A New Venture

Dear Readers,

First, I want to start off with thanking all of you for your interest in the life and thoughts of a young, and often confused and learning, woman. Thank you for comments that encourage and support me in my pursuits and in my ideas. Thank you for comments that challenge and sometimes unsettle me. Thank you for joining me in my life's journey. I pray that you are all surrounded equally or more with friends and family that love, challenge, and support you daily. And more desperately, I pray that each of you are filled with God's Holy Spirit, who loves, guides, renews, encourages, and emboldens you!

And now, dear readers, I would like to ask you to join me in a new venture. God has been breaking my heart over the past year and a half, as I have searched and cried and prayed over finding a ministry in my new place at Northwood church and as the wife of an amazing man. What I would like from you is your prayer. Please join me in praying for guidance, both for me and for the church as a whole, that those of us who claim to follow Christ would truly be led by His Spirit and walking in His Way! I have been earnestly praying this for some time, and now I feel that God is starting to reveal a way for me to serve in my new position. Years ago, when Mikey and I weren't even dating, he had a house church one night. At his apartment with other young guys, he and some friends led a night of worship with a short message and discussion. From praying and reading my bible, this version of worship really resonated with me as a real and vital way of seeking God and encouraging one another. So...I would like to have a service at our apartment sometime soon! This is not a replacement for other services, but rather, an extension of worship. I don't know whether this will be a one-time thing or a more regular occurrence. I don't know when it will be. I don't know exactly what we will do or how it will work. But I am asking you all to join me in praying for guidance, in knowing how best to open our home, how best to encourage those who come, and how to open the night to the Holy Spirit, not to our own designs.

Thank you again for your love and support!
Love, Anna


Best Day Ever

Today has been a great day! I slept in, got picked up by Mikey to go to bfast at the church, finished my surprise present for Mikey, gave the present to Mikey because I'm not good at waiting, put up my new curtains from my mom because I'm not good at waiting, chilled with Mikey, beat Mikey at scrabble and dots on my ipod, watched the Steelers beat the Packers in the LAST second of the game, and went to to TBonz to celebrate our Year-and-a-Half-Aversary!!! Whew. THAT is the epitome of an awesome day...relaxing but productive and full of time with my amazing husband!

Here are the super cute curtains my mom got me for Christmas :) I have some other really nice ones from my grandmother, but I have to wait to unwrap those! I love the big pattern of these with our plain brown bed...plus I just LOVE green!
Here is a picture of the surprise I got Mikey. He asked for a picture of me (and without himself-he's so silly!) for his desk, so I asked our friend Alexa (who took our anniversary pictures) to take a few pics of me at the park where Mikey and I first met. She did such a great job that I picked a few more to put in this other frame for our apartment...haha :) I felt silly, but she's so artistic and had some great ideas!
And, finally, here are some pictures of Mikey and I on our date! We went to Tbonz, which is where we went for our very first date :) We sat at a table right near the one we sat at on that first date! We had a great time talking, reminiscing, and enjoying great food...I am so lucky to be married to such a funny, smart, and fun man! :)


What We May Be

I am definitely not claiming any mastery of poetry, but throughout my life, I've always enjoyed reading and writing all kinds of things. Poetry is one of those things that just pours out of me. It is so cathartic to get a message across through creativity because so often normal words and phrases leave so much to be said. With more time from my semester ending, I had some more time to think and to get what is in my heart out onto paper. I wanted to share a poem I just wrote. it isn't a great work of art, but it is an outpouring of my heart, a cry from inside of me.

This poem is about my frustration with limitations, my frustration with my own weaknesses and my confusion at times about what life is about. It talks about putting on a good face, even when you're filled with doubt and insecurity, and about longing to be more when you feel like people are placing limits on you. And then it moves into hope, remembering God is the ultimate guide, and the whole journey through confusion and doubt will eventually lead to Him if we keep trusting and pursuing Him.

Open eyes and turn on brain
And leap into a suit of sane
And close the mouth
And guard the ears
And grow backwards
For twenty years
Then open eyes and turn on brain
And lash out of the suit of sane
And realize that all that was known
Is rejected now; I'm on my own
What once was real is now behind
What lies ahead keeps me blind
But oh to reach and grow and know
To love and be loved as before
To feel that I am me inside
To realize my life is alive
And oh to see this face of mine
And feel it's not a stranger's prize
To make a change and give a start
Lay down my life to gain a heart
And oh to walk a path less trod
To seek a light, the Way, my God
With every ounce of strength and will
My life is Yours to grow and build

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be" -Shakespeare

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" -Jeremiah 29:11


Double Good News

It's finally here! This afternoon, I finished my last two finals for this semester at CofC, and life is feeling GOOOOOOD! :) It is so wonderful to be able to take a few deep breaths and enjoy some rest, but I'm sure within a couple of days, I'll start feeling antsy and looking for things to do!

My other new big news, which is actually way BIGGER than just finishing my semester, is that one of my best friends just got engaged! I met Rabun my freshman year at Clemson. We were in the same pi chi group for rush, and we lived on the same hall. AND she's from Hanahan, right near where I live, so I get to see her on visits to Clemson and when she comes home! It has been amazing to have her around more, and I am so so so excited for her and her fiance Cameron!!! They have been dating since high school, and Cameron proposed on Saturday...downtown...and coffee (rabun's fave) was involved :) The wedding date is set for sometime in May 2011, right after graduation. I feel amazingly blessed to be a bridesmaid, and I can't wait to start helping with some shopping and planning!!! :) Love you, Rabun!


On Thursday of this week, I had no idea who the Flecktones were. When Rodney, Mikey's boss, called me to ask if we wanted to go see the Flecktones, I thought it sounded like a cartoon and avoided mentioning the name when I ran the idea past Mikey. Oh, how little did I know back then! I just got home from a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones concert, and it was absolutely incredible! Never in my life have I felt so musically illiterate. They could go between songs, between keys, between time signatures at the drop of a hat. They did a version of the Twelve Days of Christmas with each day in a different key AND a different time signature, and every time they went through it, they kept the exact right time for each individual day. Apparently, that's crazy! I really, really enjoyed their show!
AND, they had special guests: Alash. Alash is an ensemble of Tuvan throat singers (from the Republic of Tuva in Siberia). I just learned about them in my animal behavior class because they can do something that only birds (besides them) are known to be able to do: sing multiple tones at once! Birds have two voice boxes though, and humans only have one...which is why this skill is so unbelievable! It is called "throat singing," and it is absolutely astounding! I posted a video with the Flecktones and Alash doing a song together...see if you can hear the multiple tones in their voices when they sing! It is crazy!
Mikey and I had a great time at the show, and Mikey amazed me with his awesome musical knowledge. I am so proud of him! :) I want to give a special THANKS to Rodney and Tracy for inviting us to go to this show with their family!!! I never would have discovered these amazing groups on my own :)


The Flip-Side

I just finished reading Ephesians 2-4, and all I can say is WOW! This Saturday, Pastor Fred (or PF, as I often refer to him :D) was talking about our attitudes. He laid out how every thought has a flip-side, every perspective can shift. We cannot decide how others act, and we cannot control every injustice in the world. But we CAN decide how we respond to the world. Are we praisers or complainers? Do we choose to praise God in good and bad times, trusting that He has us covered, or do we complain and criticize? I know that in my own life, this really struck a chord. Sometimes I am so upset with things not being exactly right that I forget that God is still present in every circumstance...that instead of being upset about imperfections, I could be praising God and remembering all of the blessings in my life! Now, with this choice in mind, read Ephesians 4:22-24:

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness"

Sometimes it is so easy to sink down into an attitude of complaint and frustration, but God calls us to a different way of life, to a better way of life! I challenge you (and myself!) to work on our attitudes. If even for a day, keep track of how you are responding to the world. When you want to complain, count your blessings instead. Fix your mind on "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Phil 4:8)


A Cornucopia of Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I just love how it is all about family and food...the stresses of other holidays are nonexistent. All you have to do is enjoy the blessings around you! :) Basically, it is the best day ever! Mikey and I had a wonderful two days worth of giving thanks with both of our families. We ate TONS of great food, and I even skipped out on homework in order to give my full attention to giving thanks! Life is so good.

Mom with the GP's at Waterfront Park:
With my honey on the swings :)
The Szymanowski girls :)
Mikey and I at the Baur family photo shoot
All of the Baur boys!
With my sis-in-law on Thanksgiving!
And now that Thanksgiving is over, I can start looking forward to CHRISTMAS! :) Here's a little song to get you in the holiday spirit!


Turkey Outreach!

Today was Northwood's Turkey Outreach. We ended up with 1,920 boxes of food and turkeys to pass out to families in need! Yesterday, all of the boxes were packed up by some dedicated volunteers. And today, Mikey and I got to help pass out the boxes and their accompanying turkeys, along with tons of other volunteers, including Chad, Melissa, and Mel's parents! We had a great time, and the recipients were so grateful. One man that we talked to for a while told us that he didn't know where his dinner that evening was coming from even, and he was very blessed by the food! He helped to point out other families in his neighborhood that likely really needed food. Beyond the food we, and other groups, passed out to neighborhoods, many families called the church to sign up for a turkey dinner, and there was a station set up for those families to come and pick up their food! It was an amazing blessing to get to help these people. It is amazing how easy it is to reach out and help people in need right around us...making the decision to get started is the hardest part.


Dreaming of the Future

Sometimes it astounds me how strong the pull on my heart to become a doctor is! I feel so fully, so unquestioningly that God created me to help people in that way. I really would love to do medical missions one day. I got to help out at a day-long one last summer, and if everything works out, I will be going back to mexico in February for a week long medical mission with the same missions base! :) Until then, I get to work hard in school and dream about the future!
A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to have two days packed with pre-med experiences. On Sunday, I did an 11 hour ride-a-long with Dorchester County EMS. It was the first time I've ever been able to actually do medical things and HELP people! It was amazing! I got to help move patients, test blood glucose levels, auscultate blood pressures, help prepare an IV (just not stick the needle in the person's arm), help with automatic blood pressure readings and the ECG, and so much more...I was actually sad that night when I left after going for nearly 11 hours straight because I knew it would be a while before I would be lucky enough to be in a similar position again. On the Monday following my EMT ride-along, I went to MUSC for Susan Pershing Day, which is a day dedicated to explaining the mission and process of applying to MUSC for the medical college or for the MD/PhD program. We got to tour MUSC, speak with the deans of both programs, and ask questions of the deans and current students at MUSC. It freaked me out to realize that I am getting so close to taking the MCAT and applying to medical school; both of which I will likely do in the upcoming summer. CRAZINESS!

But all of this to explain that I KNOW and cannot wait to begin fulfilling what God has called me to do...I am in the process now, but I cannot explain to you (unless you are doing exactly what you want to do too!) how much joy and peace I feel when I am getting to learn about how to help people and to actually use that knowledge in the real world!! In my dreams, whenever someone gets hurt, I think about all of the possibilities of what it could be, and I start helping them! When I'm at work at a daycare and a child falls or anything, I always rush to be the one to talk to them about it and make sure they're ok...using the techniques I've learned in my EMT class to analyze their injuries. When I'm driving down the road now and witness an accident, I say a prayer for the EMTs, fire personnel, and doctors that will be helping those people, and I think about the kinds of things I would do if I were there and trying to help the person myself...I've even been on the verge of pulling over to offer my help once (right after my ride-a-long haha)!

I know I'm rambling, and you're a great friend if you've even read this far! But I just had to get all of this out of my mind and onto the screen. Sometimes I feel like being a doctor is so far away...and talking about all of this makes me feel like its a little bit closer, a little bit more attainable. In the end, I just have to work hard and trust that if God is calling me to do this, it will happen...one way or another! :)


A New Addition

This week my parents welcomed a new addition to their family...Oskar! He is a rescued greyhound, and he is SO SWEET! I got to meet him on his first night with my parents, this past Wednesday. My mom has totally fallen in love with him already!
On Saturday, we decided to introduce Oliver and Oskar, and they did so well! Here's a picture of them walking side by side. The only tiny issue was Oskar kept reverting back to his racing days and gently edging Ollie off the path :)
Mom and I took them on a walk along a canal in Summerville, and both of the O-dogs behaved remarkably well..they got along and were very cute and relatively calm together. I was so impressed. We managed to get a picture of all four of us on our first adventure together!


Vampire Dog

At the last minute this Halloween, I decided to run by the dollar store to get Oliver a costume! At first I didn't see any pet costumes, so I almost got him a set of fairy wings (because I figured I could adjust them to work somehow for a dog). Luckily for Mikey, who, I'm sure, would NOT have loved having a fairy dog, I found a cute little vampire cape for a small dog right before I was going to check out. We went to Oscar and Maria's to hand out candy and just chill, and Oliver was the cutest vampire I've ever seen! The costume didn't last long because he's so excitable around visitors (he even managed to get his foot through the hole and almost did a flip at one point!), but Maria and I managed to snap a few pictures in the twenty minutes he was all dressed up :)



This weekend, I headed up to Clemson to visit some of the greatest friends in the world! :) Many of them were bridesmaids in my wedding, and all of them are near and dear to my heart, even though we only get to see each other a few times a year now that I'm living back in Chalreston. It was so great to have a whole weekend of catching up and hanging out! My friend Tiffany, who was my next-door neighbor my freshman year of college, when I attended CU, turned 20 last week, and so I had to go visit! Friday night, one of the girls (Holly) made dinner, and then we had a birthday party for Tiff.

On Saturday, we all slept in, and then spent the day picking out and carving an awesome pumpkin named Jacques (as in Jack-O-Lantern :) aren't we clever?) That night, we went to the step show put on by some of the fraternities and sororities, and it was AMAZING! Just like Stomp The Yard :) I attempted some of the moves afterward, but somehow, it just wasn't as cool looking :) The Clemson-Miami game was being projected on the big screen in the auditorium before the show started, and throughout the show, they were making announcements on the score. When the hostess announced that Clemson had won in overtime, everyone started doing the cadence chant (1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, c-l-e-m-s-o-n, t-i-g-e-rrr-s. Fight tigers! Fight tigers! Fight! Fight! Fight!), and it was the first time since football games freshman year that I got to do the cheer with other Clemson fans! (sometimes I do it alone when Mikey and I watch a game because I still love Clemson, but it just isn't the same). Basically, it was awesome! Then on Sunday, everyone woke up early (like 7 am early) so we could go to Cracker Barrel before I got on the road at nine...what great friends!

I'm not having much luck uploading one of the videos I took from the step show, but I'll try to post it separately soon!


Goodness Gracious!

Wow! Genesis was so great last night, and one thing really stuck out to me from the message...God is amazingly, incredibly, unbelievably FULL of GRACE!!! The talk was about the truth that only perfect people make it to heaven, and we discussed how that is possible since NOBODY is perfect...but the bare, naked truth is that we are all messed up, and on our own there is NO HOPE of heaven. BUT Jesus was absolutely, perfectly perfect, and He died so we wouldn't have to. He suffered and took on our punishment and our pain to make a way for us...He MADE me perfect! Nothing I do will get me into heaven, but His gift of grace gives me the choice to pick eternity with God over the punishment I deserve! And here's the shocking part...God's grace is for everyone. It isn't for those of us who follow enough rules and go to church and never did anything too bad. THERE IS NO TOO BAD. God's grace got rid of that. So Hitler and serial killers and rapists and prostitutes and everyone in the world I like to think I'm better than...they get just as much grace for their sins as I do for mine. And they get the same offer of grace. Because none of us deserve it. But all of us receive the offer. So what will we CHOOSE?


Mr. and Mrs. Rogers

Oh my goodness gracious! Billy and Sarah are officially married :) This wedding weekend has been so much fun and oddly emotional too. I knew I would be super excited and happy for Billy and Sarah, but I'd forgotten how crazy all of this wedding stuff is. Even as a bridesmaid, it is so easy to get blown away by all of the little ins-and-outs of the Big Day! But it was so FUN!!! I loved being a bridesmaid, getting to help organize little things and support Sarah during this wonderful time! She has been a gorgeous and gracious bride, going out of her way to help others and make sure everyone is having a good time. And she is so in love with Billy (and him with her, of course!). It was so awesome to see them take this next and very big step in their relationship. I know God is going to bless them like crazy and that they are going to be an awesome example to future newly weds :)

The Rehearsal went beautifully! And the dinner afterwards was beautiful and delicious!

The Bridesmaids' Luncheon was at the restaurant at the top of the round Holiday Inn downtown. The food was delicious, and the view was absolutely gorgeous!
After lunch, the bride, all of the bridesmaids, and some family went to get their nails done!

Then we raced home to get ready for Sarah's Bachelorette Party :) We did a scavenger hunt type thing, where we got into groups and waited with a cute present (mine was a journal signed with sweet notes from friends) at different locations around Charleston that mean something for her and Billy. She had such a great time, and we entertained ourselves by acting silly and taking pictures while we waited for Sarah to arrive! After the scavenger hunt, we all went to dinner at Fleet Landing (where they went the night Billy proposed), and then we headed to the Embassy Suites so Sarah could open some last-minute presents while we had some good girl talk :)
Saturday morning, we met Sarah at the Embassy Suites (where the reception would be) and all got ready together :) We had a great time hanging out and talking about all of the excitement to come later in the day! We even got to watch as some friends and family started decorating the tables and stuff downstairs :) It was really cool to get to see it all coming together!

And finally, it was time to head to the church so Sarah could get married!!!! She was a beautiful bride, and it was the smoothest wedding and reception I've ever attended! Everything went so well, and at the end of the night, Billy surprised Sarah by having a horse and carriage waiting for them to leave the Reception! :)


Fall Break, I think I love you!

This year's fall break has been AWESOME! Maybe because it has actually been a BREAK! I have gotten to rest more over this long weekend than I have in the past month! :) Mikey and I got to go on a long-overdue date, just us for dinner and a movie :) It was so fun!!

And I got to finish an amazing book by Tracy Kidder, the author of Mountains Beyond Mountains (one of my favorite books about Paul Farmer....who is basically my hero). The book is Strength in What Remains, an incredible and true story about a man named Deo who survived and escaped the genocide in Burundi, his home country, and Rwanda. He lived homeless in New York for a while before being taken in by a couple, who helped to house, feed, and clothe him while he attended Columbia University and, later, Dartmouth Medical School. After becoming a US Citizen, he returned to Burundi to start a free medical clinic in his parents' town. Within the first year, the clinic was ministering to patients from other towns, and even other countries, including the Congo. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone...especially if you are interested in health care and aid to poor countries! There is so much suffering in the world, sometimes it seems insurmountable, but there is also so much that can be done...so much good that can be created...so much life and love that can be shared if we are willing to reach a little farther and try a little harder. What I'm trying to say is...read this book!

AND (beyond reading and going on dates this weekend) I got to experience many new and wonderful "Firsts":

1. I got my first reusable shopping bag! I got it free with a coupon at Publix, my new shopping/saving center haha! I was pleasantly surprised at how BIG those bags are...with just Mikey and I to feed, I could probably fit most, if not all, of our weekly groceries in there!

2. I attended my first baby shower! My friend Michelle is due in November with her second boy Ryker, and I was lucky enough to attend her lovely diapers and wipes shower. (Sorry, I didn't take any pictures at this event)

3. I attended my first official 21st birthday party (although there was no drinking, so I guess it was different than most 21st bday parties :D)! My last post was to say happy birthday to my sister-in-law Melissa, and here's another shout-out for her birthday celebration!

4. My friend Jennifer, who moved to Charleston a few months ago and then got engaged to her boyfriend (now fiance) Eryc, was in town for the first weekend since she moved here, practically, and Mikey and I went on our first double date with them! :) We had some Mexican food, which was delicious, and then watched the Florida game, where Mikey, of course, proceeded to root against Tim Tebow because he is too loved or something haha (no picture of this night either...but here's one with her at Melissa's party :D)

5. (This is not so much a "first" as a revelation...which is technically a first realization, right?!) I realized that it is possible, and sometimes the only option, to get a bookshelf CHEAPER than a single set of bookends at Target! I snapped it up on sale for only $16!! It is so cute, and it holds my books in place even better than those silly bookends would have :)

6. I am preparing for my first wedding as a BRIDESMAID! Sarah and Billy are getting married October 17th, and the wedding festivities begin this Thursday! I am so pumped to get to go to my first wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, bridesmaids luncheon, and bachelorette party as a bridesmaid!! :) Congrats, Sarah and Billy! I can't wait to post the pictures from all of the fun to come with their wedding! Here's one of their engagement pictures, since the bridesmaid-ing is still ahead of me :)

Wow! What a great Fall Break...and such an awesome week ahead, too! :) Looking forward to whatever is in store :) Hope everyone has a great week!!!

Happy 21st, Melissa!

This is just a little blog shout-out to my sister-in-law and one of my best friends, Melissa Baur! Today, she is turning the big 2-1, and I can't wait to celebrate her birthday with dinner and games tonight!! She is a great person, with a big smile and a big heart. In a year, she'll be teaching middle schoolers, a task I could NEVER take on! Haha Here are a few pics to commemorate some of our awesome times together :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MELISSA!


go ahead...make my day

What a crazy weekend this has been! Not only do I have two midterms next week, but I've also had TWO birthday celebrations...my sister's 22nd birthday dinner in Columbia, and Mikey's youngest bro Luke's birthday party with the whole family the next day! Both were so fun...I am so blessed with great family! Then today, I headed to ATL with my parents to attend the last braves game of the season. Sadly, Mikey couldn't come because of the whole music minister thing mixed with the whole sunday morning services thing. But we updated him and definitely missed him being there with us. Altogether, it was a very fun, very wonderful, and VERY busy weekend. Here are some pics:On the car ride home from GA, I had a really good conversation with my parents. I am extremely lucky to have two very smart, very loving parents, and we have a lot of great discussions about life and faith and everything really. One of the main things I got out of our conversation tonight was the importance of opposing opinions. Springing out of discussion on humanity, religion, and culture, I realized how vital it is to a healthy intellectual and faithful life to engage in conversation with people who have views different from my own. It is so easy to surround ourselves with people who think and act and value things just like we do. But that is unhealthy and unhelpful. Because our thoughts and reasonings stem from our personal experiences, our history, and our culture, none of us knows everything perfectly, and sometimes what we really need to discover the truth is to simply open our ears to what other people have to say. Of course, all that we hear should be taken with a grain of salt and not accepted unquestioningly. We should also pray and see what the Bible has to say, but we should also keep an open mind to advice from other people we respect, acknowledging their character and integrity. As human beings, we tend to want to do things our own way, so we also tend to ask questions of people we think will give us the answer we want to hear. But how much better must it be to learn and grow as a result of discussion and questioning! I truly believe that having a counsel of people with similar and opposing views is the best way to find the truth. We all have so much we could learn from one another! So let's stop shying away from healthy debate and discussion...if you have a question, shoot. Go ahead, make my day!