Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Long Overdue Update

I started writing tonight for the first time in quite a while.  I was invited to guest write for a blog for a local women's organization and so I sat down at my computer to write.  As those blogs are published, I will post them here.  But, for now, it has come to my attention that my last blog post was in March!  So many things have changed in my life since then and I want to take a moment to share them.

Chicago or Bust!

Most of you know, but for those who don't, in February I moved to the beautiful and windy "Second City".  Well, in truth, I live about 45 minutes North West of Chicago in Elgin, Illinois.  Nick and I had always talked about him finding his way to the South, but the Lord had different plans.  In a time frame that seemed impossible to both of us, the Lord opened the doors for me to move North.  I found someone who was renting a room in a beautiful historic house in Downtown Elgin, packed my car and, with Karlee as co-pilot, headed out on a big adventure.  I may one day write, in detail, about the amazing ways the Lord made it possible for me to move.  So many of my friends and family blessed me in ways for which I can never say thank you enough.  It was truly an overwhelming and humbling time.

Houston, we have a problem...

Karlee and I, packed tightly in my Mustang with many of my belongings, set off on a journey.  We stopped in Atlanta to have breakfast with Jonathan, Joya and Thomas Davis.  Then we detoured through Knoxville to have lunch with my cousins Christy and Jen.  Then it was straight on towards Chicago with more than a few stops at Starbuck's along the way.  We left early on Saturday morning and didn't arrive at Nick's house until well after midnight.  After catching a few winks, we were back up, moved me into my new room and made a trip to IKEA for everything I would need. 

I settled in really quickly and we spent time hanging out while Nick and Karlee got to know each other a little better.  On Monday morning, Karlee and I headed towards the airport and I noticed a problem with my car.  I called Nick to explain what I was hearing and how I wasn't getting any heat when my car completely shut off in the middle of I-90.  I was able to coast to the shoulder where Karlee and I waited for Nick to come rescue us.  He scooped us up, got Karlee to her plane on time and then came back to wait for my car to be towed back to his house.

After a week of diagnostics, he decided that my car had blown a head gasket!  Not exactly the way I wanted to start my life here, but THANK GOD it didn't happen somewhere in the middle of Kentucky!  What grace that God allowed me to make it all the way here where it could become the pet project of a mechanical engineer.  To me, it was completely devestating and overwhelming.  To him, it was nothing but a challenge and a great big puzzle.

We learned a lot about each other and our ability to work as a team during those first few weeks.  We took my engine apart, managed to get it to a machine shop in Chicago to have it remanufactured, and then put it all back together.  I don't know if I've ever been more anxious than the moment I started the new engine for the first time.  It was also the best feeling to have it roar to life!

Fortunately, for me, I was able to work from home for the travel agency.  I can't imagine what I would have done if I'd been committed to a job right away.  Again, the Lord knew what He was doing.  I had hoped to secure a job before I moved,  but the Lord knew what was ahead.

Plastics, my boy - Plastics!

WhileI was working and waiting, Nick's Aunt passed along a possible job opportunity through his Mom.  So, in March, I interviewed for a new job.  However, as this is an area with a high percentage of spanish speakers, they were hoping to find someone bilingual.  So, "no harm, no foul".  It was nice to have the opportunity to interview, but I wasn't desperately searching for a job. 

Truthfully, I wasn't even sure I wanted a new job.  I've worked for my family for 15 years and didn't know how I would like working for someone else.  But, I felt like it was important for me to begin establishing a life here, so I kept praying about the opportunity God had for me.

About a month later, I was called back to the company with which I interviewed and was offered a job.  I was initially hired to be an office administrator and accounting assistant with ADMO, Inc., a local plastic injection molding manufacturer.  Actually, I was hired without a specific job in mind.  My new boss loved the fact that I had come from a family business where I had learned to wear many hats.  So, I worked as an admin for the President of the company, assisted the staff accounting and also managed IT issues.  I really loved it right away!

I started on May 1st and on July 9th, I moved into a new position as Human Resources Administrator.  The Staff Accountant (Her name is Nicole and has truly become a good friend!), was being promoted, so I was given the option of taking over the accounting or stepping into the recently vacated HR role.  After thinking about it and talking it over with Nick, I decided that HR was a great fit for me.  It was the best use of my skill set and I really believed I could excel.  So, I accepted that position and have been learning so much ever since!

I have a boss (who, incidentally is very similar to my Dad) who really wants to teach me.  He's happy to help me learn as I step into this new role in a larger organization.  I feel like I've been thrown into the deep end with the situations I've had to handle in a few short months, but I am very proud of the job I'm doing.  It's very exciting to step into a new industry and a new role and see success.  It's been very encouraging!

A New Harvest

Nick and I have also been attending Harvest Bible Chapel.  It's a HUGE church, especially in comparison with the church I've been a member of for the last 8 years.  I love the teaching and the worship and I am finally beginning to step into a woman's Bible study.  Nick and I have been spending some time with one of the pastors and have been really encouraged by him.  I've truly enjoyed a season of rest since moving here, but I am waiting to see what the Lord would have me do as life moves forward.

I've been at this for a while and probably should hit the hay.  But, I just wanted to let everyone know that while I miss my family and friends in Georgia, I absolutely KNOW that the Lord moved me to Illinois! God has given Nick and I a beautiful story and an amazing chance to be together again.  His family has been amazing, too!  In fact, his sister-in-law, Ashley, was my first friend here.  Drew, Ashley, Tony and Renee have been so welcoming and I love getting to spend time with them.  I love to see Nick's relationships with his brothers.  I have been loved really well by Jackie and Joe all of the way from Seattle and can't wait to see them in person (along with their 3 beautiful boys!).  And, Nick's parents have recently moved back South to Lexington, Kentucky, making them a reasonable drive away.  In fact, we were able to spend Labor Day Weekend with them and had a great time.  I'm loving the life we are building here.

I hope to share, in more detail, about the amazing way God is blessing us.  But, for now, I'm signing off and wishing you all a good night!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Something Controversial

Over the last few days, a video has gone viral on the internet. Unlike so many viral videos, this is not of talking animals, dancing grandmas, or any number of other zany videos that make us laugh throughout the course of the day. No, this is a 30 minute documentation of the story of Josephy Kony, a war criminal.

The video has sparked a lot of controversy and conversation. The organization responsible for the video, Invisible Children, has come under scrutiny as well. All of this is good. It's important to ask questions and to do research. Before getting involved in a movement, it's important to ask questions.

I am staggered by the darkness in this world. There are some days where I am sick to my stomach and reduced to tears over what happens here. It can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. I hate that we've given so few real alternatives to women that they often feel the only "choice" they have is to terminate the life of their child. I hate the degredation of the soul that allows for enslavement and torture of young people in a sex trade that is more alive than ever. I hate the state of our economy that has even 1st world, American children going to bed hungry at night. I hate that all over the world, people of all ages are starving, overwhelmed by disease, and afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. I hate that evil has such a hold on this world and so much power. This list doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the injustice plaguing us today. Not even a little bit.

But, in an age where my generation and the ones after are far too often apathetic and selfish, I love to see the stir created by Invisible Children. I love to see that they are working to make a difference. I remember when they began their fight and how it stirred up the hearts of my friends. It's not the only thing in the world that needs our attention, but it has taken root in the hearts of some and I love to see them trying to make a difference.

Everyone must make the choice for themselves if and where to begin. There are things that make me weep and yet, I am overwhelmed at where to start. But, this movement requires little of me and stirs up a desire for me to find other ways to help other people. It shows me the power of one voice when committed to make a change.

For those of you who have questions about how Invisible Children spends the donations they receive, they've outlined and answered as many questions as they could find in the blogosphere and news wires. Please visit their blog for more information:

Whether you agree with the Stop Kony movement or not,I hope you'll take the time to watch the film and let it stir your heart. Whether it stirs you to help "Make Kony Famous" or not, I hope it helps you peek outside of your own circumstance and look for a way to help combat a little of the darkness in the world. I hope it encourages you that one voice, committed to change, can make a difference.

Here's the video for those who are interested:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Something Scary

Last weekend I did something I honestly never dreamed I'd do. I can honestly say the thought never once crossed my mind that I would ever try something quite so frightening. But, I did it.

I took my turn on the flying trapeze.

It's ok if you need to stop and read that sentence again. I'll wait.

For those of you who know me well, you have probably discovered that I have an intense fear of heights. I abhor ladders. And, if you're asking me to walk across something I can see through, you may as well ask me to land on the moon. Did you know that trapeze class incorporates ALL 3 of those things? I bet you didn't.

But, you see, I have this friend who always comes up with crazy ideas and loves to push me outside of my comfort zone. And, she thought trapeze class sounded like fun.

Unbeknownst to this friend, I've recently made a little promise to myself not to let fear stop me from trying new things. I want more adventure in my life and I'm tired of being paralyzed by the "what ifs". Enter Amy...and trapeze class.

When we arrived at the facility, the advanced class was in progress. Watching those young folks "fly through the air with the greatest of ease" did nothing to quell my fears. I watched them scurry up the shaky ladder and blithely flip off the edge of the net. None of that seemed like fun to me. Not even a little.

But, I did it.

I couldn't feel my legs for about an hour afterwards because of all of the adrenaline and emotion running through my veins, but I am so proud of myself! I couldn't believe I was able to actually climb the ladder, jump off the platform, swing on the trapeze and flip off the net.

This may seem like a small thing to you, but to me it was enormous. So, thank you, Amy for pushing me to do something I never thought I'd do. Thanks for taking the plunge with me. I'm hoping this year is full of adventure as I learn to let go of my fear and step out in faith.

Here's a little video of my trapeze adventure for those who may be interested:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something Manly

I'm currently reading the book "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge. It's a book that talks specifically about how men were created to reflect the glory of God and teach us about His character. It's been an interesting journey into the wild heart of man.

Eldredge states that there are three deep seated desires in the heart of a man. He must have a battle to fight, and adventure to live and a beauty to rescue. It's been interesting to dig into those three things and see what God has called man to be. I am also reading this book's counterpart for women, called "Captivating", by John and his wife Stasi Eldredge. In "Captivating" the couple states that the deep seated desires of a woman's heart are to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to have a beauty to unveil. Reading these books together has been a beautiful journey into how we are created in unique, yet complimentary ways, to display the face of God to the world.

In "Captivating", the authors talk about the wounds that women can receive from men who do not use their strength appropriately. Sometimes strength is used aggressively and a woman is wounded by a man who physically or verbally abuses her. But, sometimes, the strength is passive and not used to stand up for or fight for the woman. Sometimes she is ignored, or not defended, or not seen. When there isn't balance to strength, it wounds.

A few weeks ago, I was given a beautiful display of strength used appropriately. We have a project, a remodel, that has become overwhelming. It had become a drain on the financial and emotional resources of my family. It needed to be tackled, but we did not have the strength.

And so, the men showed up.

My Dad's father, his brothers, my brother, and men from my church all came together, pooling their strength and resources, and made a huge dent in the project. They came through for me and my family. It was a truly beautiful thing to watch. I am blessed to have such men in my life.

Sometimes, that is what we need to see of the character of God. He shows up for us. He comes through for us. He uses His strength for our good. He doesn't sit by and watch as we sink, nor does He yell at us to try harder. No. "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17)!

I am so grateful to the men who showed up that day to show me how strength comes through. Each of you reflected the glory of God that day and my heart is forever grateful!

Many thanks to:

Bob Solly (Grandpa)
Robert Solly (Uncle)
Tom LaSalle (Uncle)
Deno Trentman (Uncle)
Dan Solly (Dad)
Daniel Solly (Brother)

And the men of Word of Life Free Methodist Church
Kevin Bowers
Bob Britton
Tom Gridley
Michael McBrayer
Jeff Minor
Greg Nitchman

I pray that the Lord gives back a double portion of what you give out as you use your strength to show the rest of us who He is. It means so much to have someone show up and come through. I'm more grateful than I have words to express!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Something Beautiful

All too often, I don't take the time to stop and blog unless I've been processing some deep truth in my life. More often than not, blogging helps me finally distill my thoughts into truth and belief. I share here, quite frequently, the struggles of my journey.

But, I've come to realize that I don't project a full and complete picture.

When I only take the time to talk about when life is hard, I lead my readers to believe my life is always hard. That is simply not true and is, in fact, far from the reality of it.

My life is full of joy, happiness and people who love me really well. The story that God is writing for me is nothing short of beautiful.

I had a taste of that "something beautiful" this Christmas and New Year's. I had the opportunity to take time to travel to Illinois to be with Nick. And, while I missed my family and spent my first Christmas without them, it was filled with so much joy I could hardly take it in.

Some of you know the details of my story and how the Lord is working in my life. It's been so beautiful to see how He can redeem things I believed were lost. This trip was a gift to me from a Father Who loves me very much.

Nick's Christmas gift to me was "Experiencing Life Together". Because we live far apart, we don't get to experience much life together at all. So, we were intentional about getting out and taking on life together. We baked cookies, bought and decorated a Christmas tree, put together puzzles, watched old Christmas movies and worshipped together at his church. And, the whole next week, he took me to several places in Chicago. We explored the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brookfield Zoo at night and he even got me out on "the Ledge" in Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). It was a week of seeing the wonder of the world and living together in it. It was really something beautiful.

I wanted to take the time to share these things with you. And, although I don't really make New Year's Resolutions, perhaps I should. Perhaps I should resolve to share more of the joy of my life instead of only the difficult pieces. My life is full of beauty and love. And, I serve a God who is weaving redemption through every part of my story...and yours.

Click here for pictures
So, hopefully I will have more beautiful things to share with you in 2012! I hope it's a blessed year for you all!