In the meantime, the three most recent books that I've finished are:

Still Life by Louise Penny // My book club chose this fast-paced mystery for August. It's the first in a series that people have been talking about. We decided that we enjoyed the setting and the style and that Penny had us all tricked into suspecting the wrong person. The jury is still out on whether this a series to dive into. There were a few characters that none of us could like (Nichol in particular) and some themes that we weren't crazy about. This is the perfect fall mystery even if the series doesn't come through.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald // I challenged myself to read this before my birthday and I made it! This was Fitzgerald's second novel and is all kinds of depressing. I am a firm believer in Fitzgerald writing what he knew. Reading his work kind of breaks my heart, but then, it also reminds me how hopeless life becomes when God is not the center of it. This book beginning when main character was 25 and taking place mostly in New York was enough to make me love it right from the start. It got off to a strong start and slowly fizzled out, but it's classic Fitzgerald, so if you like him, you'll like it. I may have even enjoyed it more than Gatsby.

Let Me Be Woman by Elisabeth Elliot // This was another book that I challenged myself to read before my birthday. A lady at church gifted it to my Mom and she (my Mom) was nice enough to let me read it before she did! This book is a series of short letters that Elliot wrote to her daughter from Cape Cod in the days leading up to her daughter's marriage. The main theme is biblical womanhood. Elliot's messages could be addressed to any woman, no matter what era she finds herself in. As the book progresses, the theme turns more toward what it is to be a godly wife. Elliot was one wise woman and I look forward to reading this book again and again as time goes on.

Linking up with Anne!

What have you been reading?

What are you looking forward to jumping into soon?

Currently: September 2016

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

September 1, 2016

Summer just vanished. I'm hoping it will be back, but I don't have my hopes up. Temps have been in the 50's and 60's this week and we've had rain almost every day. It's sad to have summer disappear without a warning, but at the same time, it's making the transition to our fall schedule seem very natural.

The summer jobs are over. School has begun. Before we know it, the next round of auditions will be here and then we'll be back into the swing of rehearsal schedules and performance dates (should they land parts).

I'm currently...

Reading: In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I always pick at least one book that I want to read. This year, I picked two: "The Beautiful and Damned" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and "Let Me Be A Woman" by Elisabeth Elliot. So far, so good. I'm definitely going to make it!

Trying: Our new fall routine and schedule. Summer was CRAZY. This week we have a lull and then next week is going to be fall's kind of crazy. Also, to wrap my mind around the fact that we are REALLY staying here in this "new" town that I'm going to have to stop calling "new". We've been here for a year. Our other house has sold and we've joined the church we've been attending. This is IT. We aren't going anywhere.

Hoping: To find a house SOON. To make family dinners a regular occurrence again. And to not fall completely apart the way I so often do when a lot of change hits me all at once.

Decorating: Ha! Nothing. Our decorations are all in storage, so I haven't put anything up or down except for a handful of Christmasy things. Hopefully we have a new place before the end of October. Wouldn't that be great?

To-Do Listing: Everything. I'm a list maker and keeper. If it needs doing or attention or remembering, I write it down.

Join me in linking up with Anne and Beth, or just leave your answers in the comments!

The Theme of Fall

Saturday, September 03, 2016

September 2, 2016

"He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom;
and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

I'm going into fall with a pretty good rhythm going. We all know how easy it is to let the laundry sit in the baskets unfolded, to eat meals that are quick and easy without thinking about how good they are for you, or to let the floors go a few weeks without being vacuumed. 

Often times, we come to the end of summer with a lot of bad habits and a desperate need to get things back into shape. That is almost always exactly where I find myself each year. This year, things are different. Our summer routine required keeping things in shape and left a lot of room for it too. For once, I lived a quiet life getting things done and being able to have a pretty good idea of when people would be coming and going. Rather than going into fall feeling like I have a lot of things I need to work on, I've got a rhythm going and I want to keep it up. 

Normally I come out of summer with a list of resolves,  but  this year I'm going into fall with a single word on my mind, namely, TEND. This fall, I'm resolving to tend the good habits, my soul, my relationships, and whatever else God brings before me. 

Tend is such a good word. It's good in part because it's so familiar. I am, by nature, one who tends. I enjoy the work of tending. I find it somewhat easy and even when it's not I find it super rewarding. The work of tending requires thought and planning and diligence and effort. The work of tending means that we cannot grow weary of doing the same things over and over again. 

The best part of letting this single word be my resolve is that it's not something I have to do alone.

I may not be part of Isaiah's original audience, but God most certainly does tend, gather, carry, and lead His people. As I've read the Bible in 2016, I am enamored with the thread of how God TEACHES His people to be His people. He commands things that are good for us. And then He goes a step further and leads us along. 

Tomorrow morning, I'll stand with my family to join the church that we've been attending for the last year. As I do, this resolve of mine will gain another facet. It's something that's been missing and I'm honestly a little scared, bust mostly just really excited to see what will become of this step. The Church is the place that God does a lot of tending. He gathers His people for a reason. As we join this church we'll be opening ourselves up to the tending that God has for us to receive and to give there. 

On this gray Saturday, I'm sitting in a quiet, clean house with a candle burning and some Jill Andrews playing. My soul is peaceful and full and overflowing with gratefulness to this God of mine. He is good, you guys, so good. I'll never tire of His goodness.

However you're making it to fall, my prayer is that God would grant you so much peace in your soul and some wisdom about how to make the most of this new season. God leads His people. There is nothing sweeter than being led by Him.