Catching Up

As of tomorrow, it will have been 2 months since I last wrote. Life has felt like a whirlwind. Although my new job as an Enrollment Counselor is enjoyable in and of itself, the workload has been overwhelming and hard to manage most weeks. When I interviewed for the job I was told there would be “periods of time through the year when overtime was needed” and that those period of time fell during certain times of the year around the beginning of each new term. For me, I have been working overtime since January 1st and it doesn’t seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel yet. Let’s hope so…

I have also been more intentional with my diet and exercise. I am done with the fads and quick fixes (for now). I have noticed that this medication I am on for my PCOS (Metformin) has helped me SO much with sugar cravings, energy levels, etc. I have lost 6 lbs and it could have been more if I hadn’t gotten so “off” during a recent road trip up to Wisconsin where Culvers and other treats were consumed with reckless abandon. Hoping that sometime this weekend after some snow melts, I can hop back on the Snap Fitness 3-5 times a week wagon. Until then, healthy eating and portion control keeps me in check. 🙂

Speaking of now – wth?!!? We didn’t have hardly any all winter and as soon as Valentines Day passed, we started getting lower temps and then WHAM! 12 inches of snow last Thursday and another 12 inches yesterday! We’re getting another 2 inches today? At least shoveling snow is a great alternative for a work out, my lower back is surprisingly tight and toned feeling! haha
I normally don’t grow bitter with the cold, but with an entire winter’s worth of snow dumped on us in less than a week I am feeling quite ready to see tree blossoms, green grass, tulips, and a thunderstorm or two.

Our trip to Wisconsin was very nice. Lots of time with my family and the wonderful Bougher family. We also had Anne (my brother’s fiance) join us, so that was very nice to spend some lengthy time with her – bonding and getting to know one another better. I am so happy that she is going to be a future sister and I LOVE how much she loves my brother. A lot of people make fun of the behaviors of people in love, but they’re seriously just jealous. If Anne misses Matthew after less than 24 hours of seeing him, who is anyone to say that is silly? I feel the same way with Chad. Heck, Chad and I miss each other just when we have to leave for work each day. Love is worth being all consumed and only becomes a clearer picture of the love relationship between us and our Savior. I think it’s beautiful.

So that is what has been going on. This coming March I am going to Portland, OR – so stay tuned for stories and pics from that. I will upload a slew of pics/videos from our trip to Wisconsin and the massive amounts of snow very soon…. 🙂

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Turning 29 and Celebrating 4.

So….. exactly one month ago I turned 29.
I am currently living out my last year in my twenties – that is so strange to say!
When did I become so old?

What might have been an uneventful birthday due to a lack of planning and an overly busy summer for us and everyone else we knew, my birthday actually turned out really well! 🙂

First of all, I created an Amazon Wish List and posted it on my Facebook. When I did this, I was just feeling a bit brave and a little obnoxious, but it turns out that my friends and family actually loved the wish lists and I got lots of amazing presents because of this list! I am totally doing this every year. 🙂

I seriously got TONS of books that I really look forward to reading in the near future, plus two necklaces! Chad got me a new phone for my bday (desperately needed! haha) and I also got various cards, gift cards, and even an end table from my brother Matt and his FIANCE Anne that is designed to look like oversized books! (I’d been wanting this forever!)

Here is a pic:

Secondly, we were out-of-town for my actual birthday in Branson, MO to celebrate four years of blissful marriage, so we had plenty of fun activities to do in Branson on my birthday!

Here are some trips from the drive down to Branson…

Coffee beforehand:

I tried to get Chad to just smile at me while he was driving and this is what I got… (he makes me laugh so much!):

Finally, we got to our hotel, which was definitely a bargain since we were low on vacation funds, but it was mostly comfortable. 🙂

When we went out the day of my birthday, we already had mapped out what we wanted to do… We wanted to get breakfast, then see The Dark Knight Rises at the genuine Giant Screen IMAX (this ended up being a big Branson FAIL because the IMAX lost power 45 min into the movie!), and then we’d have dinner and then see this show recommended by Chad’s cousin called The Haygoods.

Let me be clear here. When Chad said that his cousin Taylor recommended “The Haygoods,” I immediately conjured up images of rednecks in overalls making music on whiskey jugs, corn cobs, and banjos!

I. could. not. have. been. more. wrong.

This was THE BEST show I think we could have seen in Branson!! AND one of the best shows I have EVER seen! It was 6 siblings playing tons of songs we already knew in their own style with amazing talent, dancing, lighting effects, stunts, and so much more….Here are some pics!

Opening song:

They could each play several instruments and would keep jumping back and forth between different ones per song!

A lot of their instruments would light up like this!

A lot of stunts like back flips, playing on top of the piano, instruments lighting on fire, etc… 🙂

One of my favorite parts where Dominic came out and played “Unchained Melody” on the sax! So beautiful!

This was also in my top 3 favorite parts of the show…. this one guys came out and started tap dancing on top of a table….

THEN…

A bunch of them came out and started tap dancing in Combat boots and street clothes!!
It seriously felt like a scene from RENT or something!! SO urban and so awesome!

Oh, and then the sister randomly starts playing the drums! She could play over 12 instruments!!

Here is a promotional video of the Haygoods show:

And another one that really gives an idea on what their shows are like, though we didn’t hear this particular song the night we went. 🙂

It was seriously the best! Chad and I were both hoarse from screaming and cheering and these were only a few pics of 100 or so pics that I took that night!
The Haygoods really helped make my birthday amazing. 🙂

The rest of Branson was spent celebrating our Anniversary with other shows, shopping, eating funnel cake sundaes, attending The Price is Right Live (Branson edition), and more. 🙂

Dolly Parton had a show called “The Dixie Stampede” that is set up almost exactly like Medieval Times… There is a dinner served to you that you have to eat with your hands while you watch a show where you have to pick sides and cheer for your side… in this case it was the North vs. the South. :p

I didn’t find out until after I took this pic that you’re not supposed to take pics of this event… so that was my last pic for this. 😦

Then we decided to do this brand new thing in Branson where they have a mock set up of The Price is Right! It is a LIVE show instead of televised, but you can still win real prizes! We didn’t win anything big, but Chad’s name got called as an instant winner to be able to spin the wheel and get your picture taken with the host and ladies. Everyone else had to pay $$ if they wanted to do this! 🙂

CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF CHAD SPINNING THE WHEEL!!

When we got back from Branson, some of my dearest friends and favorite women in Kansas City wanted to throw me a birthday get-together. We went out to eat at Ingredient and then back to Maria’s house for quality time, coffee, tiramisu, wine, chocolate pie, and more! So blessed to have these wonderful friends in my life! 🙂

Maria:

Anne and Melody:

The Plaza at night…

Anne and Rachel representing France! 🙂

Yummy!

All in all, turning 29 and celebrating 4 years of marriage was wonderful! 🙂

P.B.B.C.B.A. – Pirated Buddhist Books Can Be Awesome

My dear cousin Katie let me borrow an audio book for my drive back to Kansas City from Wisconsin. By “borrow” I meant that she burned me a copy and by “a copy” I mean a duplicate version of what is most likely a pirated book. Unfortunately, I am a sucker for free literature and it didn’t feel any different from getting a free one from the library, so I didn’t judge and greedily accepted her kindness. 🙂

The book is called “My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares. I have never read this author before and I honestly had no idea what this book was supposed to be about. Since the very first few minutes of disc one I have been absolutely captivated. Addicted. This is an amazing book! Not only is the plot unique and the character development so well done, but more importantly – the way the author weaves this story is awe-inspiring. If I ever become a fiction writer, I want to write like this! She jumps around between characters, places, and times sporadically (how modern of her!) but it is still easy to follow AND (my personal favorite thing in fiction and most writing) she gives me (us, you, the reader) an intimate look inside the character(s) mind and heart and past.

This post isn’t necessarily a book review or anything… I just thought you should know before I continue that this book is totally worth reading or, as in my case, listening to.

The story has been making me think about life and the choices we make. How do we love people? Would we make certain choices if we knew we could never shake the regret or the pain for the rest of eternity? Like if you were about to do something that hurt someone else or that would taint your personal morals to a large degree and you had to remember that choice forever, would you still do it? I mean, obviously you might remember a mistake you made if you didn’t make it to heaven because then your surroundings might serve as a constant reminder of your depravity…. but what about right now? This life. We make mistakes that we so often gloss over. We are insensitive to others feelings because we’re wrapped up in our own affairs. A small act of selfishness that we quickly forget, but that person you just brushed off may have been feeling lonely for months and they won’t likely forget the way you overlooked them so easily. We knowingly choose to compromise our standards for the sake of how we feel right now and then in a year’s time forget it entirely, or only regret it somewhat because it was “in our past.” But what if we couldn’t forget. What if the memory of our choices good and bad stayed with us vividly fresh for the rest of our lives. How would we conduct ourselves? How would we treat the people around us? Not just our friends. It’s easy to love our friends. How would we treat the people in our lives we’re not friends with or the ones that annoy us? What if loving our enemies is more than just the people we hate? What if loving our enemies is about loving the people we don’t necessarily hate, but who are hard to love because they’re needy, or annoying, or self-righteous, or vulgar, or socially awkward?

This book I am reading isn’t a Christian book at all. In fact, I am pretty sure it could be considered a Buddhist type book if anything, but the bottom line is the same. How we treat people matters. How we make choices for ourselves matters. Just because our memories are average and fleeting doesn’t mean our choices should be hasty and selfish.

The morals of the story: Books change lives.

This one got me thinking about how I think. That’s meta-cognition and that’s a good thing. 😉

– –

 

Lacking Profundity

It’s been a month since I’ve written, so I feel like I should post something but words are failing me.
A few days ago I had a million ideas running through my head for a new blog post, but today has been very “blah” for multiple reasons and I just can’t seem to conjure up something profound, witty, or worthwhile to say.
So I will skip past all the profound, witty, and worthwhile and just give you my very basic thoughts at the moment.

Here they are:

French movies are strange, but intriguing.

Some friends are for a season and others will always be with you – even if it’s just in spirit.

Oxycodone always comes to my rescue.

Life isn’t fair and people lose sight constantly of the blessings they already have.

It’s amazing how you can convince yourself that leftovers taste good when you have little energy and no motivation to cook anything.

No matter how healthy I desire to be, I could never go without a microwave.

I love to write, but not everyone can accept what I really want to say, so it doesn’t get said.

The family members I was closest to as a child are now so very distant and the family members I never felt close to as a child have now become the ones I talk to the most.

Ants serve a purposeful eco-funciton (is that a word?) but today they were the cherry on the cake of my undoing.

Faith is already a confusing thing, but when you add a sense of entitlement it makes everything tainted and ugly.

I am actually looking forward to school.

I feel like I let people down all the time even though no one is actually saying so. (not often anyway)

I never knew how much I cherished the use of my shoulders until now.

– –

Honest Community and Real Relationships

It is nearly 2 am and I am wide awake. Hours ago I was drifting off to sleep on the couch, but somewhere between then and now I must have found a second wind or breathed in some kind of magical, caffeinated air or something.

Today was a hard day for me that eventually got better.

One of the benefits of living within community (not A community as in location, but community itself as a practice) is finding comfort in the support of those around you who clearly love you and pray for you and want the best for you.

Today was the day that I found out that my first cycle of fertility treatments did not result in the much desired pregnancy.
Starting over.
Again.
CD1.

I was terribly disappointed, for obvious reasons.
We’ve now been officially trying to get pregnant for one year.
I used to be the girl that was trying for 3 months, 9 months, 11 months…. Now, it has been 1 year.
I cried a lot this morning.
A LOT.
It was hard not to feel overwhelmingly depressed and struggling to find a glimpse of hope once again.

I sent a few texts to a few people letting them know the disappointing news and that I wasn’t doing so great.
I began to receive words of support, encouragement, prayer, and hope.
I spent some time praying and the tears began to abate and the lump in my throat began to go down.
I heard God whisper tenderly and softly to me, “Do you trust Me?” and that was enough.
Of course I do.
He has never disappointed me before.
Hear me… I am disappointed that I am not pregnant already, but God has never disappointed me.
Every month is a month to struggle with disappointment.
Some people just really don’t understand just how overwhelming and difficult a struggle with fertility can be unless they’ve been there themselves or know someone close who has.
But each month you make the choice to keep hoping and, in my case, keep trusting God and waiting on Him.

In the past, I’ve received a few messages here and there about my willingness to be so open and vulnerable and honest about what is going on in my life.
Whether it is my struggle with infertility, my struggle with losing weight, my rantings about certain types of people, or just the various lessons I have had to learn the hard way – I don’t really feel the need to paste on a plastic, digital-smile through my words.
This blog isn’t supposed to look like me preaching to you all the things I have learned or accomplished or felt like God revealed to me as if they happened to me spontaneously without trial and pain.

This blog was always intended to do two things:

1. To act as an outlet for self-expression for my writing, my feelings, etc.
2. To portray the real me – 100%, warts and all, what-you-see-is-what-you-get me.

I don’t do it this way so that people think I am “so awesome” for being so honest.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, to be honest about being honest – I don’t share everything with you.
There.
I said it.

But here is where I am coming from in regards to the purpose of my blog:

What is the point of community if you’re not going to be real?
Is it beneficial to anyone to walk around acting like you have all of your crap together all of the time so people feel a certain way about you and around you?
Where does iron begin to sharpen iron?
How can you support me, comfort me, and pray for me if you think I am completely put together all the time?
How can you even get to know the real me if I’m not real in my writings and the words I speak?
How can we come together as a community if we’re not honest?

Sure, we can throw a lot of BBQs.
We can celebrate all the holidays together, make each other laugh with funny stories, and even talk about God together all day long.
All of these things are good, but what is the point if we’re not moving forward together?
What is the point if I don’t KNOW you and you don’t KNOW me?
Not just what music I like to listen to and how I take my coffee, but the true me complete with hopes, dreams, fears, and failings.

Controversial question: Does it even align with Scripture to portray yourself as invincible? Full of all the answers to life’s questions/difficulties? In need of no one but yourself and maybe God?

Community reaches so much further than the 50 mile radius around where you live.

Thanks to technology…. community can reach all the way around the world.

Writing is an outreach.
This blog is me reaching out to you and giving myself to you openly and honestly and exactly as I am.
Comments and messages in response are you reaching back to me saying you are praying for me, laughing alongside me, crying with me, indignant for me, supporting me, and (for some of you, sometimes) understanding exactly what I am going through when I need to know that the most.
It is up to you to respond.
You could just read my blog and that is fine, but it doesn’t become community and relationship until you respond and unless your response is honest and 100% truly YOU.

Writing brings people together.
This is exactly why I named my blog “Words are Avenues”

because words have a way of bringing people together in community to connect us all in this broken, fragmented world where we could otherwise so easily feel absolutely alone.