Monday, January 5, 2015

{2014 - Year in Review}

Time flies when you’re having fun!

I was sorting through photos and decided to do a Year in Review post since my blogging has been lacking at best.  2014 was a whirlwind for us so prepare yourselves for photo-overload!

January 1st started with a bang as we enjoyed the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.  
We nearly froze to death, but that's beside the point!

The Polar Vortex that swept through much of the US hit us hard.  We had snow from mid November until April and windchills as low as 35 below.  Not something we are use to here!  The city was overwhelmed with the amount of snow, as most piles at the end of our driveways towered high above our heads and parking lots were filled.  We prayed for an end to the snow, as there was nowhere left to put it.

I shared this picture on my Instagram feed in February, as we tried to be thankful for the beauty while still struggling through the deep freeze we were under.  

This was March 17th and still no end in sight.  The weight of the snow was causing many roofs to collapse and the ice dams were causing interior leaks.  One "nice" day we pulled as much snow off the roof as we could.

By March 30th it had finally warmed up enough that I could get outside for a run.  I'm a wimp when it comes running in the cold, and have no desire to slip on the ice, so although there was still mounds of snow all around, at least the roads were clear.

April 6th was our first official race - 
Big House 5k: Trail to the Victors

By mid April we had hope that winter was finally gone, but of course Michigan always has to get one last snow fall in. . . 

April 27th was a very special day for us! 
So proud to watch my husband graduate with Highest Honor!
He had one more class that wouldn't end until July but we were celebrating anyway.

In May, I threw Mike a surprise party for his 40th birthday.
Perhaps the greatest surprise was the meat smoker we bought him, which was in constant use throughout the summer!

Memorial Day was spent adventuring, enjoying lunch outside in Grand Rapids before heading further north to enjoy some nature.

 Rosy Mound Natural park

With June came smoked BBQ ribs. 
Finger-lickin' good!

One weekend I decided we needed to go pick organic strawberries.  I found a farm online that advertised you-pick berries for $1.20/lb so we headed an hour that direction with great ambition.  The berry in this picture was probably the biggest one we found.  After an hour of digging through weeds and prickers, we had six quarts and called it quits.  We're always up for an adventure!

4th of July weekend we both had a couple extra days off work and decided to make the most of it.  One day we spent exploring downtown St Joseph (, the lakeshore, and delightful restaurants!

Lunch at Charlie's Piggin & Grinnin

... and a late dinner (it was a two hour wait to get a table) 
at Silver Beach Pizza

We also spent many evenings enjoying our own town, like this particulate date that involved a late night movie, and midnight grilled cheese sandwiches at a downtown 24-hr cafe.

August 28th - Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees
This was a bucket-list event for me, as I had wanted to see Derek Jeter play before he retired.

September 6th we ran our second 5k 
- Harvest Stompede in Traverse City.
This race is held at Cicconi's Vineyard and was such unique experience. 
There will be a separate post coming later with more pictures of our TC trip!

Late September held my birthday - the big 30.  
We celebrated all weekend, touring Art Prize in Grand Rapids . . .

. . . trying Palazzolo's Gelato. . .

. . . hiking the dunes at Van Buren State Park . . .

. . . enjoying the lakeshore . . . 

 . . . and cake!  Lots of cake!  
Mom made me the Ultimate S'more Cake

October 4th brought along our sixth anniversary and some friends surprised us with an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast in Indiana.  It was our first time staying at a B&B, but it was a lovely place and the grounds were beautiful.  

That Pretty Place

On our way back home, I had to stop and get a picture by the Pure Michigan sign.  Although I have lived in Michigan my whole life, a part of me fell more deeply in love with it this year.  It truly is a beautiful place.

Football season arrived and on October 11th we were able to attend our first night game at The Big House!  University of Michigan vs Penn State - Under the Lights

A couple weeks later fall hit us in full force and we were surrounded by an explosion of color. Truly God's handiwork.

Thanksgiving came in November and it was a lovely time surrounded with family and scrumptious food! So thankful to serve a God who so graciously guides our path and encompasses us with his love.

Christmas Day!
So much love. . . so much joy.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9


Friday, July 4, 2014

{The Flag}

Hello. Remember me?

Some people call me Old Glory, others call me the Star Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your flag, the flag of the United States of America.

Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk it over with you — because it is about you and me.

I remember some time ago, people would line up on both sides of the street to watch the parade, and naturally I was leading every one, proudly waving in the breeze.

When your Daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it against his left shoulder so that his hand was directly over his heart — remember?

And you, I remember, were standing there, straight as a soldier. You didn't have a hat, but you were giving the right salute. Remember your little sister? Not to be outdone, she was saluting the same as you with her right hand over her heart — remember?

What happened? I'm still the same old flag. Oh, I've added a few more stars since you were a boy, and a lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago.

But now, somehow I don't feel as proud as I used to feel. When I come down the street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets. You may give me a small glance, and then you look away. I see children running around you shouting; they don't seem to know who I am.

I saw one man take his hat off, then he looked around, and when he didn't see anybody else take off their hat, he quickly put his on again.

Is it a sin to be patriotic today?
Have you forgotten what I stand for, and where I have been?
Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea and Vietnam!

Take a look at the memorial honor rolls, and see the names of those patriotic Americans who gave their lives to keep this republic free. When you salute me, you are actually saluting them!

So when you see me, please stand straight and place your hand over your heart, and I'll know that you remembered. I'll salute you by waving back!

"The Flag"
- Anonymous

Monday, June 23, 2014

{Braver Than You Think}

 Brave people are all around us, but sometimes unless they make the headlines or evening news we are too blind to see them.  

A few weeks ago I met a young woman who called off her wedding just weeks before the big day.  The dress was fitted, church booked, honeymoon planned, but her soul was unsettled.  Her eyes became glassy as she shared with me how hard it was to call it off.   How she longed to be married but felt there were too many questions in her mind to make it down the aisle.  Maybe he wasn't really her Prince Charming.

I told her she was brave and how I admired the courage it took for her to do that.  Some people would have felt too guilty to cancel the wedding and would have gone through with it anyway.  After all, people had already given gifts and planned celebrations.   Though she may question now the reason she had to experience such pain and loss, we both know God has a greater plan and ultimately she will be a stronger and wiser person for having gone through this. 

The talented designer, Lisa Leonard, has a bracelet in her shop right now that is a beautiful reminder to be BRAVE.  Brave, even when we don't feel like it.  Brave, even when guilt and expectations try to creep in.

We can be brave... not in of ourselves, but because with God on my side, whom shall I fear?  365 times the Bible says not to be afraid.  Think He was trying to get a point across?   So with that in mind, we must press on, bravely, with God as our strength and shield.

I’ve been doing all that I can
To hold it all together
Piece by piece.
I’ve been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It’s just not me.
So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.
- Laura Story