Monthly Archives: July 2013

Redemption in Its Finest Form

We greeted each other with huge smiles and hugs as we took seats around a small table. After getting some burgers and sodas, we shared about life; we heard how he was doing, told him about the wedding, talked about current events. We asked him what the Lord was teaching him, and he told us how he’s been reading the Gospel of John. I’d never met him in person, so he shared with me his story: how God redeemed his life, taking his sin and dirtiness, and making him whole. We talked and joked for hours, and, when the time came for Morgan and I to leave, we were so sad to say goodbye, knowing that it’d probably be a couple of months til we saw him again.

Our interaction with our friend that day seems like any old lunch date.

However, we were at Keen Mountain Correctional Center, a Virginia state prison that ranks as one of the highest security prisons. Before we got to meet with our friend, we were frisked, with officers checking our mouths, feet, and all over. We trekked through fenced yards surrounded by barbed wire and surrendered our belongings at the front desk. Our burgers came from a vending machine, and guards patrolled the visitation room as we shared life together for a few short hours.

Morgan and I have the incredible opportunity to call an inmate our brother in Christ. After his crime (that was high profile and all over the news), my mother-in-law Lucy decided that, just like everyone else, this man deserved to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. She got his address and shared the gospel through letters, and this man came to know the Lord.

I know his story well, and I still get goosebumps every time I share it. This man is changed. He is redeemed. He is loved and he loves. When Lucy was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, he had a whole team of prayer warriors interceding on her behalf (and the Lord responded and healed her!). He shares his faith with other prisoners, and he’s getting baptized in a couple of weeks (praise God). He committed a horrendous crime, and he’ll spend the rest of his life paying the consequence for that. However, his eternity is sealed with our heavenly Father–there is no greater picture of redemption than this man.

Once, Lucy was talking to him about spending life in prison, and he quickly responded, telling her that he’s in jail forever because he deserves to be in jail forever. His remorse is overwhelming–he recognizes his sin, and it disgusts him. He has so much joy, though, because his hope is in God and not in this life. He knows that he has been forgiven.

Last week at church, our pastor preached on depression in believers. When thinking about how to go on in the midst of struggles and trials, our application was “Hope is a person.” This inmate literally will never be able to find hope in anything other than Christ. He is confined to prison for the rest of his life, with no hope of leaving. Yet, he has abundant joy because he has faith that God purposefully orchestrated his life to bring him into a personal relationship with Him.

What if we looked at life that same way? Our struggles and trials are momentary. We get down because things aren’t lining up “perfectly” (aka the way we want things to line up). God is GOOD. He is present, He is prevalent, and He is powerful. If He has the strength to redeem a murderer, doesn’t He have the strength to redeem our mundane and petty issues?

Why I Should Have Listened to 7 Year-Old Holly

Who knew my English degree would be next to useless? Oh, I did.

I came into Virginia Tech as a Psychology major–my goal was to be a Sports Psychologist. [Enter: pause for laughter]. I seriously have no clue where that dream came from…maybe my past in sports/sitting the bench in games in which we were up by 40. I just knew other semi-athletes needed some inspirations.

However, after a couple of weeks as a Psych major, I realized that I was part of the College of Science. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that when I was enrolled in 2 science courses, a lab, and had to sit through Science Orientation. I don’t know, people–stop judging my ignorance. I loathe science, so that was that for Holly as a Sports Psychologist. [PS are there really Sports Psychologists? Did I just make that up?]

I’ve always loved to read, and, as you can see from my last post, I am thoroughly skilled in writing (ha), so I decided to become an English major. Originally, I wanted to teach high school English to inner city high school kids (yeah, like Hilary Swank in “Freedom Writers.” Still a dream). But then I got to senior year, got senioritis, and didn’t want to go back to school. I also realized I could work with the underprivileged in other aspects, so I am holding back on the teaching dream.

All that to say, I am unemployed.

However, I went through some MAJOR phases throughout my childhood. These were just a few of my previous dreams:

  • firefighter
  • president of the USA (move over Obama)
  • actress
  • writer
  • baker
  • surgeon
  • inventor (Once, I tried to patent a device that squeezed the juice out of a tuna can. Wow I wish I was kidding.)
  • coach of a college team (Didn’t care what sport, I just thought it’d be cool.)

I should have stuck with the Tuna Can Squeezer. Why did I not listen to seven-year old Holly?! I’d be sleeping amongst dollar bills.

I’m grateful that the Lord has a lot of patience with me and super grateful that He has a perfect plan for my future. 🙂

Vacation and Family Time

This week, Morgan and I have been on vacation with my parents in the Outer Banks. It’s been so relaxing, filled with perfect sunny weather, books upon books, tons of laughter, delicious food, and reminiscing on how crazy the past year has been (with our engagement, senior year, and the wedding). It feels like the Lord is slapping me in the face with His goodness, and I’m basking in it!

My parents are incredible people. I could write pages upon pages of how awesome they are, but I’ll save that for another time (because, honestly, they’re probably the only people reading my blog). This week has been different–I haven’t really spent a ton of time with my parents since we got married; it’s adding a little flare to our relationships in a great way. I watched as my dad threw the frisbee with Morgan on the beach today, realizing that my dad’s dream of having a son finally came true. My mom and I went shopping this morning at the outlets, and her excuse for buying me a KitchenAid mixer (OH YEAH) was, “I’ll use your deceased grandmother’s retirement fund money. It’s like Granny is getting you a wedding present sent from heaven.” [That mixer feels like a wedding present sent from heaven, but I’ll save that rant for another day] [Okay wait, I got a refurbished, vintage-looking mixer for 75% off retail value. I’M STILL FREAKING OUT.]

When we got to the beach house, my dad handed me a box he’s been saving of all of my stuff–starting with my birth certificate and ending with my college graduation program. After sobbing for a little bit, realizing that he literally saved the notes I wrote in high school, asking him to wake me up at 7am instead of 7:30, I spent approximately 4 hours reading all of my old writing to Morgan. He loved it. 

When I was younger, I was certain that I’d become the next bestselling poet/author. I mean, with talent like this, why should anyone have doubted me?

I hold in my hand my future,

That’s what I have been told.

The things put in my hand today,

Will stay here till I’m old!

Whether a teacher, a doctor,

A pastor or more.

Anything I’d like to be,

Or something I have not been waiting for!

Yeah, that little number won first place in the PTA Reflections Contest. 

It also seems as though I truly understood theology, with a firm grasp on who God was. 

Dear God, Thank you for haveing people in the world. Remider wen i was tocking to you about mom wen she was sick. Well I’am so sorry about that time I was just worried about her. My dad was just telling me that i dont have to say sorry for bothring you.

Nailed it at age 6. 

My dad and I have always been super, super close. As in…we practiced our Daddy/Daughter dance for the wedding for about 9 months so that neither of us would hit the ground on the dance floor from sobbing. I even entered him into the 3rd Annual Virginia’s Greatest Dads Contest with this proposal. 

My Dad is the greatest because he loves me! He makes me feel better in my heart when things go wrong. He wakes me up for Arthur every day at 7:30. He plays with me on the computer and lets me read to him! He is a Lunch Dad and comes to Treat Days at school. He goes to work everyday for me so that I can be safe at home. I am going to call him Mr. Good Dad. 

I wonder why that nickname didn’t stick. It took us entering into the contest to realize that it was for the “Divorced Fathers Coalition.” Whoops. My parents are very happily married. 

I love my parents. The Lord has completely overwhelmed me with how good He is to me and how much He has provided for me over the years through on these two. My prayer is that I constantly am struck by this gratitude. 

The Third Best Decision We’ve Made

The inevitable first: trusting in Jesus. The mushy-gushy second: getting married 😉 🙂 

THE THIRD: Purchasing our very own, functioning, inexpensive, perfect VCR player. 

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There she is. In all of her glory. 

Morgan and I stood in Goodwill one day (we loveeee Goodwill) staring at the electronics. I had been asking/begging for him to “splurge” and get one…ever since I saw that Goodwill had “The Wedding Singer” in stock. He gave in (who can resist my graveling??); the next incredibly difficult decision was which hand-me-down VCR player to purchase. 

Morgan hauled all of the VCRs over to an outlet and tried each of them out…only to realize that, without plugging them into a TV, we would never know if they actually worked. I love that sweet boy. 

We sat there really struggling to make a decision between the $4.95 one and the $5.95 one before deciding to invest the extra dollar to reduce the risk of it not working. I look back on that day and see how much of college-graduate, newly-married, stingy people we have become.

Our most recent adventure has been building up our VHS collection. I can’t help but look over at it and laugh throughout the day…it is so old-school. But how can you resist a “5 VHS tapes for $1” deal at the local thrift store?? 

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Time to sit with my main squeeze and watch Happy Gilmore. I bet you all go out and buy one of these gems tomorrow!

 

July 4th Failure

I giggle every time I look at this picture comparison. I tried so hard. I even took this cake to a July 4th barbecue, and my sister-in-law legitimately thought we were announcing that we were having a baby because of the pink and baby blue. [Oh my gosh we are not having a baby right now.] 

This is what it was supposed to look like. I tried so very hard. 

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(from http://www.bettycrocker.com)

 

AND this is how it came out…

 

 

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Lol.

Where I’m At

My life right now is both super hectic and super boring right now, but I am at such a happy place. One month and nine days ago, I married the love of my life on a perfect summer day in Blacksburg, Virginia (where he is from and where we both went to college). I’ve probably spent about three full hours of my life watching our wedding highlight real over and over again, but I’m unashamed. It was the happiest day of our lives–but each day of marriage is SUCH a blessing! YAY I could go on forever with mushy gushy stuff but I’ll stop.

So now we are fully moved into a 900 square foot apartment. It’s precious and underground (literally…underground) and we LOVE it. But we are moving again in two short weeks to our next adventure–as quickly as we unpacked, we’re packing up again. This time, we’ll be moving into an 800 square foot little nugget duplex in Roanoke, Virginia. Morgan will be teaching in the area…we can’t wait to start fresh in a new place.

Some may ask…well, Holly, what are you doing with your life? And I would say, “That is a very good question.” I’ve spent the past month learning to be domestic (or, as the title of the blog says, “semi-domestic”). You see, I grew up in a home with a mother who (love you mom) cooked baked chicken, broccoli, and rice for dinner almost every night, with the occasional “quesadilla:” a tortilla with melted cheese popped in the microwave for 20 seconds. Mom’s motto has always been, “We eat to live, not live to eat.” My sweet husband, on the other hand, is one of three boys, and my mother-in-law is the epitome of domesticity. She could make a piece of paper taste like heaven.

When Morgan and I started seriously talking about marriage about a year ago, I decided to experiment with a recipe once a week. I clearly remember one week last August–my good friend had just gotten married and sent me a cute little recipe card of her and her new husband’s favorite meal. I thought, “OH we will be just like them and make this recipe and snuggle and be so cute and domestic.” Oh gosh I was so wrong. The memory of that night includes the smoke alarm, tears, the “I’ll never cook like your mom,” and Morgan saying, “Babe, we will just eat them burnt!!” We sat at the table, me sobbing and Morgan reassuringly saying, “YUM,” over and over again.

I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way this past year, but, truthfully, I popped in a frozen pizza last week because I burnt the homemade one. Through this blog, I can’t wait to chronicle all my failures so that you guys can laugh alongside us. BUT, I’m also really learning and can’t wait to share all my yummy and (mostly) healthy recipes. I’m no expert, so don’t expect greatness…but it may be better than Lean Cuisines.

Other than learning to cook, I’ve applied to approximately fifteen jobs and heard back from one of them. Who knew that my Bachelor’s degree would be fairly worthless?? However…I am certain that the Lord has a plan not only for my future job but also for this time of waiting. I keep talking about learning to cook and clean and be a wife, but, in a WAY bigger sense, I’m learning to love and serve and submit to my wonderful husband in the way that God calls me to love. I’m learning that loving Morgan doesn’t mean taking care of house stuff just to wait for his praise and acknowledgement. I do these things because I love him! My role at this stage of life, in this stage of waiting, is to love and serve my  sweet farmer husband, and one tiny and simple way to do that is through my little domestic undertakings. I am grateful for this stage–anxiously waiting for a job and the next stage–but relishing in this time of rest, relaxation, newness, and growth.

YAY for the new stage of life. So grateful for the opportunity to share this via blogging.

 

I have such a talented friend. Check her out :)

I have such a talented friend. Check her out at http://www.kaitlynphippsphotography.com

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