Monday, August 29, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend

The weekend consists of 63 precious hours, from 5pm on Friday to 8am on Monday. This weekend I used every single one of those hours. I had two options regarding my weekend plans and although I wanted to do both options, I am very happy with how my weekend turned out.

It was family time vs. friend time.
 It was less driving vs. lots of driving.
And it was Dr. Albert Mohler vs. Dr. Doug Bookman. [Both of whom have been two of the most influential Bible teachers in my life.]

    Friday night sunset

I ended up seeing family and friends, seeing/hearing Dr. Bookman, and spending lots of quality time in my car. To simplify, this was my weekend:

17 hours of driving
8 hours in Kansas City
27 hours with friends
1 hour at Longview Lake
10 hours at home

    Saturday morning sunrise

The normal weekend cleaning still needs to be done and the fridge and cupboards are bare, but it was a refreshing time with people so dear to me and I'm so glad I did it.

    A spotted fawn and its mother. I also saw an armadillo and turkeys. 

Sometimes traveling back to visit can be awkward and sad, but not so. God has been so good to bless me with great friends who love Him and encourage me to do so. I had a relaxing time enjoying their friendship, just hanging out, and celebrating the new and coming babies.

    Sunday night sunset

 Of course, I missed my boys back at home. I got a picture text from them on Sunday...

    "Good morning, Mom. I miss you. See you tonight. Dad is the best."

No matter how much I would love to be sharing my day-to-day with these girls, I would much rather be with Hubs and the Pups. I'm back home and I'm ready to continue building relationships here and looking forward to more great relationships.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

St. Louis Site: St. Louis Zoo

My employer had a family outing at the St. Louis zoo, which, by the way, is a free zoo. They had lunch for us and we were able to see some of the fun exhibits at the zoo.

It started off kind of rainy, but cleared up and got really hot and muggy - typical for around here. You don't really know what to think about a free zoo, but it turns out that it is a really good zoo. The animals were active - especially the hippos, hyenas, and bears. And they are adding a really cool sea lion exhibit that we will have to go back next year and visit.

And the highlight of the day was Caribbean Cove, where we were able to pet stingrays and sharks.

They are sort of slimy, but really very smooth and soft. Hands-on experience are my favorite so this was my favorite part of the day. Hubs took a little video of the experience.

I accidently slipped and "fell in." But we petted sting rays and even a few little sharks. The sharks aren't as fond of being touched as the rays so they zip by pretty fast. Sometimes they let you feed the sting rays,  so they seem to be more friendly.

When/If you visit, we'd definitely suggest this spot. Hubs and I parked on the road, had lunch provided, and even got $5 in zoo bucks (which we used towards the sting ray exhibit which costs $3/person), so the total cost of this day was $1. Those are just the kind of dates we love!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

St. Louis(?) Site: Train Ride

Where have I been? I've been right here. Busy with work. Busy with keeping up. And honestly, I haven't wanted to blog. I've even thought about shutting it down once or twice. But then, I was sitting outside on Friday during lunch, taking in the cool breeze and thinking about pumpkin spice lattes [coming to a Starbuck's near you on September 1]and I wanted to blog again.

So here I am.


Two weekends ago, Hubs dropped me off in Kirkwood in the morning. I had my weekend bag and settled in at a local coffee shop [Kaldi's Coffee] for an expensive breakfast. One where they still take the time to make the foamed milk so stiff it can stand on its own. One where they even put designs in your foam.

It was very good. But, soon the time came for me to catch my train. That day, I was taking the Amtrak to Kansas City for a quick 36 hour trip. So, I walked across the street to the cute little station.

Inside were friendly volunteers to help us attach luggage tags and to chat with us while we waited for the train to arrive.

Soon we all began to gather on the platform, waiting for the train to approach. All I could think of was Harry Potter at this point. And really hoped to see that the Hogwart's Express was coming to pick me up. Okay, not really.

And then, it arrived.

There are friendly conductors to help you find the right car based on your destination. Then you just choose your seat and get comfy. Turns out, the inside is nothing like Hogwart's Express. But, it is pretty comfy. The seat are bigger than airplane seats and the train was nowhere near full so I got to spread out on two seats. There was a snack car that had booths and limited food. This is when I began thinking of White Christmas and started singing, "Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow!" Just kidding. I didn't really do that.

For a round-trip ticket, it cost $66.00. Which was cheaper than me driving; plus, I didn't have to drive. Which means I got to relax for the entire trip. Which is worth it because spending the weekend driving is no fun. The biggest downside is that they don't allow dogs.

All in all, it was a great trip [both the time in Kansas and the time of the train]. I'm looking forward to doing it again!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

To Serve or To Be Served

We've been church shopping. Anyone who has done this before knows it can be a trying experience. Anyone who has not done this before, probably should.

It can be isolating. It can be funny. It can be frustrating. And then, once you find the church and decide to make it your home, you have to start that process of getting involved. Which really means putting yourself out there and enduring awkward moments and getting to know people. If moving teaches you anything, it teaches you to be open with people and make friends.

I was reminded of when I first moved to Nebraska and was looking for a church. I would sit in my chair and wait for someone to come talk to me. Week after week. Just waiting for someone to serve me and see that I was alone and I needed a friendly face and a conversation. Then I would be upset that nobody reached out to me. But I made no effort. Even when people did come and talk, I was guarded and held back.

Unfortunately, I think we all do this too often, even when we have been going to a church for years. I have known women who feel alone at their church. They aren't involved. They don't like it. They sit there in their own little bubble and wait for someone to reach out to them. Before long, she is now thinking that people don't like her and that they are saying things about her and that she is unwelcome. And you can see where this can lead.

But that can be our default. It takes work to talk to the new person. It takes work for the new person to talk to the people who already have friends and ministries. It takes work to do more than just talk to someone one time and call them or email them during the week. It all requires us to let go of ourselves and reach out to others.

On Sunday I was visiting a church. I know lots of people there, but it isn't my church and I like to hid in the back on my own. Across the aisle were some people I knew from Nebraska. They were church shopping and this was their first Sunday and even though this wasn't my church, I was the person God put there to welcome them.

So it reminded me. That no matter whether it is my first Sunday or my 100th, I am not here to be served. I am here to serve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory

If you know me at all, you know I chose this book based on the cover.

Larry King writes in the introduction, "Settle in, for you are about to read a page turner."

I completely agree. Ten years after the event, this book takes us back to the disaster of 9-11 by sharing a great story of escape, courage and teamwork. Michael has been blind from birth and works on the 78th floor of Tower 1. Roselle, his guide dog, goes to work with him just like any normal day. The events that transpire, however, truly display their stamina and perseverance.

The narrative was paired with flashbacks to how Michael learned to function in a sighted-world; as well as facts and information regarding guide dogs and blindness. It was a perfect blend; I was always ready to continue reading [in fact, I read this book in one setting]. Not only was I enthralled in the [true] story, but I walked away having learned a lot. Regarding 9-11, I had forgotten what that day was like; this was a reminder of the assault, the pain, and the heroism. It is a book that I would definitely let anyone borrow and even would read again.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”