Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
I’m so very thankful that God designed this thing called friendship. Shauna says it perfectly (she would!) in my opinion.
“Friendship is acting out God’s love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other’s lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God’s love for them. Friendship is an opportunity to act on God’s behalf in the lives of the people that we’re close to, reminding each other who God is. When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into the daily life.”
(Cold Tangerines, page 49)
So what does this have to do with blogging?
My experience is that being a part of this bloggy world has allowed me to stay close to friends and family that live far away. For instance, we LOVED our small group in Grand Rapids and miss them terribly. But as any of you who have tried this with me have found out, I’m a pretty terrible correspondent. (Erika, you know what I mean!) I deeply care about my friends and family that live all over the world, but for some reason don’t do a good job of calling. Or emailing. Or even facebooking. But it is all different with blogging. I don’t think I’d be able to stay nearly as close to those friends and others without the continued connection through the blog world. Funny stories about those babies I used to get to snuggle? I still hear about them. Travel to foreign lands? I still get to hear all about it, and get to see pictures. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I still get to learn about the things God is teaching them.
While I may have predicted being better able to stay in touch with existing friends, I was definitely surprised when I started to make new friends in the blog world. There are two true bloggy friends I’ve made so far, and I’ve been so blessed by them both. For months I’d read their blogs and love their stories and then comment from time to time, and they’d read my blog and comment back. Such sweet, honest, FUNNY posts. And on a spiritual level I’ve been truly encouraged by them, in both their own posts and their comments. I knew these people could be my “real” friends, not just my “bloggy” friends.
Then last month I met one! And we hit it off (at least, in my opinion!) Couldn't stop chatting and laughing. What a kind, real, and hilarious person I met! Just like I knew she’d be. She has a heart for God and sense of humor about life… and is delightful to spend time with. I so enjoy having Sarah as a real friend, in addition to a bloggy friend.
And then last week, I met another bloggy friend! Jenni was in Bloomington visiting family, and joined me for a cup of Starbucks last Saturday morning. And I’m very thankful she put up with my questions about her life and family! Our coffee “date” went by way too fast. I really enjoyed getting to know her in a face-to-face way - another real connection with an online friend! It was truly a joy to spend time with such a sweet, open, and insightful person.
It is honestly a little odd actually meeting someone for the first time that you actually, on some level, know already. And in both cases, I loved it. Putting real life personalities with blogs was super fun in both of these cases.
Mom, go ahead and check out Short Stop and Swimming in Sugar and Spice, and you’ll soon realize they are neither:
#1 Crazy, or
So there you have it. My favorite thing about blogging is making and keeping and enjoying friends.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
But why do I like to blog and read the blogs of others? I’ve been mulling this question over for the past couple of weeks and have come up with a few reasons.
First, it is a way to chronicle our life. Just yesterday I was scrapbooking some Christmas pictures and was trying to remember what we did for that season this past year. Solution? Check out my blog archives and remember moments like our special date and Riley stealing ornaments.
It is relaxing! There is something simply therapeutic about sitting down with a blank web page and spewing my thoughts onto the screen. It relieves stress and helps me process my thoughts. Then there is a validation that comes when someone comments with empathy. Someone out there understands me!
If I say that “personal expression” is one of my reasons, does that make me sound too fruity?
I also really enjoy the creative exchange of ideas. Getting rid of ants. Creating special Christmas moments with children. Saving money on groceries. Book reviews. Tried and true recipes (that I try and love!). Basically learning new things about life. It never gets boring! I learn new things all the time.
For me there is an important spiritual element to all of this. I have a hard time sharing about my faith in verbal ways, even when I’m talking to Josh. I can’t seem to find words for what God is teaching me. But when I’m writing down feelings and thoughts about my journey with the Lord, I can express things oh so much better. God is at work in this world and in my life, and I appreciate the ability to tell about it.
I get to share about my walk with God, but I also find significant encouragement in reading the blog posts of others. When a “bloggy friend” shares about a particular struggle or insight it often makes me stop and examine my own life in the light of what they’re learning. I learn things about life and God and the Bible that I’d never thought of before.
The friendship component, however, is my favorite part. More on that tomorrow. Until then, if you're a blogger, why do you do it?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I think Josh is supposed to tell his company where he'll be living by Monday. And yet we haven't found a place yet. Not even close.
I thought I'd give you a glimpse of some of our options - and feel free to vote!
#1 A Hotel in Downtown St. Joseph
The company Josh is working for this summer has actually contracted out a bunch of rooms here for their interns. We'll live in a hotel room for 12 weeks, and share a community kitchen and living room. Not exactly ideal, but they do have a pool/exercise room, provide daily breakfast, and have weekly housecleaning service. And they are actually dog-friendly!
#2 Cute Home in Holland, MI
Not super close to St. Joe, but nothing remotely affordable is. And a 45 minute commute isn't the biggest deal for 12 weeks. Don't know if they'll even take us, and don't know if it is furnished.
#3 Darling Farmhouse in South Bend, IN
These owners seem super nice, super helpful, and they want us! They live next to this rental property and have 4 dogs for Riley to play with. I can't get the picture of the front to load, but it is DARLING. Plus the place comes furnished and it is cheaper than the Holland house. BUT it is farther away from friends, family, and work in Grand Rapids. And farther from the beach! Still a 35-40 minute commute for Josh, but it is on the right side of town for that.
Monday, March 24, 2008
And what is Easter food without Cadbury Mini Eggs? My favorite.
On an unrelated note, YAY for pictures of the darling Michael Henry James!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Easter is early this year. Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based onthe lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.
Here's the interesting info. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier!
Here are the facts:
1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 orolder, you are the only ones that were around for that!).
2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin."
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
1. Riley is back at home with us. My parents took care of him while we were gone and they were nice enough to meet up with us in Merrillville last night for the hand off. (Thanks again, guys!)
2. March Madness starts soon and "bracketing" is a non-negotiable item on my agenda today. I love the NCAA Basketball tournament. And I'm so very excited that a team I care about (Go Hoosiers!) is actually competing. Michigan, sadly, hasn't made the cut in awhile. Each year Josh and I put stakes on our brackets and compete against each other in addition to other pools we're in. If I win, he has to take me out for Chinese food. I haven't beat him yet, but THIS IS MY YEAR.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
This shot is from a hilly park called Cerro Santa Lucia looking back on Cerro San Cristobal.Josh's "soccer group" with some executives from a local soccer team on the playing field. They were thrilled to have such a great visit.Our great hotel in Puerto Varas - our room was on the top floor all the way over to the right. Amazing views of the lake and mountains behind it!
Tronador (Thunderer) Mountain, where we stopped for a visit.
Osorno, as seen from the lake - what a great looking volcano.
More Orsorno, plus the two of us.
Boys on horses in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
SUCH amazing countryside.
From the roof of our hotel (which was actually called the Edelweiss, believe it or not) in San Carlos de Bariloche
Upscale Puerto Maderas, one of our favorite neighborhoods. Special perks in this area included our favorite ice cream shop as well as the best steak restaurant we've ever been to. MMM...
And now for the to-do list (which I've been dreading for the past couple of days):
-upload pictures! (okay, I've actually been looking forward to that one!)
-sort through mail
-maybe take a whack at work emails - yikes!
-sort through random travel items such as camera cords, post cards, and small tubes of toothpaste
But praise the Lord for safe (and relatively smooth) travel. I'll post pictures soon, once I can crawl out from under the massive pile of more pressing needs.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Yes, all good things must come to an end.
It has been a fabulous trip, but we´re READY to come home. This evening we´ll board a plane, fly to Chicago overnight (about 12 hours long!), then sit at O´Hare for 3 hours, then take a ¨puddle jumper¨back to Indy. Then a bus ride to B-town. I do wish I could snap my fingers and transport myself to my little townhouse in South-Central Indiana. But not so much. So I´ll smile and read and maybe take a sleeping pill.
And yay - tomorrow we´ll be back in our OWN PLACE. Where we have a clean shower and a flat iron (I´ve missed it these past couple of weeks - you´ll see lots of crazy hair in the pictures I´ve yet to post!) and a refrigerator/kitchen.
I can´t wait to get back and load some pictures!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Yes, we´re continuing to enjoy our time here! We´ve toured a famous graveyard (where Evita is buried), watched a tango show, and have had many interesting broken Spanish conversations with cab drivers throughout town. And THANK YOU JAMIE I have only bought 1 purse. Maaaybe another tomorrow. We´ll see.
Josh has SO enjoyed studying soccer in S. America. Yesterday the boys got to go to a game, which was super interesting and fun. And from what I understand kind of vulgar and crazy. I believe there was spitting involved. People around here are INTENSE about soccer.
And then today they met with people connected to the very popular Boca Juniors team and even got a tour of the stadium. To put it in perspective, it would be like a group of Argentinian college students meeting with people at the Yankees and getting to tour the field. Big stuff around here, and way fun for them. Their amazing contact, who got them the ïn¨with the team, was actually a Kelley alum that graduated in 1995. He now works for a credit card company that sponsors the team.
The guy was even nice enough to have the entire group over for dinner at his house. And the other ¨soccer wives¨and I got to tag along to that part of the fun. I haven´t had a better meal since I´ve been in S. America. WHAT hospitality... we were served, among other goodies, a few different salads and salsas, lots of red wine, bread, what seemed like an entire cow, nine different varieties of ice cream (Josh tried every one), tea, and cookies. We really had an excellent time with him and his family all evening. The kids (10 & 13) spoke great English and we were able to joke around and have fun with them too. We plan to send them a ¨care package¨complete with the favorite American items for the kids once we return home. Yes, we were surprised to find out how excited they were about such American staples as Cocoa Puffs, Pop Tarts, and Gap sweatshirts. And magazines focused on Miley Cyrus.
And holy cow they had a beautiful home. So great to experience ¨real home cookin¨(well, from a hired chef) in a home and not a hotel. Huge blessing.
To leave you with a random B. A. tidbit - the baked good of choice around here consists of two cookies pasted together with either chocolate or caramel, and then rolled in either chocolate or sugar. They can be found in shops and bakeries on every block in the city. And they are excellent treats. We may smuggle some home in our luggage.
Name? Alfajors. If you know how to pronounce words in Spanish you´ll realize just how vulgar that may sound. I actually feel a little sheepish ordering them every time.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We're enjoying B.A. immensely thus far! Very different from both Santiago and down south. But very enjoyable. One of the few places around the world where the American dollar still holds some weight. A little place around the corner did 2 loads of laundry (washed, folded, etc.) AND ironed 3 of Josh´s shirts for about $13. Not too bad. And now I won´t be swimming in laundry quite as much when we come home this weekend. And also Josh now has clean undershirts and boxers again. Today was a ¨repeat¨ day on both of those fronts.
Back to eating steak and buying purses (both of which are big activities around here).
Monday, March 10, 2008
Lord of the Rings Anyone?
Today it felt like we were dropped onto horses and into The Two Towers (the movie). At one point I even told Josh I felt like a rider of Rohan. Ha! I'm not usually that much of a nerd. The resemblance of our surroundings to the set of the movie was just that uncanny. But we were going a little slower than the Rohirim do in LOTR.
I'll explain. We went horseback riding today in Bariloche, Argentina. Lush Andes mountains in every direction. Blue sky, green trees, clear streams, and grassy plateaus... and all seen from the back of a horse called Muñeca. What a great way to experience this area! They even let us run through a field on the horses, which was exhilerating. Man, I need to try and ride horses more often! Josh, although he had a bunch of fun today, isn't quite as enthused for riding in the future. We DID return to the hotel very sore and covered in dirt.
We're now clean. The feeling in our backsides will remain for a few.
How in the world is it NOT well known that this has to be one of the most beautiful places on the entire globe? I've never seen such an awesome, jaw dropping display of God's beautiful creation. And I already love Carmel, CA and Summit County, CO and a bunch of other places. This is still better.
We have heard that this place was actually a finalist for the set of the Lord of the Rings movies. I can certainly see why.
And yesterday was more incredible splendor. A 10 hour boat cruise (and a couple bus rides) through the mountains from Chile to Argentina. Pure deep blue and green waters (yes, as green as that link!), surrounded by trees and mountains and volcanoes and very little civilization. I can't wait to post pictures, although they won't do it justice.
Sorry for the gush-fest. I'm just in awe again and again on this trip. What a blessing.
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
Now we're off to explore the town. Surprisingly enough, there is significant Swiss and German influence here and the town looks quite a bit like Vail, CO, complete with trendy shopping and the log cabin ski lodge look. Plus chocolate shops everywhere. There was even fondue on the menu last night... who knew we'd get a taste of Switzerland in southern Argentina? From what I understand, this place doubles as a ski resort in winter, which does help to explain the Vail similarities.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Today Josh and his group had some actual school work to do... way back the class divided up in groups to study certain aspects of business in South America. His team chose the soccer industry - right up Josh´s alley. And yes, a very serious topic. Before his 11am meeting this morning we went up a big hill and got to see great views of all of Santiago... way fun. Then Josh´s team met with executives from a local soccer team, which they found super helpful, informative, and interesting. My friend Kendra and I hit a nearby mall to kill time, but met up with the boys later for a tour of the staduim, which was very interesting. After lunch Josh and I headed off on our own and visited a VERY cool city park - Cerro Santa Lucia. What makes it extra special is that it consists of a steep hill in the middle of the city. We climbed past little chapels and arches and such and found ourselves higher than most buildings from the top. More great views of the city, as well as the hill we were on earlier. So much to explore around here!
But now for my list:
-Eating is relatively easy, even for my somewhat picky husband. He always finds items on the menus to suit him, and not just cheese and bread types of things. We´ve had excellent meals of Chilean sea bass, mahi mahi, and shrimp. And then today we found a place that served such authentic local meals as lasagne and pizza. But it was yummy.
-We haven´t been stuck in traffic yet.
-There are stray dogs EVERYWHERE. I can´t think about them too much or it makes me cry. But I´m super surprised that they aren´t dead on the sides of roads, because Santiago is a big city with lots of cars. I guess they have learned to avoid roads if at all possible. Also, they´re not agressive and can mostly be found sleeping in the sun. And they aren´t even that skinny - people must kind of take care of them, feeding them scraps and putting out some water from time to time. Otherwise I don´t know how so many could survive. But seeing them makes me miss Riley.
-There are a lot of things in English here. Several TV channels, as well as signs advertising sales and such at department stores. Much more English than I would have expected.
-American brands are very popular here. Haagen Dazs, Pantene Pro-V, Dasani, KFC, etc. All very available and easy to find.
Tomorrow will start BRIGHT and early, as we´re leaving the hotel at 6:30 am. We fly to Puerto Montt right away and then immediately go white water rafting there. We´ve heard that the water is ice cold... should be interesting!
Now we´re off to spend our last night in Santiago.
Happy Birthday Mom Brown!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Today Josh and I took a day trip , along with 9 others, to the beach at Viña Del Mar - beautiful and right on the Pacific. And about an hour away. Praise the Lord for a super sweet and helpful driver, along with a schoolmate of Josh´s that is fluent in Spanish. Otherwise the trip may well have been a complete disaster.
Since right now is the equivalent of early September for Chileans it was too cold for swimming and such, but we enjoyed the view. Sadly I can´t post pictures but we enjoyed lunch at a great place RIGHT on the water. Then explored and shopped around some nearby areas, then loaded up in the big van for the trip home.
And now it is early evening and we´re up for more adventures, this time in Santiago. We´d like to try some Peruvian food, so we´ll see what we come up with...
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Here are some things we´ve done in the last 24 hours...
-took a bus from Bloomington to Indy
-flew from Indy to Dallas
-ate gross-ish airport food in Dallas
-flew for 9.5 hours to Santiago
-slept for a lot of the time (thank you Tylenol PM!)¨
-ate lots of pre-packed gummy bears and twizzlers and goldfish crackers
-finally arrived in Santiago
-took a bus to our hotel
-TOOK A SHOWER - YAY!
-toured a popular Chilean winery (oh so beautiful!) and tasted some yummy samples
-NAPPED - aaahhh
.. and now wer´re ¨bright eyed and bushy tailed and excited for a seafood dinner
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
And thousands of details are running through my head, such as:
-Did I remember to pack enough socks?
-Should I bring snacks for the plane?
-Is my selection of books sufficient?
-Note to self: don't forget to pull Josh's sweatshirt out of the dryer and pack it before you leave.
-Will our bags make the weight limit?
But we're super excited and I'm trying not to let the details of it all overshadow that.
My very sweet friend Amber got me and some of the other girls who are going a passport cover in one of our favorite colors as a surprise gift. I love the Tiffany blue! We are clearly going to be in style.
So there we have it. There are a couple of people I've been meaning to call (Rebecca, Jamie, etc.) who I know read this from time to time. I'll take this time to apologize and say we'll have to catch up when I return!
I'm off for more adventures in packing and organization. No promises on how often I'll get to post when we're down there!