Friday, November 30, 2012

Pre-Nephew Celebrations

Our family is officially at the 5 week mark before we are scheduled to meet our newest family member! (although all the docs are telling Allie she will go early...) To celebrate my other SIL, Heidi, and I threw Allie a shower last weekend. It wasn't anything super big, but we had a lot of fun and really enjoyed getting together with family and friends to celebrate a little boy who is so loved already!

I was in charge of decorations, and I knew going into the shower that I wanted to make some poms that  Nana and Kaitlin pulled off so beautifully at several parties they had hosted. I also like to have a non-thinking project around this time (exam season) so it worked out perfectly!

We didn't go with any "theme" just colors - blue, brown, and white.

We welcomed guests into the home with this verse - which has become such an important verse for our family during this pregnancy. Allie and Todd had been praying God would bless them with a child for quite awhile and Allie has had some challenging health issues along the way. Heidi and I decided to stem off this verse and take a different tone to this shower. Allie had already had 2 previous showers and so we decided to make this more of a time to recognize God's greatness in the gift of this little boy and to bask Todd and Allie in prayer as they enter into parenthood. One of the ways we did this was by choosing to forego typical "shower games." Instead my mom gave a really beautiful devotion and the guests spent some time writing down prayers/blessings/wishes for Allie and the baby for Allie to read later on.

These are the poms - we hung several large ones around the family room using those hooks that can easily be pulled off the wall - they worked great!

One of my favorite things was taking smaller poms and putting them on spray-painted, ribbon wrapped dowels. They gave a flower effect and we used them as part of the centerpiece on the food table.

This sign was another simple project that I worked on and ended up loving. It hung between where we served the food and the family room where we primarily held the shower.

We wanted to have some favors for the guests, but again keep them simple. So we went with homemade chocolate chip cookies that fit the color theme perfectly!

We held the shower in the afternoon (which worked well for out-of-town guests) and served a spread of appetizers and desserts.

I love these ladies so much! (Lexi LOVES her sleep and so she decided to take a nice long afternoon nap instead of joining us for the shower :) ).

And I cannot end this post without a shotout to these guys. My dad and Brandon were amazing in helping clean and help set up for the shower and they had a little extra bonding time while putting one of the gifts together (a highchair).

Come soon little boy! I can't wait to meet you! (and find out what your mommy and daddy are going to name you!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Newcomer

As I mentioned in my last post, Thanksgiving this year brought a special guest.

The last couple of months have been crazy. That is really the absolute only way I can explain it. The timing hasn't necessarily been what I would have preferred or expected, but the end result is that I am experiencing a completely new sense of happiness, calmness, and excitement than I ever had before.

Meet Brandon.

I could go on and on about what an incredible man of God Brandon is and how he is passionate about his family, friends, faith, and work.....but the short of the story is that Brandon and I have begun to get to eachother and eachother's families in an intentional manner.

The challenge = Brandon lives in Minnesota, I live in Michigan

How then did we meet? You might remember my friend Jess, who I have mentioned before. Brandon is actually one of Jess' husband's best friends. We had met occasionally during the time Jess and Rob were living in Michigan, but during those times we were both in different relationships. This fall, everything kindof clicked into place and we started talking - a lot!

To be honest, I was nervous. Nervous that I was jumping into something too quickly after ending things with Justin, nervous about dating someone long distance, etc. On the other hand, I was amazed at the connections Brandon and I shared in our values, goals, beliefs, thoughts, etc. 

And so the flights began. We are blessed in that Brandon's mom works for the airlines so we can both fly standby. This has given Brandon the chance to come out to Michigan for several short visits - however for Thanksgiving he was able to stay for several days, which was really nice. 

Thanksgiving Dinner

I would have to say that one of my favorite parts of the trip occurred during Thanksgiving itself. During his last few visits, my grandpa and dad had been teasing Brandon that they were going to have a background check done on Brandon. Brandon actually had a report done on him for work this past summer. So as we all sat around after finishing the meal, Brandon presented my dad, grandpa, and brother with a 47-page background check on himself! Let's just say he won a couple of points all around :)

Up next = I fly to Minnesota for Christmas to spend some time with Brandon's family.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

I truly do have so many things to be thankful for this year. It has been a year full of ups and downs and many changes that I never expected, but in the mix of it all I have drawn closer to God and realized his blessings on an even greater level.

1. I am thankful for my family. For their caring hearts and commitment towards one another. We may not always be the best communicators, but we genuinely try, and the last years has particularly demonstrated that when things get tough we stick together.

2. I am thankful for new life. In a little over a month a new family member will join our mix. Many prayers have been offered up for his life and for the ability for my brother and his wife to be able to have children. Last year at this time there were alot of questions about what lied ahead in the future of their family - this year we are all eagerly anticipating the opportunity to embrace and love a new little boy into our family!

3. I am thankful for my church family. Due to the circumstances of the last couple of months I had been trying out other local churches. Last week I decided it was time to return to my home church and I was welcomed with open and loving arms. Big churches may have the advantage of drawing in strong pastors and talented worship leaders, but I would never choose that over the incredible community of my smaller home church.

4. I am thankful that my Grandma and Grandpa TM are celebrating this Thanksgiving and Christmas in the arms of our loving Savior - and the fact that they were able to enter his kingdom together this year. Although the last several months have been difficult, there have been many many times that someone in our family has commented that we are so grateful they were both taken on the same day, and how much sadder it would have been if today we were caring for one or the other of them who was lonely and missing their partner's companionship.

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for a very special guest who is joining my family for the Thanksgiving holidays with the purpose of getting to know me and my family better. God can work in incredible and often surprising ways, but more on that later! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Unexpected Idol

I've had an idol for a large part of my life and have spent many years ignoring facing it. To give myself a little bit of a break, I don't think I fully understood that I was holding onto this idol so tightly until recently.

My idol is marriage.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother. I was naming my future children from as early on as I can remember and have notebooks filled with sketches of wedding dresses and home layouts. (it's alright to pause here and laugh at my inner-nerd) As a child, I remember thinking that everyone I knew who was truly happy had a family. My parents were an incredible demonstration of love towards each other and us kids and I always wanted what they had.

On one level, I think it is strange to think about marriage as an idol - after all, isn't it a good thing? Isn't it something that can be completely beautiful and God honoring? If so, how can it be made into an idol?

We all know the truth - too much of a good thing can be bad for us. 

For me, marriage became something that I wanted so bad that it not only began to cloud my judgment, but it began to pull me away from God and his plan for my life.

And this is where I take my step of vulnerability in this post. In my past relationship I was dating a man who is an incredible Christian and has a true heart for God and others. I will never have anything bad to say about him and I truly cared about him. But I think the reality is that I allowed myself to get so emotionally pulled into the idea of creating a life with this man and having a family together that I ignored the questions my family raised and the doubts I was having in my own mind.

At the end of August I knew things needed to end. And the moment I realized that I was petrified. I realized that I could stay in the relationship and things would probably continue on fine and I knew that eventually there would be an engagement and marriage. On the other hand, I could face the feelings of frustration and confusion and choose to walk into a place of complete vulnerability. 

The moment I chose the path of vulnerability was the moment I surrendered my idol to God. I gave control over his plan for my life back to him and released my clutch on what had been my plans and my idea for the perfect future. From that moment on I truly felt peace - yes, the next days were difficult and I felt sad and lonely at times, but I also felt a peace in knowing I had made the right decision. 

I think marriage can often be an idol for young (and old) women. We live in society that idealizes weddings (which is ironic considering we have such a high divorce rate). I think getting excited about a wedding and praying for your future husband is a fine thing - but are you thinking about what happens after you say "I do"? Are you with someone just because you want to make it to the alter or because this truly is the man you believe God has chosen for you to spend the rest of your life with? 

Most importantly, don't be in a rush. I've had to learn that just because my friend's are getting engaged, walking down the aisle, and becoming momma's doesn't mean that I have to do it too. God has a plan for each of us - and it is a perfect plan that is superior to anything we could ever plan on our own.....and that might mean serving him in the role as a single adult.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Encouraging Words

I spend quite a bit of time in the car each day. Often times it is easy to drone out the morning traffic with music or talk radio (NPR carried me through the election :)) but one of my favorite things to do is listening to sermons. Not only do I feel more awake when I have something to focus on listening to, but I've also noticed a positive change in my mood when I start the day off engaging in God's word.

I've come to find some pastors who I really enjoy and thought I'd share -

Greg Boyd - Pastor at Woodland Hills in Minnesota - I've had the blessing to hear Greg Boyd in person several times during my visits to Minnesota. Something I really enjoy about him is his use of scripture throughout his teaching and how his sermons are often more intellectual challenging. 

Jeff Manion - Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan - I attended Ada during my undergrad years. Jeff has done some powerful sermon series over the years, including one I especially enjoyed on Paul. Something I enjoy about Jeff's teaching is that he speaks with passion and emotion.

Craig Groeschel - Life Church in Oklahoma - I was introduced to Craig Rochelle through a Bible study I did on his book Weird. He has an excellent sermon on examining a biblical perspective to worrying which I thought was excellent!

Other sermons/bible studies I've also enjoyed lately have been given by Francis Chan, Dr. S.M. Davis, and Beth Moore.

What about you? Do you have any favorite pastors you enjoy listening to on a regular basis?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pending Results....

For an hour and a half this morning I waited in this line...

to get this sticker :) 

Thought to remember as voting continues and the results are revealed:

"If you have any fear in life you are not fixing your eyes on Jesus and keeping your trust in God."

(spoken in a sermon by Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church in regards to the election)

Presidents will come and go, but the Lord's reign is eternal.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things

There is a montre people like to associate with law school....

The first year they scare you to death,

The second year they work you to death,

The third year they bore you to death.

Well the first year I was definitely scared out of my mind, and last year I was very very busy, but I would say this final year is more of a combination of all three --> I'm petrified of taking the BAR come July and finding a job, my school and work schedule is the busiest it has ever been, and I am bored out of my mind (seriously 19 years of school is more than enough...). 

Thus the lack of blog posts!

But yet life goes on. One of the big things around Detroit in the last couple of weeks was the Tigers quick rise (and fall) in the World Series. My baseball loving cousin surprised us all by flying in last minute from California for the games (well, really his girlfriend's brother plays for the Giants, so more like he came to see the games and we fit in some family time throughout). 

Although the Tigers ultmimate performance was a clear disapointment, whoever was in charge of writing the newspaper headlines was certinly creative - here are some of what we saw during the last 2 weeks of the series:

Rain delay? Reign Delay!

Giant Headache!

Seriously though our time with Gerrit was a blast. Gerrit is hands down my favorite (and only) C family male cousin - he is full of laughs and fits right in with my brothers. I have to admit that I really missed him when he left! Having him around was kindof like having a little brother - well, little in the sense of age, he is so tall that he barely fit through our doorways!

Gerrit, Grandma, Grandpa, Todd, Allie, mom, me

Gerrit and me with Grandma and Grandpa (we like to claim we are the favorites :))

Manicures and Pedicures have become a VERY regular occurrence around our house - I love having girly girls!

The boys - I don't know if this is just a C family thing, but my dad, uncle and Grandpa have always been slightly obsessed with comparing each others height and weight to one another (they always want to be the tallest and the leanest) - the reality is, even though Gerrit is the youngest in the family he is by far the tallest and has the most muscle!

Gerrit was also the kiddos favorite plaything for the weekend - they LOVED him!

Mama-to-be at 7 months! We are getting so excited to meet this little guy! 
This month is full of baby showers and nesting projects. I might be bias but I think she is probably the cutest pregnant lady I've ever seen.

Trying (unsuccessfully) to feel some kicks (and yes I really am almost a foot taller than Allie!)

Whenever the going gets tough I am quickly reminded by how blessed I am to be surrounded by such an amazing, loving, family. 

"You don't choose your family, they are God's gift to you as you are to them."
Desmond Tutu