Beth and I are fortunate to have two brothers that we love a whole lot! We are elated that our brother Kurt and his family have returned to the US after two years in Istanbul, and we adore our brother Paul (who resides in Baldwinsville, NY). On Labor Day weekend, Paul made a trip to Utah to celebrate his birthday (August 29) and Beth's (September 3) and to see what the Beehive State was all about.
While in Utah, Beth and I showed Paul the sights, and in Opel family fashion that included some serious road-trippage. One of our first trips took us to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area which spans portions of both Wyoming and NE Utah. It was a glorious way to spend quality sibling time together topped off with one of the most outstanding meals ever at The Foundry Grill at Sundance Resort in Sundance, UT. We highly recommend the ceviche!
The rest of the weekend included a trip to the Park City Olympic Park which hosted the bobsled, luge, and ski jump events in 2002, an attempt (and fail) to watch the WMU vs. U of M game on TV in Park City, lunch at The Red Iguana which has been featured on Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins (Paul was even mistaken for Guy Fieri who had been there a few months earlier), dinner at home courtesy of the grillmaster himself, and finally a trip around Utah Lake ending in Provo for a look at BYU.
We're so glad that we had the chance to spend a fun holiday weekend with one of our favorite people on the planet! Love you, Paulie!
If you don't already know, I'm the lead singer of a rock band calledNatural Causes. It's such an honor to sing in front of four super talented guys who've been making music for years: Larry on bass, guitar, keyboard, and vocals, Mark on guitar and vocals, Russ on guitar, keyboard, and vocals, and Joe on the drums. We'd love for you to become our fan on Facebook!
Last night at practice we discussed that it was time to learn some new songs, and they asked me to come up with a list of songs that I'd feel comfortable singing lead. Here's where YOU come in! Can you help me come up with a list of awesome songs for us to try? At this point these are the songs that we already perform with me singing lead:
Hurts So Good - John Mellencamp
Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & The Waves
Heartbreaker - Pat Benatar
I Love Rock & Roll - Joan Jett
Call Me - Blondie
The Warrior - Scandal
Lights - Journey and
Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Pat Benatar
Think Janis Joplin, Heart, Joan Jett, Melissa Etheridge. Strong female ladies who aren't afraid to let it rip. Think about songs you know all of the words to. Songs that make you wanna crank the radio. If you think of a singer - what song? I'm excited to hear your suggestions! And don't be afraid to pick songs with male singers. If it rocks, it just might work with a few changes of lyrics.
Many of you know the story of how I quit teaching and moved to Utah to follow a dream. The way it all fell into place clearly showed God's hand in the direction of my life. Truly, time and time again I've been reminded that He has a plan for me, even when it doesn't turn out to be what I expected.
This past week I learned this lesson again when I parted ways from Creating Keepsakes magazine. I've made some wonderful friendships and had some amazing experiences, but it's time for me to move on. I am confident that this was a stepping stone along the path to something even more perfectly suited to my skill set and long-term goals. Sure, letting go can be difficult, but I am listening for that still, small voice that has unfailingly guided me throughout my life.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jer. 29:11
I'm exploring my options and looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks in advance for your love and support. With Him by my side, I know I'm gonna soar.
This past weekend we got some TREMENDOUSLY good news. After two years in Istanbul, my brother and his family are returning to the United States. Yes, Kurt, Anna and my darling nephews David and Jonathan will be in Michigan living with my parents in less than two weeks!! It's been no secret that we've found it very difficult to have them so far away.
When they first told us that they were preparing for the possibility of moving back, we were, of course, cautiously hopeful but also concerned that they'd feel defeated. After all, they had headed abroad with the thought of doing business and being the face of Christianity in a non-Christian world, but the work part never really took off. But God always has a plan, even if it's the one we don't expect. In the two years they've been in Turkey, they tell us, their church has grown tenfold, from 5 to 50 members. The seeds they've planted have grown into a children's ministry and a solid music program, and they have confidence that other faithful servants will continue the work.
So now Kurt is getting job feelers left and right from places in Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Oregon. They've found a buyer who's going to purchase most of their furniture and non-essential belongings, and they'll be back in the USA by the third week of October. We are literally basking in the glow of our excitement!! Home for the holidays, for real!!!
If you're a regular blog reader or Facebook friend or just someone who knows me well, you've undoubtedly picked up on the fact that Susan and I are Michigan girls. From little on, I've had a particular love for the much-maligned city of Detroit. Whenever we headed south to visit family in the Motor City, I'd beg to take a trip downtown. The pulse of the city, now as then, just energizes me. To this day I vehemently defend Detroit's reputation when others dismiss it as dirty, crime-ridden, dying.
See, what people don't realize about Detroiters, and really, Michiganders in general, is that we are people who just refuse to give up. You'll see this beautifully illustrated in our sports teams. In 2008, the Tigers finished the season in last place, the Red Wings fell short in their Stanley Cup bid, the Michigan Wolverines had their worst year in school history, the Pistons disappointed and the Lions notoriously lost every single game. Did the fans stop caring? Did they abandon their loyalties and cozy up to more successful franchises? Fat chance.
And the teams, just like the people of Michigan, came back. They rewarded the faithful with big efforts and important victories and hope. The U of M has already won more games this year than they did all season in '08. The Red Wings and Pistons are poised to put the past behind them and come on strong. The Lions actually won a game last week. And the Tigers are focused on the post season, something that seemed an impossibility in the wake of last year's terrible showing.
Detroit has become the poster child for our nation's economic hardships, and this summer a group of journalists from Time, Inc., decided to become stakeholders. They bought a house within the city limits and set out to take a deeper interest in Detroit. Their mission? To honor the resilience of a place that "has been misunderstood, underreported, stereotyped, avoided and exploited for decades." To explore the spirit of Motown which, like so many other cities and against all odds, still oozes with pride and dreams and potential. To salute good, regular citizens who "fight to open charter schools...jail criminals and bring back the rule of law...band together and renew their neighborhoods...open restaurants, stores and clinics...make great music and try to beat the Yankees." The Time reporters are recording their experiences and insights on a blog with the tagline, "One year. One city. Endless possibilities."
So as the Tigers face off against formidable foes in the coming days, I hope you'll join me in rooting for my team and all they represent--the little guys who, like all of us, sometimes fail, sometimes struggle, sometimes fall down, but always get back up. Every. Single. Time.
It's more than just a game, this baseball. It's for Detroit. It's for Michigan. It's for all of us.
Yep, it's World Card Making Day! Are you making cards today? If you are, you are joining legions of paper crafters all around the globe who are embracing the hand-made movement.
As an editor for Paper Crafts magazine, I get the opportunity to see beautiful and inspiring cards every day. And just the idea of creating something beautiful and giving it away really says, "you mean something to me." In an age of e-mails and text messages a hand-made card with a hand written message is a breath of fresh air.
I recently had reason to send off some hello and thank you cards, and I headed off to one of my favorite sites for inspiration, SIStv. While scrolling through the cards section, I was immediately struck by the simplicity of these cards by hotmama, a talented card maker named Bree Tetz from Canada (see it really is an international holiday). I rushed off to my craft room and came up with these beauties thanks to Bree's inspiration!
Now it's time to get out those supplies and get crafty! You'll have fun creating and your card recipients will reap the benefits! Next, post an image of your card to the World Card Making Day gallery and find more inspiration there! Finally, enter the Paper Crafts magazine World Card Making Day card contest and contemplate the possibility of winning a prize pack of over $185 worth of crafty happiness and seeing your card in Paper Crafts magazine.
Whatever your plans, remember that a hand-made card with a hand-written sentiment has the power to make someone's day!