Pray with me.

Hi. I am an imperfect blogger. But that’s ok. I wrote this post on Tuesday and then was interrupted before I could proof-read and publish it. So, whenever it says today, think Tuesday. Sorry about that!

The new academic year is in full swing and whether you are a student or not, this time of year is perfect for fresh starts and new habits. I am starting a new bible study and daily prayer habit today and I want to invite you to join me in diving deeper into scripture and developing or continuing reading the bible every day.

The study I’m using goes through John 1, 2, and 3 and is published by a website called She Reads Truth. She Reads Truth is an amazing ministry and resource that I have been following for a long time. They publish daily scripture verses and reflections that walk their readers through specific books of the bible or topics. I have done studies of theirs on the books of Ruth, Nehemiah, and Acts, Lent, Advent, and Hymns. Their wisdom, consistency, and boldness have changed my prayer life and experience of scripture. I encourage you to check out their website and see all they have to offer. They are even publishing a book soon and I am so excited to read it. Check them out at SheReadsTruth.com. (They also have a partner ministry called He Reads Truth, so if you are a man, check it out, or if you are a woman, send it to a man in your life.)

The study that I’m doing is titled: John 1, 2, and 3: A Love that Drives out Fear. I am really excited to dive in and grow in my conviction about Christ’s love for me. The study has a few scripture verses and a reflection to read each day. I started reading the first day this morning, so I’m already a day behind (the study started yesterday, on Monday), but they give a grace day on Sunday so that you can catch up if you get behind. There are two ways to read the study: on the SRT app or blog. I use the app because it checks off the days you have already read and it is a convenient place to keep all of the SRT studies I’ve done in one place. Most of the reading plans cost two or three dollars for two or three weeks of daily scripture selections and reflections. It’s not a bad deal in my mind and I want to keep supporting the ministry so that they are able to keep doing it.

So, before I send you off to go read the first day of the study, let me leave you with a few quotes I found convincing as I read today:

John begins by assuring us that his Gospel account (the book of John) is true. Then, he invites us down a path of holy concern to examine whether the message of the gospel has actually changed our lives.

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The Christian life—the life of salvation through the gospel of Christ Jesus—is a life that will constantly battle the darkness until Perfection comes.

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Lord, afflict us with your Truth, that we may be comforted. Shine light in our dark places. Let us never stop pursuing holiness.

Now, go read it yourself. Here’s the link again: http://shereadstruth.com/2016/09/26/light-and-darkness/

And, if you are a man: http://hereadstruth.com/plan/1-2-and-3-john/

I’m so excited to see who’s going to join me. Comment below if you’re going to read a long. I’d love to know who’s praying along with me!

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Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

Saint Francis de Sales

Explore Texas: Pedernales Falls

I’m trying out some different topics for posts, so please let me know what you like to read about. I’d like to highlight some of the places we visit in Texas because we are making an effort to explore the state while we are here. I am hoping to mix posts about mission work with posts about my home, explorations, hobbies, and more. I’d love feedback about which topics are the most interesting to my readers!

After a month of weekends spent cleaning, unpacking, organizing, and furniture shopping, Ben and I decided that this weekend we would take a break and do some exploring. One of the great benefits of living in Texas is that the season for doing things outdoors is just beginning as it should be starting to cool down to a more reasonable 70-80 degrees over the next month. So, we decided to buy a Texas State Park annual pass so that we could get outside and explore the natural side of the state. In Minnesota, the outdoor activities (besides skating and skiing) would be wrapping up soon, but here, the time for hiking, camping, and swimming is just beginning.

We started off this weekend by exploring a park called Pedernales Falls. Do not be deceived by the spelling of the name, it is pronounced pur-də-nal-iss not pəd-ər-nal-iss. This confused me all day as I tried to say the name right when reading the name. On Saturday morning, we packed up our backpacks with lunch and lots of water and drove about an hour to the park.

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When we got there, we started by hiking near the falls area. It was absolutely beautiful to see the reflections in the blue-green water next to the solid yellow-white rock. We climbed around on the rocks and after several weeks of spending our time inside and in an urban area, it felt so good to climb, jump, and hike in a completely natural landscape. We got a little over an hour of hiking in on the rocks before it got so hot that we had to take refuge in the shade. We drove to another part of the park and found a nice shady spot on the side of the river where we could swim and eat lunch. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

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If you visit central Texas, I would recommend taking a trip here. The park was not very busy for a Saturday, so it was a nice place to get away from crowds. There are a lot of hiking trails that we didn’t get to explore on this trip so we are planning on going back to try them out. It does get very hot on the rocky falls, so I would avoid them between noon and 3pm. It was hot but bearable until noon, but after that it got noticeably hotter and very uncomfortable. I am a northern-born, Scandinavian-blooded girl that is not used to the intense sun and high heat. You are not allowed to swim or wade in the water near the falls because of the flash flood risk, so at noon we headed down stream to the area of the river that you can swim to cool off. It was a perfect place to relax, so my recommendation would be to explore the falls during the cooler part of the day and then sit in the shade and/or water for the hot, sunny mid-afternoon.

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All photos on this post were taken by Ben Huntley.

 

The Trip

Now that I’m blogging more regularly, I want to share a few stories from the last month. A lot has been going on, so there is plenty to share. I’ll start with The Trip. It earns capital letters because it was quite the journey to move from Minnesota to Texas. Last year, the journey from Minnesota to New Jersey was an adventure, but it was in a different category than this trip. Moving from Minnesota to New Jersey was more like going on a road trip with a very full car. We fit everything into the normal car that we drive, so Ben and I were able to drive together and switch off driving.

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The route!

Moving to Texas was a different beast all together. We started by packing up a 16-foot moving truck. Then we each drove a vehicle 1200 miles over 3 days. But, the story starts a little bit before that. A group of students from Texas were in Minnesota for SPO’s annual student conference and they had brought a trailer with them to hold their luggage. Earlier in the summer, we decided we would get our own trailer (we were starting to realize how much stuff we had). However, due to some last minute changes, the students didn’t have a second trailer hitch (and we can’t haul a trailer with our car), so that plan was out. Our next plan was to use that trailer to transport our big furniture and then fit the rest in cars (ours and 2 of our coworkers).

Three days before we were going to leave, we tried to fit as much furniture as we could in the trailer. It was tight, but we thought it would work. (Or maybe we were just determined to make the impossible possible.) Over the next 24-hours we thought about it more and more and realized that there was no way that the giant pile of boxes in my parents’ basement would fit in 3 cars. So, we totally changed the plan. We originally didn’t want to rent a moving truck because of the expense and the hassle of driving two vehicles all the way to Texas. But, we decided it was the only way to get our things moved. Thirty-six hours before we were set to leave, we went online and reserved a truck.When we picked up the truck, the company didn’t have any 12-foot trucks left, so we ended up with a 16-foot truck.

So, after that long version of the story, we are back to packing up a 16-foot truck. With a ton of help from my mom, dad, sister, grandma, and students from both New Jersey and Texas, we got everything packed and ready to go. The moving truck was a blessing in disguise because we were able to bring a few extra pieces of furniture that have been very useful now that we’re here. After we packed up all the main furniture and boxes, my parents and sister took the truck over to my Grandma’s house to get the extra furniture that we didn’t think we’d be able to bring while Ben and I went to the closing banquet of the student conference.

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The truck before my parents and sister added the last of the furniture. We had a lot more stuff than we thought!

When we arrived back at my parents’ house the next day everything was packed up and ready to go. We had a delicious and relaxing brunch with them because we didn’t have a huge amount of driving to do that day. Our first day’s driving was from St. Paul to Kansas City, which is only about six hours of driving time. It was a very uneventful drive (in a good way). I drove our car and Ben drove the truck, so this was the longest I had every drove continuously. With a few podcasts queued up, it wasn’t too bad to drive for that long. It was an easy drive because we followed Interstate 35 from the whole way from St. Paul to Kansas City.

Day two was our longest day of driving. I got to get breakfast with one of my best friends (who now lives in Kansas City), which got the day off to a great start. We headed out after Mass to drive through Kansas, Oklahoma, and into Texas. We were headed to Ben’s aunt and uncle’s house in Dallas to stay the night. I listened to a lot of podcasts that day. Podcasts are much better than music for me while I’m driving because they give me something to think about, which helps pass the time. A new-to-me podcast called Limetown (http://www.limetownstories.com) kept me on the edge of my seat for many hours of the drive. Oklahoma was beautiful to drive through, so although this day was long, it wasn’t that painful. And, as a bonus, we stopped at a roadside stand and got fresh peaches as a snack (which was way better than stopping at another Arby’s).

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From morning sun to evening sun: photos of the road on day two. I took these photos with one click while my phone was sitting in the phone holder on my dash. So, no dangerous driving was done for the making of this photo.

We arrived at Ben’s aunt and uncles in Dallas in the evening and ate dinner with them before crashing for the night. In the morning, we left early because we only had a short leg left from Dallas to San Marcos (about 3.5 hours of driving time). This last day, with the shortest drive, was the most painful because there was rain, traffic, and construction the whole way. Up until this point, it had been pretty easy for Ben and I to stay together on the road. He would follow me and we were able to stay that way easily on the other roads. On this day with more traffic and more lane-changing (due to construction), we had a much more challenging time staying together.

When we arrived in San Marcos, we drove directly to our apartment complex to sign the lease. We got everything situated with the leasing office and got our keys! After hopping around every couple of days since our wedding, it was such a relief to have keys to a place that we were going to stay in for a long time. Before we unpacked we went and got lunch (we’ve learned not to do anything challenging on empty stomachs.) Then, during a small break in the rain, we moved everything from the truck to the living room.  It looked like a disaster at that point, but at least everything was inside!

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This is what our apartment looked like at the end of day three. At least everything is in the right state! Now for the work of making order out of the chaos.

That was the end of our trip across the country. It was actually pretty uneventful for a journey of that length, which we were really grateful for. I know you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to see what the mess turned into ;). Wait for next week to hear more about moving in, getting settled, and starting the year at Texas State. Talk to you soon!