Monday, June 17

Choir Tour: A Departure from Isolation


It would seem that I missed a week! I had great intentions of posting about my first week house-sitting in my “Country Villa”, which is what I’m calling it. But time has a bad habit of getting away from me and my trip to Oklahoma City fell on me much faster than I anticipated.
      I am so excited to share with you what happened while we were in Oklahoma. God works in mighty and wonderful ways and this week is proof of it. I have so much that I want to share that I think this blog post will be spread over two weeks and two posts to make it manageable.
      Some background: We started planning this trip nine months ago. It takes a considerable of effort to coordinate a music and missions trip for 30-some people, especially youth. We got in contact with some really neat organizations and were poised to assist in several different areas.
      May 20 tornados ripped through the Oklahoma City and Moore area, killing 9 people and injuring at least 50 more. The devastation was widespread and terrible. We had no idea any of this would happen when we started planning our trip. But God knew. And God used us in ways that we could not have imagined. Here is a breakdown of how our trip went.
      Sunday, June 9, 2013 We left from our church at 5:30 a.m. I’ll admit, you, my readers, know how much I hate that time of the morning. I was pretty grumpy. Within 3 hours we made it to Denton, TX to sing at a small local church, Highland Baptist Church. We warmed up and sang for the morning service. This was my first wake-up call. God grabbed my heart and said, “Hey you! Pay attention! These ‘kids’, as you call them, do amazing things in my name. Pay attention.” And so I started doing that, paying attention. We drove the rest of the way to Oklahoma City and sang at a second church. I missed over half of the concert due to a drive to the airport to pick up one of our sponsors. Can I just say that driving through OKC might have been the most terrifying thing that I did that week? But I made it there and back with minimal heart damage and listened to the youth sing the second half of their program and this time I paid attention. Really. I worshiped that night like I had not done in a really long time. It was wonderful and refreshing.
      Monday, June 10, 2013 We woke up bright and early to fix breakfast for 25 teenagers. The church we stopped at the day before donated 18 pounds of bacon to us. 18 pounds. Let me stress this again. Eighteen. Pounds. That’s more than a small dog weighs. So we cooked some of it. A lot of it. And those teens devoured it. Then the youth split into work teams and assisted with projects around the church and at an organization called “Feed the Children”. The work they did that day directly affected future ministry to tornado victims. I, unfortunately, was not able to help that day. I worked on getting the kitchen organized and making Wal-Mart runs. But it was through that day that I realized something. I was not there to serve tornado victims, as much as I wanted to be. I was there to serve teenagers so that they could make an impact in Oklahoma and learn how to serve others. I’ve always called myself a behind-the-scenes kind of person, but this trip put that to the test. I was so far behind the scenes that I didn’t even feel like I was helping. But through this, God was still telling me, “pay attention, pay attention”. So I struggled to do that. And I started hearing amazing things.
      I’ll leave more of the week for later. I still have Tuesday through Friday to share and things haven’t gotten interesting yet! Also, sorry that there is no foot picture this time, I only took one the whole week! So you'll have to wait until the last Choir Tour post to see it!

Tuesday, June 4

A Week in Between /or/ The Ultimate 20-somethings Guide to Living Out of Your Car

                I just wrapped up a very short week at home. It wasn't even really a week, only 5 days and 6 nights. But that's ok. I relaxed this week, and I needed it! In fact, here's a shot of my feet relaxing at home :) I organized and got ready for my next great adventure. And in light of all that organizing, I created a book to help me keep everything straight! I mentioned this a few posts ago and now you'll get to see what I mean! I'm posting all the JPEGS so you can see them, but I can print a book for you if you would like with personalization and such. Contact me if you are interested in one!
Here's a picture of the completed book. I had mine printed at Office Depot after I designed everything on it. It's a very convenient way to do things. You upload your PDF and choose custom options and hey presto! a new book by the end of the day. Isn't technology great?
                Ok, the cover. I've been dabbling in graphic design since graduating, and I have to say, this turned out better than I had hoped. I'm pretty proud of this one. The rest of the book is simple comparatively.
                Now the "Contents" page. You don't have to include this one, but I really enjoyed having the quick reference. I printed a lot of duplicate pages in my notebook on the ToDo lists and Note pages so knowing when those sections start is very valuable.
                I whipped up a Personal Information page since the book was going to be in the car permanently. I'm really bad about forgetting personal numbers and things like that, so having them in one place is wonderful for me. I typed all my info in the page before printing it, but there is room to handwrite everything on it if you leave it blank.
 Ok, now the next three pages are easy, I just made calendars for the summer months. I didn't put anything on them and am only planning on writing in the dates that I'll be in different houses. Aren't they cute though?? I really like blue and dots!
         Next is a Car Reminders and Car Maintenance sheet. I am TERRIBLE at remembering to treat my car right. I used to have a radiator problem and had to fill the silly thing with water every 4 or 5 days. Thankfully, I got that fixed, but I still keep the reminders, especially for the several weeks this summer that I won’t be in town and someone might have to drive my car.
          Now there is a page that reminds me of everything I have in my trunk. I have given up trying to pack based on what I think is happening during the day, which changes hourly… So I have taken to just packing bags and leaving them in my trunk so I can grab what I need when I need it. 
             The last pages are just information pages so I can keep stuff written down: To-Do, Where Did I Leave stuff, What Do I Need to Get, and Notes.
                Hope you enjoyed seeing my book! I’ll make one for you if you want! This is not all the pages, but that would have been too many pictures! I'll certainly show the book to you if you want to see!

Tuesday, May 28

If I never see "3:30 a.m." again...

I’m back from a whirlwind week and a half. I accounted my journey of house-sitting in the last blog post and promised a detailing of “living out of my car” this time. However, that will have to wait, because I just passed a long holiday weekend living out of my suitcase.
      My boyfriend got a job with John Deere in Iowa and I promised to help him move. So he picked me up in a Uhaul truck towing his little car behind (super romantic, huh?) We headed off on the first leg of our journey, stopping at my uncle’s house in Lowell, AR. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried moving like that, but before you consider it, don’t. It was a very tiring trip! But we made it to Lowell with no problems and very little rain and more than a little stiffness. My aunt and uncle took us to feed their horses (which were gorgeous! I wish I had taken pictures, but I left my camera at the house) then on to dinner at a place called Smokin’ Joe’s.
Smokin' Joe's - Best. Barbeque. Evar.
Talk about good. Let me just throw out a shameless ad for this joint. The barbeque sauce is out of this world. I had a burger (I know, a sin in a ribhouse) but I tried the three kinds of barbeque sauce they make in house. Ah. Maz. Ing. If you ever drive through the Rogers/Lowell area, stop there. You owe it to yourself.

      The next leg of our journey began a mere 6 hours later as we dragged ourselves out of bed at 3:00 a.m. so we could hit the road by 3:30. This is another thing that I suggest you never do. My sweet, sweet uncle beat us out of bed and made egg sandwiches for our breakfast and that was probably the only thing that kept me going. The second day of travel is always the worst and we compounded it by getting up so early. However we made it to the apartment complex by 11:30 a.m. (an hour earlier than necessary!) and got the keys to the apartment. Now we have a Uhaul and an empty townhouse. So we unloaded half the truck and decided to stop to take a break.

Some mad unpacking skills.

We finally ordered a pizza for lunch, but as our luck had it, the movers arrived at the same time as the pizza and we didn’t get a chance to dig in until 4:30. By the end of the day, all the boxes and all the furniture was in the townhouse and we were two very tired people. Also we finally got to lose the Uhaul and drive around town like normal people in the car!
My hungry boyfriend putting away food.

      The next day we had a late start at Panera for breakfast and internet (and coffee for me, thank you) then got started unpacking. We unpacked most of the day and by the time we finished, the living room was nearly clear and we had enough dishes unpacked to make dinner instead of eating out.
      Monday, Memorial Day, was my last day in Des Moines. Well, I use the term “day” loosely, since I had to once again wake up at 3:30 a.m. and get in the car. I said goodbye and got in line in the airport. My flight to Dallas left at 6:00 a.m. (yet another thing that I urge you to not do. No flights before 8.) The flight was uneventful besides some mild turbulence and I landed in Dallas at 8:05. 

        DFW is a huge airport… It’s a good thing that I had a plan in mind, because I would have wandered all over that place and never found my flight. I hoped on the Skytrain and rode to another terminal and walked to my gate. An hour and a half later, I was in the air on my way to Longview. I fell asleep on that flight, but it was only a 35 minute flight so I didn’t get much napping in.
      My whirlwind weekend ended up in Denny’s for “brunch” at 11:00 a.m. after my parents picked me up from the Gregg County airport. I’m safely home and back in my own bed for like… four days. But I’m very happy for those few nights. Just don't wake me up at 3 am...
      Oh, and since I posted a picture of my feet last time while house sitting, here's a picture of my feet waiting in DFW!

Wednesday, May 22

Professional Nomadism

                Well, it's been a while. Let me update you on my life. I have decided to become a professional nomad. Just kidding. But that's what I feel like is happening to me right now, and let's be honest: it's equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Before moving on, let me clarify. A nomad is "A person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer." Hey! That totally sounds like me! And there is a reason for that.
                This is my new life. I'm taking on "nomad-ism" or "couch-surfing" or "glorified hobo" or whatever else you want to call it. So far, it's been pretty awesome and I want to share the joys of my wanderings with you all (and maybe some pictures if I can ever get on that).
                This strange adventure started almost a week ago when my "housemate" and I agreed to house-sit for a couple going on vacation. They have a little dog, Griffin, (who is adorable, by the way) and wanted someone to keep him company. So we packed our bags and "moved in" last week. Again, I'll be honest with you all. My packing consisted of grabbing my dirty clothes hamper and doing laundry the first night we were there. So, yes, I was living, not out of my suitcase, but out of my hamper. As it turns out, they have a pool, so I really didn't need any clothes other than my swimsuit and shorts. Not quite, but that's how it felt.
                It's been a fantastic week. Our host family is generous and flexible and encouraged us to have people over to swim and cookout. So we did just that. Pool party! And that was the day that we "broke" the hot tub - a geyser erupted from the fountain and the tub drained. But we fixed it! And we had a quiet game night, I made Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup and my housemate enjoyed getting a tan (that just isn't fair, I only got a lobster-burn out of this deal!)

 These are my feet, enjoying the sun :) and that's the geyser....

                But now the week is drawing to a close. So now I'm reflecting on our week in someone else's house and also considering what my immediate future holds. I'll have one night at "home" before leaving for a four-day trip to Iowa. Once I get back, I'll have five days before moving yet again to a new house-sitting stint. This one will be considerably longer. I'll move in at the beginning of June and stay 3 weeks (broken up in the middle by a trip to Oklahoma). Honestly, I'm just living one week at a time. Like I said earlier, that's equally exciting and frightening. I'll keep you updated on my travels, my life, and my experiences with living out of my car.
                Speaking of living out of my car, I have developed a new system to do so and that is going to be the topic of my next blog post! I call it "The Ultimate 20-Somthing's Guide to Living out of Your Car". Mouthful, eh? Until next time, readers.
                - The Unintentional Ninja