Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekly Gig

When I was about 14 years old I trekked out to Dirt Cheap Music in Marietta and acquired my first guitar for about $50.  I was over the trumpet and I was itching to play something a little more exciting than a Sousa march or Hot Cross Buns.  Over the years I've mostly been self-taught with the occasionally tip from a friend, and I've really only played acoustic guitar as a hobby for my own enjoyment.

During my freshman year of college I played fairly often with a buddy of mine, J.C. Elder, that lived on the same floor of our dormitory.  We ended up "recording" two cds that year - mostly of covers of popular praise and worship songs - that I really only used to give out to family as an affordable Christmas gift for a college student.  It was then that I realized how much fun it was to jam with other musicians - even if it was only basic worship songs.

Throughout the rest of my college years and my involvement with GT Christian Campus Fellowship I thoroughly enjoyed worshiping under the leadership of Clay Hining, Ryan Kiesshauer, Jesse Dukes, and Stevie Hale.  While I've never had the talent to hang with those guys, I occasionally got an opportunity to help lead worship during the summer Bible studies, in the Freshman quad on Sunday evenings, a couple of Cafe CCFs with Jesse and Quiggle, and once at a church service in Carrollton with Buck Bryan.  That was the extent of my worship leading and after finishing my intern year I really didn't think I'd ever have the opportunity to lead worship again.  That came mostly from the fact that Marisa and I attended a church of a couple thousand or so and if you wanted to play with the worship band you practically had to be a professional, which I'm clearly not.

That notion changed when Marisa and I attended our current church, International Christian Fellowship (ICF), for the first time this past September.  I noticed that there wasn't a guitar player or a male singer on the team, which was much different from the worship that I'd been used to in the past.  So the worship leader introduced himself to us and asked us right off the bat if we played instruments or sang (remember this is the first time we'd been to the church).  I said I did and he started asking if I'd be interested in helping lead worship..........then minutes later asked the critical question, "you are going to come back, aren't you?"  Thus, I was catapulted back into playing worship songs and had the opportunity that I never thought I'd have again.

We quickly found out that our church is just too small for people not to serve and do their part with what gifts they have.  While it still is much different from what we've been a part of in the past, it's been refreshing in a lot of ways.  I must say that I really enjoy jamming praise and worship songs on a weekly basis and I realize that God has prepared me with that talent for the purpose of being used - and it feels great being able to respond to that call.  Don't get me wrong here........I'm not claiming to be amazing or anything, but my ability has seemed to be just right for the needs of the church and it's cool to see that fit together.  I've been super-encouraged by tons of positive feedback from a lot of church members and I've also been able to help with other things like youth events.

It has also been a God thing that two of our solid friends (and small group members), Katy and Craig, are also musicians and have been able to work with me in leading worship occasionally.  We have a great time jamming at their apartment while preparing for our "gigs".  Attached are pictures from our recent gig at a youth event at the church. 

Katy on the keys, me on the acoustic, Craig on the electric, and Georg on the drums

bringin' it with sick trendiness!

So in's been a huge blessing to get to help lead worship on Sundays and it seems that God gives us talents with the intention of using them.

Luminale..........not the latest Dan Brown novel

During the week of April 11-16 a special light convention was at the Frankfurt Messe (convention center) along with a biannual light exhibition dubbed "Luminale".  Over 150 light exhibits were spread out literally all over Frankfurt, both indoors and outdoors, on display for the general public to enjoy freely.  Pretty much anywhere that you walked in the downtown area there were displays on buildings, in alleyways, in parks, over ponds, etc.  With only a week for the event, we had to make the most of our time.

Our first taste of the event was early in the week when we had Mike and Allison Thompson with us.  We checked out the main train station and many of the parks and statues in that area.  It was crazy seeing hundreds of people out walking around looking for light displays - many with fancy cameras and tripods trying to get that award-winning shot.  I was the chode blast that had a great lens, but no tripod which was disastrous due to the extra long exposure time required for night shooting. 

The hauptbahnhof (main train station) facade had a projector putting bees, and later rats, that scurried all over.  

Many of the buildings had cheeky lights shining on them, or in them, although some were difficult to tell if it's always like that or is it an exhibit.

While not exactly an exhibit, the Euro sign at the European Central Bank is pretty cool at night.

Many of the statues that might be overlooked during the day were flooded with colored light and stuck out this week.

I went out on another evening that week with members from our small group, but came away with no pictures because I wasn't packin' heat.  Marisa and I also went out a third time to watch a group put on a fire show.  That basically boils down to a bunch of people wearing black and swinging sticks and chains with fire on the ends to techno music while occasional fireballs were sent up in the air in unison.  I think they went through the entire Matrix soundtrack - it was pretty sweet though (sorry, no pics or video - we dropped the ball).
One of my best shots of the Alte Oper (old opera house)

This one was called "The Swarm" which made me think of Tech football.  See, not all of the exhibits were on buildings.

Altogether, Luminale was a really neat art exhibition that was a lot of fun to enjoy outdoors and at night.  The creativity of some of the exhibits was awesome and so different from most art that we usually get to see.  Put it on your calendar two years from now!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Like my Mom says..... have to go through every season. Well we are entering our fourth season here in Frankfurt and I think we like it. Some months were harder than others like the winter, but I am really excited about spring and summer to do some traveling. Let's take a look back at all the different views we have seen from our balcony.

Summer-August 2009

Fall- October 2009

Winter- January 2010

Spring- April 2010

It is hard to believe we are in our fourth season here and that I live in a place that has four real seasons. 

The spring is in full effect and everything is in bloom.

We headed into the Chinese garden and got to see some wild life 

Just hanging in the Chinese garden. The sun was shining and all the pasty white Germans were out soaking up the rays. And these pasty Americans did the same thing. 


Saturday, April 24, 2010

We had some visitors!

The Sunday after we returned from the States we had two of our friends from England come through Frankfurt. Mike and Allison Thompson were doing a southern Germany trip and they wanted to come to Frankfurt, and we were more than happy to show our town off. We have known the Thompsons since college. We went through the same campus ministry, GTCCF. I really enjoyed getting to know them more on  this trip. We had so much fun and laughed a ton. They are great people (which we already knew), but we didn't know the extent of their greatness.
Welcome to Frankfurt

We took them on a short walking tour of part of the city and then headed over to the Apfelwein (apple wine) area called Sachsenhausen. This was a great way to start off the trip. We wanted to show them a little Frankfurt tradition and apfelwein is a perfect way to do that. So we went to one of our favorite spots for apfelwein and I was thinking we all could get a glass. Well Justin had other plans and he ordered a big pitcher aka bembel that was 3 liters. The waiter told us it was 10 glasses, it was more like 12. So after all of us had about 3 glasses of apfelwein we were feeling good.
They liked it, they really liked it!

Always love a little apfelwein on a Sunday afternoon.

After that we took them to the one and only Zur Sonnenuhr, our neighborhood restaurant. We wanted them to experience the best schnitzel of their lives and meet our girl, Tanya. Once again Tanya hooked us up and gave us an after dinner drink called Schwarze Katze. We all enjoyed it and decided it was time to call it a night.

The next morning the Thompsons met up with our favorite tour guide, Jo, and did the Frankfurt on Foot walking tour.  We made them some dinner that night and then headed out to the Luminale exhibit. This was a lighting exhibit that was going on all week. There used to be a wall all around Frankfurt and now it is parks and this is where a lot of the lighting exhibits were. There will be more about this in another post.  The Thompsons got a day and night tour of the city that day.

This is Mike and Allison's picture and just a preview of one of the lighting exhibits

The next day we just took it easy until they had to get on the bus to the airport. We really had an awesome time with the Thompson's and I hope they did too. I really hope they tell people that Frankfurt is actually cool. 

The things we will take away from our visit with the Thompson's:
1.) The new downfall of our marriage - a game called Sporcle
2.) The awesome show-Intervention
3.) Gelato is a weakness for them especially stracciatto

Friday, April 23, 2010

1,500 Miles in Two Weeks - Part Four (Final Part): Hilton Head

The last leg of our trip back to the States was a week of vacation with my family in Hilton Head, SC. I have to say after a week of running around in Atlanta it was nice to actually have a Spring Break on the beach. The weather was amazing and I was wearing my summer attire. My mom and step-father flew in from California and my sister and brother-in-law came down from Boston. Neither of them had been to Hilton Head before and now I think they both want to retire there.

My brother-in-law Jeff, my pregnant sister Kendra (love the shirt - pregasaurus), My mom Susan, and my step-father Terry

First evening enjoying a stroll on the beach!

The whole trip included time on the beach, lots of golf (Terry and Jeff mostly), shopping for the ladies, and lots of eating. We had a lot of down time which allowed for some great conversations. That is one thing I love about my family- we can talk about anything. Each couple traded off cooking one night. The menu ranged from ribeye steaks, red beans and rice (Justin and I, we were dying for some), and taco night. We went out for one night to a great seafood restaurant. We were even lucky enough to see Dave and Jimmy one night for the finals of the NCAA men's basketball. Go Duke! (I love an underdog, so secretly I would have been happy with Butler winning, since my bracket was already shot, but I was happy an ACC team took the title too. Win-win for me)

Looking good on his beach cruiser. By this point in the trip Justin had a few sunburn patches.

The Johnson's

Since Hilton Head is so close to Savannah we headed over to Justin's Aunt Sheila and Uncle Jackie's house for dinner one night. We got to see his cousin Jack, who is currently doing his residency down in Savannah before moving to Richmond, VA, and his wife Ashley. The Johnson's are such a great family and we always enjoying seeing them. Since Justin and I have been together we usually would go down to Savannah at least twice a year and stay with them.

After a rental car key crisis the girls headed over to a town called Bluffton. It was such a cute town and it took you back in time. My mom was so excited because she had seen a commercial on Bluffton and if it hadn't been for the car key fiasco we probably would have never made it there.

Here is an example of what some of the old stores looked like. We were even lucky to go on a day that they had a farmer's market. This town was full of art galleries and we were eating it up.

Here is the gator Justin and the boys saw on the golf course. It was huge!

The week in Hilton head was very enjoyable and to be honest I can't remember the last time we went on a family vacation together. It was so nice of my family to all fly to the South-Thanks guys!

Next time I see her I will be an aunt to a new nephew!!

I love my family! Thanks for an awesome week of vacation


Monday, April 19, 2010

1,500 Miles in Two Weeks - Part Three: Greenville, SC

One of the most anticipated legs of our trip was definitely our weekend trip up to Greenville, SC to visit my brother, Jason, sister-in-law, Candace, and 6-month old niece, Arden.  It worked out well because we were able to stay with them on our way towards Hilton Head and my mom and step-dad were also able to drive down for the weekend from Philadelphia.  It's crazy to think that my niece was born in October and this was the first chance that I had to meet her - outside of skype that is.
"Getting to know you....getting to know all about you"

I think she likes me.

Checking out Exhibit B - Aunt Marisa

Pillow talk with Arden

Never too early to start teaching her something

We were greeted with Easter baskets, officially upping my Cadbury creme egg count up to 29 for the season, and we had a couple days of catching up, sharing pictures, watching Arden, and playing washers in the backyard.  It was a nice change from the pace of our visits in Atlanta.

Mom, Ed, and the first grandchild

She is absolutely beautiful and we loved hanging out with her.  Usually white babies aren't that cute to me, but she blows that theory out of the water.

Jason loves being a dad and it's cool seeing him soften up a little bit.  At this rate he might be initiating full-frontal hugs by September.

Another bonus was getting to have lunch with my family and our friends Josh and Becky Bagwell.  They got married in the Fall and have been living in Greenville and we've been wanting them to meet up with Jason and Candace so this was a nice opportunity for that.
It was great getting to have lunch with the Bagwell's.  I was mostly happy because we just had real Mexican food - it had been too long since my last #17 (which is apparently universal "burrito, enchilada, rice and beans" - still not sure how they coordinate that effort of collaboration).

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, my aunt Amy and grandma drove over from Blairsville with my dog, Sally, so that I could see her too while I was in town.  It was a real treat.  Lovely Easter with the rest of my family before continuing on to Hilton Head to have a week in a beach house with Marisa's family.
The Easter Sunday outfit

I'm sure this one will end up in a slide show at her wedding some day.

- Justin

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A beautiful Sunday

After a long week and an even longer weekend I was more than happy to enjoy the sun today. We spent the whole afternoon hanging out with our friend's, Katy and Craig. They grilled some burgers up and we sat on their balcony soaking up as much sun as we could. It was so relaxing and just what we needed. From there I proceeded to come home and sit on my own balcony. I sported the flip flops and the sunglasses for the first time today and this California girl was loving it. After such a long cold winter I am ready for the warmer weather of spring. My attitude is renewed and I am ready to do some activities outside.

The good life! Short sleeves, flip flops, sunglasses what else can a girl ask for?
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