time flies when you’re living life

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So, I turned 26 a month ago. How did that happen?
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In early June, I started thinking about my “30 before 30” list…and how much I’ve accomplished, and how little I’ve accomplished at the same time. So much has changed since I last updated the list (freshly updated, btw)!

So much has changed, and yet I was thankful for this list; it serves as a good reminder of a) my 23 year old self and her desires, b) the fact that many of these things are still at the core of who I want to become as i get closer to 30 and c) the fact that life moves quickly, and it’s very easy to wind up without as many accomplishments as you’d hope.

So these are the things I’ve been thinking about in the months before and after my 26th birthday.
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The single-most thing I am loving about my twenties is that I’m really learning a lot about myself. I love it, because I’ve never been so confident in who God made me. I think I got pretty lost in my own expectations of myself for most of my teenage years and early twenties. At this point in my short life, I’m officially in my upper twenties and almost every expectation I had for my life to this point has been completely slashed.

So I’m left without any more expectations (which, by the way, felt terrible when those were in the process of being ripped from me) but it’s really quite freeing. I’m just free to grow and be myself.

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our first Seattle beach experience. warm sun, freezing cold water.

And with that realization in hand, I look at my little list and smile, because much of the list still accurately represents me as a person. I love that. When I wrote the list, it was with an air of dreaming and whimsy – so I’m thrilled that many of these things are who I’m growing into, because back then…it was only somewhat of a dream.

Using some items on the list, here’s a little life update for you – since it’s been so long since I’ve updated the blog.

We’re working toward paying off our debt, we had none, but then we decide to by a nice, almost new commuter car after we moved to Seattle. We’re hoping to be able to pay it off completely within about a year.

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family hike day on hurricane ridge

While paying off our car, we’re also saving for a down payment on a house, which could take a while depending on how we end up buying a house. Houses are so. stinking. expensive. here. But rent is also expensive. We’re currently occupying 3+ rooms in Bryan’s parents house and it’s been really great to be able to save a bunch of money in the meantime.

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5 year anniversary date!

We crossed over the 5 year line of marriage back in May – and what I’ve also realized is that it feels like we’ve been in transition for over 5 years as well. College, transferring colleges to help plant a church, moving across the country, the beginning of Bryan’s (slow-climbing) career. Yes, transition seems like a fitting word, don’t you think? But, of course, now I’m realizing that life will always, always, always feel like transition, even with miniature calm moments. So I’m starting to be done defining life as such.

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my hair is finally long enough to start practicing my french braiding skills. this is one of my first goes.

I continue to be ambitiously crafty, but I still feeling like I have a lot of growing to do there as well. I can pretty much knit or sew anything now, but now I’m left to the decisions of what I want to knit or sew. I’m slowly figuring out my aesthetic when it comes to these things and I’m working on “my eye” for design, which hasn’t been extremely strong up to this point.

Overall, life is good. So very good. We’re enjoying each other, enjoying Washington and enjoying the ride of adulthood.

we’re staying in iowa city!

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the fact is actually kind of old news for us, but i realized that i should probably update you all since you so faithfully read and supported me through my time of emotional explosions. sorry about that, i can’t realistically say it’s going to end anytime soon.

as you remember, since last october really, we were considering our job options in seattle after bryan graduated. [oh yeah, bryan graduate from college! that happened too!] in april and may, he began interviewing at many different companies, a few in seattle, and several in iowa city, too. then he left for china, and everything he started was put on hold. then i left for china. then we came back together.

almost as soon as we got back, bryan started studying for his life insurance license exam. it is a required licenses for most companies, so he was getting a head start.

all in one day, july 10, here’s everything that happened:

FIRST.
we received bryan’s diploma in the mail! it felt pretty official-he graduated from college!

SECOND.
bryan called jim in seattle, to see if he had made a decision about hiring bryan. basically, jim liked him, but it didn’t seem possible to make room for a new financial advisor on his team. that was the main job bryan had a shot for in seattle, so the door to seattle was basically shut at this point.

THIRD.
bryan had a two hour interview with northwestern mutual. bryan was super nervous about the interview, not because he didn’t have confidence in himself, but more because he really wasn’t sure if this job would be the right fit for him. he was basically afraid that he would get offered the job, but not want to take it.
we both had a great time with God as he prayed it out on his drive to cedar rapids. we knew seattle was out and we knew God would provide a great opportunity here in iowa city. bryan absolutely had the freedom to not accept the job and keep looking (that freedom was afforded to us mostly because we don’t have any school debt). we gave it to God, trusting that He would guide us.
when i received the call from bryan, i honestly didn’t know what he was going to say. when he started gushing about how great the interview was and how he got a perfect score on one of the tests and how they were really fighting to hire him and really seemed to want him. i was a little bit shocked to hear him completely change his demeanor about the job. immediately, i knew. we’re staying in iowa city.

FOURTH.
i called my mom, she screamed. i called holly, she screamed (and i heard all of her kids scream too). i told the salt staff (i was a salt), they were all pumped. i texted some of my other friends who i knew were waiting just as much as i was. it was a fun night.
the majorly bummed out pair was bryan’s parents, who were obviously pulling for seattle-i’m still a little sad we won’t be living near them!

two days later,  bryan passed his life insurance license and officially accepted the job. since then, he’s passed his health & accidental license and started his training with northwestern mutual. he’s officially a working man again, going into the office everyday. we even got him some dress clothes at goodwill and a new lunchbox to celebrate.

so i went to china. [the God thing]

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yeah. that actually happened!

i’m really going to try to keep this short and readable, so it might turn into a couple different posts.

let’s start this blog out with a bold statement: two days after i arrived in china, i told bryan i would move there if he wanted us to. 

those that walked through these last 8-9 months with us know that one sentence is exactly why i needed to go to china. eric & holly (aka the best connection group leaders in the world) said that almost immediately after we got back.

here’s a little background. i took perspectives. it completely opened my eyes to God’s heart for the world and totally shook my view on the Bible and God up. i loved it.

the class in no way made me want to go overseas. not even a little.

but it did stir my heart for the nations, and i began to support others with prayer and money with excitement. i was 18, working a fulltime job with no plans of going to college. and i wanted to be a wife and a mom. i remember saying that i didn’t have any desire to go overseas myself, but i think i would be more willing to follow someone overseas (in other words, i want to get married and if he wants to go overseas, well, i guess i would consider that).

well, easier said than done.

last semester, God did A LOT in my heart regarding following my husband. a lot. it was the source of a lot of my tears, anguish, and worry. but God was working and just like Elizabeth George in A Woman After God’s Own Heart, i was fully prepared to receive a call from bryan while he was in china asking me to move there and say, “yes!” ha. hahahaha. hahaha.

actually, i thought bryan was crazy for even thinking we could move overseas. what would he do? what would i do? when would i get to have babies?

not.going.to.happen.

i know, i know, i wasn’t exactly the picture of an awesome wife. i was more like, sure, go to china, i’ll stay here and cry until you get back.

i just needed to go. and here’s what God showed me:

one.
my husband KILLED IT. and by killed it, i mean, SAVED IT. because he was a part of saving eternal lives. and he was really, really good at it. he was bold, direct, honest and loving. and his impact was great.

two.
i actually love asians! it’s not that i didn’t love asians before. it’s just that i didn’t love them NEARLY as much as a lot of my other friends. i think i was a little intimidated by my dear friends who are simply put, obsessed with all things asian. i was all, “if that’s what loving asians is, i’m out.” but God provided such sweet girls and guys that it was impossible not to fall in love with the people and culture there.

three.
the fact that bryan went for five weeks and i went for one was just perfect. bryan had a enough of life there to become a little more grounded and a little less idealistic about overseas life. he got a realistic idea of what it would be like (somewhat), talked to the long-termers about their struggles, vision and advice, and had good days and bad days there.
and i went for one week and was prettily easily sold on the idea. i was all, “I LOVE THE FOOD. I LOVE RIDING BUSES. I LOVE SWEATING. I LOVE THE PEOPLE. I LOVE THE FOOD.”

and that’s when God said to us, BAM! I JUST UNIFIED YOUR MARRIAGE IN ONE MORE WAY. YOU’RE WELCOME.

thanks Father, we really appreciate it.

[as a point of clarity for the sake of our moms, we currently do not have plans to go to China at this moment. more on that later.]

coming up…
so i went to china [the experiences]

i haven’t been crazy for nothing.

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maybe you’ve been reading this blog for the past couple weeks and thought to yourself, “why is this lady so cray-cray?” (that’s the cool way of saying crazy, and i know that everyone who reads this blog is super cool.) or perhaps you’ve thought, “what’s her problem and why does she cry so much?”

i completely understand. and i would like to explain myself. my friends have asked me (after i cried all over them), “what’s wrong with you?!?!” many times, so i pretty much have the answer down-pat.

what’s wrong with me? everything.
or, in short, a trifecta of huge things.

#1. work.
i love my job so much, and i love being great at it. but right now, that means working really hard, stressing myself out so much, and overextending every part of myself. i’m totally cool with it, but i may or may not have had a few breakdowns in front of the entire staff team about it. whatevs.

#2. the impending 76 days without my husband.
i’m really trying not to think about it. but bryan and i have been having so much fun together lately. we’re growing together, laughing together, making fun of each other. our relationship has never been better and that usually makes me think about how much i’m going to miss him this summer. and from what i’ve heard, this is the worst part, the waiting and anticipation. i really think i’ll be fine when he’s gone, but i can’t keep my mind off the fact that he’s going to be gone.

#3. the job hunt and possible move across the country
this isn’t something i’ve blogged about yet, so for those of you who don’t know, we’re strongly considering moving to seattle, wa after bryan graduates and gets back from east asia. crazy, huh?! maybe it’s the coffee on an empty stomach, but i’m jittery just thinking about it. the biggest stress about this is that we may not even know until august that we’re moving. in august. the thought of deciding to move and moving all in the same month is really overwhelming to me. we could totally decide to stay too, but this is the biggest decision we’ve ever had to make in our marriage together, and the future is completely grey right now.

so there you have it, i’m extremely stressed out because my mind is always on one of those three things right now. if i’m not thinking about everything that needs to be done for work, i’m thinking about everything that i want to be doing to prepare for a possible move across the country, or i’m thinking about how i’m going to be completely alone this summer, or i’m thinking about how i don’t actually know anything that is to happen in the next 6 months of my life.

so i beg you for prayer. please, please, please pray for us. we desperately want God to share His vision with us in all of this. we want to see our future through His eyes, and make each decision in light of that. God has already been good to unite bryan and i all the more throughout all of this. pray that we would continue to glorify God with our marriage and in our ministry. and if you want to add more to your prayers for us, please prayer that my mind doesn’t explode with anxiety or stress, because there are days when i’ve come close to brain explosion.

happy haircut

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last sunday, at 10:30pm at night, i gave bryan the best haircut of his life. it looked great, and he asked me to trim the sides a little more. we were watching the oscars, and he was talking about something and then, i gasped.

that just happened.

first, i thought i could fix it, but bryan quickly stopped me after he heard the horrified gasp escape my lips. i said, “don’t look at it! i can fix it!” and he said, “i need to look at it.” after five agonizing minutes alone in the kitchen after the incident, he came back out and said sweetly, “i can barely tell, it’s not that bad. but where’s the little mirror?” [for a visual, he said this to his crying wife who had buried her face in her hands]

i helped him look at his hair in the mirror so that he saw “the patch” in its full glory. he continued to be ever so sweet and say things like, “you can’t even tell from the front.” and “it’s not that bad.” in contrast, i hurdled myself facedown in our bed, crying, and started to mutter, “it’s so bad, it’s so bad, i’m so sorry, i’m so sorry. don’t worry, i won’t ever cut your hair again.”

he comforted me until we convinced ourselves that he could go to a salon or something the next day, and this would be something we’d laugh about in years to come. “the patch” only lasted about 12 hours, thankfully and in the end, he’s still as hot as ever.

thank you twin image, for fixing my husbands hair.

a bombhitit

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my mom used to declare, “your room looks like a bomb hit it!” so often, that i actually thought a “bombhitit” was a noun used to describe a very messy room.

well, mom, don’t come to our trailer, because it looks like a bombhitit.

the alsberries have been experiencing extreme discipline issues. our house is a mess, which i’ve allowed for far too long. it started a year ago when i was all like, “i can’t work three jobs and keep the house clean.” that was actually pretty true, but now i’ve had just one job for over four months, and i’m still not cooking or cleaning like i know i could be. somehow, i keep convincing myself that maybe we can live in our own filth, for just a little while longer. wouldn’t that be nice?

really, the problem is at this point that i’ve gotten into such strong cleaning habits, it’s proving hard to break them. especially because these cleaning habits i speak of are mainly the ones where i throw all of our crap into the rooms i can shut the doors on and hide from. seriously, it’s sick.

BUT, there is hope. because i read these two quotes that are going to forever heal me of poor housekeeping habits.

i am the problem.

i am the problem. but i am also the solution.

baddabingbaddaboom. i’m a brand new person people!

okay but seriously, when is my house going to get clean again?

well, i’ve finally started working on it. last week, i took my first two 18-gal totes of stuff to the local consignment shop along with a treasure chest-type thing. i swapped clothes at my church’s clothing swap and i took the rest of the clothes i never wear to goodwill. we’re in the process of getting rid of everything we don’t use or don’t need. and it feels good.

after that, i hope to start deep cleaning, because our house could really use it. and my husband and i would both probably function better if it was clean and tidy.

all in all, if it’s any encouragement, i still stink at this “homemaker” thing and i’ve been married for 2.5 years.

[serious] question

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did you know that i once asked a [christian] guy if i was pretty?
and he said, “well, you’re not as pretty as some other girls, but, yeah, you’re pretty.”

check out this article where i read this quote:
“The more you are in love with the beauty of Jesus Christ, the more you will be attracted to what you see of Him in the woman you’re dating and the more important it will be to you. The less you love Him, the more important other things about her will become, things like her figure or style.”

[thanks, james for the link]

i was troubled by all sorts of the same insecurities that all high school girls have. that looming question, am i pretty?

i didn’t think so. in fact, when i met bryan, i didn’t think he would even take a second glance at me. he is out of my league, i thought. but the transformation spoken of in the above quote happened to bryan and he married me. and he makes me feel like the most drop-dead gorgeous woman in the world. my prayer is the same for all other christian men.