Monday, December 1, 2008

A Day in My Life

Since it's hard to describe what I do on a daily basis, I wanted to try to give a sense of what a day looks like for me. Today is our first day back at work after a week off at Thanksgiving, so there is probably a little more organization work today that I'm catching up on than usual. Here goes:

7:30am - Wake up, a little later than I wanted to, but well rested. Eat a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats. Check email and fantasy football/basketball results. My teams didn't perform very well this week.
8:00am - Shower, shave, get dressed.
8:15am - Quiet time alone with God. Writing in my journal, reading Proverbs, praying about the day.
8:50am - Take the dog for a short walk in the snow. Too bad the snow is all melted within an hour.
9:00am - Gather my stuff and make the commute to work (walking across the parking lot). Turn the heat on, set up my laptop, write a to-do list for the day.
9:30am - Update the BCM website to reflect the activities going on in the near future. I do this every Monday morning. Background music: Blue Water Band. Not sure why I wanted to listen to this old recording of us playing - maybe because I saw Mike this past week and haven't listened to it in a while.
9:45am - Write an article for our monthly newsletter about events of the past month. Gives me a good chance to reflect on the month and everything that went on. Also put it into the layout using Microsoft Publisher. April is with her ladies discipleship group, so I get good work done with the office to myself. Background music: Don Chaffer and Waterdeep.
11:00am - Balance my checkbook and process the support checks that we have received over break.
Randomly throughout the morning - Write and respond to emails with BCM studnets setting up a service project this weekend to split and deliver firewood to families in the area who need it.
11:15am - Get asked by a student to do an interview about my views of masculinity for her Masculinity class. Who knew they offered such a class. Spend the next hour and a half talking about family, being a husband, being emotionally vulnerable, and what it means to be a man. I had an audience of up to four other women (including April) listening to my answers, making me feel a bit like I was on trial.
12:45pm - Talk to another student about the possibility of them using the BCM's white 15-passenger van for a trip this weekend. The insurance company is being really picky about who drives the van these days, so it doesn't work out.
1:00pm - Go home for lunch. I made a sandwich with a leftover chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and mayo - it was quite good. Also had some homemade Chex Mix and Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (a favorite of ours) that we imported from Cincinnati this past week.
1:30pm - Back to work. Write some receipt letters/emails to our supporters.
2:00pm - Read some NFL articles online.
2:30pm - Call a student I've never met or talked to because his grandmother had called here before break asking us to reach out to him. This is a really intimidating thing for me, so it takes me 15 minutes of going through possible conversations in my head before I can call. End up leaving a voice mail. This is the kind of thing that I want to learn how to do more though - God giving me a heart for the broken and hurting.
3:00pm - Walk down the street to Rocket Music to buy some drum sticks. I've pulverized the couple of pairs I have, and have band practice tonight. There are people there eating chocolate cake in honor of somebody's birthday, and I get offered some, but decline.
3:15pm - Write an email to student leaders about the Christmas party we're having next Sunday. It will be a pot-luck dinner and white elephant gift party, so I explain those things. Background music: Pandora radio, Belle & Sebastian channel. I asked my brother this weekend what artist to put into Pandora and this is what he recommended. I'm digging it.
3:30pm - Write this blog.
3:55pm - Do some quick research for a talk that April is giving tomorrow night about James and John the sons of Zebedee, two of Jesus' disciples.
4:00pm - Meet with other staff to pray for the BCM.
5:00pm - Talk about ideas for a weekly advent liturgy service that we could have over the next couple of weeks.
5:15pm - Go home for dinner (I think we're going to make sloppy joes).
6:30pm - Back to the BCM for church band practice. I play drums at church about every other week, and we're playing this Sunday.
9:00pm - Samson society meeting at BCM. This a group where men gather together to talk honestly about their lives, and I love this part of every week.
10:00pm - Hang out with the Samson guys at Taco Bell. This is our weekly ritual after our meetings.

Well, that was a lengthy description with some details that are pretty inconsequential, but I hope you understand a little more about what kinds of things I do during the day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow, Football, and Vacation

These are the three things that have been on my mind for most of this week. It has been a beautiful snowy week here in Blacksburg. We've had three or four snow showers that have left about an inch of accumulation on the ground, and it has seemed like gentle flurries have been in the air continuously. What we love is that this is more snow than we saw all last winter in Philadelphia. It seems like all we ever got there was cold rain, sleet, and ice - never any real snow. There's something about the snow that puts April in a giddy mood, makes me in awe of the beautiful creation around me, and makes Mabel a bit hyperactive as she sprints around scooping up mouthfuls of it.

I've been playing on an intramural flag football team with some guys from BCM - we played three playoff games in the evenings this week. We made it to the sweet 16 of the tournament, but unfortunately lost in overtime last night, ending our season. The fellowship and camaraderie with the guys has been great, and I love the opportunity to get out and engage in a competitive activity, even if it's in very cold weather. Monday night was probably the most fun game of football I've ever played - it was our first playoff game, and the snow was falling hard throughout most of the game. It looked amazing with the rec field lights illuminating every snowflake blowing across the field and the football gliding through all of them.

Today is also the beginning of Thanksgiving vacation for all of us here at Virginia Tech. The students (except for the crowd staying for our football game against Duke tomorrow) have mostly left to spend the week with their families. April and I are heading out to Cincinnati for the week after church on Sunday. We are really looking forward to this break and time to spend with family and friends. I've felt pretty drained and unmotivated in my daily tasks recently, and am looking forward to some time to rest my mind and my spirit, reconnect with God, and reflect on these past months.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time Flies

It feels like there shouldn't have been as much time between this post and our last one but the truth is-it's been a while. Time flies doesn't it? For us the semester is almost over which means pretty soon the students will be packing up and heading home for the Christmas holiday. I certainly can't believe the semester is almost over but then again I can't believe I'm turning 24 on Friday either.

We attended a statewide youth and collegiate minister conference today in Roanoke & during one of the afternoon sessions the speaker spoke about text messaging and how things are changing daily in our culture. He gave an example of how one youth minister conducted a research project to find out just how many text messages his students were sending. He asked the parents to bring in their phone bills after one month and they tallied up the texts. The winner-12,500 text messages in one month that's an average of 400 text messages/day. All I could think was "How in the world?"

Since we've been back here I've noticed that even though I'm not that much older than some of the students, I am an old lady when it comes to certain things. Texting is one of those things. At the beginning of the semester I had to get a couple of the students to teach me how to use the ITAP feature on my phone so I could become a more efficient texter. Nic & I had to increase our texting plan b/c now we get/send text messages almost daily. Before we moved here I averaged maybe two texts per week. Do you catch my drift yet?

So what do you think a/b all this next technology? Are you with the times or lagging behind like me :) ?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off to the Eyrie

This weekend is the fall statewide BCM retreat at Eagle Eyrie! Eagle Eyrie is a Baptist retreat center located in the mountains outside of Lynchburg, VA. There is a state BCM conference there each fall and spring where students from BCMs at all the colleges in Virginia gather for a weekend to worship, hang out, and stay up too late playing games and talking. I can't remember for sure, but I'm pretty confident that I went to all 8 Eagle Eyries that occured during my time as a student. I have to confess though that during all that time I never knew what the heck "Eagle Eyrie" meant. Apparently, an eyrie is a nest or a house that is built on a high place or a cliff. The property got its name from one of the original owners whose nickname was "The Eagle" - sounds like a pretty intense guy.

We're all getting ready to hop in 15-passenger vans and start the 2-hour trip to Lynchburg for the weekend, and I'm getting quite excited. Eagle Eyrie was one of my favorite events as a student. I remember so many fun times hanging out and having significant spiritual experiences there. I even met a few people from other Virginia schools that have been good friends ever since then. They've fixed up the hotel that we stay in and added a few modern conveniences (like cell phone service and wireless internet!) since the last time I've been there, but I am looking forward to the familiar place to retreat from life here in Blacksburg. I know it will be a little bit different now that I am no longer a student, but I'm excited to see what will happen in the VT BCM community and what God will teach us this weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Place Called Home

You know those things that make a place feel like home? Familiarity, Routines, Friends. Lately I'm starting to feel that way about Blacksburg. Last week poor Mabel was feeling a little under the weather (see picture below) & I had to call around to find a vet that would see her. Then I proceeded to call several dentists in the area to make an appointment for Nic & myself to get our teeth cleaned.

To me there's something about scheduling an appointment with a certified professional that makes it feel like you're putting down roots somewhere. It's been amazing to be back in Blacksburg (not to mention the Commonwealth of Virginia) but I must admit it's been harder than I expected to just pick up our lives in Philadelphia and move away. We miss friends, VCC West Philly, and I will admit sometimes even the hustle and bustle of the city life. But God is faithful & we are starting to catch a glimpse of what he has for us here.

We've been able to attend a small group at our church on a regular basis now and it has just been wonderful. It's so comforting to show up to church & recognize at least a couple faces & even better have them remember your name! We always joke about how Mabel is such a "routine dog" but when all things familar are taken away I've realized I start to long for those routines too. So for now I'll keep singing that cheesy song from "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" -it feels like home to me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fresh Air

This weekend I had the chance to get away and do a little bit of light backpacking with some BCM guys. We left Friday afternoon and drove about an hour to a place where we could get on the Appalachian Trail. We hiked up to a shelter along the trail, spent the night there, then hiked the rest of the way up to McAfee's Knob in the morning. There is a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys from up there, so we took it in for a while, then hiked back down and made it back to Blacksburg in time to shower, brush our teeth, and watch the VT/UNC football game.

The trip wore me out - I'm getting old enough where sleeping in a tent without any good camping gear isn't easy for me, and we did a good amount of hiking up the mountain. It was enough that I pretty much crashed the rest of the day Saturday. It was a very refreshing time for me despite that. I'm not a huge outdoors kind of guy - I can't remember the last time I camped prior to this - but I really enjoyed getting away from everything, having a bit of solitude, and getting to hang out with the other guys. One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to sit around the fire and talk about what God is doing in our lives and pray for each other Friday night.

Saturday morning, I woke up before most of the others, and I took the chance to be by myself for a while and reflect on the past month. I thought and prayed about what were the best and worst parts of the month, how I had seen God work, and in what ways I had failed or felt distant from God. There's something about being alone in the woods that enables those kind of meditation and prayer times to be so much more powerful than they would be in my living room.

Me sitting on the knob and looking out on the beautiful view.

Our group at the top, except Phil who was taking the picture.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Over the past two weeks at 6:33 (The BCM's weekly large group worship service - it meets at 6:33 on Tuesday nights), April and I have both had the chance to speak and share our thoughts with the group. April has done this before - she is a good speaker and knows how to share her passion and understanding of an issue with the audience. As for me, this was really the first time (outside of maybe a few short stories or testimonies) that I've ever been asked to say anything in front of a large group. We've been talking about making the most of what God has given us; April talked about making the most of our relationships and I talked about making the most of our finances.

I'm not sure what to call what I did. I shared ideas and stories from the Bible and my personal experience dealing with finances to somewhere around 100 students for about 25 minutes. Did I preach? Was it a sermon? Perhaps a homily? I feel very unqualified to use those sorts of words about anything I've done. Regardless of what I call it, it was a surprising experience for me. I'm not nervous to speak in front of a group, but I was nervous that I wouldn't have anything worthwhile to say, and I had a hard time sleeping the night before. I don't know if this is something I'm gifted at or not - I guess I would have to give it a few more tries and get some feedback from trusted people who know what they're doing. It made the worship experience of the night more vivid for me - there was a sense of desperation as I sang before getting up in front of everybody that I needed God's presence and help or everything I was doing would have been in vain.

If you're interested in hearing what I had to say, here's the website where you can download the audio. Unfortunately, April did not get recorded due to technical difficulties.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back to Church

One exciting development of the past week has been the feeling that we are starting to connect and become a part of the church we have been going to here in Blacksburg. The church (called [nlcf] - and no, I don't know what the brackets are about, but they always use them) has existed as a church on campus for students for a long time, but recently planted a "Downtown" congregation consisting mostly of grad students and older people (like us) living in the area. I went there a bit as a student, so it's neat for me to see how the church has grown and developed a new focus.

Getting connected to a new church is always difficult and awkward. I'm not really a very good social person in big groups, and I feel out of place in a room where I know nobody. We came in at a difficult time too, when the church was gearing up for the start of the semester and return of 90% of their congregation, so there was a bit of the feeling that we had somehow fallen between the cracks and nobody really noticed we were there.

Thankfully, we had two great opportunities to get connected with the congregation this week that have encouraged us. First, I signed up to try out to play drums in the band this past weekend, and we ended up having our first practice on Monday night. I haven't had the opportunity to play drums since we left Philly, so it was great to get to meet the others in the band and to play again.

Also, last night April and I went to one of the "homegroups" - which is [nlcf]'s term for small group Bible studies - for the first time. We had to leave a little early because we had to be back here for the BCM Bible study time, but it was still great to get to meet and hang out with a bunch of other people from the church. This is something that we've really missed since we were had to leave our fantastic small group in Philly, and we are really excited to get back into a group like this.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in the South

Since we work a lot of nights and weekends now, our wonderful Director Darrell came up with the idea several years back (pre Nic & April) that we should take a half day off each week to rest and prepare for what's ahead. This afternoon just so happened to be my time off, and it was most pleasing. When I left the office this afternoon I went straight home, picked up my pup, and jumped in the car for some Chick-Fil-A. Now to most of you this might not seem so exciting, however to be back in a region where I can drive to a Chick-Fil-A that is within ten minutes of my house without any traffic is glorious.

I strolled up to the drive-thru ordered my combo #5 with a sweet tea and honey mustard and drove off with a huge smile on my face. It's times like these that make me appreciate the small things in life. I feel like over the past two weeks I've experienced every emotion under the sun. I've gotten so caught up in my emotions that I've forgotten to take a step back and appreciate the many blessings I've experienced along the way. So from now on I'm looking up and learning to appreciate everything that comes my way (or at least trying to)!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beginning of School

These past two weeks have been pretty busy around the BCM. It all started with our international student furniture giveaway two weekends ago. We gave donated furniture to about 200 international students who are new to Virginia Tech and typically have nothing to sit, sleep, or write on. We had people sleeping on the sidewalk next to our building starting at 1:00am to wait in line for furniture, and didn't have enough to give everybody something. It was exciting to be a part of - having the chance to meet so many interesting people and help them out in a very practical and needed way. I hope that we'll continue to be in relationship with some of these students as the year progresses.

This past weekend, we had our leadership retreat with all of the student leaders at the BCM. We went down to Claytor Lake for a night to plan and prepare for the semester, hang out, and spend some time drawing close to God as a group. For April and me, it was a first chance to meet a lot of the student leaders. We are so excited about the group of Bible study leaders that we'll be working with - they are ready and excited to lead their groups and share God's love with the campus and community. This semester, we will be going through a study on the book of Acts and looking at how the church should look and God's plan to love the whole world.

We've also had a couple of events where we've met a lot of freshmen: helping with move-in, basketball, dodgeball, and an open house on Saturday night. Although it's a bit overwhelming for somebody like me who is naturally introverted and sometimes uncomfortable around lots of people, it was really cool to get to meet and talk to so many new people. I remember how intimidating the whole process was for me when I was a freshman, so I hope that we can be welcoming and helpful in any way we can for these new students.

Yesterday was the first day of classes for everybody here in Blacksburg except for April and me. It's a little odd to see all the students headed for the academic buildings, knowing that we have no class and no homework to worry about. Tonight is our first Tuesday night worship service of the year, and we are really hoping to see people come, feel welcomed, and connect to the community at the BCM.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Official

One nice thing about working for a campus ministry at Virginia Tech is that you get the hook up from the university. A great example of this is the fact that we get Long-Term Visitor parking passes. This means we can park in any spot on campus - Resident, Commuter, or Faculty/Staff. And it's free. Living right across the street from campus makes this not as big of a deal for April and me, but I'm going to use the pass at least once just because I remember how difficult the parking situation could be when I was a student.

We also got these today:

Somehow, this seems to make everything that we're doing a little more official. It's just so obvious now that I work in Campus Ministry.

It's funny because I was thinking about this idea when I was reading my Bible this morning. I was reading a story where Jesus was hungry, so he approached a fig tree that looked from a distance like it should have had some figs on it. Unfortunately, when he reached it, he realized that it had no fruit. Jesus said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." Later, Jesus and the disciples walked back by the tree and it was withered and dead.

Getting my Campus Ministry ID card made me think about this again, because I fear being like that fig tree. It showed me a picture of somebody who looks like they're living the kind of life God would appreciate from a distance. However, I want my life to bear real fruit - the kind that stands up to Jesus' close inspection. The kind that remains when all of those external things are stripped away from me. I can flash my new ID all I want, but God is not impressed with such things; in fact, Jesus calls the people he runs into who do these sorts of things hypocrites.

So I asked myself, what is this fruit? I think there are a lot of answers to that question, but the ones that I thought of this morning were the "fruit of the spirit" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). I thought of a life that is lived in service to others. I thought of a life that shares the love of God freely and does not discriminate. I thought of a life that loves Jesus and is satisfied in him alone. I hope these are the things that Jesus sees when he gets close to my life.

Some Reasons To Love Blacksburg

When I lived in Philadelphia there were certain things I would rave about regarding the wonderful state of Virginia and the town known as Blacksburg. One of those simply put is that I believe Virginia to be "the earthly promised land." And with that in mind check out these pics below to prove it!

Mill Mountain, one of the local coffee shops-the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted

the Cascades-Nic & I hiked this past Saturday for two miles to see this beauty, with all the greenery it looked like a postcard

Friday, August 1, 2008

Last Stop on the Highway

It seems we've been on the road a lot lately, tonight we're in Atlanta to celebrate the wedding of our good friend Zack Reuter and his fiancee Meredith. We left Blacksburg this morning, stopped in Elkin, NC for lunch at Bojangles (where an old man who we couldn't understand very well preached the gospel to us in line) and with only a few stops in between made it here to Snellville just in time for the rehearsal.

I've decided that going to/ being in weddings has become one of my favorite pastimes. Not only do we get to share in our good friend's special days and be reminded of our own vows we made two years ago but it's a huge reunion of old friends. This wedding is especially exciting because it's an intersection of people from all parts of our lives (Nic's childhood/adolescence & both of our college years). It was really fun to listen to people share stories tonight about Meredith & Zack, both separately and as a couple, so congrats to the happy couple!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Week of Work

Vacation is officially over, and we have arrived here in Blacksburg. It's been a really busy few days for us, but it's really great to be here. We had a great time hanging out in Nashville with the Reuters , my brother Randy, his girlfriend Sam, and my parents. Some of the highlights of that trip included exploring East Nashville, taking in some good old country & western music at a bar downtown, and a dinner party that included a very spirited game of extreme Uno. April and I even got to go wander around the enormous lobbies of the Opryland Hotel, which I must admit was impressive.

We rolled into town Sunday afternoon and had some wonderful friends here that helped us move all of our stuff from the basement to the apartment, unpack a lot of it, and even put some of our furniture back together. Due to our other staff members going out of town, we had to jump right into work Monday morning, so we're still putting our apartment together - it's finally getting close.

The first day of work was nothing like my other jobs. I don't have a cubicle (April and I share a sweet office), I didn't have to get my picture taken for a badge, and I didn't have to sit through boring presentations about workplace ethics and 401k options. We spent the morning assigning responsibilities for the upcoming school year. I have a few things on my plate that I'm really excited about and are areas that I feel very passionate about (such as working with Bible study leaders, men's discipleship, and website/network maintenance) and a few that are new to me, but that I'm excited to see how God uses me and teaches me through them (such as international student ministry and building repair).

We've had the chance to meet a lot of the students who are here for the summer at Bible study and prayer time. Things are pretty sleepy around Blacksburg right now, but in a few short weeks the place will be busy with activity, and I'm sure everything here will seem crazy. I'm not sure that I'm prepared for that, but it's going to be a fun year - I can tell already!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hanging at the Lake

As of right now, April and I are homeless. All of our stuff (except for some clothes to wear) is in the basement of our new apartment building in Blacksburg, and we're living with family for awhile. Fortunately for us, that includes spending a week at the Uebel's lake house on Indian Lake in Russell's Point, OH. It is a beautiful drive up here, through the corn and soybeans in the heart of Ohio. I'm even lucky enough to be able to get (steal) just enough wireless internet sitting on the back porch every once in a while to check my email. The ducks in the lake are driving Mabel crazy. She'll run to the end of every dock and bark at them, but can't seem to muster up the courage to jump in the lake and chase them. I don't think she's relaxed for a second since we arrived due to the constant duck hunting.

The move to Blacksburg went well for us. Thanks to the Travises and our friend Mike, we loaded up the U-Haul and cleaned the apartment in what seemed like no time, even though it was an exhausting day. 8 hours and about $350 of gas later, we arrived in Blacksburg in one piece.

Even though we've been looking forward to this move for a long time, April and I both had a weird feeling walking the streets of Blacksburg again. It's going to take us a while to get used to living there again. I guess I felt a little out of place being back in a college town and not being a student. Or maybe Philadelphia has claimed more of my affection than I'll admit and I'll have to learn to embrace small town life again. Whatever the reason is, I'm looking forward to getting over my awkwardness and embracing the community. I didn't do that much as a student, and I've learned in the past couple of years just how important it is for me to be a part of the community around me.

The rest of our vacation plans will take us back through Cincinnati and then down to Nashville to hang out with my brother and the newly married Reuters. Then our break will be over and we'll be starting our new jobs at the BCM!

The view from the back porch here at the lake house.

Mabel stalking the ducks.

Swimming with Mabel.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

No Turning Back

The last day of work here in Philadelphia finally arrived today for the Uebels. For me, it was filled with paperwork, HR, debriefings, and handshakes as I bid farewell to my coworkers and left New Jersey for the last time in the foreseeable future. I will miss my work at Lockheed Martin and in the government software field in general. I've met many great and intelligent people in my line of work, and have been challenged and satisfied intelectually. It's odd to me that my work will no longer revolve around for-loops and algorithm efficiency calculations, logical constructs that I can wrap my mind around, but will instead focus on the intangiables of people, relationships, and God. My logical, engineer brain does not feel as confident with those tasks.

I tend to be very dramatic (at least in my head) on days like this. I find myself thinking things like "This is the last time I'll check in code" or "This is the last time I'll drive over the Ben Franklin Bridge". I guess it feels like today should be monumental, so I try to build it up, but it ends up feeling like just another day where I got off work early and took an afternoon nap.

So now the boxes are mostly packed, the aparment is painted completely white, April's parents are on their way here on a plane, and all that's left to do is pack up the U-Haul tomorrow and make the trek to Blacksburg with our stuff on Friday. Mabel has been beside herself with all of this business and rearranging things around the apartment. Little does she know that the patterns of life that she is so used to are about to be turned upside down.

There ain't no stoppin us now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

4 weeks and counting!

Bear with me a second as I go back to my roots. Remember that song Time Is... where the artists formerly known as DC Talk sing Time Is Tickin' Away, Tick Tick Tickin' Away, yea that's right I just took you back 16 years(man has it really been that long?). Anyways that's exactly how Nic & I are feeling right now.

We officially leave Philly July 11, which is somewhat surreal and crazy to think about. I must note however that it depends what day you ask me if I'm excited to leave or not. Today was one of those days where I can't wait to be back in the great Blue Ridge Mountains but I digress. The next few weekends are pretty jam packed for us but we honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Our prayer for the last few weeks has been to finish well and though that can be challenging at times I feel like God has provided that for us.

Last night was our last 'official' small group and though it was sad it was really encouraging to see people not only reflecting on the past but looking towards the future as well. So just like we ended small group last night I ask you the same question-what are your hopes for the future? What do you want to see really happen over the next year? I know I've got a list going already.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Big Decisions

I've had to make a few choices that were sure to define the next few years of my life. Where should I go to college? Should I ask April to marry me? Should I take a job in Philadelphia? The decision making process for me usually looks like this: think and pray about what I want to do, look for opportunities in the direction I feel is right, take a few small steps in that direction, and repeat. Eventually though, I come to a point of no return where I must make a definite decision, regardless of the fact that I have no assurance that what I'm about to do is right. This always makes even the most simple of tasks seem like a nail biting experience like pacing around the fax machine that holds my job acceptance letter, trying to talk myself into hitting the send button. When April and I started feeling a desire to work full-time with college students, the process was very similar.

Due to the positive experience we had being a part of a collegiate ministry as students, April and I have a shared passion for seeing God work in the lives of college students that led us to talk about working full-time in college ministry from even before we got married. After taking a few years to just be married, we decided to start pursuing this passion. Many small steps later, we had the opportunity to either accept the position at Virginia Tech or push it off and stay here in Philadelphia for at least a little while longer. We had no guarantees that we would like this, be good at it, or not regret the decision for the rest of our lives, but we did know that God had put this desire in both of us and that he had brought us this far already.

So it was with a very shaky voice that a few months ago I told the director over the phone that we accepted the position, a decision which will certainly define our lives for the next few years. We are now in the process of preparing everything for our move to Blacksburg, and even now we have seen God provide for us in many ways in response to pursuing the desire he put inside of us. We are still scared and at times unsure of this next step, but excited to see what God will do through us in the lives of college students.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Top Ten Likes

I feel like I'm always talking on here about how much I dislike Philadelphia so I've decided to use this as a sounding board to describe some stuff I actually like about this "City of Brotherly Love."

So here they are, in no particular order:
  1. Springtime along Kelly Drive and West River Dr. (the trees and plants are absolutely beautiful).
  2. The Custard stand (more specifically a small twist cone dipped in chocolate).
  3. Our Church (check out the link to the left for more info).
  4. The fact that Chipotle is less than 5 minutes from our house.
  5. Wissahickon Creek.
  6. Humidity (I recognize this sounds odd but after recently experiencing the dry air out west I greatly appreciate the presence of moisture on my skin).
  7. All the different neighborhoods and the uniqueness they each bring to the city.
  8. The Greek Lady-40th and Walnut.
  9. Mabel (ok, so maybe she came from South Jersey but nonetheless we would've never found her if we didn't live in Philly).
  10. Good stories from our experiences here to share with family and friends!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Great Summer Reading!

Last Wednesday night our church hosted a book discussion featuring the author of the book Trish Ryan. Trish wrote the book He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not a memoir about her crazy dating life and in the midst of it all her search for Jesus. I bought the book Wednesday and I'm about three quarters of the way done with it (P.S. this is highly unlike me). The book is unlike anything I've ever read, the pursuit of God from someone who had no intentions of falling for him and in fact thought that most Christians were "fruitcakes" to steal a phrase from Passion. I love how real she is about every thought she ever had about men or Jesus. She recounted this at the book discussion by stating, "It was hard to write about all my horrible dating experiences knowing that everybody would read this even my dad." But I certainly applaud her for this and I certainly can't put the book down because of it. So if you need a good book to read this summer in the sand and sun certainly check this one out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Life Update

I can't really think of a good way to introduce our next bit of big life news, so I'm just going to dive right into it ...

The big news around here is that April and I have decided to leave Philadelphia and our jobs here to move back to Blacksburg, VA and join the staff of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Virginia Tech. Actually, we made this decision almost 4 months ago now, and the whole process of thinking about the move started sometime last fall. There are still details to work out, but our goal is to be down there sometime in July or August, ready for the start of school in the end of August.

Working in vocational ministry on a college campus is something April and I have talked about for a long time. Being involved in a college ministry during our time as students at Virginia Tech was a big deal for both April and me. When I arrived at college, I was in the beginning stages of my relationship with God. The BCM was a place where I first became part of a community of people who had a passion for God and weren't afraid to share it with me. I found opportunities to be mentored, to serve other students and the community, to go on mission trips, and to take my first steps in leadership. It honestly changed the direction of my life. Our passion is that every student would have that same opportunity to hear and respond to God's love and to be part of a community that supports, loves, and encourages them.

The first big steps we've taken in the process were a visit to the campus over Easter weekend and a trip out to Colorado two weeks ago for a training conference. Part of the Colorado trip included a chance to explore Denver and the surrounding mountains, so I've put a few pictures from that trip below. We are sure that it's going to be a difficult transition, especially since we are leaving the friends it took a long time to make here in Philadelphia and the church that we love so much. But we're also really excited about the opportunity that God has put before us, and we can't wait to see what great things are going to come of it.

By a waterfall outside of Boulder, CO.

View from the top of Red Rocks. That place is amazing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sick of Being Sick with the "Stomach Bug"

Due to the infamous "stomach bug" that's been floating around the streets of Philadelphia lately, I was out of work yesterday and stuck in bed. The only upside of spending an entire day stuck inside 4 walls was the afternoon where I watched the 4 hour long TV miniseries, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. I got the DVD collection last year (2006) for Christmas and watched the first two DVDs right away, but I somehow hadn't been able to find the time to finish them until yesterday. I can remember watching episodes on PBS with both my parents as a little girl and absolutely soaking in the glory of Anne's freedom and glistening red hair. To be honest though I had totally forgotten about the miniseries/book until I got to college when one of my roommate's friends happened to mention them (she (the friend) actually honeymooned in Canada, due in part to her love of Prince Edward Island and Green Gables). I still haven't read the book but that is next on my reading list (perhaps this'll be motivation to read the five other books on my bookshelf waiting to be read). I do however want to go to Canada now, especially Prince Edward Island. Perhaps I too simply want to be a little girl again and run through the fields like Anne Shirley, full speed ahead and never looking back.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bustin' Out the Grill

Thanks to the oncoming spring weather, we decided to wheel out the grill tonight for the first time this year. I love grilling season - with just a little practice you can get all kinds of easy and delicious meals while enjoying the weather and proving your manliness. Tonight we tried out a new recipe - barbecued jerk chicken wraps. Our goal was to recreate April's favorite meal from the dining halls of Virginia Tech. The Biewengas were so kind as to bring us back some jerk rub and sauce from their recent trip to Jamaica that I used on the chicken. I also cooked some Spanish rice and sautéed some peppers and onions to complete the wrap. I'd say the results were quite delicious!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Philly Cleanup

One of the first things that April and I noticed when we moved here to Philadelphia was how dirty the city is in general. We had never really lived in an urban setting, so maybe it's something that's seen in every city, but we were shocked to see how much trash blows around the streets. Even more shocking to me were the many times we would see people blatantly drop a Tastykake wrapper, an empty bottle, or a Dunkin Donuts cup that they were finished with. I remember being reprimanded many times growing up by my dad for leaving trash and wrappers around the house, so I can't even imagine doing something like that now.

Michael Nutter (mayor of Philadelphia for a couple of months now) is kicking off his pledge to clean up Philly by having a clean up day on April 5th. They are looking for volunteers to clean up many streets, parks, and public places. April and I will be going out with some friends to clean up the beautiful Wissahickon park which is just down the street from us. If you're around Philly and are free that morning, consider taking some time to make the city a more pleasant and livable place. Check out the link below for details and to sign up.

Philly Cleanup

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

PBS and Philadelphia, do those two really go together?

Growing up we never had cable in my house other than the basic 12 channels, NBC, CBS, ABC, and then there was PBS. I watched a lot of PBS. I'm not ashamed to admit that I would watch Arthur every afternoon when I came home from high school or the fact that my dad would turn on the Lawrence Welk show at least once every Saturday night and I would often find myself enjoying Mr. Welk as he sang his little heart out to the camera.
I write about this because tonight I watched "The Philly Food Show" on Philadelphia's PBS channel. Of course it was part of a donation drive, which it feels like PBS is always doing, however it was an all around enjoyable experience. It took me back to the days of my childhood when I would watch North Carolina now with my dad. I did notice a few differences between the days of yesterday and today, for one North Carolina accents are far better than Pennsylvania/New Jersey ones (at least in my opinion) and of course I disagree completely with the idea that TastyKakes are even remotely comparable to the amazing taste of MoonPies :). Nonetheless with all the lameness of the recent writer's strike I really respect and appreciate what PBS is doing .

Monday, February 25, 2008

Passion: DC

This past weekend, April and I went down to Northern VA for the Passion regional conference that was held at George Mason University's Patriot Center. Passion is a movement of college students around the world for the glory of God on college campuses. We took four students from our church down there for what turned out to be a fun and exhausting weekend.

We left Philly at about 2:30 on Friday. We had our biggest snowstorm of the winter the night before, leaving a couple of inches of snow on the roads. April and I were a little afraid that the trip down there would be painful when considering a typical Friday afternoon rush combined with bad driving weather, but we made great time and arrived in plenty of time to register and get dinner before the conference started.

I took the guys to go sleep at my good friend Micah and his lovely wife Jess's apartment Friday night. We had some Ting soda, got a little sleep, did some Gospelrobics, then were treated to a feast of a breakfast the next morning including eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, grits (none for me though - I don't know why people like that stuff), fruit, and coffee. Micah is undoubtedly one of the most generous people I've ever met, and it was a blessing to be able to hang out with him for a while and experience some true hospitality from him and his wife.

The conference itself was a bit overwhelming (we spent about 10 of the 30 hours we were in Virginia inside the Patriot Center), but inspiring and significant for everybody. We prayed, sang, danced a little bit, and heard some great stories and encouraging words about living fully in God's love and plan for us. For me, it was a much needed opportunity to meet with God and hear encouragement from him about my life.

We got back to Philly at about 2:30am Sunday, and I had to get up at 7 to be at church on time that morning, so I pretty much slept the whole day Sunday, waking up just long enough to fix the headlights on my car (which both somehow managed to burn out this weekend, forcing me to drive around with my brights on at night and anger countless motorists) and go to ShopRite for groceries. Although it was an exhausting weekend, there is nothing like the fun of a road trip and the joy of getting to know people better and experience intimacy with God together.

Some photos from our trip:

The students in our group.

April and I at one of the sessions.

A view of the stage during worship.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Interesting Article

I found this article over the weekend and it really had a profound effect on my thinking. The author is Shane Claiborne, a pastor who founded The Simple Way community in Philadelphia, he's a very insightful radical man who challenges a lot of our stereotypes a/b the urban community and our beliefs a/b Jesus. Check it out here.

To be honest the idea of stepping in cow manure is grotesque to me, I mean I often wonder how I'll change my kid's diapers one day, so it got me thinking how loving and humble our God must be to send his one and only son to this "Stank Manger." How amazing must he be to love people like me, who think so highly of themselves they're afraid of getting their feet a little dirty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MLK Jr. Weekend

I had off this past Monday, so Nic decided to join me in taking the day off himself (floating holidays are a true blessing) and I must say we fully enjoyed our long weekend. Friday night we went over to a friend's house from Dream Camp for a game night, we enjoyed a way fun game of Taboo and numerous tears from laughing so hard. Saturday we did some shopping and overall took it easy. Sunday I caught up with some of my friends from college, who were in the process of driving cross country from Virginia to San Francisco, it was so fun to talk to them and it makes me realize how valuable friendship really is. Sunday night was our "Wii Like to Party" night and we realized that some of our friends really get into their Wii Sports, Wii boxing for some is like taking a cardioboxing fitness class at the YMCA, if you haven't seen people Wii box yet you're definitely in for a treat. Monday Nic played in a "Playing for the King " MLK Jr. Basketball Tournament (see the picture) at a Baptist Church in Southwest Philadelphia, unfortunately his team lost but it was a fun time none the loss. I sat on the sideline cheering them on along with the other wives and girlfriends, conveniently located next to the portable heaters. It was hard to go back to work on Tuesday, I think I could definitely get accustomed to a 4-day work week. But nonetheless it's back to the cube farm for the both of us, more updates to come soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2008 Update

After a long and awesome week in Cincinnati, Nic & I made the drive back across a couple of states to Philadelphia. Cincinnati was amazing, we got to see friends we hadn't seen since last Thanksgiving (2006) and hang out with the super cool Uebel family. A couple of our friends had gotten engaged in the past few months so I got to see some new bling too (well done to both the Reuter boys). Nic's parents gave us $ to purchase a new bed/mattress & I don't think I could ever have asked for anything better. We put everything together this afternoon & our bedroom now looks like a furniture showroom. We were truly grateful for their thoughtfulness and generosity and upgrading to a queen bed after a year and a half in a full is like sleeping at the Hilton every night for us now.

We started out New Year's Eve at a performance by Stomp (Nic's Christmas present from me). These performers are truly amazing and can carry a beat 10,000 times better than I can with what seemed like every object known to man. Nic was so inspired by the performance that he was quite the human beat box over the next several days. We finished up the evening with the Biewengas; it was a pretty low key evening at their apartment, but a super fun one. I know sometimes I tend to rant a/b how much I don't like Philadelphia, but the Biewengas are certainly one thing I truly love about Philadelphia, I can't imagine having better neighbors or medical advisors =).
Nic & I are looking forward to what this new year will bring. We'll be sure to keep you posted as it all unfolds before us!