Wednesday, February 10, 2016

IF: 2016

Hey there, friends!

This past weekend, I got to take part in something pretty cool.  "Pretty cool" is an understatement - it was awesome.  Actually, I could use #alltheadjectives to describe it, but I'll just let it speak for itself.

The IF:gathering is an annual international Christian women's conference.  Yes, international.  It was held live in Austin, TX, and women/groups/churches around the world had access to it via webstreaming.  (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: technology amazes me.)

The IF mission is to "gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose."  This idea had humble beginnings in the heart of a brave woman who found friends to come alongside her and make her dream a reality.  It's pretty amazing to see how God has moved and worked through the process and this year, brought thousands upon thousands of women together to partake in His word, worship, fellowship, and so much more.

So, moving on...

I got to attend one of these gatherings at a local church with about 20 women from our church.

I was so excited to hang out with and get to know these women better, and I was even more excited to hear and learn what God had to say through the speakers, times of worship, and conversations that were going to take place.  I went into it ready to focus and try my best to let go of all distractions.

And then, Satan showed the form of a neck hair.

I know - probably the strangest sentence you've read today...and probably the strangest sentence I've written...ever.

But it's the truth.  Hear me out, here.

Yes, I get neck hairs.  I always thought they wouldn't be a thing in my life until my "later years."  I thought maybe the chin hairs would make their appearance first.  But, low and behold, I've been blessed with random, wayward hairs on my neck for a few years, now.  And here's the more embarrassing thing: once I am aware of their existence, I am obsessed with ridding myself of them until they've been cleanly removed from their unwelcome place on my neck.  I can't handle it.  It's a problem.

So, needless to say, when I discovered one of these feral follicles right before we began the opening praise and worship set of the IF:gathering, I was done for.  All of my hopes and dreams of going into this event sans distractions went out the window.

Yeah, this sounds funny and weird and may seem a little tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, I was really bummed about it.  I truly believe Satan used the open door of my neck-hair-distraction to let all the other worries, doubts, to-do's, and countless other distractions I was so desperately trying to keep out walk right in.

I tugged and pulled at that little sprout of a hair for a solid 5 minutes before discretely unsheathing the tweezers from the itty-bitty Swiss army knife I keep in my purse (yep).  Those didn't do the trick, either.  (I don't know if the ladies around me witnessed any of this, despite my discreteness, but if ya'll did, thanks for ignoring it. ☺)  I. was. so. annoyed.  And I refused to get up and go to the bathroom to take care of it.

So, in my discouragement, I literally prayed, "God, please help me get this neck hair out, so I can focus completely on you and your Word."

And guess what?  He showed up - in such a real, tangible way.  I got that neck hair out - with my fingernails, no less - a few minutes later and before the worship set was over.  I can't explain the sense of relief, joy, humor, and awe that came over me.  Seriously.

I know - this sounds so, so ridiculous.  And yeah - it's pretty embarrassing, seemingly trivial, and perhaps TMI.  But I wouldn't share it if I didn't think there was some merit in it.  It's just one of those times I felt so heard and recognized by God.  I don't always recognize or remember times like this, so I clung to the moment.  And I wanted to share it, because it meant so much to me...I can't really explain it.  But thanks for letting me try.

I still feel really silly about it.  You're probably thinking, "Really?  All this over a neck hair?"  But, yes.  That's what Satan chose to use and that's what God chose to use to, once again, reveal His power over Satan.  Mysterious ways, am I right?

And then, there was the rest of the conference!  So, so much truth was spoken through this gathering of amazing women (and a couple men) who shared their stories, their hearts, and the words to which God had led them.  I'd really love to share it ALL with ALL of you, but that would probably take a day or two.  So, maybe we can meet for coffee or lunch, or maybe have a phone date, and I can tell you what I learned.  And/or maybe I'll write about it someday.

For now, though, I'll leave you with this thought:

What IF we lived like Jesus did?  What IF we loved like He loved?

In Him,

P.S. I just remembered I wrote about something similar a couple years ago here.  Satan fights a constant battle.  Aren't you so glad God is on our side?!

Favorites of the day:
building relationships with church friends
(building relationships, period - haha)
delicious strawberry poke cake from two of the sweetest boys I know

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, new news

Happy New Year, all!

I trust this finds you well and excited for the year ahead.

You already know how I feel about resolutions, so this isn't a post about those.  It is, however, a post about a new adventure I'm embarking on starting this year:

I'm officially a Pampered Chef consultant!

This is something I've been considering doing for years...literally...almost 20 years, probably.  No joke.  My mom hosted many a Pampered Chef party throughout my childhood, and I've grown up using the products as long as I've been active in the kitchen.  So...I guess you could say it's in my blood...or something.

Seriously, though - I'm really excited about this, you guys...for these reasons (in no particular order):
  • I don't know how much I've written about this somewhat-little-known fact on here, but I could watch cooking shows all day.  We didn't have cable/satellite growing up (still don't), so whatever was showing on PBS on Saturday mornings started this obsession.  Late-night baby-sitting gigs fed it, because, so long as there was cable, there was the Food Network.  Nowadays, Nexflix provides my fixes.
  • I've always dreamed of having my own cooking show.  When I was younger, I was in 4-H cooking class (led by my mom!) and put on live cooking demonstrations on a regular basis.  Somehow, I discovered Rachael Ray and watched her shows every chance I could get!  I've been told on numerous occasions I not only look like her, but also remind people of her in other ways, too - which I take as a very high compliment!
  • There are days when I miss being in a classroom setting.  I'm a trained teacher, and though I prefer one-on-one lessons, I still enjoy being in front of a class every once in a while.  This setting seems like a great way to itch that scratch (probably I should find a different way to say that, huh?)...and also a great opportunity to utilize all my little bitty mise en place prep bowls even more!
  • I love meeting new people and building relationships.  There's probably a whole blog post here, but we'll just leave it at that. ☺
  • The extra cash won't hurt, but that's not really the reason I'm doing this.
  • I haven't done something truly new in a pretty long brain is ready for a new form of exercise!
All of these are pieces in the puzzle of reason I put together in deciding whether or not to (finally) sign on to Pampered Chef (poetic...and slightly cheesy, I know...).  I'm anxious to see what I get to do with this puzzle!  ☺

Charlie is also excited...mostly about the packing materials that came in my new consultant kit box (he's excited about the box, too).
If you wouldn't mind doing me a favor, head on over to Facebook and like my new page.  I plan to use this page to promote awesome deals, share recipes and ideas, field questions and comments, and minimize all these posts from coming through my personal account.  ☺

Luckily, I already had a picture of me in a PC apron to use as the profile pic!
Can't wait to help host bridal showers like the one that was put on for me! ☺
As I embark on this journey to share my love of cooking, of baking, of teaching, of meeting new people, and of course, my love of Pampered Chef, I ask for your prayers, suggestions, etc., etc.  Let me know if you have any interest in any part of it, of course, and if there are any questions I didn't answer in this post!  ☺

Thank you, thank you.

Pampered Chef-ly (of course),

Favorites of the day:
quality time with friends and family
post-holiday clearance
merely glancing over the list of items to come in a new consultant kit and getting to be so pleasantly and genuinely surprised by the contents of the package when it arrived at our door ☺

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Our Favorite Things: 2015

“Our Favorite Things: 2015”

Lyrics by: Bryant & Kensy Byers
To the tune of: “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music

New jobs and good jobs and trips to the mountains,
BSF, small groups, and praise team rehearsals,
A season to celebrate Jesus’ birth…these are a few of our favorite things.

Family time, good friend time, and new adventures,
Seared steak and cookies and sweet surprise flowers,
Ballroom dance lessons and grand piano strings…these are a few of our favorite things.

DIY projects and seeing new movies,
Our dog and friends’ dogs and even our kitty,
Concerts and cooking and dates at the range…these are a few of our favorite things.

When it’s trash day, and a raccoon, opens up our bag…
We simply remember our favorite things, and then we don’t feel so bad.

Toddlers and students and funny coworkers,
Netflix, vacations, and chats with the neighbors.
Warm, cozy nights that do not have to end…these are a few of our favorite things.

Fresh air and trimmed hair and time at the pool,
Long walks and Zumba and good bargain hunting,
Weddings and parties and Amazon Prime…these are a few of our favorite things.

New tools and Craigslist and clearance at Target,
Pen pals and board games and notes in the mail,
Road trips and cooking and trying new things…these are a few of our favorite things.

And when we’re asked, more than one time, when we’re having kids?
We’ll simply say, “We plan to wait just a bit,” and in the meantime, we’ll live… 

Thank you for reading/singing! Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday season! May you find time to enjoy some of your favorite things now and in the New Year to come.

Kensy & Bryant

Favorites of the day:
our Christmas tree
Masterchef Jr.
these two:
When we finished their puzzles, they said "Keke, let's take a picture!!"

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Good times in the Good Life

Hey, all!

Usually, this time of year, I'd say something like, "Hope this finds you well and warm!" Buuut...I'm fairly certain most of you are probably staying warm enough this uncharacteristic December, so we'll leave it at, "Hope this finds you well!"

Also - normally, after going this long without writing, I'd give some sort of explanation as to why you haven't heard from me in a while. Buuut...I really have no, I'm not going to make one up. I will give you a heartfelt apology, though - sorry it's been so long, friends!

Ok. Now, we can move from the appetizers to the entrée of this post:

I'm (still) in love with Lincoln.

Not that I'm not learning to also love KC - I really am and really do love so many things about my increasingly-less-new home - but Lincoln will always hold a special place in my heart. This is due, largely in part, to the fact that so many people who hold special places in my heart live there.

The reason I'm telling you this is because I was able to make a (short) trip back last week(end). It was wonderful. It was lovely. It filled my bucket to the brim, and then some! And I really can't put into words how much it meant to me to be able to go back to a place I don't live anymore and feel completely at home (a second home!). To be able to "pick back up where we left off" with everyone I was able to visit this trip back is a testament to the relationships I was blessed to build during my time there and maintain at a distance since I left.

The trip began with lunch at school with the kiddos I used to nanny for (you may remember them from several posts...including this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, among others).
She and I used to visit her brother at school during lunchtime.
Now, she is the one to be visited.
Though it isn't documented, he's still willing to give me a hug (or two or three) in public. 
I'll count that as a win. ; )
Really can't believe how much they've grown...but still love them so!
I also got to spend the afternoon with their amazing mother and stick around for their school Christmas program rehearsal! Precious kiddos singing (proudly and beautifully) about Jesus? Be still my heart.

Then, after a trip down memory lane visiting a dear cousin who happens to live in my old dorm at NWU, as well as a lovely dinner and catch-up time with former coworkers/current friends, I got to spend the night at the coop!
Look who was waiting for me in bed!You may remember a post about this...☺
Coopmates for life!
The next day started with a friends' annual party (one of the coolest parties ever, by the way...details upon request) and lots of quality time with friends...
"These are a few of my favorite things..." ☺
...and ended with a surprise visit to another party!
I just really love when my friends are friends!
I was very thankful for good weather and safe travels all around. The timing worked really perfectly to squeeze everyone/everything in this time around - it was all meant to be! Though I wasn't able to see everyone I would've liked, I made the most of the time I had and was very glad to see those I did.

That's all, for now, I think. Except - can you believe it's the middle of December, already?! Sheesh. Sure do love this time of year, though!

And I love you all! ☺

Holiday spirit-ly,

Favorites of the day:
cheesy Christmas movies
middle school band concerts
Ok, maybe not actually a favorite thing, but I do love getting to support my students!
AND we learned about a free jingle bell app...check it out!
Christmas baking
The other treats that have been made so far didn't get their photo shoot in before they were

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Anniversary Vacation: Colorado-style

Hello, hello!

Hope this finds you all well!

If you don't mind, I'd love to share about our celebratory first anniversary trip to Estes Park, CO.

We'd debated between mountains and beaches for our honeymoon trip, and since we decided on the beach then, we saved mountains for a year later.

As you might remember, I grew up going to Estes Park/Colorado on family vacations (even recently enough for a blog post).  Estes Park is one of my very favorite places, and I was so excited to share it with Bryant!  Since we went in the fall, rather than the summer, it made for some different (and new for me, too) experiences, and we enjoyed every bit!

I could write all about it, of course, but how about I just show you (and tell you a little bit)!
Got an early start on our drive!
Pretty much sums up western Kansas..., we didn't miss much due to the fog.
Though we didn't get in on any far-off mountain views, the sign assured us we were in the right place.
Not our final destination, but sure seems like it should've been, huh?
It was raining...a lot...and it was cold...and windy...but we didn't miss the photo op. 
First true mountain view.
Thank you, Boulder, for the safe scenic pull-off.
First view of snow!
It snowed in Estes the day we arrived.  We couldn't believe our luck!
Always thankful for strangers willing to take our picture.  ☺
I'd never seen a snow-covered Estes Park valley in person!
(Those are mostly snow-covered rooftops.)
The Rose Den - you can kind-of see the name of it on the porch rail - our cabin for a couple days!
The "path" to our cabin.  Steeper than it looks and definitely more treacherous in the snow (this was taken on our last day...not the first).  So very thankful for my strong, capable husband...esp. when he carries heavy things in situations like this.
It was so homey and cozy!
We knew about the fireplace before we got there, but a piano, too?!  That was a surprise.
Again - thankful for my capable, handy husband.
Don't worry...there were s'mores.
The view from our cabin window!
That's Long's Peak in the distance.
We also knew there would be a hot tub, but didn't end up using it - partially because of the distance from it to the cabin door (the hot tub is on the left side of this shot and you can see the cabin roof on the right)...and the outside temperature.
Our first wildlife spotting!  We think they were mule deer.
More wildlife!!
We saw 50+ elk in our first couple hours in Estes...and our first 15 mins. in Rocky Mountain National Park!
A few aspen leaves still hanging on.  Most had already fallen.
This was crazy, to me.  This valley usually has sprawling mountain views, but it was so foggy our first evening in the park.  It was also very quiet - sometimes, it felt like we were the only ones there.  Almost eerie.
See the little guy?!
This is the (larger-than-it-looks) parking lot at some of the most popular trail heads.  I've never seen it when it wasn't completely full (usually, you have to take the shuttle to get to these trail heads), so this was a very strange sight!
There's a rabbit in the middle of this picture.  He was our "local" wildlife at the Rose Den.
This little guy, too.  ☺
This one took our breath away - we came around a curve, and there he was, munching on the yummy green grass in someone's yard.  There was no zooming in on this shot - we were actually that close.  
I just couldn't get over how different the cloudy, snowy, autumn views were!
The park was celebrating an anniversary, too!  ☺
I also couldn't get over how snowy and wet the trails were - thank goodness for waterproof boots!
Three little snowmen sitting on a bridge...
Who wants to write the children's song with me?
More wildlife! (There's a bird in the tree...he was black and blue.)
Alberta Falls! looks so different this time of year, but still one of my favorite places.
Had to get a pic in this spot at Bear Lake, of course.
Remember that foggy valley in an earlier pic?  Here it is with somewhat clearer skies.
Hiking earned us a couple treats from downtown...
...and a fancy dinner at the Stanley Hotel!
I'd just recently told Bryant about this style of piano.
We took along a few games, including The Game of Life.
Our year-old cake topper!  It was surprisingly good, still...and much bigger than we remembered.
We were so glad it cleared off our last morning there enough for us to catch glimpses like these along Trail Ridge Road.
Yes, we were very cold!
We went as far as we could - over two miles above sea level!
Totally didn't expect to see THIS wildlife!  These guys don't come down the mountains very often, so we counted ourselves lucky to see a few of them...and even a baby one!
Last shot of some aspen leaves before heading out.
For posterity's sake, we stayed at the Denver Magnolia, since we'd stayed at the one in Omaha before leaving for Cancun the year before. 
Our room even had a mountain view...kind-of.  ☺
I know...the matchy-matchy is a little cheesy, but we decided to continue the tradition we started on our honeymoon and were super excited to find matching (within our personal preferences - haha) RMNP centennial t-shirts.  AND we got a screamin' deal on them!
Last glimpse of the mountains.
Always sad to say goodbye...but we'll be back!
Another wonderful road trip in the books!

Thanks, as usual, for letting us share.  We had such an amazing time, and we can't wait to go back!

In the meantime, any recommendations for other trips we should take?  Especially before our family grows?  (No need to read into that comment...please hear me when I say that's not something that is going to happen super soon. ☺)


Favorites of the day:
beautiful fall weather
homemade applesauce
Remember that super sweet and thoughtful birthday gift from Bryant?  It was dancing lessons.  ☺
Not the best pic, but surely a great memory.