Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Story

A lot of excitement has been going on this week on campus, as you can read about on Josh's blog. I was hoping out of the mix I would be able to have a fun story to tell.

Working where I do, I tend to see all the campus visitors, so it was exciting when Mark Dever and Thabiti Anyabwile were shopping in the store when I came back from lunch. After we rang them up, I thought it wise to grab my camera out of my purse in the back in case a photo-op should occur. Just a few moments later, C.J. Mahaney came in (rather, came bursting in -- he does all things with quite a lot of energy). I summoned up my courage, and humbly asked if I could get my picture taken with him. Of course he jovially granted me permission, and my co-worker snapped this picture here. I then told him that I was a fan of his wife, and I read Girl Talk Blog. He then whipped out his razor-sharp cell-phone and said "In fact, if Carolyn is home, I'll have you just encourage her here."

So he stepped out of the store trying to get his phone to work, and sure enough, she was home, so he handed the phone over to me and went back in to shop some more, while I talked to Carolyn Mahaney on C.J. Mahaney's cell phone! HA HA HA!

She was so gracious, of course and told me "I'm sorry he made you do that," to which I replied "I'm not sorry at all!" I thanked her for being an example of a Biblical woman to the young women who read her stuff. I pretty much was just so shocked about everything happening that I couldn't really think of anything to say!

Anyway, there is my excitement for today! Right after he left, I got a phone call from a less-than-helpful help desk person who spoke rather harshly (most likely, it was unknowingly). Anyway, it sort of punched me in the stomach, making me realize my need for humility. I'll post further thoughts on what the Lord is teaching me spiritually in the days to come.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Birfday, Matthias!

Manly friend of Jerry Vines
Attention getter/wanter
Texting on his cell phone
Telling cute girls to e-mail him
Hiding from work

Exceptionally obsessed with sports
Wimpy Florida fan


In honor of your 23rd birfday, we thought you would like nothing more than to have some pretty girls make you food and make a big deal about you! So here you go! Here are some pics of Heather and I SLAVING over a HOT oven to prepare delicious cake for you. Mmmmmmm.

We love you, Matty!

~ Gretchen and Heather
P.S. your MOTHER-IN-LAW! (from Heather)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Wanna Be Like Mary

Last weekend I attended several seminars offered here at the Seminary for wives and other women who are interested in attending. It was a wonderful learning experience for me, and the seminar I needed the most proved to be the best opportunity for growth in my life. The seminar was on organization and it was taught by Mary Mohler, Al Mohler's wife (for those of you who are not in the loop, he is the president of Southern Seminary and runs a daily radio program called "The Albert Mohler Radio Program").

Mrs. Mohler is one of my new heroes. Of course you admire the president's wife, especially w
hen she is tall, thin, and wears gorgeous tailored shirts with cuff-links in the shape of Southern's crest. She also has a warm heart to encourage the seminary wives, and the aptitude to motivate them! Her seminar was impeccably planned out as she presented along with Jodi Ware (Bruce Ware's wife). The main thing Mrs, Mohler stressed was keeping a planner. Initially, I was leaning away from that idea -- it seemed like just another task to do -- but as she and Mrs. Ware kept pointing out the merits of the planners, I was more and more intrigued. I figured I couldn't judge the method to be effective or not if I had not even tried it!

So I did what most of you would have done: I zipped out to Target and picked out the hottest planner I could find -- provided of course it contained all the necessary sections that Mrs. Mohler and Mrs. Ware addressed. Here it is pictured . . . don't you love it? I just know how I am; I am more likely to use a planner that I think is attractive, because I'll want to hold it and use it. If I had a boring man-ish planner, I'd be more likely to let it alone. I'm trying to go all out with the planner and see what works for me. One thing that Mrs. Ware pointed out that really clicked with me, is that when you have random thoughts fly into yo
ur head concerning tasks you need to complete, just jot them down on the notes page of the planner, so that you can refer to it later, and pencil them in to a convenient time. She emphasized that it is a great stress reliever because then you don't have to try to keep remembering everything. How smart! I realized how many things I am mentally juggling, when I could just be writing them down!

Here I am with my beloved planner, endeavoring to be an organized woman like Mary Mohler! How about you? I am interested to hear if any of you keep your life organized with the help of a planner. If so, do you have any tips for me? (By the way -- if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you not only get an amazingly up-close view of my nostril, you can actually read what I have written in my weekly pages thus far! Ha ha!)

Monday, March 19, 2007

A "Fuller" Life

Right when you least expect it, God showers you with a big surprise (seemingly, just to show you He can). I had such a surprise last week when I was at work: I walked out of the back room, and stopped short as I immediately recognized some faces I hadn't seen in quite a while. For those of you who know them, running into Paul and Audrea Fuller is one of the best "blast from the past" experiences! I couldn't believe it, and I was so excited to learn that they were visiting the Seminary for a week, hoping to find a house and move down here in the next couple of months (their 4th child is due in June!).

They are some of the best people to chat with whether you've seen them recently or not simply because they are some of the kindest and most cordial people you'll ever meet, as well as hilarious "rememberers" of old times and people.

What a blessing!

We saw them again and again throughout the week, topping it off with a late-night trip to Krispie Kreme (I know my readers will think I am totally addicted or something!) last night. I am so thrilled that the Lord is bringing them here, blessing Josh and me with such a good thing. I realize my last post was a little sad, so I wanted to rejoice here and thank the Lord for making our life a little "Fuller"!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Thinking on Target

Tonight was so blissfully warm, and I hopped in my car, rolled down the windows, and started flipping through the radio stations for some good driving tunes. Where was I going? Nowhere special, just on a short warm-evening pleasure cruise, and I ended up at Target. Now, I had nothing to get there, just lots of things to look at, but there is just something about an upbeat, warm night-time Target trip that makes me feel like I am on vacation. As I meandered through the various sections I inevitably always check out (Issac Mizrahi clothes, sale endcaps in housewares, the trail mix section, seasonal), I sifted through a mountain of Target-related memories that were as warm as the weather is now.

And those memories began to make my mood droop a bit. I felt twinges of melancholy. And even though I was delighted to discover that there was a sale on all varieties of trail mix, that was not quite enough to perk me up entirely. Here's why:

My memories of "Target runs" usually involve getting ready for something. Like the time Emily and I filled 2 shopping carts with slip and slides, pools, pillows and sunscreen for Camp OUTT, and then pulled the carts over to the Ladies' clothes to look for shorts and t-shirts for ourselves. Or the time Christen Taylor and I raided the little boy's section, trying on camo-shorts and bright t-shirts so we could be cool like Mandy at Camp OUTT. Or when Josh and I made a Target run to get what we needed for the CEF trip.

I love getting ready for things.

It is not exciting to live day to day, sharing a few laughs, smiling, greeting, greeting, greeting and shuffling a few papers, with hardly any end in sight. I do so love to be getting ready for something, even if it is nothing big, like a party for my 1st and 2nd graders. I used to constantly be getting ready for stuff, almost to the point where I didn't really know how to do normal life. Special events, clubs, classes, teen activities, etc., kept me on the go, and always picking up some stuff that I needed.

So now, with the weather warming up, I am dealing with the fact that it looks like I will be doing exactly what I am doing now, all summer. Maybe grown-ups are supposed to be okay with that. I'm not. My heart was becoming so heavy, that when I sat down to pray tonight, I just had to discuss that burden with the Lord. I wanted Him to know how much I wished I was preparing to run Camp OUTT again, or go with the teens to camp in New York. As I was sharing these feelings with Him, it seemed quite clear to me that He wished for me to simply let my days alone, to release those precious summer days to Him, and trust that He would have me spend them exactly as He wished. The summer drifted from my mind like grains of sand through open hands. I then began to think about this weekend, and the plans I had for that, but He urged me gently, to let that go, too. Unknowingly, my mind moved to tomorrow, and how I hoped it might be spent, but "take no thought for the morrow" came steadily to mind, erasing that last hope for self-fulfillment.

Are my days mine? No indeed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Question Game

My friend Misty and I have this ongoing (over the span of several years) game in which we try to come up with original questions that are very fun to answer for all involved. This game probably emerged from a late night talk one July 4th when we were teenagers, lying on quilts and gazing at the stars, eating potato wedges and sipping RC Drafts (the yummiest pop ever, but sadly no longer available!). We pondered deep things such as "If you could go back in time and change one event, what would it be?", "Who is the worst villain in history?", and "What are those people in that airplane thinking right now?". That night ended in the arrival of "the beast", an incident that will go down in Fairmount Lore for ages to come!

Since then, excellent questions have emerged, some of which take several days to
answer, such as "If you were a Mermaid, what would your (hair, tail, weapon, jewelry, animal pet and place of residence) be?", "What is your walkout song?" and "Name 50 things you hope you do before you die." One of best questions that has recently been put on the table, I alluded to here. "What would your restaurant be?"

I had several people guess what I would have, and since you were all quite close, I thought I'd tell you my answer, and then pose that question back to you. So here is my restaurant:

It would be all veggie (but not vegan), fair-trade, and organic. Not that I alw
ays eat this way, but there are enough places that aren't those things, so why add to the abundance? The food would be VERY tasty, so that even the pickiest eaters would like the food. I would also have a menu that rotated quite a bit, so that foods could be served in season. Here is a VERY important element: the seating would be extremely comfortable! The layout of the dining room would be sort of broken up into rooms, and the tables would mostly be couches with adjustable coffee tables or really comfy cushions on the floor. My lunchtime boast would be "kid-friendly" with all kinds of cool activities for kiddos to do: food art, storytimes with food themes, make your own pizza, etc. I have a great plan for "Charlie's Chocolate Feast", and other fun fondue-based meals. I'd keep a few staples on the menu (like potatoes, mac and cheese, etc) so that people could count on their kids liking stuff. At night, the restaurant would morph into a wonderific coffee house that offers a full line of coffees and teas and also a full menu. That way, you could eat dinner, but be all comfy and stay as long as you like. The "couch-booths" are a big part of the plan. You could have your book club meeting there, meet for a Bible study, eat out with friends, or just slug coffee and write on your blog! I got the idea for the adjustable coffee table from Kevin, who has just this item of furniture at his abode (not sure if it's his or a roommate's). I'd also feature events, like art shows, book signings and musicians (I'd be very choosy!). We'd also have a book corner where I'd feature my favorite books for all ages (this would also rotate).

So, do you want to come? Does that sound like a great restaurant? I had to laugh, because after I described it to Josh, he stated "I just don't think a man would want to eat there". WHAT? (Please prove him wrong, my male readers, please!)

So what would your restaurant be? Please post your original ideas and give me some feedback on mine! I'll leave this post up a couple days so that everyone can have a chance to read each others' answers! Also, I need a good name for my restaurant.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Long and Winding Road . . . or . . . Why I Miss Home

Guess where I went this weekend? This picture gives a clue:

After giving it a bit of thought, (refer to the title for yet another clue), scroll down to see.

A Beatle's concert! Well, it was a tribute band, called "The Liverpool Legends", actually, but they were quite good, and looked and sounded just like the real thing. Since a real Beatle's concert is not an option, Misty, Shea, Emily and I gladly grabbed up the opportunity to don our go-go gear and get groovy with the Fab 4 (seen in Sgt Pepper regalia on the left). It was perfect that I should see this group on a day when I heard the song "Long and Winding Road", and felt quite sentimental to all things "home". (As did other people this weekend, so I read).

What is it that I miss so sorely? I like it here so much! I dearly love our new church, apartment, jobs, friends. . . and of course all the gorgeous eating establishments that Steak and Shake (the ONLY thing open after anything) just can't hold a candle to. It would be easy to say that I miss the kids, and my family (which is ever so TRUE), but I know that it is a bit more than that, in a way. And so thinking upon such things, I believe I have reached a conclusion.

I miss being known. Now, don't misunderstand me, I do not seek fame and popularity -- to be sure, that is a proud inclination of my sinful heart, but this is not what I mean by being known. I mean I miss walking up to people, addressing them simply and not needing a reason to talk with them. I mean shortly getting very real with people and openly discussing our hearts, our struggles, and our needs with one another. I mean grabbing a child who walks past me, hugging them, and knowing they want my undivided attention (which I WANT to give!).

Here is an example: I often speak of my job here (one of them), which I like a lot, chiefly because of my co-workers. However, I am not yet known to them, so it follows quite logically that I am often checked up on, not yet totally trusted. But Sunday night, I asked my former pastor if he'd gotten a phone call from my new boss about a character reference. Pastor Scott said "I gave him and earful. I told him if he didn't promote you, he was a moron!" I have never worked for Pastor Scott, either directly under him, or in a ministry with him. But he knows me, and gave a glowing review of me to my boss (which, I might add, was a terribly kind thing to do! I certainly don't deserve a glowing review!).

To my new friends that I have made here (here on the blogosphere, and here in the physical sense . . . and then there are those with whom I am friends in both senses!),
I wish to be clear: in no way am I stating that I value your friendship less than you think. In fact, I prize the "knowing" that I think I have with you. There is just something special about the rest you find when you walk in and are surrounded by people you know and love. . . and they and know and love you too.

I'll leave you with a final picture of our groovy selves! Get back!

Saturday, March 03, 2007


We just got back from northern Ohio, where the Neisler family gathered to pay their respects to Grandpa Neisler, who you can read about here. I had known "Shorty" for 8 years, I believe, and it was good to reflect on his vivacious personality and hard work ethic with the rest of the fam. Going into the day, however, I had a bit of a burden on my heart to share Christ with someone who would be there that day. I have known the cousins/aunts/uncles of the Neisler family chiefly through gatherings such as these, and that makes it a bit hard for everyone to really know each other.

Nonetheless, I prayed for an "evangelistic opportunity". I didn't really know who I was hoping to be Christ to, but I thought of different people I might see, and prayed for them. I also purchased an ESV Outreach New Testament, hoping to plant it in someone's hands.

It became exceedingly clear who the Lord would have me to share with. Josh's cousin Matt's girlfriend Kristy has been around the family for about as long as I have, and they have a child together, but for whatever reason, are not committed to one another in marriage. I have always liked Kristy's easy friendliness, the way she jokes around and laughs, and gets along with everyone, even though it is not really her family. I told my sister-in-law, Kari, that I wanted to talk to Kristy and to pray for me that I wouldn't wimp out, and she was super encouraging about it.

It is refreshing to know that all timing is in God's hands, and I was able to rest, and just be determined that a little opening would come where I could snag Kristy alone. It did, of course, because this whole thing was God's plan, so a chair opened up next to her after the dinner, and the kids providentially were playing elsewhere to give us a few moments to chat. I simply shared with her that I had been thinking about her and praying for her, and that even though we didn't see each other much I wanted to be friends. I gave her the Bible, pointed out some suggested reading portions, and wrote my e-mail address in it. She received all of this quite happily, hugged me and told me she loved me, and kept pledging that she was going to read it.

Will you pray with me for Kristy? Because of the precarious nature of our relationship, I don't know for sure if I'll see her again, but I am confident that the Lord has all matters in hand. And I am so thrilled that He gave me the equipment and opportunity to be someone in her life.