Friday, October 17, 2008

Field of Dreams.

I love living in Indy. I have a great life here. Great friends. Great job. Awesome church. Beautiful apartment. It’s all very surreal. But there are still days when I miss my humble upbringing I Waterloo, Iowa. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why? Iowa sounds lame.” And let me be the first to say, you are right. Iowa is a pretty bland place…but it’s my home. I’m not a huge fan of cattle and cornfields but I am a huge fan of the people that live there. A piece of my heart is in Iowa and a lot of my love belongs to these people:

This is my dad. A lot of people have told me that I have the best dad in the world and I have to agree. He listens to me when I talk about boys, he gives me recipes when I'm having people over for dinner and he comes to the rescue when I need him to kick certain butts. He is a great dad. He protects me and cares for me more than anyone else in this entire world. I know that whenever I need him he will be there for me. He has offered to come all the way out to Indiana on two separate occasions in the last three years to beat up boys for me. I usually have to calm him down and say, "Dad. Lets just think about this for a minute. Take a deep breath." It's so amazing to know the if it ever came down to it, he would fight for me and I KNOW he would win.

When I was a junior in high school I was FREAKING OUT about what I was going to wear to prom (serious business, I know). My dad asked me what dress I wanted and I showed him on the internet. He wrote down the item number and the color and ordered it for me. Then, on top of all that he dressed up like a medieval soldier at the after party. All of the junior parents were in charge of planning our post-prom and this is what my dad looked like when I showed up with my date!

For my 21st birthday I wanted to go skydiving. Although I made the jump alone, my dad and my best friend were there to support me the entire time. This photo is a great depiction of our relationship. I was about to go 10,500 feet up in the air to jump out of a moving plane and I was a little bit nervous. My dad comforted me and let me lean on him (literally) until my nerves settled. And, being an industrial safety man by trade, he very meticulously checked all of my equipment before I boarded. The trainer said to him, "Sir, we've already done the safety check and she is good to go." My dad looked him straight in the face as if to say, "I don't trust you."

I bet most girls my age can't say that they spent spring break of their senior year of college in Florida with their dad. But I did. My dad and I went with some of his motorcycle buddies to Daytona Beach for Daytona Bike Week '08. We had such a good time! I love spending time with my dad and Rick and Maggie. I went on spring break with a bunch of 50 year olds and it was one of the best vacations of my life!

My best friends Jennie and Dave are largely responsible for the person I am today. They have loved me through some of the most difficult experiences of my life.
Dave has always been like the big brother that I never had. He has let me know that I am beautiful, even when boys are being stupid. He's let me cry to him and he comforts me by sharing words of affirmation and he listens to me when I need advice or when I need to vent. Most girls probably can't say that they have such an amazing guy friend. I am so lucky that Dave has been a part of my life. We've been together since we were 5 years old and we were raised as siblings. I can't imagine my life without him in it!
Jennie is my closest friend in this world. We have been through things together that most people never experience . Seven years ago I cried with Jennie when our dear friend, her boyfriend passed away from cancer. I saw her rise up and face grief head on. She came through this tragedy honoring God and showing the love of Christ to others even as her heart broke. Little did I know that five years later Jennie would grieve with me as I faced my own tragedy. She sat with me while I stared silently, she wiped my tears and rubbed my back while I cried. When everyone else walked away she was there. I can never thank her enough for the way that has loved me through the last three years.
We love to be girly together. I can not even begin to tell you all of the memories that we have made while shopping together. The above picture is our relationship in a nut shell.Last year Jennie and I went to Florida for New Year's. It ended up being 40 degrees while we were there. We thought we were going to escape the Iowa cold but ended up bundling ourselves up just to walk out on the beach. This was such an exciting time for us because Jennie and Dave got engaged a couple days before we left. Five months after this photo was taken my two best friends married each other! And let me just say, I take all of the credit for the two of them getting together. I like to believe that I was the common bond between the two of them. That's why they take such good care of me now. :)

So, as you can see, Iowa isn't so lame. The Hawkeye state is filled with people that I love. I love living in Indy but I sure do miss these people.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Fighting Irish

Crissa and I recently spent the weekend in South Bend. Her sweet friend Jim took us around the campus for a tour and then we enjoyed some serious Notre Dame football on Saturday. We had such a good time laughing and being sisters. Here are a few photographs from our journey into the black hole that is Notre Dame. I swear that place is like an alternate universe. Hopefully there will be both more trips to South Bend and more photographs to come.

Here is a picture of our view from Section 20 Row 56. Great view of the student section...more on that to come.

I told Crissa to make a face of what she thought about the game. Her face says, "Hey! This was fun! I wish we could come back tomorrow!" And mine says, "Oops. I'm sorry that I ruined everyone's plans and got us kicked out of the student section by handing my falsified ticket book back to Jim right in front of the usher."

Here we are waiting for the guys to come find us after the game. We definitely got separated thanks to me. THIS is exactly why I have an overactive conscience! I can not do anything without getting caught!

Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms."

-Tom Hanks as Joe Fox (You've Got Mail)

As a little girl I always dreaded the end of summer, knowing that the fall brought cold weather, the start of the school year, and shorter days. I am, and always have been, a summer LOVER. I love warm weather, I love the sun, I love flip flops, fireworks, ICE CREAM. I love everything between the months of May and September. But now I have to admit that I am really starting to appreciate the fall. Every year my mom pointed out the changing leaves. She loved the way the world changed in September. We had a massive oak tree in our backyard. Its branches hung like an umbrella, shading our entire yard. Well, I am sad to say that that beloved oak tree eventually got some traveling only-in-Iowa disease and had to be cut down. My mom video taped this monumental event and actually cried as the branches fell to the ground. Needless to say, she wore her emotions on her sleeve. Something about that story sticks with me even now, almost four years later. Trees are very symbolic. I have heard so many "Christian" analogies using the tree. But for me it's more simple than that. To me they represent beauty and they symbolize change. I recently took a trip up State Road 31 from Indianapolis to South Bend. As I drove I watched in anticipation to see the changing leaves. Although it's still early in the season, the colors are beginning to show up. Orange, red, dark purple, brown. It's all so comforting to me. This is also especially significant in my life as of late because I feel as though I have been in constant transition for the last few months. My life has been defined by change and consistency is something of the past for me.

My senior year of college was, as I'm sure it is for most people, an awkward season. I wanted so badly to be "present" in everything that I did at school but I was also mentally pulling away, knowing that my life would change a year later. And here I am, after months of searching for a job, interviewing, closing doors, opening new ones, moving, standing up with my best friends on their wedding day, ending relationships, building relationships, starting a new job and now preparing for a huge new transition. Our church is in the middle of a season of change. Things are going to be drastically different in the coming months and I am preparing for a time of uncertainty, unknown future and growth. Even as I wait...and dream for what the future may hold I know that God has a plan and that He already has this figured out. God's grace amazes me every day. I am so undeserving and yet he continues to love and care for me. Right now the leaves represent change.
I have learned many a life lesson from the movie You've Got Mail. It is a Stephens' women favorite. My mom, sister and I would watch that movie at least 5 times a year and quote the entire thing, laughing each time as though we had never seen it before. And just as Joe Fox (F-O-X) of Fox Books says, "this not knowing has its charms". Something about transition and change is comforting. I don't want to live a predictable life. And as my personal life continues to change, so does the world around me. Just as I continue to find the beauty in the changing leaves, the huge fall sky, and the crisp, cool weather, I also continue my search for beauty within the transitions of my own life. Someday I know I will be able to look back and see the hand of God, the way he brought me through this season and the way he worked through it all. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.