Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
Editor’s note: Hi all, sorry this is a day late! Yesterday was a busy and rough day for Nathan and me, and I didn’t get a chance to make sure that this post went up. I scheduled it to post yesterday morning, but sometimes WordPress gets a little glitchy. -Sydney
I go to school in a small town. Smaller than small. Main Street (its actual name, by the way) is less than a mile long. There’s a coffee shop, a Chinese restaurant, a pizza place, and dozens of churches. My school sits on the outskirts. Right between broken suburbia and a town that, despite its best efforts, can’t seem to quite get its feet underneath it. Between the quant coffee shop teeming with college students getting their caffeine buzz and the churches that usher people through their wide open door every Sunday, there is a current of sadness. Of despair. A current that speaks to the fact that people are people. Sometimes it’s hard to notice. As a college student, I often forget that a world outside my own, tests, papers, friends, late-night ice cream runs, exists. People refer to it as “the bubble.” People here mean the bubble of college, but when we get right down to it, I think we all live in our own little bubble. We live in a world whose values contradict those of the gospel. Where the gospel recounts the oldest story in history, the world values all things new; new and shiny and gleaming with seemingly endless promise. Where the gospel celebrates sacrifice, the world celebrates ambition. The kind of ambition that tells you to do whatever it takes to get to the top. Where the gospel centers around community, the world says each man is in it for himself. It’s this pursuit of individuality that causes us to stumble. Where Christ is wrapping people in his loving arms, we’re pushing them away with one hand and showing them the door. In order to grow closer to the God that loves us so dearly, we must cultivate lives and habits that are driven by a deeper desire to know him. In order to get to know him and spread his word, we must get to know those around us. Christians, pagans, children, adults, people we love, people we hate… they are all created in his image and deserve an opportunity to witness Jesus’s love for them in real time.
Back in high school, I spent countless hours at one of my very best friend’s houses. Despite her being a new student, it took us virtually no time to become fast friends. Her mom’s arms seemed to always be open for a warm embrace and I smiled at the sound of dad’s southern drawl as he told stories inevitably ended with raucous laughter. I relished the times spent at their kitchen counter, balanced on a wooden stool, laughing and talking. I knew where to find the chips and dip, I knew that there would always be a jug of sweet tea in the fridge, and most of all, I knew I was always welcome. And it wasn’t only me that felt the magnetic attraction that the family had. Their reputation quickly became one of inclusiveness. It didn’t matter where you were from or what your story was, you always had a place waiting for you in that little blue clapboard house. It seemed to me, and countless others, that they never tired of welcoming people into the fold of Christ’s love.
Hospitality, as it’s called in our language, is always an easier idea in our heads than it is in our hearts. We have a grand notion that being hospitable means putting on a good face and circulating an artfully arranged platter of hours d’oeuvres. Our culture places such an emphasis on perfection that hospitality is a nearly impossible, and easily avoidable task. We’ve made it too simple to use our imperfection as an excuse to close our doors and live out our lives in quiet solitude. What we are forgetting is that our perfect God died a vicious death so that he could exist amidst our everyday messes. In fact, God wants us to invite people our less-than-perfect, disorganized, sloppy lives so we can show people how he uses imperfect beings like us to make his kingdom beautiful. So instead of worrying about what shoes we’re going to wear or what food we’re going to serve, let’s simply offer an invitation and trust that God will orchestrate the rest.
Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
[Mi-24. A Russian attack helicopter]
For this year’s Fall break we headed to see my Grandpa, and on the way home we stopped by the Pima Air and Space Museum. This museum may be Nathan’s most favorite place anywhere. It is full of old military planes, retired civilian airliners, and a big “boneyard” of airplane parts. Nathan is plane obsessed, and it makes me happy to watch him explore the museum every time we go. I also feel like I get an education each time- Nathan can rattle off facts about planes at an alarming rate.
[CH-37 transport helicopter]
[Sikorsky Sky Crane]
[B-58 Hustler (the “sexiest bomber ever” according to Nathan)]
My favorite part of the museum is in the yard where they have turned about six planes into art installations. These planes are decorated in wacky and beautiful ways, and they fascinate me every time I see them.
The museum’s website: here
More on the art installation: here
A listing of the planes at the museum: here
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Sometimes we look nice for church, and on those days I like to document it. It’s not that we look really sloppy for church all the time, we just normally go a little more casual. On this particular Sunday, our God-daughter was baptized. When my friend Meredith asked us to be God-parents, I was totally overwhelmed (in a good way). It has been such a joy to know little Ioanna and to watch her grow. She gets bigger every single week.
It has also been fun to watch Nathan interact with her. He isn’t real big on babies, unless they are our nephews. But he is so great with Ioanna. He smiles at her and laughs and she gives him the biggest smiles. It is the cutest. He’ll be such a great Dad some day.
Monday, November 3rd, 2014
College is the foundation for any identity crisis. At least, that’s what I would argue. Here I am, in a new place, with new people, and no idea what I want to do. I mean, to be fair, I do have a vague idea of what I would like my life to look life after these four years are over, but beyond those wispy ideas knocking around my head, it’s a time characterized by a lot of uncertainty. I ask myself a lot of questions; questions about who I am and what I want to be doing and what I should be doing and did I eat enough vegetables on Tuesday. Besides creating a lot of awkward situations in which it appears I am talking to myself, all of my relentless questioning creates a lot of pressure. It’s self-made pressure, for sure. There’s no beating around it. It would certainly be easier if I could shrug the responsibility or the blame off to someone else, someone else who has got their life together and actually knows what they are doing beyond 5PM. But the truth is, we are notoriously our hardest critics.
I’ve always been extremely tightly wound. A classic type-A person. It manifests itself in different ways. In my obsession with tradition, my distinct distaste for change, and my inability to sleep in an un-made bed. It’s certainly served me well over the years to be detail-oriented and extremely organized. (I was still picked last for kickball, but hey, we can’t all be good at everything…) Most often, however, it rears its ugly head in the form of crippling stress. Stress that causes endless tears and headaches and sleepless nights. Stress that makes even the simplest of tasks seem insurmountable.
I had three tests this week and in a slightly un-characteristic turn of events, I found myself remarkably un-stressed for the first time in a long time. At first, it was marvelous. All, “Wow, look at me! Way to go! I’ve got this!” And then, of course, as was to be expected, I freaked. The kind of freak that starts with some shallow panicky breaths and ends with lots of back rubs and hiccup-y tears. I was so frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy life in the moment. Frustrated that I had three tests. Frustrated that no matter how hard I tried, stress always seemed to win me over.
It was over breakfast with someone older, someone wiser, that I realized the real root of my problem. Here I was, sitting across from someone whose hair hadn’t been washed in a few days, who was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and who was a little behind on her reading. But what struck me was her joy. She found a profound sense of joy in being who she was and enjoying it. She didn’t spend her time comparing herself to other people or trying to measure up to the standards of the world. She was happy to be herself. I found myself, at the age of nineteen, feeling a little bit like someone had punched me in the gut. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to oversleep and make mistakes and not wash your hair for three days. We are all imperfect children of a perfect king. That means we get to own it.
Friday, October 31st, 2014
Happy Halloween! Are you doing anything fun? Nathan and I are heading to a friend’s house to hand out candy and watch movies. Kids aren’t allowed to trick-or-treat at our apartment complex. I was feeling pretty bummed about not being able to hand out candy, so I’m looking forward being able to throw candy into trick-or-treat bags.
I hope that your night is fun, safe, and candy filled. I am fully prepared to mini candy bar myself into a sugar coma.
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Dear Husband, happy birthday.
I can’t believe that the goofy, shaggy haired, football playing, history geek that I fell in love with at 16 is now 21. You’re finally legally allowed to do everything (ha).
Your silly smile this morning when I told you “happy birthday” was the best part of my day. Birthday’s never got you too excited, but you’ve been talking about this one for a while.
You are so young still, but you have taken on a lot of responsibility. You took on the responsibility of being a husband, the responsibility of a future commitment to your country, the responsibility of school and work and bills and life. You chose to grow up perhaps a lot faster than most.
You have become an incredible man.
I am endlessly thankful for you. This marks the fifth birthday that I have celebrated with you, and each year I am reminded that your life has been a gift to me.
So, while none of your gifts managed to make it here on time (and you have class absolutely all day today), I hope that your birthday is everything you want it to be.
I love you, handsome man.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Today, Natalie of Hey Natalie Jean instagrammed about the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe that is over on her blog. I remember reading the recipe when she first posted it and thinking that the cookies sounded SO GOOD. Well, a whole Fall season went by and I didn’t make the cookies, so today was the day. I happened to pick up a can of pumpkin puree the last time we were at Trader Joe’s and I was only missing a few other ingredients, so a quick convincing of Nathan to swing by the grocery store on our way home and the cookies were a go. The recipe is here.
I should warn you that the recipe made FOUR pans of rather large cookies, so keep that in mind when making them in case you don’t want that many cookies. Or in case you have a husband who is pumpkin/cinnamon/Fall averse and you don’t want to eat them all yourself and do irreparable damage to your waistline (not that I would know about that…). I am planning on taking a whole bunch to work, and maybe some to our apartment office, and perhaps sending a batch with Nathan to his office and then we will still have a ton left. It makes a whole lot of cookies, is what I am saying.
The cookies are cakey and sort of doughy, but also firm-they feel substantial. Really delicious.
I used a mix of milk chocolate chips and semi sweet chips and also threw in some mini chocolate chips for good measure. Her instructions say to use as much chocolate as you need spiritually, and my soul NEEDS chocolate. Three different kinds of chocolate chips is definitely not overkill. I used a tablespoon of pumpkin spice seasoning, plus a few extra dashes of cinnamon, and while she recommends a half a cup of canola oil, I went ahead with the whole three quarters cup. I also made them at midnight, which probably doesn’t make them taste any better but I think it adds to the satisfaction of eating the first one out of the oven.
Anyway, now the whole house smells like Fall.
Now a quick note about our little jaunt to the grocery store for the missing cookie ingredients:
We decided to go to what we (and everyone else) refer to as the “Ghetto Smiths”. This grocery store sits on the corner of two streets in the University area and it has a reputation for being pretty sketchy. “Ghetto Smiths” runs are reserved for last minute things that you don’t want to go to the nice Smith’s for, but want badly enough that you are willing to risk being stabbed instead of waiting to go to the nice Smith’s. I’m sort of kidding-I’ve never been legitimately afraid for my life before, but others have warned me that such things could happen if I shop at the “Ghetto Smiths”. In fact, up until recently, I don’t think that the “Ghetto Smith’s” even had a produce section. But, I noticed the other day that they now have a full produce section that actually looks really nice. Movin’ on up, “Ghetto Smith’s”.
Right, so, I decided that cookie ingredients were definitely important enough for a trip to the “Ghetto Smith’s” and Nathan agreed to stop by on the way home. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed what looked to be a mob of enthusiastic middle schoolers. Upon closer inspection, we realized that they were middle schoolers who were hanging out with bins for people to drop food pantry donations in.
They were standing right outside the entrance and they were loudly “encouraging” people to donate food. I mentioned to Nathan that we should pick up a canned good because food banks do a lot of good in our city etc.. etc….(ok, and also because the middle schoolers kind of intimidated me). And Nathan emphatically told me NO!
He was not interested in buying a canned good because he didn’t like the way that the kids were trying to garner donations. Although, he didn’t protest too much when I picked up a couple cans of soup. When we dropped the soup in the bin the kids cheered and clapped their hands. Nathan felt very awkward about that part (to his credit, it was pretty weird to have people cheer for you as you exit the grocery store and it always feels weird and wrong to have someone “pat you on the back” for doing any sort of charitable anything).
Nathan did have a good point. These kids were being pretty aggressive in their attempts to get people to donate. Not everyone got cheers, and some of the kids said some questionable things. I definitely wouldn’t recommend their approach, but I think their hearts were in the right place.
The point of this is that it was pretty funny that I wandered through the grocery store jokingly arguing with my husband about why spending a few bucks on chicken noodle soup was a good call. Anyway…
The moral of this story is that Nathan and I both felt good about supporting the food pantry even in a small way. Our city has a lot of poverty and, having worked at the food bank before, I know that they offer a valuable resource for people. If you have time to volunteer or extra funds to help stock your local food pantry (or help out with any of your local charities) then I would really encourage it.
Happy Wednesday. The week is almost over- YAY!!!
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
This outfit is basically everything I aspire for in a Fall get-up. I am pretty much over skinny jeans. Bring on the slouchy silhouettes.
Hi. How are you? I’m still alive, barely. Last week was so nuts (hence the lack of posts). I promise I’m gonna get my crap together this week.
Let’s start off with something fun and delicious:
Dark chocolate, pistachio rice krispy treats. click the link. make the treats. be happy.
-Nathan and I took a quick trip for Fall break, and I have a whole post for you on that. Aren’t you excited?! It has pictures and everything.
-I bought a pot roast when we were at Costco. I have big plans for throwing it in the crock pot. Nathan LOVES his mom’s pot roast which makes me feel a little intimidated. Will mine pass the test of my meat and potato lovin’ man?
-Can we just talk about that Molly on Monday post yesterday??? So so good. That girl. She speaks to my soul.
-I am procrastinating as I type. I should be doing a particularly tedious Psychology assignment. Between this blog that I’ve been neglecting and Gilmore Girls on Netflix, homework is quite the endeavor.
Monday, October 20th, 2014
As I write this, I’m sitting in a beautiful lobby, in a beautiful building, on a beautiful campus. Yet, somehow, I feel less than beautiful at the moment. I don’t really want to be at school right now; in fact, I’d much rather be at home, where I was a mere four hours ago, snuggled on the couch, basking in the sunlight, reading for pleasure, and enjoying the comforts of home. Alas, fall break is over, and tonight I was welcomed back to Grove City with a marvelous sunset. It is always so funny to me, how such beauty exists in such a place of struggle.
From day one, college has been a challenge for me. I was challenged academically, as I learned how to study for tests and prepare for classes. I was challenged socially, living as an introvert in a hall full of extroverted girls. But most of all, I was challenged emotionally. I missed my family and the sweet simplicity of life back home, where things like GPAs and midterms and papers didn’t seem to carry as much weight. I’ve cried more tears in the past eight weeks than I have in a long time. At the same time, I’ve been richly blessed in a multitude of ways. The people here are kind and loving and have come alongside me while I am feeling lost. My parents, although lacking in physical proximity, are a mere phone call away. They love me in the midst of my pain.
It’s funny how beauty exists in the midst of such intense struggle. I feel lonely right now. I would love a hug from my mom. But instead, God has placed me here. I am here to learn. I am here to love. And I find, most often, that when we lean in to him, the gritty fray of life doesn’t necessarily go away, or even get any easier, but the little things, the small moments of joy, are illuminated. They shine bright in a sea of relentless studying and reading and writing. And tears. They even manage to shine through tears.
God is so intentional. He loves us in the midst of our failures and insecurities. He is acutely aware of our pain and wants us to be aware of his love. I find that on nights like these, when I miss home, and the tears just don’t seem to stop, that when I put down my work and focus on him, his peace washes over me in an amazing way. On nights like those, all we can do is rest in his unfailing love and grace and mercy. We must rest in the fact that he is God, and we are not. And in time, he will make all things good.
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
So, New Mexico has the Taos River Gorge and it is amazing. We stopped by on our way to Eagle’s Nest, and took in the view. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery on my big girl camera, so I only had the iPhone. We definitely plan on going back-and not forgetting to charge the camera!
This bus hung out in the Gorge parking area and sold snacks.
Not the Gorge. But close to the Gorge. Fun story: That little cage looking thing is actually a trolly. It runs along a cable from one side of the river to the other. Nathan surmised that it is probably used mostly by rangers. But very brave rangers ‘cuz it looked straight up terrifying and rickety (so says me).