It’s been a while…

So, it’s not my fault. Let me just say that. I have been asking Ben to post a blog for FOREVER. But since he is struggling with that (love you anyways dear) I will help him out. I miss the blog, and I miss writing our fun experiences down for literal kicks and giggles.

I was reading the last blog post that was written and it was literally a year ago! Wow! We are terrible bloggers. That fact aside, the post was about learning to can my Nana’s applesauce. I remember being so excited that I learned to can something! But you wouldn’t even guess it, I learned a lot more about canning this year. I found a little hobby that I love doing. Who would have thought I would learn to make jams, jellies, and fruit butters?

I have always thought I was sort-of an old soul. I love old-timey things. Vintage books, antique furniture, old china, and even old recipes that have been passed down through generations (those that were actually written down). Canning and preserving has been my newfound old-timey “thing” that I have so enjoyed. It is a dying skill, but such a useful one.

It all started out with some fresh peaches from my favorite orchard in Ellijay. I went for apples, but I came home with peaches. SO many peaches. And I didn’t know what to do with them, but they were perfect so I didn’t want them to go to waste. Ben suggested I try to make jelly out of them. So I did. And, to my surprise, it worked!

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I was hooked. Then, not much later, I got fresh blueberries from my grandparents house on the lake. Have you ever had a fresh blueberry right off the bush? OH MY WORD YALL. Store bought blueberries just don’t do it for me anymore. They taste so bland compared to a fresh picked blueberry. And we had a TON of them. I mean, I had enough to preserve several jars of jelly, make a fresh blueberry pie, and eat handfuls at a time. Also, for all you dog lovers out there, the pups love them too. My dog probably ate a fourth of them over a course of time. He hears “blueberry” and his ears perk up!

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Anyway, so there is this restaurant in Chattanooga that I love. It’s called Tupelo Honey Cafe, and they have this blueberry compote that they serve with a biscuit when you sit down to eat. It’s like a jelly, but with whole blueberries still in it. It’s the best. So, I set out to make my own version of it and it turned out just like Tupelo’s. If that had not have gone well and I had wasted my precious blueberries then I would have probably stopped there. But, it is some of my favorite jelly I have ever had so I thought about what else I may be able to make.

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Did you guys try the cotton candy grapes that were big this year? I made jelly out of those too. Fall is still my favorite, and I still made applesauce. Then, I learned that you can make apple jelly from the peels and cores of the apples. Made that too. Then apple butter. Then more apple jelly. And I still have apples waiting for me.

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I’m serious y’all, I think I got addicted to canning.

I am coming up with ideas about this new hobby of mine. I am learning more and more about preservation and finding out new things to make. I love being able to hand someone a jar of something that I put so much work into and that they can enjoy with family. If you have never canned, but have someone who gives you ANYTHING canned, thank them. It is a lot of work and a lot of careful timing goes into that. It’s definitely canned with love!

Timing. is. everything. I learned that the hard way with one of my batches of apple jelly (it ended up going down the sink because it didn’t set well). Timing. Waiting for the perfect opportunity. Getting upset if you miss it. Thinking of what you could have changed.

Even though I messed up some perfectly good (almost) apple jelly, I am thankful for the time I spent making it. I learned something, and I grew from it. Now I know that making pectin-free apple jelly is not as easy as it sounds. Do y’all ever get like that about other things? You feel like you worked so hard on something, just for it to go to waste? But whether the world sees your efforts or not, remember He does. He teaches you through mistakes. He heals us, picks us up, and even sometimes lets us make a successful batch the next time we try.

Find something you love and do it. Make time for it. Enjoy each experience, even if it is small. You never know what joys will come of it.

Glad to be back!

-Lindsey

Galatians 6:9- And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Colossians 3:23-24-Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

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A few apples and a lot of patience…

Fall. It is my favorite time of the year! Who couldn’t love the fall weather, the beautiful changing of the leaves, and everything pumpkin (and apple)! I know; I am that stereotypical person who buys all the pumpkin stuff and freaks out for the leaves. I know. But there is just something about fall that makes everything have a glow and makes the world right.

There are a lot of things in the fall that make the season even more joyful for me. I remember that my sweet Mama Sally (my mom’s mom who passed away several years ago, who was one of my closest friends) LOVED fall. There are about a trillion fall festivals that one could choose to go to, but we have our traditions of Burt’s Pumpkin Farm, the Ellijay apple season and festival, and sometimes Gold Rush in Dahlonega. I got married in the fall (one year ago this Saturday) with a beautiful glowing sun and golden leaves all around me and my new husband.

And I always remember having some of my Nana’s homemade applesauce.

Man, that stuff is GOOD. If you have never had homemade applesauce, please do yourself a favor and make it. It makes you feel like a kid again to have applesauce around the table, and it’s sometimes even better hot and fresh off the stove! Talk about golden… That’s the stuff.

The finished product!
                   The finished product!

So, I have ventured into trying to re-capture my Nana’s applesauce on my own. That’s a tradition I want my kids to experience, just like I did. And guess what? It turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I even canned several jars of it! I am so proud of that applesauce. However, it was very time consuming. I canned a half a bushel of apples made into applesauce over a whole afternoon. I had several pots on the stove going at one time, and I made a mess in our tiny kitchen. There was a lot of waiting time, and obviously a lot of repetitive actions to take.

I think my applesauce-making reminded me of something.

Life can be like that too. You feel like you’re going in circles to figure something out, and you don’t feel like you can do anything but wait. You feel like you are doing nothing productive, that you are just going through the motions of day-to-day life while you are waiting on this “thing”.  Just like you wait on apples to cook (which takes quite a while, by the way, especially when you want some applesauce!). BUT, while you are waiting on your apples to cook, or your prayers to be answered, Jesus tells us to be found modeling His character while we wait. 2 Peter 3:14 ESV says “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

There are big decisions that we face each day. We pray constantly for direction. Sometimes we get an automatic “yes” or “no”, but sometimes we get the answer to “wait”. How are we spending that time waiting? Are we becoming impatient? Are we complaining?

Let’s let Jesus’ character shine through us like the light does the golden leaves in the fall. And remember, be patient when your apples are cooking!

-Lindsey

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Ok, I could come up with a laundry list of excuses for not writing a blog over the past few months. Instead, I will opt for honesty and tell you that the lack of blogging (on my part) resulted from laziness. With that being said, I am quite excited to be writing again. The topic of this blog has been percolating for a good while, and anyone who knows me very well will have heard my comments about it prior to this post.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you are aware of the recent tragedy in Chattanooga, Tennessee where a Muhammad Abdulazeez opened fire on two military installations. Four Marines were killed in the attack; a Navy sailor died from his injuries. A Marine recruiter and a police officer were also injured in the attacks. There are many people in the media and many Americans in general who want to politicize the attacks, but I am not here to do that.

noogaInstead, I would like to discuss something that runs deeper than gun laws, terrorism, and politics in general- the unity of the American people. I am so sick of watching the news as many media outlets seem intent on driving a wedge between a person and his or her fellow countrymen. Our country cannot be a “shining city upon a hill” until we can compromise as a nation, stop vilifying opposition, and instead examine merits and shortfalls of ideas regardless of party lines.

I was fortunate enough to have the honor of being present as the funeral procession of Marine Lance Cpl. Skip Wells carried the fallen warrior to his final resting place at the Georgia National Cemetery.

It is difficult to see on the video from my iPhone, but let me just tell you what a humbling event it was to be gathered together with my fellow Americans to pay tribute to one of our fallen heroes. Nobody cared that I identify as a Republican. Nobody mentioned that they were a Democrat, a Libertarian, or an Independent. NOBODY CARED. We were there. As Americans. Simple as that. Here’s looking at you, Washington; be an American. Not a Republican, a Democrat, a hypocrite.

Our citizens shouldn’t have to rely on national tragedies to bring us together. We, as Americans, should stand united, should help our neighbors, should be kind and courteous to people of differing opinions and lifestyles. We should perpetually honor what our servicemen and servicewomen represent and defend. We should emulate their unity and steadfast dedication to each other. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

-Ben

Sweet Summertime

Hello again! AT LAST, we are getting back up on the blog. We have had SO much going on around here. Ben was working an extra job over the summer, and this last semester of graduate school about killed me. But praises be to our sweet Jesus, we are finally slowing down just a tad… Maybe.

Either way, we are sorry it has been so long since we posted! Several of our friends and family have asked about where the blog went, but honestly it was just something that we never got to do lately. BUT we are back up and running and will hopefully be posting more regularly now! Thank you to all of those who have asked about the blog and have said kind words towards it- encouragement is always appreciated! 🙂

So, just to update everyone: after completing a crazy summer semester of Neuroscience, Kinesiology, two clinical conditions classes, and two labs, I am proud to say I am going into my third semester of OT school (which also comes along with a pediatrics fieldwork- which I am thrilled about!). Ben has not started back up with school yet; his county doesn’t start until after Labor Day. We have gotten to see each other a little bit more during these last three weeks (my short summer break from school), but with work and A/C units breaking, it has still been a little hectic.

However, we did get a chance to go to a Braves game recently with my best friend and her husband. After the game (Braves lost, unfortunately), my favorite band, Third Day, played. Now, if you are not aware of who Third Day is, they are a contemporary Christian band that plays Christian rock. THEY rock. We planned to go on this day just so we could hear them and see them play – and even better at Turner Field! There will be some videos to follow, and they are kind of loud, so don’t have your speakers blaring when you watch them! 🙂

One of my favorite things is sharing in worship with other people, specifically with music. I have grown up playing the piano and being in choir my whole life, so to say I love music is probably an understatement. But what is even better, is when you’re outside a church or place of worship and can see people praising Jesus. Just like… for instance… in a baseball stadium.

It truly blessed me to see people at this game lifting their hands to praise the Lord. What a sweet, sweet joy it was to share in worship with all of these people!

So, be thankful. Be thankful that we can worship. Be thankful for who we worship. Be thankful for the opportunities to praise.

And that’s all for today folks. Thank you again to all of those who keep up with our crazy adventures. We love you all and look forward to continuing the adventure of blogging once again!

I will leave you with this… We are HIS!

Lindsey

Graduation: A Different Kind of Walk

I did it. I completed my master’s degree program. I am done with papers, article critiques, and projects. Graduation was May 2nd. So, how did I celebrate? I walked, of course. I just chose a nontraditional graduation walk. I’m a nonconformist. Stick it to the Man. Whatever. That was sarcasm for those of you who don’t know me very well.

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Instead of making the 2 hour and 17 minute drive from my house to the graduation ceremony, I made the 1 hour and 56 minute drive to Raven Cliff Falls Trail. Yes, my graduation walk was a 5 mile in-and-out hike through God’s great outdoors. Through this whole master’s program, I have juggled coursework, teaching 7th grade, coaching basketball, coaching baseball, trying to see my wife, maintaining some semblance of a social life with her and our friends, etc. Blah, blah, blah- everyone is busy, but this is my blog post, so I get to talk about MY problems all I want!

The culmination of all of my hard work and dedication, my 5 mile hike, really helped put things in perspective. Surrounded by the serenity of nature- the chirping of birds, the rustle of leaves, the rushing water cascading over the rocks and surrounded by some of the people I love most: my wife, my parents, my sister, my mother-in-law, and brother-in-law really showed me something. The message was clear: SLOW DOWN.

SELFIE!

Seriously. People “get in a wad” over the silliest things. “I’m late for this appointment.” “I have to finish this paper.” “I’m never going to get this all done.” Calm down, people. There were times when I was juggling all those things, and there was absolutely no joy in them. If I could have stopped myself in the midst of my self-made crisis, I could have clearly seen that there was no crisis. Things tend to work themselves out. There is no need for anyone to get so worked up over things that are ultimately unimportant.

Climbing down a root system from the top of the cliff!
Climbing down a root system from the top of the cliff!

Am I saying that meeting deadlines for work or for school is unimportant? Absolutely not. Am I saying that those things are less important than things that make me/you/us truly happy? Absolutely. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Don’t get so wrapped up in things that are trivial in comparison to the really important things in life. Take a hike. Really.

Ben

Distance makes the heart grow fonder…

Hey guys! So, we have totally slacked in posting. Here’s an update that should tell you why it’s been a while since we have posted!

Ben finished his Master’s degree on Saturday by presenting a big project.

I finished my first semester of my Master’s degree, only by the sweet love of Jesus.

We are constantly working and running errands.

We are TIRED.

BUT, we both have this week off of school (well, Ben is done, my next semester starts Monday). So, after a harrowing finals week/weekend for both of us, its been nice to come home and not have to study for hours after a long day at work.

Speaking of finals, I feel like you should hear part of my finals weekend story. Finals are a time of exhaustion like no other, anxiety, and cramming. Not to mention, not having the right pants for your presentation.

So, it was Saturday morning at 7:25 am (I had finals on Friday night as well, for the record). I was on my way to class, which is about an hours drive from where I stay on weekends I have class. I am approximately 5 minutes away from my campus, and it hits me. I DID NOT BRING MY DRESS PANTS FOR MY PRESENTATION. I panicked. The best part about all of this? I called my mom to tell her my anxiety of how I left my pants hanging on the bathroom door at her house; however, it went something like this:

*Phone ringing*

Mom: Hello?

Me: I LEFT MY PANTS AT YOUR HOUSE!!!!!

Mom:……. umm… What?!

Me: I mean, I have pants on mom… but I left my change of clothes for my presentation at your house!

The fact that my mom questioned whether I remembered my pants or not should tell you about my finals week experience. Long story short, I was able to run to Target after my first test that morning and grab a pair of dress pants. So thank you, Target, for being awesome.

Several things went awry this weekend, and I was living off of no sleep;  YET I MADE IT. Praise Jesus.

So, after my experiences of forgetting my pants amongst other things (which all about made me have a panic attack), I got to come home to my husband on Sunday.

Next I am going to tell you about why he is the best thing ever.

I also walked in to a huge bouquet of pink and orange roses. A warm hug. And an “I missed you so much, and am so proud of you!” Distance can always make the heart grow fonder. You realize how badly you need your support system in your every day life.

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Seriously guys. He’s the best ever. There have been times this semester when all I have done is think “Am I ever going to make it to the end of school? Will I EVER be an OT?” But each step of the way, Ben has always encouraged me to pursue what the Lord has called me to (even if my books this next semester are more than our rent and utilities are combined…). He is a constant leg of support. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that (and my beautiful roses).

SO, here’s to the end of a semester for me, and a Master’s degree for Ben. In the words of Elle from Legally Blonde… “WE DID IT!”

Now, let’s go watch a movie.

-Lindsey

Rules of Engagement

Ok, so I was definitely wrong about posting every other day. Baseball is about to kill me, and so is this whole new way of testing kids at the end of the school year in Georgia. Yes, I am making excuses, and yes,I expect you to accept them.

Anyways, I have been having a hard time thinking of blog topics which is also a reason that I have been reluctant to post. Keeping that in mind, I figured I would go back in time and write about the beginning of my relationship with Lindsey- when it for sure became serious. Our engagement.

If you are about to stop reading because you think this is going to be one of those sappy posts, please don’t go. I promise it won’t be bad. I want to tell the story of the actual process of carrying out my plan, not the ushy-gushy reasons that I wanted to marry Linds. By the way, Lindsey says I don’t show enough emotion sometimes; go figure.

Engagement 1

So, I had this grand scheme that involved a scavenger hunt to all of our memorable places, the last of which was Tybee Island. That’s right, a beach proposal. Go me. Anyways, I started off Lindsey’s scavenger hunt in the Residence Life Office at UNG. We were both RAs in college, and that was a big part of our college experience together, so it was only fitting to begin there. Then, I had her go to the Health and Natural Sciences building- the place we first met (it was BIO 1010 Environmental Science). Then, it was off to Taco Bell- our first hangout. Classy, I know. The final stop on Day 1 of the hunt led her to our first kiss in the rain- the reservoir in Dahlonega, Lake Zwerner. The clue she received at that stop led her to the first place we went to the beach together, Tybee Island.

The day of Lindsey’s initial scavenger hunt is the day my sister and I headed to Tybee Island, a six hour drive, to scope out locations for my proposal. I wanted everything to be perfect, so I made sure to take Breanna (my sister) to help me get everything ready, and I had some good friends (another) Lindsey and Ashley taking care of getting (my) Lindsey through the scavenger hunt and to Tybee Island in time. However, I digress; my sister and I find the perfect place for my proposal, and after playing on the beach and exploring a little, we head to the hotel.

The accomplices
The accomplices

Next day, (the other) Lindsey and I are texting. You know, I am getting their location, and she is letting me know when I can leave my room and head down to the pier. I get the all-clear; my sister and I head to the pier. Once we step out of the hotel, we are in a completely different world. There are partiers everywhere. There were more thongs and cleavage than a rap video. These partiers were wild- drinking, smoking, ambulances on the beach, police officers posted everywhere.

I am by no means trying to be disparaging. I simply say this to set the awkwardness of the scene; this particular party just happens to be predominately African-American- by a long shot. Like, I was the only white dude on the beach. What makes it even more awkward is my sister’s and my get-up. I am in shorter khaki shorts, an overly touristy, short-sleeve button up shirt with cars and palm trees all over it, tube socks, sandals, and a white fishing hat. My sister was in a puke green shirt and puke green pants covered with flowers. She also had on a floppy, straw-looking hat.

Once we literally pushed through the crowd in our hideous attire, we took our position on the pier looking out at the ocean with our arms around each other, imitating an elderly couple. (The other) Lindsey and Ashley led (my) Lindsey to our location, and when I heard the signal words, I turned around, took off my goofy hat, and asked my best friend to marry me. She said yes to socks, sandals, and all. In all of our pictures and videos, you can see the numerous revelers in the background partying it up and having a grand old time.

Engagement on the pier
Engagement on the pier

Nearly two years later (we got engaged on April 13, 2013), my wife is sitting on the couch as I write this blog. We often laugh about my unorthodox proposal. We wouldn’t have it any other way. My proposal was special. Just like my relationship with my love.

In short, the moral of the story: When you plan a proposal, make sure it doesn’t coincide with Orange Crush Weekend or Freaknik.