Friday, June 28, 2013

Faith-filled Friday: Time Travel and Job

Good morning Crushers!

We arrived back in Milwaukee late on Wednesday night after what felt like the longest day ever. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. and left our hotel in Cairns on Wednesday morning in Australia. After a 2.5-hour flight to Sydney, a 5 hour lay-over, a 15-hour flight to Dallas, a 6-hour layover, and a 3 hour flight to Milwaukee we landed at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Wait, that's not possible! Oh yes it is, thanks to crossing the International Dateline. Time travel baby! However, that also means that we were more-or-less awake for over 30 hours. Add a few hours after we got home to put away all our junk because we had potential buyers coming to see our house the next day and you have two very tired travelers. Yipes!

Over the course of our trip, we took 7 flights, a lot of buses, one round-trip boat ride, a train and a skyrail. It is Friday and I still feel like I'm moving even though I'm sitting still. Crazy!

Speaking of moving while sitting still, we got to experience this in the weirdest way. While we were on our long flight over the Pacific Ocean, the little tv screen on the plane would show us our flight path. While we were sitting still on the plane (and ok, yes the plane is moving), most people went through an entire day. They were all up and moving and going about their business whatever that may have been. It kind of baffles me. And to think that God is watching over everyone? Just another reminder of what a great big God we have.

While traveling in Australia, I read a number of books including "Same Kind of Different As Me" co-written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Be prepared that you might cry a lot while reading this book. It was recommended to me by my friend Kalie. This girl has the biggest heart and a strong faith. I knew that if a book was Kalie-approved, I would love it! And I did. And I cried through most of the second half of the book. Life-changer.

Anyway, without giving too much of the book away, I just want to say that every character in the book goes through hardships. Some aren't that bad and some are truly awful. Some hardships they tackle together and some they each have to do on their own. Throughout it all, their faith helped them overcome whatever was handed to them. It made me think of Job in the Bible.

Job was a faithful man who had a very nice life. Then the Devil made a bet with God (Lesson one: don't bet against God) that he could make Job turn away from God. (Lesson two: don't be stupid). Job suffered through the loss of almost everything in his life from family to his home to his health. (Lesson three: don't take anything for granted). Despite being encouraged to just give up (Lesson four: surround yourself with faithful friends - not wimps), Job stood firm in his faith. He knew that no matter what happened, he had a savior who would not give up on him. I used this popular verse as my confirmation verse (Job 19:25-27):
I know that my redeemer lives,    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
And after my skin has been destroyed,    yet in my flesh I will see God;I myself will see him    with my own eyes—I, and not another.    How my heart yearns within me!
Hear that? After everything goes wrong, you've still got a loving savior, a redeemer. Pretty amazing.

Update on Grandma: She is now in home hospice care. Our family is holding together. Thanks to meals, love, support and prayers, we're getting through. I don't know how my wonder-mom does it all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Beet summer

Hi Crushers,
I've been enjoying a lot of wonderful food here in Australia. We went out last night for sushi in Chinatown. So good! I bravely tried a few different types of sushi that I've never eaten including spicy salmon. It might be my new favorite.
Another new favorite? Beet salad. This cold, summery salad is a wonderful side dish! I can't wait to get home and try out Martha Stewart's recipe for Tomato-Beet Salad. Doesn't that look wonderful?
Have a wonderful day from Darling Harbor!

Very fuzzy picture of a didgeridoo player. In order to play one, you must "buzz" your lips (trumpet players would understand), use your voice box to throw sounds, use your tongue to make a beat and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth at the SAME TIME. Kudos to anyone who can actually play one.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wildlife and nightlife: I met a Wombat

Hi Crushers,

Last night I had an oxymoron of a night. I got to pet a baby kangaroo and I also got a bite of a kangaroo steak. It was the softest animal I've ever gotten to pet and it was the second best steak I've ever eaten. So delicious! And it sounds so wrong!!!

I also got to see a koala, a diamond back python, and a wombat. A WOMBAT! They are soooooo cute!

Here's a few photos:
Baby kangaroo!

Dozer the Wombat
I learned that they mostly live underground. He was so sleepy and cute!

Koala! Apparently, they have fragile immune systems, and are susceptible to lots of disease including STDs.
Just in case, I did not pet the Koala. Ew. Also, they're apparently quite angry/dangerous little animals.

Virtual Running Date 14: AUSTRALIA!

G'day Crushers!

Yes, that's right. I'm blogging from Australia. Although I'm working from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. (or later) every day, we do have some down time to check our personal e-mail and things. Tonight we have our "Opening Ceremony" for our meeting and there will be aboriginal dancers performing the "Dreamtime" dance, a choir singing, and there will most likely be some koalas. KOALAS!

If this were a virtual running date, I would tell you how gorgeous the Sydney Opera House is, how weird it is to have the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean, how wonderful the food is, and how kind all of the people are. I would also tell you how I was thisclose to trying to talk my way into getting the meeting organizer to let me participate in a 5K race around Darling Harbor. Ah well.

I promise more pictures later, but I actually have to remember to take some with my phone and not just my regular camera.

If this were a virtual running date, I would also tell you that Grandma is still in the hospital. Keep praying please. This is kind of hard being so far away from my family when I could be helping at home. Fortunately, everyone understands that this is a trip of a lifetime. Also, Grandma loves adventure, so she would be excited for us to be around the world.

I'll report back on more later!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Faith-filled Friday: Proverbs 31

G'day Crushers!

I'm on a plane on my way to Australia, so I thought I would schedule a Faith-filled Friday ahead of time. I'm actually writing this on Wednesday. It's like I'm time traveling!

Anyway, when I think of the large conference that our staff has planned, I always hope that things will go smoothly and that I have the patience to deal with frustrated attendees, that I can help anyone who needs assistance and that all of my committee meetings go well. It's amazing how being calm and collected can really influence those around you to be calm as well.

In Proverbs 31:10-31, the ideal woman is described in how she works hard for her family, she respects and treats all with love, and praises God. I hope that I can be this woman every day of my meeting and every day of my life. I know that I will flub up and want to get frustrated or angry at an out-of-line attendee (because there's always one), but I also know that being upset won't help matters.

Last year, there was actually one person who tried to fake a medical emergency just so he could get into the auditorium early to find a good seat. How rude! Fortunately, speaking to him kindly and firmly made him realize that a) I wasn't going to take any of his shenanigans and b) faking medical emergencies is not funny! Right after that happened, one of the catering staff looked at me and said, "Being kind costs you nothing and can be invaluable to those around you, but being rude can cost someone else their pleasure in the day." Does that sound like a wonderful motto, or what?

How about it, Crushers? Can we be Proverbs 31 people? Can we build each other up in kindness? I pray that we all do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big sigh.

Hi Crushers,

I'm ready to travel, but also having mixed feelings at the same time. My grandma is back in the hospital right before this amazing trip. As a woman who loved adventure, she is probably thinking, "What are you worried about, darling?"

Therefore, I guess I should not worry. You should never worry, but I'm so good at it!

Hopefully, I can update you all with some pictures from Sydney!

Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Virtual Running Date 13: Preparing for Australia

Hello Crushers!
Unless I have time to blog on Thursday, I might be a bit quiet for the next few weeks. Why? Because I'm going to Australia! The land down under! Where kangaroos roam and there are gigantic spiders! Where Fosters means beer! Where I'll be working and then having vacation. I can't wait!

If we were on a running date today, I would tell you about how I am a master packer. That's right, If I took out a few t-shirts, I could probably fit everything I need for the next two weeks in a carry-on. I love packing. It takes the stress out of what to wear because you only have a few options. Then again, if you spill on more than 2-3 tops, you either need to buy a new shirt or re-wear something.

If we were running today, I would tell you that Grandma is out of the hospital! That's right, she is feeling so much better and the doctors are convinced that she is able to return to her normal routine. Although it's a lot for our family to handle since we are her primary caregivers (my mom is awesome) along with a few nurses that help out, it is nice to know that we are continuing to show our love and being terrific caregivers at the same time. It's definitely not for every family, but it works for ours.

If we were running today, I would tell you about the scuba diving lesson that Steve and I took last Saturday. While it was really cool to have everything on and just get a feel for scuba diving in a local high school's pool, I don't think it's for me. Our introductory class was taught by a very patient instructor who made everything very clear. We got to learn what all the pieces of equipment do, go under water, learn hand signals, learn how to catch your breathing regulator if it gets away from you, learn how to clear water from your mask and then learn how to use your breathing to help you stabilize your depth. I was really good at everything until the last part. I either sunk to the bottom really fast (which makes your ears pop) or floated along the top. It took me nearly the whole hour to get to swim in the middle! We took this class in order to see if we would want to get certified to scuba dive in Australia, but I think we're both happy to snorkel.

If we were running today, I would tell you that I'm so excited to go to Australia and see/do the following:

If we were running, what would you tell me about? What would you do in Australia? Have you ever gone scuba diving?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Faith-filled Friday: Steady now

Hi Crushers,

This is going to be a short post. Today is crazy. In one week, I will be on a plane somewhere over the Pacific ocean. CRAZY! One of my colleagues can't go, so we're taking a picture of her dog, Chase, along to take pictures of him in Australia, like when kids take "Flat Stanley" to fun places.

Flat Chase is ready to go to Sydney!
Grandma is still in the hospital with heart issues now. It's never a dull moment.

Earlier this week, my aunt's late-friend's niece wrote in her blog about her time on the Mercy Ship and how she is always reminded that no matter what happens God is steadfast. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8.

When everything seems up in a jumble, there's always God to rely on as the focus point for your life. He says to cast all your cares on him, so that's what we've been doing lately! Good thing he's a great big God that can handle everything!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Prayer warriors, Wildtree beer bread, and pasta for dinner

Hi Crushers!

I have to say a huge thank you to all of my friends (who read the blog or not) who have been awesome prayer warriors lately. My grandma has been having some lower GI tract issues that I won't talk about here because they're kind of gross, and went to the hospital yesterday to have it figured out. She's 96 and is only one month away from her birthday (she's a Independence Day baby!). A little GI issues should not stop this woman, but they did throw everyone for a loop back in 2011 when Steve and I got engaged and again yesterday. She ended up having to stay overnight and then have a procedure done today. When you're as old as my grandma is, even if you don't act like it (and she doesn't!), that's risky to have anesthesia.

I'm really excited to say that she made it through her procedure. Now I know we're not in the clear yet, but I am leaving in one week (AH!) for Australia, so things are crazy around here anyway. I just hope that she feels better soon. I also hope that everyone has renewed strength for whatever lies ahead!

My Alma Mater's mascot is a warrior (like a knight, not a Native American). As a religious school, we were encouraged to be prayer warriors for each other spending time talking to God and building our prayer lives. Within the last year, many of my girlfriends from college have been calling on each other to be prayer warriors for each other and lift each other up. Whether it is in thanks or in "oh help" messages, we've been there. We've followed the call to "pray continually" message from 1 Thessalonians 5. It has been awesome to have those ladies to reach out to. I hope you all have a group like that!

I also hope that you always find the words when you need them. Although, "help" covers a lot and God knows what you mean! I recently saw a meme on Pinterest that said something to the effect of "the power of prayer doesn't depend on the person who is praying. It depends on the One listening." So true.

Anyway, I have two food-related items to tell you about since Grandma is one of my kitchen crushes and all. First, a short review of Wildtree's Whole Wheat Beer Bread. The bread is stupid-easy to make. Mix beer and bread mix and bake. EASY. It's also delicious with a little bit of butter and jam.

Second, unless something major happens with Grandma, I'm still going to host book club tonight (we read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand A.Mazing!). I'm also making this springy pasta primavera for dinner thanks to Iowa Girl Eats. I love it when I think, "Gee, I have no idea what to make" and BOOM. My favorite blog writers have an answer. Love it! I will probably make it exactly as it is written except for the fact that I bought green and yellow squash, and I might throw in a little cauliflower since I don't have 2 cups of broccoli. Can't wait for dinner!

Thanks everyone and know that I'm praying for you, too!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Virtual Running Date 12: A real running date!

Good morning crushers!
The weather here in Wisconsin has been very wonderful lately. Some would say chilly, but I say, "At least it's not snowing!" You may laugh and say, "But Jen, it's June!" Well, when I was in kindergarten, it snowed in the last week of May. You are never really safe from snow, except in July and August where it's just too humid to snow or flat iron your hair.

Anyway, if today we were running together on a virtual running, date I would tell you about the wonderful weekend I had celebrating birthdays with family members! My brother, sister and I all married people with June birthdays. My adorable nephew, Patrick, also turns two this June. Since I travel for most of June and every one's summer schedules are hectic, we had one big birthday party for everyone. Of course, Patrick was the big winner because it is really hard not to spoil him with fun toys and hugs and kisses. Love that little man!
Patrick loves Mickey Mouse and trains. He also got top billing!
Saturday morning, Steve and I went for a run in the village of Wauwatosa because they have an awesome farmer's market. We kept meaning to go last summer and never made it. Well, we took full advantage of the gorgeous weather for our run and then visited the market to pick up some delicious veggies and eat breakfast. We have plans to go more often this summer as Saturday morning dates. We also ran into a ton of friends, which is always nice.

Enjoying the zoo and family time!
Also, it looks like we're starting to dress alike even though we've only been married  less than a year!
After that we went to the zoo, where I kid you not, I thought I was going to see an elephant fall out of it's enclosure into the moat that provides a barrier between the animals and the zoo-goers. I guess it really wanted to whatever leaf was just out of reach. See how it balanced on three feet to stretch out it's trunk? That elephant had wonderful balance!

If we were running together, I would also tell you about this fabulous friend that I got to go on a REAL run with! Hannah from Corn-n-Kale has been making a renewed effort in her life to eat whole foods and life a whole life. She was the one that inspired me to add some yoga stretches into my routine. Me and my hips thank her! I would like to say that I'm her inspiration for running, but I think that I probably just talked about it so much that she was finally like, "FINE. I'LL GET ON THE STUPID TREADMILL." and liked it... muwahahaha!

Anyway, we ran by the lakefront in Milwaukee using the trails of Lakeshore State Park. We live on totally opposite sides of the city, so meeting in the middle worked well for us. Plus, who doesn't love a trail with city -scapes on one side and Lake Michigan on the other? It was so nice to run together and catch up!

If we were running together, I would tell you about this great sauceless pizza I made last night. Steve wasn't so sure that it would work without pizza sauce, but I thought we would give it a try. Plus, margherita pizza is one of my favorites to order out at Riverfront Pizza, or anywhere pizza place really, so I thought I would give it a whirl. However, instead of just putting on tomato, mozzarella and basil with a little olive oil, we ended up putting on more veggies and diced leftover Italian sausages from the birthday cookout. So good!

So delicious!