Friday, April 19, 2013

Words I Should Not Say

Recently it was brought to my attention that I have been saying the word, "Yo" way too often.

I know what you're thinking. Yo, Abby, really?

To be honest, I have no idea where this came from. I have never lived in the hood, been a rapper or been a teenage boy. I'm a twenty-something white girl with blue eyes and curly brown hair living in a farming town.

It gets worse. That's not my only phrase. In no particular order, other phrases I have caught myself saying more than once in the last week include "mojo" and "my jam"...

Maybe I should move to the city.

Peace out, home slice.

College roomie and I dressed up for the Superbowl. So cool, I know.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clumsy Crafting: Circle Scarf & Key Box

If you read my envelopes post  or know me, you know that I'm not a huge believer in perfect straight lines or measurements. In cooking I subscribe to the pinch of this, smidge of that philosophy and my tape measure skills are sub par at best. Luckily, I married an analytic man who is infinitely patient and very exact so he makes up for my mishaps.

This week has been one of the most emotionally draining and challenging of my life. In between grieving, mourning the loss of a friend, assisting with funeral preparations, processing and thinking about how to respond and working through a very busy season in my camp life, I needed to do something concrete, light and relaxing.

Enter clumsy crafting! I kind of went easy project crazy this week. There is something very satisfying in starting and completing a project and having something to show for it.

So drumroll please...

Project #1: Jersey Circle Scarf 

I didn't document this because it was supposed to be a half hour project. Rule number one of being a clumsy crafter: it will always take longer than they say. Just keep that in mind. 

But here's how it goes- buy 2 yards of jersey knit material from Walmart clearance section. Or a nicer store if you're one of those fancy people. Fold in half "hot dog style" inside out. (Please tell me you remember learning this in kindergarten? It was right between the tying your shoes lesson and singing 'Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?') Sew, flip right side out, tuck one end inside the other and sew into a huge circle. 

I would be more specific but to be completely honest I messed it up myself and the first time I tried to put my scarf over my head I realized I had created a giant pillowcase. I walked into the living room with it over my face and my husband burst out laughing and then graciously helped me rip out the stitches and start over. Just read this tutorial like I did and don't lose heart! If I could do, you can totally do this!!  

Project #2: Key Shadow Box

This project is brought to you by the Bed, Bath and Beyond clearance section. Are you sensing a pattern here? It's called C-H-E-A-P.

For $10 I snagged this key shadow box. A few of the keys had fallen and the background was pretty scraped up.

With a little elbow grease I used a variety of tools (some conventional and some less so) to pry the back off and remove the rest of the keys.

And clumsy crafting moment of the project...

Broke 2 keys in the process. Womp womp. Woops. Nothing my trusty hot glue gun couldn't handle!

After putting the keys back together I slapped a little black paint on the original cardboard square, cut a piece of burlap and attached it with spray adhesive and then glued the keys back on. I pounded the back in place and hung it on the wall. Voila!! Quick, easy and oh-so-cute.

There were 2 other projects but we'll save those for another time, shall we?

Moral of the story, go do something creative! Take a risk, use your hands and make something good. Write a letter, sing a song, do a craft, plant a garden, cook something delicious and extravagant. It may be clumsy, it may not be perfect but God's given all of us our own brand of creativity. Have you tried anything new lately? I'd love to hear about your successful and not so successful projects!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Redeeming Cliche

This week I've been journeying with thousands of others through the death of a friend. You can read my last post, Remembering Ryan  to read more on his story. 

I struggled to know what to say, how to say it to express my feelings, my sorrow and the cry of my heart. I wanted to tell the family, his wife how sorry I was and how much I will miss him. I wanted them to know that I would do anything to help them and that I was there and willing. 

But I didn't want to be cliche. I didn't want to sound like a greeting card or a cheesy Christian bookstore plaque. 

I've had this feeling before. Usually I want to be original. I try to think of a funny way to phrase it for my Facebook status or tweet. How can I say it better and more uniquely than anyone else? I don't like being cliche. 

This time, I just didn't know what to say. It felt like everything I could think of was cliche. 

He's in a better place. 

Praise God he's not hurting anymore. 

We will see him again someday. 

I'm so sorry. 

Please let me know if I can do anything. 

Things you're supposed to say. Things that are probably annoying and not very helpful to hear. 

But they're true. 

I do believe he's in a better place and not hurting anymore.

I am excited to see him again someday.

 I really am sorry and I really do want to help. 

What about the phrases that aren't cliche? 

I'm sorry. 

I love you.

Thank you. 

Those don't go out of style. You don't get tired of hearing them. We really do mean them. 

There are some things we say because we feel like we're supposed to. There are others we say because we really mean them. 

And there are days when we just don't know what to say. And today, today is one of those days. 

As I sit here, hours away from visitation and funeral, I don't know what I'm going to say today. I don't know how I'm going to respond when other people use phrases that I deem as cliche or just don't like. 

But I do know this. We're sincere. You're sincere and I'm sincere. I might fall on words that are comfortable or sound poetic but know that I mean it. 


Lord may these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. May the things I say and the way I interact, cliche or not, bring honor and glory to you alone. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Guy I Knew: Remembering Ryan

Early this morning my friend Ryan went home to be with Jesus. For 2 years he fought cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the liver bile duct. He may have passed on today but Ryan didn't spend 2 years dying from cancer, he spent 2 years living with it. You can read more about his journey on his blog.

When I was about 10 years old my family started vacationing with Ryan's family. Our parents were all in full-time camping ministry and had met at conferences. They forged a deep friendship and we went on Spring Break vacations together for about 10 years or so. My family has 3 girls and a boy, their family has 3 boys. We were matched in age almost exactly and it was quite a shock suddenly having brothers around. Especially these brothers. We traveled to Chicago, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and many other places (and museums) over the  years.

"The Boys" on the left and "The Girls" on the right, clearly separated by my cute little brother who desperately admired these older brother figures. Ryan is on the far left and I'm on the far right. 

Entering those awkward middle school years. I'm in the white tank while Ryan is rocking the blue Hawaiian print (not to be confused with his brother's yellow print.) 

Three years ago I took a job at the camp where Ryan's dad is still the President and Ryan was now the Marketing Director. For the last 3 years I've gotten to work alongside the boy that I grew up with.

This is from a conference we attended and was called The Brain Show. We competed with trivia and had to do dances. Ryan (in the front) was recovering from shoulder surgery and in a sling. He swears he was forced into doing this but he stole the show with his hip gyrations and one-armed flapping dance moves. I really wish this was a video. Oh, I should also mention that we advanced to the finals and were robbed of the trophy. Not bitter.

A few weeks ago we knew that Ryan's time on earth was growing short. I don't have all the answers and I don't know how to process something like a 27-year old man full of life and passion dying. So I wrote my memories, I wrote how I saw Ryan. One of Ryan's wishes was that his son Colton would know him and I want Colton to know the Ryan that I knew.

This is my tribute to my friend.

This is the boy that was my first crush. There, I finally said it out loud. The brother that teased me, farted and burped at me, fell asleep in the car and drooled on my shoulder. The boy who walked through endless museums complaining the entire time and grew up beside me. 

The boy who could rap all the words to "Jesus Freak" and loved the line about marmalade jelly. The one who tried to lead worship with his guitar and was frankly, awful. The boy who was scared of the Ferris wheel and roller coasters but loved the rodeo and stockyards of Fort Worth. The boy who got his swimming trunks ripped off in the indoor/outdoor pool during an intense game of keepaway. 

 The boy who went from basketball shorts and cutoffs to boots, belt buckles and bolero ties to suits and button ups. 

This is the man who when he met his high school sweetheart fell hard and never looked back, and we all knew this was it. Who beeped me on that annoying Nextel phone and showed up to welcome me to my new home and even painted part of a wall. The man who irritated me and was hard to get along with but in the same breath encouraged and built me up intentionally and regularly. 

The man who kissed my head at my wedding and told me how happy and proud he was of and for me. The man who would run into my office trying to convince me that "All The Kitchen Ladies" would be a great camp video and showing me countless stupid You-Tube videos. We never laughed at the same ones. 

The man who held me to a higher standard of accountability and believed in me. This is the man who was open and real on a tough journey. Who showed me walking in faithfulness. Who loved his girl... and his boy... to the end. The man who instigated nutso butt-ball in a staff meeting. Who thought it was hilarious to drink out of a toilet mug and threw a ball at his toddler son's head to encourage rough housing. 

This is my friend. My brother. I'm sure going to miss him. 

In all of this, the grief, pain, joy and confusion, I know that God is good and faithful. I trust him. One of my favorite grief songs right now is JJ Heller's, 'Who You Are'. I was able to share this with Ryan and Kendra during their last hospital stay.

"I'm praying, I don't know what you're doing, but I know who you are." 

Friday, April 5, 2013

This Is Real Life

On our anniversary, my husband and I decided that in our second year of marriage we wanted to open our home more and to invest in community.

 So on Tuesday I called a friend and invited them over for dinner on Thursday.

 And here's the thing, I didn't change the menu. I didn't fancy it up. I didn't slave over the stove for hours and fold napkins in the shapes of swans. In fact, I even told my husband not to clean "too perfectly". You know, just normal pick up, not crazy pick up. (He looked at me like I was a little crazy.)

 Actually, I just realized I didn't even offer napkins. Oops.

 You see we've been "becoming friends" with this couple for about a year and for a while, every Monday we would go to their house and watch The Bachelorette (guilty pleasure admission) together. (Yes, even the husbands. Although they would insist they were looking at gear online, not watching.)

One week we got there and there were a few dirty dishes in the sink, papers strewn across the kitchen table and we were all wearing sweatpants and hoodies. And I realized that this was NORMAL. Their house looks like this everyday. So does mine. I felt like we'd crossed a bridge, we were REAL friends. They didn't feel like they had to clean and impress us, we could just be.

 So this week when they arrived despite my best intentions I was scrambling. You see I like to host. I'd love to someday throw Pinterest-worthy dinner parties like this Valentine fondue my hubby made. I like it when the house is picked up, the meal is beautiful and the table is set. I like to try new things and to put effort in. 

But I don't always have to. So when they walked in, the chicken was still on the stove, the noodles were boiling and the bread (which I forgot to take out of the fridge to rise) was still in the oven looking very brick-like.

 What did my friend do? She opened the door, stuck her head in, yelled hello and opened the cupboards, found glasses and started filling them with water.


And I had another one of those moments. I thought this is REAL, this is NORMAL.

The meal wasn't perfect, the bread didn't rise all the way and got stuck in the pan and my kitchen looked like a toddler had been cooking but we laughed. We laughed when one of us held the pan down while the other pried the bread out. We laughed when my husband picked the burned crust out of the bottom and ate it anyway. We called it a "rustic loaf".

 And it was REAL, it was NORMAL. 

 I read this article this week by one of my favorites, Shauna Niequist. (Hi Shauna! If you're ever in the market for a new BFF in Michigan I'm there. Just sayin') As I wrote this post I went through my Instagram to find a messy picture to show you. I couldn't find one. Guilty as charged. So here's my sock today- formerly stained from spilling tea and stained again today from spilling espresso. This is real life, people, stained socks and all.

As I've started this blog I thought a lot about why. Actually it's pretty embarrassing to me that people I know in real life might see it. I haven't figured it out but I've thought a lot about what my "voice is" and what I'll share. And I still don't know. But what I do know is that I want to live a real life and sometimes I want to host beautiful parties with picture perfect food and sometimes I want to say come over now. Shove that pile of paper, bills and clutter off the table and let's eat leftovers and laugh and enjoy life.

So if you come to my house, get your own glass. Open the fridge, snoop a little. Heck you can even stick your hand into a bag of chocolate chips and help yourself! 

Linking up (I think? I've never done this before!!) with for Desire to Inspire.
A Royal Daughter

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April's Bangs

Last time I had bangs I was in second grade and I cut them myself. For weeks I had a bushy little stub on top of my head.

So this week I decided to try for real! Presenting... My bangs!


Did I get you? At all? Even a little. Yeah, didn't think so. 

I tried to convince my sister by text that this was real and she wasn't buying it but then she started complimenting my new bangs so I think she fell for it. 

Don't worry. I'm not getting bangs. This is just the magic of bobby pins. I have curly hair. Like really curly. Can you imagine if they got wet? Poodle alert! I don't think I have the patience to use a curling iron or straightener everyday to pull off this new look although it's better than I thought it'd be! 

Anyone see any good April Fool's jokes? I'm not great at pranking but I do think it's funny when there's a good one. Hope you laughed yesterday!