Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Tags

I put this off as long as possible (and actually a little too long because we got a ticket) but we finally had to change our plates from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma last week.

I don't know why I was so attached to those yellow & blue pennsylvania plates, but I did not want to let them go. Not only are the Oklahoma plates unattractive, but it seems so "official" now that I live in Oklahoma, and all of a sudden, I think I am a little homesick. (most likely it's the heat, though.) Fortunately I didn't have to surrender the cool PA plates to the tag agency (like how they meanly took my PA driver's license. jerks!) and now we get to hang them proudly in our garage.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If you can't find me, I'll be at Hobby Lobby

I've really liked Hobby Lobby ever since I was introduced to the store back in 2003, but I've never wanted to go back so often as I do now. It's not just for the craft ideas, the cute home decor & wall hangings that are 50% off, or even the free air conditioning. When I walked in there last week, my eyes were happy... the shelves were lined with fall decorations! And you know what that means? Summer will be over soon!

Now, there is a lot that I love about summertime. Relaxed schedules, more free time, a break from ordinary obligations, traveling, etc. But this heat is just too much for me. Day after day after day of mid to high 90's mixed with humidity is just miserable. I just want to enjoy going outside again. We have a fire pit and I've been roasting marshmallows on my kitchen stove because it's too hot to go outside and do it. how pathetic is that?!

I want summer to slow down, but I want the heat gone. I'm probably in the wrong place (geographically) for that to happen though. So either I need to adapt and deal with the fact that I will have to be housebound for 3 (or 4) months a year, or ... well, I don't know what other option there is!

Monday, July 12, 2010

wonderful sunday

Life hasn't been easy lately. Yes, I know we get to go on some great little getaways/vacations, we live in one of the best small cities in america, we finally own our own home (and it's a really good one), our families & friends are wonderful, etc. But we have struggles, upsets, anxieties, and brokenness.

For example, one of the features that we like most about this house is about to be ripped up. A few weeks ago, we noticed water coming out of our living room floor. Two days before we hosted an awesome dance / birthday party (more to come on that someday.) For weeks we tried to figure out where the water was coming from, talked to our home warranty company, insurance companies, and other trusted experts. Finally, we called a plumber and he discovered it in less than 10 minutes. The pipe that carries the condensation from the air conditioning unit to the drainage area (?) in our garage was disconnected, so all the water was going under the floor. I know it sounds weird, but once he reconnected the hose, the leak stopped. we are thrilled at this discovery because originally, I envisioned our floor being ripped up only to find out that our slab was leaking or a pipe burst, and our house would have to be condemned. (I never used to be a pessimist.) So now we are waiting for a check from the insurance company (hallelujah!) to see how much we are going to be in the whole/how much we can spend on a new floor. Even though the leak has been stopped, the floor is warped and ruined. Not to mention all the water trapped under there. wonderful.

The floor has been one of our biggest stressors lately, but now our brand new (purchases in april) television is broken, so I'm waiting to hear back from the manufacturer. I'm skeptical yet thankful for warranties. hopefully this one will actually help us out.

And beyond those things, I just got done paying a huge stack of bills (including a bill from a doctor's visit I had february 2008!), bobby's out of pocket work-related expenses have been way higher than we anticipated, fundraising for our salary (beginning in september) has been a lot slower (and less productive) than we hoped, I'm depressed that I still can't rid of this extra weight I gained from last year's surgery & medication, and we are still childless which breaks my heart a little more each day. (after 4 1/2 years, it's amazing I still even have a heart.)

so what does all this have to do with the blog title, "wonderful sunday?"

yesterday, bobby led the worship service at our church and I stayed for both services because it was such a blessing to me. we sang sweet songs, including my favorite one that reminds me of our time at greene valley presbyterian church in pennsylvania, "on jordan's stormy banks I stand." it sounded quite a bit differently than when the band played it at gvpc, but I could still picture those awesome teenagers (and bobby) belting it out and banging on their instruments. I am so thankful for that memory. but also, bobby's sermon talked about disappointments in life and how to respond when "life" doesn't go the way we planned. it takes more than just "turning our eyes upon Jesus." Jesus didn't die so that life on this earth would be easy for us, or that when something bad happens, we just "look at him" and magically all our troubles go away. He died on the cross to share in our sufferings, to identify with our pain, to pay the ultimate penalty for our sins. Jesus claimed victory over sin at the cross. And we need to see his victory to put our troubles in perspective. I encourage you all to listen to his sermon. It's not posted to the website yet, but it will be soon. Title is "Jesus Wins."

After church we were able to enjoy lunch & fellowship with 3 other families. Our hostess made a fabulous lasagna and PW's chocolate cake. We were pretty full (in more ways than one) and tired when we got home, so we relaxed the rest of the day by watching a couple more episodes of season 2 of 24. (strangely enough, as I typed that, a helicopter flew over my house. hmmmm... are they still looking for kim bauer?!?!)

While struggles and agonies of this fallen world bring us despair during the week, I'm always thankful for Sunday. :)

Friday, July 09, 2010

january & july

Remember when the crepe myrtles in our backyard looked like this in January?

Well, this is what they look like in July:

We are so glad someone planted these "trees" several years ago, because we are really enjoying them now.

(I apologize for the poor photo quality, I took the pic with my cell phone and the glare couldn't be avoided.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I've Got Friends in Southern Places (part 2)

part 1 concluded with the awesome Indelible Grace concert.

Thursday morning my dad dropped Bobby off downtown for early morning meetings and my parents & I had breakfast at the hotel and then joined him late morning. We all walked around the convention center for awhile, checked out the exhibit hall, and then sat in on the business meeting/assembly before having lunch at Ribby's (?) bbq on Broadway.

That afternoon, I went back to the convention center and my parents walked around downtown. They found Elvis!

Once the business meeting recessed for dinner, it was a mad rush to figure out how to coordinate a gathering between me, bobby, erik, joy, currie & abby. (all neighbors from seminary) the original plan was to meet downtown, but that didn't work, so we had to all drive from several different directions to meet at abby & currie's hotel room past the airport. it was crazy, but so worth it! I loved every minute with them and wish we all still lived in the same apartment building. they are part of the biggest reason I didn't want to move away from st louis. I can't believe we are all so far apart now - Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Jersey - oh my! thank goodness for GA! :) We didn't get any pictures of our hotel room dinner gathering, but we all drove back to the convention center for the worship service, so I got to get these two pictures.

Currie, Abby, and Ellie

Me, Joy, & Abby

I thought the night was over following the service, but it had only just begun... the business meeting resumed and went until 12:15 am! My parents went back to the hotel room and I was a zombie waiting around. Fortunately some friends from oklahoma had mercy on me (they saw me sitting by myself dazed and bored to tears) and invited me to hang out with them at the hotel lounge. But then they left and the meeting kept going! I really wanted to listen and follow along with what was happening, and I tried, but it was soooooo looooooong. ;-) here was my view that night:

and then... it was finally friday. normally the assembly would be over by now, but they reconvened for a few more hours in the morning. bobby spent the morning and early afternoon downtown and my mom & I spent them at the neighboring hotel's pool. I was foolish and got way too much sun. the worst burn I've gotten in a LONG time. that evening, we met up with Joy & Erik again, along with two more seminary neighbors, Parker & Nicole, and had dinner at Otter's. We love Otter's. And friends!

we said our goodbyes to the swansons for the last time and did some touristy things like walking around centennial park & the parthenon.

saturday morning we drove out to franklin - went into a couple shops on main street, walked around a cute little shopping mall thing and got some kettle corn at the farmer's market. we looked for celebrities but never saw any. boo! we went back to the hotel and got ready in the afternoon, ate pizza & food my mom brought from new castle, and then went to the Grand Ole Opry! Because of the flood, they had to move the Opry from the Opry House back to the Ryman Auditorium, so we got to go downtown again.

The show was lots of fun. Our seats were one row in front of where we sat for the hymn sing. Isn't that funny?

There were not a lot of people that we knew, but the Opry is still great because it is unique and classic. We all watched/listened to it growing up, so it is still a part of our history. Everyone sang a song or two, including the main attraction, Wynonna.

sunday morning we all went to worship at christ community church (pca) in franklin. we've been there once before, but it was my parent's first time. we all loved & appreciated it. after lunch in franklin, we went back to the hotel to begin packing and surprise my mom with early birthday presents, and my dad with a belated father's day present: playing catch in the hotel parking lot. after all that fun, we got ready and went back downtown to check out nashville's 4th of july festivities. we knew it would be crowded and hot, but it was way more crowded and hotter than we imagined.

we weren't able to get anywhere near where the entertainment was - julianne hough, jaci velasquez, and trace adkins had a little concert on the riverfront. my mom sneaked down and took this picture of julianne

so after battling the crowds for a couple hours (and seeing some cool things) we decided to check out a few honkytonks, since it was our last night and that was one of the things we wanted to do most, and it was a blast. we went into robert's western wear and heard some of the greatest musicians I've ever heard.

we stayed for a few songs, then headed to our car to start driving out of town and find a place to park to watch the fireworks.

what a great way to end our visit to nashville! :)

we left monday morning after stopping to see some friends from norman that just moved to nashville that weekend. my parents arrived back in western pa at 9/10 and we arrived back in norman at 11. we were quite tired, but so happy to be home and see our sweet little furry friends. we missed our animals a lot on this trip, but are so thankful they could be safe at home, and that we have great friends who came to take care of them!!

I've Got Friends in Southern Places

This past week, we headed to Nashville for our denomination's (Presbyterian Church in America, otherwise known as PCA) annual meeting, General Assembly (GA). I have been involved in the PCA since we got married in 2003, but this was the first time I have been able to attend GA. There was no way I was missing out on this one because first of all, I was able to go (not working full-time), and second, it was in Nashville, a city I love very much. And an added bonus was that it was in driving distance from our house. Not a short drive, but driveable, nonetheless.

we packed the caliber to the brim!

I'm not sure what I was most excited about as we were planning this trip and as the time approached. I really love our denomination (for many reasons) and I was eager to see it "operate" on the national level rather than just locally/regionally. I am always impressed with the orderly fashion in which most business is operated, paired with the love & passion these men (our pastors & elders) have for serving God. There were great seminars, luncheons, and women's events I wanted to attend. I was even eager to sit in on the business/parliament meetings! Plus, as I mentioned, I wanted to experience Nashville again... live music, great food, honky tonks, the opry, shopping...

But certainly I was most excited about seeing friends from seminary!

I really wish I would have done a day-by-day post while we were there rather than cramming it all into one (or two) because now I have to rely on memory. and while I know it was just a few days ago, it was quite an overwhelming (good) experience and I'm afraid I won't remember everything. thank goodness for twitter & the ease of making daily updates there!

We got to GA a day or so earlier than most folks because Bobby was on a committee, so since I knew most of my friends weren't at the assembly hall, I stayed in the hotel that first morning (monday.) I had hoped to use the indoor/outdoor pool for a couple hours, but it was closed because some stupid guest broke some of the bricks on the edge of the pool, so they had to close it to repair and inspect before opening. (it was never reopened during our 8 day stay. ugh!) so instead, I worked out for awhile in the fitness room, unpacked & settled in, and did some reading & studying until I got ready and went and picked up bobby downtown in the afternoon. (we stayed out by the airport, 10 miles away) we walked around for a bit, then grabbed dinner at wendy's and ate in our hotel room. we knew the next day (tuesday) was going to be a busy one.

tuesday morning did not go as planned. bobby had to be downtown at 8 and I woke up with a terrible migraine. I couldn't drive him and he didn't have time to park, so we called him a shuttle/cab. we were not planning on paying $18 that morning, but we had no choice. while he was off committee'ing or commissioner'ing, I was miserable back in the hotel room, but thankful for a cool dark room. Fortunately after "sleeping" and medication, I felt better by lunchtime, so drove downtown and we got to eat lunch with Erik (our next door neighbor from seminary)! that afternoon, bobby was in the assembly (or not, can't remember) so I walked around looking for familiar faces, and found a bunch. I think we also went to a seminar that afternoon. Dinner was at San Antonio Taco Company with Amy & Andy Wood, also from seminary (and our seminary church.) What is a seminary church? ha! I fell in love with SATCo's cheese sauce. YUM!

wednesday was a big day because we left the hotel at 7 am and didn't return til almost midnight. but we got to do some really fun stuff! I meant to go to some seminars in the morning, but my watch battery was dying and it was slow, so I missed them. oh well. I talked to people instead. for lunch, we got to attend the MNA (mission to north america) luncheon and the food was gooooood! but specifically, the chocolate cake was to die for! wow. mark my words, the next time I make a chocolate cake, I will serve it with a raspberry sauce. lesson #1 learned at GA. after lunch, all the women were at an event that I neglected to sign up for, which disappointed me at first, but then I found out that Joy (erik's wife, my next door neighbor) was up at her hotel room with her boys, so I walked 12 blocks (only because I didn't know where I was going) to visit her. It was such a great time to catch up with her! we ate dinner that night with some people from pittsburgh at ... wait for it ... san antonio taco company! haha.

after dinner, we had some special guests & friends of the PCA arrive from pennsylvania. And they got there just in time to go see the Indelible Grace concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium! Bobby and I (and 2000 other people) were so excited for this event. Other than seeing friends, this may have been the REAL reason we came to GA. I'm kidding. sort of.

here we are, waiting for the concert/hymn sing to begin:

My pictures did not come out very well during the concert, but here are a couple.

The stage:

There are many members of the Indelible Grace project/family so we weren't sure who all would be there that night. But we were hoping for two special guests... and they were both there: Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken. Derek is singing lead for this song, and Sandra is backup.

And now it's reversed, Sandra is leading & Derek on backup vocals.

Did you know they are married?

The hymn sing was amazing. Indelible Grace music has ministered to me so much over the past few years, and I'm so excited that Matthew Smith and IG will be coming to Norman in the fall for a concert! hooray!!

We had to leave the concert before it was over, unfortunately, because the garage where we parked our car closed at 11 so we had to get it out. Had we known the concert would have gone that long, we would have moved it, but we never imagined that since it started at 830, it would go past 11! we are so sad we missed the end, but we needed our car. AND, my parents accidentally parked in a "cab lane" and they had a notice that a tow truck was on their way to get their car. for that reason alone, we are glad we had to leave early. oh my!

I think it's time for a part 2, so click here.