perseverence and congrats

Friday, December 21, 2007

Every once in a while life test us all in such a way that we are forced to discover who we really are, what we are capable of and, in the rare occasion, what will break us. Sometimes we find we are capable of far more than we had ever imagined. Over he past semester's classes Shelli has battled through work, school, migraines and whatever else could be thrown at her to endure a tough semester of classes. It has been an arduous road, but the classes are over, the semster is done and Physiology is over! Passed and complete! So congrats to my wonderful and resilient wife, I am very proud of you honey! Now its time for some study vacation and some fun holidays. Its good to see Shelli around a little less stressed, and far more relaxed.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sometimes a small side of me does wish I was stranded on a desert island. The escape just seems so desirable at times. This past weekend Shelli and I enjoyed a beautiful weekend away from it all in Park City. My work Christmas Party was at the Canyons resort this year and they had extremely discounted room rates, so we stayed the night. We spent he day finishing up (or as close to it as we could get) our Christmas shopping (I hate being part of the commercialism this time of year brings, but alas, I am a contributor) then headed to Park City where we enjoyed a fun night of interesting dances, including the YMCA as performed by a good chunk of the board members, the worm, and a few other notable little numbers. We also enjoyed a little guitar hero and wii sports before the night was finished.

Afterwards we enjoyed a great room at the Sundial lodge. It was a cool little studio style apartment with a fireplace and all. We relaxed to wine and candlelight and awoke the next day to the disturbing thought of having to return to the craziness of Salt Lake. After a stop off at the outlet malls we did just that.

Upon our return however we did get a long nap and then it was off to the 1st Annual Capital Youth Ugly Sweater Party! We dished out the awards for the "Most Hideous", "Most Disgustingly Captivating" and "Grandma's Special". It was a great time! The Youth at Capital continues to flourish and it is exciting to see God work through all their lives. It is just amazing!

Now its on to Christmas, just a few more gifts to finish up. Shelli is off from classes for the holidays so its nice to get a little bit larger dosage of her around the house. Oh and on a side-note the 2000 piece puzzle did come to completion (started just before Thanksgiving), I am quite proud and relieved to state that. For now, have a wonderful Christmas, and enjoy all God has given us all!

no snow tahoe

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am not really sure why we thought it made sense to flee the blizzards of northern Utah in search of pristine boarding conditions in Lake Tahoe, but we did. So, a week ago me and the guys packed up and drove the however-many-some-odd miles too Lake Tahoe/Reno for our annual trip. What resulted after the drive was 10 inches of snow in Salt Lake and 0 inches of snow in Lake Tahoe. Doesn't add up, does it?

Despite the lack of natural snow we were able to locate limited amounts of the man-made powder at Heavenly Resort in South Lake Tahoe, one of about 4 resorts open at the time, and a grand 2 runs open. Wow.
Actually despite conditions we had a blast, we boarded for a day and when all was said and done, I don't know if we would have survived another. We left the gondola bruised, semi-conscious, and very tired. We spent the night learning the nuances of guitar hero, taking in a comedy show, and resting our boo-boos.

Morning brought lunch at McP's (yes, yes I said lunch, darn-skippy!) and one of the top-ranked burgers I have had. Delicious. We toured the remainder of South Lake Tahoe and hit the road. Tahoe is surrounded in the beauty of God's creation. We drove around the lake and enjoyed breathtaking views from start to finish. God's workmanship is absolutely incredible. He certainly knew what he was doing, because there is now way I could have ever dreamt or imagined that kind of scenery.

Another night in Reno, which consisted of hours of blackjack, less hours of winning, and a ton of fun. Next day was home and here we are, back to work. Wow, this story got depressing quick, didn't it?

On the other hand Shelli had a great weekend with her parents, though the snow did put some damper on a few plans. It was a refreshing and rejuvenating weekend and she got to spend some much needed time with her mom and dad. And by the way, thank you to Pam and Gary for taking care of my wife in my absence, you both treat us too well. We love you, thank you so much!

Well, work is back to the routine and next week is finals for my beautiful wifey. Pray things all go well, she has been busting her butt all semester and she deserves some reward. This weekend we have some youth get-to-gethers and next weekend is officially the end of the semester and my work Christmas Party in Park City.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thanksgiving was all it cracked up to be, although we may have left my family with a bit of a bad addiction. We toted the Nintendo Wii with us to Moab for the holiday and the whole fam had a hay-day on it. The kids absolutely loved it, and lets say the adults weren't exactly disappointed either. All in all several rounds of bowling and baseball later and everybody was trying to discover how to get a hold of one. I am starting to believe my true calling is as a door-to-door Wii salesman. I could make a killing!

All-in-all Thanksgiving was over 6 pumpkin pies, 1 deep-fired turkey, 1 honey-glazed ham, 3 poker tournaments, 1 completed hideous brown puzzle, endless wii hours logged, and one near miss of a flying deer until completion. Now thats good times.

Between the return from Thanksgiving and the departure for a weekend in Tahoe, we managed to fit in Gus. Gus, if you haven't already discovered or heard, is our first Christmas Tree together. We found him hiding and lonely in the back corner of the lot and fell in love. He has been a beautiful and pleasant smelling addition to our humble little abode. He's not teaming with ornaments by any means, but we're working on it.

I love the air around Christmas time. Its a fun-loving, giving and warm time of year, especially considering how cold it can be outside. The hot chocolate overflows and the smells delight. Mmmm.... mmmmmm.... I do enjoy it. Christmas music, along with pine tree and cinnamon aromas have begun to fill our apartment, and the seasonal traditions of the hilarious National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and Home Alone are starting to settle in, Christmas Story is soon to follow, I am sure. Its nice just to curl up at home with Shelli and enjoy a warm blanket and a movie at the end of a long winter workday.

turkeys, poker and pumpkins

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Well its Turkey Day time of year again and that means alot of things. It means of course alot to be thankful for; great friends, incredible family, wonderful God, you name it. It means miles and miles of asphalt as we travel the distances to the people we love. It means turkey comas, pumpkin pie bellies, and weeks and weeks of turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole, turkey soup, turkey whatever. It means family Texas Hold' em round the Johnsons' humble abode, where we all get rowdy and competitive. It means Grandma's homemade pumpkin pie, and lots of it. Mmmmmmm... Pie... It means good times and great memories.

We leave tonight for good ol' Moab, Utah for Thanksgiving with the Johnson half. It'll be the first holiday adaptation for Shelli and I and I am sure it will come with its own share of... fun and learning. I am excited. It will be a very fun and new experience for the both of us.

Have a great Thanksgiving, I pray you have plenty to be thankful for and may you get the chance to enjoy it all.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not much to update here. Its been all work and a little play in the Johnson household lately. Shelli has been studying like crazy for her tests and applying to colleges across the nation. Worker bees relax more than her. We do have a fun (not really) little project to look forward to: They are coming in to repipe our apartment over the next couple of weeks, so our tiny apartment just got even smaller, can't even begin to express just how excited I am about that. I am a bit of a organizational freak. I like things to look clean. Organized. Well, I get the slight hunch that I am going to have to let that OCD quality fly out the window over the next couple of weeks. If the next time you see me you notice some weird nervous twitch, thats probably why.

Sometimes I stumble across interesting little things to share. This time its the Life Soundtrack. Basically, you make a list of movie scenes for your life and you create a soundtrack to those scenes. Simply put, you are creating a somewhat of a story of your life, something that reveals a little bit about you and gives us a taste of what music is playing in your life. Keep them simple and general. Then go back and fill in each scene with a song that would correspond with that event/scene. So for example, what would be your fight scene song? Or your love song? What about your break-up song? (They aren't necessarily songs that correspond with specific events as they are songs that would fit into scenes of you life, that would tell a story about who you are, what you have done, and where you been.)

Well, needless to say I thought I would give it a shot, you should to, post a reply and let us know how your soundtrack would play out. Pay attention to the mood of the song, the lyrics, and the title. And remember, there is a 20 song max, you usually cant fit more than that on a CD anyways, so pick wisely.

Kelly's Life Soundtrack:

Opening titles (intro to my life…): ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ – Good Charlotte
Introduction/Waking Up (the song that introduces me…): ‘Boondocks’ – Little Big Town
This is Me Scene (this one is hard, this is most closely linked as my theme song…): ‘Nobody Loves Me’ – Derek Webb
Break-up Scene (for those break-up moments…): ‘Scars’ – Papa Roach
Lonely Nights (for those post break-up moments…): ‘Where Have You Been?’ – Reel Big Fish
Turning Point/Discovery (the song for those crazy-turning-point-life-realization moments…): ‘Surely, We Can Change’ – David Crowder Band, ‘Meant to Live’ - Switchfoot
Friends (the theme song for friends…): ‘Waldorf/Worldwide’ – Good Charlotte
Falling in Love (different from the love song…): ‘Before Its Too Late’ – The Goo Goo Dolls
Love Scene (now this is the love song…): ‘You and Me’ - Lifehouse
Happily Ever After (this is the song for the wedding…): ‘Beyond Measure’ – Jeremy Camp
There for Each Other Scene (this is the song for my wife…): ‘Bring it on Home’ – Little Big Town
Mental Breakdown (for those mental breakdown moments…): ‘What I’ve Done’ – Linkin Park
Fight Scene (the everyday life battle song…): ‘Ole!’ – Bouncing Souls
Final Battle (the song I would play in the ‘end-all’ battles of my life…): ‘Its My Life’ – Bon Jovi
Death Scene (the end song…): ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ – U2
End Credits (the song that could best sum it all up, or that just has personal meaning…): ‘Country Roads’ – John Denver, ‘Deliverance’ – Bubba Sparxxx

Well, there you go, 18 tracks to soundtrack my life. Some songs are all about the title, other its all about personal connection, still others pay close attention to the lyrics. All in all, I think I would bore you with explanation, but you can always ask. 'til next post...

sports and faith

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As many of you know I am a small bit of a sports fan. My Red Sox won the series this year so I am particularly happy about that, and being a Celtics fan as well (don't worry Utah, I dig the Jazz, too) their resurgence is exciting. However, I am not a Detroit Lions fan. Nothing against 'em, just not my team. However, this article from I find particularly interesting. Not because its sports, it really has only a little bit to do with sports. Its actually about standing and being bold in your beliefs, not afraid to be ridiculed, and how living what you believe, and not judging others can change the world around you. My point is our faith should alter the world around us for Christ, the world should not alter us from Christ, no matter where we are in life. And maybe just as importantly, our faith should not have zero impact on the world around us either. In the case of this article, this place could likely be one of the most self-serving, egotistical environments in America, which to me makes the outcome even more impressive that such a thing would garner so much attention.

business and busyness

Monday, November 5, 2007

More often than not my life can be defined by the business that runs it, often translating to busyness. In short, a lot of business = busyness. If Shelli and I have had anything to tend with lately it has certainly been business and busyness. Shelli, in school (and not easy classes mind you: physiology and chemistry), working at Primary (not exactly and easy load emotionally, either), helping with Youth and balancing headaches and her goofy pain-in-the-rear husband. I, with work (overly demanding in and of itself) and Youth Ministry (I really have been involved in a part-time job), and just the day-to-day tasks of making dinner and managing the little stuff, such as finances, etc. Both of us have been doing a little bit of job searching, looking for better fits for our lives, and both of us have been helping to keep everything else caught up, such as the cleaning, cooking, etc. We even manage to get a little time together in the mix of all of that, though not a lot. Busy, busy, busy.

My discovery: It doesn't translate both ways. Busyness doesn't have to equal business. Don't get me wrong i think almost everybody I know is busy, they all have something going on. Most of you reading this are busier than myself. But many of you aren't just caught up in the business of life. Just the busyness of it, which isn't necessarily bad.

I caught up with a couple good friends this weekend and I discovered something, in each distinct conversation we talked about a lot of things, but what kept coming up were the details about all the things we had going on in our lives and how busy we were, and that quickly lead to 'whats it all worth'. Is our busyness worth while? Is it meaningful? Or is it taking away from the things that matter most? Often times the answer is a little of both. But sometimes, we drift to far and the answer is not good.

These next few months (through January) are the busiest of our year. Shelli and I have Thanksgiving in Moab, Chirstmas in SLC, seven birthdays between our friends and family, New Years', Youth Shoppin' and Shootin' All day Dec 8th, a New years' Youth Lock-in, my work Christmas Party (quite the production) and my annual guys' trip at the end of November. But I like the way our busyness is shifting. All this busyness will bring some business with it, but I like what its about. Lately we have been getting so caught up in the business that it has distracted from the most important in life. We need more busy with friends and family. More busy with each other. The next few months bring us more time with family. More time with friends. Time investing in the youth. That kind of busyness is worth it. I'll take that kind of busyness any day of the week.

All that business, should really be about being busy with what matters most, but often times we forget that, and its just about the business. It takes away from the important that you started doing it for. All that stuff you do, whats it for? All those things your taking care of, they're not keeping you from he things you care about most, are they? Or maybe, even hopefully, all that business your taking care is so you can be busy with those who you should be busy with. Of all the people I talk to, most have these things on their mind. Some wind up disappointed when they ask the question, others content, and still others wondering. If we don't set time for those that matter, like we set time for our business, then we have missed everything.

I miss a lot sometimes. Always want to change it. Sometimes do, many times don't. I take a long time getting to a point, I apologize. Just sharing my thoughts. I look forward to seeing you soon over the next little while, still busy, but maybe, just maybe, with what matters.

Pumpkin Party

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am now officially onboard! (This is Shelli.) After many months of not joining the blogging community, I am now a part. For those of you who have been wanting to hear from me, you have finally had your moment! Hold on to it, cherish it, because this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Despite being our respective ages of 25 and 22, Kelly and I never cease to find the childish nature inside of ourselves. We had our own little festive pumpkin party tonight, filled with pumpkin carving and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. (Sorry AD & T-Rav, we couldn't "find" the recipe to your famous pumpkin, noodley, corn, cheese, mush stuff.....we were heartbroken.) But nevertheless, we did have a fun and festive time carving away at our own happy little faces. Kelly designed his face perfectly, crafting away at the tiny details, while I chiseled away....pumpkin chunks flying everywhere! As we set them aglow they made us laugh, and reminded us of how important it is to be a kid!

breath of fresh air

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ever have those days, where its just not right to be inside. I had this feeling last night. I got off work and wanted to be anywhere but home (Shelli isn't home until about 8:30 pm, so thats probably why). Some days its just too beautiful outside to be inside, others, you just need fresh air no matter what the weather is like.

Yesterday, I was off work, home and out the door again before that door shut behind me. No more claustrophobic apartment. Just the grandeur of God's creation, once I left the busy traffic behind anyways. I wound up a couple miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, just for fun. I hiked around for a while and snapped off some photos. It will never cease to amaze me the things God will use, at random, to refresh my soul. I just needed something alive and fresh, something majestic to breathe life into me. This helped. A lot. I enjoy the outdoors, I grew up in Moab for Pete's sake, but I do not enjoy it nearly as much as many I know. Many thrive in it. But for me, it is the occasional breath of fresh air I need.

I will leave you with some photos and a question: Whats your breath of fresh air?

4 states, 4 days

Monday, October 15, 2007

...and we're back. Since late night departure Wednesday we have been on the road. 1,600 + miles, over 27 hours, 12 Snapples, and two bags of sunflower seeds later and we are home. Its good in many ways, saddening in others. I enjoy the open road. I do not enjoy the constant sitting and uncomfortableness of prolonged travel. A couple hours in a car, and next time we stop for gas I turn into Rice Crispies. I enjoy the feel of my own bed after a long vacation from it. I sleep sooo much better at home.

Wednesday night we stopped in Las Vegas to visit briefly with my Aunt and Uncle who live there. They have a gorgeous home and they are so wonderful to spend time with. They have incredible wisdom to share and are a ton of fun.

Early Thursday it was off to Azusa, California to visit Azusa Pacific University. We arrived toured the campus briefly and stopped in to meet with the Nursing school advising staff. Shelli made friends at the bookstore, we toured some art galleries and called it a day. Azusa has a beautiful campus nestled up near the foothills of the "mountains" just northeast of Los Angeles. We found our hotel and enjoyed a quiet lazy night of pizza and hot tubs before bed. Tomorrow... San Diego.

San Diego was a blast as well. After taking a leisurely drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, enjoying the scenery and Oceanside beach along the way, we had to backtrack our way to our hotel. Quick change clothes and out the door to downtown San Diego for David Crowder live at the House of Blues. Incredible. We enjoyed dinner (Well, at least I did, there was not much on the menu for Shelli unfortunately, but we figured it out) at the House of Blues, which got us early entry into the show. We spent the entire night soaking up the sweat and spit of the musicians. Good times. It was amazing to see a band like the David Crowder Band live. I noticed of the six guys on stage only two didn't play three or more instruments during the show. Throughout the duration of the set we saw guitars, drums, bass, keyboards (3), the keytar, cello, electric violin, various sound effect devices, banjo, and (my personal favorite) a... get this... modified guitar hero guitar. I can't write the words to explain this, you'll have to ask. Following the show it was quickly back to the hotel and into bed. We were asleep in less than seconds.

Saturday was back to Vegas, we left midday and got in around three. We spent the evening with my Aunt and Uncle out at an Italian Grill restaurant called Carrabbas. Pretty tasty. Then we headed back to my Aunt and Uncles before taking off down to the Strip for a comedy show at Harrah's. OK, not great, but still fun. Back to the house, off to bed.

We enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning at my Aunt and Uncle's. Shelli woke up, moved from the bed to the couch, slept, woke up, moved from the couch to the truck, and slept as we drove home. We got out at about 3pm, and would've been home around 8-9ish if not for the 2 hour delay in the Virgin River gorge in Arizona. There is a fifteen minute (30 min. both ways) stretch of road through Arizona on this entire trip and we spent a total of three hours on it. Not funny.

Now we are home, back at work, and thats the story.

long nights

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

So this weekend its off to California, fun in the sun and ocean sunsets. Shelli is looking at Azusa Pacific University and the possibilities of a Masters in Nursing, so we're going to check it out. We'll have the chance to stay with my aunt and uncle in Las Vegas on the way there and the way back, and then we'll visit both Los Angeles and San Diego Campuses while we are out there. It will be a great opportunity to just get away as well and have some time together. Life tends to get so busy sometimes its hard to find the time you need for everything.

I find great joy in completing projects I have had on the table for a long time. Things that I work on in my spare time, but just never seem to be able to finish. Usually because they are time consuming projects, and time is a scarce commodity in my world. Well, last night was one of those nights. I revamped my portfolio online and changed up my website so its a little flashier now, and showcases more work. I am excited to have this pretty much complete, and I know Shelli is thrilled since I have been up 'til about 1-2am every night, and working on it straight through after I get home from work. Now she can have her husband back! She is not the only one excited about that, but I appreciate her patience and love enduring me through this project, she has been wonderful!!

So without further adieu check out the new site at and we'll check ya'll when we get back...

water armageddon

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I know a while back a promised this post, but better late than never, right? As promised here is the video we shot for Water Armageddon a while back for the youth promotion at our church. It was a blast, even though I got pummeled.

Hope you enjoyed that!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Almost, but not quite. In fact its been only 23 days. So maybe that's a long time between blogs, but its been busy. Here is a quick rundown of the comings and goings...

August gave way to two significant events

1) Shelli's first century ride with her Dad. Though she was exhausted and only semi-coherent afterwards, proclaiming that she would never do it again and ranting about the grueling nature of the ride, she has promptly reverted to looking forward to the next ride with enthusiasm. I am thoroughly amazed at her resiliency, this is an incredible accomplishment and I am very excited for her. Not many people can lay claim to such a feat. Shelli and Gary finished in approximately 6.5 hours of ride time, I think their actual time was somewhere around 8 hours.

You can tell these are the pre-ride shots... they're smiling

In the mean time I meandered around Logan and checked out a few old hangouts and spent time reminiscing with some old friends. When I first began college at Utah State, Logan still had that old mom 'n' pop feel to it, it has since abandoned that feel almost completely for the more corporate and commercial. It is certainly a different place. It was sad in ways to see and cope with all the change, it made me realize how much time has passed.

At least first dam was relatively unchanged

) Adrienne's birthday. We had a delicious dinner at an little Italian restaurant in downtown Salt Lake, and Adrienne (and Tyler) opened up presents back at the Lansing residence. This was a lot of fun. And on the note of change, Travis and Adrienne, who were just barely engaged when I left college for SLC, are now married nearly three years and have a wonderfully adorable son. It seems like only yesterday we were all still in college hanging out at Focus BBQ's and good ol' "718", yet it has been nearly four years since those days, it is amazing all that has happened. How the time flies...

his little guy will be grown up before you know it

In came September and has swept by with a Labor Day weekend visit to my parents which saw us out in the Moab Red Rock wilderness geocaching and jeeping. My Dad just bought a new Jeep, well not new i suppose, a new jeep to him, that is actually quite used. Its a toy for him to go out and get dirty and crawl around on the rocks. We had a great time just out hiking and crawling around in the jeep, just me and my dad (the girls stayed home this particular time). We roamed around leisurely and just slowed down; something I don't do enough of in life these days. I love picking my Dads brain for all his old memories. He remembers so much and its intriguing to hear about all his old mining stories and about how he has seen Moab change over the years. I love hearing about my old 'outlaw' family, and about how different things were in his day. I think things have changed in the last 5 years, I cannot imagine my Dad's perspective on the last 50. I love these times with my Dad, I neglected a lot of them when I was younger, but they are some of my favorite moments these days.

We also enjoyed celebrating my sister Sommar's birthday, and it was wonderful because my sister Karissa was in town with Angelo and my niece Lexi. I don't get to see them much so it was wonderful too spend time with them as well.

Shelli spent some time sharing 'horse stories' and visiting my niece Hailey's horses. Those two are so alike it scary, but at the same time ts wonderful. I am so glad they have so much in common. We went by and visited my sister's house, and while we were there Shelli popped her head in Hailey's room with a quick "yup, thats just what my room was like, almost exactly." Monday rolled around and we came home.

Last weekend was all crazyness. We said farewell to Kali, one of Shelli's best friends, on Saturday, who departed Tuesday for Croatia for around seven months with Campus Crusade. It was a sad and exciting event. It is hard for Shelli to say goodbye to such a close and beloved friend for such a long duration, it will be hard to miss all the coffee shop hangouts, and wonderful conversations, and lets not forget the goofy moments. It is exciting however to see her strike out as the hands and feet of Jesus, sharing his love and grace. It is exciting to be a part of the adventure with her, to pray for her, and to enjoy all the stories of what God is doing there. We are developing a special relationship with Croatia as this is the third year we have been involved in the ministry there in some way or another. it s exciting to hear all the stories develop and inspiring to see how God works, sometimes I loose wight here in Salt Lake, and it is good to be reminded that God is alive and working not only in all parts of the world, but here too.

Sunday was all church and youth. We had our regular morning visit to Capital, and in the evening we returned for youth. Youth at Capital, recently named 'the Edge', is also one of my favorite things. I love these kids. I love hanging out with them, joking with them and talking with them. I love seeing them grow and grab hold of who Christ is and how much he loves them. I love seeing things click in their minds. I love seeing them come alive. And I love sharing this with Shelli. I love that we do this ministry together. It is a simple joy, but it always makes me happy to talk about it with her afterwards and share everything.

The last couple weeks have also been riddled with the downsides of frustrating work and even more frustrating illness. I have been sick with a cold for far too long now and Shelli has been plagued be the ever nagging headaches, which have been challenging as of late. But again on the brightside, we got to watch Tyler for Adrienne and Travis, and although Travis showed up to pick him up way ahead of schedule, Shelli and I had a great time hanging out with our nephew. We felt like a little family rolling along with a stroller, and we had to clarify to everyone our status as Aunt and Uncle, not Mom and Dad.

So, I am sure there are things I missed, but that should be a sufficient update for now. Sorry for the long delay between posts, it has been crazy on all fronts.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I meant to post sooner, I even logged on and began writing an entry, but, as so happens so often in my life, I was blank. I knew what needed to be done, had intentions of doing it, I even started doing it... but, just couldn't get it going. I did this again last night. I had full intentions of going to the gym, even got all dressed and ready... long story short, I had dinner and watched TV. So much for that discipline thing I wrote about before. I'm working on it, I am a work in progress.

So about the updates I promised... first, youth ministry... I don't have photos yet, but I will post the video at the earliest possible convenience. I have to render it out for the web first. I hope you will all enjoy it. So, needless to say, that update is still in progress. More to come later...

Second... This weekend we, as Capital Church, embarked on a long term investment into a community located in Swaziland, Africa called Mkhombokati. We heard from the president of Children's Hopechest, Tom Davis, as he discussed with us the need in this particular village in Africa.

Swaziland holds the number one spot for HIV infection (approx. 45%) leaving most children not only orphaned, but without suitable structures to live and to raise their younger siblings. Every child that reaches the age of 15 has a one in ten chance of making in until 30. Due to the AIDS epidemic there is no opporunity for industry, only poverty. One missionary recorded how when he first arrived in the country he had to bury one person a week. That total is now ten a day. On top of all that Swaziland, a monarchist government, is a polygamyst culture. This means that many children who do have parents, their fathers are their primary caregivers, who are never there and care nothing for them.

Mkhombokati is primarily made up of some small shacks linked together with a central building where Children's Hopechest provides food for the orphans. Capital Church's role in all of this is to 1) Sponsor out each child to one family from the church. This sponsorship includes monthly donation along with written contatc with that child. 2) to send periodic teams to Mkhombokati to help provide for their needs. Whether physical, emotional or spiritual. This means these teams will do anything from build a school to lead Vacation Bible Schools. This will be a long term effort where Capital has plans to take onwership of this community; investing in it and making it their own.

Before I introduce our newest little family member, I want to share with you all the words of Pastor Walter. Pastor Walter is the Pastor for this area of Swaziland, and it is his vision that has inspired this movement. Pastor Walter, talking about the Swazi people described the despair and poverty of his nation and asked [imagine the broken english with thick African accent.] "How do you be the hands and feet of Jesus..." he responded "God is there, by using us... We are coming with hope to them... I see them arising up... why? Because God is using us as the hands and feet."

So... we have decided that we want to be part of the hands and feet. We want to see change in this world. We want to see a world where God's Kingdom is a reality not a myth. Hopefully, in the future, Shelli and I will be able to be those hands and feet there in Africa, providing medical services, putting on VBS, building, and investing in these children face-to-face... In the mean time, meet our little boy Menzi. [Might I add, we also have another little boy, Jose in the Dominican Republic, and I don't want to diminish his value to us as well. We love them both.]

Menzi Manyika, Age 9

Menzi like sports, dancing, music, singing, and reading. His personality is described as active, good-natured, friendly, and curious. Menzi is in the second grade. We are both extremely excited to be part of this, and look forward to continuing to pray for Menzi and be a part of his life.

In other news, this weekend is a big event, as Shelli is riding the tandem bike in the Logan Century with her Dad. This is Shelli's first century ride, although its Garys millionth or something, he is incredible. She is way excited but a little nervous, too. I am really stoked for her, I know she will do incredible. She is relentless and driven and it shows in everything she does. I am looking forward to cheering them on from the sidelines, as I am in as about of good of shape as a hippopotumus with three legs. Like I said, I am a work in progress, and I am working on it. Please pray for Shelli and her Dad, for health and safety, and that they would enjoy this experience together. I will be cheering them on at the start and then hopefully catching up with a couple good friends while they ride.

and so it starts

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It really did. It started. We have officially received emails notifying us to update our blog. 2 posts in and we are already slackers. I knew it would happen, I just didn't know it would so fast.

So, married life transitions have begun. For the most part we are all settled in. Our apartment looks far more domesticated than it did as a "bachelor pad". We have dishes that match and everything! Oooo, and towels, matching towels, shower curtain, too. Its become much more a home and I feel far more settled in than before. Unfortunately, in the mix of everything Shelli and I haven't been able to see a ton of each other. She starts classes again next week, I believe. She is taking Physiology and Chemistry as prereqs on the path to her nursing requirments. In the meantime she has been working like crazy at Primary, mostly evenings, which means I typically see her a half hour before I leave in the morning and about an hour before bed at midnight. Its been a little rough, but we do get the weekends. I have been full speed ahead back at work. My job never slows, I run about 10-15 different deadlines every two weeks, in addition to daily workload, this only seems to increase as of late. I have this curse/gift where I thrive and and excel under pressure, so deadlines can be good, but I also get consumed by them and they overtake me. This, is very, very bad.

I am learning, against my will as always, the value of peace in chaos. I tend to get wrapped up in fiascoes, I get... intense, for lack of a better term. I think I age a year for every day I am at work. God, never really gives me alot of time to be at peace, but he does lead me to find peace in the midst of chaos. My prayer of "God, give me time to find peace and slow down" is seemingly responded with, "I will give you my peace, I will slow you down." I need to find peace, be in God's presence, without needing a separate circumstance to get me there. I am learning this so readily now, because I am something I have never been before: a husband. There is alot more to life now. If I can find peace, keep a cool head, then things tend to work themselves out. If I become... intense, lets just say, they don't; if anything, I create more 'things.' Funny how that works. My theme as of late centers around one word. Something I need to emphasize in every aspect of my life: my work, marriage, relationships, endeavors. Discipline. Capability is rarely my problem. Discipline, is always my problem. For so many I know 'discipline = success,' for me 'discipline = failure.' I would like to see that changed in my life. I'd wager that the result would be immeasurably positive.

I will post again in the next couple of days. See, one of the other things permeating our life, is our volunteering with Capital Church as youth leaders. A very time-consuming, invasive adventure, but ultimately beautiful. Tonight, we film video to promote this weeks activity of 'Water Armageddon' on Sunday. Lets just say, I hope I am alive to repost in a couple days. I'll have photos too, I hope. Also I will be bringing news of another adventure, our church will be partnering long term with a small community in Swaziland, Africa. Shelli and I will have the opportunity to be a huge part of this, and we get to hear all about it this weekend, I am immensly looking forward to this!

More later...

welcome to the family

Friday, August 3, 2007

The past few days since our return it has been interesting reflecting on the brevity of everything swirling around our lives. It has been a time of tremendous transition and incredible adjustment. Our apartment has been turned completely upside down and nothing seems to roll to the same old tune in which it used to. Everything has a new song to it, a different rhythm, a different beat. Its fun, exciting and overwhelming in the same breath. I have been glancing through photos of our wedding day and realizing that I was at a completely different event. Not really, but I think you can catch my drift. Its amazing how looking back on the photos can help you piece it all together through the chaos.

I have also been thinking a lot about how Shelli and I form our family. In one hand we are clinging to that which has most made us... us: our families. It is amazing how God molds us through our families. Their love, support and encouragement has brought us here. We carry with us traditions, methods and habits that we received from our families that we want to pass to our own family. One the other hand we are doing just that; creating our own family. One that is uniquely us (despite sharing a last name with several thousand people). In the midst of all this we are also both being welcomed into new families, Shelli into mine, and I into hers. Each side becomes part of our family as much as we are part of each. This really is a beautiful experience to go through, it carries plenty of adaptation requirements, but it has been fun to become part of Shelli's family, to see her become part of mine, and to meld our own family from each.

One the topic of where we come from here is Shelli and her Mom, Pam...

me and my Dad, John...

...welcome to the family!

I will leave you, as I promised with some fun photos and commentary from our spectacular honeymoon!

Starting with Royal Carribean's own private Island in the Bahamas: 'Cococay'. Where we went sea kayaking, snorkeling and dined on sand dollars...

Followed by the unforgettable Nassau, Bahamas

Where we built our very first home... which is no longer standing...

And this is how we funded our honeymoon...

We return to the cruise ship for Dancing...

And towel animals. This is Ellie...

Back to land, and the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral where I discovered I can never be an astronaut (I know what your all thinking, but no, its because I'm too tall smarty pants!)

We did however meet an astronaut...

And of course, just like everywhere else we went, played in the water...

The next day we got rolling and.. you guessed it, went and played in the water! Body boarding in Cocoa Beach:

And the Ron Jon Surf Shop...

Oh, and did I forget to mention the Manatee Park?

"I'm a Sea Cow... I live in the Oshun"