Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Boring Week

Pretty much a boring week until Tuesday when I left the cold of Chicago and headed to Kansas City to be greeted by the sun, skies of blue and temps in the 50s!

Got to spend the night (actually two!) with Brittany!  

And came home to her place the first night after dinner to find that her beau, Arthur, was trying to kiss up to old aunt Alison!  (I think it worked...:)

Drove to Omaha on Wednesday via the boring drive - but lots of time to podcast and contemplate and pray and podcast some more!

After my meetings in Omaha I had to stop at my favorite Omaha location!

And then jumped in the car, rolled the windows down and enjoyed crazy temps in the way back to Kansas City!

Got to do dinner with Arthur and Brittany on Wednesday night.  I think I'm the first person in the fam to meet him!  Two thumbs up!:). (Sorry I'm stealing your photo Britt but - the world needs to see you and "your man"!)

Headed home this morning for office and some meetings then dinner with some friends tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday with - Sean!

A boring week indeed...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Green Mill

Friday night Kim and another friend Steve invited Sean and I down to a jazz club in their area called the Green Mill.  
It's an older club that looks it.  But it's apparently an historical club with clients from the likes of Frank Sinatra to Al Capone - at least that's what Steve tells us and he knows his Chicago history so I'm believing him!

We got there around 6 and there was a jazz organist (interesting but he was actually good) and a jazz guitarist.  They played until 8 and then at 9 the "special" music starred with a band consisting of bass, piano,drums, trombone and a guy who plays saxophone and clarinet.  Great music!

So even though the place was a little divey and you had to bring your own food in - it's probably an experience that I would repeat!

Good friends and good music!  Winner Friday night!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Night And Day!

This was our weekend two weeks ago...
A new fall of snow...
A Sunday afternoon...
New snowshoes!
The trifecta of happiness!

Until last weekend hit and I discovered a new trifecta!
And it all revolved around Florida in January!
It wasn't balmy or beach weather, but as happy as snow makes me -
no snow maybe makes me a little happier!

Sean and I went down to visit his family in Jacksonville.  His mom lives right by the beach so a quick morning jaunt and we were on the waterfront to watch the sun rise.  
Do you realize how early the sun rises?
Crazy sun!....

Watching the sun rise over the water!

And so we begin the happy, sappy "couple" pictures... Overall a good picture, but I must admit that I'm quite appalled at the shar pei thing I've got going on with my neck :(  I remember my cousin, Shelley retaking selfies of Lisa her and me because she had shar pei neck.  I now empathize!

That afternoon, we took his mom down to St Augustine for lunch at this really nice restaurant inside a really nice hotel downtown.  Mrs Gartland is an artist (very good if I say so myself) and she's very big into the arts.  She wrote an art column for the local newspaper for a number of years.  St Augustine apparently has a lot of artists and so she likes to go to the art galleries while she's down that way.  The place where we ate actually had a really nice art gallery in the hotel so we meandered around there for a while after lunch and enjoyed some really great art work.  I especially like it because it was a Christian guy - I know this because he had, under his signature on all his art, John 3:18 or 3:28 or some scripture verse.  Anyways - he had a lot of really really cool paintings and I know Mrs Gartland was really impressed with his work.  Oh - as an aside, this artist actually used to work for Disney and he did artwork on the movies Little Mermaid and Adventurers and a bunch of other big name Disney films.  It was an interesting switch to see him make.

On Sunday, Sean took me around Jacksonville where he grew up - I loved seeing this... :)  The beach that he grew up on and right down the street was his house.  I never thought people like him existed :)  People ACTUALLY grow up on beaches in Florida and don't just go on vacation there!  Crazy!
Sunday afternoon, we met up with the rest of his family for lunch.  I've made the determination - all Gartlands are VERY nice! :)

Bad picture, but you get the idea.... Sunday night we went to see The Lights Of St Augustine.  From December until the end of January, they have this white light display all over the town on the water front.  It was really beautiful!

Monday we left, but not before we had a little more beach time!  Well - on-the-beach time!  Although Sean did have to take a jump into the water and I sheep-like followed him - but only up to my knees, and then the sheep-syndrome wore off and I gathered my wits and got the heck out of that cold ocean!

And now back to snowy reality! :(
But I've just got to book my trip back to FL for a conference I have in May... I'll just keep happy beaches in my mind's eye until then!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Why is it that every time you start getting used to things and get efficient, those things change and you have to get used to something totally new!  

Ok - specifically I'm talking about work!  Take our expense reports... I've been through 20 changes with expense reports and now I'm about 6 months into a comfortable change with the way we do things and now they're spicing up our life by yet another change!  Scanned receipts!

And the frustrating thing for me here is that I was ahead of the times a few years ago and asked if we could scan receipts and was told no, we need the hard copy!

But today it's now scanned receipts only please!

If have 31 receipts.  Doesn't sound that hard.  It is... Everyone is moaning and groaning.  It literally took me 3 solid hours to fill out my expense report today!  

On the plus side, I took that lemon and I made lemonade!!!! I found an app on my phone where I can take a picture and it sends the picture to my email as PDF that I can then save and associate with my expense report!  

So now as I get a receipt I can take a picture and save and then throw away the receipt!!!

And BAM- no more lumpy wallet!  No more searching for that hotel bill!  NO MORE PAPER!


I'm waiting for the next change... But Im gonna be ready dog gone it with a bigger and better solution!!!:)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Need It!

It's back to the office this week!  It feels good to actually be back, kind of, but then it makes me appreciate the small things in life that get you through the week - things like very strong cups of coffee!:). Well, technically extra hot breve lattes... They go a long way when you're sitting in long meetings where they're discussing pallet configurations and ship dates and changing SDS.

Happy work week!!!!
Is it the weekend yet?:)

On the plus side - I'm muddling through this day with a little more excitement as I get to pick up my "special" "friend" from the airport tonight!!!  Sean has been in the UK for the holidays - two whole weeks without a Sean fix!  Ah!  But, cold weather be darned!  I'm at the international terminal at 6:30 pm sharp tonight!

Coffee and Sean!  I'm calling them good addictions!  It's how I get through a cold Tuesday!  

Back to the cube!

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year - And A Reflection Of The Old Via Friends

This year I've been overwhelmed by how good God has been to me with the many people He's put in my life that have influenced me and loved me and helped make me the person I am today.  Albeit it good or bad - you all helped do it!  Strange and weird.... you all get to take part credit! :)  Ok - I'll give all the good - and much of the weird - to you all!  Every inch of my life, every year, I see God add and grow friends and friendships!  I know that you all are the tools (there is no pun intended there) that God has used and is using in my life.  I've got a looooong way to go so, please stay with me after my kudos to you all - I'm pretty needy of every single one of you!

There are the amazing God-friends that have been in my life since college (just a few years ago now:)

Thank you and love to Melissa!  You are more my sister than my friend and always know how to gracefully shoot my high expectations down where they should be and keep me sane when my mind is going nutty!  You not only breathe God into my life - you show me God by your life!  Youre an example of grace and forgiveness with a touch of humanness!:). If sainthood were a legit thing - I'd not only nominate you, I'd be dog gone sure you got the title!  And probably a crown.  And definitely a bunch of prize money.  And you better be sure I'd be going with you on the island vacation they would be awarding you!  I'm so glad I'm a friend of Saint Melissa! :)  Oh - can I add that I think you're the weirdest person I know - and all the weird I mentioned before, I actually attribute to you, Gabrielle!

Original "normal" - when "baby" was actually a baby!
And our current state of "normal"

Ah - when true normal began....
Would you have these people nanny YOUR children?  And you have to admit, she is a touch more... insane looking?
Normal hasn't actually changed that much - except now we're equally insane...

Dawn!  My travel buddy!  We had experience being roommates and we just have to make sure we stay in practice ever so often!  You rock!!!! But not the boat - that was pretty stable:). Thank you for staying close!  Thank you for raising such awesome kids even without Chauncey!  I know he would and he will one day be so proud of them and Im so grateful for how you've stayed so close to God in spite of life.  And not only stayed close to God but also for the way you've showed me how to just give it all back to Him like He wants us to anyways!  I pray that you continue in Christ and that your life is just pure joy for you no matter where He leads!  And you already have 4 super kids that you and God raised that are the best praise anyone could ever give you AND God!!!!

We were SO cool then - and not just because of our matching snowsuits from Sears (complete with nylons...)
And we only seem to get cooler...

Mrs Karlene Murphree!  I still can't believe you cast aside Sister Felicitys and took that title, but the 7 kids you have are great prove you not only got that title - I think you now hold super mom titles too!:). And how proud am I of you to have that title with Matt and that the two of you have been such a God influence in my life not only by your wisdom and advice but by the way you flesh it out through how you raise your kids and how you live your lives!  You have included me in your lives as a couple like no one else has and I'm just elated to see your kids grow in God and to continue to grow into adorable, giving, hilarious, aware of God kids!  You-tahll are phenomenal!  Like that Utah reference - had to sneak it in:). I pray for you as you share your lives with so many people who need to see what a true God can do with your lives!

Funny thing is - she looks crazier here than she does with 7 little Murphrees now!  I did that! :)

And then there are some of those people from church who God brought into my life just through becoming part of a family that worships and serves together.  Just a few that came to mind and came to my iPhone photo library:)

Barb and Jay - you guys share so much of my heart and passion not just for the mission field but specifically for our brothers and sisters working in the field!  You've encouraged me to keep on in whatever I do for the field and for those friends!  Thank you for jumping on board with me so much -that encourages and keeps others growing in their faith and their giving and I love seeing how God is growing the work in the field because of our teamwork! :)

Mark and Jayne - you guys are the people that I want to be!  You love life, you love adventure, you love each other but most of all you love God!  Thank you for hopping on that Budapest tram with me so many times and for letting me see the lives of two amazing people!

I could go on with the church people!!!! Carmen and Mark, John and Mistele, Eric and Melanie!  Karen - my Karen!!!  Funny, fun full of life, huge examples of Christ, listening, advising, just being there and supporting me!  Thank you!

My worlds collide with the Mitchells!  Church and mission field friends!  You've walked through youth group fun with me and now I get to see you live your faith out in the field in some really tough circumstances!  But you stay strong and persevere and keep that white board full of God goals!  I continually pray that God wraps His arms around you in your dark moments - and that you remember I'm here and you remember how much I love you all and how much I pray for you!  And, who knows, you might be seeing me soon?????? :)  (I just can't take all the pressure you've been putting on me - I'm starting to crack :)

Joo-Lee!  The words are not coming out.  I think I've said them all before but they all seem and sound so insignificant to describe what you've taught me and shown me.  I hate China - I love China!  You're there.  I walk in your apartment door and I'm overwhelmed with the feeling of home and I'm okay with whatever snarky or nasty or blech that I come with - and I know that all that changes because you show me how God can take all that and put it in perspective and pull a new creation out - and so it grows.  Don't you ever forget how stupendous you are and how much I love you!  (And Zach and Eli and my buddy Jasper too!:)

My friends who God just dropped in my lap through just being where he wanted me to be!

Kim!!!!! My sister!!!! My friend!!!! You listen to me blah blah about my over thinking feelings and all that yuck and you empathize with me - and then you tell me what I should do.  And it's not usually what I want to do but I know it's what God is putting in your mouth that I need to do.  And somehow, it's not such a bitter pill when it comes from you.  You're another one who gets an award for sainthood with what you've been through.  But to you - the snowshoes of sainthood go!  No, seriously - I'm brining your snowshoes back to you this weekend... :)

Ioana!  My God-Time/God-Place heart friend!  When I met you, you were trying to figure things out - well, you kind of knew what you had figured out and then within a few months figured out that what you had figured out wasn't really what you were supposed to have figured out so God helped you figure out what He wanted you to figure out!  And now you're back home in Romania passionately pursuing him and fighting for rights of people who don't even know they have rights.  You are driven - you are passionate - you are full of life - you are full of love - you are full of GOD!  You have this drive that just oozes out of you and I pray for your continued fierce fight and fierce love for justice through God's justice!  I've loved learning from your wisdom and from your heart.  You have given me new insights to life and new insights to scripture and I ADORE you!  And you know that as many trips to Romania as I need to take to make sure you're A-OK - I will do it!  Loaded down with bags of make-up or mac and cheese or taco shells or Hanes socks!  You are an amazing woman and a super duper friend!  And you have one dorky friend who loves you and is constantly praying for you! (thats me, btw...)

Patti - sometimes the right time and the right place is just work!  Literally - sometimes you just have to show up to work!  Who knew that I would meet such a godly woman in the CS at Northwestern!  It made a painful time, a joyous one! :)  I love knowing that just showing up for work, God can put amazing people in your life.  I love how you challenge me and you have a heart to do what is right, even when things are hard.  I love that you can be real and human but I still know you are a God-heart that wants to be real and human, but do it right.  I MISS YOU!!!!! But now I have someplace to visit when I want to hit the slopes!  Keep showing God where you are - and praying for your future :)

And then there are those people you meet on "random" trips that enter your life and change you forever!  David and Leslie!  David and Leslie!  David and Leslie!!!!!  I just get overwhelmed when I even say your names because you are so deep in my heart!  I love your relationship with God!  I love your relationship with each other!  I love your relationship with our beloved Hungarian CRU!  I love how you just go out and there and breathe Jesus!  I love how you do it with smiles and with passion and with true heart and true concern about the people who are hurting.  Thank you for staying in my life!  Thank you for sharing mission trips and new years eves and phone calls and so many other things that make me remember that God-friends don't have to be down the road to impact you, they can be across state or country lines!

 I've just been reminded at the end of this year about my "younger" friends who don't even feel like they're younger because they have such wise hearts and big lives!  You were teenagers when I first met you and saw you growing up in youth group - I was friends with you then and now, I feel like our friendships are God-grown and deeper and I pray that, as your past youth group leader, I can still somewhat impact your lives as much as you impact my life now!  I don't know if you'll ever realize what an encouragement you are to me!  Seeing you grow up in the church with others who have turned and just become mediocre at best,  you've grown and flourished and shot roots down deep and your hearts have kept up and have grown stronger and wiser and are more dedicated to your faith than ever.  I know you have fab parents who are the same - but you are the ones who have kept this up in your lives!  Your parents have encouraged you, you've continued to seek out God on your own and have grown closer to Him and have looked to Him to lead you.  I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!

Miss Alana (aka the Clark to my Lewis!)
If anyone ever needs any architecturing done - you're the man!  SO PROUD!!!!!  But PLEASE just start sitting more - I don't think you can afford to break any more bones this coming year!  Praying for you to heal and that surgery will be super fun - ok - that it will just at least go well (if its fun thats a bonus :)!)  You are brave and you kick hiney!  Get better so we can finally go kayaking this coming summer!!!!!

Sonya - you old married woman!  I miss you!!!!!  I'm so happy that you have such a great guy like Jonathan - I've seen you two growing a great relationship and I wish I was closer to see it even more! I love that fact that your heart was close enough to God right at that first semester, that it knew a good God-thing when it saw it!

Kileaan - I love this picture because - lets admit it - we were the bread of sanity that sandwiched in all the crazies at youth group! I mean, look at our "peeps" (I know how much you've always loved it when I use that word!)...  Ah - spelunking!  If only we could go back.. not!:)  I love that you still think to text me or call me every once in a while just to stay in touch, and I love that when you do that, you're still talking about God and what He's doing in your life!  I'm SOOO excited to see what this year brings for you!!!!!  Wink wink... :)

And I can't forget my family.... I guess they didn't chose me... I don't think they would have - but thanks to all of them for not only being awesome family - but super friends!  And amazing people who show me forgiveness when I don't deserve it (quite frequently) and love and God and are just plain old fun to be around - most of the time! :)  I've learned so much about life and about God and about scripture just from being in this thing we call - family.  I suppose I got really blessed and got a good one!  At least its one that I wouldn't trade for any other family out there!

 And then there are the younger family members that I can get to go along with anything that I do.... Like lemmings... :)  But really smart ones because they think I'm awesome... (ok, my words...)

And the last but not least - a tribute to my new friends!

Its not coincidence that I go on a cruise with my friend from Bible college and the first night we discover the couple sitting next to our table are, not just Christians, but super duper amazing Christians!  And BAM - two new friends!  Willie and Lillie!  I loved you instantly, like seriously LOVED you, and am loving getting to know you better!  Theres just something about you that radiates out and just makes me happy and I know that radiating all starts just from a heart of pure passion for God!  I'm so thankful that God allows me to get to CA once in a blue moon so I can see into your lives and ministry there!  You are wise, you are good listeners, you are givers, you are a fantastic example of a God-couple and I pray you stay in my life for a long long time!

And saving the best for last....
My new "special" "friend"... Ok - why quotes around special AND friend....  I'm not saying you're "special".  Maybe my way of being ironic?  No clue - but I suppose you are special and you are and have become and are becoming an even better friend.  And yes, one would call you a boy.  And others would call you a friend.  And I might, even at times call you a boy.....friend....
Besides the name your mom (or was it your dad?) gave you, Sean, any other name you call yourself doesn't change the fact that you came into my life and you've kind of overwhelmed me here!  I know every ounce of this "friendship" we're in is God's doing!  And I know every ounce of you belongs to God!  You're seriously the nicest, kindest, best guy (man sounds so formal, which we are not...) that I've ever ever met!  I love the way you love other people from your heart and the way you own up to your shortcomings and deal with them and move on.  I love the way you give to people who are in need or could just use a little cheering up or a little help.  You think of absolutely everything and I admit, you're the first person who can genuinely surprise me with just about anything and everything you do or give!  It doesn't hurt that you love doing all the stupid stuff that I love doing - and you were probably doing it before I was (you're the original Braveheart!) so I don't have to drag you into anything like a lemming! :)  We can jump into stupid stuff together with stupid smiles on our faces and we're probably going to end up busting something someday or somewhere (hopefully someplace that people have to ask us to repeat the name twice..), but you better believe its going to be a good story!  Thank you for who you are and for what you've brought and are bringing into my life!  I'd like to say that you're in the process of changing me in a lot of good, albeit it slow because thats the way I roll, ways!  You've been a pretty big God-influence in my life within the past 6 months that I've known you and I can see other lives that you've been a God-influence in as well so, I know its your MO :)  To quote one of our famous youth group quotes... You're "pretty much a big deal".  :)

So here's to a new year - heres to praying for all the friends I mentioned - and all the ones I didn't.  Here's to changes and to following where God is leading.  Here's to getting better and to growing closer to God and to each other.  And here's to making each other more of who God wants us to be!  If only I could get all of you in a big room so you could all meet each other!!!!  But this is the best thing for now so - get to know the friends - who are MY friends!

Happy 2015!!!!!!  (It is 2015 right?  I usually don't get it right until March so, heres hoping!!!)