Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Official!

I just received my official acceptance letter from Kendall College!!!!! *squeal* Kendall College is a culinary school (and business and education, but all that matters is CULINARY) in Chicago. I am going to be in the Baking and Pastry Arts program there starting in July.

It's just a slight change from what I was doing! I was going to Ivy Tech for Early Childhood Education until this past December. Long story short, it is just not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I have been working as a nanny for a little over a year now, and although I adore the kids I watch, it has just really made me realize that I do not want to be working with kids as a career.
Food has always been a passion of mine. I love food. Thanks to a lot of thought and prayer, I am now pursuing something I really love. I didn't want to make any official announcement until it was for real. And now it is! I can't believe it. I also wanted to say thanks to those I know have prayed for me while I was trying to figure out what to do. Thanks for putting up with my, "I have no idea what to do with my life" stuff. I love you.
I can't wait for this new chapter of my life to begin, even though I am also nervous about moving to Chicago and in general just very intimidated by the whole thing! It is so comforting to know that God will always be with me whether I am here or there.

Monday, November 3, 2014


October is over. How in the world did that happen?! My October was WONDERFUL. First of all, October is the best month of all, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my birthday is on the fifth, of course.

The first weekend was my birthday!! I had a lovely weekend in Illinois with my beautiful cousin Rachel, then had a delicious birthday meal including one of my newest food obsessions, sauerkraut. Please notice that I had not one, but TWO birthday cakes! The first was thanks to my Mom, who makes a mean chocolate cake. The second was a complete surprise from my wonderful sister-in-law, Brittany. Jo, Kim and I spent my birthday evening at Brittany's watching Pride and Prejudice while indulging in cake. My brother also decided to be a perfect dear (a term I am sure wouldn't please him...) and served us all coffee!
Haley, one of my besties, gave me the gigantic mug in the first collage, along with some absolutely delicious k-cups. Does she know me, or what?! Some of my other gifts include a beautiful dual-version Bible, sound-cancelling headphones, and a subscription to Food Network magazine. AND...SEE'S CHOCOLATE!! If you don't know what that is, well...get a life ;) I'm only slightly kidding. You must try it. That was thanks to Jo. Not only did she give me decadent chocolate, but also made me a clutch! Yeah...she's super cool :D
My family and I, along with some cousins and Haley, enjoyed the Feast on my birthday weekend.
The Feast of the Hunter's Moon is an annual, really super cool event that I don't feel like explaining. If you want to know more about it, besides that I always eat too much (it is called a feast for a reason, you know), check out my cousin's blog:
The rest of October almost feels like a dream! It was magical. I went to the symphony in Indianapolis with my parents and little sister. It's the first symphony I've ever been to, but definitely not the last one! I think I could live there.

Then the next weekend...

This is why October was magical. The PIANO GUYS. Come on...does it get better? NO. It doesn't. It was simply amazing. They are hilarious, fun-loving guys and their music is high on my list of favorites.

 I couldn't stop saying how much I enjoyed the concert afterwards...and I still can't! I loved every moment of it, but I was also dreading the end. Even though it was a fairly long concert, I could have enjoyed another couple hours!!
The weekend after that, Haley and I went to visit our friend Rachel in Evansville at USI. We had a great weekend hanging out and walking around campus. USI has an amazing campus. The fall colors and warm weather also made it quite enjoyable!
Who could help having a great month when they are around these three cuties?!
This past week was definitely the worst. Mom was in Oregon, leaving the rest of us to try to survive! That's ok though...I just pretended that November started last week. Who likes November anyway? Most of the month is spent in mourning over the October I will never experience again, and the last week is spent pretending it is already December. Ah least there's pumpkin pie. Actually, this year for maximum time management I have combined those steps together; while I mourn the death of October 2014, there is Christmas music playing in the background.
Hopefully your October was as delightful as mine and November passes quickly for you ;)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Search for More

I have been thinking a lot about this subject recently. Contentment, I have to admit, is something I really struggle with. I find myself thinking all to often of the things I could have, or the things that should be, instead of the things that I am blessed with and the situation I am in now.
In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul writes, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
Paul was a human being just like you and I, so I am sure he struggled to be content at times. Notice that he writes "for I have LEARNED," not 'I have always known'. Contentment isn't just the warm fuzzy feeling that everything is right in the world. Sometimes, and more often than not, contentment is more about acceptance; accepting pain, difficult circumstances, uncomfortable situations, or a lack of general comforts. It is something that must be practiced and learned.
I am positive that I am in the majority when it comes to a lack of contentment. Conversations I overhear, discussions at work, and chats that I have with friends are all too often about the problems that have occurred during the day or week. Many people, myself included, tend to dwell on the things that went wrong or the things that need improvement. Declarations of, 'if only I had this!' or, 'I just need more of that,' ensue, and pretty soon we all forget about the blessings that surround us.
In 1 Timothy 6:6-8 it says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I don't know about you, but I have never been faced with trying to be content with only food and clothing. Here I am, struggling with contentment and I have a cozy home, a loving family, a car that works, an education, a closet full of clothing, a job, a refrigerator full of food...the list could go on for a very long time. Feeling content should be a breeze for me.
I am not just surrounded with blessings, however, and neither are you. That is the problem with the argument for contentment I have just made. Life has a multitude of problems that cannot be fixed with a little positive thinking. Even when we are thankful for the blessings we have, the problems we are faced with don't magically melt away. Have you ever stopped and thanked God for the place you are RIGHT NOW. Not for the place you could be if the problems were fixed, but the current, flawed, never-going-to-be-absolutely-perfect-or-even-slightly-okay place you are at?
I don't know about you, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have done that. The only advice I have on feeling content no matter what surrounds you is this: lean on God. He is the only One who can truly support us in the trials. When we have Him, we have everything we need. And therein lies true contentment. God will always be there for us. Since He is always with us, we can be satisfied in all situations knowing God is supporting us with His love and mercy. I believe that is how Paul found true contentment. Christ was His all, therefore what situation could possibly tear Him away from his only source of contentment?
Next time I struggle with feeling content, I will fall back on this question: Is Christ truly my Everything? If He is, then that is my reason to be satisfied. He knows what is in store for me and knows the reason for my struggles. He alone can provide the comfort I need. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee..." Psalm 55:22 It may take forever, but right now I am committing to practicing contentment until I can declare, as Paul did, that I am content no matter what state I am in. Like I said, it may take forever because I am far from perfect.  
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Psalm 23:1
 The search for more is over. God has me in His loving arms whether the sun is shining or storms are raging. What more do I need?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Week in Cali

This past week, from July 3-9, I was in hot, sunny, and dry California livin' it up with Jo, my cousin extraordinaire.
She had been in California for about a month living with her Grammy, my Great Aunt Lois. Thanks to the generosity of Aunt Lois, I was able to come and have a nice vacation.

We had a blast hiking, swimming at the beach (with sharks...), watching fireworks, and making lemonade, among other things. On July third we kicked our fun off with fireworks at Moore Park and a super creepy Elvis impersonator.

We watched fireworks with our Klotzle cousins. The fireworks were HUGE. Needless to say, they were more impressive than our small town show. I think their grand finale alone was the size of our whole show in Wolcott.

They also play patriotic music during the show, which is such a good idea! Sadly, they forgot Chicken Fried. I mean come on...a little bit of chicken fried, a cold beer on a Friday night, a pair of jeans that fit just right, and the radio uuuuuuupppppp...what is more American? Well, lemonade might be, but that comes later.
Of course we had to stop for some In-n-Out, a fast food place that the Midwest is sadly void of. Actually, it may be good that we don't have them around! It is DELICIOUS. And cheap. Can't go wrong there...
On the fourth we made lemonade. We picked lemons off Aunt Lois's tree. It was the best, most fresh, most sugary and delicious lemonade I have ever had. EVER. YUM.

We may have gotten a bit too carried about taking pictures. We even tried to get a video of me in my patriotic shirt (thank you Momma) saying "There's nothing more American than lemonade!", which only led to lemonade coming out my nose. In case you were wondering, lemons burn your nose. Really terribly.
After spending a few hours on that, we went to Jo's Aunt Heidi's and Uncle Tom's house. We had a delicious dinner and some fun fireworks/sparklers. It was a fun evening! On Saturday we went to a bridal shower and then to the beach.
We found out at the end of our long swim that a juvenile great white had bitten a swimmer just a mile or so down from where we were. I was swimming in the same area as a GREAT WHITE. How cool is that?! It's the kind of cool that is also creepy. Not as creepy as Elvis, but creepy ;)
After frying nicely, we headed back for dinner. I even wore sun screen and I fried!! Oh well, it just made me look more a-peel-ing later. <--- mwahahaha. See what I did there?
On Sunday we went to church, and then to dinner at the house of some dear friends (who also happen to be family). Monday we went to California Pizza Kitchen (YUM) where we split a pizza. I forget what kind this was, but, man, was it delicious.
Then we went shopping, but most importantly, we went to See's Candies. If you don't know what I am talking about, you need to get on the internet and order a box. Yes, it's kinda expensive, and yes, it is the best chocolate you will ever taste. That's just my opinion, but you can trust it, since I have tried about everything they sell :)

The lady at See's gave us each a big handful of their little lollipop chips, which prompted me to exclaim, "I love See's people!" Then we couldn't stop talking like Gru from Despicable Me. Just say "I love See's people" in a Russian accent and you will (hopefully) understand.
We love our See's so much that we took them to Trader Jo's with us so they wouldn't melt in the car. Ok, ok...we didn't want them to be lonely. Chocolate has feelings too, you know!
Tuesday we met my cousin Laurie for lunch. Sadly, we couldn't spend much time with her, but at least I got to see her briefly!

We ate at Corner Bakery (YUM) and then walked around Kohl's for a little while. I sound a little food obsessed in this post, but there are so many delicious restaurants out there that we don't have here, and only so much time to get to them! Yeah, I'm a foodie :P
And to continue with food, on Tuesday evening Aunt Lois treated us to dinner at a yummy fro-yo place called Cherry on Top, a place once again not found in the Midwest. Thanks Aunt Lois!
Jo and I both took their name quite literally, and put several cherries on top. SO GOOD. WHY IS FOOD SO GOOD?
Another thing we spent a lot of time doing was hiking! Every morning we got up decently early and walked around Altadena. All of the days, except for the first day, we hiked in the canyon back to a waterfall. Despite the drought, there was still some water! We took soooooooo many pictures and videos, so I cut it down to these collages.

 These are only my pics...Jo has most of the videos! On Wednesday morning, the morning we left for home, we got up really early so we could see the sun rise. We still didn't get up early enough though, because we missed it! It gave us more time at the waterfall, which was a ton of fun. We climbed up on some rocks that we hadn't attempted yet. We took off our shoes and socks, waded, slipped around, sang some songs, and then I fell face first into the water. >_<
I was already wet because I couldn't find a good way down from the rocks and pretty much stepped into the waterfall. Then I slipped. Just call me Grace!
We walked back barefoot in the creek bed. That was my favorite morning, and a memory I won't soon forget. As you can imagine, we had quite a few laughs as we took turns trying to climb with bare feet up slippery, smooth rocks. I wish I could be back there right now, if even just for an hour or two.
And that was our week! Laughter, good company, and fun times. It is a blessing to have a friend and cousin like Jo, and it was such fun to be able to spend a week of fun with her in California.
Thanks to Aunt Lois for her hospitality and willingness to have me there and Jo for coming up with the great idea!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Life in the Postage Stamp

Until very recently, I have hated gardening. In fact, I would have chosen to clean almost anything in the house before I would spend a half hour weeding. I hate bugs (and worms), I hate weeds, I hate sitting hunched over dirt and sweating. However, this year I really wanted to do a small (hence the name postage stamp) garden so that I can make homemade salsa. We will see if I have the time and energy to actually follow through with that, but at least I have a garden now!
It is really small and yet only one third of the space is taken! I have four tomato plants and two pepper plants. Well, I guess I only have one pepper plant now because something ate the top of my plant and now it is dying.
I am surprised by how much I really enjoy my little garden. Weeding does not take long and I love taking my little watering can back there. It is satisfying to come home from a tiring day at work and walk back to check on the progress of each plant.
Perhaps part of the reason that I enjoy the time spent caring for my plants is because I am alone with my thoughts. It is usually quiet, sunny, and just generally cheery in that miniscule corner of earth. On a deeper level, it reminds me of God's love for me. He cares for the birds, the flowers, and the animals, but even more so, he cares for me. Not only does He care, but He is the Master Gardener. If I allow Him to, He tends to me as I tend for my garden. As I pick out the invading weeds, God shows me where the sin is invading my life and plucks it out. As I pour water onto each plant and ensure that they are all nourished, God provides His Word and His Spirit to nourish and uplift me.
This garden is also full of expectation. I expect that one day, perhaps not far in the future, I will walk out to my garden and find a little green tomato on a plant. Then I expect that tomato to mature to the point that it can be harvested and eaten. God expects fruit from me as well. As I grow in His garden, He gives me the tools to grow fruit in my life, such as love for others, patience in trials, and many more. He expects that it will begin to grow, then ripen to maturity so that it can be harvested for His glory.
I also like thinking about my little postage stamp as my own little corner of the world. No one can really see my garden unless they walk all the way to the back of the yard. It seems invisible to others, yet to me it is important. Sometimes my life feels like this as well. It seems so small and insignificant in the whole scheme of things, yet God can use my little postage stamp existence to create beauty, peace, and fruit that can be passed on to others.
Life in my postage stamp is going well. Sometimes weeds invade. Sometimes it is in need of an extra watering. Sometimes it just gets a little messy. But that's life. I hope that in my life, as in my garden, fruit will continue to come forth and be a blessing to others.
"And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you?"
Matthew 6:30 NLT

Friday, March 7, 2014

Beautiful Innocence

Aria Rose Lehman
February 13, 2014
8 lbs. 15 oz.

What is it about this child that I adore so much? She is my first niece, the first grandchild in the Rob Lehman family. Precious chubby cheeks, a delicate little nose, perfect little hands and feet. She is my darling baby girl.

The other day as I held her in the quiet apartment, I realized my love for her is so much more than that. She is perfect. In God's eyes she is beautifully innocent. Right now a kiss from Mom, a cuddle from Dad, and everything is alright in the world. Though she was born into a broken and fallen world, she is blissfully removed from the nastiness of it. She is loved, held tight, kissed and cuddled.

Each time I hold her I just wish I could hold her forever, that she would never know heartache. I wish she would never find out how painful and cruel the world can be.

However, this cannot be. She will grow up, much too quickly for our liking. She will experience heartache, fear, pain, yet as I hold her I also think of the glorious experiences she can have. Surrounded by a loving family, she can bloom and grow in love. She will hear of God from birth. Salvation and the love of Christ will become a factor in her life. She will get the chance to experience true sacrificial love, the magnitude of which is far beyond my capacity, or anyone in her adoring family, to give her.

She has so much to look forward to. A whole life of possibilities is beginning to form even now. This is the joy of a newborn. When I hold her I know I am holding God's greatest masterpiece; His child. I am inspired by her innocence.

I used to be like that. Now I am not. It is sobering to think of innocence lost, blackened and spoiled. We all started out as a precious miracle of life, yet our existence is quickly mired in the world. It is only through Christ that we can experience true joy, peace, and love in life. Only Christ can help us regain our first innocence. He will wash us white as snow. He will surround us with His love, He will rejoice over us, just as He rejoices over this innocent gift.

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3

This precious bundle of soft baby skin, wide eyes and cuddles is my greatest inspiration. Unless I aspire to be as innocent as she is, I will not taste of Heaven. Someday I hope that I can be a good example for Aria. However, I am content now to hold her in my arms and realize what a wonderful example of trust and innocence she is to me.

My beautiful little niece will always have an aunt and an entire adoring, loving family to protect her. Most importantly, she will always have a Savior to walk with her through life, helping to guard this beautiful innocence.

Welcome to the world baby girl.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Keep Calm...

Meet Isaac.
Isaac is a freshman. He plays the drums in band, he loves playing the Wii, bowling is one of his favorite things to do, and he absolutely loves McDonald's and meatloaf. A few of his talents are picking on his siblings, being loud and rowdy, terrorizing pets with incessant "lovies", and getting frustrated with his computer games...he is just a normal, fun loving, and at times annoying, teenage brother.
Yes. I did just say normal.
Isaac was born with an extra 21st chromosome and the diagnosis of trisomy 21, or more commonly known as Down Syndrome. I suppose some of you would have thought to put this paragraph first. You are the reason I am writing this. Isaac is not just another Down Syndrome boy. He is a person just like you, yet he is often defined by what he looks like and the mental retardation that comes with down syndrome.
There is a difference between being defined by something or being judged for it. I am judged for the way I look, as is most everyone. Isaac is defined by the way he looks. I am judged for the way I speak in front of others. He is defined by the way he speaks. Down syndrome is a major part of who Isaac is, but it is not a definition of his character.
When people only look as far as his face all they see is down syndrome. They see different, unusual, mentally challenged. To those unfamiliar with it, it is a big sign saying "not normal."  However, if those same people took the time to look past his disability they would see much more. Friendly, curious, caring. They would see a boy who prays for his unborn niece and the health and safety of those around him. Innocent, fun-loving. They would see a little boy grown into a big ol' teenager who holds the door open for others and helps the elderly out of their vehicles at church. The simple label of "down syndrome" could not have even begun to tell you all that.
On the other side, many people have said to my mom, "Oh, I just love them. They are always so happy!" And all those with children that happen to have downs say HA HA HA. Yes, it is true that friendliness, smiles and hugs seem to be contained in that extra chromosome, but it is also true that they are still humans. They have more than one emotion. They can be confused, loving, angry, lost, hurt, happy...because they are normal. Do not treat them as though their problems and worries are inconsequential.
Chris Burke, an actor and singer with down syndrome, said "Having down syndrome is like being born normal. I am just like you and you are just like me. We are all born in different ways, that is the way I can describe it. I have a normal life." And he is right. We are all born into preexisting situations and some of us just have bigger difficulties to overcome. As my uncle has pointed out before, when you are in a room with Isaac it sometimes feels as though you are the one with the disability. He has an innumerable gang of "naginary" friends surrounding him, and although we may have no idea what he is talking about, he does. He has an entire existence that we could never hope to understand and an imagination to rival the greatest writers.
He is not hindered in what really matters. Love, family, fun...he excels in these things. Restaurant owners, cheerleaders, homecoming queens and kings, band members, actors, singers...they CAN do it. We just have to give them a chance to shine instead of sticking them into the box of our preconceived judgments. They were born with designer genes that were made to shine and teach us a bit about unconditional love, kindness, and determination. Those genes were not meant to define what they can or cannot do, who they can or cannot become...
They are individuals with hopes and dreams. So the next time you see someone rockin' an extra chromosome, take a step forward. Introduce yourself and look past everything "different" about them.

Keep's just an extra chromosome.