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Saturday, July 31

Whatever is True

Well, the second half of my week did not go as anticipated. On Thursday I suddenly realized that this Sunday was August 1st. I mean, I'd known July was almost gone, and I'd known for a long time that all the units for my two online Astronomy classes were due August 1st, but I didn't really get the connection with THIS SUNDAY. Until yesterday. I had six units for one class and five for the other to complete. I've knocked it down to three and a half total left as of right now, but it hasn't been fun. So, instead of researching all the fun things I wanted to write about yesterday, I've been staring blankly at my computer screen, trying to match the orbit of a baseball with either Orbit 2: Semi-major axis 3189km, highly eccentric, or Orbit 4. Semi-major axis 22,000 miles (35,000 km), eccentricity 0. And I don't even know what a "Semi-major axis" is.


The last two days have been discouraging for me; I feel like I'm not doing well in my classes, so I think I'm a bad student. I feel like I'm not doing well at fixing meals, or unpacking the guest room, or cleaning the apartment, so I think I'm a failure at housekeeping. I'm SO grouchy and touchy every morning when I fix Brian's lunch, and I'm always frustrated by my lack of productivity by the time he comes home, that I must not be doing a job as a wife either. Plus, I'm worried about the state of our finances, because I don't know exactly how we're doing with our budget, and I feel like since Brian isn't worried, he must not care, and since he isn't interested in making plans for my birthday, he must not care about that either, which means the he must not care about me, right? 


God reminded me of the sermon I heard last Sunday morning. Pastor Joel explained "Thoughts lead to Actions which lead to Feelings which leads to more Thoughts." So wrong thinking leads to wrong doing, which leads to wrong feeling, and more wrong thinking, and so on. This is the cycle anyone who has suffered from anxiety or depression will recognize. It's how fears, worry, and despair get started and soon become so ingrained that they are second nature.


That's what I've been doing the last two days, wrong thinking about myself and about Brian, leading to wrong doing and wrong feeling and more wrong thinking. I need to renew my mind, start thinking true thoughts, and then doing what is right, and wait for the right feelings to follow. I need to realize that I made a mistake with my class, but I need to do all I can to rectify it and get it finished. I need to recognize that the housekeeping can go by the wayside for this week, until I get these classes finished, and that I don't have to do it all. I need to remember that Brian is not the enemy, and it's not fair to take out my frustration or exhaustion on him. And I need to get enough sleep. I need realize that Brian's lack of concern over our finances probably means that my worry is unnecessary, and I can trust him to take care of me. I need to remember that Brian loves me deeply, and he does care about me, and my birthday, and I just need a little patience. 


I've been listening to the Christian radio a lot lately, and there's a Dr. with a talk show who always talks about "The Power of One Thing," or focusing on one thing at a time, growing in one area, fighting one temptation, parenting one situation, completing one essay, doing one good deed, at a time. I read this blog post by Simple Mom, and it totally reinforced the idea of doing one thing, even if it's for only 15 minutes. Often we are perfectionists and think that if we can't do it ALL just right, right now, then why even start? That kind of wrong thinking keeps us from right doing, and we don't do anything. Go read the article, it's worth the two minutes, and I know it will be a blessing to you as it was for me. 


When you find yourself feeling discouraged or dissatisfied, what are your thinking patterns like? Are your thoughts true? Are they noble? Right? Pure? Lovely? Admirable? Praiseworthy? Excellent? If you are at all like me, you know your thoughts are often quite different. How does the way you think affect the way you feel, or vise versa? What do you do to change that unhealthy cycle? 



Philippians 4:8 (New International Version)

 Finally, brothers, 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.



Let's remember these criteria for our thoughts this weekend! See you next week!  

Wednesday, July 28

Birthday Traditions: What's Yours?

Today is one week from my birthday.

This birthday is different from any birthday I've ever had, or probably will have.

I'm excited, because I'm moving to a whole new level: I won't be a teenager any more. I'll be two decades old. It will be the first birthday I'll celebrate as a married woman, with my new immediate family - Brian.

And I'm apprehensive, because I'm moving to a whole new level:  I will be a real adult. I'll be old. And it will be the first birthday I've celebrated across the country from almost all family and friends.

Deep down, I always love birthdays. My older sister's birthday is before mine, and growing up, I remember telling mom that it wasn't "fair" that I had to wait an ENTIRE month for mine to come. It wasn't even an entire month, it was only 20 days. And I counted down every last one until it was my turn to bask in the birthday candlelight and the undivided attention of my family.

Oh, I remember the magic of birthday cakes lit by glow of little pink and white striped tapers, the shyness when all eyes were turned to me as mom led the singing of that ancient refrain: "Happy Birthday To Yooooou," the sweetness of Betty Crocker frosting, the mystery of unopened presents, the satisfaction of getting just what you wanted.

Sadly, more recently birthdays with the family have been last minute, rush to the store the day before events with Walmart sale cakes. And the presents, well, you pick them out yourself usually. On the occasions that you don't go to the store with mom, you can rest assured that you're not going to get anything on your list, and you probably won't get more than 2 presents. Not much anticipation either anymore: my brothers may or may not even be able to tell you the date of their birthdays. But, I think things are beginning to turn around. My little sister resurrected the Birthday Sign tradition, which is a handwritten and creatively themed banner that hangs by the kitchen table for the week of the birthday.

Speaking of traditions, I know a family that celebrates a Birthday Week, and every day of the week they do something special for the birthday girl or boy. Brian's family always has peanuts and M&M's with the cake and ice cream. Maybe you don't celebrate birthdays at all. Maybe you eat pie instead of cake. What's your family's tradition? What do you do to make a birthday special?

Photo by: juliiet24 Photobucket

Saturday, July 24

Blogging Blues

This week I've been sort-of following a summer-long Build a Better Blog challenge by SITs, The Secret is In the Sauce. If you haven't heard of them, click on the link or button on here and follow them right away. If you have a blog, you won't regret it! I find new favorite sites from their featured blogger of the day, and I've learned a TON about blogging. Mainly, that blogging well is really an art form requiring lots of strategy and computer know-how in addition to writing skill.

I see now that my original concept of a blog was very naive. I thought I'd just write posts now and then, people would find them, read them, follow me, and post comments, all on their own. After all, I didn't notice Julie in Julie and Julia posting her posts to facebook, twitter, stumbleupon, and RSS feeds...whatever those are...and she was a hit! Well, based on the fact that lots of people tell me they read my blog, but don't FOLLOW ME, and prefer to send me emails or facebook messages instead of commenting on my posts, I'm beginning to see that it takes more than a new background, new widgets, and diary-esque posts to have followers (Btw: you don't have to have a blog to follow mine). Don't get me wrong; I've greatly enjoyed the emails, facebook messages, and in-person comments! But I always find myself wishing I could copy and paste what you say onto my blog so that others can enjoy it too. After all, that's what blogging is all about- sharing, meeting new people, and learning new things (and support!).

I'm beginning to wonder, if I don't have a Twitter account, if I never figure out how to add the facebook "like" button, if I don't learn how to embed videos, if I don't know how to network, is my blog a failure??? What if I can't define my niche? What if my page and my posts don't have a matching theme? What if I don't have a blog button? What if nobody thinks I'm funny?

In the midst of all the new information inundating me that I may never really understand (What is SEO?), I have picked up a few things: Good writing has an Audience. To have an Audience, writing must have a Purpose, and this Purpose should be clearly stated. That brings up more questions: What is the purpose of this blog? Why do I blog? Why do I care whether or not people follow me or even read anything I write? 
  •  This blog is to keep my friends and family up to date. It is also to provide encouragement and hopefully insight to those who read it. I also want to share helpful information and tips on various topics. Now, how do I sum that up in a nice sounding phrase? Any suggestions? 
  • I blog because, well, I LIKE it. I really do. I LOVE reading posts by blogs that I follow. I especially love honing my writing skills and developing my computer knowledge. I love the idea of having my life, my ideas, meout there for people to read about. I'm not really sure why that is, except that it's very validating. 
  • Why do I care... now that is the question. If this blog is for my family and friends' benefit, why does it matter to me whether or not those family members and friends want to publicly identify with it? I've thought about it long and hard, and the only reason I can come up with is that I am selfish. Yep, it's true. The little girl inside me is standing on a chair, yelling red-faced about something but really meaning: "NOTICE ME! I want ATTENTION! I want, I want..."
 Which leads me to the next question, what do I want out of it? I want to feel like I'm good at something. I want to feel liked, accepted, and loved. And this blog, and my attempts to make it successful  are only one small expression of that very human desire. 

However, while I know it's a very real, very human desire, I also know that this blog isn't going to fulfill it, even if I do someday have 100's of faithful followers and figure out what an RSS feed does. 

Really, I don't need to be affirmed through this blog, because I (should) know who I am. I'm a jar of clay. (See verse in the blog subtitle) Empty. 

If I'm going to keep blogging and keep my sanity, I'm going to need to remind myself often of the main Purpose of this blog: Glorifying God. He's the only one who can fill this jar of clay and pour it out as a blessing to others. So, this is my Blog Building Challenge: 
  • To focus on developing the writing skills God has given me, instead of comparing myself to others, with the purpose of glorifying Him by blessing others. 
  • To focus on sharing honestly with my readers, instead of counting my followers. 
  • To enjoy writing, both that of other bloggers and my own.  
  • To do this, one day at a time. 
Thanks for reading this far...I think this post was more for me than you. But, if you have an idea, a suggestion, or a word of encouragement for me, I'd love to hear from you- in person, email, facebook, messenger pigeon, note in a bottle, smoke signals...however you prefer, just not in an RSS feed.  

(Photo credit: www.Dreamstime.com)


Friday, July 23

To the Man Who Lives Below and to the Left of Me

Dear man who lives below and to the left:

Stop.

You know what I'm talking about.

You started doing it when my sister-in-law was here. She was at her car waiting for me, and as I crossed the parking lot I noticed you. You were at your car, right next to Andrea's, with the tailgate up, pretending to mess with something. But I could tell you were actually watching her, through the smoky haze of your fat white cigarette. When I got in the car, she turned to me and asked, "Did you see that man? He was watching us!" So I'm not the only one who noticed.

When we got back, you were still there, waiting outside with your little dog. You stared unblinking from behind your glasses with the same cigarette hanging from your blubbery lips as we got out of the car and walked down the sidewalk straight towards you. Andrea said "Hi," because we were a few feet away and it was getting awkward, and you responded. We climbed the stairs to our apartment, and as I fumbled with the keys, I glanced down at you. Yep, you were still watching us. You looked away. I looked away. I looked back. You were watching us again. You looked away. I kept watching. Sure enough, you glanced back AGAIN.

I told my hubby about you. My description was not flattering; you are a fat man with a bald head and beady eyes, a red flabby face and glasses. My hubby got to see you for himself later that evening when we returned from shopping, because you were sitting outside on your porch, smoking. You didn't say hi this time, but you watched us.

My hubby says you ignore him when he sees you. I thought I was done with you, but yesterday you were back to it. After a friend dropped me off, I was walking down the sidewalk to the stairs, and when I got close to your patio, you popped out the door and stood there staring at me, with a freshly lit fat cigarette barely hanging in your mouth. You stared, and I stared back. I said hi, and you said hi. I went up stairs, went inside, and locked the door behind me. Then I got out my pepper spray key chain.

Today, I needed to check the mail, so I carried my keys with the pepper spray attached. I walked in full view of your apartment, cupping the keys in my hand, but allowing the pepper spray to dangle in plain view. You deigned not to make an appearance. I switched hands on my way back, so that you could still see my trusty little black can, and once again, you failed to grace me with your attentive presence.

But guess what, little fat man. I have an even better weapon, and if you make one move, you're not going to like it. It's called a "Husband," "Hubby," or "Dear," for short. And it's 6'1, 200+ lbs. of protective instincts.

Don't make me unleash the wrath of the "Hubby." You won't like it, I assure you.

Sincerely yours,
Mrs. Idon'tlikebeingwatched

Monday, July 19

Our One Month Anniversary

Today is our one month anniversary! It feels like one week since I walked the aisle, but it's been one week that Brian and I have lived in our apartment! We are still adjusting; adjusting to the heat, to the early morning job schedule, to the commute to the said job, to making an apartment a home, to being alone in the said apartment most of the day, and to being married, and mainly, figuring out how to sleep comfortably in the same bed. (A double bed. It's smaller than it sounds.)

The Heat
Dry heat or not, it's hot. Lucky for me, I haven't really had to adjust to the heat, because I can hide in air conditioning most of the day. Brian has no choice, because for the two months he while he works in the maintenance shop, he's practically outdoors.


The Mornings
Brian's early morning start to work hasn't been too hard on me either; I've been able to sleep through the alarm at 4:30 a.m., Brian getting ready, eating breakfast, and only waking up for the goodbye kiss. Until today, at least. At Brian's urging, I'm trying to get up at the same time, so that we can be on the same sleep schedule. Laying awake at night isn't fun, so I'm trying to get on board, but 4:30 comes around fast!


The Commute
We were happy to find that commuting is shorter than we thought it would be, mainly as a result of the early morning, and afternoons getting home haven't been bad. Except for the day there were two accidents: a nine car pile up followed by one with six cars...scary! Both accidents were ahead of Brian, and he was fine.


The Housewifery
I'm figuring out this home-maker thing. Brian's oldest sister was here for the worst part of the unpacking,-those initial stages of circular confusion, the can't-unpack-the-ten-boxes-of-books-until-the-shelf-is-put-together-and-you-can't-put-the-shelf-together-until-it's-in-the-right-room-and-you-can't-put-it-in-the-right-room-until-your-husband-gets-home-because-it's-heavy stage. It's very livable now! There's pictures in this album  as well as many more pictures from our trip. It looks a little different today, since I hung a few pictures on the walls and did more unpacking yesterday with Brian. I am so thankful that Andrea was able to come last week - she kept me company while Brian was gone and provided transportation to get things we needed: basic groceries and my hair cut :) Getting my hair cut was definitely a need, in this case, because it has been in the 106-118 degree neighborhood all week. We also had fun swimming and tanning and going to Barnes and Noble. And, she showed us how to program the coffee maker so that it starts on it's own, which is invaluable. 


I'm doing well so far with cooking, which is one of the things included in my moving resolutions. Our first dinner in our apartment took place Thursday night, and it consisted of spaghetti (one of the few things I can make without a recipe) lettuce salad, and apple sauce. Friday night we had tacos, and Saturday....we bought Little Cesar's Pizza. Hey, it was Saturday! I made barbecue chicken for Sunday dinner, and if I must say so myself, it was delicious, and I totally made it up as I went along.

I've only been home by myself for two days, and I'm already getting lonely! I called home and my older sister Friday, and I found a Christian radio station and blasted it until Brian got home Saturday while I did my Saturday cleaning. I'm not too worried about making friends, I know it will take time, and probably won't happen until I get involved at school or in small group at church. At least, I've been far from bored. I get up, read a text from Brian, text him back, eat breakfast, read my Bible, get dressed etc, call someone from Iowa, work on my online classes, make lunch, text Brian, email people from Iowa, unpack, text Brian, facebook people from Iowa, unpack, answer Brian's phone call, do laundry, and greet Brian at the door. That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.


The Married Life
There's a few things I've learned so far, in my short married life.

  • One is to have most of the stuff I want to do done for the day before Brian gets home, and save what's left for tomorrow. That way I can focus on making him comfortable and relaxed after a long day in the heat, and making coming home a highlight for both of us.


  • Two, I've also learned that my priorities aren't his priorities, and if I push my priorities, I'm nagging. Brian offered to take care of the lunch dishes yesterday, and it drove me crazy. Not because I enjoy doing dishes, to the contrary. But after lunch he worked on the internet, was on facebook for awhile, caught up on emails, and unpacked the book boxes in the spare bedroom, all while the dishes were still sitting on the table and counters. Every time I walked by, it took effort to not say something, or just do it myself. Why? Because I knew that Brian probably hadn't forgotten, at least not entirely, but from his perspective, fixing the internet and taking care of those boxes was more urgent. If I had mentioned, he would have felt I was nagging him, and if I'd done it myself, he'd be offended that I didn't think he was capable of doing it himself. At least, that's what I imagine he was thinking. And in the end, he did do the dishes, and they were none the worse for not being done right after lunch.




  • Three, I've discovered that sleeping in the same bed takes skill. We'd been so spoiled with king and queen beds all during our honeymoon and the week we stayed at Brian's parents' that the double bed felt pretty small. But, I'm not opposed to cuddling, and neither is Brian. Unfortunately.... he snores.

But laying awake at night, with Brian almost sleeping on my face, making me uncomfortably hot and sticky, and barely able to hear my thoughts over the grizzly growling-mountain slide sounds, I watch him sleep, and the realization washes over me that I'm so very lucky to have such a wonderful man; a man who works hard to provide for me, is thoughtful and affectionate, fun, and wise. And every once in a while, he wakes up, and kisses me before rolling over and going back to sleep.

Yep, we're still adjusting. It's been a crazy month, with lots of changes, but I've loved every minute of the adventure. The best is yet to come!

Love,
Emily Conley

Saturday, July 10

Phoenix at Last!


Brian and I at the gas station in Texas where I bought the following postcard. 
We totally brought the rain with us, all the way from Iowa to Arizona! Most of the time the clouds were right above us, as if they were leading us to the promised land :) But other times they were off to the side, so we could actually see the rain coming down, like in this picture
Amazing scenery through the mountains!These caves reminded me of Israel.I think this Indian village was fake... Welcome to Arizona!!! .Our first sighting of the tall species of cacti. Traffic as we enter Phoenix. This is where we stopped to let the car cool down. We were afraid it was overheating. I was afraid I was going to overheat when I opened the car door and stepped out into 118 degrees!!!

This is the beautiful sunset we watched last night, after returning from a long day of apartment shopping and checking into Arizona State University. I wish I had pictures of the campuses .We went to two, and were sent from building to building at both, making for a very sweaty day. And I now have a massive blister on my heel. I could barely walk at the end of the day! Both campuses were very interesting, very different from Iowa State, but really cool buildings. Polytechnic Campus is where I'll be, it's about the size of ISU but the student population is about 11,000. Unfortunately, after all of our driving and walking in the 113 degree heat (Plus humidity), the advisor I needed to talk to was busy, and so I'll have to call her Monday probably, after I finish applying. 
The sunset progressing,  Amazing!Phoenix at Last!


I took a video of the model apartment, but I held the camera sideways apparently. If you put your head to the side, you'll get a dizzying idea of what our apartment is like.It has a fireplace. I know what you're thinking, "Why would you need a fireplace when it's hot in Arizona???" Well, it gets really cold at night, especially in the winter. Since there isn't usually much humidity, there isn't cloud cover, so the sun beats down in the day and with no clouds, the heat all escapes at night. I've been told it can get below freezing even. Plus, it looks cool :) And we can roast marshmallows! 

Of all the apartments we looked at, this was by far our favorite. It's in a very nice neighborhood, plus it's gated, and I think it's very safe. It's in the back corner of the complex, so it will be quiet also. Although, the whole complex is really pretty quiet anyway. There's a strip mall close by, with some very high-end stores, as well as lots of dental surgeon, pediatric, and orthodontist offices. We drove around in the evening, and close by found a residential area where we think the people who worked in the nearby dental and pediatric offices live.  The homes are gorgeous, and most had green grass lawns, which is saying a lot. I am pumped to move in. Today we got a call from the agent we'd worked with yesterday and she told us that we were approved, and we could go ahead and call the electric company and get renters' insurance. Unfortunately, they're closed on Saturdays, so I'll probably do that on Monday. 

After all the driving and walking yesterday, today Brian and I are taking it easy. We haven't left our hotel room yet, and we might not for a while. It's really nice to take a breather! We're planning to run some errands and see a movie tonight. It's between Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, and Knight and Day. 

Thank you for all your prayers! I can't believe we've already found a place to live! As my dad said, God has His hand on us, and maybe that's why it's so warm! ;) But seriously, God answers prayer! 

Wednesday, July 7

Top Ten Most Interesting People, Places, and Things So Far

We started our trip from Des Moines on Tuesday morning, drove through Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. We spent the night in Pratt, Kansas at the Regency Inn, and took off for Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. 

Tonight we're in Albuquerque, and so I thought I'd give you a top ten list of the trip so far. These are the ten "Most Interesting" people, places, and things I've encountered in the last two days. 
1. A road sign in Kansas for "Cattle Crossing." 
2. Brian and the GPS. Every time we'd turn off the Interstate to find a place to eat, or get gas, or a bathroom break, the GPS would tell us to "Turn left, then, turn right," etc, to get us back on track. It's a GPS. It does that. But based on Brian's conversations with it EVERY TIME, I'm not convinced he knows it's just an inanimate object and really isn't aware that he's hungry for Subway. 
3. A city in Oklahoma named "Hooker." Hooker Street, Hooker Industries, Hooker equity....there was a sign for somebody Tucker candidating for Hooker assessor. What do you call a person from Hooker, Oklahoma? A..... hooker?!
4. Oil rigs. All over Kansas, we spotted the interesting machines nodding away amidst the golden harvested wheat stubble. We're not in Iowa anymore, Toto. 
5. Corn fields. For one, the cornfields all had huge irrigation rigs sprawled across them, which you don't see too often in Iowa. Also, in KS and OK, they don't plant corn the way we do; utilizing every inch; instead they curve every corner so that a big triangle chunk of land isn't planted. We couldn't figure out the reason for this, so if anyone knows, let me know.  
6. Cow feed lots. We drove past miles and miles of fenced in cows, seemingly standing room only, stretching as far as we could see. I've never ever even imagined so many cows! I felt really bad for them, because they were all crammed in and there was so much grassy land surrounding them that they couldn't get to. 
7. A postcard I bought in Texas that says in bold, "DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS!"
8. The HORRIBLE service we had at "Silver Moon Cafe" in Santa Rosa, NM, a historic Route 66 eatery that'd been there since 1956 or something. I don't know how it's stayed in business for that long. The employees all sat in the back, and very grudgingly got up to drop a couple menus on a table for us and send someone back to take our order. They didn't have the appetizer we wanted, but that's not a huge deal. The waitress acted like we were ruining her life by occupying any of her time, my mesquite chicken sandwich with bacon didn't have any bacon on it, and when the waitress finally came to refill our glasses, she spilled water profusely next to my plate and huffed, "Whatever!" and marched off, without even an attempt to clean it up. I don't recommend it!
9. Texas county. In Oklahoma. And Texhoma, on the border between the two. 
10. The little old lady at the gas station in Dalhart, TX. The men's restroom was out of order, but since the women's room was a one stall deal with a door that locked, Brian went ahead and used it. We were eyeing some snacks when a little old lady with large framed glasses, and long graying red braids popped out in front of us. "Young man, you kin use the ladies room if ya need tah," when Brian told her he'd already taken the liberty, "Wall Gawd bless yer heart!" 


God bless yours too, and please keep us in your prayers as we continue through the mountains and descend to our final destination, Phoenix, AZ. 
Love, 
Emily

Sunday, July 4

Moving Resolutions

'Twas the night before we're supposed to leave, and all through the house, creatures are stirring, but not any mice :) The boxes are almost packed, the trailer is....empty, the car is....almost running.

We've said goodbye to my sister and her family, my best friend, Brian's best friend, my home church, and my home town friends. More goodbyes to come tomorrow, the hardest ones: both of our immediate families. I'm going to miss my siblings like crazy, and my new parents, grandma, and aunts, uncles, and cousins from Brian's side. It's been a tough week for me, emotionally and with all we've had to do: opening wedding gifts, changing name stuff, getting a cell phone plan, and all the stuff for our trip, including redoing the Durango's brakes, shocks, and the rear differential (I've learned a lot about cars this week). I've been told that this is how the Conley's do things; major re-hauling of vehicles before big trips, generally last minute, but somehow it always gets done. 

I've been researching apartments online without much luck. Either they're too far away from where we want to live, or they're way too expensive. We'll just have to wait until we get there and can drive the area. 

Crazy as it seems, it doesn't seem real to me yet, that we're really leaving. Maybe I'm in denial, or just banking on coming back in August for my cousin's wedding. 

Brian was worried about me today, he said he was afraid I'd break down when we got there and not be able to function. I don't think that's going to be the case. As worried and stressed as I've been, I do recognize that this is God's leading. As my mom-in-law said, "If God wanted you in Fort Dodge, you'd be moving here." My best friend mentioned that it's crazy that I get a completely new start with a new city, church, school, and even last name. I could totally "reinvent" myself, if I wanted to. While I'm not planning to do anything radical, I do hope to change in a few ways. 

1. Get a haircut. Short and cool. I don't think my long thick hair will fare well there, so I want to chop it off short and cute. And I do have Brian's permission even!!!
2. Get a tan. No more of that self tanning crap. A real desert sun-kissed-light-toasty color. 
3. Find a sense of style. This will be more difficult. But, I'll only need one wardrobe for all year, no more of this changing seasons thing, so that will enable me to be more creative with mixing and matching and creating complete outfits. Plus, now that I'm a married woman, I need to look like the part. 
4. Forge a strong marriage. We will really have to depend on each other and God for comfort, strength, courage, and grace with each other. I think this move will be the best thing for our unity and becoming one. 
5. Overcome fears. Crossing city streets, sleeping without a night-light, shopping by myself, meeting people and making friends, roll calls, and above all, driving, to name a few.
6. Become a better communicator. I've never been great at keeping up with people, although I think of people from time to time, I'm not good at making the the effort to find out how they're doing. I want to still keep in contact with friends in Iowa, as well as my NMB friends all over the Midwest, and especially my family. Now that I have a real cell phone for the first time ever, that will be much easier! 
7. Learn to keep house, and make a house a home. I am SO EXCITED to unpack and decorate and arrange everything in our very own place! I'm not so excited to make and keep a budget, meal plan, cook, and do dishes. 
8. Continue involvement in ministry. Being a part of a Bible study and leading a Bible study has been by far the highlight of my college experience, and I really hope to continue it. But, perhaps God will lead me to a new ministry! 
9. Keep working towards getting a degree. With the whole out-of-state tuition thing, it gets a little tricky, but hopefully I'll be able to continue at ASU this fall. If not, then online classes or community college, here I come!
10. Go deeper with God. So many Biblical characters developed into the leaders and teachers that changed the world AFTER spending extended time in the desert. Moses, Abraham, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul, and Jesus to mention a few. My spiritual walk has been pretty dry lately; I've allowed many other non-essential things to push God off the throne, and it's time to get things right. I'm ready for time in the desert! 

Please remember to pray for our travels and sanity this week! Love you all and miss you very much, 
Emily CONLEY :)