Summer Unscripted

I had many, many things planned for this summer. And I cannot tell a lie: most of those things did not happen.

What was completely unexpected? My hiatus from blogging!

At first, the break really stressed me out. Why couldn’t I get my words out? What kind of hole of darkness was I falling into? The funny thing is, the not writing turned out to be exactly what I needed.

This summer has been arguably the best of my life. I’ve learned so much about me, and grown so very much. It’s been a process, and it turns out there was just nothing to say in the middle of the process.

I’m so excited to get so much of this written, out of my mind and organized and publicized. In the meantime, here are some scenes of my summer, a little bit of what’s going on. When I scroll through these pictures, I see a collection of impactful moments, journeys, processes, connections; I hope that you enjoy living some of my summer vicariously!












(Not) According To Plan

Today did NOT go according to plan. But I bet you already figured that out, right? I know you’re smart that way…!

After getting up at 3:30 (!) to begin our journey to San Francisco, meeting at church at 5:00, and getting to the Milwaukee airport by 7:30, everything seemed to be smooth sailing. Then we boarded our plane…


After sitting on the plane for 45 minutes, they announced that we needed to de-board the plane because the had to change two tires; and the tires had to come from somewhere else! They announced that it would take at least a couple of hours; this meant for us that we would (at the earliest!) first be leaving Milwaukee only 15 minutes before our connecting flight in Denver took off! (Spoiler alert: we didn’t make that connection.) Ugh.


Pastor Mike worked his butt off trying to figure out our plan, while in the meantime we just had to chill in the not-very-exciting Milwaukee airport. When noon finally rolled around and they started re-boarding our flight, our group was instructed not to board because we weren’t even sure yet if we’d be taking that flight! Finally after a good half an hour, they had us board after all. A little bummer there was that passengers were crabbing at, and a stewardess even yelled at, our students for not being where they were supposed to be, even though our students had been awesomely patient and right where they needed to be.


When we got to Denver, Pastor Mike immediately hopped in a line to try to get our situation figured out; he spent the next three hours there. The rest of us found food, and then an emptier balcony area to set up camp. The students were super-troopers: they napped, they played games, they talked, they read the Bible together. The students were not allowed to bring any technology along, and i think this definitely tested their resolve! They rocked it though.


After Mike’s three hours in line, he came back with the news that 14 of us had a flight out to San Francisco in four more hours, and four of our group had to stay overnight and catch an early flight tomorrow morning. We spent the next four hours riding the train from concourse to concourse, finding food, hanging out. Not ideal, but better than a lot of the alternatives that were thrown at us!


We missed some really fun sightseeing plans this afternoon, and had to reschedule some stuff that we had planned to do tomorrow. Today didn’t go according to our “plan” at all. And yet, it still was awesome. We bonded in a big way, and we really got the chance to hand it over to God and let go of our own preconceived ideas. Nothing but good.

Today’s stats:
24: hours from getting up this morning to arriving at our hotel tonight
14: hours spent in airports
8.5: hours behind schedule
5: hours spent in planes
4: team members left behind
4: missing bags
1.5: hours in baggage claim

I’ll try to be back tomorrow to tell you about a couple of really cool things that came about through this!

On tomorrow’s agenda: chilling in San Francisco, rockstar fancy dinner, and checking in at our mission site.


San Francisco Bound

Yes, that’s right! Terry and I are currently sitting in the Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, along with two other adults and 14 high schoolers, waiting for our flight to San Francisco. We’re headed out for a weeklong missions trip, where we’ll be serving the people of San Francisco in various different ministry organizations.

Terry and I jumped headfirst into this opportunity last summer as soon as we heard that our church was partnering with YouthWorks because when we were in high school we did two mission trips through them with our youth group. We were super excited for the chance to work with them again.

Just for fun, a couple pictures of us on our Mississippi trip, circa 2002:



Unfortunately I couldn’t find any pictures from our West Virginia trip the summer before on my computer!

For most of the past year, I’ve been pumped thinking about the awesomeness of participating once again in something I have such great memories from, and I’ve been even more pumped since Pastor Mike settled on San Francisco as our destination; check one item off my bucket list!

Then about two months ago after a conversation with Pastor Mike, the truth hit me hard: unlike my past awesome mission trips, I’m attending this trip as a chaperone. As in, I’m expected to be a responsible adult. And beyond that, it’s going to be my job to guide the teenagers I’m traveling with as they serve. It’s not about me; it’s about them. Woah.

I’m not going to lie, that realization hit me with a TON of self-doubt. Unlike the other chaperones, including Terry, Pastor Mike, and one other woman, I haven’t been working with the youth all year; I barely knew most of the kids we would be traveling with. I wondered how I would interact with them, get along with them. Would they like me? Would I be an impactful leader for them? Would I be what they need?

Much anxiety followed and I really struggled for several weeks. Pastor Mike is hyper-organized though, and we’ve been having team-building meetings for several weeks. I’ve started to get to know the kids, and that eased some of the stress. The other piece of the stress ~ doubting my capabilities and worthiness to serve ~ was eased through prayer, by me and many others. I finally came to a place of realization that I am here, I am in this place, because God can use me.

Going on this trip, chaperoning this trip, is definitely outside of my comfort zone. If I had thought it through before committing, I honestly can’t say that I’d be here right now. Thankfully God had a bigger plan than that, and He brought me right to where He wanted me.

This week, for the first time, I finally got excited for the trip. Not “yay I’m going to San Francisco” excited (that’s been going on for awhile!), but excited for the full experience of all that I’ll see and do. I got super stoked! Then anxious again. Than excited. You get the idea. It’s been quite the up and down week! When my alarm went off this morning (at 3:30!!), panic struck me full force; when we got to church to meet the group, I remembered the bigger picture.

I’m not sure what the week will hold as far as blogging ~ I hope to be able to do some updates, but we’ll see. I also have a notebook with me for journaling, so I’ll at least remember what was up for later posts!

Our group has a blog running for the week that you can find here; all four of us leaders have access and will hopefully be posting throughout the week. You can even sign up to have new posts sent to your inbox if you’re interested (Mom, that’s you!).

You can also follow our trip on Instagram (katiewithoutrestrictions) and on Twitter by following #crossfiresanfran

For a last bit of fun, here’s Terry and I in the church parking lot at 5:00 this morning:


Yes, I did say 5:00.


13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

~ James 5:13-16

Last night, Terry and I had the opportunity to share in a truly incredible experience.

I don’t think I’ve talked about this here before, but Terry has been suffering through some pretty severe back pain since last fall. He wakes up nearly every single night in excruciating pain, and he has to come to the living room where he spends most of the rest of the night awake. He’s seen two chiropractors, a physical therapist, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, plus our MD and most recently an orthopedic specialist. He had an MRI about a month ago, which showed nothing. Thankfully, because this means no cancer, no surgery, but on the flip side frustrating, because there is no problem that is evident to pinpoint and relieve.

Terry has been reaching out to any and all of our friends for prayer support, and recently one of those friends that he spoke with was an elder at our church. Andy suggested that Terry come to last night’s elder board meeting, where the elders would lay hands and pray over him.

I was honored that Terry invited me to be a part of this with him, and I was blown away by the incredible experience that we had. Seven of the elders of our church laid hands upon us as our head pastor anointed Terry’s forehead with oil, and then each man took turns praying over us, and specifically Terry.

I can’t describe the feeling that came through me and over me as we were invited into this sacred act, the living out of Biblical instruction. As God would have it in our times of ailment, so was it.

Terry and I are beyond words when we try to think and express how blessed we are to be a part of this church family, to be loved, cared for, shepherded and discipled. Even now as I type, my heart is full.

Lettuce & Tomatoes Are In!

My friend Sarah posted an update about her patio garden today, which lit a fire under me to get cracking on mine!

Since school let out, it’s been one reason after another to not get my plants going. All great, busy reasons, but it’s definitely time to get my little plants growing if I want to be eating my own home-grown vegetables any time this summer. And as a bonus, Terry will be happy to hear that at least some of the plant seedlings have moved out of the kitchen…

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we did quite a bit of yard work, which included some patio work. One of the things I did was haul the tomato planters up from the basement and reassemble them. And then there they sat, sad and empty!

I love, love these planters. A friend of mine had one several summers ago, so I picked one up myself just to try it out. I’ve added another to my collection each year! The first year I planted herbs on top, but last year I did lettuces and I decided to go that route again this year.

These are (obviously!) upside down planters, but I like that they’re not the hanging kind since I’ve heard mixed reviews on those. Plus I don’t think they’re very pretty!! I think this probably works similarly though ~ just oh so carefully thread the plant through the hole in the top of the planter. Each planter has two holes, and the instructions say that each hole can hold two plants. This will be my first year trying that!

With the tomatoes in, and the (sadly unpictured!) root bulbs covered in organic soil, it was time for lettuce! I’ve never done spinach or romaine, but I’m pretty sure that I planted and loved the black seeded simpson last year. Unfortunately I didn’t save the packet last year so I don’t know for sure!

Love planting lettuce ~ so easy!

And everything’s in! I love to look out my patio door at the sight of fresh food growing. So summery!


So now I’m growing spinach, black seeded simpson, and romaine lettuces, and yellow pear, early goliath, and better boy tomatoes.

Next patio project: repotting a super-special, brand-new purchase… so excited!!

What are you growing this year?

Does anyone have any ideas for a cuter and more weather resistant way to mark which plants I put into which planters?

WIAW: Anniversary Eats

Last week Terry and I spent a night in Madison celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary. On Monday, I shared some photos of our anniversary traditions and our adventures in Madison, and today I have some pictures of the fantastic food that we ate while there!

As soon as we pulled in to Madison on Thursday afternoon, we headed straight to the Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery for lunch. The big draw to me was that Daisy has a huge case of fresh, made from scratch daily cupcakes. Swoon! For lunch, I had an egg strata which honestly was just a bit eh. I did take a cupcake to go (see below!), and that was definitely fantastic!

For our anniversary dinner, I did a little research ahead of time, and I decided to roll with the Dayton Street Grille. Dayton Street has an amazing chef, and much of the menu is sourced locally; the menu lists the specific farm that the main part of each dish comes from, which is one of my priorities in choosing a restaurant. If only we had anything like that to choose from back home!

The other thing that jumped out at me about Dayton Street is that each of their entrees is served with a trio of sauces to compliment the dish. I do love sauces! I started with an (unpictured) cup of curried butternut soup which was a little spicy for me but otherwise really good. For my entree, I went with cabernet braised short ribs, served with wild rice risotto fritters on top of balsamic and garlic cream. My sauces were gorgonzola cream, smoked onion marmalade, and salsa verde; I loved the gorgonzola cream, but I was thrown off by the cold onions, and the salsa verde was delicious but I just didn’t think it went with my meal.

Then we had anniversary dessert! Terry decided to go with just the buttermilk ice cream, which had been listed as an accompaniment to one of the desserts on the menu, and they served it up with a trio of chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauces. I went with an amazing chocolate cheesecake, which was also served with those same three sauces. Yum!

Friday morning, we headed to Lazy Jane’s Cafe for a late morning breakfast. I had been to Lazy Jane’s last fall with Sarah, and I knew instantly that I would be back! I had the SCC: scrambled eggs with cream cheese and scallions, plus potatoes and sourdough rye toast, topped with two different kinds of homemade jam! Just basic, delicious food. Terry went with the top option of eggs, potatoes, and toast, and he enjoyed his as well. I love the quirky atmosphere at Lazy Jane’s!

Friday afternoon we had a completely unpictured but totally delicious ice cream cone down at the University Union while we walked by the lake.

Since an ice cream cone does not make a very good lunch, dinner was a bit early; this worked out perfectly since we had to make the drive home that evening anyway. For Friday’s dinner we headed to Graze, another restaurant that emphasizes locally sourced ingredients. Sadly, Terry was less than impressed, but I really liked it! We shared an order of Sassy Cow Cheese Curds with house-made ranch, and then we both had a cheeseburger (his with bacon, mine without). The fries were served with a house-made garlic aioli, and I really thought everything was delicious! Since we were there at a weird time between lunch and dinner, we had a really limited menu to choose from ~ I’m hoping we can go back sometime for their full menu with better results for both of us!

And as promised ~ the treat that I brought home with me from Daisy Cafe:

Linked to: What I Ate Wednesday