Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - January 27, 2011

So, it's no secret that I hate winter. I want nothing more than for the nice, lovely days of spring to appear. Even though, here in Michigan, we usually get some spring snow, it still makes me happy to have spring. However, in an attempt to be more positive, I'm going to post 13 things I like about winter. Or at least try to - we'll see if I'm able to think of 13 things.

1) Christmas - I love Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of the year, and all that jazz. And Christmas is in the winter. So that one is easy!

2) My birthday! This year, I have an extra special birthday weekend planned that I'll share with you all later, but my birthday is in the winter. Cue the parties, special dinners, presents, etc.

3) When it's really cold and snowy, you can stay home for an evening without feeling lame. It's like an instant excuse to stay home in front of the tv or with a good book and a blanket.

4) Hot chocolate - in the cold weather, it's much better than in the summer.

5) Red Wings Hockey! Okay, so the season starts in the fall and ends in June (assuming we make the Stanley Cup finals, of course) but it's primarily a winter sport.

6) Figure Skating on tv - I love watching figure skating.

7) Winter Olympics - okay, this is only every 4 years. But this is a hard subject for me so I have to stretch for things....

8) Flattering clothes - Winter clothes cover a little more than summer clothes. I miss my summery dresses, but at times (like now when I haven't been to the gym recently) the extra coverage is nice. ;)

9) Unexpectedly nice days - When you've been having the 2 degree days, those random 20 degree days feel that much warmer. You appreciate them more.

10) Um........ not having to paint my toenails as often. They're not always on display like in the spring/summer.

11) Snow is occasionally pretty to look at. Note, this does not mean I like snow. I am in no way endorsing snow. I'm just saying, if we're stuck with it, it's occasionally pretty. If only it would stay off the roads.....

12) You can bake without your house getting too hot.

13) Valentine's Day candy - chocolatey yumminess. (please refer to point 8)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

1. That I only have a 4 day work week since I took Monday off to go visit amazing people in Alabama.

2. That a client event that I've been stressing over and working on for weeks will be over by this time tomorrow.

3. Having very, very few plans this weekend..... there may even be sleep in my future!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Five Question Friday - January 21, 2011

Finally! Friday is here! It has been quite the week!!!! But, the light at the end of the tunnel? I can see it! :)

Seen on Mama's blog, as always....

1. Where did you meet your spouse and did you instantly know it was love?
No spouse.... sorry!

2. What is your favorite room in your house?
Probably my living room. I spend most of my time there. It's like a combo living dining room. I mean, I have it set up separately, but there are no walls separating the two.

3. Can you wiggle your ears?
Haha.... no.

4. What is your evening ritual?
Honestly, I don't have one. Sad, I know. This is like the easiest 5QF ever. All my answers are like 2 words.

5. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
I have gotten so used to not getting much sleep that generally I function okay on 4. I definitely prefer 6. I love it when I get like 7 or 8, but that rarely happens!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - 1/20/2011

Hello! I am so tired today! Work has been non-stop all week, but especially today. I could really use a nap. In fact, I've already made and corrected 7 typos in this post. Oops, make it 9....

In all the craziness, I had trouble thinking of a good topic for this week's Thursday Thirteen. After much (okay, fine, a little) thought, I have decided to write about thirteen female book characters that I really like.

1) Elinor Dashwood - Sense and Sensibility
Out of all Jane Austen stories and characters, Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility is my favorite. She's very caring, responsible, and finds true love in the end. Ahhh....

2) Esther - The Bible
The brave queen who was willing to risk her life to save her people.... the one called into the kingdom "for such a time as this." Brave, loyal, and determined. Wise enough to come up with a plot to counteract Hamaan's plot.

3) Scarlett O'Hara - Gone with the Wind
Scarlett is not a character I admire. She's not kind. She's not nice. She's vicious and somewhat ruthless. But.... she's interesting!

4) Lena - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
I love the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (books and movies). Of the 4 main characters, my favorite is Lena, the quiet artist. By the end of the 4th book, she has started coming out of her shell.

5) Carmen - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
My other favorite character - very different from Lena. The more outgoing of the two for sure, passionate about her family and friends, and very sentimental.

6) Becky Bloomwood - Confessions of a Shopoholic series
I haven't read this whole series, but I've read a couple of the books, and like with Scarlett O'Hara, I don't approve of her. :) She's very dishonest and irresponsible. But in the books..... she's funny. And generally good-hearted. She doesn't mean to cause all the drama that she does.

7) Ruth - The Bible
Another Biblical heroine.... her willingness to leave behind everything she knew and everyone she loved for one person who she loved that needed her without knowing where she was going or what she would do is inspiring.

8) Mary, Mother of Jesus - Bible
When Mary was alive, the common punishment for having a baby without being married was stoning. No one would believe her story. She would lose her fiance and probably her life. I'm sure she thought all these things. Yet, she answered the angel Gabriel with the words "Be it unto me according to your will." Brave. Faithful.

9) Rachel O'Malley - The O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson
I love the O'Malley series by Dee Henderson. They're all mystery stories. I like all 7 siblings in the series, but my favorite is Rachel. She is most prominently featured in The Healer.

10)Shelby - The Princess by Lori Wick
This is one of my favorite all-time books. In fact, it might be time for a re-read. Shelby is a kind, giving, selfless person.

11) Laura Ingalls Wilder
I don't know why I didn't list this on my last Thursday Thirteen as I read these books many times as a child! I always kind of wished I had lived in the 1800s (not anymore. I'm here on my laptop with my cell phone next to me. I'm very modern.). But when I was young..... I loved reading about Laura Ingalls and her adventures.

12) Kate Riggs - The Californian Series by Lori Wick
My favorite series by Lori Wick is The Californian series, and Kate is the oldest sister in the family. The first book, Whatever Tomorrow Brings, focuses on her story.

13) Marty Davis - Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke
There are 7 or 8 books in the Love Comes Softly series about the Davis family. Marty is the matriarch and a great character.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Being Stood Up.... But I'm Really Not Crying! And a Blog Award!

So.... kinda funny story last night. Funny, but also embarrassing.

Last Friday, I was supposed to meet a friend who is moving away for dinner. She canceled, but we rescheduled for Monday (a.k.a. last night). So yesterday rolls around and she's not returning my confirmation texts. I hadn't heard from her at all. But I decided to head to the restaurant anyway. After all, I didn't want to stand her up.

Now keep in mind while I'm almost over my bronchitis/sinus infection/pleurisy, I'm still not 100%. In fact, yesterday, I was sneezy. And my eyes were pretty watery. Anyhow.....

She never showed up at the restaurant. Annoying, but not such a big deal. However, add in the watery eyes and.... I think my waitress thought I was really, really upset! So I placed a to-go order instead and she was all "Oh honey, I'm so sorry. Are you sure you don't want to eat here?" And then she gave me some free bread to go with my food (I discovered it when I got home). But she kept telling me how sorry she was. Yeah.... I think she thought I was crying and crying!

Now for the blog award. Thank you, Tribute Books Mama! The rules to the award are as follows:
The rules for these awards are:

-Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post
-Tell us seven things about yourself
-Award 7 recently discovered new bloggers
-Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award

Okay, 7 things about me. I'll try to think of 7 different things than the ones I used for the Stylish Blog award last week. :)

1) I don't mind doing laundry, but I hate folding it, ironing it, and putting it away. My mom still wants to do my laundry (don't ask....) and sometimes I let her even though it means extra driving. Just because I hate the putting away part so much. Oh, and my washing machine almost caught fire tonight....

2) I have a pretty small immediate family, but a very large extended family. My mom is one of 10, including her twin sister. And her parents are one of 9 and one of 13. So, lots and lots of cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed, etc.

3) Speaking of this big family, several of my cousins have lived with us from time to time. Four of them to be exact. I always loved having them around. The ones who lived with us were 4 of the ones whose family lived in Africa, so it was various reasons relating to that (college, school, etc.). Because of that, I'm probably closer to these cousins than most of my other cousins. I was in two of their weddings, etc.

4) I have played the piano for about 26 years now. That makes me feel very old. I teach one piano student now, but at one point had 14. And I've had just about every number in between! I've also been hired for several piano jobs - weddings, receptions, etc.

5) I think it would be really cool to have a maid. Of course, I might be thinking that because right now I'm looking at my house. Housecleaning has been neglected since I've been pretty sick for over 3 weeks now.

6) I love suspense movies (as long as they're not creepy - just suspenseful) but they can't be bloody and gory. Like.... not at all. Suspense without injury!

7) I'm currently itching to declutter my house. I want to go through everything and as soon as I'm strong enough, I'm going to attack a closet or two! :)

Now, for 7 newly discovered bloggers:
1) Lisa at Living our Love Song

I just found Lisa through 5 Question Friday last week, and so far I'm loving her blog!

2) Stephanie at Ecstatically Pregnant
Another new 5 Question Friday find. Stepha has a beautiful baby girl, Arabella, and writes about a lot of different things. So far, I'm really enjoying reading her blog!

3) Jenna at Legally Brunette

Law student..... runner.... and planning a wedding. She writes about it all, folks!

4)Jodie at It's ALL Good in Mommyhood

This is a great blog. She writes with humor, style, and wit. Other than the fact that her recent Coldstone posts almost drove me to eat ice cream in 10 degree weather....

5) Natalie at My Crazy Busy Life

I started following her on twitter because of some other blog friends, and then I started reading her blog. She writes about a lot of subjects, so she is definitely a versatile blogger!

6) Sass at Life of the Bees

Lots of cute blogs. And right now, giveaways!

7) Mrs. Ash Cake

I love this blog. It's cute, fun, and versatile! Check it out. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five Question Friday - January 14, 2011

As seen on Mama's blog, here is this week's 5QF!

1. What movie could you watch over and over again and not get tired of?
Hmmm.... a lot of movies actually. But the one that has had the longest running honor of my watching and re-watching is The Sound of Music. From the time I was like 7, that's been my favorite or one of my favorite movies!

2. What's your biggest pet peeve right now?
Hmmm.... I would say people who don't use their brains. Think before you ask for help, people! Or once you ask for help, please stop making stupid decision after stupid decision!

3. If you had to describe your best friend in five words or less, what would you say?
I wrote this question! So I better have a good answer for it!

caring, kind, fun, incredible, sweet

4. If you did not have to worry about money or go to school what would you do for a living?
Hmmmm.... if I didn't have to worry about money, couldn't I just live a life of leisure? But from the way the question is worded, I suppose not. So I will say that I would be a classical piano player. I've played the piano for years and love it. Technically, I'm a professional since I've been paid for it multiple times, but never enough to be a full-time musician.

5. What is your one "splurge" item, that you will always buy, no matter the cost?
Honestly, I don't have one. Too money-conscious, I guess! Now, I do splurge if I either have the money. Or when I get a bonus at work, I try to save most of it and buy one splurge-y item as a treat. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - 1/13/2011

So on twitter today, the awesome bloggy Rachel and I started talking about a childhood book series that we both loved. And that prompted me to write my Thursday Thirteen on books I loved as a child. And surprise! Rachel had the same idea! (Though hers might have been from before our twitter discussion. I don't actually know.) But I would encourage you to check hers out here. My book list here covers a wide range of ages - probably from 4 - 12, primarily. So if you're looking for a good book that takes you back, here's my list!

1. So the books that started the conversation on twitter were the Babysitter Club books! I read so many of these. I still own a lot of them (at my parents' house stored safely in boxes). I would read and re-read them. My favorite character was Kristy, though she was probably one of the ones I had the least in common with. I had a lot in common personality-wise as a child with Mary Ann. I wanted to start a Babysitters' Club with my friends, but we never got it off the ground! The first one I read was Kristy's Big Day.

2. Another book series that I loved was the Mandy series. The Mandy books were set in the 1800s. They were a Christian mystery series involving secret tunnels, travels, Native Americans, and of course her childhood best friend that she was going to marry one day.

3. I loved Nancy Drew mysteries! I read the old ones first. My aunt had a lot of them as a child and my grandma gave them to me. I also checked them out of the library a lot.

4. Which led to the more modern Nancy Drew case files. I loved those too! They were Nancy Drew, but more modern. Of course, seeing as I was born in the 80s, they are probably not still very modern. As you can see for yourself by the cover art.....

5. I loved, loved, loved the Ramona books! I still haven't seen the movie that came out this summer, but I definitely want to. I would read these over and over from the library! I think my favorite was the one where she was in her aunt's wedding, hemmed her dress with Scotch tape, and saved the day when the ring was lost.

6. The Amelia Bedelia books were some of my favorites as well, though when I was younger than many of the ones listed above. Her literal mind always amused me!

7. Did anyone else ever read these? They were called "Choose Your Own Adventure." At the end of a page (or sometimes multiple pages) you would have to choose what decision you would make. Then it would tell you what page to turn to next. And which ending you got and path you took was determined by the choices you made. You could do the book multiple times and it be different each time.

8. Corduroy.... the sweet little bear who came to life. This is definitely on the younger end of the spectrum. But there were several different Corduroy books, and I loved them!

9. I loved Little Women! It was one of my favorite books, and actually I would like to read it again! :) The story is a familiar classic - 4 sisters growing up during the Civil War. They experience loss, school troubles, love, death, separation from their father during the war, and through it all, stick together.

10. I loved this series as well.... The Gymnasts. It was about 4 friends (initially; more characters were added later) that did gymnastics together competing with and against each other. These books made me want to become a gymnast! Of course, with my lack of petiteness and lack of coordination, this was not a good possibility!

11.The Boxcar Children were 4 orphans that were sent to live with their grandfather. But before they got there (because they were afraid of him), they ran away and lived for a little while in an old railroad car. Of course, at the end of the first book, they met up with their grandfather and he was wonderful and kind so they lived with him.

12. I really, really liked mysteries growing up! The Trixie Belden series was another one I really enjoyed. There weren't as many of them, so I didn't read as many of them, but I loved what I read.

13. I loved reading the World Book Encyclopedia! The different subjects (animals, countries, people) were fascinating to me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Tests and Messed Up Sleep

This morning, I had two MORE tests. Unlike the last ones, these had to be done at the hospital. I don't like tests at the hospital. The hospital is big with campuses on both sides of the street, roughly 945 entrances, and bad parking. But it was what needed to be done. And it needed to be done on no food or drinks for 6 hours. That means, no morning coffee to navigate the hospital with! No!!!!! Torture!

I have to say, it does give new perspective on my sleeplessness when..... I couldn't sleep last night. No, not in my nice bed. No, barely on my nice couch. (I am finding the couch to be a little more comfortable since I'm more elevated and it's softer. The bronchitis and sinus infection have led to pleurisy, which makes the harder bed surface uncomfortable.) When did I fall asleep recently? On the exam table while having a medical test done - complete with an IV in my arm. And no, the IV did not have any "happy substance" to help me sleep. Is it me, or is this weird? Bed? No sleep. Couch? Little sleep. Hospital exam table? Dreamland!

Not to mention, last Friday (I think. My days are running together from inactivity.) I slept pretty good all night..... on the floor. Where I moved after trying the bed and the couch. Weirdness....

It's currently snowing an insane amount. We're supposed to get 6 inches. Oh joy. I hate snow. And by the way, unlike the South which closes in anticipation of snow flurries, everything will be open tomorrow....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stylish Blog Award!

So, from Rachel at Randomness with Rachel, comes the Stylish Blog Award!

Rules to the Award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about this award

Thanks, Rachel!

Okay, 7 things about me.....

1) I have a terrible, terrible, terrible sense of direction! I get lost SO easily! I can go somewhere 20 times and still feel the need to get directions or use my GPS. The GPS was really made for people like me. When I was 7, my cousin and I got lost going around the block. Things haven't improved since then. For example, on my 2nd trip to Hamilton, Alabama, it took me 3 1/2 hours to go from Decatur to Hamilton. According to sources, it should take about an hour and 15 minutes. Even last week on my trip to Tennessee, I routinely turned the wrong way leaving our hotel room and going to the elevator. Yes, my friend Jody laughed at me.... a lot. So I like to say we all have talents; one of mine is getting lost!

2) So a lot of people I know won't watch a movie more than once or read a book more than once. I am the total opposite. If I like a movie, I'll watch it over and over. The same goes for books. Most of my favorite books have been read and re-read multiple times. If I like it, it's like going back to a familiar friend. It's relaxing and I enjoy re-reading it!

3) I am an extremely picky eater! When I go to people's houses, it can be quite burdensome because I feel like I have to eat what they give me. So I eat small amounts.... and drink LARGE amounts of water to choke down food. And I'll be secretly happy if someone makes something I don't like but there is any form of onion in it. Then I can politely say "Oops.... I'm allergic to onions. Sorry!" And I don't have to worry about hurting their feelings for not wanting to eat it. Hehe

4) I used to HATE working out, but I really enjoy it now. I can't wait until I'm feeling healthy enough to go back to the gym. Between my stomach problems, the bronchitis, and the sinus infection, it's been over a month. I just want to hit the gym! My body just really needs me to hit the gym! It's craving the exercise, and I want to lose weight! :)

5) In addition to getting lost, one of my other major talents is.... how to put this..... displaying klutziness. :) The subsets of this talent include a) tripping (over my pants, the floor, pretty much anything), b) spilling things (on me, on my desk, on papers, again pretty much anything), c) losing balance (though strangely I tend to keep my balance more in high heels than in flats), and d) walking into walls. Yes, I am often quite bruised. And mocked....

6) I have a really good memory. It's almost eerily good. Like if friends and I are discussing a "who said what" type conversation, I'll usually be the one who is believed because I can often recall the conversation word for word complete with who was sitting where and what they were wearing. When I used to play in piano recitals and had to memorize music, I would do it by picturing the papers in my head, not by memorizing the patterns like I later learned you're really supposed to do. And dates.... I'm really good at remembering dates. Awhile ago, someone asked me how long I had known someone, and I thought for a moment and replied "April 13, 2000." Because I'm good with dates and can even remember details like that!

7) I'm very much a girly girl. I love all things pink, purple, pretty shoes, and lots of purses. I don't like dirt and outdoorsy stuff. (Because I'm too girly.) :)

I choose to pass this award along to.... whoever wants it! If I follow your blog, it's a sign I think it's a stylish blog, so go ahead and claim your award. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Five Question Friday - January 7, 2011

As seen on Mama's page, here is 5 Question Friday!

1. What is your current favorite book, and why?
The Bible is the book I read the most; but other than that, probably my favorite current book (I like a lot of books, so it's hard to say) is called Radical by David Platt. It's a very challenging book that really made me think a lot. And then I was in a Bible study where we discussed it, so it was interesting to hear other perspectives as well.

2. Do you go to the dentist regularly?
Um, well, here's the thing. I did. Until recently. When I realized I didn't make an appointment when I was supposed to for my last cleaning. And now it's already time for the next one. So until now, yes. I think I may need a new dentist closer to home though. My dentist is about 45 minutes away. Maybe that's too far.

3. What is your worst memory from High School?
Hmmm..... from the high school years or just high school itself? I'll go with high school itself. Probably the worst memory (which sounds really dumb now) was when every single girl in my class was invited to a birthday party for one of the other girls..... every girl except me. It was quite traumatic at the time! It turns out the girl planning the party wanted to watch this movie that I wouldn't have been able to watch, and that was why, but when you go to a small school and are the only one left out? Rough.

4. What do you hope to be remembered for in your life?
Being a kind, loving person who honored God with her life.

5. Are you superstitious or do you have any superstitions?
No, I'm really not.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - January 6, 2011

Okay, after my post last night and some conversation and some tears, I have come to a conclusion..... I should avoid people and any type of emotional conversation when I'm sick AND exhausted. That is all. Everything is fine. :)

And now, I just got back from the doctor and I have bronchitis and a sinus infection. So, I'm sufficiently drugged up.

For my Thursday Thirteen, I'm going to look back at 2010. (Might as well, since I am still writing 2010 on dates!) I'm going to list 13 great moments from last year. (I was going to do this last week, but I had zero blogging time. Literally, none.)

2010 was a crazy year. It involved promotion at work, changes at churches, 10 different states, 9 different out of town trips (I think), countless fun times with friends, organized 4 conferences/big events at church, exchanged about 2 million e-mails, new friends, old friends, etc. Not all of the times were good, but overall it was a good year. There were goodbyes that happened this year - some to people, some to things that I held dear. There was stress at work, stress at home, stress at church. There were health problems; there were healings. There was also a nice symetry to the year. I began the year at Winter Ramp 2009 and finished it at Winter Ramp 2010. Quite a lot happened in between! Here are 13 highlights:

1) My brother and family's trip home.
The month of June was marked by seeing my little munchkins that I have written so much about! For 4 weeks (starting Memorial Day weekend), my brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nephews visited from Singapore. For the first two weeks, my sister-in-law's sister came as well. It was a busy time and went quickly, but it was so great having them here!

2) Thinning of the Veil conference - October
This was a lot of work, the biggest conference I had coordinated. Not just one or two services, but 5 services. And a speaker who spoke at another church on one of those days. Food, transportation, book tables - a lot to think about. I definitely did not pull this off alone. It was major. It was a lot of work. It was exhausting. I wouldn't admit it at the time, but there were moments that I wondered if everything would go okay. I'm happy to say it went off seamlessly and was glorious. After that, I quit planning events. Always good to end on a high, right?

3) Idaho/Washington Trip - September
I've written about this before. But it was one of the highlights of my year, so humor me. :) I went out to the Pacific Coast for only the second time of my life (okay, technically, Singapore is on the Pacific Coast, but on the other side of it). I had a great time with Lisa, Hunter, Taylor, and Matt. While there, we celebrated Taylor's first birthday. I also enjoyed seeing the beautiful mountains! Though we had bad taste in movies that weekend (hehe) it was great to spend so much time with one of my best friends in the universe! (Lisa! Are you reading this? Because you've stopped commenting other than in person! So you better be appreciating this! I mean, I mean it, but some feedback would be nice.....)

4) Vegas was born!
My sweet little "niece" Vegas was born January 24th! I love her so much. She is truly a miracle and a blessing. She almost did not make it to her birth. The first time I held her, I fell so in love with this little girl. At her dedication, I cried and cried. And now as I watch her grow and see her sweet smile, I love her more and more every time I see her!

5) Trip to Hamilton - July
Really, every trip to the Ramp is so unique, so different, and so the same. I know that makes no sense, but it's how it is. Every trip is something new, something dynamic, but at the same time there's a familiarity.... like it's home or something. I went alone this time. It was a battle getting there. It was a battle once I got there. But it was phenomenal!

6) Gathering Small Group - September - December
This isn't one particular day, but this fall I was involved in a small group through the Gathering. The Gathering is a ministry that I am involved in at a local church. One of the ladies' small groups met at my house this fall. We studied the book Radical by David Platt. If you haven't read this book, you should. Like, go to Amazon right now, order the book, and read it! But in addition to what we learned through the book, I made some great friendships, strengthened some other ones, and grew together!

7) Radiant Worship Event - April
Okay, this event was almost as crazy as the Thinning of the Veil conference. And it was several months earlier. Housing for 7 band members? Check. Meals for 7 band members? Check. Set-up that left me with giant bruises? Check! And.... I did that set-up in a dress and heels, thank you very much!

8) Winter Ramp Chattanooga - December
Really, just refer back to my post from yesterday....

9) Indiana/Chicago Trip - December
One of the best Christmases I've had in several years - I had a great time with my family. We had good weather for travelling. It was great!

10) Ashley's Baby Shower
I wrote a little about this here, but it was a really great day. 100+ chocolate covered oreos later, a lot of planning, a lot of gifts later, we had a great day and it was a blessing to two dear friends!

11) Birthday Party for Me and Jessica - February
As mentioned here
, I had a joint birthday party with my friend Jessica this year. It was great to see so many friends come out to celebrate with us. We went to Don Pablos for dinner and then back to Jason's house (her fiance') for cake and further celebration.

12) Meeting Brayden
As mentioned in Number 10, my friend Ashley had a baby! He was born earlier than expected, but is doing great! When he was 6 days old, I was able to meet him. His sweet little face stole my heart. Well, not really..... he had stolen it before he was born. But seeing him really cemented it. My time with him was limited that day, but then the next time I saw him, I was able to hold and cuddle him for a very long time. He's so wonderfully sweet. I have to get better so I can go see him again!!!

13) Blogging
2010 is the year I really started blogging - writing and reading. I'd read a few before, even started my blog in 2009, but 2010 is the year that I "really" started. As in, more than the 4 entries for 2009! But through blogging, I've kept up on friends and family members lives. I've made new online friends. I've found new information. I've gotten to express myself. So blogging, as a whole, is a highlight of the year!

All these big events are great, but at the same time, I think it's the day to day stuff that really makes the year. Hanging out with friends.... making new friends.... loving those God has sent into your life.... weddings, baby showers, etc. The day to day walking through life with those you love..... that is what makes the year!

Here's to 2011!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Trip Recap and..... Wednesday Rambling

I wanted to write about my last week! I took a trip.... destination Chattanooga, Tennessee!

About twice a year, I go to Hamilton, Alabama for conferences at The Ramp.
The Ramp is an incredible ministry where I have made some of my closest friends, had undescribable experiences in some ways, and absolutely hilarious experiences in other ways. I could probably dedicate many blog posts to my experiences of looking for Starbucks in a town of 6,000, driving through gardens, and taking 3 1/2 hours to go what should have been an hour and a half. It's a very special place to me!

Anyway, one of the conferences I went to in 2009 was Winter Ramp, which is the 29th through 31st. I wanted to go again this year, but it was very last minute whether or not I was going to be able to. Between my medical tests, work, and some other stuff, it just wasn't an easy trip to plan. But toward the end of October, I decided to register just in case I was able to go. But.... oops! Registration was full! Now, normally this isn't a problem. Whenever I go, I volunteer. So I get in without registering. But I wasn't able to get ahold of anybody about volunteering. So I wrote one of my friends who is down there to see if she could help me contact them. I didn't immediately hear back. But then I got a text..... with a big secret and big news! The Ramp was being held in Chattanooga to accomodate more people! Instead of 1,000, we'd be able to have 8,000! But I was initially sworn to secrecy. I found myself telling my two friends who had wanted to go but couldn't get in either "Register just in case.... but I can't tell you why. But I have a feeling something will open up!" They accused me of being secretive.

So I booked a hotel room for Chattanooga, Tennessee, really not knowing what was going to happen. All the other difficulties (work, health, etc.) were still there. But I figured I would figure that all out when the time came. And if not, I would cancel the room! Then (after what felt like ages because I hate keeping secrets) it became officially open that the Ramp had been moved for this one conference and my two friends were on board.

Fast forward through some planning, convincing of my boss, working things out with my friend who could drive (it was even more amazing that she could go), one friend backing out then back in then back out then back in then back out, and a ten hour drive that turned into a twelve hour drive and WE WERE THERE! We went straight to the convention center to register. Okay, first of all, Chattanooga is NO Hamilton! There's traffic and stuff! So it wasn't the relaxing event getting there usually is. Also, since we went straight there, I was looking like I had just travelled 12 hours on 1.5 hours of sleep and was wearing sweats and no makeup. Not the way I would usually want to greet my friends I rarely see, but I was so happy to be there that I really didn't care.

After registering, we found our hotel. Let's just say, I quickly figured out where the "Micro" part of "Microtel" comes from! So small! But we were not there for the room or the hotel. So I quickly showered and we got ready for evening service.

The atmosphere was pretty crazy. It was different than a "normal" Ramp, but incredible just the same. At that point, there were around 7,000 people jammed into a room with 1,500 chairs and lots of floor space. That many people being there was great for a lot of reasons but also kind of distracting. I don't really know how to explain it; there was just a lot more distraction than usual. But still, wonderful time of worship. The message by Damon Thompson was really good as well. Really, the first night is kind of blurry in my mind; I'm going to have to watch the DVD of the service to remember more clearly. I had to leave for a part of it because of my terrible cough (I needed fresh air and felt I was distracting those around me with how packed in there we were). While outside the auditorium, I caught up with a few friends, but then went back in for the sermon and just stayed near the wall. My time with many friends there was like that all week - a few minutes here, a few minutes there, etc. That's one thing I love about that group of friends. We don't have tons of time together, but there is a connection where it almost doesn't matter. A few minutes to reconnect is great but we are all there for the same purpose, and it's really not seeing each other. After service, it was time to go back to the hotel and SLEEP!!!!!

The next day, the first service was at 10:00. We got there early, and I was able to spend a few more minutes with a few more friends (and some of the same ones from the night before). Then, another incredible service. If I'm remembering correctly, worship was led by Eddie James and his ministry group. He is one of my very favorite worship leaders, very powerful ministry. Then Damon spoke again.

That afternoon for lunch, we took Chattanooga's electric shuttle (Chattanooga is a very neat city and I love their public transportation!) to Panera for lunch. Then it was back for another service. Rick Pino and his band led worship, followed by Perry Stone preaching. Rick Pino is another incredible worship leader. Perry Stone honestly got a little long for me and I tend to have trouble with speakers who don't stay as focused on what they're saying, so I really didn't get quite as much out of him, but I know others did and that's okay.

During the dinner break, we went to our hotel to pick up two other friends, quickly change clothes (oh wait, that was just me), and eat a quick dinner of food we had bought at Walmart the night before! Then we went back for what was truly an indescribable night. The Ramp Worship Band led worship, and then Lou Engle spoke. Between the two, I was locked out of the gathering. I don't really know what happened during that time. I think offering was part of it. But the moral of the story is be careful when you choose your bathroom break (I was trying to avoid having to leave during the message!) If you don't know who Lou Engle is, he leads a ministry called The Call. In different cities at different times, there will be large prayer and worship gatherings for our nation. His message was truly life-changing. I'm going to have to listen to the DVD/CD for this one too! There is just too much to grasp in one sitting! The night ended with lots of prayer. Service went so late that morning service for the next day was cancelled!

So the next morning after sleeping in a little (glorious!), we headed downtown to get lunch before heading to service at 1. We ate at the weirdest restaurant called "The Pickle Barrel." It was....... interesting. And dirty. And graffiti-covered. Yeah, if I ever go back to Chattanooga, I will not be going there! But then afternoon service consisted of ministry by Chosen, Rick Pino, and then Dutch Sheets speaking! Dutch Sheets is another speaker that I could listen to all day!

Dinner break was at Applebees. Then we shuttled back for service. Oh my word..... craziness. By this point, the event was filled to over-capacity. As in, more than 8,000 people. To get in, in addition to your wristband, you had to be one of the first 8,000 there. After that, they had to turn people away. If you left to use the restroom, you had to get a mark on your hand to be allowed back in. Yet, even with that, some people from an 80s dance party being held in another part of the convention center were able to join us! Reaching other people..... another great part of the gathering!

The last service really was beyond words. Chosen ministered some more, there was worship by all three groups (I think), Damon spoke, there was more prayer...... it just kept going and going. It was so wonderful. It's really the best way to ring in the new year! Being charged by Dutch Sheets followed by a countdown by Damon Thompson! Surrounded by prayer, worship, friends, and 8,000 people in worship! Afterwards, leaving was craziness. You had the 8,000 excited people from our gathering mingling with those inebriated ones from the 80s party in the hallway. There was a lot of noise. :) Lots of shouting going on for all different reasons.

We went across the street for a quick bite to eat. Jody and I split a gigantic piece of cake. :) Then we had to go back through the convention center to get to our car. Teardown was well underway. I have to say, those in the Ramp community (of which I'm an honorary, long-distance member!) did a wonderful job all conference. They set it up in one day and tore it down in several hours. Insanity. Glorious insanity! :)

Next day before heading home, we did some sight-seeing in rainy Chattanooga. There's a lot more to write about that, but maybe another day. Art district, shopping, etc. Good times. Then a ten hour drive home. It actually only took 10 hours! Woohoo!

Now on to today....
Have you ever had one of those days? Where you are feeling way too many feelings to put into words? That's me today.... I'm happy, sad, hurt, confused, tired, etc. Maybe the tired and sick part is really the key to the whole thing. Or maybe it's something for another blog. Right now, I'm just.... confused. But writing about my trip has cheered me up. It was a really great trip. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Memories

Christmas is my favorite holiday. There are a number of Christmas celebrations in my family. This year, we celebrated with my mom's family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (This is often the case. My mom has a much bigger family than my dad, and the travel usually falls that way.)

This year, my parents and I celebrated our own Christmas Thursday night, the 23rd. We exchanged gifts and then talked over Skype with Cameron, Delia, Caleb, and Evan. Yay! I then went to bed early as I think I was still sleeping off the anesthesia.

The next morning, we got up early to travel to Indiana. It's about a 5 hour drive in normal weather. It was normal weather! Yay! We had been supposed to have a snowstorm, so it was nice to have a good drive. We went to my first aunt's house for a little while, then to a second aunt's house, then to an uncle's house, and finally to the aunt's house where we were staying for the night. We had dinner and did gifts with my aunt and her family. It was a lot of fun! I hadn't seen my one cousin for a couple of years. He has a 3 year old son who is a lot of fun as well!

After they left, I fell asleep watching Christmas movies. (I was sleeping on the couch, so the tv was just kind of on.) In particular, I kept watching A Christmas Story. I've only seen this movie once, but somehow I kept seeing the same part over and over that night. I'd wake up and it would be near the place in the film where I had fallen asleep before!

The next morning, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast with my aunt and uncle before moving on to our next stop - Chicago-ish area! (As mentioned before, we drive through Chicago but don't actually stop there.) My aunt and uncle's 2 daughters came over. Their husbands and my cousin Tami's 3 children came too. We did gifts, dinner, dessert, and card games! Phase 10, Nerts, etc. My one cousin and family gave me a lovely bath gel and lotion set (peppermint scent!) and my other cousin and husband gave me a pair of earrings as did my aunt and uncle. Very pretty. :) We spent the night there.

The next day, we headed back to Michigan! Again, good driving weather. My parents had to drive me home because I didn't have my car due to the fact I couldn't drive Thursday.

It was a very Merry Christmas!