Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

December 30, 2008 marks 3 years of marriage for Chase and I. We went to the Cheesecake Factory for a dinner, yummo! Chase has something else planned for this weekend but he won't tell me what. We had a great conversation about this past year and the year to come. Our marriage has had by far the most growth this past year. What's the difference between this year and the 2 prior? Community. We have realized that left to our own devices we make bad decisions and are selfish. When you surround yourself with a community that is intimately involved in your life, it's a lot harder to fail.

Chase, I love you. Thank you for constantly pursuing me, being an amazing servant leader in our family, and having such a teachable heart. I look forward with great anticipation to see what the Lord will bring us through in the years to come.

First Class!

You can read about our traveling saga a couple posts down. Long story short, we got bumped to first class on one of our flights. This pictures isn't very good but you can get a general idea. I had veggie ravioli with grilled zucchini in a marinara sauce. A side salad, a roll, and flourless chocolate cake. And we can't forget about the REAL silverware! They also served complimentary wine, beer, and liquor. I stuck with the water since I wasn't feeling well.

It was nice to be bumped up to first class but I would NEVER pay for it. You pay severl hundred more for a little more leg room and a meal? This meal was pretty good but not worth a couple hundred dollars.

Graduation Cake

One of our good friends, Chewy (aka Chris), just graduated from UTD and is going into the construction business. I gladly made a cake for his big day. The bottom cake is chocolate with cream cheese filling and covered in butter cream. The top cake is a vanilla cake with raspberry and lemon cream cheese fillings and covered in butter cream. The tools, small hard hat, and diploma are made out of white chocolate. The large hard hat is sculpted rice crispy treats covered in fondant.

Things you don't see in Dallas

While visiting Oregon, I saw a few things that you probably wouldn't see in Dallas.

#3 I opened the car door and found this....3 feet of snow! I couldn't get out of that side and had to crawl to the other side to get out.

#2 Snow in a shopping cart INSIDE a grocery store.

#1 A wood bear sitting on a toilet, yes a real toilet, in the front yard.

This won us $50...

We went to a Christmas party ealier this month and they had a Christmas hat contest. Chase won and we got a $50 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory. Yum!

Christmas Traveling Saga

When the weather outside is frightful, airports can become less then delightful. Actually, our little saga had nothing to do with the weather but with mechanical issues. Let me back up a bit and say that I started getting sick the day after we arrived in Oregon and despite the meds and lots of vitamin C it only got worse. We left Oregon for the airport at 7am, drove for 4 hours to Boise, got on our plane and landed in Minnesota at 5:30pm. We got on our next flight that was only slightly delayed and headed home...just kidding! We got about 1/4 of the way to DFW when the we heard, "Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. We are having mechanical issues and need to go back to Minnesota. We'll be there in about 25 minutes." About 25 minutes later we heard, "We need to burn off some fuel before we land so we are going to fly around the city for about 50 minutes before we land." Long story short, by the time we landed back in Minnesota it was 10:20. We were originally scheduled to arrive at DFW by 10:05, very frusterating. They had another plane waiting for us when we landed but it wasn't going to get to DFW until 1:30AM. By then, I wasn't feeling well at all and just wanted to sleep. My wonderful hubby decided to ask if they would put us up in a hotel and get us on another flight the next day. They ended up putting us up in a nice hotel, giving us food vouchers, AND upgrading us to first class for the flight the next day!

Our flight didn't take off until 5pm so we had all day to kill time. Chase had never been to the Mall of America so that's where we headed. This was my third time to go and I still can't get over how big the place is. It's HUGE!

They have a store there that I just HAD to go see. Have you ever heard of Prairie Home Companion? No??? I grew up on this stuff! Now most kids grow up listening to sing-a-long tapes or Disney radio, not us. We listened to stories about Lake Wobegon with Garrison Kiellor. My dad loved this stuff. He could listen to it for hours. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click HERE, and you'll get a little insight to my early years. All that to say, the show is in Minneapolis and the Mall of America has store full of PHC t-shirts, Kiellor books, and CD's. My dad would be in heaven. This post is for you dad!

Side Note: I was the only person under the age of 55 in the store....
Below is a random pic of us in front of Kokomo restaurant in the mall.

Baby Andrew Cake

My cousin-in-law is about to have her third baby and I was asked to make a cake for a baby shower the day after Christmas. Congrats Nikki on another blessing from the Lord! I can't wait to meet baby Andrew.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas perspective from Iraq

Wow. I just received an email from a dear friend who went to college with Chase. He currently is deployed to Iraq. He sent us an email that was powerful. It gives a much needed perspective on the meaning of Christmas. It's well worth the read. Thank you for sharing Robert!

As I celebrate this Christmas in Iraq it is difficult to think of the birth of Christ as anything but the most bold sneak attack in the history of history. The same God who who trades twenty-two thousand soldiers for three hundred, would now dare to plan an invasion of earth in the form of a young woman, a Godly but little known man named Joseph, and a baby. Trusting these parents to raise and care for God who in this incredible plan shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

As I read the description of angels who destroy thousands of Assyrian warriors in a single night, every first born child and animal in Egypt, and certainly the rider on the white horse with eyes of blazing fire and a sword which comes out of his mouth to destroy the nations I can think of a few other options I might choose for an invasion of earth. Yet God in his sovereign plan and infinite wisdom chose a baby who wins the war, conquers death, and then leaves the responsibility to tell the rest of the world that the enemy has been defeated to the least likely candidates He could have chosen. Somehow those who were faithless, through Him became faithful and have brought us the same mission today.

I of course will miss being home with all of you during this holiday season. It is certainly a special time to be with family and friends, but if I must be away I am thankful that it is because God has chose to give me a role in the invasion that began two thousand years ago with a baby. Pray that I who so often have been faithless would through Him be faithful to the calling He has given me. I do need to thank everyone who has encouraged me through emails, letters, and care packages. It encourages me to hear God's work in your lives, and to hear how you are living out His calling in your own lives.

As a chaplain section we will of course have a lot going on during this next week and you can pray for the Christmas production put on by our Gospel choir, for all of the the Bible Studies going on including the WWF "Weekly Word Fellowship", our Christmas Eve and Day services, and even the Christmas movie marathon we are hosting. The plan is for our new chapel to be open, at least for one day and so I also would ask you to pray that the construction still needed is completed and we are able to move in and dedicate the building on Christmas Eve. Finally as important as events can be, pray for individual Soldiers, by name if you know them, that during this Christmas those who know Christ would have the peace that the King has come and conquered. For those who do not know Jesus pray that this would be the year they respond to the savior they have never know as their own. I wish you and all your families a Merry Christmas and pray that you are able to celebrate the invasion of our Lord. I pray that we would invite Him to invade each of our lives in a special way this Christmas.
God Bless

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things the Lord is teaching me

I've been hesitant to post about this because it is so controversial, especially among Christians. I post the following links in much love and with the intent to inform so that you can know what I wished I had known 3 years ago. When I've brought up this topic with some, it has been met with disbelief so instead of me trying to explain, I'm just going to post links so that others can do a much better job of explaining what the Lord has been showing me. Please please please go to these links, listen, read, and then bring it before the Lord.

You can download the entire book (which is actually really short) on the right side of this sight for free.

This is a video from a professor at Southwestern Theological Seminary.,%202008

Finally, to bring it all home listen to Voddie Baucham.

If you want other links, I've got a lot. These are just the three that sum it up the best.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crazy Texas Weather

There is a phrase that goes something like, "If you don't like the weather in Texas, wait 5 minutes." This phrase is only a slight exaggeration. This past weekend it was gorgeous! Low 70's sunny, perfect. Monday seemed to continue this pattern until about 1pm when the temperature dramatically dropped. We ended the night with a short but powerful storm that brought funnel clouds and a tornado about an hour north of us.

This morning the temperature while we were working out was a blistery 26 degrees but felt like 17 with the wind. BRRRR! Thank goodness Ally had us in the parking garage running stairs.

Rumor has it by this weekend it will be in the 70's again. I don't know how true that is, but it wouldn't surprise me. We got married December 30, 2005 and it was in the high 60's that day! Texas keeps our wardrobes on its toes!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I. Love. Camp. Gladiator!...

...This is something you can hear 35 crazy Dallasites shouting as we do jumping jacks outside at 5:30AM in the middle of DECEMBER! This morning it was 32 degrees! BRRRRR!

Confession, I haven't really worked out since I left my job at Life Time Fitness a year and a half ago. I've done the occasional spinning class but absolutly nothing consistant. Chase has tried his best to motivate me but I can be stuborn and have fought back everytime he encouraged me to get up and work out.

Have you ever seen the tv show American Gladiator? It was on years ago and started back up maybe 2 or 3 seasons ago? Anyway, the winner of season 2, Ally, goes to Watermark and has started doing boot camps. She offers a few different times and places and they normally run for 4 weeks. When I first heard about it, 4 weeks seemed really intimidating. For December she is doing a 2 weeker, due to the holidays, which seemed a lot more doable. I can do anything for 2 weeks right? Yes. I. Can!

Click HERE to see her website. We (Chase and I plus our good friends Chewy and Lindsay) get up at 4:40AM, out the door at 5, arrive at Watermarks parking lot at 5:15 to strech, and begin at 5:30. It's an hour of intense short sprints or drills that build endurance, tone, and improve cardio. Honestly, I can't believe I'm doing this. I've NEVER been athletic nor wanted to be. We started on Monday and I've already noticed a big difference in my endurance and I am SO sore the next day...which I'm told is a good thing. There is a 71 year old woman doing it with us and if she can do it, I have NO excuse not to push through.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tea Time!

Mom's best friend, Pam, is in town for a visit so mom took us to tea at the Chocolate Angel. We had a great time! Here are a few pics.
Above we have cheese with pimento sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, a Gruyere and ham croissant, curry chicken salad in a philo dough mini bowl, a cranberry scone, and mixed fruit with poppy seed yogurt dressing. Oh, and English black tea of course!

Above we have a delicious dark chocolate mouse (in the mini cup), a sugar cookie, dark chocolate brownie, and a strawberry.

Above: Grace, Pam, Mom, Me

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving for 60

Yep, 60 adults. We had a Thanksgiving feast at our apartment complex this weekend and planned on feeding 60. We had about 50 residents come so we have a little bit left over, but not much. I went to 3 different grocery stores on Saturday morning in order to keep the cost as low as possible. We get a monthly budget for apartment life so it didn't come out of our pocket but we still had to keep cost low.

We got the cost down to $2.50 per person which is pretty incredible for all the food we had. Below is the menu and then the shopping list...just in case you ever have to do Thanksgiving for 60.

Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls (mom brought them so they are not on the shopping list)
Pumpkin Pie
Devil Food Cheese Cake

Shopping List:
2, 18lb Turkeys (...I got a few funny looks at Sprouts when I was purchasing 2 huge turkeys)
12 sticks of butter
6 boxes of Stove Top Stuffing
15 lbs of potatoes
6 large bags of frozen green beans
6 cans of cream of mushroom soup
5 onions
1 large tub of mushrooms
12 garlic cloves
2 large tubs of fried onions
8 cups of grated cheese
12 lbs of sweet potatoes
Brown sugar
3 cups of chopped pecans
5 cans of cranberry sauce
2 cans of pumpkin puree
2 cans evaporated milk
Ground ginger
2 pie crusts
1 Devil Food Cake box
3 packages of cream cheese
Dutch cocoa
Bittersweet chocolate
Melting Chocolate

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EXCITING Life Update!!!!

Sometimes timing is humorous. Chase got home last night with some great news. There is a newer woman in his unit that actually wants to take his place for the April mission!!!! What does this mean? Chase is now the alternate NOT the primary. There is still a possibility that he would go, IF this lady backs out or IF they find out that she isn't elligable. Otherwise, he is off the hook!!! This is such a burden lifted. This weekend was full of roller coaster emotions for me for a coule reasons, but it ended with great emotions! PTL!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life Update

When I first posted about Chase's deployment there was a small chance that another guy from his unit would take his place. We learned this last weekend that the small chance has been depleted to no chance. It's official, Chase will leave in April for at least 6 months. There are a lot of un-knowns that won't be known until he gets there. We don't know if we'll be able to see each other even though he's only 3 hours away.

Chase gets back tomorrow after being away for 5 days with the Army. We haven't talked to each other at all and it's been HARD! Normally we can at least have a few conversations while he's gone but between a busy schedule on his part and horrible cell phone reception, there has been no communication. Grrrr. I will be extremely grateful to have him home tomorrow night.

I have a few friends who are military wives and their hubby's have been deployed overseas. Every time Chase is gone I gain more and more respect and appreciation for the sacrifice the entire family makes. To all the wives, thank you for supporting your husband as he serves. I only know on a small level what it's like...and it's not easy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PA Distribution Center-People, Scenery, Food

The Pennsylvania Distribution Center is the place where GAiN receives and sends it's humanitarian aid. Twice a year, we have a work project where thousands of volunteers come and help us process the aid. This year we had over 5,000 volunteers over the span of 9 days. They helped us process new and used clothing, medical supplies, shoes, school supplies, toys, and blankets. It was a lot of work but it was a blast!


The first picture encompasses about a third of the you can see, there were a lot of people and even more stuff to process! I did a bunch of tours for groups as they came in for the first time and I told them that this DC contains a lot of stuff...but this stuff is used as a tool to meet physical needs so that ultimately we can meet spiritual needs.

We process thousand of blankets.

This is my friend and co-worker, Melissa, who was with the kids the entire project. She helped the kids tie gospel bead bracelets around the necks of TY beanie babies.

Mr. Dave is in charge of
GAiN's water initiative. He set up a display at the PDC to help volunteers gain (ha! no pun intended) a glimpse of the worlds water issues. Did you know that over 6,000 children die every day from water related illnesses?

The first day I was at the PDC, I ran into this familiar family! Eric discipled Chase in college. They are on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and now live in PA doing ministry. I had NO idea they were going to be there, and they had no idea I even worked for GAiN!

Our (GAiN staff) lodging was provided by people in the community who opened up their homes to us for 10 days. Myself, Melissa, and 3 other woman stayed with a wonderful couple who were involved in the Church of the Brethren (similar to Mennonites). They live very simply, make the most amazing food, and are a true delight to be around. The couple we stayed with has small crop of neck-pumpkins (they pronounced it puN-kins). Mr. Shirk raved about neck-pumpkins and how much better they are for 'pun-kin' pie. They sold their small crop in their shed. They kept a money box in the shed and placed a sign in front that read 'Neck Pumpkins $2 each, on the honor system.'

The next 2 pictures were taken right outside the PDC...if you can't tell by the pictures, the PDC was in the middle of no-where PA. Amish farms surrounded the DC, it was incredibly beautiful!

I LOVE cultural food! It is one of my passions which is why I shop at so many ethnic grocery stores. Food is normally a large part of a culture so you can learn a lot about someone by understanding the food they eat and how it is prepared.
Below is a picture of Ham Balls.....yep, HAM. Balls. I wasn't too fond of it but at least I tried it. It's composed of shredded ham and a brown sugar type glaze packed tightly into the shape of a ball. It tasted good but had a unique texture that I didn't care for.

This one is a regular plane-Jane hamburger but it was served on a napkin! That's a first for me.

Ok, now for THE best gas station food EVER! I had heard from a couple people that I had to try the pretzel sandwich! As soon as I had an opportunity to get away from the DC, I went straight to Sheetz, a gas station that has AMAZING food!

Dun, dun na na! Behold, the pretzel sandwich! Yuuum Yum!

I also got a side of 3-cheese Mac & Cheese. It was the best gas station mac & cheese I've ever had! Oh, wait, I've never had gas station mac & cheese before Sheetz! It really was very good and creamy.

If your ever in the Lancaster County and see a Sheetz, STOP! Buy a pretzel sandwich! I might have to volunteer again for the PDC just for the opportunity to go to Sheetz.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Addition to our Family

No, we're not pregnant, we got a dog!!! I've been researching dog breeds for months now and finally narrowed it down to a labradoodle (lab and standard poodle mix) or a goldendoodle (golden retriever and standard poodle mix). Both breeds have the intelligence and little shedding of the poodle but have the gentle, fun-loving personality of the lab or retriever. They were originally bred to be therapy dogs so they make great pets. There is only one tincy wincey problem....they are expensive!!! Getting one from a decent breeder easily cost $1800, yikes!

About 6 weeks ago I posted a 'labradoodle or goldendoodle wanted' plea on craigslist. We had gotten a few hits but none of them worked out. Last week I got an email from a nice family about Jackson, a 2 year old, 63 lb goldendoodle. They had recently found out that the dad was HIGHLY allergic to the dog so they needed to find him a new home. They got him from a wonderful breeder in Missouri and had him shipped to Texas. He is neutered, up to date on shots, they gave us his crate, 6 months of heart worm and flea meds, collars, leashes, toys, and treats all for FREE! We are stocked! It will be great to have a dog around especially when Chase is deployed.

We were dog sitting for my mom this weekend. She has a 4lb dog and we now have a 63lb dog! It was very entertaining watching them play this weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cake Week

Somehow this week started and ended with long nights, early mornings, and cakes! One of our friends turned the big 4-0 Wednesday and the surprise bday party is tonight. It's been a pretty busy week so this one was a pretty fast cake to put together. It's a lot larger than it looks, its a 12" round cake double stacked. One of the commonly asked questions I get regarding cakes is "How long does it take to make?" The 'fast' ones take about 4 hours start to finish. The more colors and fancy fillings you add the longer it takes. Once the cake is assembled, it only takes me 1 - 1.5 hours to frost and decorate. Most of the time is spent baking, making the frosting, coloring the frosting, make fillings, rolling fondant, etc. Some of the more elaborate cakes take me 3-4 hours to decorate, plus the 3-4 hours of baking and assembling.

The cake below is a white vanilla cake with a layer of raspberry and a layer of orange cream cheese fillings with buttercream frosting.

The cake below was for another bday party earlier this week. I really like how this one turned out. I like the texture I was able to do on the bottom layer. I think I'll make this style cake again soon. The roses I made with buttercream. They take about 2 minutes each to make. I made them while the cakes were baking so it didn't any 'extra' time.

Both cakes were white chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting. The bottom cake had raspberry filling and the top cake had a white chocolate mouse filling.....can you tell they like white chocolate?

Halloween Costume

My creative hubby decided to dress up like his boss for Halloween this year. Don is a wonderful man and a great boss, but he has some quirky fashion. More days than not, Don comes into work wearing shorts (even in the winter months), long dark socks, sandals, and a short sleeve button down. Oh, and let's not forget about the beard without the mustache! Do you see the resemblance?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm here, I'm here!

Whew! It's already November! October went by SO quickly. Sorry I haven't updated this in over 2 weeks. I was out of town for a week and when I got home, it was non-stop craziness. I was in the great state of Pennsylvania in small town Mt. Joy deep in the heart of Amish country. It was gorgeous!!! I have some pics that are on my camera that I left at home today. GAiN's (where I work) distribution center is in Mt. Joy and twice a year we do a work project with volunteers. This year we had over 5,000 volunteers who, over the course of 9 working days, helped us process millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid that will be shipped out to over 30 countries. I'll be doing several posts in the next couple days about my time there.

One of my good friends' mom past away last week. She died of cancer that was diagnosed only 6 short months ago. I saw the family a couple days before she passed. Death always makes me re-evaluate life, my priorities, my relationship with the Lord, my passions. Chase and I were both honored to be apart of the service. My heart breaks for my friend, her brother, and her father who have lost someone so dear. I am so grateful that God, in His infinite sovereignty, made a way for us, who have rejected Him over and over, to have an intimate relationship with Him and ultimately spend an eternity wholly restored to perfect fellowship.

So the election is tomorrow and I didn't get a chance to early vote. Yep, I'll be standing in a long line with the other 73% of procrastinates. I had intended to vote several different times last week but things kept coming up that need immediate attention. Todd, the pastor at Watermark, did a GREAT job with yesterday's sermon regarding the election. You should listen to it before you vote. Click HERE. He presents a lot of history that I had never considered before. Oh, and while your at it, listen to last weeks sermon on Redemption...wholly cow!...I was in tears by the end.

I've never been good at remembering important dates, until this past year. Every time I see a new Doctor I have to download the past years history with dates and all. Dates of surgery's, dates of treatments, dates, dates, dates. Earlier this week I was thinking about some of last years dates and was reminded that one year ago exactly, we found out we were pregnant. We weren't trying, in fact, I had just had my first surgery so we were shocked! A lots happened this past year...kind of daunting to think about. There are so many lessons learned and so many He is in the middle of teaching me. I know now more than ever that the Lord IS in control and His timing is perfect. I can't control when or if we have a biological child, and that is ok. I know He already knows the children He will entrust us with, its just a matter of time...and I will rest in that.

Stay tuned, pictures of PA coming soon!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life Update

It always feels like there's a lot going on in our small world. I heard a quote last week that has rung true in our life lately. "God is the God of curve balls." We found out last week that Chase is scheduled to be deployed in April for at least 6 months. The orders will be cut for 12 months but most likely it will just be 6...hopefully. The GREAT news is that it is NOT overseas, he's being deployed to Oklahoma. Yep, you can be deployed in the states. It's complicated but basically his units mission is to run basic training camps in Oklahoma.

We knew that this was coming down the pike so it wasn't a HUGE shocker but reality is starting to set in. I'm so grateful that I won't have to worry about his safety or even figure out time zones when I want to talk to him. I may even be able to see him once in a while during the deployment.

Logistically, a lot will have to be worked out. We are still trying to have a baby so Lord willing, if we are pregnant (and stay pregnant) before he leaves, I'll most likely have a bambino while he is gone. We will also have to figure out something with Apartment Life. It requires 70 hours a month so I will definitely want someone else to help me out with that.

The Lord is in control and I'm SO grateful for that.

Football Fever

Chase is a Red Skins fan in Cowboy land...the wrong place to display red. As you are all painfully aware, the Skins beat the Cowboys a couple weeks ago...I know I know, I tried to forget as well. After that game, Chase decided to bring his Skins shirt to work and proudly display it on his chair. Another department got a hold of his shirt and decided to change a few things.

Ha ha ha....potato skins! Clever. Let's take a close look at that helmet...
I love you Chase but this is funny!

Canton Suprises

I, along with my sister and a friend, went to Canton First Monday Trade days just over a week ago. We had a great time and I was able to stock up on some Christmas gifts.

I'm glad I brought my camera because we saw a few things that made me say, "Really???"

Here we go.
Yes, that is camouflage bikini's and lingerie! We even saw some women actually seriously look at this display....Really????
Beehives. Empty beehives. Hum....for sale. Selling beehives? Really???

Root Beer Tasting

Something we've been wanting to do for a while is have a root beer tasting contest. We LOVE root beer! There are so many brands of root beer and we wanted to see which brand we liked best. Honestly, I thought they were all similar. Boy was I wrong! They were all distinctively different.

Chris and Lindsay came over to help us figure out the winner. We had a great time! Great to hang out with friends!

Here are the cast of characters....Parkers (the cheap brand), A&W, IBC, Stewarts, Hansens, Mug, and Barqs. Let's see what happens...

Yep, Chris is smelling the root beer. He was very methodical in his approach.

And the winner is????.....More like winnerS. After much agony and full tummies, we came to different conclusions.

Lindsay's by-far winner is.....

Chase's not-so-clear winner is....
And Chris and my VERY clear winner is.....
There you have it folks. I was really hoping that I would like the cheap brand the best...but alas, I like the most expensive! Stewart's was $6 for 4!!!!!

On a side note, Hansens was the EXTREMELY clear LOSER!!!! Yuck! Blah! Spat!!!! It was HORRIBLE! But I guess that's what you can expect from a diet soda.