Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve at the Uebels

Today has been a joyful and refreshing day before Christmas here at the Uebel house. Outside of preparing the meal that's on the stove (a Christmas Eve tradition here: standing rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, and mashed potatoes), we haven't done any work, but have instead rested and enjoyed being together. We started the day by taking the dogs for a walk at a local park, then got showered and met some friends for lunch at Skyline. The afternoon and evening has been filled with family games (Scattergories was a big hit), playing music on the guitar and piano, reading, and taking a short nap. In past years, we've gone to midnight church services on Christmas Eve with friends, but this year we're changing the tradition to something entirely different: hanging out at Westy's (the local pub). What a great gift to have a day of rest with family and friends.

Tomorrow will be filled with presents, and food, and more family (including most of my cousins being here, something that doesn't happen often anymore). It will also be the consummation of the advent season that has been refreshing for me this year. There are a lot of situations around me where I've been waiting in hope for God to come and restore, and advent for me has been a reminder that hope is good. We are not foolish to hope because all of our hopes have their grounds in Jesus and the Incarnation, which we celebrate tomorrow. Even if the tough situations around me don't turn out like I pray for them too, my hope is not in vain because my hope is in the restoring power of God that will be seen in completion one day.

Petting a donkey at the local nativity manger scene earlier today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Break has begun

We made it to Cincinnati. Driving through the mountains of West Virginia yesterday was absolutely beautiful with all the snow-capped mountains and tree branch icicles. We went to see Awaited, a Christmas show, last night at Crossroads (a church here in Cincy). It was such an amazing show and really got me excited for Christmas, especially the celebration of the birth of Jesus!

We don't have much going on today or tomorrow. However we have already been to Chipotle in the 23 hours we've been here- oh chicken burrito with black beans, mild salsa, and cheese how I've missed you! Next up on the menu-Skyline Chili. I'm taking advantage of the light to-do list by reading. I'm reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo first, I decided I needed to add a little fiction to my life. The book got a lot of great reviews and Nic said he really enjoyed it (he read it this summer), so we'll see. That's it for now. Enjoy the Cincinnati skyline!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 2 of the Blizzard of 09

14 inches of snow later we're still hanging out at our house. This morning after Nic made a delicious breakfast we ventured out to campus to see how much snow had fallen. The answer-A LOT! We're starting to see a bit of the pavement reappear on the street in front of us. There have been dozens of snow plows drive past since this morning but it's certainly pretty dead out there compared to a normal Saturday. Mabel seems to love the snow, she's pretty funny to watch as you bounds through it all.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the amount and variety of food we have in our house. I did not frequent our local Kroger the day before the storm hit, honestly I didn't think we'd get this much snow. I saw on the local news last night that one Kroger in Roanoke, VA saw 5,000 customers come through their doors Thursday, keep in mind that's just one Kroger!

All that to say we're still enjoying it! Hope you're enjoying a Winter Wonderland too (or at least a lazy weekend)!

Mabel posing in the snow

My lovely husband digging out my car

Who knows....

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas (or the week before)

We're currently experiencing the Blizzard of 09 here in Blacksburg! It just started snowing at 2 pm and you can tell by the picture below, it's already snowed A LOT. The weather forecast says it's supposed to continue snowing through the day tomorrow. When it's all said and done we may have up to 2 ft of snow. Good thing we don't have anywhere to be this weekend! For now we'll sit by the Christmas tree and enjoy watching the many snowflakes as they come down. Hopefully the power won't go out!

Our front yard and the street in front of our house

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lessons learned from TV (Warning-Spoiler Alert)

As mentioned in a previous post I love the show Glee. There has not been a Wednesday night that has passed this fall where I was not parked in front of the TV at 9pm (unless of course I had a mandatory event scheduled during that time in which case I watched the episode on Hulu the next day). Anyway, a couple of Wednesdays ago was the fall finale, and though I could easily argue that this episode was the best so far, there is one scene that continues to haunt me. You see, Mr. Schuester's wife Terri has been faking her pregnancy throughout the entire season and last week Mr. Schuester found out. But the big news broke this episode that he decided to leave his wife and be with the high school guidance counselor Miss Pillsbury.

As the two embrace for a kiss in the final scene of the show, I found myself torn. On the one hand, I'm shouting with joy because they've finally ended up together! Everything in me despises his wife because she is conniving, demanding, and annoying; I totally understand why he would leave her. And Miss Pillsbury is so sweet and innocent, doesn't he deserve her after everything he's been through with his wife?

But on the other hand she is his wife. They have pledged their lives to each other (yes fictitiously I realize) and you can't be going around kissing other women when you're STILL married! I am a firm believer that the vows you make to one another on your wedding day are one of the most sacred acts you'll ever be a part of on this earth, yet that night in front of the TV I found myself encouraging Mr. Schuester to break them!

Now don't hear me wrong here, I'm certainly not saying we should avoid TV shows like this because they depict immoral behavior. In fact I think quite the opposite. I love TV shows, movies, books that make you think like this. They put you in a place where your faith becomes more than what you say but what you do and how you act when reality comes knocking. A few months ago Nic turned on TNT to find A Time to Kill playing. I sat on the sofa nodding in agreement with Samuel L. Jackson as he opens fire on the two white men who raped his young daughter. Wait a minute, why am I agreeing with murder? Didn't Jesus say in Matthew 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also?" My friend Karin told me about another movie like this called The Boondock Saints, where you find yourself cheering for revenge and retaliation and putting the world to rights in this strange kind of way. I must admit I haven't worked up enough courage to watch this one yet, but I really want to. Are there others that I should know about, (and it doesn't have to be just movies either)? Let me hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, long time no post

Turns out we've been pretty horrible at this whole blogging thing recently. To bring you up to speed, here's a few recent highlights. Nic is almost done with his first semester of seminary! He is in the process of composing his 15 page research paper & finishing up the last pages of his 2,000 page reading requirement. I've been keeping busy with a random assortment of things. One of them is my BLAST program. I recently finished the book If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat by John Ortberg, which I absolutely love & highly recommend! I must say this is one of those books I never would've read on my own-the cover is really glossy and bright blue with a boat on it but that old saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is certainly true in this instance. I'm currently working on What's so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey and I'll report more on that later.

Christmas has certainly arrived here. We put our tree & decorations up last weekend and we had our first snow of the season here in Blacksburg on Sunday. Nic's parents came for a visit this weekend and we had a wonderful time hanging out with them! They even installed a new lighting fixture in our dining room that looks awesome!

Last night we had our 2nd annual Discipleship Leader Christmas dinner. It was so much fun to have everyone over and decorate our house with festive plates and napkins :). I love having people in our home A LOT, I've been telling Nic lately that's something I really love about our job. And I really hope no matter where God leads us in the future that's something we can continue to do. That's it for now, expect some pictures to follow! Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seminary So Far

Up to this point, I have greatly enjoyed my first semester of seminary classes. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to manage the added time commitment that my classes add on top of my work at BCM, but the only part of my life that has seemed to suffer is my blogging performance. In fact, I have enjoyed some of the increased workload; it seems like I don't waste as much of my life these days. Plus, it helps me sympathize with BCM students who are always struggling with (and complaining about) their school work.

The two classes that I'm taking this semester are Church History and Hebrew; I'll be taking the second half of these classes in the Spring semester as well. Since I've always loved language classes, Hebrew class has seemed very natural and interesting for me. It has definitely been a challenge to start to learn a language that is so different from English, but the kind of challenge that I enjoy. We've already started reading from the book of Ruth, and some of the readings we've done in class from Genesis and the Psalms have been amazing. It is a really rich experience to be able to read these passages in the original language.

My Church History class has been a little tougher for me because the style of learning is different from what I'm used to. We are responsible for a lot of reading (2000 pages!) and writing a research paper by the end of the semester. Since my undergrad degree is in Computer Engineering, I haven't done much research, reading, or writing on a college level. I can definitely say, though, that this is the first time I've ever enjoyed reading a class textbook. Although I can't say I'm looking forward to writing this research paper, I can say that I'm excited about my classes in general and seeing how God helps me grow in my ministry through the experience.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a Confession

I have a confession to make. I'm an addict-a Glee addict. If you haven't watched this new show on Fox yet I highly encourage you to check it out. It comes on every Wednesday night at 9 pm and every Wednesday night around 10:02 pm I am singing my lungs out to their latest tune. Perhaps that's why I enjoy the show so much- I get to imagine for an hour that I have an amazing voice and I live vicariously through the lives of other 20 year olds pretending to be high schoolers.

A few weeks ago the episode featured a performance of Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it) by the "Boy's Varsity football team." Moments after the show was over I was looking up the choreography on Youtube, shaking my white girl booty as best I could, and making Nic roll on the floor in laughter. I'm not much of a dancer, well except for my Zumba skills that is, but there is something about Glee that brings out that longing in every girl's soul to be a performer. That's why when I read this article my heart leapt for joy. You better believe that one day my little toddler will be bouncing along to the latest Beyonce tunes.

So if you ever find yourself in Blacksburg on a Wednesday at 9pm there's always a seat waiting for you in the Uebel living room (maybe we'll even throw in free popcorn and a drink)!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Mist

As I write this blog Nic is out playing a game of flag football with a bunch of guys from BCM. As he was leaving I said "Please don't get hurt" and in typical Nic fashion his response was "I won't." I've been thinking a lot about getting older and the effects it takes on your body recently (seeing as I am approaching 25 a month from tomorrow). Last Friday I had to have minor surgery and it's been a slow go on the road to recovery ever since. In our Homegroup we've been going through the book of James and last week we discussed chapter 4. I've been thinking a lot lately about verse 14 where he says "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Our lives are such a gift from God and we should live them to the fullest every day, appreciating every thing we're given. So instead of sulking I will choose to praise God for his many blessings. For the beautiful trees outside my window that look like they're on fire b/c of their rich color, for my incredible husband who has gone above and beyond the call just to take care of me, for my friends who have sent me encouraging emails or texts and brought me food and flowers, and above all else for a God who sent His Son to die for me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome to the world Little Miss Fraser!

I suppose it's about time for me to post a blog. A lot has been going on lately, hence the lack of activity in the blogging world, and I feel like I'm finally at a point where writing is fun again and not work.  

This past weekend my friend Lauren & I went out to San Francisco, CA to see our friend Megan, her husband Joe, and their new baby Sophie.  It was extra exciting for me because not only did I get to meet Sophie but it was my first visit to California!  Sophie was super cute (see picture below) and such a sweet baby.  I can't decide if she looks more like Megan or Joe but nonetheless I would certainly be well pleased if my kiddo looked like her one day!

Many of our Philly friends hail from the land of Cali so I certainly had high expectations.  I'm pleased to say they were met!  San Francisco (especially when compared to Philly) is such a clean city, so white and sparkly.  The people were so friendly too, even the employees at the airport.  After hearing so much about In-n-Out we had to make that a stop on our to-do's and I was amazed at how cheap and delicious it was.  Maybe In-n-Out if you wanted to make your way to the east coast I could be your marketing genius?    

I do love my mountains here in Southwest VA though.  The leaves are finally starting to fall off the trees, Hokie football is in high gear and I can smell fall coming.  So here's to cool evenings, hoodies, and the smell of campfires! 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Going Back to School

I graduated from Virginia Tech in May of 2004, so it has been over 5 years since I've been a part of any kind of formal education. When I graduated, I always said that I was tired of school and would never go back to grad school. This conviction of mine was confirmed when I was working in software development and saw my co-workers wearing themselves out trying to get their Masters degrees at night while they were working full time. That is all going to change this fall, however, because I am going back to school!

I found out last week that I got accepted (which really isn't a big deal - it isn't competitive) to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. I will be starting to take classes this fall on my way to getting a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies. It should take me about 3 1/2 years to complete, if I can stick to the pace of taking two classes per semester and some in the summer/winter terms. The program is designed for people, like me, who are working full-time. I will travel down to Charlotte (about a 3 hour drive from Blacksburg) a couple of weekends each month for class and do a lot of work here at home. It is going to be a busy semester for me as I continue to work full-time at BCM but learn to balance my time with this new pursuit.

Going to seminary has been something I've often thought of over the past couple of years. I have done a good amount of reading and studying about the Bible and the Christian worldview, and have at times wished I had a good education to enable me to do this better. This has especially been true this past year as I've tried to help students better understand God's teaching while not having a great foundation to understand it myself. I look forward to what I will learn and how it will change the ways I think about and study God, and how it will enable me to be a more effective minister to college students.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Update

It's hard to believe, but summer is almost officially over here in Blacksburg. In about a week and a half, students will start moving back into campus, and classes start two weeks from today! We've had an adventurous past month, so here's a recap of what April and I have been up to.

In late July, we spent a week on the beach in Ocracoke, NC, which is a small island at the southern end of the Outer Banks. The only down point of the week were the killer mosquitoes around the cabin we stayed in - besides that, it was a super relaxing and recharging week. We spent most of our days sitting on the beach reading and playing in the waves with Mabel. After having seen the newest Harry Potter movie, I was excited to go back and re-read some of the books. I got through 5 of the 7 books (I skipped #2 and #5 because I didn't have them) in the period of about 2 weeks, with the bulk of that reading done on the beach.

When we got back, our BCM staff took a trip down to Natural Tunnel State Park where one of our students (Patrick Trail) is working as a summer park ranger. We played in the sweet swimming pool (including a nice water slide) that they have there, and then got a personal tour of the park by Ranger Trail. It was a beautiful place, and a great time of bonding with staff and students.

The final trip of the summer was back to Cincinnati this past weekend to visit my family. We got to have an extended family dinner, enjoy walking and exercising the two dogs, go to church together (my parents church, Crossroads, is a great place), and eat at our two favorite places: Skyline and Chipotle. On Saturday, my dad and I headed down to Georgetown, KY, to go to a scrimmage game at the Bengals' Training Camp. My good friend and ex-roommate Jim Clifford lives in that area, so we got to meet up with him and had a blast watching football even though we were sweating in the hot sun. April and my mom had a good all-girl shopping trip while we were down there. All in all, it was a great weekend!

Now that we're back, the rush to get ready for school has begun. We are preparing some of our early Bible study and worship service material, planning for our outreach to new freshmen and helping them move into the dorms, and taking the last breath of lazy summer air before it gets crazy around here. I'm excited for the craziness though, which is a good thing!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Late Night at the Movies

Tuesday night, April and I went to the midnight showing of the newly released Harry Potter movie with some BCM friends. This is the second Harry Potter movie in a row that we've gone to the midnight release for now - last time we went with friends in Philadelphia. We have read all of the Harry Potter books and enjoy the story. I haven't liked or disliked any of the movies in the series more than the others because, to me, they are neat ways to see the stories I know from the books told on film. I appreciate the movies because they allow me to be drawn into the world of wizards on a new level. For those of you who still don't buy into the Harry Potter craze, I would recommend giving the books a try - I would be surprised if you don't enjoy them enough to keep reading.

Even when I was younger, and even more so now, I have had a hard time staying awake when watching movies late at night. I never enjoyed watching movies at night with friends because I would just sit there and focus on staying awake because it embarrasses me to fall asleep. This is even true when I'm in a theater; I always tell people that my best achievement in this area was sleeping through most of the movie Gladiator in the theater. I'd say that I did well this time - there were a few moments where I was struggling to keep my eyes open and nodding off a little bit, but I know I didn't miss any significant portion of the movie.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Ramblings on a Monday

It was quite the busy weekend here in Blacksburg. We hosted the annual Alumni Work Weekend at BCM and got a whole lot of stuff done. It was great to be reunited with old friends and see lots of things that have been on the "to-fix" list here at BCM actually get fixed. Last night Nic & I walked down to the Drillfield since it was such a nice cool night. It was awesome to be on campus, listening to the sounds of kids playing games and enjoying the sweet smell of summer. It reminded me of just how beautiful this place is that we call home!

This morning I went for a run at 7:30 am. If you know me this is a huge step for me, as I normally am not even up until at least 8 am. It surprisingly was a lot of fun and I was in an extra chipper mood for some reason. I said "Good Morning" to every person I passed on the trail and honestly when I think about it now I was probably a bit too loud and chipper as I greeted those fair citizens of Blacksburg, since I had my Ipod cranked up!

The Friends General Conference is going on all week here in Blacksburg and someone told us that tonight Shane Claiborne, author of The Irrestible Revolution, is speaking at their main session so of course we're going to go check it out. I'm really looking forward to hearing him speak. I just finished his book about a month ago and he certainly made me look at some things from a different perspective. Hopefully I'll give you an update on that tomorrow!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a Week

We had a blast hanging out at camp and on our adventures surrounding our week there. Being in the camp atmosphere again was a little weird for me, but overall I really enjoyed it. April and I were a little overwhelmed due to the fact that everybody else on staff knew what they were doing besides us. This was especially difficult for April since she had never experienced a week working at Centrifuge and didn't really know what was expected of her.

One crazy part of the week was the weather in Jackson - we had tornado warnings and crazy downpours the first couple of days, and then overwhelming heat the rest of the week. It was enough to throw everything into a state of semi-chaos and to force us to be the voices of reason to many upset students and youth ministers. The rest of the camp staff there was battling a virus that was taking them down one by one. It was a good week for us to be there as we were able to help fill in some gaps left by those in their sick beds.

As always, the best part of the experience was the chance to minister to the students we encountered. April and I both had good Bible study groups and had the opportunity to see students take steps in their journey of faith. It took me a while to get used to being around high school students instead of the college students I'm used to, but I really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing what God was doing in their lives.

We had a great end to the week as well. We stopped in Nashville for a night on the way back and stayed with our friends Andy and Kristy Reuter. It just so happened that one of our favorite bands, Over the Rhine, was playing in Nashville that night. My brother Randy and his girlfriend Sam joined us for the concert, and my parents drove down from Cincinnati to join us as well. Although April and I were struggling to stay awake at points, it was great to get to hang out with friends and family that we love.

Team Armada

Team Explosion

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Going to Camp

As I write, we are finishing up our packing and loading up the car to head to Tennessee for a week. The main reason is that April and I are working a week of Centrifuge camp at Union University in Jackson, TN. However, we're going to make a short vacation out of it by taking our time getting out there and staying an extra day to see friends and family in Nashville. I worked two summers of Centrifuge camp after my junior and senior years of college. It is a summer camp for high school students that church youth groups attend. The week is filled with Bible study, outdoor recreation, sports, games, activities, evening worship, and all kinds of other fun things. There are Fuge locations all over the country (mostly in the Southeast), but the last summer I worked was at Union.

I have all kinds of great memories from my summers working at camp: fun adventures with friends, things God taught me about leadership, meeting cool high school students, and doing crazy things. I'm excited to go back to that environment, but I know it's going to be different. For one thing, I'm 5 years older. Also, we're just coming in to help out for a week instead of getting the whole summer experience and really being a part of the staff team, which was one of the best parts. One thing that will be better is the chance to go on this adventure with April and to experience all of it with her.

April has finished packing, so it's time to hit the road - it is going to be a good week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zumba and other noteworthy news

One of my hopes for the summer had been to blog everyday (rotating between Nic & myself). Unfortunately that goal has already been trampled upon (as you can see I haven't posted since 5/28..oops). Anyways one of the reasons I decided to try this little experiment was b/c I've discovered I actually kind of enjoy writing. I would never have admitted this to you three years ago (when I was whining about writing a research paper) but it turns out it's kind of fun. I'm reminded of what my piano teacher used to say at our weekly lessons when I was younger "Practice makes perfect" and although I would often cringe when I heard those words I'm realizing it makes sense. Hence why I need to blog more to improve my writing skills!

In other news I went to a Zumba exercise class last night here in Blacksburg. SO MUCH FUN! The class is an hour long but certainly doesn't feel that way at all. You also don't realize that you're "working out" because you're just having fun dancing the time away! I realize that I'm still pretty much a clumsy white girl when it comes to dancing but last night I like to think I was dancing so well that I could've been a competitor on any of those reality dance shows. So You Think You Can Dance bring it on because here I come! Ok maybe not but a girl can dream right?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hitting the Appalachain Trail

I want to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the mountains, forests, and rivers surrounding Blacksburg this summer. This weekend, I did a one-night backpacking trip with some students along a section of the Appalachian Trail. It turned out to be a great trip, with good feelings of exploration, friendship, exercise, and wonder.

It felt like it rained all week last week, so even though the forecast was calling for it to clear up Friday afternoon, we were having second thoughts about going due to the wet and muddy conditions. It did stop raining, so we loaded up our gear and hit the road even under the cloudy skies. It was about a 30-minute drive out 460 West to the place where the AT crosses a side road outside of Pearisburg, VA. I've driven by there many times in my life, having never realized the trail came so close. The first half of our 5-mile hike to the shelter at Rice Fields was exceptionally steep - more than any of us had expected. The second half was much more manageable for us, and we reached the shelter well before dark.

Being up that high, we were pretty much in a cloud the entire time. It was eerie to hike through the mist and growing darkness as our visibility was quickly reduced. Although I don't think it ever rained, the cloud condensing and the wind blowing made it feel like we were in a constant drizzle. We weren't able to get a fire going, so we warmed our food over camp stoves, played some cards by flashlight, and went to sleep. Coming down the next morning was a much easier experience, and we were back in Blacksburg by lunch time.

The coolest part of the trip for me was Saturday morning as I woke up earlier than the rest of the group and felt the sun breaking through the mist. I walked out to a place where the mountain overlooked the valley and was treated to a view of clouds filling the valley and being slowly blown back up onto our peak. As my visibility and the sunlight went in and out as clouds blew through, I had a great chance to enjoy the beauty and peace of the place. I'm hoping I get the chance to enjoy more of the AT, New River, and other beautiful places around me this summer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lessons from Titus

I've been reading through the book of Titus in my daily time that I spend reading the Bible lately. I know I've read through the book before, but it has seemed very fresh and encouraging to me. Paul writes this letter to his friend Titus to instruct him as a leader of the churches on the island of Crete, and shares some things that have got me thinking a lot.

The whole letter carries the theme of living a respectable, self-controlled life so that we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ well, and also gain the respect of those outside the church. Paul uses the phrase self-control so many times in this short letter, it's easy to see that he's trying to drive home this point. To me, that reminds me that I need to at all times be aware of the strong desire I have to please myself and get my way, and to fight against it. When I allow those self-centered desires to control me, I often offend or deceive others instead of honestly loving them. The problem is, I don't seem to have much self-control. I am thankful to be reminded in 2:11-14 that it is God's grace that "[trains] us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." God is the source of any self-control I have, and he is continuing to train me in this difficult area as I respond to his grace.

The other part that challenges me is how Paul instructs Titus to teach this message. I can relate to Titus because I am in a position of leadership here at the BCM; I especially relate to Paul's instruction to Titus in 2:6 to "likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled." This seems to be the heart of what God has called me to do here - to lead the young men here at BCM in a life of self-control that honors God and is respectable and loving toward all people. In 2:15, Paul tells Titus to "declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." This is where it gets hard for me. I'm not one to be bold with many things, and it scares me to think of rebuking people and not letting them disregard me. As I continue to build relationships here, I am trying to learn to follow God's leading in teaching, exhorting, and even rebuking when necessary, and responding well to others when they do the same to me. Hopefully God's encouragment to me through this letter will help me continue to grow in this area as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


So it turns out I'm getting old after all, and I had to get glasses. Several months ago I went to hear a speaker in one of the large auditoriums here on campus. We sat in the very back and I could not read anything on his presentation! It was at that moment I decided I needed to face the facts and go see the eye doctor.

So a couple of weeks ago I did just that. After discovering that I'm near-sighted and being fit for my new glasses, I stumbled out into the parking lot in tears. I called Nic bawling. I could not believe that my 24 years of perfect vision were coming to a close. Not to mention I was floored by how expensive a few pieces of plastic glued together could be! However Nic was the super sweet husband he always is and reassured me that we could afford them and that he was certain I would look super hot in my new frames! Have I mentioned how much I love that kid?

Anways I went to pick them up today. I've been trying to wear them around the office so that my eyes get used to it. I can certainly tell a difference, colors are bolder and fonts are a lot bigger! Maybe these things won't be so bad after all.

Me with my new glasses and new cell phone. (Thank you Verizon for your two year updates!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hitting the Trail

I've had an on and off experience with running over the past few years of my life. Until I graduated from college and started getting more and more out of shape, you wouldn't have been able to convince me to run for exercise outside of sports for any amount of money. As I came to realize how badly I was out of shape (and how dangerous it was getting to my health) and how few opportunities I had to exercise through sports, I figured I'd give running a try. At one point, I was running 3-4 times per week after work and got myself into pretty decent shape. April and I have started training to run a 5k a couple of times since we've been married, but have never actually completed one.

I certainly don't consider myself a runner, and I doubt I'll ever get to the point where I can say that I truly enjoy running, but I do see it as an effective and necessary means of getting the exercise I need. This summer, I want to get back in the habit of doing it regularly. One of the great things about where we live is that the head of the Huckleberry Trail, which is one of the nicest public running trails I've ever used, is right by our house. It goes between Blacksburg and Christiansburg - I'm not sure how far because I've never had the endurance to get beyond the five mile marker. April and I have both been running on the Huckleberry this week. Here's hoping that we can keep this up, build up our endurance and overall health, and enjoy the outdoors!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day and bugs...

We had a great long Memorial Day weekend with family and friends! Hotel Roanoke was absolutely fabulous. Friday night we had dinner at this cute little BBQ place across the street from Center in the Square in Roanoke. They had the best fried okra there that I've ever tasted. It literally melted in your mouth. The menu said they included some sort of "secret sugar" in the batter, I don't know what it was but I want that recipe!

Aside from the food, it was a great time to meet up with family and friends that we hadn't seen in a while. Monday afternoon all of my former college roommates met up in Chatham. It was such fun to be back together again, I hadn't seen a couple of the girls since last June! Hopefully it won't be another year before we're all together again.

Elizabeth, Megan + one, Me, Emily, Lauren

As for the bugs, Nic comes running into my parent's house Monday morning like a little kid, screaming "There are bugs everywhere! All over the backyard! I've got to get a picture this looks like something at the zoo." Get a picture is exactly what he did (hence the one below). To his credit it was pretty crazy looking, apparently all the baby larvae decided to hatch at one time. Pretty ridiculous and gross. I chose to stay inside, I decided I did not want to pick bugs out of my teeth/hair/eyes!

Bug Invasion. Don't be deceived all those little white dots on the tree trunk and ground are bugs!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anniversaries and Friends

Yesterday we celebrated three years of being married. Seeing as it is the "Leather" anniversary I got Nic a nice leather journal. He got me a gorgeous fern for our front porch and pretty flowers for the back porch, our house is getting prettier by the minute. We celebrated with a dinner out, cookie cake, and Ben & Jerry's. This weekend we'll celebrate even more in Roanoke. On the agenda, Hotel Roanoke, the Taubman Museum of Art, dinner downtown, and the Festival in the Park. I can't believe we've been married 3 years. It's crazy to think about because it really doesn't feel that long at all. My oh my how time flies!

As a sidenote I'd like to give a shoutout to my friend Elizabeth. Yesterday Mabel & I went to visit she and her new baby Trey at their home in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. It was so much fun catching up. We went on a long walk on their gorgeous property and Mabel loved the freedom of being off the leash (she even got to go swimming). It's always so much fun hanging out with Elizabeth, she's one of my all time favorite people. Hope it's sunny where you are!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Reading List

I'm trying to catch up on some reading this summer since that was one thing that I didn't make time for this school year. I feel disorganized about my reading list because I've started a bunch of different books and don't know which I'm going to finish first. I always just seem to grab the book that's closest to me when I feel like reading. Here are some I hope to finish by the end of the summer:
  • UnChristian by David Kinnaman. We saw this author speak at a conference this year. He is the president of the Barna group, who does research about how people think and act in terms of religion and the church. He has done a lot of research about the perception of the church among those outside of it in the younger generations, and wrote this book out of that research. Not only is his research interesting, but he has a good heart and challenges the church to respond well to the criticism being spoken against it.
  • Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. April has been reading this book and has thought a lot about what the author has to say. He lives in Philadelphia, which makes this extra-interesting to me, having lived there and seen the difficulties and problems he describes in the book.
  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart. I've read parts of this book, but would love to read all of it and take some time to think about how it applies to the Bible studies I prepare and teach.
  • God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger. I've heard this book recommended by multiple people whose opinions I trust. It is a long discussion of all the biblical texts dealing with marriage and family issues in the light of how these things look today. My perception is that the stances it takes are a little different from the way I usually view things, but I'll be glad to have a fuller understanding of these issues from reading this book. This is a subject I'd like to do more study in, both for the sake of my marriage and family, and since I'm around college students who are always asking questions about marriage and getting married.
  • The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. Always wanted to read this one, and I picked up a cheap copy from Amazon recently.
I'll be sure to post some reviews and thoughts once I get into them. I got a bit deeper into UnChristian yesterday, and am now committing to finishing that one first. We'll see how much I actually get done this summer - it's hard for me to read at night right now because I'm too hooked on watching the NBA playoffs. If anybody has any other suggestions, please let me know!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where'd everybody go?

There's a definite change to Blacksburg this week-nobody's here! Seriously I think this might be the quietest I've ever seen this place. This week is especially quiet since summer classes don't start until next Tuesday so it would seem ALL the students are gone.

Last week we had the chance to say goodbye to several students (some just for the summer, others for good). We had a reception after the Friday night graduation ceremony here at the BCM for the graduates and their families. It was so much fun meeting parents; I was amazed at how much people look like their parents! Whenever I would say that, the students would say really? I don't think so. I guess it's one of those things that's easier to see from the outside. So I guess after making such a statement I should say Mom & Dad, I guess I'm starting to look more like you guys every day after all!

Our friends Micah & Jess came down to stay the night Friday. Micah's cousin was graduating on Saturday so we got the pleasure of hosting the Reynolds fam for the evening. It was so much fun catching up with them! They're such fun people and I miss them a ton. Saturday was full of Graduation parties (with a Birthday party thrown in there). By the time we got home we were exhausted but it was certainly a great day!

Below are some pictures of Pandapas Pond/Mabel. My friend, Karin, and I went there one day last week before she left for the summer. It's such a beautiful place to get away and only about a 5 minute drive from Blacksburg! Enjoy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing My Vegetables

One thing I've wanted to do for a couple of years now but have never had the resources to try is to have a small vegetable garden. Thankfully, we have a spot next to our apartment here that, while it is not ideal, I think will be able to support a small garden. A few weeks ago, I dug up a small patch of ground (maybe 6ft by 4ft), and I planted a few small plants there last weekend. We went to a local produce stand and picked out some tomato, cucumber, green pepper, and yellow squash plants. I'd like to add some herbs and maybe a few other vegetables, but there's not a ton of room left, so it will be a pretty modest garden if it succeeds.

I've swiftly killed every plant I've ever owned (including a cactus and bamboo plants that are supposedly really difficult to kill), so I don't have huge hopes of growing anything that will actually produce results. However, it's been fun to research and actually get outside and make some of the process happen. Call me a tree-hugger if you will, but I enjoy trying to do this in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. I hopefully made some good dirt by composting leaves from last fall, and have implemented a rain barrel system so I can water the plants with rain water instead of using the hose. Here's hoping that we get to eat some delicious, fresh veggies this summer!

Our Garden

Close Up of a Pepper Plant

Monday, May 11, 2009

Passion 2010

I love getting mail, snail mail that is. Today I received an unexpected package from Six Step Records with three brand spanking new copies of Kristian Stanfill's new CD Attention inside. A few minutes later as I was jamming away to Mr. Stanfill I got a phone call from a representative at the Passion Movement.

Now as much as I'd like to say people call our office all the time asking for me that is just not the truth (probably about 1 out of every 10 calls is for me and that's a stretch). However about a month ago I bought enough spots to take about 20 students to the Passion 2010 conference in Atlanta, GA next January and he was calling to follow up. He simply wanted to say thank you and talk about what's going on at Virginia Tech! Needless to say talking about everything made me so excited to go!

If you've never heard of Passion I strongly encourage you to check them out here. It exists to glorify God by uniting students in worship and prayer for spiritual awakening from around the world. I went to two conferences as an undergraduate student and got so much out of the event. I remember one evening in particular, we (myself and thousands of other students) were all singing inside the Gaylord Arena in Nashville, TN and for a moment I stopped to think man this is what heaven is like. Thousands of voices singing in unison to praise our Great God!

Friday, May 8, 2009


It's hard to believe, but the spring semester is wrapping up for the students here at Virginia Tech, and that means April and I have been here working at the BCM for an entire school year. We've gone through the cycle of what happens in a typical year here, and had a chance to get a good feel for the community and rhythm of the ministry. Although I'm sure every year will be very different due to people and circumstances, it feels good to have this first year behind us. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and of knowing some of what to expect as we head into year two.

So what are we going to do over the summer? I feel like I get asked that question a lot these days, and understandably so, because what the heck is somebody who works in campus ministry going to do for the three months when the campus is empty? One way I often answer is "I'm not really sure," because we haven't experienced a summer here yet. Here are a few things that we do know we're going to be doing:
  • While most students are gone, there are still some around for summer school and jobs in the area. BCM has a Tuesday night summer Bible study, so we will be a part of that. We're also looking forward to spending more time with the students that are around now that life is slower and they're not as overwhelmed with school.
  • We want to prepare for the fall. It seems way too early to be thinking about what's going to happen in September since it's only May now, but we would love to have some good plans in place so that we're ready to invest more time and energy in relational things when the students return.
  • Reading and studying. I haven't done enough of that this year, and I want to take some time to grow and learn.
  • Camp. That's right, April and I are going to be working a week of Centrifuge (a Christian summer camp for high school students) in June at Union University in Tennessee. I last worked camp there in the summer of 2004, so this will be a return to the good old days for me. We're excited to be able to go do this together.
  • Vacation! We've planned a vacation to the Outer Banks in July for just the two of us - this will be our first vacation by ourselves since our honeymoon (which was about 3 years ago now). We'll also be doing some other travelling to visit family, friends, and people who support our ministry.
  • And finally, we hope to give a little more attention to this blog this summer to share our thoughts on life here in Blacksburg and other things that are going on in our world.
I always wanted to spend a summer in Blacksburg as a student, but it never worked out. I'm very excited to see that dream come to life this summer!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I found this quite humorous today. I thought you might too. I guess it does pay off after all to pay attention in Middle School English class.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Weather and other Random Thoughts

As I sit here and look out my office window it's raining/snowing/sleeting. This normally wouldn't be such a big deal except for the fact that it's April 22 and I live in Blacksburg, Virginia not Siberia. Our weather has been strangely similar to today all week long. If you ever come visit us in Blacksburg you should be sure to bring enough clothes to cover all four seasons because you might quite honestly experience all of them in one day here.

In other news it has been a really busy few weeks for us. Last week we remembered the victims of the April 16 tragedy, line danced, and helped out with The Big Event, a university wide service day to give back to the New River Valley. Tomorrow we leave for Cincinnati to celebrate the wedding of Amy Todd & Mike Suit. We're looking forward to heading out of town for a bit and celebrating with old friends and family! When we get back there will only be a week and a half left till classes end. That's certainly hard to believe. Bring on summer!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rear Window

As I'm writing this Nic & I are finishing up watching Rear Window directed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock himself. It's a Netflix rental recommended by our boss Darrell. I must admit when I saw this movie in our Queue a few days ago I was a bit annoyed at Nic for putting it there. All I'd ever heard about Alfred Hitchcock was my mom's painful memories of watching the movie The Birds. But alas it arrived Tuesday afternoon and we started watching it last night. I have never ever liked scary movies. In fact I remember one Halloween when I was in college several of us went to go see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I don't know how in the world they ever got me in that theater. The only thing I can figure is that I was pretty smitten with my date (aka Nic) and I watched him the whole time instead of the screen :).

I must admit that I did have to look up the ending to Rear Window on just now while the movie was playing in front of my eyes to ensure that I didn't need to leave the room. Nic already made fun of me, so there's no need to do that, but shoot, in my opinion no movie is worth a night full of nightmares! Check it out if you're looking for a movie to watch. On a scale of 1-5, I rate it 3.5 and Nic says a 4. Who knew the Uebels were such movie buffs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


We arrived back from our trip to New Orleans this past Saturday exhausted, but encouraged from the week. It was hard to leave the "80s and sunny" weather in New Orleans, drive through 14 hours of rain, and get back to "cool and rainy" weather in Blacksburg. I've always said that I've wanted to visit this city, so I was excited to be able to experience it and serve it at the same time.

Our work for the week was about half physical labor and half community interaction. For the physical labor part, we did maintenance, cleaning, yardwork, and painting for the church and the mission house to give them usable facilities and enable them to do the ministry they are doing in the community. For me, that kind of service comes naturally, and I really enjoyed the chance to get sweaty and dirty so that these organizations could be a blessing to the communities they are in. The community interaction part included playing with kids at after-school programs, going to teen Bible study groups, and going door-to-door to invite people to a theatre production at the church. This canvassing work was a stretch for me as I'm not a huge "talking to strangers" kind of guy, but it was really neat to see the excitement from some of the people we talked to simply because their neighborhood (which was affected greatly by Katrina and is still getting back on its feet) was seeing cultural events return and seeing the church back on its feet.

One of the most interesting experiences we had was the opportunity to drive around the city and see some of the areas that were devastated by Katrina more than 3 years ago. Specifically, we got to see the area called the Lower 9th Ward, which experienced some of the worst flooding when a canal running alongside of it was overcome with the storm surge. This neighborhood used to be a high-density, lower-income area, but is now almost nothing more than a field with a grid of streets running through it. Many houses in the area aren't built with a concrete slab or a foundation, so they were almost all literally washed away by the storm. It was a surreal sight to be sure.

Here are photos, photos, and more photos from our trip!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Break So Far

On Saturday morning, we packed up the BCM's big white van and drove down to New Orleans for a spring break mission trip - the drive took us about 14 hours total. April and I are leading a group of five students down here to work on some service and community outreach projects in the city. I did a few of these spring break mission trips while I was a student, but it has been a while since I've done any sort of project like this, and the first time that I've led a team. We've put a lot of thought and effort into planning and preparing for this trip (which was a difficult process for me), so we have been excited to see all of our plans come together and to begin to experience what we've been thinking about for a couple of months now.

Our good friend Zack Reuter works for a church here in New Orleans called Sojourn Lakeview, and we are partnering with them. The idea to head down there came during a conversation we had with Zack over Christmas when we got a chance to hang out with him. Their church is relatively new in its current form, and needs some work updating and cleaning the building that it recently moved into. They will also be hosting a theater production in their building starting the end of this week, and need some help getting the word out to their neighborhood about the production and the fact that the church is back up and running. Our team will be helping with both of these projects toward the end of the week.

We are staying at a place called Rachel Sims Baptist Mission, which has been reaching out to a different neighborhood of the city for a long time. They have programs for needy adults and kids in their neighborhood. Today, we were able to help do some "spring cleaning" of the building and the grounds, including organizing, yardwork, cleaning, and trash pickup. There is a public park across the street from the center that they use for many of their activities, so we did a lot of cleanup there too. In the afternoon, we met the neighborhood kids there for the after-school program. It was great to be out in the 80-degree weather playing with the kids, helping them with their homework, and helping them listen to the Bible stories they were being taught.

Yesterday was a day to relax and experience New Orleans for us. We went to church at Sojourn Lakeview and then drove out into the swamp to get some tasty fresh seafood for lunch. In the evening, we got to head over to the French Quarter, eat some beignets, and explore a little bit. This is definitely a unique city with so much to experience!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blue Mustangs

We made a good run, but sadly the season ended last night for the Blue Mustangs, the intramural basketball team I played on with some BCM students. We were knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen round of the tournament by the reigning championship team, the Young Gunnaz. Although the Gunnaz had quite a bit of an edge in athletic talent over us (their team included a player from the VT football team and one from the club basketball team), we had hoped that our solid fundamentals and some hot shooting could lead us to victory. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, and we came up short despite a ferocious second half run that brought us back from being down about 20 points to only being down 8 with about 10 minutes left in the game.

I am so glad that Virginia Tech allows me to participate in intramural sports as a campus minister - I had a great time being a part of this team and getting the chance to play basketball that was a little bit more exciting and meaningful that the pickup games I'm used to. One of the best parts of last night's game was the crowd that came to cheer us on. I didn't count, but I bet there were at least 40 BCM students (and my supportive wife was there too!) there cheering us on. It felt like we were playing in Cassell Coleseum when the crowd would erupt after a defensive stop or a basket.

Our team was also given the "Sportsmanship Award" this past week. We got some free stuff from the sponsors (hoodie from Champion and a coupon for a free pizza from Pizza Hut) and did a photo shoot with their banners. It hasn't been posted yet, but I'm thinking you might get to see a picture of the Blue Mustangs here sometime soon.

Update: They did post our picture on the Recsports website, and here it is:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Season of Lent

In case you didn't know, today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. According to Wikipedia, Lent is the 40 day liturgical season observed in preparation for Easter. Often times people will give up a certain food or pleasure (i.e. TV, Facebook) to instead devote themselves to God. When I was in college I can remember giving up certain foods during the Lent season, but I don't think I ever really understand why I was giving it up. Probably I just did it because everyone else was.

Tonight I went to the Ash Wednesday Mass on campus. I grew up in a pretty Protestant kind of town, we only had one Catholic church and to be honest I knew nothing about what they did. So you can imagine my confusion my freshman year of college when I saw every other person (at least it seemed that way to me) bearing soot on their forehead. Tonight as I type this I'm one of those 'soot bearers'.

I decided about a week ago that I don't have much discipline in my life and Lent might be the perfect time to institute it. So I decided I needed to make sure I was up by 7:30 every week day morning (please don't judge me all you teachers, doctors, moms who are up waaayyy earlier than that everyday!) during Lent. Knowing this, I decided going to mass tonight was a great way to kick off this celebration of discipline. I was pleasantly surprised at the service. I've never seemed to understand liturgy but tonight it kind of made sense and I saw the celebration in it. So I'll leave you with the words spoken to me as a cross of ashes was placed on my forehead tonight: "Repent from your sins and return to God." He's waiting.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Is it Spring yet?

Like most of the country Blacksburg has been experiencing bitter cold temperatures the past few weeks (without snow unfortunately) until today. The temperature on reads "Feels like 57" and I couldn't be happier. Apparently the rest of the town feels the same way. Nic & I went to grab some lunch and run into Kroger around noon today and the traffic was K-razy (although I must confess no where even close to traffic on 1-76 in Philly on a Friday afternoon)! As I look out my office window there is still a steady stream of cars as it has been since 10 am this morning (some even disobeying traffic laws- a red octagon sign means STOP people). It would seem that it's not just me that's ready for some warmer temperatures! I like my four seasons don't get me wrong but sometimes in the middle of freezing January it's nice to get a break-my spirits are lifted and people are just nicer in general. Nic & I both got to enjoy the nicer weather a bit too, his in the form of frisbee on the Drillfield and mine a brisk walk on the Huckleberry. So whatever your thoughts may be on the weather ahead of us- here's to the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of baseball bats clicking!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Semester

It's a good feeling to have survived one semester of life in campus ministry. Entering our second semester here at VT, I have much less anxiety and troubling uncertainty about what my life and work will look like. April and I have been asked on a few occasions if this first semester went how we expected it to go. I would say that we had very few expectations coming in, other than the fact that our lives would feel very different from how they did when we were in Philadelphia. Although every day seems to bring a new surprise, it is a reassuring feeling to me to have a general feel of what I'll be getting into this semester. For me, a person who is generally uncomfortable in social situations where I don't know anybody, coming into the semester having relationships with many of the students involved in our ministry makes things feel much easier. I'm looking forward to the chance to go deeper in some of my relationships instead of spending my relational energy remembering names and recognizing faces.

The winter break was a good time for me to have some reflection on the past months and some general goal-setting for the next few months. We have another week of work before students will start coming back and starting class again. It's been a good time to get some projects done around the BCM building (including cleaning out our cluttered basement), and also a time to get a head start on planning some of our Bible studies and programs. For some reason, I still feel apprehension about the upcoming semester and what it will entail, but I have a lot of excitement and hope to see what God is going to do in me and through me as I grow in my role here at the BCM.