Category: Travel

We finished seminary!

At approximately 3:00 AM last Friday, Ben and I finished seminary. Here are our 3 AM faces:


The final week was total madness. When both people in the household are working and finishing grad school at the same time, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be Crazytown USA! Make that the semi-annual Crazy Parade in Crazytown USA. Every day we would go to class and/or go to work, finish up at work around 5 pm, come home, slam some dinner, and start studying. About 10 PM we would take a break to get Starbucks coffee, which would keep us going until anywhere between 2 and 4 AM. I don’t know what it is about Starbucks iced coffee with milk, but if I drank that at 11 or so, I wouldn’t feel sleepy AT ALL until 4:00 in the morning. Insanity. Delicious, caffeinated insanity.

After waking up Friday morning we pretty much rolled out of bed, did laundry, packed our suitcases and headed to Williamsburg. Thank goodness we had had the foresight to book a weekend getaway there about a month earlier. We stayed in the always fabulous Powhatan Resort and just chilled out. We took a LOT of naps, had amazing breakfasts on our outdoor patio, went shopping at an outlet mall, went swimming, took walks, and hung out in the historic downtown area (my favorite place!).



It was beyond awesome. Kind of felt like another (short) honeymoon. It was so nice to be able to focus on each other instead of on our darn, darn laptops. Or any screen, for that matter.


It was great to be able to recharge and reconnect with our weekend in Williamsburg. Since then we’ve been struggling a little to get back on a schedule that feels normal — having a couple of weeks where we habitually drank coffee at midnight and stayed up til 2 or 3, followed by a weekend where we slept whenever we wanted, kind of confused the heck out of our poor bodies. Plus there’s always some residual crankiness to deal with. But things have been improving every day, and I think we’re almost back to normal … whatever that is.

Today we got some of our grades back, and it looks like all A’s for both of us this semester! We’re happy, and grateful to finish strong.

This weekend is graduation. And by “this weekend” I mean “this weekend”! The whole weekend is pretty much one big event. Friday night is our baccalaureate service, which we’re both speaking at (gulp). Saturday morning we have a practice and an open-house party at the seminary president’s house. Sunday is the actual graduation day and after that we’ll be going out to dinner with Ben’s family. My family can’t be here, but as a graduation present they bought Ben a new suit and me a new dress, so we will be proudly rocking our new sponsored outfits! :-) I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures … for this, my very-last-ever graduation. I think. ;-)


Theological tomboy

In the latest twist of irony that seems to accompany my life, this past weekend my church held a women’s conference. Many women from the church went to nearby Williamsburg and (I hear) had a great time. Except I wasn’t there, because I was at the regional conference of the Evangelical Theological Society in Lynchburg, VA. With a roomful of dudes. Lots and lots and lots of dudes.

That’s the thing about being in seminary as a woman. You had better get used to being around men all the time, because that is the reality. While part of me thinks that this is an unfortunate reality, part of me has made peace with it. I would still love to see more women studying theology. Meeting a woman who has studied theology or who knows Greek or who understands this hugely important part of my life at all, still gives me a huge rush because there are so few of us. My friend Annalisa has been such an inspiration to me because she is a thinking, studying, writing, seminary-trained woman. It’s awesome to meet women like that, but there (in my experience at least) are not a lot of them.

But anyway, the reality of being a female seminarian surrounded by men is still reality, and it’s OK. It just makes me feel like a theological tomboy — running with the boys when all the women are at a ladies’ conference. And I’m fine with that. I just happen to fit into more than one community — the community of Christian women, and the seminary/theology community — and I enjoy being a part of both.

I had a lot of fun going to the ETS conference. My professor and a few of my classmates, as well as Ben and I all rented a cabin in the woods outside of Lynchburg. We heard several lectures from the highly-respected Greek scholar Dan Wallace, as well as attended a lot of presentations with the long, wordy titles packed with theological jargon that you’ll only find in academia. Oh, academia. I love you so much. We also had some great food (which fortunately did not include sushi because my last experience with sushi Lynchburg was disastrous — do not attempt) and participated in the stereotypical heated theology discussions. It was pretty classic.


Sorry about the blurry pic — that’s Wallace in the center. My Greek professor, Keiser (on the left) studied with Wallace.


The cabin where we stayed was close to Appomattox Courthouse. Which may or may not be pictured here – we weren’t sure and nobody really cared. Hey, we’re theologians, not historians! Just kidding … the truth is, we didn’t want to pay money to actually enter the historical site … buncha cheapskates. :)

Christmas 2012

Hello! And happy 2013!

I haven’t been seen around here in a very long time due to the insanity of work, but fortunately Christmas break brought an end to all that, and just in time — I think I would have gone crazy if forced to keep the kind of pace I was keeping for much longer. The weekend before Christmas I was finally able to stop working constantly and start doing the Christmasy things that I love. Like going to see the Messiah, and getting together with Ben’s siblings to make gingerbread houses dripping with candy.


Ben and I even carved out a few moments to spend just by ourselves in our own little place, opening presents.


We didn’t have a whole lot of time to ourselves, but we never do anyway, and besides, Christmas is for family. I am deeply grateful for the time we were able to spend with our families this year. After spending almost the entire weekend before Christmas with Ben’s family, we flew up to Minnesota on Christmas Eve to be with mine.



I love being in Minnesota for Christmas, and this year the thick coating of snow everywhere made it feel especially festive. We spent over a week there, just hanging out as a family. Including, of course, opening presents. With ten people in the family, there are lots!



The holiday felt especially slow-paced this year thanks to a very, very bad cold that made its nasty way around to almost every family member that week. Succumbing to the bug brought with it a deep sluggishness and desire to do nothing much more than laze in front of a fire and play board games.



As exhausted as I already was from an extremely hectic month, it wasn’t so bad being sick. Honestly, the slow pace was a relief. We played a TON of games like Scrabble and Ticket to Ride. Watched old movies. Built roaring fires in the fireplace almost every night.


But we didn’t just sit around ALL the time. There was an epic ski trip, which I opted out of due to my bad cold — instead spending time with my sisters checking out my twin’s new apartment and shopping it up at the Mall of America.




We also did a lot of skating — where these pictures were taken.



Perhaps I should have toned down a little of that hockey-novice enthusiasm. Minutes later I fell — hard — and sprained my wrist. Exciting stuff for me; I have never been very accident-prone and don’t often get injured. (Of course that is partly due to my nerdy nature and indoor, bookish lifestyle.) I’m now proudly rocking a brace on my left arm. Glad to report that the initial pain and weakness have greatly improved and I’m now just resting it and waiting for the swelling to go down and the tendons to fully heal.


One of the last things we did before Ben and I had to go home was to make gingerbread men, or as we call them in our tradition, ginger laddies. Grandma always used to make them for Christmas and she always called them ginger laddies for some reason, so now we do too!



Our ginger laddies are a little strange and twisted compared to Grandma’s, though. Grandma used chocolate chips, raisins, and redhots to give her ginger laddies faces, buttons, hands and feet. We make plenty of them like Grandma’s, but we also make demon ginger laddies. Mystical rainbow people. Ninjas. And the like. Whatever comes to mind, really.


Perhaps most epic of all was Caleb’s cannibal cyclops laddie. Which I ate yesterday on the plane coming home. Eating a one-eyed ginger laddie with sparkly sugar blood running down his chest was way more comforting than I ever thought it would be.


My family is so weird and unique, and I love them all so much. The first couple of days back after visiting them are always hard, but I’m doing OK. Thinking back on all the fun memories, missing them, and looking forward to the next time I get to see them.


I even miss your dumb photobombing, Dan.




These are all taken at our favorite coffee shop, Moxie Java … a must if you’re ever in Fargo-Moorhead!


That’s all of us! Thanks for making my Christmas awesome, kids.


Vacation in Michigan

Hi folks, I’m back from my crazy summer of camp! I took a few weeks off after that to chill, SLEEP A LOT, and go on vacation.

Ben and I took a weekend and went to Williamsburg where we pretty much just rested and relaxed. About a week after that, we went to Michigan for a week. My extended family had a reunion there, in Saugatuck/Douglas on the shores of Lake Michigan.

It was amazing. Here are some photos.

We went sailing almost every day on my uncle Ben’s boat.

Playin’ some kemps on the beach.

The hubs tries his hand at being Skipper.

We saw some incredible sunsets. Lots of them, actually — every day was clear & bright, not a drop of rain or a storm the entire week.

Of course I have lots more pictures than that – hopefully I will get a chance to upload some more.

For the moment, I have to get back to work. Yup, I’m back in school for the year! Not sure how I feel about it. I’m full-time this semester, taking Hermeneutics, Missions, and Greek Exegetical Methods I. Crazy to think that I’ll be graduating in the spring with my 2nd master’s!

But that’s only if I actually do the work. :) So excuse me while I go flip some flashcards.

Missin’ my twin

I was going to post this Monday, but the post-office-slow internet connection had other plans.

Last weekend Ben and I made a very quick, very fun trip to Charlottesville, VA where my twin sister Anna is applying for a grad school position at UVa. She currently lives in MN (where my family’s from) and after almost three years of living far apart it is exciting to think/hope/dream that next fall she could be living only a 3-hour drive away.

I’m not really into begging God for stuff, but from time to time, without really being conscious of it, I find myself muttering under my breath, please God please God please God let Anna get into UVa….

I just do hope she gets in. I miss her so much between visits. I miss my WHOLE family, of course, but they’re not likely to all of them pick up and move to Virginia. Having one sibling here would be so nice, though.

Add to that that Charlottesville is completely AWESOME — full of little independent shops, great places to eat, so many great stuffed-to-the-gills used bookstores it makes me feel a little faint, not to mention the beauty of the UVa college itself and the impressively uniform preppiness of its students. I mean, Thomas Jefferson founded this place! It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

So I’m waiting, and wishing, and reeeeally hoping Anna gets in. Knowing that if she does, I probably will basically live in Charlottesville on the weekends. Yay! The good thing is that Ben likes it too. (Little known fact: He was actually born there. Both of his parents graduated from UVa.)

Here’s hoping that 6 months from now will find me hanging out with my sister on a much more frequent basis, spending more money than anyone would think possible on vintage books, and ogling delicious old buildings like this one:

Maine (New England Trip Part III)

I’ve been thinking lately about the vacation we took this past summer and how amazing it was (posted about it here, here, and here). Especially the days we spend in Maine stick in my head — even though it wasn’t my favorite part about the trip at the time — something about the beauty of Maine is just hard to forget! And I never got around to posting pictures of that part of the trip for you guys to enjoy.

So I thought I’d throw them up for you to see — a little piece of summer to look at while winter rapidly approaches. Sorry it took so long to post … but better late than never, right??

I’ll keep text to a minimum since I think the pics can speak for themselves, but to give you a little context, basically our trip to Maine went like this. We had spent several days in Boston, then quickly detoured down to Newport, RI to see the mansions and stuff. So then we drove back up past Boston to Maine, about 5 or 6-hour drive. We stayed in a tiiiiny little town called Winterport, close to Searsport. There really wasn’t anything going on there, like, AT ALL. Except for absolutely beautiful scenery. We stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast there that was kind of an interesting place .. but the breakfasts were really, really good at least. :)

We spent one whole day in the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park area. Now that was an amazing place, and I fully intend to go back someday and stay in Bar Harbor, in a room overlooking the water. We hiked around Acadia National Park all day, and then ended the day in Bar Harbor enjoying fresh lobster at a fantastic restaurant called Galyn’s. Then the next day we had to make our way back to Boston and return our rental car by evening, because the following morning we had to catch a train back to Virginia. So we spent the whole day driving slooowwly down the coast of Maine, stopping to look at interesting things.

We took a lot of pictures at a dock in Searsport. It was so beautiful and peaceful.

All the little dinghy boats that the lobster fishermen row in from their lobster boats…

…and here are their lobster boats, waiting for the next day’s work.

Here is Acadia. Doesn’t it look like Paradise? It kinda was.

Our globe-trotting feet!

OK, I think that’s enough pictures for one post …. so I will post the other half of the pics (including the rest of Acadia, and a few from our drive down the coast) next time!

Hiking in Lynchburg, VA

As I wrote on Friday, this weekend we went to Lynchburg, VA to meet up with our friends from camp who go to Liberty University.

We had a great time. We saw quite a few of our staff from the past year and had a blast hanging out with them. We also spent a lot of time with Ben’s brother Jon and his girlfriend Sarah. Sarah lives here in the VA Beach area and is a good friend of ours, and we actually brought her with us to Lynchburg to surprise Jon. :-) It worked; Jon was very surprised! They’re so cute together.

On Saturday we went hiking in the mountains at this place called Devil’s Marble Yard. The leaves were beginning to turn and it was incredibly beautiful. Jon had his dSLR along and he got some really good pictures, which I am posting here with his permission. If you like them you should ask me for his contact information and pay him lots of $$$ to take pictures for you. He’s good at it. :-D

Here are some pictures we took at a scenic overlook on the way to the trail head. We drove around for a LONG time in the mountains trying to find the trail. Fortunately there was lots of pretty scenery to look at, and nobody got sick driving on those windy windy roads.

Jon and Sarah.

Our good friend Josh went hiking with us. He was one of our camp workers last year and we spent a ton of time together. He’s a really cool guy who likes to make silly faces.

The Belfast Trail leads up to the Marble Yard.

More cute couples!

The fall foliage was amaaaaazing!!

Eye candy.

Here’s Benny looking all studly…

Right about here in the trail was where the “marble yard” part started. All of a sudden instead of the normal trees and small rocks and undergrowth, one side of the mountain was covered in huge chunks of rock, all jumbled and piled together. Here’s Jon climbing the rocks.

By the time we hiked back down to the bottom we were all tired out and hungry but we had had a really good time. On the way back to Lynchburg we hit up a tiny grocery store that looked like it had been there since the dawn of time (sorta) and bought ice cream sandwiches and the best peach tea EVER.

We did a lot besides hiking, which probably explains why I’m so exhausted now. Usually weekend trips are either very fun or very restful, not both. This one was fun. ;-) So hopefully the restful part will come this week. We don’t have class all week so I’m looking forward to evenings that we can spend doing something, anything other than studying! Hopefully lots of sleeping! Yay.

Parting shot:

Thanks again to Jon for the pics, and to you for reading!