Hi everyone…my apologies for not writing sooner and not posting the recipe! All of our recipe books are currently packed, along with almost everything else we own, and as of this afternoon they are sitting in a storage facility in Pennsylvania! Jon drove out there a few days ago with a gigantic moving van full of our things and he leaves tomorrow for Atlanta so he and Jimmy can start their cycling adventure on Monday! Time is flying…I only have 5 more days of work and then I am driving down to Texas on June 3rd to meet up with the guys and be their “road support”. 🙂 Brittany is flying in to Dallas with Ada on June 7th, then she will accompany me the rest of the way until the boys finish up in San Diego. What fun! You can follow the guys and their bike trip x-country here:

Food and Bikes and Busy Times!

I attempted to post a blog the other day – only to discover that somehow I’d managed to delete the whole contents of the post prior to publishing! Still not sure how I managed this, but nonetheless, here I go again. 🙂

For those that don’t know, Jonathan and I LOVE to cook! We also love to eat what we cook and share our creations with others. Lately we’ve been on a soup kick, but let me back track a little bit first. A few weeks ago I found a great recipe in one of my cookbooks for homemade tomato soup. Yum! But then I started reading the directions which involved pureeing the hot soup in the blender in one of the final stages – yikes! The last time I did this was in the fall with butternut squash soup and I was not eager to jump back on the train that ends with scorching soup exploding all over my face followed by shock and tears and pleading with Jonathan to help with the soup fiasco while I shower! Anyway, in relaying this story to a friend at church last fall, I remembered her recommendation that we purchase an immersion blender – kind of like a magic wand that purees your soup for you in the same pot you cooked it in literally a minute. No messy splatters and super easy/quick cleanup. Seriously, if you like soup and smoothies, go find that Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon that you probably have around your house somewhere and get an immersion blender! 25 bucks well spent.

Here’s a photo of another soup we made and blended…Garden Broccoli Cheddar. It was from a 30 minute recipe cookbook and my mouth is watering as I type this thinking of how delish it was! I’ll aim to get the recipe posted on here by next week.

In other news…bittersweet news, to be sure…we are officially set to move out of our place in Denver on May 19th. Jon will then drive a huge moving truck full of most of our stuff to PA, load it in storage, then fly to Atlanta and start his bike trip across the US with Jimmy on May 24th! What a way to spend the month prior to starting seminary, right?! Brittany, Jimmy’s wife, and their 2-year-old daughter Ada, will then fly to Denver around June 8th where we will pile into my car and meet the guys somewhere in Texas. This way, the guys can put all of their heavy gear into my car to make their trek across the hilly regions in New Mexico and Arizona a little bit more bearable. We will also be able to encourage them and provide some much needed comfort and company in the scorching sun and barren roads they will travel on. I can’t wait! When the bike ride concludes in San Diego, somewhere around June 20th, Jon and I will then drive back to Colorado to pick up Jon’s car and head for Philadelphia so that Jon can start Ancient Hebrew on June 30th. Whew! These next few months will be nothing short of exciting, that’s for sure…

More updates to come, but until then, aloha!

Morning Studies…

As you probably know by now, Jonathan and I will be moving to the Philadelphia area this summer as he will be starting his MDiv at Westminster Theological Seminary. In preparation for potentially being a pastor’s wife, I thought it wise to begin serious study of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the doctrinal standard for the Presbyterian Church in America (where Jon plans on being ordained eventually). Now, there are a couple copies of this in our bookshelf, and this confession is easily accessed online, but for someone who is relatively new to reformed theology (namely, myself), I decided to go with a well regarded study guide to help me out. Though I am only about 1/4 of the way through it, I can say without a doubt this has been a helpful tool thus far and recommend it to anyone looking to go a little deeper and gain a clearer understanding of this very old, beautifully worded & Scripturally sound creed.
Having said all of that, I now go to the point of this entry! This morning’s study comes from The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter II, paragraphs 2-3. This chapter focuses on God’s covenant with man and I just want to share something that G.I. Williamson (author of the study guide) wrote that struck me this morning. He states “The life and salvation offered in the Arminian version of the gospel is merely a potential or possible salvation, because it depends upon certain actions and attitudes that do not yet exist, and will not exist unless men originate them. But the life and salvation offered sinners in the Reformed version of the gospel is actual, because it depends upon God alone not only for the end to be attained, but also for the creation of those attitudes and actions in us that are necessary for the receiving of that end.” Wow…just…wow! One of the things that I love so much about Reformed theology: it is not up to man, but up to God! There is no way that my salvation can be dependent upon my actions and my attitudes alone…for Paul quotes the Psalmist in Romans 3:10-12 “…None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Thanks be to God that it is not up to me…and praise God for giving me faith so that I may believe! Amen!

Teacup Arrangement

Flower arranging is always a skill I have admired, but never seem to get right! Nevertheless, I saw this post on a craft site and despite my reluctance to buy fresh flowers (they die so quickly!) I think that I need to try this. It would be great for a tea party bridal shower or just a fun, colorful arrangement in your home! And, you don’t need a huge vase to create this, so that’s a plus if you don’t have many flowers to work with. Some day I will give this a shot, and post it for you all to see. In the meantime, you can admire and learn how to create this beautiful teacup floral arrangement here: http://www.craftbits.com/project/teacup-floral-arrangement

What the blog?!

Another one? Yes…Jonathan has a new blog for all you reformed thinkers out there…and for those that aren’t, well you should still read it because it’s pretty darn cool! The tagline is “reformed thinking: Books, Movies & Culture Examined Through Scripture” – in other words, awesome. I love you Jonathan! Look to the right of this page for a link to his creation…and stay tuned for more info about an up-and-coming Christian quote website.


Post-valentines dinner

Jon went skiing with the youth group today, so after seeing Dear John with some of the sophomore gals that didn’t go skiing, I ventured to cook him a yummy post-ski meal! with no particular menu the in mind, I wound up preparing 4 dishes, my favorite of course being dessert – fruit pizza with a heart made of strawberries in the middle. Jon loved the romantic candlelit dinner & we’ll have to get back to you on dessert cause we’re too stuffed right now to try it! Until my next infrequent post…aloha!

Why I’m Thinking About Attending Seminary

Some people know that I’m considering attending seminary next year.  For many people, when I first told them of my seminary plans, they were quite shocked.  That’s OK because I was shocked too when the idea came into my head.  Below is an essay that I wrote, primarily to help clarify my thoughts, but I hope it also helps answer your questions as I consider this drastic career change.

Career Change: Why I’m thinking of Seminary and Full-Time Ministry.

Everything was good.  I just finished my time with the Marine Corps.  I recently married a wonderful wife. I was leaving the service, healthy and with all my limbs.  I looked forward to my bright and sunny future as a small business owner.   I traded my fatigues for dress shirts and loafers, and I couldn’t be happier.  From as far back as I could remember my dream was to start a business, be successful and retire happy.

But while my fatigues lay in the closet, and I basked in the freedom of creating my own hours and being my own boss, I didn’t realize how the Marine Corps changed me.  It took half-a-year before I would see this change.  One night this past September, as my wife and I pondered our future, a strange thought entered my head.  I wasn’t nearly as happy as I thought I’d be running my own business.  I felt like I wasn’t using my gifts fully.  For the first time, I feared that I could retire as a successful small business owner and not feel as if I’d fulfilled God’s purpose for my life.

But why such a change?  I have to admit the immediate circumstances had an impact.  August 2009 was a slow month for KTG.  I struggled to see how I could make a career out of my new company.  Was I just wasting my time?

But there was a more fundamental change.  Up till that September evening, my only thoughts of the Marine Corps involved how thankful I was to be finished.  But now, almost as if a light was turned on, I started to understand the deep, personal impact of my two tours in Iraq.  In ways I never expected, the Marine Corps showed me that I have a deep care for people who are hurting.  Through the death of others God showed me that he provides a way to deal with such horrors.  Through returning safely from Iraq and with a peace of mind, God revealed that I should share his message of hope with others.

While the Marine Corps is made up of the toughest, fiercest fighters, the Marine Corps is not made up of the people with the best backgrounds.  When talking with junior Marines I would often hear stories of how the Marines Corps saved them from a path headed towards gang involvement or jail.

One of my first experiences with a young man who was likely rescued by the Marine Corps was Lance Corporal Chamroeun.  About three weeks after taking charge of my platoon, Chamroeun tried to illegally buy a pistol from a pawnshop.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because it was all chromed out sir.” Chamroeun seemed to believe that because the pistol was shiny, that justified buying it even though he was under age.e  As I learned the stories of the men in my platoon I developed a deep care for each of them.  While I tried to help them develop professionally and personally, I realized that the deepest impact I could have on them was by ministering to their spiritual needs. Just a few days into my first deployment in Iraq a roadside bomb killed LCpl Chamroeun.

Iraq showed me suffering.  There are few things that are harder to explain than the loss of a young man killed in combat.  But despite this, God showed me that he is to be trusted.  Perhaps the most influential event during my two deployments was on June 26,2008.  Around 10:00 AM a man wrapped in explosives walked into a tribal meeting between local leaders and Marines.  Within seconds of the detonation, 26 people were killed, including four Marines.  LtCol Galeai, the Battalion Commander and Capt Dykman were both people I had grown to care for and respect deeply—both couldn’t be recognized after the explosion.  My life was shaken.  LtCol Galeai’s death was particularly hard for me. LtCol Galeai was known among us as being extremely demanding and difficult to please.  Several of the officers couldn’t wait for LtCol Galeai to leave the battalion. But for some reason, LtCol Galeai seemed to like me.  In fact it was something of a mystery as to why I was the only of the battalion’s senior officers who he hadn’t chewed out.  I deeply respected LtCol Galeai.  To this day I still see him as the greatest influence upon my leadership style.   Knowing I would be leaving soon after returning from Iraq, I looked forward to telling LtCol Galeai how much I respected him and how much he taught me.  That day would never come.

At the time of the suicide bomber, I happened to be reading Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard.  I know that God wanted me to read Fear and Trembling in June 2008.  Kierkegaard looks at the story of when God told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son.  Abraham did this unhesitatingly, despite waiting his entire life for this son.  Kierkegaard calls Abraham a Knight of Faith because Abraham completely suppresses his own desires and trusts completely in God.  Despite God’s command, Abraham still believed that God would fulfill his promises to build a nation from Abraham’s heirs.

I couldn’t understand why God allowed these Marines to die.  Each one left a wife and children behind.  Each one should have a long life awaiting them.  Yet God took their lives away.  Why?  Through Fear and Trembling I realized that I didn’t need to understand why.  I needed to have faith.  The kind of faith that Abraham had when he took the knife in his hand and was ready to kill his only son.  This faith isn’t like building up, or trying harder, but an act of total surrender.  A faith that says I give my life to you Lord.  A faith that removes my ideas of what is good and trusts in God.

After the loss of Capt Dykman and LtCol Galeai I had the chance to turn my back on God.  I could reject God on the basis that he couldn’t allow such awful things to happen.  But what I found was that Christianity helped me to make sense of this violence.  There was a surprising peace in surrendering my thoughts to God.  There was an incredible peace in knowing that Jesus experienced the same suffering that I did.  Christianity helped me make sense of this life.

I’ve returned from Iraq and I’m thankful to say that I’m fine.  I don’t experience many of the struggles other Iraq Veterans do.  This isn’t to say I wasn’t affected.  I find that I’m very sensitive—even to the point of tears—when I hear of service members being killed.  Certain movies that show soldiers being deployed and taking casualties now touch me in a deeper way.  But, Christianity has given me a way to make sense of all this.

One of my favorite hymns is “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”  The third verse reads:

“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower”

Certainly many of my experiences in the Marines could be described as bitter.  But I’m beginning to see how those bitter experiences deepened my faith, and shaped me spiritually.  I am thankful that God placed me in these difficult circumstances.  I’m starting to see that the bitter bud of loss and suffering is blossoming into a sweet flower.

Even though my uniforms still lay in back of the closet, the lessons I learned in Marine Corps remain with me. Through my experiences I’ve learned that Christ offers hope for suffering and Christ offers a way to make sense of the confusing.  This is a message I wish to share with others.

In order to test my desires for ministry I’ve started meeting every other week with our pastor to discuss my calling and pray.  Lisa and I were also asked to become youth group leaders.  I have really enjoyed preparing lessons and studies for the youth group.  I’m also working on creating a young men’s ministry for the High School seniors.  I believe that through these activities God will show me if I have a true desire and the gifts to participate in full-time ministry.

As I consider this drastic career change, I feel at peace.  As a test of my motives, business for KTG began to pick up.  I started getting larger projects and repeat clients.  I could see the light end of the tunnel.  I could see KTG being a career.  But I also see that God is involved in shaping my aspirations and the direction I thought my life would take.  I’m not sure where I will be 5 years from now, and I’m sure that my paychecks will never reach what they could have if I continued as a small business owner. But faith is pushing aside our desires, submitting to Christ’s purposes and knowing that in our weakness Christ will provide.