teamwork rules. {plus the idea of jesus}

I trimmed the bushes Tuesday afternoon—my first trimming of the season. It's like giving a haircut. If you mess up, you can always just go shorter. (I'm actually decent at giving haircuts. I cut Nate's hair recently, even tamed his beard.) Including the time I spent cleaning up the clippings and dumping them in a pile in the backyard, trimming the bushes took me an hour. I was sweaty. Today I am feeling it. My forearms scream every time I bend my wrists. The trimmer is only about 6.5 pounds, but my arms hurt!

You know what else hurts? My brain. Work is a daily exercise in hermeneutics. I'm reading books like New Dictionary of Biblical Theology and The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. My current task is to take 53 Bible stories (156 in total) and explain to kids how they point to Christ. It's fascinating and awesome, but it's hard work!

So what do you do when you have to eat an elephant in a very limited number of days? You invite friends over for dinner! Yesterday afternoon and this afternoon I am hosting a Think Tank and invited nine coworkers/outside friends to join me in writing Christ Connections. In my 2.75 years at LW, this is the first time I've been in charge of a meeting. It has been so helpful! There are some very smart people working here (plus my outside friends).

Matt Chandler was here a couple of weeks ago, and he spoke at chapel. He talked about the danger of working in a place that produces resources for churches and individuals because it is so easy to get caught up and excited about the idea of Jesus, but not Jesus Himself. It is easy to work on and promote and sell the idea of Jesus, but not love Jesus Himself.

Nate went to chapel with me, and on the way home I wept. Matt Chandler was exactly right. I spend every day at work in God's Word—reading it, interpreting it, presenting it in a variety of forms. I can't remember the day that it first felt like work and I was not excited or moved by the Bible. What am I doing? I wailed to Nate. I was realizing that I had done it … I had been caught up in the idea of Jesus and creating resources to give the idea of Jesus to others. How do I love Jesus more? Because when you're saturated and content in the idea of Jesus, you feel like you don't need Jesus. And that's a dangerous place to be. We can never be satisfied with just the idea of Jesus. You wouldn't do that with food, would you?

I think it starts with being aware of your reality, your sin, your heart. It starts with prayer and telling God, "Look, I don't love Jesus like I should. Help me." God gave us the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. We can ask Him to do that. We need to understand that even on our worst day, God loves us. He is pleased with us. He takes delight in us. Thank You, Lord, for speaking through Matt Chandler and waking us up.

Our weekends are starting to fill up! Local wedding this Saturday, my dad and Karen visiting over Easter, hopefully starting/finishing my online class the next weekend. Nate has been working a lot of closings lately (3:30–midnight) … basically all this week and last, and he is just starting a Friday night/Saturday morning class. So I basically never see him except when he's sleeping when I get up in the mornings and at church. All you married people with a spouse on the same schedule as you … I hope you know how lucky you are! I know it is only for a season, but I will be glad when it's over. :)


Nate + Alyssa.

Can you believe this photo was taken 20 months ago? Nate and I were in Kansas City visiting our friends Jenn and Evan. We had met about a month before, and this was the first night we held hands. :) Little did we know that a year from then we would get married! I love him. :) Hopefully we will get back to Kansas again before Christmas.


The weather yesterday was so nice! When I got home from work, Nate was leaving for work so Nate's parents and sister and I decided to go to the Nashville Zoo. My membership is about to expire, but it allows me to get one guest in for free. Well, we got to the booth and they let all four of us in for free!

The weather must have been just perfect because all of the animals were very active. My favorites were the meerkats, the toucan, and the gibbons. We walked around the zoo for 2–3 hours and still didn't see the elephants, river hog, or giraffes. But we were all tired and hungry by then.

We got dinner at La Hacienda and then went home and relaxed for a bit. Caitlin, Lisa, and I ended the night by playing Scrabble. (Lisa won … by a lot.) They woke up early to catch me before I left for work at 6 a.m. today to say goodbye. They were driving back to St. Louis today. It was so great to have them in town.

How is next week the last week of March? This month flew by. In three weeks we'll be in Louisville for the Together for the Gospel conference. Nate will be wrapping up his semester before we know it, and I need to find a weekend to complete my online class! I'm still up in the air about my garden … whether or not it will happen. We do have flowering blueberry bushes in the front yard, so I am excited about that!


nate's 28th.

Andy flying a kite in Centennial park
Yesterday was Nate's birthday, and it was absolutely beautiful. About 83 degrees, slight breeze, and mostly sunny. After work, I met up with Nate, Lyle, Lisa, Caitlin, and Andy at Centennial Park. Nate and Andy were throwing the football until Andy kindly helped out a little boy and his mom who could not get their kite off the ground. There really wasn't much wind at all. It was not an ideal kite-flying day. But he got it up and showed the kid how it would stay aloft if he kept running with it.

After the park, Nate and I picked up drinks for everyone at Starbucks and we all went to the Green Hills Mall to take Nate shopping for his birthday. His parents bought him a really nice button-down shirt from Express and a pair of great jeans from the Buckle. He put on his outfit when he got home, and he looks like a rock star. :)

DrawSomething! username: alyssajones
Andy wanted to make a special purchase at the Apple store … and so did Nate. Nate got a bright orange bumper for his iPhone to replace his black one/in celebration of Manning going to the Broncos (what a great birthday gift to Nate). Since it was his birthday and I love him, I let Nate make another big purchase at the Apple store. Apple has sucked us in! My phone is eligible for an upgrade at the end of the month and Nate has convinced me to look into an iPhone too.

We took Andy to the airport so he could fly back to St. Louis because he had to work today. Then we went to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and walked around, checking out the gardens. Lyle is really smart when it comes to things that grow and he pointed out all different types of plants. I had no idea that orchids are like little leeches and they attach themselves to trees. We also saw a tulip tree (beautiful) and I can now properly identify a dogwood.

Odie falling asleep during the movie
After walking around for a good while, we drove back downtown to eat at The Smiling Elephant. This was my third time, Nate's second. It was voted the best Thai in Nashville. It is the best Thai in Nashville! Caitlin and I both got pad thai; Nate and Lyle got pad kra pao with crab, and Lisa got … well, I can't remember what Lisa got but everything was delicious. :) We stopped by Red Box on the way home and rented Courageous and watched it while playing with our new Apple toys.
 One of my new favorite apps is a game called DrawSomething. You can get it on your phone (Android or Apple) and we also have it on the iPad. It's free, and it's like Pictionary. They give you words to pick from and you can play against your friends or random strangers. I like playing on the iPad because the screen is big so you have good finger control when drawing. Nate says I should start taking screenshots of all my drawings. The above drawing is of Lisa from the Simpsons. My other favorite things to draw is "plumber," "butcher," "backflip," and "macarena."

Nate's family is in town until Wednesday. Today Nate is going with them to Lynchburg, TN to tour the Jack Daniel's distillery. (Ironic: it is in a dry county so you aren't allowed any samples!) Nate has to work tonight; he'll leave just before I get home from work.

Happy first day of Spring! It sprung early this year in Nashville, but I love it. I'm just hoping we don't have a long, hot summer. I'm okay with a long summer, as long as it stays in the 80s. :)



Nate's birthday is today, and his family came from Wichita and St. Louis to celebrate. Yesterday we drove the Natchez Trace Parkway and checked out Leiper's Fork, Franklin, and Carnton Plantation. The weather has been wonderful (80s). I was sick Thursday and Friday of last week so not much new on the home front. Miles and Otis are loving the extra attention while we have guests. I'm back at work today while the fam enjoys Nashville for Nate's 28th.



credit to Kelly M. for the photo
We had a nice little treat at work today: pinkberry delivered! After a morning-long dept. meeting and a quick lunch, everyone in our department enjoyed some frozen yogurt: plain, chocolate, orange, coconut, or mango. I had the chocolate with some cheesecake bites and Oreo pieces for toppings. Delicioso.

Yesterday our friends from Kansas, Allison and Siji, and two of Siji's sisters, were in town on their way home from Florida, so they stopped in and stayed the night. We took them out to dinner at Peter's Thai and Sushi in Brentwood. I had pad thai (the usual). Afterward we stopped at Kroger and picked up some ice cream and then came home and had ice cream and coffee and caught up on life. They headed out early this morning (before 6 a.m.) so it was a quick visit but we hadn't seen them since our wedding so it was really nice.

Tonight we made burgers on our indoor grill and watched the news while I got some laundry started. Nate is studying for a test that I think he has to take before midnight.

We finally got all of our tax info (I think) sent to my sister. She is a CPA and is awesome and she does our taxes for us. I don't think I would even know where to start with taxes. Nate likes TurboTax, but I don't trust it. I want a human looking over my documents. Turns out Starbucks had been taking some taxes out of Nate's paychecks for KY because there was a misunderstanding about exactly where he was living. But it is straightened out now and we can file with KY to get our money back. We're crossing our fingers for a nice refund. (Even though I already told Nate he may not spend it on a new iPad.)

It has been raining in Nashville all day but it's been pretty nice. I like the rain. It is helping all the spring things grow. I also think it makes Miles and Otis extra-sleepy. They are out cold on our guest bed without even having any dinner.


safe place.

Me in our "safe place"
Friday night we had a little excitement with some severe storms and tornadoes moving through Middle Tennessee. Fortunately Nate got out of class early and came home before the hail started. We watched the news and decided it was time to make our "safe place" since we don't have a basement.

We cleaned out the bottom half of the hall closet, removed some shelves, and tested it out. I fit okay, but with Nate in there it is a really tight fit! It's hard for him to fold his long legs up in that little space but we did both fit with the door closed (barely). Mostly we were just trying it out. We only sat in there for a few seconds. Despite my insistence, Nate didn't let Miles and Otis join us. :) They hid under the couch, which is probably a relatively safe place, too.

We hardly got any rain and just a bit of golf ball-sized hail. Most of it went north of us. I spent Saturday morning putting the closet back together.

I am actually cooking this week! Well, it hasn't happened yet, but I went to the store and bought ingredients to cook. Tonight: southwest grilled chicken salad (because the romaine I bought was Manager's Special, $1.35, and it won't last much longer past tonight); white chicken enchiladas with green sauce, and hamburgers (we are fans of the half-price Tuesday nights at Sonic).

I can hardly believe we are already a week into March. Nate's birthday is coming up this month, and his sister, bro-in-law, and parents are coming to visit us. Work is c-r-a-z-y (that's an understatement) and I will have to make some decisions this month re: gardening and how much work I want to put into it. If I ever go missing, check our safe place. I might be there in the fetal position. :)

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