Thursday, November 27, 2014

real talk | there is always something to be thankful for

these past few months have been a little intense for Thomas & i. i haven't blogged about it because i haven't really had the words to say plus a lot of it is Thomas's story to tell so i wasn't sure what he would want me to share. but in order for me to write a post about what i'm thankful for, i want to lay out our reality right now. it sheds a whole new light on what being thankful really means, to me at least.

plus, i really do think it's therapeutic to get things out & i want to be transparent and real on this blog. i never want someone to read through my blog & think that i never have any hardships or hard days. because that just isn't true! i don't want every post i write to be about the hard days, but i do think it's healthy to share & that it could help someone going through a similar situation. you only get to know a person on the internet by what they choose to share... and while it's fun to share good things, i also don't want to pretend that the hard things aren't there. this may be a bit lengthy, so brace yourselves & i think you are brave if you stick it out to the end! :)

o1 my job started a new system in April and things are still a pretty big mess. we are all behind, working overtime, analyzing data, correcting data, and still not sure that what's in the system is correct. when you work in accounting, if the data is incorrect then you are in trouble. it's a big deal. so we've been given deadlines of December 31 to get things fixed... which you'll notice is in 5 weeks & we really only have 4 weeks because of Christmas. it looks & feels impossible right now so the stress levels are very high. we have all worked like crazy since January anticipating this new system. that involved a lot of 50-60 hour weeks all the way through June. we are all still working over each week, but not that much because we just can't do it anymore. so it's been a very long year & everyone really needs a break from it all. 

o2 Thomas's company announced that they are moving to Iowa which means the SC location is closing. they announced this earlier this year but dates were tentative and unsure. a few months ago, they gave everyone tentative end dates & Thomas's was in March 2015. then, a few weeks ago they changed the dates & Thomas's is now midway through January 2015 - 2 1/2 months sooner than we thought. so now he is busy applying for jobs during the already stressful holiday season & January is getting closer with each day that passes. 

o3 in September, Thomas got taken to the ER during the work day. his boss called me & i left work to meet him at the ER. they tested him and concluded that it was a panic attack. come to find out some people in his family struggle with anxiety & panic attacks so it is likely something that will stick around. he has had a fit with it for the past few months & without going into details, some days it affects his daily life. we are hoping it is worse right now because of all of the job unknowns... & that once Thomas gets a new job and settles in that it will calm down. he has been to a lot of doctors to figure things out. all of the bills are coming in at the same time now & we owe a hefty chunk of change for everything. which is just adding to the stress and anxiety of finding another job so our income situation can sustain us.

o4 we both are close to our families & have grandparents that are aging. between the two of us, we've gone to more funerals in the past few years than we would have liked. my grandfather died while i was at the beach with Thomas's family the summer before we got engaged & my uncle died just two months before we got married. my grandmother had a stroke a few months ago & is now paralyzed on her left side. she is in assisted living and it is most likely permanent. Thomas's grandfather had a stroke earlier this year & had signs of dementia so he has permanently moved to assisted living. then just last month, his wife (Thomas's step grandmother) had a stroke & shattered her elbow so now she is in a nursing home recovering and we aren't sure how temporary it is. it is hard to see people you care about go through this & especially when it's all at the same time.


all of that to say... it would be really easy to dwell on these things because the unknown is hard & when the unknown is directly related to your financial situation it is very scary. but i don't want to dwell on these things, i want to dwell on the Lord because i know He is in control. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

i know that He will work things out for our good... and hear me when i say this - that does not mean that he will give Thomas a great job right away or that our finances will not be tight for a while. FOR OUR GOOD means for our sanctification... it means that God will work things out in His timing and through His plan. His plan has always been to draw people to Him. FOR OUR GOOD means that no matter what circumstances we are in, that God will continue drawing us closer to Him. if a situation will push us closer to the Lord & shape our hearts to be more like Jesus, then God will allow it to happen.

FOR OUR GOOD doesn't mean that Thomas won't be out of work for a while or that we won't still struggle with anxiety or stress. but it does mean that through God we can have hope in the midst of the unknown. that we can take our burdens to God and He will carry them for us. it means that we don't face hardship alone... the Lord will fight for us.

it's easy to stay focused on my own life & start to believe that i'm big or important. but when things happen that i can't do anything about... it really forces me to realize just how BIG our God is and how small our problems are in comparison.

with all of that, i want to list out what i'm especially thankful for this year.

this year...

i'm thankful that i'm married to my best friend.

i'm thankful that Thomas was given notice of his job ending & that he has a few months to look for something.

i'm thankful that we have enough to pay bills, student loans, & still have some left over to save.

i'm thankful that i have grandparents who are still around to spend time with.

i'm thankful for a job where i am gaining experience & using my degree.

i'm thankful that we have families who enjoy spending time together.

i'm thankful for our nephew that's on the way. (and the one that's already here!)

i'm thankful for the ability to craft & do things with my hands.

i'm thankful for our furry little pets who have nothing but love to give us.

i'm thankful for best friends who surprise you with a letter in the mail.

i'm thankful for a church family who encourages us through our tears and anxiety.

& most of all, i'm thankful for a Savior who counts His righteousness towards us and erases our transgressions.

i'm thankful that my salvation depends on His goodness instead of my works. because i would never be good enough on my own.

i'm thankful the Lord gave us scripture and the privilege to pray directly to Him.

i'm thankful that the gospel gives us a hope and a future.

what are you thankful for this year?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fontana Dam

on the way to our halloween yurting trip, we stopped to see Fontana Dam. it is the tallest dam in the Eastern US & was the 4th tallest in the world when it was built! we passed parts of Fontana Lake in August when we did the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, but we didn't make it to the dam on that trip. neither one of us had been to a huge dam before so it was fun to see! 

it was cloudy & lightly raining while we were there because the snow was on it's way. we were the only people there when we first walked up, so it was super quiet when we peeked over into the hole - talk about creepy! the Appalachian Trail actually crosses over Fontana Dam, so we can now say that we've been on the AT! :)

have you ever visited a large dam?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

guest post | 7 arrows with Jessa

remember when i posted about the 7 arrows of Bible reading? well, a few weekends ago while i was on the Renew Retreat, a few of the girls had heard of it! Jessa brought it up one night and it was kinda shocking to hear someone outside of my church talk about it. it was really neat though & i had a handful of bookmarks with me so i handed them out to the girls.

Jessa and i thought it would be fun to collaborate on a post about the 7 arrows! so, we've decided to each study Romans 12:1-8 through the 7 arrows. we thought it would be cool to see the arrows in action and how differently people think things through. so today Jessa is sharing her 7 arrows here & i am sharing mine on her blog!

Hey Robyn's Nest readers! I am so happy to introduce myself and my blog to you. I'm Jessa, and I blog at The Jessa Olson Blog formally called Life of A Sports Wife. I did change my blog name in June. I recently met Robyn at Renew Retreat a few weeks ago. We were talking about bible study and quiet time. I mentioned 7 arrows with no idea that Robyn goes to the church with the pastor that invented this style.

Since Renew, Robyn and I have kept in touch and thought it would be fun to write a post on the 7 arrows. I personally struggle with finding a way to study the bible. I haven't found one that absolutely suits me. Hopefully that will come soon.The verses that we selected are Romans 12:1-8. To be honest, Robyn selected the verses but she did a great job.

Romans 12: 1-8 [The Message]

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

o1 | what does this passage say?
  • take everyday life and offer it to God.
  • fix your attention on God. Each day renew your heart and rededicate yourself to the Lord each day.
  • Preach and give all the glory to God. 
o2 | what did this passage mean to its original audience?

This is a tough one for me because I am not one on knowing original audience. I honestly don't know where to look or how to find it. So this is why I love this part of the arrows because I am learning the bible and the original context. I love this about our new church as well because they teach about the bible and how we can apply in our everyday life.

I went to to really learn what Romans was all about in more detail. Early in the section Paul talks about us believers and the struggle between God and the evil world.

this section is different. the meat and potatoes of the bible. 

o3 | what does this passage tell us about God?
  • God is helping you
  • God brings out the best of you
  • God will bring it all to you
o4 | what does this passage tell us about man?

We sin everyday. We need to refocus and rededicate our live to the Lord each day. In each activity that we do we need place it to God as an offering. It is our daily offering to the Lord. 

o5 | what does this passage demand of me?

I need to renew my mind with the Lord each and every day. I need to use what God has given me and use to his glory each day. I also need to focus on what is going on in my world and not let competition and envious behavior get in the way. I need to let God work in me each and everyday. 

o6 | how does this passage change the way i relate to people?

This was an eye opener for me because I can see how I treat people esp verses 6-8. 

o7 | what does this passage prompt me to pray?

I pray that I let God use in me in the way that he desires to use me, and that I open myself up to being used by him. I will pray that my attitude changes in my daily actions.

So there you have it. This is my first time doing the 7 arrows. I really like it but it takes a lot out of you. I also love this section. Thank you Robyn for letting me taking over your blog.

what are your answers to the 7 arrows? we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, November 17, 2014

halloween yurting

this year for halloween, we went camping. glamping, actually. we stayed in the same yurt we stayed in for my birthday in August. when we went before, we were only there for 1 night and it was a rushed trip, so we came back for an entire weekend. i wanted to try a different one (closer to the bath house) but Thomas loved the view from this yurt. it really does have the best view of them all because it's on the side of a hill overlooking the lake.

the reason we went away for halloween weekend is because we don't get trick-or-treaters. we don't live in a neighborhood. we actually live on a very busy, curvy road. our house sits up on a hill behind trees and looks spooky in the dark. (i wouldn't let my child go up & get candy from our house either!) so we decided to go camping on Halloween weekend & it just may become a tradition while we live in this house! 

when we went in August, it was in the 90s so we decided that we would come back in the fall when the weather was cooler. little did we know it would snow on Halloween this year! that is super early for these parts. so it was in the 30s while we were there and it was so cold. the cool thing about a yurt is that you have electricity so we were able to plug in a heater! we slept in sleeping bags, double layer pajamas, under 3 layers of comforters! so it was an adventure :)

friday we drove up to the yurt and stopped at Fontana Dam on the way there. it's the biggest dam this side of the Mississippi and it was really neat but freaky to see! when we woke up Saturday morning, there was about an inch of snow on the ground. by mid-morning it had melted though and the roads were completely fine. it actually snowed lightly all day on Saturday, but nothing stuck. we spent the day exploring Bryson City & then hung out in the yurt reading that night. Sunday we checked out and went to Chimney Rock on the way home. 

we made the mistake of not eating lunch before Chimney Rock. Thomas knew there was a restaurant on the top of Chimney Rock so we hiked up to the top. it's not really a hike, though, it's just stairs. tons of stairs. about 300-400 stairs all the way up the rock. we had to stop a few times and we were SO hungry when we got to the top. only to find out the "restaurant" is pizza and hot dogs. so we came back down & found real food to eat for lunch in the town. always an adventure! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

October 26th | Part 2

This story is written like fiction, but it is very true. It happened in October of 2012, so some of the details may be a little hazy to me but the story is as accurate as I recall. I wanted to have an account of the craziest thing that happened to me in my life thus far & thought it would be fun to write it in story form. This story is written in parts, so it will make more sense if you read from the beginning!
October 26th | Part 1



I look up at the screen and see a lot of black. I'm not exactly sure what my insides are supposed to look like, so I really have no idea what I'm looking at. The nurse points out a few white spots on the screen and tells me that they are my kidney, appendix, etc. We think you have a cyst. I'm looking at your organs so I can compare their size to the cyst. That way we will know what we are working with. She pauses. I wouldn't worry. Cysts in girls your age are so common and most of the time they go away on their own. If they don't go away, sometimes pills will shrink them or we can take them out laparoscopically. No big deal.

There is a lot of black on the screen. I have a hunch that the nurse knows what all of that black means. I also have a hunch that she's not letting on because of the look of pure terror on my face. I've never been able to hide my emotions. My face has always betrayed me.

Maybe I will have better sight from another type of ultrasound. Wait, there are more than one type of ultrasound? Let me grab the wand and we can get started. She pauses. It looks painful, but I promise it's not. I did not sign up for this!

I still can't seem to find one of your ovaries. I think the cyst is blocking it. She tries to get a better angle, but she just can't find it.

We finish up and the doctor comes back into the room. We are going to refer you to a surgeon so you can discuss options of how to remove this cyst. 

Surgery. I stammer. The nurse said that sometimes pills could help shrink them, can I try that?

I don't like the look on the doctor's face. That does work with some cysts. Unfortunately, yours is too large and will have to be surgically removed. It really is very common and you will be fine! I've made you an appointment with this surgeon at the Cancer Center. Don't be alarmed, it's just a precaution. With cysts, there is always the possibility of cancer so we have to be sure. I've made you an appointment for 1pm today. Do you have someone you can call to come get you? I don't think you should drive yourself or go to the appointment alone. 

Yeah, I can call my dad.

Don't worry, you'll be all healed up for your wedding. This will be behind you and you'll be having babies before you know it!

Right this minute I'm supposed to be heading back to school to take a test, but instead I'm sitting here talking about cancer. No big deal.

This is only the beginning of what will become a whirlwind weekend.


[to be continued]

Thursday, November 06, 2014

so you wanna be an accountant....

before you skip this post, i realize that no one reading this actually wants to be an accountant. and really, this post doesn't have anything to do with actual accounting, so the title is misleading, however catchy it may be.

if you didn't already know, i work in accounting. every time i tell someone that i get the question "so, will you do my taxes?" so here's a disclaimer - i hate doing taxes! i don't actually do taxes for my job, and i dread income tax time. i use TurboTax to file my income taxes and fully recommend it - unless you have a lot of complicated things on your return. when in doubt, i would definitely recommend you to go to a CPA! that was a little off topic, but there you go.

one of my accounting professors in college would spit out his own little "proverbs" during class. (some are actually from Proverbs) he let you write them down & memorize them to get extra points on tests. i think he mainly did this because he taught at such a high level that his test grades were horrible. but it was entertaining either way & pretty good advice. so, today i'm going to share some of my favorite ones with you.

stay away from cherry tomatoes on business interviews & dates
[his reason being you might go to cut it and either squirt juice on the other person or the tomato will go flying across the table - he's speaking from experience]

your greatest ability is dependability.

the difference in loving your job & hating your job is whether you can choose to be there or not.

80-10-10 is the key to becoming financially independent.
[give 10% to God. invest 10%. and live off the 80%]

if it's free then you can't afford it.
[ex. healthcare reform]

that which is easily gotten is quickly despised.

you can choose your sin but you can't choose your consequences.

[this was based off of the Tiger Woods scandal of '09]

a little sleep, a little folding of the hands, and poverty will strike you like a bandit in the night.
[Proverbs 24:33-34; Proverbs 6:10-11]

it is just as important to know how to live as it is to know how to make a living.

you get the job when you walk through the door, after that all you can do is lose it.

the best predictor of the future is the past.

the most important financial decision you will make in life is the person you marry.
[that's sound advice.]

never loan that which you cannot afford to give.

on a first date, take her to an italian restaurant.
[he says this increases your probability of success. haha]

the best place to take a stand is the place of first contact.

plans fail for lack of advisors.
[Proverbs 15:22]

trend is your friend.

buying stock is buying future earnings.

the biggest enemy of business is uncertainty.

time is your greatest ally to becoming financially independent.

when a guy asks you to marry him, ask to see his credit report.

there are two ways to make money:
1. work really hard
2. invest, read, and take Mr. Good's tax class

the biggest reason people lose their job is because they don't get along with their fellow employees.

graduates should leave here and become young champions for Christ.

don't settle for a hot dog when you can have steak.

the goal of a graduate is to become financially independent.

the less people look like angels, the more laws we need.

the more people look like angels, the more laws we need.

if you want a greater reward, you must take a greater risk.

the purpose of insurance is to protect yourself against a loss you can't afford to sustain on your own.

so, just let this show that some accountants do have a sense of humor & pretty solid advice to boot!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

passport to fun | Munich, Germany

we went to Munich, Germany for our passport to fun date in October. Oktoberfest, get it? :) Thomas said this was his favorite date so far, because he loves German food and culture. he has a cousin who lives in Germany, so i think that's why he's taken such an interest. maybe one day i can convince Thomas to get on a plane & we can go visit his cousin in actual Germany! 

we went to the Bavarian Pretzel Factory, because there are people who lived in Germany for years who told us that the food there is really authentic. i went for the pretzel burger to keep it simple (i'm a picky eater) and Thomas got the jagerschnitzel plate. schnitzel is basically fried pork... but it's a super tender cut of pork and it was super delicious. we both shared our dinners with the other and liked them both.

they had a display of beer steins which Thomas loved looking at. they were all so unique and different. they also kept the silverware in a beer stein on each table so that was neat! they brought out pretzels & mustard to the table as soon as we sat down. there was a spicy mustard & sweet mustard. they also run a bakery, so we had to get some treats to take home. i picked the tiramisu & Thomas got an apple streusel. i had never had tiramisu before, and now i'm not sure why because it was delicious. i had no idea what it was, so the coffee taste was a nice surprise! 

what is your favorite German dish?!