Tag Archives: community

What I’m Into: February 2016

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Where is the year going?  It feels like everything is rushing by while I try to keep up with relationships and teaching and college ministry and church and housework. I have been brainstorming for some upcoming posts, so stay tuned while I try to find time to post more than once a month every couple months.

 

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Lows & Highs: Meaning of Life

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.
Low: On Monday, I woke up with a headache that lasted all day and did not respond to any of my normal natural or over-the-counter remedies.
 2014-07-23 09.29.26
High: We wrapped up our summer Bible study this week. Brian and I have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes with a small group of college girls. It may seem like an odd study for college students but they said they really enjoyed it. Brian and I enjoyed the whole process of reading and discussing with them. From their wide-eyed reaction to the first two chapters to their summaries of the whole book, the process of reading and discussing has been enjoyable and enlightening.

“Life sucks but God is good.” – Lindsey’s summary of Ecclesiastes
I like Ecclesiastes because it is a philosophical book written by a wise king – Solomon – who got everything he wanted and discovered that it was not fulfilling and not the point of life. Solomon summarizes the meaning of life in the last two verses, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
What are your lows and highs this week?

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Lows & Highs: Grandparents & Game Night

After a long absence, I am restarting Lows & Highs on Wednesdays. See the end of this post for ways you can join the fun!
Grandpa & Grandma with us in June

Grandpa & Grandma with us in June

Low: My grandpa has been in the hospital for over a week with what seems to be a COPD flare-up. On Saturday, my grandma felt ill and then passed out in the shower that night, breaking her leg right above the knee. She had a surgical repair on Sunday and the doctor discovered some irregularities with her heartbeat. On Monday, she got a pacemaker and seems to be doing better.

High: We had our first Bible study of the semester on Thursday, which was the first time I had seen some of the students in about a month! To further celebrate the first week of [college] classes, we hosted a game night at our house on Friday. We all had fun playing Mexican Train Dominoes and Golf-the-card-game. With the girls who came, orange slices and microwave kettle corn were the favorite snacks; hot chocolate (whipped topping optional but encouraged) was the favorite drink.

Game Night1

Game Night2

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Choosing Plenty Instead of Guilty

Plenty Button
Sometimes I feel guilty about what I don’t do, like…
  • hurried or unbalanced meals when I do not plan ahead or lack energy to make what I planned,
  • the clutter of things I need to put away,
  • stacks of papers I need to file in the filing cabinet I cannot reach because of the stacks of boxes still unpacked in our home office,
  • unwritten thank-you notes,
  • evenings when Brian and I come home from work and I feel tired or out-of-sorts instead of cheerful and energetic,
  • not being able to do everything I think I should be able to handle.
But then I mull over God’s Word and remember what is true. For example, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:18-20 New Living).

 

When I honestly consider what my actions show, I find myself choosing time with and for people instead of doing tasks that have clear, tangible results:
  • praying for students
  • doing manicures or sipping hot drinks and listening to chatty students
  • joining small group ladies for dinner on short notice
  • spending quality time with my husband

The thing is, when our actions and choices are like Mary’s, we often give up having homes like Martha’s. That is what Jesus called choosing the best thing and that is plenty for me.*

*Luke 10:38-42

What life lessons have you been learning recently?

 

Edit: I finally got this image and link working to tell you I am linking up with Amy at The Messy Middle.

Trusting Tuesdays button (Mobile)

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October Highlights

Where Does the Time Go?
Somehow October flew by and I have not been very inspired or prolific when it comes to writing of all sorts.

CCF Cookout
At the beginning of October, we had a CCF cookout complete with hot dog roasting and s’mores!
CCF Fall 2013 Cookout
Eli’s Birthday
Our nephew, Eli, turned one and we were able to visit the weekend before. He is curious and strong-willed, and very expressive. He went through a phase (and maybe is still in it) where he stared blankly at anyone trying to take his picture with a camera or phone. On this visit, though, I flipped the camera view on my phone so he could see our image while I took the photos and he had fun making these faces!
Eli Makes Faces

After five minutes, Eli figured out exactly where the camera lens was. Smart kid!

After five minutes, Eli figured out where the camera lens is. Smart kid!

Taking selfies with a cute nephew – Embarrassing or excusable? Vote in the comments!

Fall Break, Parents’ Visit, Snow
My parents came out to visit while Brian and I were on fall break. We wanted it to be a relaxing weekend for all of us but Dad and Brian finished their one project (replacing the furnace filters) and also tackled replacing bathroom outlets, removing and adjusting door hinges, and repairing a kitchen drawer support. Mom and I cooked, tidied, and did manicures.Mom & Abby Manis

We did squeeze in a fun dinner-and-games night with our friends Pennie and Clay, a movie night, and a yummy Chinese buffet lunch, too.
October snow!I had hoped to take our guests on some walking adventures through our local zoo and the nature preserve, but the first snow of the season arrived on October 18 and canceled our outdoor plans.

Pumpkin Patch
For one of our weekly dates, Brian took me to a pumpkin patch and corn maze. We wound our way through the maze and found all the markers, then took photos with some of the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen! Brian’s thumbs-up in the collage is because he ordered sweet tea at lunch and the waitress left him a glass and a pitcher full of tea. He was a happy guy!
Pumpkin Patch
Halloween
The CCF group helped serve snow cones at the college’s Halloween party. Brian was Mayhem from the Allstate commercials and I was Flo from Progressive. Rounding out our group of leaders, Clay was Jake from State Farm, Pennie was the Orbitz “clean it up!” girl.
Halloween 2013
Mayhem & FloFunny story: I sketched the lettering for my Flo apron on paper and then transferred the outline onto the apron and painted it in acrylic. When I was about halfway through painting (starting at the E and working backwards), Brian came over for a look and frowned.
“What’s wrong?”
“Um… you forgot the I.”
“What?!” I had a tiny bit of space between the S and V so I squeezed in the missing letter and moved on.

It so happened that my sister was on speaker phone when he told me and she thought it was hilarious because I am usually good at conventional spelling and she was a more phonetic speller as a kid.

Share your funny (mis)spelling story or tell about your Halloween costume.

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Wedding Collages

We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!

Wedding Party Collage
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)

Wedding FunLeft to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.

3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.

4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.

5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?

7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.

8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).

9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”

10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.

11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.

12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”

13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.

14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.

15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”

I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”

“Dang, I lost a dollar!”

16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.

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Love Where You Live: Restaurants

Love Where You Live GBI am participating in Robin’s Love Where You Live series. This week’s theme is restaurants.

Since I have lived in Great Bend, Kansas, less than two months, I have not discovered many local restaurants yet. I do, however, have a favorite – Perks Coffee Shoppe!

Food & Drinks
Even though Perks has a menu of cafe-style foods, I have only tried the baked goods. I enjoyed every type of cookie I have tried as well as the miniature cinnamon rolls, “Mini’s.” So far my favorite treat has been the blueberry scones. I do not have a usual drink yet because I keep trying their numerous flavors in my standard Americano. So far my favorite is a butterscotch Americano, hot or iced.

LWYL-Perks
Atmosphere
I like people-watching and observing the stories swirling through the shop. On various visits, there have been locals who work nearby stopping in for lunch, a ladies’ group playing cards, a couple planning the next leg of their road trip vacation.

This seems to be a good place to bump into people you know or to meet new ones! I have heard “catching up” conversations between people who apparently had not seen each other in months. I have also seen chatty strangers who struck up a conversation about the local water quality and water filter recommendations while waiting for their orders.

Disclaimer: I do not own this business and am not paid to recommend anything, I just like places that sell delicious coffee and pastries. Now, if someone offers me free stuff, discounts, etc. for saying nice things about them, I will be sure to let you know.

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Lows & Highs: 4/17-4/23/13

Low: By the end of the day on Saturday, I felt as stuffed as if I had spent the whole day gorging on delicious food (which is true!). That is not much of a low but it is what I have!

Highs:
1) With the help of our mom, my sister planned and hosted the best wedding shower I have ever attended. (And I am not just saying that because it was mine!) She took all my “It would be fun if…” suggestions and blended them with her creativity to make a fun, laid-back shower. We invited ladies of all ages and let the youngest girls volunteer to be models for the toilet paper wedding dress game. I am not sure whether they had more fun letting us older ladies dress them up or tearing off the toilet paper at the end! We had delicious brunch food and a coffee/tea bar with my favorite homemade gingerbread syrup, too.
Shower1Collage
2) On Saturday afternoon, our group of five girls met up for coffee since the three out-of-towners were here for the shower. (We have been close since we were in senior high girls Bible study together). We caught up on new details and enthusiastically chatted about weddings, babies, pregnancy, husbands, and whether it is easier to parent boys or girls. (So far there are three sons in our group with another expected in May, so none of us really know.)

5 Girls April 2013

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Ping-Pong Ambush

Brian’s fortieth birthday was last week so I wanted a fun and memorable way to celebrate him. Even though we live 250 miles apart, we planned to meet at his parents’ house for his birthday dinner on his actual birthday (and other engagement festivities during the weekend).

Out of Nowhere
Brian knew something was up when he was setting up for college Bible study the night before his birthday. A few students were already in the room when one of the girls stuck her head in and motioned them to come outside. When he walked through the hall a few minutes later, the students immediately stopped talking. Near the beginning of Bible study, the ringleader gave him an envelope that contained a decorated plastic zipper bag and a note from me. He was about halfway through the letter when the students began throwing ping-pong balls at him! On each ping-pong ball, I had written a milestone from his life and a note from me.

The last part of the letter explained:
To honor and celebrate you on your milestone birthday, I have prepared an unconventional highlight reel of a few of the experiences, achievements, and blessings of your life so far. Enjoy!

Ambush #2
The next morning, on his birthday, Brian stood chatting with colleagues who share the same office area and told them about the students’ ambush from the night before. He went to his morning class and was trying to call the office secretary when she and the rest of his colleagues came “charging in and throwing ping-pong balls.” Brian was so surprised that he gaped at them, still holding the phone until it went to voicemail. He was not, however, as shocked as the student who was caught in the crossfire next to him!

Flashback: The Setup
Over a week before Brian’s birthday, I secretly recruited my co-conspirators via email and Facebook and then mailed them each a box of decorated ping-pong balls. They may have thought it was a weird request but both cheerfully agreed to help and to enlist others.

Back to the Birthday
After birthday dinner with his family and some relatives, Brian opened his gifts and wisely (or cautiously?) saved mine for last. The first package held a large jar and I asked if he knew what it was for.

“I have an idea.”

“You’re probably right. Where is that bag I suggested you keep handy?”

“In my car.”

“You should really go get it.”

“Oh, really?” He grinned as he started out of the room slowly and looked behind him. When he saw me going to get something, he began moving quickly in the direction of the car. I called after him, “Take your time!” but he didn’t listen and was back in the living room before we finished passing around the ping-pong balls. Brian sat there smiling and laughing while we all threw our projectiles at him and even his grandma joined in the fun!

Side note: The jar I liked and purchased to hold the ping-pong balls did not come with a lid, so my dad made a custom lid out of walnut.

BallJar

People ask how ping-pong balls became a symbol of our relationship. The short answer is that I have a vivid imagination and Brian listened and then added his own romantic spin. It has escalated from there.

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Lows & Highs: 9/26-10/2/12

Lows:
My low this week was feeling overwhelmed with trying to do my midterm project, prepare lessons for two different classroom observations, and month-end processing at work.

Students shared lows of finding out a godmother has a brain tumor, coping with a mom’s Huntington’s disease, hearing two classmates who were injured in a car wreck over the weekend, and worrying about a brother who was in a coma following a wreck. Please pray for these students and their families.

Note: I found out early this morning that the student’s brother passed away.

Highs:
1) I had to do a “Community Connection” project for my TESOL* practicum this semester, so I organized a bilingual story time at the public library and had an excellent turnout.
2) Both my classroom observations went well and I am feeling more optimistic about the rest of the semester now that I have passed those hurdles.
*Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

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