Friday, December 23, 2011

The 30-hour birthday

My birthday began in the most awesome way possible... with my family.  Sisters sang "Happy Birthday" at midnight and blew out the candle on my behalf.

Then I got to talk to Parents.

And Dakota.

And Sister-Amy again.

After two hours of birthday-skyping, I crawled into bed with a sleeping Bailey.  It took me a while to fall asleep... too much birthday-excitement.  Then I heard Denise whispering, "Bailey, do you want to wake Jo up and tell her Happy Birthday and that she needs to be ready at 9:30?"  Forty-five minutes later, the doorbell rang.  It was Juli and Ashlyn and Merschon and Dublin-Amy.  We went to Malahide for birthday-breakfast.  I had french toast.  And a really good latte.

In the afternoon, Denise and I did some successful shopping... complete with crazy Christmas traffic.

Everyone came over to the Karnes for birthday-dinner... Mexican food.  Go figure.  And birthday-cake... Merschon's delicious cherry-chocolate-cumbly-awesomeness.  And birthday-presents.  We The men moved the comfy furniture into the big room for a birthday-movie... Nacho Libre.  I had never seen it.  I laughed a lot.  I wasn't the only one.  It was good birthday-craic (that's Irish for "fun-times", pronounced "crack").

After all the birthday-partying was over, I curled up to read the perfect birthday-book... the 3rd Hunger Games (which I'd been saving for almost 2 months).  It was totally worth the wait.  I couldn't put it down.  The heart-wrenching plot was the perfect thing to drown out my end-of-birthday-blues.

Sometime during my five hours of reading, Parents and Sister-Amy celebrated at my most favorite restaurant in Dallas... Chitos.  Amy had birthday-quesadillas.  Since I wasn't there to share, she had to eat them all by herself.  Good job, Amos.

I forced myself to put down the Hunger Games at 3am.  It was way-past time to say goodnight to my birthday.  I fumbled around the dark and found my spot next to Bailey.  She rolled over in her sleep and gave me one last birthday-hug.  I smiled.  It was a good day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


There are so many things I love about living in Dublin:
*my team
*Sunday night house worship
*the weather.  seriously.
*Thursday coffee with Amy
*my cute apartment
*public transportation (even though it's not always on time)
*meeting new people (even though it's really hard for me to be brave and talk about why I'm here)
*really good bread.  and cheese.  and apples...
*my new bike (even though I'm still to chicken to ride it anywhere that requires me to turn across traffic)

But lately, the list of things I miss about Home has been weighing heavy.  Maybe the mistake is that I still think of that place as Home.  Isn't my home here now?  Shouldn't I call Dublin home?  The truth is, I never quit calling home Home.  Not after I went off to college and my parents moved to St. Louis.  Not after I graduated and went all the way to Chile.  Not after I came back to finish grad school and got my very first apartment.  Not after my parents traded St. Louis for Dallas.  Not after I moved into my second apartment with my great friend Jael, and then into a little house, and then back on my own in Fayetteville.  I never quit saying things like I'm going home (this weekend/for Christmas/to see my family/etc).

As happy as I am here in Ireland, I really miss Home.  A lot.  Especially now.  My birthday eve (go ahead, roll your eyes) is in 7 minutes.  My birthday is in 24 hours and 7 min.  Christmas is another 72 hours after that.  None of it feels right.  There should be lights on all the houses.  Salvation Army buckets.  Trips to Target.  Coffee and shopping with my sisters.  Crazy Christmas traffic.  Mannheim Steamroller.  I miss it all.  I miss Home.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog-post-catch-up, Part 2: Thanksgiving

I spent last Thanksgiving with my family.  Thankful to have extra time with the people I love the most.  Frustrated with what seemed to be an endless season of waiting for what was next.  Last Thanksgiving, I couldn't imagine myself ever actually being in Dublin.

I spent this Thanksgiving with a new family.  Thankful to finally be surrounded by the team God drew together.  Thankful to share the holiday with all the new friends we've met here, as they experienced our American holiday for the first time.  This Thanksgiving, I couldn't escape the wonderful gift of God's faithful provision.  I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Another thing to be thankful for: 10 cans of pumpkin from Mooly!  Plus some evaporated milk and spices (Shhhhhh... don't tell her you can find all those things here).  I gave 1 can away to an American classmate at IBI.  I used 1 can to make these pumpkin chocolate chip bars.  (They were a big hit... I'll probably have to make them again).  Now, what to make with the other 8?!?!?!?!?  Oh, how I do love pumpkin!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blog-post-catch-up, Part 1: Germany

Denise posted pictures and a brief thing or two about our trip to Rothenburg, Germany on her blog.  Since I don't have any pictures of my own, and since it'd be way too hard to squeeze the trip into a blog post of reasonable length, I'll skip retelling it myself.  The one thing I will add is that Rothenburg looks like a town straight out of a Christmas snow globe.  It was old and charming and I'm pretty sure Santa has a holiday home tucked away in it somewhere.

*5:30 AM - Woke up to pack/eat breakfast/make sure nothing got left behind
*6:35 AM - Left our split level apartments to walk 10 minutes to the train station 
*6:55 AM - Boarded Train #1 (out of 5) on the way back to the airport in Memmingen
*7:15 AM - Arrived at our 1st connection station, went from platform 5 to platform 2 to wait on Train #2
*7:20 AM - Train #2 delayed 15 minutes
*7:25 AM - Train #2 delayed another 5 minutes
*7:30 AM - Train #2 delayed a total of 35 minutes (Did I mention it was FREEZING?)
*7:50 AM - Finally boarded Train #2.  Sat in 1st class because there weren't any other seats.  No one seemed to mind.
*8:15 AM - Arrived at 2nd connection station.  Missed Train #3 by about 5 minutes.  Scott went off in search of a solution. 
*9:00 AM - Realized that getting 2 taxis was the only option that guaranteed we'd make it to the airport on-time.  Missing our flight would mean having to stay in Germany 2 extra nights, plus rebook tickets for Friday, plus miss Thanksgiving, plus miss the Marlay Craft Fair.
*11:00 AM - Made it to Memmingen 2 hours and 500 euro later.  Checked in.  Got some coffee.  Went through security and passport control.
*12:40 PM - Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1:10 PM, but was stuck in a holding pattern due to intense fog
*1:00 PM - Still in a holding pattern.
*1:30 PM - Flight was redirected to another airport.  We had to go back through passport control take an hour bus ride to get to the plane.
*2:30 PM - Arrived at airport #2.  Waited in line for ages to go back through security (ONE PERSON AT A TIME... seriously?!?!?!) and passport control... again (that's right, I have 3 Germany stamps in my passport now because I left the country twice on Wednesday)
*3:30 PM - Wait almost 10 minutes on the shuttle bus to ride 250 meters (see how European I am?) to our plane.  Apparently it was too dangerous to walk that far.
*4:00 PM - Finally departed Germany, 30 minutes later than we were scheduled to land in Dublin
*5:15 PM - Arrived in Dublin, after gaining back an hour in transit. 

It was a really long day.  There were a few moments of panic, frustration, and resignation, but I'm proud of how well we all held it together!  At least we made it home :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Knock, knock. Who's there?

Tesco delivered all these groceries right to my kitchen tonight!  I went shopping online, set up a time, and didn't have to carry a thing.  Very handy when you rely on teammates and other forms of public transport to get you to Ireland's Wal-mart.  Yes, there are 6 jars of peanut butter and 4 packages of fajita seasoning.  Can't pass up a sale on the good stuff.  Now, if they only had hot tamales and canned pumpkin.  Not together, of course.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's crunch time, baby!

The Marlay Craft Fair is just a couple weeks away!  Denise, Juli, and myself have gone craft-crazy trying to get ready for our booth... the Prickly Pear... don't laugh.  We leave for Germany next Friday and won't be back until Wednesday.  Then Thursday is Thanksgiving (insert mouth-watering, tummy-growling, spine-shivering excitement).  Then the fair starts Friday!  That means we only have five solid days of crafting left.  I'll be at school for two of those days.  Plus one day of mock-set-up/packing for Germany/miscellaneous non-crafting activity.  So forget the five days.  I've got two.  Two days.  Forty-eight hours.  Oh, I do love pressure!

I invited myself to Denise's house for an overnight Crunch-Time-Craft-Day.  We were very productive.  Scott had to stand on the table to accurately document all the productfullness.  I finished several mug rugs.  And I quilted/bound/washed two quilts... which was quite an accomplishment, considering I broke three needles and had countless machine-related issues.  No time to dwell on the problems.  Gotta keep trucking stitching.

Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  Humming machines.  Grunts of frustration.  It's always better when you have company.  Thanks for the "invitation", Denise.


A sampling of mug rugs.

What's a mug rug?  A little rug for your mug of tea (or coffee, or hot chocolate, or juice, or whatever) plus room for a biscuit (or cookie, or scone, or apple, or whatever).

Some pillows.

Some zippy pouches.

A quilt to finish.  Next thing on The-List.

What's left:
one more quilt to quilt/bind
a few pillows
lots of mug rugs, maybe 15 or so
cut all the loose strings off EVERYTHING
homework (yuck)

No more time to waste... it's crunch time, baby!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things Hoped For

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  Heb 11:1

There are so many things that draw my heart away from my Creator.  Pride.  Complacency.  Anger.  Despair.  Insecurity.  Inadequacy.  Inferiority.  The list goes on.  But in the dead of night, when the quiet darkness is heavy with ambiguity, my soul cries out to Yahweh.  These are the things I hope for...

To be full of thankfulness.  To be consumed by His love.  To rejoice always.  To be genuinely content.  For every breath I take to honor His kingdom.  For every word I speak to echo His truth.  To love with abandon.  To fall before His throne.  To feel His arms engulf my raging heart.  To hide in His light, where the darkness cannot find me.  To find rest in His promises.  To find peace in His presence.  To find my place in His holiness.  To delight in Him completely.  To desire Him and no other. 

This is where He meets me.  In this place, my Creator calms the storm inside my heart.  He whispers His words into the depths of my soul.

I am Yahweh, the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  I do not faint or grow weary.  Wait for me.  I will renew your strength (Isaiah 40:28, 30).  I am in your midst.  I will save you.  I rejoice over you.  Be quieted by my love.  I exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).  My steadfast love never ceases.  My mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  I am faithful.  Let me be your portion.  Hope in me (Lamentation 3:24).  Seek me.  You will find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you (Jeremiah 29:13-14).  Now be still.  Know that I am God (Psalm 46:10) 

Then sings my soul. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Retrograde Jet-lag?

So I know I've been in Ireland five months (can you believe it's been that long?!?!), but jet-lag is still the best explanation I can come up with for my inability to fall asleep before 4am.  Last night made four nights in a row of counting sheep and twiddling my thumbs into the wee hours of the morning... apparently there aren't enough sheep in Ireland. 

Once I finally fell asleep, I dreamed that my sisters were here (they're coming January 19!!!!!).  We were walking around city center and it started to rain.  Amy and I had rain jackets on.  Jes didn't.  I asked her where her jacket was and she said she forgot to bring one.  Note to anyone coming to visit Dublin: you will need a rain jacket.  It should be the first thing on your "Things to Pack" list.  Jes, maybe you should go ahead and put your jacket in your suitcase... just to make sure you don't actually forget it.

November is going to be a crazy-busy month around here.  We're going to Rothenburg, Germany for the Euro-American Family Retreat.  Then it's back to Dublin for Thanksgiving and a weekend selling mugrugs and pillows at the Marlay Craft Fair.  In between all that, I'll be churning out quality assignments for IBI and getting ridiculously strong at Crossfit.  "Ridiculously strong" may be an overstatement... let's say "sufficiently whipped" instead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another School-Assignment-Turned-Blog-Post

An SATBP?  Doesn't really roll off the tongue.  Maybe an REB... recycled-essay-blog?  I'll work on the official label.  In the meantime, here's a response I wrote for my essay on the "Holiness of God".  How great is our God!

I found it ironic that something so fundamental can remain so obscure and inexplicable.  On the surface, the concept of God’s holiness is actually quite simple: God is holy, and holiness is the standard God has set for himself, similar to when God tells Moses, “I AM who I AM.”  Short and simple.  The complication comes in the explanation: So what does that mean?  I struggled to turn my convoluted thoughts into intelligible sentences.  Even now, as I reflect on all I’ve learned, the right words continue to allude me.  My mind remains stuck on the words of Isaiah, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty!  The whole earth is full of his glory!”  My spirit is overwhelmed by the magnitude of my God.  In His perfect holiness, He would be completely justified to annihilate me on account of my sin.  But His perfect love demands an alternative.  So instead of destruction, He offers deliverance.  He invites me to join Him inside His holiness (1 Thess. 4:7).  Crudely put, He found the loophole.  Except the salvation He provides isn’t an afterthought.  It’s not a last-minute contingency plan to salvage what’s left of the Creation that failed Him.  It is, instead, a beautiful expression of His complete devotion to His Created, of His absolute refusal to stop pursuing the ones He desperately loves, of His persistent desire for relationship with his children—with me!  He is devoted to me; He is pursuing me; He desires me.  His love meets me in my depravity.  It obliterates my sin.  It brings me into His presence, “and where He is, is holy.”  His love sets me apart.  It is with great confidence that I can say, “I am holy as He is holy” (Lev. 20:26).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A wee bit of rain and the town shuts down.

Last night, two of the professors at IBI (Joan and Steven) had a group of students to their house for dinner.  After class, one of my classmates and I rode the train out to Castleknock.  Did I mention it had been raining all day?  The 20 minute train ride was uneventful.  The walk from the train station to the Singleton's house, however, was a whole different story.  It wasn't so much a "walk" as a "wade" through the river of rain that had drowned the street.  By the time we got there, we were completely soaked.

Fast forward a couple of hours.  Dinner was gorgeous (that's the Irish way of saying "delicious"), and I was enjoying the dry sweat pants Joan loaned me.  She even offered to let me stay the night so I wouldn't have to go back out in the rain.  But I had a paper to finishing writing and figured it'd be better to go home.  A friend dropped me off at the train station around 9:15 PM.  The train was waiting at the platform.  Perfect timing.  Right after I sat down, the driver came in. 

Him: Train's aren't running.  The line is shut down.
Me: What?
Him: We've been sitting here 2 hours already.
Me: Uh, ok.
Him: You'll have to take the bus.
Me: Where do I get the bus.
Him: Blanchardstown.
Me: Where's that?

He gave me directions and finally found the right bus stop.  There were about 8 other people already waiting.  After 30 minutes, I took out my notebook and starting writing a rough draft for the remaining part of my paper.  After an hour, I trekked back to the Singleton's house.  It was about 10:20 or so by the time I made it back.  Joan was very kind to let me take her up on the offer to spend the night.  She even had a toothbrush for me.  Needless to say, I'd wasted precious paper-writing time. 

I figured things would be pretty much back to normal this morning.  I mean, this is Dublin.  What's a little rain?  The train ride back to town took over an hour.  Only 4 of us full-time students were able to make it for class.  Someone said that the average rain fall for October was around 40 mm.  We got almost 90 mm last night!  That's about 3.5 inches. 

I apologize for the long story.  It reflects the length of the past couple of days.  Oh, the pleasures of procrastination and catastrophe.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Rivalry Begins

Spending the night with Karnes tonight to watch Game 1 of the World Series with Scott.  The game doesn't come on until 1AM here... it's gonna be a late night!  Davis got the mattress ready for me, complete with Cardinals pillow case.  Boo!  I'll be sure to drool all over it.  Gross, but effective.

Pre-game, pre-feud photo shoot.  We'll see how long the smiles last.

At least we have #5 in common. 

There's really only one thing left to say: Go RANGERS! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cafe Thursday

Like I mentioned in this post, Amy and I meet for coffee (almost) every Thursday morning.  In an effort to prevent getting stuck-in-a-rut, we decided to seize the opportunity to find the best cafe in city centre (notice the Irish spelling?).  So we're trying out a new coffeehouse every week.

Yesterday, we went to Starbucks.  Boring, I know.  Not at all Irish.  Or unique.  But sometimes the comfort of something Familiar is just as satisfying as the adventure of something New.  The last four months have been a whirlwind of New.  New country.  New home.  New school.  New friends.  New streets.  New culture.  Not to mention all the things that aren't New, just Different.  Different weather.  Different money.  Different traffic.  Different English.

All the New and Different takes its toll.  Recently, I've been aching for Familiar.  Watching the baseball playoffs is almost Familiar.  But watching them alone is New.  Watching them from Ireland is New.  Being around people who don't-even-know-what-baseball-is is New.  All that makes celebrating with the Rangers less Familiar and more Different.  And leaves me wanting.

Until yesterday, when I found something completely Familiar.  Starbucks.  Once Amy and I were tucked away in the comfortable chairs in the corner, all the New and Different disappeared.  We were surrounded by all-things-Familiar.  Familiar smells.  Familiar music.  Familiar triple grande soy latte in my Familiar see-thru tumbler.  Even the comfortable chairs in the corner were Familiar.  It was the perfect allusion of Home.

Next week we'll go somewhere New... I promise.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I know, I've been Missing-In-Action the last couple of weeks.  Mainly because there's been a lot of action to get lost in... which is a nice (albeit difficult) change of pace from a month ago.

Mostly-Irish-Academics.  Just finished my 4th week of class at IBI.  I can't believe how fast the weeks are passing! My routine is becoming... well... routine.  Up at 8 AM (make that 8:15).  Dressed by 8:30.  Sit on couch and eat oatmeal with raisins and peanut butter.  Brush teeth and glance in mirror by 8:55.  Re-do ponytail (one last time).  Out the door by 8:58.  Cross the street and catch the bus by 9:03.  (Although this morning, the bus didn't come until after 9:10).  Arrive at IBI by 9:15.  Get coffee.  Settle in for a full day of class and fellowship.

 Making-Intricate-Accessories.  Denise, Juli, and I have rented a booth at a three-day craft fair the last weekend in November.  Apparently it's a really big deal (which is why we entered it, naturally).  Since quilts take way too long to make, I've been experimenting with some new "products."  Mug rugs.  Pillows.  Zipper pouches.  Surprisingly, I'm staying fairly organized and have managed to keep the inevitable creating-mess under control.

Major-"Intraleague"-Achievements.  Baseball playoffs are both exiting and stressful.  Mostly stressful.  And, unless it's an afternoon game, everything happens really late.  It's way too hard to put the game on hold until tomorrow.  Especially if the Rangers are losing.  Or winning.  Or have runners on base.  Etc.  By the time I'm finally done with the whole "just one more inning rigga-ma-roll", it's 2 AM and way past my bedtime.  Luckily, tonight's game will offer me a few days of reprieve from all the playoff mania, since the Rangers BEAT THE RAYS AND ARE HEADING TO THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!!!!!

Miscellaneous-Irish-Activities.  Including Friday night "block parties" at the Karnes, Sunday night worship, and Thursday morning coffee in city center with my new friend, Amy.  Not to mention all the time that gets sucked up into the Dublin-Time-Warp to/from everywhere that must be gone.  Also, I've joined a Crossfit gym to get me ready for this Tough Mudder race/obstacle course that I'm doing May 12 with Shay.  I thought it'd be a good way to get involved and meet some folks.  Now I'm thinking it's crazy and I must've been out of my mind.  Oh well, God can work through insanity... right?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My first homework.

My studies at IBI are picking up.  Each class fits seamlessly with the work here in Dublin.  My first actual assignment to hand in was for Spirituality and Self Understanding.  Thought I'd share a taste of it.

The assignment:
How do I experience Love and Joy from God?

My response:  
The question isn’t hard, and the answer is quick.  It pulses deep within me.  It has developed slowly through time, been forged in experience; suffering; prayer; healing; thanksgiving.  Taking all that and putting it into words, however, is not so easy.  Bear with me as I try.

It starts with knowing that I was created.  I was designed.  Made with intention and purpose.  Specifically unique.  It continues with realizing that I am known. My Maker pursues me.  Refines me.  Reshapes me.  He didn’t cast me aside to live my life forgotten.  I am a work in progress.  He’s not finished with me yet.  He knows all my thoughts.  He sees deep inside my heart, to places I can’t even fathom.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Not my sin.  Or my doubt.  Or my selfish ambition.   Yet He continues to draw close to me.  To reveal Love through His faithfulness. Through His provision.  Though His healing.  Though His eternal commitment to me—His created.

So my soul longs for Him.  To know Him as He knows me.  Like a deer, I pant for Living Water.  From deep to deep.  With groanings that have no words.  My spirit reaches for Him.  He meets me where I am.  He drowns my inadequacies in the blood of Christ.  It is through the Resurrection that my fullness is made complete.   Full joy.  Full peace.  Full comfort.  I am left with no alternative but to rejoice.  When my heart forgets all that He has done, all that has been accomplished, He renews my Joy through His word.  Through the faithfulness of others.  Through the beauty of creation.  Through His persistent pursuit of my heart.

These words are insufficient.  But they’re a start.  An attempt.  The truth is that the answer is still being written.  That every day, every struggle, every blessing brings greater Love.  Deeper Joy.  The everlasting gifts of a merciful King!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The First J.A.B.

Last night was my first Dublin slumber party.  The first Jo-And-Bailey night, to be more exact.  We ate pizza.  Made brownies.  Watched a movie two and a half movies.  Wrapped Bailey's hair with embroidery string.  Went to bed.  Woke up.  Ate breakfast.  Watched another two and a half movies.  Painted fingernails.  Walked to the grocery store.  Rode on the bus... it was Bailey's first time on a Dublin bus :)  Good times.

A conversation we had this morning...
Bailey: Jo, I think I dozed a little when we first got in bed, but I don't think I'm sleeping.
Me: Bailey, it's 9:30 in the morning.  I think you slept a lot.
Bailey: It is?!?!?!  Oh, I guess I did... it's REALLY dark in here!


I gotta say, it was the best J.A.B night ever!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Trial and Error

After spending the last two days in class, re-learning how to sit still, I felt the urge to make something.  Funny how the make-something-urges don't hit me until about 9pm.  Tonight I got a double-dose of MSU.  The first was to bake some banana muffins with the black bananas in my fridge.  The batter was perfect.  I even added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips.  Yum.  Too bad I haven't figured out my oven yet.  The first batch was completely inedible.  The second was only slightly better.  Two batches of trial.  Lots of error.  Yuck.

The second MSU was in response to my super-heavy living room door that won't stay open.  I've been wanting to make a doorstop for it since I moved in, but I hadn't mustered the guts to figure out how to make what I wanted.  Until tonight, that is.  It took a bit of time (especially since I had to keep messing with the muffins) and there was lots of trial.  Luckily, there was only an insignificant amount of error. 

The biggest trial: figuring out how to add a zipper into one of the seams.

The idea was to put a bag of flour inside.  Unfortunately, the bag wouldn't fit through the zipper.  So I poured the flour into a Ziplock instead. 

Hey... it works!  And it's way more attractive than the piece of folded cardboard I've been using for the past month.

At least one of the MSU's was a success.  Now I can enjoy that good kind of sleep that follows creative accomplishment.  Sweet dreams.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The First-Day

Today was my First-Day of school.  I've gotta admit that the whole First-Day mentality hasn't changed much since my last First-Day.  I still had to answer all the pre-First-Day questions.  What am I going to wear?  Who will I sit by?  Will I be a total loser if I pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?  I didn't have my Mooly to take the compulsory First-Day Picture.  I tried to take one myself.  Actually, I took a video and then tried to get a freeze frame picture from the video.  It didn't work.  So I took this picture just now... it's more of an at-least-I-survived-the-First-Day-and-I'm-glad-to-be-sitting-on-my-couch- kind-of picture.

It's a shame you can't see my perfect First-Day Outfit.

I'm studying full-time at the Irish Bible Institute.  The program is a 3-year degree in Applied Theology.  Classes for first-year students meet all day on Monday and Tuesday.  All day is a long time for someone who's not used to sitting still.  Last night, I was lamenting the burden of being a student again.  Class.  Reading.  Essays.  But this afternoon, during a crash seminar in study skills, I felt the academic bug bite my brain.  The truth is, I love being a student.  I don't love writing the essays, but I love finishing them.  I love the accomplishment of learning.  I love the excitement of challenge.  The lamenting is over.  Bring it on!

I'm excited to have the opportunity to study with such a diverse group of people, all who have a different background than my own.  I anticipate a deeper understanding of my own spiritual awareness as I experience God through my classmates and professors.  And I look forward to deeper insight into the history and future of the Gospel in Ireland.

By the way, they don't sell Lisa Frank in Ireland.  I looked.  It's too bad, really.  Nothing says "Happy First-Day" like a new Lisa Frank notebook.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meet M.I.M.

My. Irish. Machine.  Isn't she beautiful?  Note the extended table for quilting.  Trust me, it's a big deal!  So is that little box full of quilting accessories.  Things are about to get serious.

Denise brought M.I.M. over on Tuesday afternoon.  In a matter of minutes, every free space in my teen-tiny-living-room was covered with boxes, styrofoam, free accessories, and other sewing essentials.

With Denise reading the manual, it didn't take long to wind a bobbin, thread M.I.M up, and sew my first seam.  That was about all I could handle on Tuesday.  I, like the rest of the folks on the team, was sick-something-horrible.  See that smile?  It took the last of my energy.

Luckily, my bug only lasted almost-exactly-24-hours.  By Wednesday evening, I was finally feeling up to the task of finishing a quilt I'd started while I was living at the Karnes'.  My teeny-tiny-living-room was barely-big-enough to get it ready to quilt.  Good thing "barely" counts when it comes to quilting.  M.I.M. surpassed all my expectations!

It turned out that sewing something was just what I needed to get well.  About 10 minutes after I finished quilting-and-binding that quilt, I started picking-and-cutting fabric for the next one.  I also discovered a more-fun-than-drying-laundry use for my drying rack...

M.I.M. and I have spent a lot of quality time together these past couple of days.  I don't want to speak too soon, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that she's everything I've been looking for... fast, quiet, easy to get along with... I think we're going to be very happy together.

See how straight she sews?  I can't take any credit for those seams (well, maybe just a little credit).  But most of it should go to the 1/4" quilting foot that came in that little box above.  I had no idea what I'd been missing out on all these years.  Now I know.  My world has been rocked.

I start school a week from Monday.  Which means I've got a week to get rid of all the quilting-energy that's been pent up over the last 2 months.  Like I said, things are about to get serious.  For real.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some (mis)adventures from the Dakota-Half

Seeing as how Dakota didn't get to participate in the adventure of moving to Dublin (tear), "the adventures of Jo and Dakota" has really just been "the adventures of Jo."  I figured it was time to see what DK has been up to since I've been gone.  Luckily, she has a Mooly to keep her in line... most of the time...

This weekend, Dakota had some fun playing in the flower bed.

So she got put in time-out.  South Dakota.

For the most part, though, DK and Mooly get along great.  Especially when Mooly spends time with her in the backyard doing things like this:

Thanks Mooly, for making sure Dakota still gets her share of adventure... and for making sure I hear about all the mis-adventure too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Perspicacious Perspicacity.

There are things Satan attacks me with: doubt, fear, insecurity, inadequacy.  He says that loneliness is inevitable.  That I'm not desired.  That I will never be sought after.  He tells me I'm too much.  Too independent.  Too strong.  He convinces me that I will fail.  That I don't have what it takes.  That I shouldn't even try.  He whispers.  He distracts.  He twists the words of others.  All to deceive my heart.  To draw me away from Love.

Then there are the things I am certain of, the things that these lies can never take away from me: God is faithful.  He is good.  He has a purpose for me, prepared in advance for me to do.  He listens when I cry out to him.  He delivers me from anguish.  He is greater than my heart.  He can do more than I could ever even dream to ask from Him.

He is all I need.  My worth is found in Him.  He is in control.  He loves me.  He will never leave me.  He dwells in me.  I am safe with him.  He is not malicious.  He is not deceitful.  He doesn't set me up to fail.  He uses my failures for good.  His will is perfect.  His timing is perfect.  His grip on my heart is eternal.  He is steadfast.

He doesn't keep me sheltered, but He's my refuge when I'm battered.  He prepares me for battle.  He fights alongside me.  He continues to fight for me when I have no strength left.  Then He lifts me up on eagles' wings.  He fills my weary lungs with the breath of Life.

In Him I find rest.  Peace.  Gentle waters.  He calms the storm raging within me.  He has proven Himself to me over and over.  His hand remains on my heart.  He surrounds me.  He guards me.  He watches over me.  He protects me.  All of my trust, my entire life, belongs to Him.  He is my only desire.

I cling to these promises.  To all the things I know about my Creator and the nature of His love for me.  He is faithful in His call.  In His provision.  In His refining.  In His healing.  In His protection.  Satan doesn't stand a chance in the battle for my heart!

Yes, perspicacious is a real word.  No, I did not make it up.  And I learned it from Denise, not Mary Poppins.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Great Move-In

It's official.  I live in Dublin!  I've got an address.  A bank account.  Internet.  Bills.  My bags are unpacked.  Most of the boxes have been thrown away.  It only took three trips to Ikea and another full day at a different shopping center to gather up most of what I needed... towels, bedding, pots and pans, lamp shades, pillows, etc.  I still need to find my perfect sewing machine.  And a bike.  It took me two days and three people to figure out how to use my washing machine/dryer.  I don't know how to use my oven yet.  But how hard can it be?  Other than that, I'm pretty much settled in.  Finally!

Outside my apartment after a big shopping trip with Juli:

My Living Room/Kitchen/Strange-Space-That'll-Be-Perfect-For-Sewing, from the Kitchen:

My Living Room/Kitchen/Strange-Space-That'll-Be-Perfect-For-Sewing, from the Strange-Space:

Guest Bedroom.  Awesome window/view.  Awesome Single Girl Quilt that's not quite finished:

My Bedroom.  With fancy bedding (no Dakota=fancy bedding) and a surprisingly-not-too-tacky purple chandelier:

The new drapes I made for the Strange-Space window.  Ignore the ugly ones in the middle.  Couldn't figure out how to get them off the curtain rod:

My house warming party is September 3rd.  You're all invited!