day 29: happy birthday, Jesus!

Happy birthday to you! happy birthday to you! happy birthday, dear Jesus! Happy birthday to you.

So thankful Jesus was born on this day.

Merry Christmas, friends!

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day 27: life is hard and Jesus is still Lord

life is hard and Jesus is still Lord.

Those are the words that I have been playing on repeat in my head over the last couple of weeks. There has been a lot going on in this little life of mine. Work is difficult, relationships are messy, tears seem to accompany my everyday, and God is testing me.

and yet Jesus is still Lord.

I’m choosing to celebrate through this hard time. And I’m thankful because not just over these next two days do I get to celebrate the most important birth to ever happen on this earth, rather I get to celebrate Jesus everyday. I serve a Lord who has my best interest in mind. I love of a Lord who is greater and stronger and more powerful than any evil in this world. I get to have a relationship with a God who wants to have a relationship with me. I am deeply love. I am deeply cared for. I am His. And the reason that I can be His is because of Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ death, and Jesus’ resurrection. I get to celebrate that. Oh yes, I get to celebrate that.

I get to celebrate that by the way I respond to situations. I get to celebrate that by the way I love on others. I get to celebrate that by turning my tears to praise. I get to celebrate that by humbling accepting the challenges laid before me and zealously fighting for Truth.

I get to celebrate Jesus. Everyday. Thankful.

p.s., here’s to finishing off 40 days of thankful strong.

Christmas Highlights

Hello friends, I just had a couple of days full of laughter, catching up with friends and family, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It was such a whirlwind weekend, but I would like to reflect on the highlights of this Christmas season.

1.) We celebrated Christmas with my Dad’s side on Christmas Eve. There’s nothing like the 4 cousins and Uncle Randy being put out into the living room to eat dinner while the adults got to side at the big people table. Really, some things never do change.

2.) Grandma & Grandpa Kopf got a new television for Christmas from the entire family. It took 4 hours, 5 men, and watching a DVD twice through before the ‘plug-in and go’ TV was ready to be watched.

3.) Teaching Grandpa Kopf how to play SPOONS has probably been one of my favorite moments in my life thus far. My favorite quote from Grandpa after he picked up a spoon and didn’t have four-of-a-kind, “Well I picked it up because I had 4 cards.” If that’s not funny to you, I guess you had to be there.

4.) My sister tagging me on Facebook in hopes that Santa would find us in our hotel room to deliver our gifts for Christmas Day. Santa didn’t check his notifications, I guess.

5.) A ‘Christmas-Around-the-World’ spectacular was had at the Littel family household. Foods from Mexico (taco dip), the Middle East (hummus), Sweden (swedish meatballs), German potato salad (from Germany) and the country of Virginia (ham) were all present, plus so many more edible treasures.

6.) My aunt brought a new game to Christmas this year. It’s called Doggie Doo (read about it here) Basically, you ‘feed’ the dog silly putty, squeeze a handle, then wait for the poop/silly putty to come out of the other end. It makes a disgusting farting noise. And all of this was done at the dinner table. Awesome.

7.) My cousin purchased a 16 ft Santa Claus and set it up outside of my aunt’s house. Close to hundreds of pictures were taken of our family in front of the monument. At times, we had an audience.

8.) Littel Family bingo has become a tradition. This year it was awesome/fun/chaotic, sort of like the characteristics of the Littel family themselves. I won a picture of my cousin’s face. It’s going on my desk at work.

9.) Littel Family Christmas was scheduled to be over by 4:30pm and it was. We had plenty of time to get back to Oshkosh to watch the Packers dominate.

10.) Packers beat the Bears. The bears still suck. And it was a very merry Packer’s win indeed.

I hope that your Christmas highlights included pooping dog games, a giant 16 ft Santa Claus, and teaching your Grandpa how to play SPOONS. If not, I hope that you got to make some other great memories with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and yours!

Happy birthday, Leanna.

Dear Leanna,

You were exactly what my soul needed when I first met you 3 years ago. I distinctly remember the moment we met. Ackey had come to pick Kelsey and I up UUJ to bring us back to North Street for Youth Service. He introduced you to us, you promptly moved seats to sit right next to me. I have to be honest, I was so tense and nervous being there that night, but you my lovely friend, you were the best. I knew from that night we were going to be friends, at least for the time I was living in Northern Ireland.

Our very first picture together. 🙂

Then something happened. God happened. You spoke so much truth into my life those five months, I’m sure you hardly realize how much of an impact your words had on me. You were one of the first Christ-centered women I have ever met and there was a glow about you that lit up the room when you walked in. I wanted to have what you had. And it was apparent that you had Christ. The Lord used you as a vessel to bring me back to Him. That has changed my life.

Seatbelt models for the WIN!

There was a moment I knew we were going to be besties forever. That moment was when you and Gav brought over the scale to weigh my bags. We had “said our goodbyes” the night before after eating out in Belfast and I cried. I cried hard, but I sensed a calm coming over me when I hugged you. It was one of those times that God clearly told me “don’t worry, you’ll be back with her”. It was amazing and it made me not feel so distraught. It made me feel like God clearly brought me to Northern Ireland as broken as I was to be mended by friends, who have since turned into precious family. When you and Gav had come over the next day with the scale, we just talked. We talked like we were old friends. We made little mention of when I we would see each other again, but I think deep down, we both knew it wouldn’t be long.

Just one of your many talents.

And it wasn’t. You came to Minneapolis. And it was EPIC. Between dinners out, shopping at the mall of america, chipotle, walking around the lake in the dark, eating oreo ice cream, and taking loads of pictures in the sculpture gardens, we were exhausted. But I was more refreshed than I had ever felt. And still, we said our goodbyes and I think we both knew it wouldn’t be long again until we were together.

Your first glimpse of MOA!

And it wasn’t. It was only a year later that I hopped on a jet plane and headed back to Northern Ireland. Within that year and a half that I was in Minneapolis and you were in Carrick, we grew close. I told you my struggles with school, relationships, boys, God, prayer, everything. You knew these things about me and you didn’t judge me. And I started learning awesome things about you, like your love for medical school and being a doctor, and doing medical missions in Nigeria. We then promised if you ever end up doing your own mission over there, I would be there to run sport and just love on the children. I’m still praying for this to happen.

oh, remember that one time in London?

Then I got to Northern Ireland. And I waited one week for you to get there. And it was the longest week of my life knowing that I was somehow in Northern Ireland and you weren’t. Then you came home from Nigeria and you were such a champ that first night. You wanted to be in bed so badly, I could tell, but alas, you did what a best friend does, stayed up and tried to talk through your sleepy eyes. Thank you for that. Those next two weeks were filled with more love than I had ever experienced ever in my whole entire life. Our late night chats at Roo’s were amazing. Our road trip to your Granny and Grandad’s was one of the most treasured memories I will ever have with you. Just you and me. It just seemed right. Oh and boooooyyyyyyfrrrrriiiieeeennnnndddd and ccuuuuuuuttttttteeeee. Remember?

This will always be one of my most favorite pictures of us.

And then I left to go home. I cried the entire trip home, not because I didn’t think we were ever going to see each other again (because let’s get real, that’s an insane thought), but because for the first time in my life I had felt so comfortable with someone who I was able to tell anything to, any struggle, any heart issue, any silly thing, and would not judge me. You, Leanna, have taught me how to be vulnerable. What an amazing gift you’ve given to me.

and this is my most favorite picture of the 3 of us. I have pretty besties.

So now after 3 years of beautiful, wonderful, amazing, God-given friendship, I continue to praise the Lord for bringing you into my life. You were my first real glimpse of a what a gospel friend does: encourages you toward the Lord even when I don’t want to move that way. Your love for silliness, fashion, cute coats from the kids section, missions, medicine, cheryl cole, late night tesco runs at night, mid-day mcdonalds runs, sitting the car park in the pouring rain, anytime dance parties to lady gaga in the kitchen, the lonely island boys, and God have me give thanks to the Lord for creating you exactly the way you are. You my friend, are brilliant.

🙂

Happy birthday, Leanna, bestiefromanothercountry. My prayer for you is that your sole reliance will continue to come from God and God alone, and that you never lose your love for life. I pray that God blesses you today and everyday after.

Love,

Kari

Birthday Week.

One of my most favorite things in life are birthdays. I love celebrating other people-it’s an opportunity to praise God for bring them into my life and see how God has moved in their lives over the past however-many-years. With that being said, I have no shame in admitting that I also really love my birthday. Let me tell you my heart behind loving my birthday…

Top 5 Reasons I love celebrating my birthday
1.) My birthday reminds me of my parents, how they’ve raised me over the past 23 years, and how much they love me. While I don’t have the privilege to see my parents every weekend, it’s fun to reminisce on the ups (and downs) in our relationship and truly Thank God for bring us to where we are today. And it never fails: my mom is ALWAYS the first person to text me, then call me on my birthday. She’s awesome.

2.) One of my favorite ways to spend time with my friends is over food. I have some pretty fantastic friends who love to try new places to eat, or cook (yes, they are all amazing cooks). Birthdays are always an excuse to get us all together and enjoy a meal together, even though we all live insanely busy lives. I love excuses like that.

3.) My love language is words of affirmation. Cards are one of my most favorite things. I get cards on my birthday. Follow me?

4.) My birthday gives me the chance to remember and plan. As someone who doesn’t take a ton of time to reflect, I’m starting to understand the importance of it. My birthday gives me a good time to think about what has happened in my life over the past year, and look forward to the year ahead.

5.) The reason I love my birthday the most though is because it reminds me of God. My birthday reminds me how much God loves me. He loves me so much that He has given me life. He has provided a community for me to thrive in, a family to love on me, friends to push me toward Christ and to share beautiful moments with. He has given me days to grieve and days of celebration. He has given me hope, because without that my birthday would mean nothing.

Thanks for helping me celebrate my birthday week at the end of September, friends. You made me feel so loved and special and gitty about life. God has really provided for me in great ways through you all. Here is some evidence of the awesomeness that ensued that week.

This is my desk at Hope. These are words of affirmation to me from the interns and staff. I love my job.

Here is my awesome dinner crew, followed by Psycho Suzi's with another group of friends!

Here is me, in my happiness, as the birthday princess!

The Awesome of: 4th of July weekend

4th of July weekend was more than spectacular. I had the opportunity to go back to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and visit my parents. While their house is close to being a disaster zone due to their moving preparations, it was still the same cozy space that I grew up knowing. While my bed wasn’t assembled, I still had a place to rest my head in the corner of my parent’s bedroom on my old twin mattress. After sleeping on there for 4 nights, I realized why I asked for a new bed when I moved into my apartment this year. My days were filled with cleaning out boxes and tubs of old childhood memorabilia and laying poolside, trying to not be the palest individual in Minnesota. I think I’ve accomplished this goal. Needless to say, my weekend at home was pretty great. Here’s a recap of the awesome:

1.) Farmers Market on Main Street. Farmer’s markets are one of my very favorite things in life. I just love walking around and seeing all of the awesome stuff that people have grown and support local farmers. I am a wishful thinker and one of my dreams is to have my own garden one day, without killing it. Since I sometimes forget to feed myself, I don’t know if I’m in the right stage of life to have to care for something else, even if it is a garden. The Oshkosh Farmers Market has grown over the past year as they are now shutting down a section of Main Street in downtown Oshkosh to run this show. I came away with some delicious strawberries, yellow zucchini, and freshly baked bread, and of course we got our fair share of spring rolls. Some of the best are from Oshkosh. If all of these tasty finds weren’t enough, I also ran into some old friends and softball teammates. This was quite the surprise since I never see anyone in Oshkosh because I pretty much only have time to spend with my parents when I am home for a weekend. This was nice because I was able to make some plans with old high school friends to reunite and reminisce about our past and begin to partake in each others futures once again.

2.) Reconnecting with old friends. I had the opportunity to chat over a glass of wine with one of my good friends from high school, Brad. He’s amazing. Seriously, watch out for this kid because he’s doing his thing and won’t stop until he sees the world and makes a difference. He hasn’t lost his drive since high school, on the contrary, it’s probably deeper than it ever has been. Then on Monday evening, I had the chance to grab dinner with another good friend, Jenny. Since last time I’ve seen her, she’s moved twice and has gotten engaged. And probably by the time I see her next, she will be married, graduated from college, and moved to Madison. She’s flying-it’s amazing to see her building such an awesome life for herself and hubby-to-be. The one thing that I have realized is that no matter how long it’s been since I’ve spoken or see some of my high school friends, we can still get together and have a laugh about the past and look forward. While we’ve all built our separate lives from each other, we were all once apart of each others story and I’m thankful that they’ve helped me become who I am today.

3.) Poolside day and night. One of my favorite things about my parent’s house is the deck [built with the labor, love, and sweat of my very own Pops] and the pool. Our house doesn’t have air conditioning so as a trade-off, my parents decided to put a pool in the backyard. Awesome trade-off, if I say myself. This pool has gotten loads of use over the years with softball parties, graduation parties, cookouts, etc, so it was nice to be able to use it everyday while I was home. Like I mentioned before, I got some color. I’m no bronzed model, but I’m not the color of a polar bear any more! This is good.

4.) Grilling out. A summer favorite of mine is grilling out. On the menus for the weekend: ribs, barbecue chicken, potatoes and onions, grilled peaches with olive oil, Oktoberfest brats, and yellow zucchini. Yum. Yum. Yum. Of course there was pasta salad, [lettuce] salad from the garden, fruit salad…it seems to me that we are a salad family.

5.) Spending time with the best. I was enamored with the time I was able to spend with friends and family. Of course I hung out with Moms and Pops, Melissa, Megan, Holly, and Vicki, and a handful of others who make my life so sweet. We braved Dirtball Sawdust Days together, my parents danced to whatever bluegrass was playing, and sat and watched the fireworks show. Sweet memories with sweet people.

6.) Last, but certainly not least: Fireworks. I have decided [this weekend] that fireworks are another of my most favorite things in life. They are so loud you can feel it in your chest, so bright they make your eyes sparkle, and so awesome for a moment you lose yourself in the sight. The fireworks show in Oshkosh was fantastic. 45 minutes of booms, ahhhs, claps, and smiles. Pure awesome.

Do not let this picture fool you. I was actually not in New York this weekend, I was in Oshkosh, Wisconsin-or better known as "OshVegas".

So that was my recap of all things awesome over the 4th of July weekend. I hope that you had a blessed weekend filled with fun, friends, family, and food…oh and you can’t forget fireworks because you can never forget sparkly things.