Monday, November 10, 2008

so full

Have you ever felt so full that the only way to let it all out is to cry?

I have. In fact, I just happen to be blogging right in the middle of it. (that's misleading, I am in fact blogging because of that) Regardless, I feel full. Here's what I feasted on tonight:

scriptures on God's presence & fear
laughter shared over a common meal with new friends (lasagna, yum)
"Behold the Lamb of God" by Andrew Peterson
and finally, having a forum (*ahem, neilandcourtney.blogspot.com) to share my 'fullness'

Maybe you've been feeling full lately. Or, maybe you've been feeling empty? I had been running on fumes recently, which is probably why I feel so full now. Pardon me if this grosses you out, but if I ever get stuck in the middle of the desert with little to no food or water, you better believe that I'm gonna gourge myself the next time I pass by a Ponderosa. Thankfully, my Ponderosa came tonight. And it was completely unexpected.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yapta

I must admit that I have a terrible weakness to really cool websites and games. Some places I have wasted precious hours of my life in the past are homestarrunner, Atomic Badger Racing, The Black Knight, LaunchCast, that game where you are Yeti and you hit a penguin like a baseball, Engrish.com, and looking up obscure baseball stats with Tim on mlb.com. My latest vice is Yapta.com. This site starts off like a regular airplane flight search, giving you the prices of major carriers for a certain date. However, it gets really cool when you can actually track a flight over time and have Yapta email you when the price goes down over time. This method really only works when you know you are travelling about 4 months beforehand (as the price is usually lowest somewhere around 2 months before). I found myself constantly checking the price to the point of annoyance for my wife whom I asked probably about a half dozen times "Do you think we should by them yet?". Her response was always "Yes", to which I would say, "Ok, let's wait and see if the price goes down more!" She's a saint, but I saved us about $70!

What's your website vice of choice these days?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ordination Weekend

Last weekend was probably the best weekend I've ever spent with my family since I left for college back in 2003. Not because other trips have been bad; this one was just that good.

We got in on Friday night and were able to have a quality time just chatting with my parents. Then Saturday was the big ordination day. To be quite honest, when I was originally planning this thing, I was shooting for something very small and absolutely no fuss at all. In my head, I was thinking that this was not going to be that big of a deal, just something I needed to do formally or legally to ever serve as a minister in an American church some day. However, it really turned out to be a special thing.

Most of my family in the area got to come as well as those closest to my family at church. It was about the perfect size for what was taking place. There were the typical parts of the service, but probably the two coolest parts were my father-in-law, Mark, giving the charge and my dad speaking. Mark's words were great and encouraged me to not loose focus, but to always remember the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the gospel. It was really encouraging both to me and to others. Hearing my dad speak was something pretty amazing though. I was pleasantly surprised when he said he wanted to say something during the service. He got up and talked about how proud he was of me and also my sister and then asked me to continue to remember his parents (both deceased) and how proud they are of me now too. He also asked for many prayers that Courtney and I would continue to be led by the Holy Spirit as we go. It was an event I'll remember for a long time.

Two other events of the weekend made it stand out as incredible. The first was hanging out with my sister and her husband on Sunday night. They moved into a new apartment recently which is really cool and in a nice part of town. It was great to get to spend some quality time with them and just sit down and talk about real events in our lives. My brother-in-law, Daniel is good about bringing up quality discussions, and it was great to see the wisdom that my sister had in the areas we talked about.

The final event was a 4 hour, 40 mile bike ride with my dad. It was really the first time I had ridden more than 1 mile on a bike since I was about 13. I really did enjoy it and had a great time out on the small roads of southwest Indiana. My dad had an even better time though showing my where his grandparents were buried and where his dad grew up. The ride wasn't too tough until we were at about the halfway point and I realized it wasn't going to get any easier. It was a struggle to keep going, but it was worth it to get to spend that time with my dad. Filling up afterwards with my grandmother's cooking also helped take the sting out of my legs. Great times...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

important additions:

I made Shopska salad today as a tribute to Northside's overgrown food pantry garden and to Bulgaria. Eating it makes me happy and anxious; I can't believe God is allowing us to join NMSI and be a part of His work around the world. We are so incapable and under qualified on our own; He is so good to be our portion and sufficiency in all that we lack.

And, my husband is amazing. I'm sure other good wives of good husbands would contest my next statement, but this is my blog so I can say whatever I want: He's the best man I've ever met.

Thank you Lord for a good work to be done and for a good husband to do it with.

That's all. Going back to my yummy salad. It's hard to eat while typing....

It's a Wonderful Life

When you get to post about things such as the following, you just can't deny that life really is wonderful....

Caleb got married on August 9 to the beautiful and formerly known as Christie Ventling. I got to take the entire week off prior to the wedding to help out with set-up and planning, but mainly to take care of mom :). It was great to get that whole week to spend one-on-one time with the fam and to be able to take everything in and 'treasure these things in my heart'. The week was a blast, the wedding was beautiful and the reception was a true party. If there is one thing that the Wright's can do, it's party. Basically, it was a beautiful beginning to a beautiful marriage. We love you Caleb & Christie!











Last weekend we traveled back 'home' to the west suburbs of Chicago. I think there will always be a part of us that longs to be there. We did a terrible job of taking pictures, so don't be expecting too many from that weekend. BUT, it was wonderful. Friday we spent the early evening with Matthew & Kim (Neil's mentor during the internship & his wife, who just happens to be amazing). We ate some delicious burgers & filet minon wrapped in bacon. Matthew = grill master. That night we spent with our small group. It was so good to see old friends and meet some new members of the group. True to style, they are growing and reaching out to new people in the community, welcoming everyone in with open arms. So thankful for them.

Saturday we ate some yummy pancakes with the Andrew & Melissa Brownback (I am still mad at us for not getting a picture). I had pancakes that tasted like pecan pie. Clearly not a weight-loss vacation... It was wonderful to catch up with them and enjoy some good laughs. It is exciting to see the way that God is shaping their marriage and their hearts. We love you guys! That afternoon we met with some friends from the church (Christian Church of Clarendon Hills) and went to the Cirque du Soleil! Now, I knew it would be amazing, but I didn't realize it was going to be a true circus. It was awesome!! We got a couple of pictures of some of our favorite people at Pompei where we ate after. The first is Scott & Andrea, who are getting married this Sunday! The second is Robert & Jenny, who are pretty much always the life of the party.

















Alright, no more updating. For your viewing pleasure: proof that it's never too late to bring sexy back...


video

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Weekend of Fun


Lots of activities last weekend which left lots of sore places on the body. We were invited by Kevin and Nancy Harper to go out on Taylorsville Lake to do some water skiing. It was just one of those awesome days outside and the perfect weather to be out on a lake. Courtney didn't take too long to get up and show her skills on the skis. After about 2 hours, I got that same feeling the Wright Brothers must have got when I finally got up for about an 18 second ride. It's so great to have generous people in your life who like to share their life with you.

Our weekend continued on Sunday with a full day of experiencing Holiday World. Southern Indiana at its finest. It was a really awesome time spent with 3 of our favorite couples. It was a great feeling to know that we were not being chaperoned nor were we responsible for anyone there. We did about everything including the Jungle Racers about 6 times (Brandon Cook is a human bullet). Good times.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mondays


Somewhere between watching The Next Food Network Star and just being an all around creative person, my wonderful wife planned out this great meal for us on just an average Monday. Fajita marinaded chicken, grilled mexican corn and some spiced up zucchini (as if it needed any help). And so, after an hour or two in my ever-challenging quest to master the charcoal grill, we ended up with a pretty awesome meal. Add to it a sweet glass of grape juice (our vice of choice) and it ended up being one of those little holidays in life that just shows up out of no where. A delicious way to spend the evening...


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who spilled the milk?

last Friday: after working out and dropping Neil off with his carpool buddy, Madeline, I rushed home to quickly jump in the shower, grab a bite to eat and head off to a much anticipated pool day with the girls at the office. I grabbed a quick cup of milk and was off.

I got home 6 hours later and was super hungry. I remembered that I had splurged and bought BRAND NAME Honey Bunches of Oat.....w/ almonds :) I cannot describe the giddyness I felt in knowing I was about to enjoy my favorite cereal on my day off. What a happy way to end the day. I poured the cereal, dancing around the kitchen in excitement (no dramatic flair added, I swear), went for the fridge and found no milk. Hmmm...I forgot I had milk that morning but was still convinced that I had just seen milk in the fridge. I closed the door and opened it again, thinking a fresh perspective would reveal the milk jug right in front of my eyes. But, no. I was really confused and really frustrated that I wouldn't be having my HBOO. Ever tried to tease a craving? It's miserable. I opted for grape juice instead and when I opened the cabinet to get a cup, what did I find? $2.50 worth of milk sitting luke warm next to my spices. 'You've got to be kidding me.' I went to pour it out, lamenting my intense desire to have my cereal. Then I remembered how many bizarre things I have eaten in other countries. And it inspired me...

I had my bowl of cereal. Lukewarm milk and all.
and it was fabulous.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Memory

This is Neil. I am now fully aware of this blog and I approve the following message:

So a while back Courtney and I realized that we kind of have a little more extra time on our hands than we are used to, but we didn't feel like we were using it in the best way. At the same time, I was struggling with a fear of a lack of boldness and a dryness when it came to trying to read Scripture. I felt like I knew what to expect and it wasn't satisfying my "knowledge fix". I didn't know whether I should just force myself to read or take a new approach. As a couple, we decided to do "lexio-s" (not a dorky cereal) to help us be reenergized by the word. In doing that, I decided I was going to try something I had virtually abandoned since my feared Bible Bowl days - memorizing Scripture. I don't know quite why I always pushed this discipline aside in days past, but I thought it would be a good thing to try.

Then I got to thinking about my job. As some may know, I work in a Brain Injury program, trying to help people get to their most independent level. Some people have a really bad struggle with their short-term memory. Sometimes forgetting what they ate for breakfast, sometimes forgetting where they were ten minutes ago. Yet, all of these people have a strong sense of who they are and the things that are really important to them in life. Some things even a brain injury can't take away.

So, as much as I love reading Scripture, I want to do whatever I can to burn it onto that part of me that doesn't go away with a car wreck or a stroke or a seizure. I have loved just sitting in the car and then started to hear the cadence of James 1 start in my head ("Consider it pure joy, my brothers..."). Hopefully this will not be one of those things that sounds cool and you really start out strong and then fades out after a month. My goal now is to brain-injury-proof the Words of Life in my head.

Peace,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hamusakungka

gesundheit..... Actually, that's the village I visited in Zambia this April. :) Lots of great moments and memories, as with all mission trips. Long story short, I learned a ton about community development and how holistic ministry reflects the heart of Christ; He forgave our sins AND fed the 5,000, not to mention made the lame walk. No matter where God takes Neil and me, we are convinced that it is our duty, nay privilege, to participate in His restoration of communities. Ultimately, to draw those communities into the community of the Kingdom. I Corinthians 13 says that we are a reflection of what is to come and we know that what is to come is streets of gold with no potholes and feasting at the banqueting table, all with our King. Let's give the people of the world the opportunity to see a reflection of that in the here and now. Pave their roads and feed their bellies to give them an anxious expectation of when Christ will return, the imperfect will pass away and we will see more than just a reflection of Him. Come quickly, Jesus. video

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We are consumers

of the blogging world. Feeling guilty for consuming and never giving back, we felt that the already jam-packed world of the blogosphere needed another page. Hence, the High Life. I say 'we', but really Neil has no idea about this blog yet. With a bit of pursuading, I think we can convince him. Nonetheless, welcome to friends and family; we are excited to share in this journey together!