we're going camping now, we're on our way!

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* Title courtesy of Psalty’s Kids Praise! 5… A little piece of my childhood :-)

So, the car is packed… the checklisted is all checked… and I have a few minutes to spare until I need to leave. I’m going to pick Paul up from work and then we’re going to head to Rising Fawn, Georgia to go camping! I’m really excited. This is our first camping trip together. I grew up camping when I was a girl, so I’m excited to do this again. And we’re bringing the puppy with us, so it should be fun. ;-)

We spent all week this week getting ready. We had gotten a lot of stuff for our wedding, intending to start camping last fall. However, we were still missing a few things – namely, a tent. We ended up never going last fall, but we did spend lots of months looking for an awesome tent. I did some research, visiting REI several times, and this week we picked up the tent. Let me tell you, it’s HUGE! (We’re only intending to go car camping, so we got a four-person tent on the recommendation of several people) It fits very nicely two sleeping bags, a dog crate, and perhaps – someday – a Pack ‘N Play? Paul and I set the tent up in our living room and slept in it two nights this week. Fun fun. :-)

Another thing we got are two books: The Best in Tent Camping: Georgia, and The Best in Tent Camping: The Carolinas. They seem like really useful and informative books. We plan to use them as guides and add our own notes to them as we visit the various campgrounds in the area. We’ll let you know if they are worth the buy. :-)

So other exciting news that kinda relates is that Paul’s schedule has changed. He is now working 7am-3pm Tuesdays through Saturdays. That’s really good, because now he has a two-day weekend! That will help with the various trips we are planning to take this summer. My boss also said they might work something out with me to work an occasional Saturday in return for getting a Monday off. That would be happy, even if we stay in town. :-)

Well the hour has come; I must be off!! If you need us this weekend call either of our cell phones. Ta-ta for now!


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I was really saddened to read this.

It kinda surprised me, too, because I thought the show was interesting and gripping. I guess not many others agreed! It reminds me a little of this, especially since the lead actor is the same. It seems like Fox likes to pull shows before they have the chance to reach their potential…

Oh well, not the end of the world, I know. It’s just like reading the first two chapters of a book, and then never being able to finish! I am so curious about the mysteries that will never be explained. What was in the safety deposit box? Will Sean be okay? What’s going to happen to Rob & Ellie? Why is Corinna in the race? What is Wendy running from? Will Lee be able to make it hitchhiking? Why do “they” want certain people in the race so badly that loved ones are kidnapped? Who is going to win, and what is going to happen to the people who don’t win?

In more serious and important news, today is the one-year anniversary of Laura, Betsy, Brad, Laurel, and Monica’s departure from this world. I watched the chapel service from yesterday and really appreciated it – especially what Don VanRyn had to say. How God can work through tragedies! He certainly is an awesome God. I’m glad He doesn’t give up on us before we’ve reaching our potential. :-)

happy 3rd birthday!

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After reading Joanna’s post today, I realized I forgot my blog’s 3rd birthday yesterday! I started my blog on April 24th, 2004 with this post:

the beginning…

well here goes nothing! i have so many random thoughts… i thought it would be fun to try out this “blogging” thing. maybe i’ll even get people to read it, that would be cool. i know at least beth z will read it :-)

My address at the time was twentysixcats.blogspot.com, which I used until around Christmas of 05. I also had a Xanga blog, and for a while I posted on both until I decided to go with Blogger (and I don’t regret that decision!). My posts started out really short, usually only a paragraph or two. They also started out without titles (which I added later) and without comments (since Blogger didn’t support those). I used Haloscan‘s commenting system until I switched to WordPress. One thing kinda funny as I reread those old posts is that I rarely capitalized or used complete sentences. I didn’t realize that I naturally am more grammatically correct now. :-)

This blog has had three addresses -> Blogger, then I moved to my own server and using WordPress at ashleydesign.org. Recently I changed it to the domain name twentysixcats.com. All the posts are here; however, the comments are only saved back until Christmas of 05 (when I moved to WordPress). I wonder how many comments I got back at the beginning? I do remember one anonymous commenter (gotta love them!) who left a nasty comment on one of my firsts posts saying I should do some nasty things with a spoon. I was quite shocked, but fortunately I really haven’t had much trouble with those kinds of comments.

A few stats: This post will be #663. The next person who comments will have the pleasure of being comment #1500!! There are 24 categories – too many in my opinion; I’d like to someday pare them down and perhaps make the categories more broad. I’ve never kept tabs on the traffic I generate to this blog, so I can’t tell you anything about that… Although I’d love to know some of the Google searches that bring people here. :-)

This blog has covered a lot of really major life changes. I think it’s neat to have a record of these. Some of them I don’t go back and read because it’s too hard, and others make me smile. For example:

Three humorous posts about my blogging addiction, and gives a good picture of the life I led in college

Paul proposes with a ring in a tulip

My graphic design internship, which was very much a learning experience

The engagement is off (these are the posts I can’t reread…)

Hurricane Charley hits Orlando

In my opinion, one of the best posts I’ve ever written – about the broken engagement

My senior show

Graduating from college

Getting two precious kitties

My first job interview

My second job interview – and my first post-college job :-)

My first post about a controversial current event – I’m not good at these, I take things so personally!

My first real job!

My first apartment

My first car (well the first one I bought myself, that is)

My graduation ceremony (yeah can’t reread that one either)

My first dinner at the Garrisons (this is very significant because… well they were and are my second family here in Georgia, and that meant sooo much to me especially before Paul arrived)

My first time decorating for Christmas on my own

Getting engaged the second time around

Paul quitting his job and moving to Atlanta!

Moving to Ann’s house

Was it only a year ago? This event really shook me up

And then of course this event

A million posts about wedding plans, including starting a separate blog for them

Getting my second car, and my first car payment

Starting another blog with my best friend

Getting married

Having trouble with persistent migraines

Trip to New England to see the in-laws and meeting the Millers for the first time!

Move to a townhouse

Adopting a little beagle puppy

Paid off our first of our loans!

That’s about it for now. :-) I enjoyed rereading some of those old posts again. Ah, memories. Thanks for being a part of my blogging experience. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon because I certainly do enjoy it. I have enjoyed all the wonderful friends I’ve made since blogging, and being able to keep in touch with old friends.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

what's in a church?

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Originally published on April 24th, 2007 at Onward & Upward

The reason why I asked the question in the previous post is because it’s something Paul and I have been contemplating a lot recently.

First, some background. When I moved to Atlanta two years ago, I got plugged in fairly quickly into a nearby Presbyterian (ARP) church. I joined the choir, made friends, and enjoyed the service. Paul moved to Atlanta a year ago and since we planned to get married in the church, we stayed. However, while I was totally okay with the traditional services, hymns, and choir robes, Paul was not used to that. He comes from a non-denominational/Calvary Chapel background. He is used to outreaches and Bible studies, while this church focuses on church events and Wednesday night potlucks.

And, in the meantime, we have been feeling very lonely. There were almost no young adults, married or single. One thing I’ve found is that while older women are wonderful friends, they are very busy with their kids and their own lives. Going out bowling or hanging out for a game night don’t appeal as much to them. I joined what is called a “Circle” – a women’s fellowship group (I love the name! it makes me think of an old-fashioned quilting circle). Since it meets in the evenings, all the women are working moms – something to which I can’t relate, and frustrates me because that is one thing I hope to never be. (I often have to bite my tongue about my opinion! But that’s what it is – an opinion. And I don’t have kids yet, so I really can’t say anything.)

Paul and I have talked for a long time – probably about a year now – about leaving. Recently, we have started attending services at another Presbyterian church in the area. We have also been talking about what’s important to us, and what we want from a church. It’s been interesting doing this together for the first time, as we bring our own values and backgrounds to the table.

This is what Paul and I have determined is important to us (in a pseudo-order):

Bible-believing, Christ focused, sound theology and doctrine
I think everyone agrees that this is very important! We don’t want to come away from each sermon shaking our heads. We really appreciate when pastors preach from the Word, and always go back to Bible to back up what they’re saying. Cute stories are valuable to help with understanding, but important points and truths should be made using the Bible.

Worshipful music
Paul and I want to be able to worship God through music. This is more important to me than him. I love hymns, but after being in a church for two years when all I heard was hymns, I found that I was just singing the words. Some of the contemporary praise and worship is shallow, but some of it is really good and speaks to my heart. I find I feel closest to God when I am singing and able to pour my heart into the songs, instead of wondering if I am hitting all the right alto notes. It’s also hard to lift your hands with a hymnbook in them! I am a very emotional and expressive person, so this is important to me in worship. I would love to find a church with a nice blend of the two, but those are few and far between.

Strong outward ministry focus
We would like a church that feels a strong need to minister to the people of the community, of the nation, and of the world. I am very passionate about missions, and I love to see a church active in global ministry. We also want to see a church give back to the local community. Paul is very passionate about local outreaches – cookouts, etc. We both want to be able to get involved in these areas.

As I mentioned, this is one of the biggest reasons we are currently looking for a new church. We believe this is very important – being able to connect with the other members of the church, finding friends, having others in a similar place in life who can encourage you. Also, a church that is interested in meeting the needs of all different age groups is important – we don’t want a church that only focuses on families, or only young adults. We want to see a nice age mix in the church because, while we want people our age, we also know there is much to learn from those older than us, and much to teach those younger.

Personal growth
We really want to be challenged, stretched, and grow spiritually in a church. Much of this is personal: how much you put into it is how much you get out. However, we’d like to see a pastor not only just preach the Word, but also challenge us through that preaching.

Godly leaders
We need to be able to look up to and respect the leaders of the church. I must admit that sometimes disagreeing with how a pastor treats his family plays a major role in how I feel about his sermons. We wouldn’t attend a church with a female pastor. I prefer to attend a church where a pastor has or is pursing a seminary degree. I know it’s not always possible, but I believe education is important. (The reason why I switched to a singular pronoun there is because Paul doesn’t necessarily adhere to the same pastoral standards as I.)

Location, size, denomination
These are some smaller aspects which will play into a decision of settling on a church, but not necessarily define it. Having gone to churches both near to me and far away, I’ve found that it is MUCH easier to get involved in a church when it is close by! Some people are okay with a drive, but we both feel that the time & money we spend driving back and forth could be better used. Especially if we stay in the South where there is a church on every block. :-)

I always was wary of big churches, but this recent one we’ve started attending is very large (I can’t find a specific number – maybe about 4,000 members?). We both feel that despite the size, the church is not necessarily “stuck on itself” but meets our first criteria. Also, the church offers home fellowship groups and smaller Sunday School classes where we feel we can get to know people more intimately. I would venture to say that the size doesn’t matter to us as long as we feel like we can be a part of the church.

I have always been a member of the PCA (Presbyterian) denomination, though I have attended a variety of churches including, Baptist, Methodist, Calvary Chapel, Evangelical Free, CMA, and non-denominational. Paul is mostly non-denominational. The fact that a church is Presbyterian means a lot to me – I know that I’m going to agree with the doctrine for the most part, and the church has some outside accountability to remain true to the doctrine. I also wouldn’t ever want to join a church that would require me to be re-baptized.

I think that’s about it. So far, we really really like this new church. However, we are sad to leave the old one. I don’t want to burn any bridges – I love the friendships I have made. We’re trying to figure out how to leave the old church without making it a big deal. I think we’ll just attend every once in a while, and gradually “fade out” until they forget us and sometime in the future are surprised to see that we have requested to transfer our membership. :-)

Thanks, y’all, for all your comments. I appreciate everyone for being so gracious about differences – no one got into it about denominations or whatnot. I might have more thoughts on this later as Paul and I continue this road of finding a new church home.

photoshop fun

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The other night I couldn’t sleep, so I played around a little with pictures and different Photoshop filters. Here are some of the ones I came up with (click to make bigger):



And for a new profile picture, I cropped a picture I took a few months ago and tried different filters. I ended up using the middle one for Blogger/Facebook/Xanga/etc.

I kinda wanted to make variations of the middle one with different colors Warhol style, but I couldn’t get it to look good enough for my tastes. It looks like a vector image but it isn’t, and that frustrates me. I’m sure with some more time and patience I can do it… Perhaps next time I’m up until 5:30 am I’ll look into that. :-)

I also uploaded some pictures to my Facebook albums. Check out Our Trip to the Mountains and Misc. Pets. I also wrote a little more about which filters I used on this Facebook album.