Friday, July 31, 2009

The Difference a Year Can Make...

One year ago today I had no idea that my life was about to change forever. As usual I woke up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and headed off to work. I did know that there would be a nice break in my workday since Christie was coming to play golf with the youth pastor from our church and his best friend. When she called, I went upstairs, walked out the front door, got in her car, and told her where to park. And this is the first time that Josh and I were officially introduced. After I got everyone checked in for their round, they played golf and I went back to work, but met up with them later to have lunch. We exchanged numbers so that he could call and set up another golf round, which he did, and asked me out on a date that weekend. Since I would be out of town with my girlfriends, we planned to go to dinner the following Monday. 365 days later and here we are... happily married in Small Town, Illinois. So in honor of this day, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane. The past year has been an incredible journey:
About a month in and oh-so-happy!

Josh's 26th Birthday, September 13, 2008
Engaged!!! October 2, 2008

The Future Mrs. Joshua and Mr. Kimberly
Trip to New York, October 2008
Halloween 2008
Disney Marathon Finish, January 11, 2009

Post-Race Disney Day, January 2009
East Coast Speed Tour, February 2009

Our First Home!, May 2009

MARRIED!!! June 13, 2009 (oh happy day!)

Illinois Bound, June 2009

Life begins in Small Town, Illinois, June 2009

What a year! Thanks to this man I am not the same woman I was a year ago... I've learned so much through his example of compassion, forgiveness, respect, and understanding, grown deeper in my personal faith, have seen true unconditional love, and laughed more and more everyday. This past year has taken us to Atlanta, Birmingham, New York City, Philedelphia, Washington, DC, Houston, and several more places on various trips. Life has been its best since that fateful golf round, and I am so thankful that Josh likes to play! After knowing what 365 days can hold for two people, I am so excited to see what years 2, 3, 4, 15, 50, and so on have in store for us!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The things you learn about a person

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but it's not often that I remember to take a picture of the inside of a closet. Being married and moving in together means learning each other's quirks, habits, and nuances, as well as merging belongings. When we unpacked the house we did several loads of laundry and when we put clothes away I was AMAZED at how many polo shirts my husband owns! Out of curiosity, I decided to group them together by color, which turned out like this:Check Spelling

The pictures do not do it justice, but you can only get so far away from your subject when taking photos in a small space! Needless to say we'll be making a Goodwill trip soon considering these fill up one whole closet!!! His excuse? Bachelors never do laundry and so they just buy new shirts when they're out of clothes. Hence the nine black polo shirts he owns! And don't even get me started on blue jeans!

Welcome to being married, honey- I promise you clean shirts... well, most of the time. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009


We're back from Atlanta and are now proud to be a part of the Association of Related Churches! We found out yesterday that we passed the process! This is HUGE for us and our church and makes us a part of a network of life giving churches that are springing up all over the country. To put it into perspective, the ARC's goal is to plant 2000 churches by 2020... how incredible is that vision?? And in the first 4 months of 2009, they planted a church every FOUR days! We learned so much and I was blown away by it all. When Josh told me last winter that he wanted to start a church I probably looked at him as if he had two heads. My thoughts ranged from, "like a cult?" to "can you do that?" to "oh my gosh that sounds expensive!". But after going to these conferences and learning about the process, the fact that we are really doing this humbles me beyond belief. Yes, it is expensive, but if it's life giving, the people are going to give back. And yes, we can do this because we have the passion and the vision and the call to do it. Six months ago I would say that I wondered if a "calling" from God could really exist. After moving here and really understanding the magnitude of what it all means I no longer wonder. More than anything, this weekend validated our move to Small Town, Illinois for me. Even though I felt as if it was the right decision from the start, I have had my moments where I can't believe that we moved from a big city to a tiny town so far away from our friends and family, because who wouldn't think that? I mean let's be honest, we don't even have a Chick-Fil-A much less a mall! Even people here in town ask us why in the world we'd want to move here from sunny Florida? It's a valid question, but in my heart I know that we didn't choose Illinois, God chose it for us and we have been blessed so far through this journey. One of the speakers really put it nicely when he said that he was driving along some years ago and passed all of these forests that had been clear cut and he wondered why someone would cut down the big, old trees? When he drove a little further he saw clear cut fields with tiny saplings springing up and it all made sense. This is the work that God is doing all across our country: he's cutting down the old, dying trees so that new life can spring up. There are people in this world who are chaining themselves to these old trees, old traditions, old dying religious factions, but the only reason God would clear them away would be to plant new hope and new life! And then he said that 100 years from now when people read about church history, they will read about this movement, when outdated churches slowly died out, but new ones sprung up all over the country and we are a part of that! WOW! At that moment, I was awestruck. What an incredible thing God has asked of us.

So anyway (since I got way off topic) the conference was pretty awesome- we had 2 interviews with the assessors, an interview in front of a panel and the other applicants, and many group activities, role playing, skits, and a final presentation of an idea for a new church. There were 19 couples there (their biggest assessment ever) who all wanted to plant churches across the country for a variety of different reasons and it was amazing to hear their stories and their passion for doing this. Many of them have a heart for a city that they've only visited but never lived in (kind of like us) and others are wanting to launch right in their own hometown. To hear the reasons behind their passion was all very inspiring, and hanging out with 19 solid married couples was almost like a marriage retreat- so refreshing! We actually came back more energized and excited than when we left, which is a pretty awesome feeling. We were told up front that all 19 would probably not receive the backing from the ARC so we fell very fortunate that they saw something in us that they want to support. Now we just have to ramp up for our launch on September 20th! Mark your calendars!

And a HUGE thank you goes out to Grandaddy and Mawmaw for hosting us over the long weekend. We greatly enjoyed your company (as well as Dad's, Alex's and Avery's) and cannot wait to come back and visit again soon.

PS - Sorry for the lack of pictures lately but the cord to unload them has been misplaced. We promise to include some soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

ARC Assessment

Well, we're off to northern Georgia this weekend for our first real trial as pastor and pastor's wife. The ARC is the Association of Related Churches and their mission is to plant life giving churches in communities that need them all across the country. Needless to say, the Morrison campus of Crossroads Community Church fits the mold perfectly, so we have their support. We went to a training last month in Texas to learn about the in's and out's of planting a church and came back with much more knowledge than we left with and met a lot of great people in the process. This visit, however, is for our assessment, and if we "pass" we come back with thousands of dollars worth of funding that we're counting on! We've been taking several assessment tests (which are funny to compare... Josh and I are SO different!) and we have an interview as well as group activities with other pastors and their families who are launching their churches in the next few months. It should be a neat crowd. And we're not expecting it to be a stressful interview because the ARC wants to give us the money. The organization is actually pretty cool- they fund new churches, and in return, we will pay money into the ARC's pot once we're going, so that they can fund other churches... it's recycled money really: new churches they plant being funded by recent churches they have planted that are growing and thriving. It's all a part of the circle of life... or something like that. :) We'll let you know how it turns out when we return on Wednesday. Wish us luck!

And yes, this means that the puppitos are spending yet another fun-filled few days at the Chuck Wagon Country Inn. At the rate we're going, they're going to move in!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We've been working on the

After our trip to Ohio, Mom and the VanValkenburg family came back with us for a short visit. And since there is not much to do in Small Town, Illinois, we put them to work! When we bought our home, there was no railing on the front porch, which is something that insurance companies require within a certain time frame of purchase to insure the home. The previous owner had rebuilt the entire front porch (thank goodness we did not have to do that!) and all that was left was the finishing touch. The two Josh's went to the hardware store on Sunday night and bought all of the wood, started it on Monday, finished it on Tuesday, and then the girls and painted it that night and Wednesday morning before heading out of town. Josh somehow got roped into painting to, although he still can't figure out how it happened and Kevin and Kyle both lasted about five minutes before deciding to play catch instead. So here are the highlights of their trip:

The first few posts go in

The handrails sure made the mail lady happy! She was happy to see them going up!

Kyle stayed long enough to have his picture taken... smart boy!

And it's COMPLETE! Well, minus another coat of paint!

And to complete the post, here's the before and after shot:

What a difference it makes to our home sweet home! Thank you to Josh, Angie, Mom, Kevin and Kyle for all of the help and a great visit! And as a simple disclaimer: no, we do not make everyone who visits us do home repairs. Although we may be more willing to make up the guest room if you come ready to paint! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Expanding Family...

Before you freak out, it's NOT what you think! This past weekend we headed up to Ohio for my cousin Hillary's wedding and welcomed Brian into the family. My sisters and I were only blessed with 4 cousins growing up, so we have always been fortunate to be close with them and are so incredibly happy that Hillary found a perfect match for her. The two of them are two of the most kind-hearted, warm people that I have ever had the privilege of knowing and they are going to be a blessing to all who know them. Josh and I drove through 7 hours of non-stop rain (including 2 hours of torrential downpour!), but it was well worth it. We spent 2 days hanging out with the family, attending a beautiful ceremony, dancing (but mostly spectating) the night away at the reception, laughing as the boys went out on a midnight reconnaissance mission (long story... but trust me, it's hilarious!), eating LOTS of yummy food courtesy of Aunt Karen, and just enjoying each other's company. Whenever I'm having a "bad day", I just smile and remember how blessed I am to be a part of this amazing family, to have a husband who loves me unconditionally, and people I can lean on no matter what. So congratulations to the Haddix's... and welcome to the family, Brian!

Oh, and to follow up on the last post, the dogs survived the Chuck Wagon, Illinois. But only in Small Town, Illinois can the owners trust you enough to let you leave your dogs with them after only collecting your name and phone number. Then on top of that allow you to go into the kennel after hours, leave a check on the clip board for the appropriate amount, and depart with only the animal(s) you left with. Oh the small town life... gotta love it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Chuck Wagon Inn

Sounds like a barbeque joint, doesn't it? Guess again. Josh and I are heading to Ohio for the weekend and needed a place to keep the pups. I Googled "dog boarding Illinois" and came up with a pretty decent list of options. After scanning over them I looked at Josh and said, "I don't think I would want the dogs to stay at the Chuck Wagon Inn! It sounds like they're going to be made into barbeque!" Kinda sick I know. So I called place after place. Karen's Canine Bed and Biscuit (my first choice... catchy names get me every time) was full, the Dixon Veterinary Clinic only had room for Teeny, the Advanced Medical Clinic needed their vet records (which we don't have from Florida yet), and the Country Inn did not answer the phone. So you guessed it... they ended up at the Chuck Wagon Inn! It was actually a very cute place... just a small farm and a couple who run it. Both of them seemed a bit nervous, but hopefully they're settling in by now. Josh and I leave early in the morning and things around the house just aren't the same. We miss those naughty pups!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Small Town USA

It has been about three weeks since arriving in Small Town, Illinois, and the adjustment to small town life has gone pretty smoothly. Even though I love small towns, I have never lived in one quite this small or this rural (well, except maybe when I was a kid), but after a few weeks I've noticed a few things that make me giggle... that you would only find in Small Town, USA...

  • Why put up a STOP sign when there's really not much traffic? Around here, YIELD signs seem to be the traffic sign of choice

  • A few blocks from our house there is definitely an intersection with absolutely no sign at all! We've just been figuring out who goes first when we get there

  • It's easier to get lost here than it is in a city... sure, there are less roads, but there is no point of reference. All corn fields look pretty much the same

  • One of the state roads in our town runs THROUGH the grocery store parking lot. Seriously... right in front of the Country Market and it's an Illinois state road

  • People here are incredibly nice and will do anything for you. On the other hand, within five minutes you will have heard their life story and they'll want to know yours

  • Almost every eatery has a 99 cent taco day... I am in heaven.

  • No matter what you're shopping for, you can probably find it at the local Farm and Fleet... if you needed to buy a lawn mower, a couch, and groceries all in one trip, this is the place to go.

I know there will be many others, so maybe I will start a new topic with this post and add to it as they come along. Because where else but a small town do you get THIS opportunity?

We're just living the dream, baby!

Friday, July 3, 2009

I'm in love...

With our wedding photos! They are SPECTACULAR! A special thanks to Jason Jerusalem for doing such an amazing job capturing the event! To see them, visit the following website... the password is "elder".

We didn't realize it until the end of the night, but somehow Jason didn't get many of me and/or Josh by ourselves and we were already pretty sweaty and falling apart by the time we did our photos of just the two of us. Being the stellar photographer that he is, Jason told us that next time he's in Chicago (which is apparently a place he travels to quite a bit), he'd be happy to do a mini session for free! Oh darn... looks like I have to wear that dress again. :)
PS - the DVD is here, too... I don't think we can make it digital so copies will be coming soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This is why I married him...

When organizing all of the pictures on my camera, I came across this video... it may not be funny to you, but I crack up every time I watch it. This was taken when we stayed at the Westin Diplomat and is just Josh being Josh...

My husband (love that!) seriously makes me laugh more than anybody I know... I sometimes purposely try NOT to laugh because sometimes what he's doing is just being silly, but I can't help it. I love many many things about Joshua, but I know that his sense of humor will keep me entertained for the rest of my life. I hope that you enjoy his silliness as much as I do... and if not, I know that my mom will! :)