a look inside the life of Whitney

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Hot Chocolate & Jesus

A friend once gave me a kitchen towel with this quote:

All I need is a little bit of hot chocolate and a WHOLE LOT of JESUS

I’ve been through a lot of changes lately and I find myself craving more time with God and a really good cup of hot chocolate.

So today I share a recipe for the BEST homemade hot chocolate that this same friend swears by. I’ll be trying it this Fall for sure.

Best Hot Cocoa



The issue of the hat…

What better way to be inspired to write again than to receive a passive aggressive letter in the mail about a hat! Thank you anonymous writer for rekindling my desire to write! Because this is certainly something worth writing about.

I received a letter yesterday that I thought to be handwritten when I saw my address scrawled quickly on the front of the envelope. After all, written letters are a rare commodity these days, so I eagerly opened the letter. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that the rest of the letter was typed. My initial excitement soon dissolved into further disappointment as I read the following message:

Whitney dear,
Could you do me a favor and please ask that gentlemen that sits with you at church to kindly remove his hat when he is in the church building? It offends me and wearing a hat throughout service is not a customary habit by our men nor one that we want started in church. It doesn’t appear to be cold or raining in the building either so I look to you to please take care of this simple request. Thank you. 
-watching for cooperation
That is the letter, word for word and the gentlemen referred to in this letter is my soon-to-be husband. Disappointment soon turned to shock, then frustration, then ultimately sadness and further disappointment. I just couldn’t believe how poorly this person chose to address the situation.
So, as I sat down a re-read this letter a few times, I tried to analyze and understand mine, and my fiancé’s reaction. I found four aspects of this letter that elicited our reaction:
  1. It was addressed and written to me, not the person (my fiancé) that caused the “offense”
  2. It was anonymous
  3. The writer assumes to speak for the entire church
  4. The writer expects full “cooperation”

I soon realized these are all errors in effectively resolving a conflict. I’ve been learning a lot about conflict resolution lately as I learn to have a better and closer relationship with my future husband. And everything this writer chose to do to address a conflict is exactly opposite of what I’ve been learning. Now please do not misunderstand me. I hold no resentful feelings towards this anonymous writer. I have forgiven them for the initial offense to myself and my fiancé that this letter caused.  This actually became an opportunity to start writing again, to share what I’ve learned about effectively handling a conflict, and also share a concern this letter portrays of a bigger issue within churches today. For that I am thankful. So please continue reading as I explain my response to this letter.

1. It was addressed to me. I should not be in this conversation at all nor be expected to “take care of” this request. I am not the one that offended this person. The writer should have addressed Rob, preferably in a verbal manor, since he is the one that has caused the offense. (And no, neither Rob nor I have been approached by anyone about this apparent issue by someone at our church.) And my reasoning comes from Matthew 18:15-17.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”

I believe this same approach should be applied to one considered to have caused an offense. After all, the person who is offended might consider the offender as having “sinned” against him/her. So, according to Matthew, and Luke 17:3, the person who has been offended should confront the offender directly, in private. So this letter, should have never come to or been addressed to me. Granted, I realize they might not know my fiancé’s name. He is still somewhat new. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

2. It was anonymousNot only was this letter addressed to the wrong person, the writer chose to remain anonymous, again ignoring the need to confront the person that has offended them directly. By remaining anonymous, this person leaves no room or opportunity for discussion. The verses in Matthew speak how direction confrontation can lead to “gain[ing] your brother.” In other words, confronting someone who has offended you is an opportunity to gain a relationship. You might shed light on something they misunderstood, or vice versa. And in this specific case, my fiancé and I would have had the opportunity to explain that he once suffered from pneumonia and is cold natured because of it. Add in a bald head, and a hat is much needed on a cold morning. My fiancé is a respectful and honorable man. He doesn’t wear a hat to incite disrespect or offense. He is simply cold and would rather not shiver and shake the whole pew. But we have no opportunity to share this information with the writer, because we don’t know who it was. Still, I will choose to love this person. I am disappointed and frustrated by their choice to remain anonymous, but I trust that this person is still good willed and simply misunderstands the situation. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

3. The writer assumes to speak for the entire church. The writer explains that the “habit” of wearing a hat is not something “we want started in our church.” This statement makes the assumption that all other church members agree with the writer’s request and point of view. With a church of 500-ish, it is simply improbable that all other persons agree or were offended by my fiancé’s hat wearing shenanigans. (It’s still cold out by the way. The hat in question was most likely a wool beanie). This statement reflects the writer’s expectations of how a church member should look or act, implying that they would not approve of a hat wearing church. This attitude could cause one of two unfortunate consequences. One, my fiancé (and myself by extension) would feel rejected and likely not want to attend, meaning he might miss a lesson or relationship that God had intended for him that day. He might see this member’s actions as an extension of how God views him, and cause him to struggle in his relationship with Him. Two, if others decided to wear hats and this writer continued to take offense of this, then that writer and their family may choose to leave, which could cause similar struggles with others and their faith, and would also hurt the body as a whole, since we are to be one body in Christ.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many,are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5

But again, I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The writer may not have realized the impact of this statement or did not intend to assume to speak for the whole church. Perhaps they do not realize the consequences this attitude can cause, especially when paired with remaining anonymous. Satan may very well be using this small issue of the hat to prevent this person from developing strong relationships with others in the church and become stronger in the Lord. With this realization, I wish even more that I could reach out to this person and “gain a brother” instead of an adversary.

4. The writer expects full “cooperation.” Signing this letter with “watching for cooperation” is no less than an underlying threat. There is a simple implication that something will be done if this request is not met because they are “watching.” This is the most unloving, fear-inspriring, and highly disappointing act of this whole letter. It was that simple sign off that incited the most indignation and anger at first.  But after a little while, I again chose to give them the benefit of the doubt and simply felt the deepest sadness towards the person whom I still believe is good willed and simply misunderstands the reason for the hat. And I fear how often something this simple can cause such barriers between each other when we are supposed to be united in Christ.

The saddest part about receiving this letter is that it is just more fuel to the flame of frustrations my fiancé has faced with the church we attend. If you don’t get with the “in” crowd, then you feel like an outsider, and not really part of the body. I have another friend who has stopped attending because of this very same underlying vibe. There is a sense that you must meet certain standards, dress a certain way, or find the right group to be a part of. Even more so, if you bring new ideas, new thoughts to a discussion, or even the recognition of an issue, should we not engage and discuss instead of judge and ostracize? Why are class discussions so quiet? Why is no one willing to speak up? Is it maybe for fear of being judged, of finding yourself suddenly outside “the group?” I know I’ve felt that fear. But my fiancé has always spoken his mind. He challenges discussions in a loving and respectful way, and agrees when truth is spoken,  wanting others to understand what he has learned and get them to think. It is one of the reasons I love and admire him.

But I again still choose to give this writer the benefit of the doubt. This may have seemed like a simple request to them. But unfortunately, we often do not stop to consider how powerful some small action can impact another’s life. And this letter had no small impact on us. But we have both chosen to see the opportunity this letter brings. We have the ability to show love and grace, and to share the learning points we can take away from this moment. 

I hope that the person who wrote that letter will one day see this. But if not, at least I can share with others what I have taken away from this. And I believe it has been a really great personal exercise in being thoughtful and understanding the deeper issues that this letter has made me aware of in myself and around me. As far as what we will do next…nothing. My fiancé will continue to wear a hat on the days that he needs to, and I support him in that, because for us, it is out of necessity and thus we think nothing of it.

I welcome your thoughts so feel free to leave comments. And thank you for reading!

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When teenagers snag your phone…

It’s a good thing I lock my phone, because who knows what mischievous things these kids could do. But there is the ability to take photos from the lock screen, so here’s what happens:

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There were about 47 total….

But you know, I still love those kids. And honestly I love having goofy pictures because it makes me smile when I run across them on my phone later. And smiles are always good to have!

So thanks teenage buddies for being goofy, even when it takes up memory space on my phone!

Keep watchin!

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Lessons from the Pavement #4: Here’s to Starting Again

ef64a62a0f63e085c36dbb5402da48c6I discovered about a month ago that the shin splints that plagued me in my high school years, still are very much present. I get them easily, and I don’t think they were ever treated properly. And while my daily walking never caused them to flair much if at all, when I started to progress to jogging…..they came back with a vengeance.

Not only that, but running on the side of somewhat narrow roads, means you are constantly dealing with the angle of the road. Roads are angled either to one side or down from the middle for water drainage in most places. That means, I’m running on that angle every day, which is not good for your legs.

So I became disheartened because I knew if I continued taking that same path for exercise, it would be detrimental to the health of my legs. Because it’s not just about losing weight, its about being fit, being active, and able to have some level of endurance for many years to come. But because I hit this “bump in the road,” I gave up.

I stopped walking altogether for a while. And what I didn’t realize was I became frustrated with myself. I knew I needed to keep walking, I knew I needed to find a new place to go, yet I did nothing but sit and ignore what I needed to do, heck I even ignored what I wanted to do, and it ate away at me.

It’s just a testimony that I still have a lot to learn about perseverance and mental attitude. Instead of trying to come up with a solution, I just sat there and stewed. I was sad knowing that I could not do my usual route anymore if I wanted to preserve my legs. I worried about how I was going to train for the 5K I entered that’s coming up soon. And I let those things prevent me from taking any action to keep training! How silly! And as the days passed, continuing to avoid walking, I got even more frustrated with myself for not exercising daily, to the point where I began to think it was too late to start again.

But let me tell you something…

It’s NEVER too late to start again!!

I know this. I’ve always know this. But I got myself lost in doubt, and in the problem rather than finding a solution. Well I finally woke up today. I was tired of being angry with myself and of seeing my former hard work fade away. And I said to myself, it’s time to start walking again. I knew of a loop about 5 miles away that could be a better training spot, and I had always wanted to check it out. So I finally just took the step, and went over there right after dinner and walked.

It was so great! Right on the river, the weather cool and breezy, and a little flatter and safer than the side of the road!

So I’m happy to say I’m back to walking again, and am going to keep at it so I’m not the slowest person out there for that 5K. Ha!

If you are stumbling around, angry with yourself and frustrated with circumstances, try to take some time to sit and think things through. Find solutions to your stumbles, don’t dwell on them, wishing how things were different. The  past is the past and there’s nothing you can do to change it 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Keep Watchin!

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Where I was on 9/11/01..

imagesI remember well where I was when the twin towers were attacked.

I was in Junior High. I remember walking through the hallway to my classes, when something felt wrong. A strange quiet was coming over the school. I glanced in one of the classrooms and saw the TV was on, turned to the news channel. I kept walking. I saw it in on the same channel in the next classroom….and the next….and then in my classroom as I arrived. Everything, everyone seemed to freeze as each individual slowly began to comprehend what was happening…

That day, classes stopped. Oh we followed the bells, went to our assigned rooms, ate lunch, but in every room, no teacher taught that day, save for a few that wanted to keep our young minds off the tragic events. But every class we watched the news. Over and over we saw the towers struck, the first one fall, then the second. I remember going home and turning that same news channel on as the story developed, as we all learned that this was not an accident, but an act of terror…

I didn’t realize how much America would change after that.

I lived in Indiana at the time. I had never been to New York nor did I know anyone there. So my only connection to 9/11 was that day, when the world just seemed to stop functioning. It’s hard for me to understand the grief and the tragedy that millions experienced.

So I will admit that I didn’t even realize what today was when I woke up this morning. Didn’t even remember until my newsfeed on Facebook reminded me. Sadly, it’s becoming like just another day. I’ve never yet experienced grief or loss that happens suddenly, and to someone close to me that was young and healthy. I don’t know how to empathize.

Thus, I must apologize to those who have been so much more directly affected by this even than I have. I know today is a somber day for you. I hope you have found healing in the 12 years that have passed. I wish I could offer genuine condolences, but I can’t pretend that I understand what you have been through. All I can do is pray that you have found peace.

Please consider our country today and how it is different 12 years later. Please seriously think about the direction of it and where our leaders are taking it. And above all Pray. Pray for our country and pray for those who are hurting.

Today I remember 9/11.

Keep watchin’

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It’s way past my bedtime…

Yeah, I know most 25 year olds would stay up this late on the weekends, but I don’t usually. I’m a morning person and an extrovert. So that means, I’m wide awake in the mornings, ready to tackle the world. Then by 9 o’clock I’m dead tired and ready to go to bed unless I’m with a group of people. People give me energy.

IMG_3964Tonight I watched and participated in a dodgeball tournament that the youth group at my church hosted. I like to think that I’m a positive influence, and since I’m a kid-at-heart, I still love doing the activities they do, such as a dodgeball tournament. Anyways, I had to share this EPIC game that went down during the tournament.

Let me give you a bit of info on the set-up. The youth minister required that everyone be on a team. If you didn’t want to play, you could just let yourself get hit and get out. As you can imagine, there were quite a few girls that didn’t really want to play, so often they would stand in the back and not do much. One girl talked and talked about how she wasn’t going to play, and couldn’t wait to get out. Well, as the games progressed, I see her actively playing, and competitiveness coming out. And during a certain game, she was one of the last standing, the other team being down to one person…..another girl who had just stood in the corner the whole time where no one noticed. So the first girl has been playing hard, one of the last ones as well and dodging left and right, getting the good players out. It’s one on one now, and the second girl is still standing in the corner, distracted even. The first girl lobs a ball at her, and the second happens to turn and simply catch it!! I should have yelled:

OH! Plot Twist!!

But I didn’t. Still, no one saw it coming and it was awesome. The first girl was pretty mad, but she got over it. Once the champions were crowned, they had to play the adult team. I played on the team, and we had expected our team to humble these new champions. But that didn’t work out so well…

All in all, it was a great night of fun and really helped me not think about the Charlie saga as much. He’s at a Euro garage to get checked out. But I learned today in this book I’m reading how staying busy can really help you forget worries, and I would have to say, after tonight I agree!

So I guess I’ll share some advice for tonight. If you’re worried, go get busy. Do something that takes thinking power, not allowing you to dwell on those worries. You might find them disappear or figure themselves out.

That’s all for tonight/this morning folks! More later!

Keep watchin!

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I’d rather be injured than sick…

It’s true. If I must stay off my feet all day because I went and bruised my ankle, it’s better than feeling like crap with a stomach bug or the flu (which happened the last time I was restricted to the couch).

After all, the plus side is having my boyfriend take care of me. I have an excuse to be lazy. But I also don’t like feeling helpless.

Oh yeah, you’re probably wondering how I went and injured myself. Well, Rob and I were goofing around. He was trying to get ahold of me and tickle me, and I tried to get away by climbing over the back of my couch. I slipped, hit my chin on the back of the couch, and my ankle on the coffee table.

A word of wisdom: don’t horseplay in small apartments.

It definitely hurt, and swelled a little. I hit the bone so I’m sure I bruised it pretty hard. But that wasn’t going to stop me from walking around for Boomsday. I wasn’t going to miss that. Given that it hurt after walking on it for a while though, my boyfriend restricted me to the couch the next day for healing…

I don’t sit still.

Honestly though, it’s still better than being sick, and there’s certainly no need for a trip to the doctor. There’s a lot of positives to this situation. Besides, we planned to be here all day and work on the online business, so I was going to be sitting on my butt most the day anyways.

It’s all about attitude, and finding the bright side. And the bright side was getting to relax on my couch all day. Not only that, but instead of laying around doing nothing, I put my time to use and worked 🙂

On a holiday…

So…Happy Labor Day!

Keep watchin!