Friday, July 23, 2010

Tales From the Sale, Part 1

I told you a couple of weeks ago that we were having a “front porch sale,” and I wanted to report back to you. Overall, it went great, but I definitely think that what they say about sales being more work than they are worth is true. The fact that we were donating the proceeds to charity made it worth the effort, but we will likely just donate our [mountain of] stuff next time. However, the sale was nothing if not eventful :D

To begin with, Josh had started a new job just that week. We knew there was a possibility of travel, but certainly didn’t think he would be gone the first week. Umm, wrong. He called me Tuesday morning (his first day) to inform me that he would be coming home to retrieve supplies, and then would be gone the rest of the week. [Note to all potential burglars: You should know that, lest you think I’m an easy target, this house is armed to the teeth and I know how to use it all. Seriously- I have my firearms safety license and know how to handle a gun : D ) Bless his heart, he felt bad about leaving me to do all the work for the sale, even though it wasn’t his fault.

I made do, and his absence meant I could work for many hours straight without taking any breaks. That, combined with help from our parents (thank you!) meant that we were all ready to go by Thursday night. Yes, we put everything out the night before- there was no way I was getting up early enough to set everything up before our 8 am start time. I figured that if anyone stole anything, they probably needed it more than us. I woke up about 7:30, when I got my first big surprise...
[to be continued]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3 Years Ago Today...

...I married my best friend.

...I hoped you would think I was beautiful.

....I cried when you cried when you saw me for the first time.

...I had complete peace that I was making the best decision of my life.

...I welcomed your love and partnership as a gift from God, with joy and awe and humility all rolled into one.

...I married my Knight in Shining Armor.

...our loved ones gathered to witness our union.

...I promised in front of the whole world to love, honor, and obey you for the rest of our lives.

...I kissed you for the first time in three years.

...I had a husband.

...and you had a wife.

...I signed up for a crazy, life-long adventure, without even really knowing it.

...It was the beginning of the rest of my life.

...I knew I could love you forever.

...I loved you more than I ever had before...but not as much as I do now.

Happy Anniversary, Josh. To my husband, my best friend, and my hero: you mean more to me than you could ever know. I love you.

[All pictures by the lovely and talented Nikki Edwards, of Elite Portrait Gallery]

Monday, July 12, 2010

1000 Words Photography by Nicole Wilke

I have had several people tell me they didn't know I had a photography blog, but I totally do. I have been doing photography professionally since we got home, and it has been a huge blessing in my life. I want to tell you a little more about how it came about, but first let me connect to you the relevant information. You can visit my photography blog here. If you would like to subscribe via email, which means you will receive an email message each time I publish a new post of pictures, you can just scroll down to the very bottom of the page and enter your email address into the box there. Then hit subscribe, and you should be good!

As I say in the intro to the blog, professional photography was never one of my goals. It's a passion that just happened into my life, and I am so thrilled it did. It's another one of those situations where God's plans were so different (and better) than mine. While I was praying about how I would pay for graduate school, I spent a lot of time meditating and just listening for God. I eventually felt Him say that wedding photography would be the way He would cover the cost. I was shocked!!! Although I had worked in a photo studio in high school, that had been the full extent of my professional experience. Josh and I prayed about it and both felt God was confirming this, so I decided to pursue it.

Due to the fact we were living in Africa for the time, my start in wedding photography was a little unorthodox, to say the least. After much prayer, we decided the best way for me to gain experience would be to volunteer to do photo shoots for people in our community (in all of my extra free time- ha!). Babies, seniors, weddings, etc.- they were easy to come by, because photographers are few and far between in less westernized areas. People were so eager to have their picture taken. For some, it will possibly be the only time they will ever be photographed.

From those shoots I gained experience with all the fundamentals, and more importantly in working with people from behind a camera. Most people don't feel at home in front of the lens, and it is my job to connect with them, and help them to relax. It is my job to help them be themselves, so that I might capture their spirit on film. For your viewing pleasure, I have included a few examples of my recent work. Check out my blog for more!

I love people and relationships, love and family. I love being able to freeze time for an instant, and to immortalize a memory on film. I love what I am doing, and am exciting to see how God uses it. If your interested, you should check out the blog, and join me on this journey of discovery.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grief in Change

I have no doubt that the end result of the simplification process will be lovely. Freeing. Peaceful. Beautiful. Organized. Totally worth it.

But with everything I decided to sell, give away, or trash, there is a little bit of me that grieves. To varying degrees, of course. The half-used green eyeliner from 4 years ago doesn't grip me with the same sentimentality as the books I once loved in 6th grade (yes, I am actually getting rid of books- a first for me). Nonetheless, it's an exhausting process.

Take, for example, my formal dresses. After Proms and President's Balls and weddings, I have about 8. The logical side of my thinking clearly sees that 8 formal dresses are not a necessity. But still, each one carries a memory with it, and the process of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of has taken much thought, time, and consideration. (For those of you thinking, "Geez, they're just cloth!", you have either never been a pack rat, or are a man. This post may not be for you.)

Stage 1: Denial
I don't really need to get rid of these. After all, I am getting rid of meaningless junk. These have memories attached. They are not meaningless. And they have taffeta. And glitter. You know how I love sparkle!!!

Stage 2: Anger
Why me? Why do I have to get rid of my beautiful things? Everyone around me gets to keep their stuff. Why do I have to be different? Why did God ask us to do things differently? [mental kicking and screaming ensue]

Stage 3: Bargaining
Maybe if I get rid of more other stuff, I can keep these. Maybe getting rid of just one will be enough. I suppose if I get rid of something than need it, I can just buy more...maybe. Besides,
what does God really mean by "need?" It's probably open to interpretation.

Stage 4: Depression
I guess I don't really have a choice. We'll probably end up with not enough stuff, destitute. My daughters will never be able to wear them *sniff*

Stage 5: Acceptance
Not having 8 prom dresses is probably okay. It will even give me more closet space! I do not want to have more than I need. I would rather spend time with friends and family than cleaning.

Let's just say I am so glad we are getting this under control before we have kids. That will be a whole new challenge in reigning in the sentimentality.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Memoirs of a Pack Rat

I have always been a pack rat. Judging by the 10 year old received Christmas cards in my parents house, it might be a genetic trait.

But people put time and energy into those cards and letters. They don't write themselves, you know. Besides, don't you want to remember what your third cousin Sally was doing in 2001? It might come in handy later.

For me, the journey towards minimalism is shaping up to be a long one. Honestly, it already has been. I decided while living in a college dorm room that the more belongings you have, the more you have to clean and organize and maintain. Frankly, I have better things to do with my time than rearrange meaningless junk.

But all the cards from my high school and college graduations aren't meaningless, are they? What if someone who gave me one dies, and it's the last piece of paper I ever receive from them?

How about those countless souvenirs from the far-flung places my friends and I have been blessed to visit? How does one survive without half a dozen Chinese fans?

What about that soccer uniform? Maybe without it I will forget I ever played soccer.

Those doubles of almost every picture I own could be important, because what if I lose the first set? Going with that logic, I should also keep a backup set of all journals, academic records, and financial information- just in case.

And that candy from halloween? You know it is perfectly fine.

I listen to my internal dialogue with horror and humor, sadness and hope. Until you really take stock of what you have, both in comparison to what you need and in comparison to the rest of the world, you don't realize how much of your identity is tied into your belongings. Think of how we describe people- the boy in the blue shirt, the woman who drives the black SUV, the girl with the purple bookbag, the man who lives in the big green house on the corner- and you will realize how much we associate people with the material items around them.

I don't doubt this journey toward a simple life will turn out to be more far more psychological than physical, more emotional than logical.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Front Porch Sale

My house (okay, actually the house we are renting right now) is a disaster. Seriously. It's not unusual for it to looked "lived in," but this is a little extreme. As in pick-a-path extreme.

But not for long. This weekend, we are having a front porch sale, which is a like a garage sale but on our large front porch. For more information, you can check out the event Facebook page here.
This is sort of an emotional event for me. We have been talking about simplifying since before we left for Africa, but the conviction became even stronger there. Even I saw that one coming. This sale is the first in a long line of steps we need to take to simplify our lives physically, materially, socially, financially, and in every other way that we can think of.

As much as I love my country and am proud of my culture, it is making a decision to turn my back on what has become accepted as the American way of life-

More money.
More power.
More status.
More possessions.
More activities.
More competition.

Josh and I have decided we just don't want that life. We want to be as free as possible from the things that may distract us from God. We want to be able to have room in our daily lives for the Holy Spirit to direct us.

Therefore, we are starting down this alternative path. I told a good friend the other night that Josh and I are like [Christian] hippies minus the politics [and drugs]. Maybe not exactly, but it kind of sums up something complicated in one phrase : ) It'll do for now.