Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt

On July 23, 2010 one of my greatest dreams came true. I got to marry the most incredible man in the world.
I had been dreaming of this day my entire life and couldn't believe that it was finally coming true for me. I spent so many days wondering if I would ever meet the right man for me or if I would be alone forever. Every time I look at Casey, every time I snuggle up to him, I see God's awesome love and care for me. How did I ever get so lucky?
The whole week before the wedding was full of fun wedding festivities. We got to have all of our family and friends together to celebrate and it was one of the most incredible and humbling experiences of my life. Never again will we get to have all of these people in the same room again. It was so special and we'll remember it forever!

This picture was taken after the rehearsal dinner. All the bridesmaids were hanging out at my house during Casey's bachelor party. My dad got home from the bachelor party and climbed in bed with us. He just say for a while and watched all the girls running around his house, painting our nails, picking out shoes and laughing as we anticipated what would happen the next day. I think poor Dan was a little overwhelmed. This was such a sweet moment.

Here is a picture of all of the bridesmaids from IWU. I have known Libbie my entire life but Jess, Jess, and Debra were friends that I met at college. The three of them made the 7 hour drive from Indianapolis to be a part of the wedding and I am so thankful that they did! I love them dearly and the day would not have been the same without them there.

All of the bridesmaids at the rehearsal dinner.

Showing off our legs...and our shoes (for those of us that were actually wearing them).

This photo is a little blurry but this is Case and I at our rehearsal. We were so excited the whole time, we could hardly stand it. The adrenaline that accompanies such a big event like this is totally overwhelming. We couldn't wait for the next day to come so we could become Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt!
All my bridesmaids got into town and on Wednesday night we had a bachelorette party. Crissa (my maid of honor) and Jennie (my matron of honor) threw such a fun and beautiful party! We laughed, danced and had a great time!

It was such a special week. I couldn't have asked for anything better and I'm so thankful for all of the people that made the trip to Iowa to celebrate with us!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Introduction...

For those of you that don't live in Iowa you should know that we were hit by a huge blizzard two nights ago and I am currently 100% snowed into my house. My car is not going anywhere, my dog can barely get outside and my days consist of baking, reading, and watching Top Chef re-runs on Bravo. So, I figured I would take some time away from my demanding schedule to update you on some very important things that have happened lately. I also wanted to introduce you to the most important person in my life. Are you ready for that? This is going to be a long, mushy, awesome story so I suggest you either kindly move along to another more interesting website OR grab a cup of tea, cozy up, and settle in.

You still there?

OK. Good. Here we go....

The last few years have been a complete whirlwind for me. I went through some HUGE life changes, some big losses, I mourned, I rejoiced, I celebrated, I cried. My life has been a roller coaster of sorts from the time I graduated high school until now. Let's back up to last year. If you have read this blog at all in the pas
t you have probably read my "Snow Globe" post about losing my job in Indiana. Let's just say, after that loss I thought my life was over. It caused me to doubt my call to ministry, doubt my leadership abilities and in some ways it even caused me to question my faith. After much searchi
ng, praying and waiting God made it clear that I was supposed to move home to Waterloo, Iowa, my hometown. He didn't give me a reason why. He just said, "Go and trust." To make a long story short, I moved home on May 13, 2009 with no job, no hope of a job, no plan and no motivation.
Four days later God revealed Himself to me in a BIG way. A big 6'4", size 15 foot, handsome, kind smiled, Manicorn kind of way.

This is Casey Douglas Schmidt, the reason I lost my job, the reason I moved home to Waterloo, Iowa, and the reason God told me to wait so many times. When I was lonely and confused and feeling like I would end up as an old maid, God told me to wait. And THIS, this is why. I had no idea the kind of man that God was saving for me. This man is the answer to so many questions, the reason to so many unknowns and the love of my life. He is my future husband. Casey Douglas Schmidt.
We met on a blind date set up by his cousin and my best friend. I have been on many a blind date in my life so I went into this one with a "Well, my life has already gone to crap so if it's bad at least I'll get some good entertainment out of it" attitude. I thought, "I've got nothing to lose." (Bad blind dates always make for good stories at parties. People love a good blind date story.)
Casey called me on a Saturday night. He lived two hours away but called to tell me that he was on his way to Waterloo to meet me. He wanted to take me to coffee the next day. For crying out loud, this guy was moving quick. NOTE: to all of my male readers out there, this was a GOOD move on his part. He totally grabbed the reigns, made a plan and took a huge risk. It stood out to me and I knew that he was serious. This is one of the million things that won me over right away. The man knew what he wanted and he went after it. (p.s. I'm 97% sure that Casey is my only male reader.)
I could go on for days but I'll try to make this quick. We met at Cup o' Joe in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We talked for over two hours. It felt like we had been there for five minutes. Our conversation was not awkward, it was not draining and uncomfortable. It flowed from subject to subject without any effort. As we were talking I remember staring at him and thinking, "Who is this man? I have to get to know him more." I wanted to hear everything about him, learn every fact about his life and hear every passion in his heart. He was the most genuine and authentic person I had ever met. He was unlike any other person I had ever spoken with. Every word that came out of his mouth was intentional, meaningful and so so heartfelt.
I called my best friend after our date and told her that I was amazed by the way he spoke to me. He talked about God in a way that was completely new to me. He wasn't showy or legalistic about it. I remember telling her that it seemed like God was such a huge and intimate part of his life that every story Casey told me, every question he asked me was saturated with his love for Christ and his desire to be a man of God. He was so humble and kind.
And lemme tell ya, the kid is a looker. Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and saw that the most handsome man in the place was sitting, waiting just for me. He's irresistible. Moving on...
Casey and I obviously hit it off right away. We began talking on the phone for four to five hours a night. He drove the two hours to my house once a week and I drove the two hours his house once a week. We were quickly falling in love. After three weeks I introduced him to my dad, at 6 weeks I told him I loved him, after 3 months he moved to Waterloo to be closer to me, after five months we drove to Indiana to meet my friends and on our six month anniversary we were engaged.

Don't get me wrong, there have definitely been trials, struggles and hurdles. But the thing that amazes me, the thing that makes me know this is going to work is the fact that God brought us together. I have been praying for my future husband since I was 13 years old and my parents have been praying for him since I was born. However, my prayer changed last year. My prayer went from, "God bring me my husband. I'm ready to settle down, I'm lonely. I'm ready to love someone." to "God, I give this up to you. I have a desire in my heart that I believe was placed there by you and I surrender it. Take this desire and do with it what you want. You are enough to fulfill me. Bring me my husband in your perfect timing. Help me to wait on you. I give you control. Do whatever you have to do to make this happen or (and this was the hardest part) prepare me for the possibility that his may never happen. I will love you the same either way." That prayer of surrender was not easy for me. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to choose who I was going to be with. But I realized that I had to give it up. I had to allow God to be in control not only of my relationships but also of the very desires in my heart. I had to surrender.
It was not an easy journey. I went through heartbreak, loss and many, many nights of tears and loneliness. But now I think about God's amazing faithfulness, about how He has always provided for me, He has never left me and He continues to bless me even in the midst of confusion and doubt. I look at Casey and I see God's love. I see God in him and I am humbled every time.

I can't wait to be Mrs. Schmidt. I feel so undeserving, so honored and so excited to be able to live life with the most incredible man I have ever met. He teaches me new things every day, he shows me how to live a Christ-centered life, he brings out my passion for ministry and he encourages me to use my gifts and talents. He calls out my beauty and he makes me want to share myself with others. God works through my man every day in ways that Casey is not even aware of. I don't know what makes me deserving of this but I am so so thankful. I am absolutely amazed and forever changed.

And this is just an introduction...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Praying for Kate

This is Kate McRae.

I am asking all of you to join with me in praying for this beautiful, precious little girl. Kate McRae is a five year old girl living in Phoenix, Arizona. Her grandparents and aunt are dear friends of my family. Carrie, Kate's aunt, means more to me than she could ever know. When I try to explain my relationship with her I have a hard time putting it into words. I tell people she was my high school mentor but she was and is so much more than that. In high school I spent a lot of time at Carrie's house caring for her sweet little boys. I got to know little Kate when she just a little peanut. When Carrie's family would come into town sometimes I would babysit the grand kids while the adults spent time together. Although I didn't get to spend very much time with Kate, I know how precious she is and how much fun she is to be around. This family has a special place in my heart and it breaks me to know that they are hurting.
Kate's Grandpa Brian is a dear friend of my dad's. When my mom passed away Brian was there to do anything we needed him to do. I remember him sitting by the window in my living room talking to my dad. The one thing my dad really, really wanted was for our old pastor to fly in and preach at my mom's ceremony. Brian promised to make it happen. He made the arrangements, he brought Pastor Tim to our house and he did it all without even thinking. He is just that kind of person. He didn't expect anything in return and he didn't look for any type of thanks. This is just one example of the Boucks' care for us. Brian has been a great friend to my dad even when I'm sure it hasn't been easy. My dad speaks of him with incredible respect and love.
Now this family needs our help. Kate is the daughter of Holly, Brian's daughter. On Monday night she was taken to the hospital because her parents noticed a tremor in her hand. Since then she has been diagnosed with a malignant and aggressive brain tumor. Last night she underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. As of right now, Kate has regained consciousness but has lost movement in her right side.
After reading Holly's updates on the family's Caring Bridge website this morning I want you all to pray with me. We obviously need to be praying for healing. We need to pray for comfort for this family. We need to pray for the doctors to have wisdom. We need to pray for strength and renewed faith in a God who heals.
I want you to specifically pray with me for Kate's understanding of all of this. Her mom wrote about how Kate wakes up crying and is incredibly afraid right now. I can't imagine what it would be like to be so little, so young, and so sick. Please pray that Kate's fears will be calmed and that she will find some sort of peace. She is a bright and beautiful girl with parents that absolutely love and adore her. Pray that her fears would calm and that she would be able to rest easy. I am asking God to calm Kate in a way that is noticeable to all of the friends and family that are with her right now in Phoenix. I am praying that she would be able to take a deep breath and feel a heavy weight lifted off of her little chest. This morning I am praying for calm. I am praying for peace. I am praying for rest for Kate and her family. Please pray with me.

Click this link to see a video of Kate's parents asking for prayer.

Follow the link below to Kate's caring bridge site.

Please continue to lift up this little girl in prayer. Pray for her family, her doctors, her friends and please pray for healing. I have no other words to type, no other thoughts running through my head. I'm just shocked, sad, hopeful and waiting. Please pray.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Isaiah 48:18-19

"But the Lord says, 'Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don't you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land'."

My Life As an Unemployed Twenty-Something.

Lately my life has seemed to be anything but predictable. I came back to Iowa a month and a half ago thinking that I would rest for a week, find a job, get an apartment, make new friends and start my life over as an independent, young professional. My plan was to set up interviews, send out a thousand resumes, impress potential employers with my expertise and wit and get right back into the working world. I was focused on one thing when I moved home: finding a job and finding it fast.
Now after weeks of job searching I am starting to realize once again that I suck at making plans. My plans never work. My plan a year ago was to be living in Indianapolis right now, working at Fall Creek and spending the summer with my best friends. When those plans changed I made a plan to move home, find a job and start my life here. I make plans and I work hard and I aim for success. Yet somehow I am sitting here, on the big chair in my Dad's den wearing pajamas, with no make up on my face and a Diet Coke in my hand. This is not good, people. This is NOT. GOOD.
When I stop and think about my situation for more than five minutes I start to look like this:

This picture was taken three summers ago when my sister and I were in Chicago trying to find her an apartment. We had been driving somewhat aimlessly all day, talking to realtors and getting things put in place for her to move to the Windy City. It was about a million degrees outside and the last apartment we had seen was occupied by five dudes who were all home and asleep at 3:00 in the afternoon. The place reeked of weed and stale beer. There were Bob Marley posters on the wall, black lights in each of the bedrooms and some very suspicious looking pipes and aluminum foil on the coffee table. I was definitely not impressed and desperately wanting to take a shower to scrub their filth off my body. (I legitimately feared that I may have contracted Hepatitis or some other type of questionable infection simply by touching their doorknob.)
But we didn't have time for such luxuries. We were on a mission and we would stop for no one. I, being the annoying little sister that I am, started to whine and complain. My big sister calmed me down and explained that everything would be fine. We just needed to find a clean place to eat, sit in the air conditioning for a while, wash our hands and continue our journey.

I remember being skeptical at the time, thinking that my life was over and I would never be healed from the distress that her little house hunting trip had caused me. I remember telling her that I was going to just DIE if we didn't take a break and relax for a while because I can only take SO MUCH weed, blistering heat and exposure to black lights and I had had just about enough. Lucky for me I had my big sister to lean on during my time of weakness and she carried me through, keeping me calm until I got some food in my stomach and shut my mouth while she mapped out our plan for the rest of the day. That's what she always does. She always takes care of me and she always talks (sometimes smacks) sense into me when I need it.
But now my sister is a trillion miles away. She's living in Patagonia in the middle of winter, spending her days teaching and making new friends while I sit in our parents' house and attempt to count all of my split ends (which could, for all intents and purposes, but considered a full time job). I have realized in the last few weeks that I have no choice but to deal with this big mess on my own. I don't have anyone to bail me out right now. My big sister isn't going to swoop in and comfort me, my dad isn't going to save the day and my friends can't dig me out of this hole. I'm here and I'm waiting and I'm alone.
I am forced to listen to God's voice and shut up for five minutes so He can speak to me. As much as I hate it, I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am supposed to be in Waterloo, Iowa. I am supposed to be unemployed for the moment and I am supposed to be giving my burdens up to God rather than trying to make superficial plans and follow inconsequential dreams.
Here I am. I'm sitting. I'm waiting. I'm shutting up and I'm listening. And right now, that's all I can do.
I get frustrated and annoyed with my situation but I also rejoice in the fact that God has a greater plan for me. He has blessed me beyond belief since I have been home and I know that he will continue to do so. Although I haven't found a job I have found other answers to prayer. God has allowed me to meet new people that I otherwise never would have known. He has provided opportunities for me to serve others and has given me a chance to spend some great time with my dad.
Since I have been home a lot of things have happened that were totally unexpected to me. I have been absolutely shocked more than once by the creativity, extreme love and overwhelming provision displayed by my Heavenly Father. I have moments where I want to scream and moments where I do cry, but I also have moments where I want to fall on my face and praise the God that cares so deeply for me. I am overwhelmed by His grace and His all encompassing love.
I know that God is bigger than this. He's bigger than my situation, He's bigger than my concerns and He is bigger than my desires. He promises to take care of me and He never ceases to amaze me. I will wait for His guidance and I will seek His face as I learn how to be patient.

He who has promised is faithful.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Snow Globe

On Wednesday morning my world was flipped upside down. 
As most of you know, I have been working at a church in Indiana since I graduated last April. I have blogged more than once about my experiences there, about the kids that I love so dearly and about the friends that I have made. This church, these people, have become a huge part of who I am. They have become like family to me, accepting me into their community and loving me right where I am. They have given me the INCREDIBLE privilege of being able to care for their children and teach them about God. I was informed yesterday that this privilege has ended, my time at this church is over, and that in a few weeks I will no longer be a part of the community that I have loved so much. When I heard this news I felt as though I was trapped inside a snow globe, like someone picked up my entire world, flipped it upside down and shook it around violently while all of the pieces floated to the floor. Needless to say, I am heart broken. Even now I am writing with tears streaming down my face and a big, fat lump in my throat. I can not imagine leaving these people that I love so much. I can't fathom the thought of leaving the Hines boys, two of the most intelligent and kind hearted little boys I have ever met. I can not imagine leaving Luke Wilson, a boy with a sweet, sensitive spirit and a kind heart unlike anyone I have ever known. I cry when I think about saying goodbye to Sophia Finklea and Ali Upchurch, two amazing little girls who don't have the slightest idea how beautiful they really are. I wonder who is going to blow kisses at Katie Gue in the hallway and who is going to tease Owen Gerig when he looks up with his big puppy dog eyes. I love the children of this church as if they were my own and I can't even begin to understand how difficult it is going to be to say goodbye to them. I want so badly to be able to explain this transition to them and to help them understand that I am not leaving because of them. I am not leaving because they are not good enough or because they did something wrong. I want them to know that they are worth the world to me and that they are absolutely, without a doubt, 100% irreplaceable. I think about the year that I have spent serving this church and I cry knowing that I will never again have an experience like this. I am grieving this incredible loss and praying that God helps me to cope and persevere in a way that honors him. I have realized in the last 36 hours that other than my mother's death, this is by far the most devastating loss that I have ever experienced. I feel as though a part of me is lost and a chunk of my heart is missing. I want so badly to honor God in the next few weeks and bring glory to Him as I transition out of this phase of my life and on to the next one. I am praying that He provides me with positive closure and a chance to say a proper goodbye to my kids. I'm asking God to give me the strength that I need to finish out my time at Fall Creek in a way that portrays His love and spreads compassion. I am praying that the church succeeds in their new approach to ministry and I am praying that God takes good care of my kids after I leave. 
This is an extremely difficult thing to deal with but I know that God has a plan for me. I have no idea what that plan is right now, but I do know that God has brought me through uncertain times before and He will most definitely do it again. I'm thanking Him for allowing me to spend a year with some truly amazing and loving people and that He has protected me as I have journeyed through some difficult moments in ministry. I serve an awesome and powerful God and I know that He is in control of all of this. He will provide for me when things look tough and He has enough grace, compassion, love and strength to bring me through this time. I am comforted knowing that I am not alone, that God understands my hurt and that He is willing to take my broken heart from me and hold me in His arms while I heal. His love is greater than any heartache I will ever experience. I feel honored to have been able to serve at Fall Creek and I anxiously await God's new plan for my life. I know that never once in this whole process have I ever been forgotten or overlooked by Him. He knows exactly what is going to happen next and He will never leave me, nor forsake me.

He who has promised is faithful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to Eat Humble Pie...

The past few days have been full of embarrassing moments for me. What's the deal, anyway? Is it the recent change in climatic pressure? Is it the fact that I haven't slept in about 472 days? Is it the fact that I have always been a prideful, snooty little stink-pot and God is finally trying to send me a big, fat message? 
I hear you, God. I'm listening. I see the giant, neon sign flashing 6 inches in front of me. I GOT IT. The joke is over.
Let's back this train right on up. It all started last Thursday night. I came home from work to find a note on the door of my apartment that read, "We were here to fix your dryer but were unable to reach the attic door because of the things in the closet. Please move things around and we will be back to fix the dryer soon." I was MORTIFIED. You see, the attic is located in the storage closet which is located in my bedroom. One must walk through my bedroom in order to get to said closet. The only problem was that my room was an awful disaster. It looked as if this had recently passed through:

(minus the rainbow).

Let's just say it was....a mess...with my "unmentionables" strewn about.
I could not believe that this poor, unsuspecting maintenance man had to walk through the pit that was my bedroom. Immediately after reading his note I vowed to clean my room the next day (my day off). I swallowed my pride, gave myself a good, stern talking-to and went to bed.
Fast forward to approximately 10am Friday morning. I was laying in my bed snoozing away. I was actually having a very trippy dream, but I don't remember what it was because that's what happens when you are awakened unexpectedly by the sound of a man's voice INSIDE YOUR BEDROOM. I pulled my mask off of my sleepy eyeballs and prayed that the covers were in all the right places, as I have a tendency to kick them off in my sleep. 
The dryer-fixer (who happened to be my age) was shocked, to say the least when he saw me there. I tried to look him in the face, forgetting that I am BLIND AS A BAT when I'm not wearing my spectacles. I told him that we had not yet moved the things in the closet and could he please leave before I puked from the panic that had suddenly ensued within my person. (Ok I didn't say that last part). But I think he got the message. He stuttered something and then stumbled out of my bedroom in a state of shock and awe. 
And must I reveal to you the worst part? My room was still a mess and my unmentionables were still strewn about. 
What did I have for breakfast on the morn' of March 13th, 2009? A big, fat piece of humble pie, that's what.
Now don't you worry. This is not the end of my humiliations as of late. 
This morning started off like every other morning of my life since I was 10 years old. I woke up 15 minutes late and ran around like a crazy person trying to get ready and get all my stuff out the door in due time.  I decided to skip makeup and throw my hair back with some bobby pins. I grabbed some random clothes out of my closet and ran out the door and down the three flights of CEMENT stairs to the parking lot. I was but two steps from the ground when I realized that my shoe was a little bit too big. My foot slipped right out of my shoe, but mind you, I did NOT have time to deal with such an unfortunate mishap, as I was already running late. Therefore I attempted to get my foot back in my shoe in mid-step. I stepped to the ground at an extremely awkward angle and my ankle completely gave out. I slammed to the ground, landing on my right knee and bracing myself with my hand. This was not a graceful fall, people. It was the type of thing I pray I witness when I am in need of a gut-busting laugh. 
As I mentioned about 18 times above, I was running late. I didn't have time to get myself together or mentally process the trauma that my poor body had just survived. Instead I stood up, shook the dirt off my jeans, grunted, gasped and caught my breath. And then I scurried out to my car, thanking my lucky stars that none of my neighbors had witnessed my clumsiness. 
I used to think that this girl was the only one who lived through falls like this:

Seriously, Crissa has lived through many a fall in her day. She's probably the clumsiest sister I have. And I have made fun of her almost every day of the past 22 years. One time she fell up the stairs when we went out to eat. She slid on her belly across the floor much like this:

(only not quite as graceful).

So now, here I am, sitting in my apartment and nursing the giant bruise that has developed on my right knee. I'm writing this post and praying that you will all come visit me in the hospital in the coming weeks, as I fear I may need a hip replacement. ASAP.
What did I have for breakfast this morning, you ask? A big, fatty mcfat, jumbo, double helping of humble pie, that's what.
It's probably about time I lay off the sweets.
And Crissa, I'm sorry I have made fun of you for so many years, even though I do think you are unusually comical when you bite the dirt in front of politicians in Washington, DC, college students in Cedar Falls, Iowa and waiters at the Ground Round. Ahem.

Thank you. And goodnight.