Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sugar cookies and apple pie...

During my trip back east, I spent an entire week with two of my favorite people in the world, Gram and Grampa.  I feel so blessed to have gotten to spend so much time with them, all to myself. It was a week I never want to forget, and what better way to document in 2011 than through a blog posting:)

My childhood memories are packed with visits to Gram and Grampa's house.  We used to spend every Columbus Day weekend there, even through a couple college years.  I remember when I got my first car and my first "road trip" was to drive the 50 miles north to Grange Hall Rd and pay them a visit.  The sound of their gravel driveway beneath the tires of the car was met with shear excitement as I knew they'd be waiting for us on their porch to greet us. I was always given a great big hug and kiss by both of them as we rejoiced at seeing each other again. 

Sadly, most of my visits over the past few years have been very brief.  A Christmas afternoon here, a Summer House lunch there, as Jordan and I have lived so far away.  I have always struggled with the distance because I remember promising Gram as a little girl that I would take care of them when I was older. So this time, I decided to do something I've wanted to do for a long time.  Take seven whole days and soak up every bit of them I could. 

Gram and I enjoyed "reliving" all of our favorite things to do together when I was a kid. We made the famous and umatched raspberry jam-filled sugar cookies, an apple pie (Gram makes the crust while Gramps peels the apples), and ate at our favorite diner for breakfast every morning. Grilled bagels with cream cheese and a half order of home fries never tasted so good!  Before breakfast, I'd find Grampa sitting at his kitchen table reading the newspaper.  He likes to separate the sections and line them up neatly on the table when he's done reading them.  He quickly caught on that the only "news" I cared about is the jumble word and crossword puzzles, so he'd have them out and waiting for me before I came downstairs.  Every night we'd sit and watch "Pawn Stars" or "60 Minutes". But let me not forget the most important time of day... Happy Hour :) About 3:30 every afternoon, Gram and Grampa make it a point to stop whatever they are doing, make a drink, and sit on their porch for awhile to relax.  Now this is truly what we all need in our lives! Relax I did, and reminisced with two amazing people.

Gram told me all about her family and for the millionth time, I poured over her photo albums and asked questions. She even shared with me her diary from when she was in high school. She shared with me her poetry, her deepest thoughts and desires. I am so thankful for that special time we spent together in her bedroom, swapping secrets like we were two high school girls at a sleep over. 

Just a couple of things I simply adore about them that I want to record so I will never forget:

When Gram is getting ready to go to bed, she always says she has to "Go brush her tooth". Love it. 
When we went out for breakfast every morning, Grampa always paid.  But he always pulled out a new $50 bill! One morning I asked him where he gets all his fifties and he says "Oh, I just go down to my cellar and make some every morning before you get up". He was so matter-of-fact I think I might believe  him:) Haha. 
One afternoon Grampa said he saw a hawk and he thinks that's what is keeping the birds away from their feeders.  The next day Gram asked Grampa where he saw the hawk and Grampa dryly reports "Up in the sky, Glory". HAHAHA. No need to dress things up for Grampa; he likes things as simple as they get. 
Lastly, I truly love how everything in their household is "Grampified". He must customized everything to fit his needs.  And yes, by everything I even mean putting glue on the back clasp of his base ball cap to keep it from falling apart.  So cute.

Gram and Grampa are definitely creatures of habit and hard work.  They put away their pennies to buy what they needed.  Grampa built their house with his own two hands, and Gram filled it with love.  They have been there for me my entire life.  They've come to concerts, field hockey games, graduations, recitals, and weddings. They've supported me when I've made tough decisions, and they've loved me for who I am.  I am so incredibly blessed to know them, have them in my life, and call them my grandparents.  In fact, Gram and I both agreed that there should only be granddaughters and grandmothers in the world... to spoil each other, laugh with each other, and make memories together.

Gotta go... I just made a batch of sugar cookies:) 

My sister Julie and I making Gram's sugar cookies on her counter (she was 4, I was 2) 
Same great counter, same great Gram!
At Kelly's Diner eating my favorite breakfast with my favorite people.


Last week I took a walk with my mother-in-law, Helen, on a beach in Rhode Island. This beach is her favorite spot to take us when we come home, and she's made a point to bring all three of us (Jordan, his brother Chris, and me) to this place this year.

Helen and I talked a lot on this beach, as well as took over 400 pictures. I should mention she loves to capture all of us on film, too :) She asked me about everything: our new life in Alaska, new friends, new job, and grad school.  I shared with her how peaceful I feel about living up here and how much God has blessed Jordan and I since we moved. Although it has been such an emotional year, looking back, I definitely see God's provision through and through. I shared about how much my trust in God has grown this year as I've left a job, moved across the country, and started a new job that doesn't pay until I fundraise.  In every aspect, God has placed me in situations where I am left with no choice but to trust Him with the next step.

As we were walking back, I started opening up about how sometimes I feel pressure from outside sources to get a teaching job, to earn a retirement, to start "thinking about the future".  I feel inward pressure that I'm not doing the right thing because I am not earning any money, and yet I want to go to grad school debt and loan free. I sometimes feel guilt in my gut that I am not contributing to our marriage financially, and I should be. I'm sure some of you have had these feelings before, as they are valid to the world we live in today.

But if I am truly going to claim I am a Christian and minister to people, I need to ignore all doubt and guilt in my life. They are not from God, they are from Satan. Point blank. So as we're walking I share with her how I am just trusting that God is going to provide for my future.  That He is leading me to places that are good and fruitful, not harmful.  He is opening my doors, as I ask Him to, and He walks beside me as I go through them. I have no reason to doubt that fundraising support will come in, that people are praying about CYAK right now and deciding whether or not they want to give, that tuition is going to be taken care of, and some day, so will my retirement. I just have. to. trust.

And then Helen and I look down in the sand... and there is a quarter.  Not a shiny quarter. A quarter that has clearly been soaking in the salty ocean and washed ashore. I pick it up, thinking, "huh, that's unusual" but not really anything more. Until about 20 feet later we find another quarter.... and then a dime. "What is going on?!" we say to each other.  Helen grabs my arm and tells me we have to stop and pray right now.  That God is showing us something and we need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to whatever it is He has in store for us.  She prayed for prosperity, that God would bless us, that we would be faithful and trust. After she finished praying we continued our walk and found two more quarters.

Friends, let me be so bold as to say that I do believe God was with us on that beach last Monday and He was listening to our hearts and showing us how much He loves us.  I know that $1.10 we found that day will multiply beyond imagination in my lifetime.  And I am so joyful that He is walking beside me today, tomorrow, and every day. And He can walk beside you, too. You just have to invite Him.

Yes, I realize this is only $.60. Helen kept the other two quarters.  
Helen and I on the beach

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Let's catch up, shall we?

Before reading, I suggest you grab a coffee, sit in a comfy spot, and prepare to be informed! Haha, just kidding. I just feel like I have so much to write about today that it might come out in one big long paragraph. Forgive me ahead of time for that!

Where to start? I guess I'll begin with my job. Over the past couple weeks things have really picked up with CYAK. I have been taking a couple students out for coffee/frozen yogurt and it's been SO great to get back into the swing of things. I love meeting students and getting to know them. I also got to teach my first lesson at youth group a couple weeks ago and was just really encouraged and affirmed that teaching is what I'm good at! I've always known I love to teach, but it's taken me a little bit to figure out what I love to teach. I can't tell you enough how awesome this job is for me.

Speaking of my job, I got to go to the young-adult retreat last weekend in Big Lake with a bunch of college students that go to our Arigaa ministry program on Thursday nights. We had a blast and the camp was just SOOOOO gorgeous that I took tons of pictures! I loved hanging out with my co-staffers and canoeing around the lake! 

Jordan came back from Japan in early September and I LOVE having him home. It just feels right. He also gives me someone to cook for, so I have been doing a lot of that in the past few weeks, too! I've made salmon, chicken tortilla soup, six loaves of oatmeal bread, spinach sausage meatballs with spaghetti squash, a carrot cake, and a blueberry pie (made from my berries I picked in the tundra!). Anyone want to eat at the Kimbles' this week? Haha. I love cooking, and am always thinking of my father-in-law, Tom, while I'm in the kitchen and wondering... "would Tom approve?" Or, "What would he do to this salmon right now?" Needlesstosay, I'm thoroughly enjoying the "Alaskan" way of cooking up here, which is basically to live off the land, forage for yourselves, and be thrifty and homemade. I encourage you all to try it!

Jordan and I got to explore Anchorage and its surrounding a bit this month, too. We took a couple bike rides on the coastal trail, and we've also been running a ton lately. Anchorage has this really cool fall race line up on Tuesday nights, so we've been a couple times to that to run a 5.3K and a 6K. I'm really enjoying feeling in shape and challenging myself to run harder, run faster, just run.  We also hiked a really popular trail in Anchorage called Flat Top where you can see a 360 view of the city. The first time we took our friends with us that had small children, so we didn't get all the way to the top, but Jordan took Layla up last week by himself and said it was beautiful!

I am currently back on the east coast now for a couple weeks visiting family and doing a little fundraising for my job. I flew into Virginia last night to spend the weekend at my sister's with her little boy and husband. Our parents drove down, too, so I'll drive north with them on Monday. I'm so excited to see my family and friends... living so far away makes it hard to visit, but well worth the trip!

Enjoy the pics!

Biking the coastal trail!

After and before Jordan reupholstered our new dining room chairs!

Hangin out with Edna at youth group:)

Newly painted wall and new dining table! Woot woot!

Looking up a verse at the retreat last weekend.

Shakin things up with the girls at the playground on the retreat! So fun!

Jord and Layla on their hike!

Julie and I at the retreat- she works with me for CYAK and the church in Anchorage.

Ah, so beautiful. Heart Alaska.

What I like to call "a lucky shot".