Category Archives: Minnesota

My Fair Lady at the Guthrie Reviewed

Those two heathens you saw sneaking out of church early on Sunday? That was us. We were going to the theater. And call me a sinner (or maybe just an English major), but sometimes theater does more for my soul than church ever could. (God has used stories in powerful ways in my life, but I suppose that’s an entirely different blog post . . .)

We had tickets for the 1:00 showing of My Fair Lady at the Guthrie. Happy birthday to me.

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I’ve gotten the impression that it’s sacrilegious or something, but I had never seen the Audrey Hepburn movie, so I didn’t really know much about the story, but it did not disappoint.

It was the best production I’ve ever seen at the Gutherie. Or anywhere. I don’t think it gets much better. The music, the acting, the costumes, the set—oh, the set!—were incredible. I recognized half of the songs. And to top it all off, our tickets gave us access to a Q & A with some of the actors after the show.

The discussion afterward was what got this English nerd really excited. They talked about the controversy surrounding the ending (did you know the movie version is different from the original ending written by George Bernard Shaw in Pygmalion?), the quality of the shows at the Guthrie (just as good if not better than what you get in New York, they said), where the actors came from (some from New York, one from England, some locals), and which scenes were the most challenging (“I’m Getting Married in the Morning”). And there were some pretty cute kids asking about advice for young actors.

It was thrilling to see people who love their work get excited about it and want to share their thoughts with the audience, who, by the way, had given them a standing ovation.

If you’re going to be in the Twin Cities between now and August 31, go see it. And if you’re not, get here and see it anyway.

And if you’re 30 or younger, sign up for the Guthrie’s 30 Below program to get rush tickets without having to stand in line. It’s a glorious thing. And if you’re lucky, you may even get free tickets to a show or two.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. I’ve already been trying to figure out how I can see it again!

27 Lessons in 27 Years

globe babyToday I turn 27. Actually, in three minutes from the time I’m writing this. Honestly, I’m feeling old. My sister turns 21 in November, my baby brother is graduating high school next year, and I’ve been married for (almost) five years. This is the first year I’ve actually been grateful when people say, “You’re 27? No way!” And I finally understand why turning 30 is a big deal. I’m not there yet, but I totally get it.

When I was trying to figure out what my “birthday post” should be, I decided it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are a little funny, but they’ve all been a part of “becoming me” in a significant way.

  1. If someone is trying to annoy you, ignore them. They’ll eventually get bored and go away. (I can thank my little sister for teaching me this one.)
  2. Churches don’t have to be full of hypocrites.
  3. Leadership doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes quiet leadership is more effective.
  4. God is trustworthy. Always.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help.
  6. Relationships don’t work when each person only gives 50%. Each person must give 100%, so when one person can’t give their all, the other person can pick up the slack.
  7. God cares about the little things, too.
  8. Stories (real or imagined) change lives.
  9. Babies aren’t so scary after all.
  10. Adults don’t have it all figured out. Life is an experiment.
  11. We’re all different, and that’s a good thing.
  12. When you have a favorite thrift store, second-hand shopping is awesome.
  13. Budgets don’t prohibit you from spending money, they give you permission to spend it wisely.
  14. You can learn a lot from other generations. Everyone has something different to offer.
  15. Teaching four-year-olds about Jesus is SO FUN.
  16. Humility often means not seeking credit and taking blame.
  17. Regular dental appointments are important. You do NOT want to get a root canal.
  18. No matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better. (If my husband asks, I did not admit this.)
  19. Divorce sucks. And it will affect your kids—no matter how old or young they are.
  20. Food doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you fat.
  21. You don’t have to have all the answers to be a good friend. Just be there.
  22. (Usually) good writing should go unnoticed. It should flow in such a way that the reader doesn’t even think about the act of reading, they just do it.
  23. What you want to do is not necessarily what you’re called to do.
  24. Working at a church is hard.
  25. There’s no such thing as a normal family.
  26. Minnesota isn’t so bad.
  27. Having a husband who’s your best friend makes life a lot more fun.

So there you have it. Obviously I’ve learned more than 27 things in my lifetime. At least, I hope it’s obvious…

Northshore Tourists

A few weeks ago, two of my favorite people came to visit us—my Aunt Renee and my sister, Cilia. They were only here from Friday to Tuesday, but I kept them running. We visited the Stonearch Bridge, Stillwater, the Mall of America, and the North Shore.

By the time we headed home on Monday night, we were all tired and crabby and full of happy memories.

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Saturday in Duluth

A few weeks ago, we went up north for the weekend. We were both desperate for a vacation and it was glorious. We stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s house (they’re in Arizona), slept in way too late, and spent Saturday in Duluth. It was nice enough to spend some time outside, and it was still cold enough for Lake Superior to be frozen, at least the part we could see. And yes, that is is a guy on a bike. He and another guy on a bike drove off across the lake. bikeandlighthouse

If you’ve been to Duluth, you’ve seen the old loading dock that people swim out to and jump off in summer. I would never be able to stand the water long enough to handle that. BUT we were able to walk out to it. I may or may not have been terrified of falling through the ice. And I maybe fell on my butt while a bunch of strangers watched. Maybe.

Loading-Dock-Distance

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To warm up, we spent a few hours at the Amazing Grace Cafe with our books (notice the creeper in the magazine rack next to Jonathan). Then we went to Va Bene (my absolute favorite restaurant in Duluth) and got some great pictures of the sunset.

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Hudson’s Hot Air Affair

When I was a little girl, my aunt and uncle helped plan the local hot air balloon festival. Every summer, I got to spend an entire weekend watching balloons launch, fly, and glow. The whole thing was magical. Then, when I was ten, my family moved to a different town that also hosted a hot air balloon festival every summer. It was close enough to our house that we’d often see the balloons fly over our house. And then, when I moved to Minnesota, there were no balloons. It was sad. Until . . .

Until I randomly came across a website about Hudson’s annual Hot Air Affair. Not only is there a balloon festival within driving distance, it happens in FEBRUARY. That’s winter, guys. If a hot air balloon festival is awesome in June, it can only be awesomer when there’s snow on the ground, right?

So last weekend, when my cousin Rachael came for a visit, we took her with us to see the balloon glow on Saturday night. This is before we all looked like Rudolph (it was maybe 15 degrees out).

If you don’t know, a balloon glow is when they inflate the balloons at dusk and take advantage of the dark to make the balloons “glow.” They don’t actually launch. They just look pretty.

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patchwork-balloon-2 quilted-balloon balloon-glowballoon-glow-2My favorite part about this festival was that they actually let you out on the field. We got to stand right next to the balloons. It might be different for the launches, but it was the coolest thing. I had so much fun, and now I want to go up in a hot air balloon even more than I did before. I’m not a huge fan of heights, but I’m willing to suck it up for that experience.

Meet Margaret

This is my car, Margaret. I named her after my grandma. Jonathan and I bought Margaret in Minnesota, but she was made in Michigan like me. She’s 125,500 miles old.Car

Margaret is a champ. So far this winter, we’ve had several days of at least -20 degree windchills (that’s not even counting all the other below zero days), and she sits outside all night and starts right up every morning. She’s a little groggy at first, but she comes around. I think we do just as well as native Minnesotans—maybe better. Jonathan’s car, which doesn’t have a name, can’t do that unless it sleeps in the garage.

 

This morning Margaret and I had a great conversation.

“Good job, Margaret. You can do it. We’ve just gotta get to work and we’ll be fine. I know it’s slippery, but you can do it. We just gotta stay safe and we’ll be okay. Just keep going.”

Then I patted her dashboard. Repeat four or five times and you have our ride to work. We made it without incident. A little pep talk goes a long way!

And Jonathan thinks it’s silly to name your car.

Lately I’m . . .

Moving. Official moving day was October 13, so we’ve been in the new place for just over two weeks. All of our boxes were gone after three days. I have this problem where I can’t relax until something like that is done. So I took two mornings off work and did it. Our garage is full of empty boxes, but at least I can’t see them from the couch.

Now we just need to find a good deal on a used washer and dryer. Any pointers?

We’re still paying for the old place at least until the week of Thanksgiving (and probably through December, depending on how much time we want to devote to fighting the property management company), and we have to go back to take some things to Goodwill and make the place spotless. Eventually I’ll get that done.

This is the old place before we left. Pictures of the new place coming soon!

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Getting lost on purpose. Kinda. We don’t know our new area at all. At least, we didn’t. We’ve done an awful lot of driving around just to see what we can see—usually without even turning on the GPS. Sometimes that’s the best way to get your bearings. But I keep having this problem where I think of a certain direction as the “front.” Does that make any sense? Whether it does or not, it’s confusing the heck out of me. Some day I’ll know where I am.

Adjusting. I’m still mourning the loss of our old location. It was so close to everything—Trader Joe’s, the gym, Target. Now we’re at least 10 minutes from anything. And I can’t figure out which Target to go to because you can draw a 10-minute circle around where we live and find a Target in any direction. But at least our apartment finally feels like home.

Visiting LaCrosse. Jonathan’s sister Jennafer is currently living in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the whole family (minus two) went to visit her. Joanthan’s parents brought their boat and we spent the afternoon cruising the Mississippi. I’ve always loved driving through that area on road trips because the scenery is gorgeous. And fall is no different . . .

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 Loving fall. Really, this just means that I’m anticipating snow. I do like the pretty leaves for awhile, and the crisp air is refreshing, but I’m really just waiting for that first accumulation. We had a few flurries the other day…

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Going deeper. Our Life Group is doing the first book in the 2:7 series from the Navigators, which has me reading my Bible on a  daily basis and digging for things that stick out to me. It’s always been so easy for me to speed read and not learn anything, but having to write down what I’m learning and reading a different version (ESV­—usually I use NLT) has made a difference. Right now I’m in Hebrews. We’ve already read Luke and Daniel.

In addition to that, I’m also reviewing The Wayfinding Bible from Tyndale, and that has me reading even more. Last night I read about the flood.

 

I’m hoping to find more time for blogging now that we’re settled in. We might even get Internet at home, which is something we haven’t had since I used dial-up to finish my online classes almost four years ago. We shall see.

Unknown No More (Kinda)

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Awhile ago, I posted about some big changes that could be coming for me and Jonathan. Well, they came, and today I can finally tell you about them.

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downtown

Tomorrow morning, Jonathan starts a new job as the managing editor of a newspaper on the east side of the Twin Cities. (He’s still working for the same company, just a different paper and a different office.) And this Sunday, we’re making what feels like an awfully big move to be closer to his new office. (It’s not really that big—I’m keeping my job and we’re not changing churches, but the new place is at least half an hour from where we are now, and we don’t know the area at all.)

River

This has been a long time coming, and we’re excited (and a bit stressed) that it’s finally here. It’ll be a great opportunity for Jonathan and a bit of a “culture shock” for both of us. We really love our current location, and quite honestly, I’m really struggling with the move. Our new place is gorgeous, but it’s in a much more “rural” setting than where we are now. Being minutes from Uptown really has its perks, and I’m going to miss being able to get just about anywhere in two minutes.

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But all whining and worries aside, we’re both confident that God has been guiding us every step of the way, and we can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m excited about getting to know Jonathan’s new community and living in a more “rural” area.

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These pictures are from when we visited Jonathan’s new coverage area in August. Pictures of our new apartment will come after we get settled in. In the meantime, say a prayer for us. We’re having a few difficulties with the company that manages our current apartment and aren’t quite sure of the best way to handle it.

So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I’m getting settled :)

Not Exactly How I Planned to Spend Grandparents Day

DSCN7083We were all set to go up north on Friday after work to help Jonathan’s grandparents take the dock out of the lake just like we did last year. While I waited for Jonathan to come home, I packed and texted back and forth with Jonathan’s grandpa, giving him our ETA, letting him know that yes, we would stop and pick up taco shells on our way, and telling him I loved him too. After about three hours in the car, we arrived, at a late taco dinner (pretty much a tradition), visited with Grandma and Grandpa, and went to bed really late, but not before Grandma gave us her customary, “You get up when you get up.” The plan was for us to catch up on sleep, get up, have brunch, and maybe take the boat out for one last spin around the lake. Then the boys would go take the dock out of the lake.

But this weekend did not go as planned.

We woke up sometime after 8:00 a.m. to Grandma knocking on the door, apologizing for waking us and asking Jonathan if he could please go talk to Grandpa because he thinks he might be having a heart attack.

The night before, Grandpa had said more than once that he wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t give details. Turns out that meant he had been having some pretty classic heart attack symptoms since Thursday. We got up, threw some things together, and Jonathan drove quite a ways to the nearest “hospital” (basically a glorified clinic with an emergency room. When you’re that far north, hospitals are few and far between). On the ride, Grandpa was acting like himself, asking Jonathan to slow down and did he go through a lot of tires and could he please go a little faster?

Grandma was just in awe of the way God had worked it out for Jonathan and me to be with them on this particular weekend. We had made plans for a different date and had switched those plans twice, finally landing on this weekend at the last minute. Since Grandma doesn’t drive much, it would not have been easy for her to drive that morning especially. It really was a blessing that we were there to do the driving and help where needed.

Having never experienced a real emergency before, I was surprised I was able to remain calm. (Jonathan is what one of my friends calls a “steady Eddie,” so I expected him to be that way, but not me.) My first instinct was to pray. So I started praying and I spent a good bit of time texting people I knew would pray for Grandpa. Since I had gone to bed without brushing my teeth or showering, I made sure I packed my toothbrush and makeup bag. I kept quiet nearly the whole car ride, not really knowing what to say. While we waited for news, Grandma sent us to the vending machines, where we looked for some kind of breakfast. We ended up with a bag of peanuts and a diet coke for her and pink lemonade, pop tarts, and cinnamon Certs (that’s what happens when you push the wrong numbers!) for us.

They did some tests, told us Grandpa had, in fact, had a severe heart attack, and prepared to airlift him to Minneapolis. Grandma couldn’t ride in the helicopter, so we drove her all the way back to the house to pick up our suitcase and car and pack for the hospital stay.

We collected the typical things you’d think to take, like clean underwear, things for Grandma to work on, and quarters for Grandpa’s Sunday paper, but since it’s a three-hour drive to Minneapolis and since Grandma was expecting bypass surgery and therapy afterward, we brought other things too. Like an entire box of tomatoes. And another box of green peppers. And a bag of cucumbers, an entire pumpkin pie, a few peaches, and two coolers full of food that Grandma thought would go to waste while they were in the Cities.

It took us about an hour to get back to the house, load everything, and leave for the hospital. Jonathan drove Grandma in her van and I followed in our car. I think it was hard for all three of us to know that we wouldn’t see Grandpa for several hours. Grandma busied herself with phone calls to and from loved ones, Jonathan drove and offered support when needed, and I prayed a bit and listened to shows on public radio for the entire three hours, not really wanting to think much about what was going on. I calmed myself by remembering that Grandpa was in exactly the right place to get the help he needed.

When we stopped for gas and lunch at Subway, Jonathan told me Grandpa had made it to the hospital, had a stent put in, and was already out of surgery, doing well, and expected to go home on Monday (which he did!). Jonathan’s mom was with him.

When we finally arrived, around 3:00 p.m., I sank into a chair in the waiting room and almost lost it. The stress of the day and the utter relief that Grandpa was okay finally hit me, and it was all I could do to not burst into tears. But Jonathan doesn’t have a weepy family like I do, and I wanted to keep myself in check. After Jonathan’s mom gave us a few more details, we got to sit with Grandpa. Other than being in intensive care and connected to a bunch of machines, he was his normal self, and I was so relieved.

I was surprised how many people thanked us for “everything you did.” What else would we do? I wondered. We love Grandpa just as much as you. But I realized that just like me, everyone else was just grateful Grandpa was okay. They were grateful, just as I was, that we were there to help. But we weren’t the ones who should be thanked—I have no doubt that God made sure we were there at just the right time.

This whole experience made me realize that how you respond in an emergency isn’t too far from how you respond in a non-emergency (maybe it’s different with others, but that was certainly the case with us). So often we think that it’ll be different when it matters, but is that really true? Do the things you care about most really change in an emergency? Despite the circumstances, your behavior and the things you care about might not change as much as you’d think—Jonathan still kept his cool and made sure he had a book to read; Grandpa still won the award for best backseat driver ever and worried about us (“Tell the kids not to worry about the dock”); and Grandma still kept everyone in the loop and wanted to make sure her food would be enjoyed. Me? Well, to my shame, I realized I care too much about how I look (who needs makeup at the hospital?), And I discovered prayer is my go-to in any situation.

The most important thing I realized is just how much Grandpa and Grandma mean to me. We went back to the hospital to visit on Sunday, and I must say, there’s no better way to celebrate Grandparent’s Day than with your grandparents.

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This is us this time last year—with Grandma and Grandpa and Jonathan’s brother Christopher.

To all of you who prayed for us this weekend, thank you! Your support and prayers meant so much to me and the rest of the family. I truly believe your prayers are part of the reason Grandpa is doing so well.

Hope and a Future

The beginning of the school year makes me sentimental.

But who am I kidding?—I’m always sentimental.

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about my freshman year at Taylor and how different my life looked when I started college. I’ve been reminded how awesome God is.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’” It’s a verse I quoted over and over to myself as I faced my first year at college with utter terror. (You think I’m exaggerating? I cried almost every day of my senior year of high school just because I knew I’d be leaving home on my own—three hours a way from my family and no friends to hide behind.) As many times as I quoted it though, I didn’t understand the depth of its meaning until now, as I look back at how my life has changed and how God has used each step to teach me and further His kingdom.

My college roommate, Dana, has become a life-long friend who understands me better than almost anyone. God used her to push me out of my comfort zone and show me what a Christian friendship looks like.

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I met Jonathan and spent six months waiting for him to ask me out. And then I spent 14 months praying God would let me marry him. We just celebrated our fourth anniversary.

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I left my beloved home state of Michigan and moved to what one of my friends from home calls, “The Great White North.” It’s not the same, but I really have come to love Minnesota.

I learned what it’s like to be part of a committed, Christ-following community. My days at Taylor were filled with professors, students, and even cafeteria workers who loved Jesus. And now our church (also where I work) has brought us the same gift here in Minnesota. What a blessing to be surrounding by such a faithful, positive, and supportive group of people.

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I discovered a passion for editing and had the opportunity to intern at a major Christian publishing house. What a learning experience! And now I often use my skills to help friends and friends of friends edit the books they’ve written to further the gospel and share hope with the world. Not the way I planned to do things, but it’s been so rewarding.

Either He's God or He's Not

My parents divorced after nearly 27 years of marriage. Not gonna lie—this has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced. It caused me to question every aspect of my life and rethink all of my childhood memories. And it’s wreaked havoc on my entire family. But God has taught me a lot about what’s important in life, and I’ve seen my family come to rely on Him in ways they never have before—a blessing amid the ashes.

Now, as Jonathan and I face an unknown future yet again, I’m excited about the challenges it will bring and the ways God will grow us. I can’t share details now, but we might have some big changes coming up before the year ends, and I know they’ll stretch us in new ways. (For the record—we’re not pregnant!)

I can look back on what God has already done in my life and quote Jeremiah 29:11 with so much more confidence: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’”