HOLD FAST

This week was a blessing and a curse. A blessing…God allowed my work schedule to get adjusted, so I would not be in Atlanta. On Tuesday, I helped my sister prepare for Switcharoos, AND I got to see my nephew and niece which made the work well worth it. Switcharoos is a huge consignment sale in Greenville that I go to each year in search of clothes for friends and family. It’s so much fun, because you get a lot of stuff for a really good price.

 This past weekend, I took eight women from my Bible Study to Charlotte, North Carolina to see the amazing Beth Moore. After you see the pictures, you will think they were all crazy.  We recently finished her Living Beyond Yourself study, so seeing her was a great finale to an amazing study. Leading up to the trip, I was getting more and more discouraged in the details of the trip. It felt as though everyone had an opinion how things should be done, when we should leave, what we should do, etc. Most were supposed to be helpful comments, but my sleep deprivation, attitude, and the devil were winning at stealing my joy.

 We left Greenville at 3:30. The event did not start until 7, and we hoped to arrive by 6 since it was general admission seating. As you can imagine, the trip was going great…well, until the 7 mile backup on 85 due to the tractor trailer accident. So, since we are brilliant women, we started navigating an alternate route. Well, as you are probably guessing right now, we were stuck in another traffic jam due to construction and the other drivers who had the same idea. We arrived at the Time Warner Center at 7:15, and we sat in the worst possible seats. Imagine the nosebleed section way up high, and then imagine like three stories above that, but we could still hear! God had a great message for us for the weekend. But another awesome thing was I didn’t want to have to pay for three cars in Charlotte for the conference since our original plan was to drop one car at the apartment that we were using, but alas we didn’t have time. Would you believe, some lady was standing at the parking garage and gave one of our cars a free parking pass. It was a small gesture that meant a lot! I had never worshipped with so many women before. They said we were about 9400 strong, but it was AMAZING! We actually all kept joking about our first ever Bible Study, because we felt like it was the same kind of force against us that was there that night…but we are still going strong a year later.

I wish I could say that I quickly grew up and got over my irritations, but sadly, that wasn’t the end of the devil working on me. My girlfriend and I were together on the trip, and it has just seemed the last few weeks that we were drifting apart for some reason. I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint the reason, but it kept escalating and finally boiled over. I struggled the entire conference to listen to the messages. I was emotional as all get out with no real reason why. Somehow I got all of the notes down and still learned a lot looking back over them, but it was weird how that happened. I had to apologize to our group for being so stressed and allowing my attitude to get the best of me. They were gracious and the apology led into a great time of testimony about what this conference did for each of us. What a reward to hear that each woman needed to be at that retreat including myself. My girlfriend and I got to talk and make EVERYTHING wonderful. Restoration and growth were achieved this weekend which to me means the retreat was a success in spite of all of the trials. I also was able to deepen some relationships and build new ones with some amazing women. It still amazing how God has brought people back into my life from high school that I never hung out with previously.

However, in spite of all of my attitude problems, traffic jams, and melted cupcakes (Sorry again Carissa), we got to have a great time together. Did you know grown women like to stay up until 2am to talk? Yes, we had our own version of a slumber party. I would also be awful if I didn’t thank Courtney’s sister-in-law for coordinating free lodging for us. Who says you can’t cram 9 women into a one bedroom apartment….what you can’t do though is use only one bathroom…now, that was a challenge. I also need to thank Courtney’s brother and sister-in-law for hosting us for breakfast on Sunday. Take a look at the pictures…Keith made an amazing spread for us, and we were incredibly grateful.

Some of you may be wondering what Jon does all the time while I’m away. He suffers let me tell you. If you noticed yesterday’s post, that was him wake boarding. He went out on the lake for five hours on Friday with his co-worker, and he went jet skiing on Tuesday while I helped Becki with the Switcharoos stuff. On Sunday after church, he even went golfing in 104 degree weather with some of his friends. His life hasn’t been too bad, but according to him, he missed me, so I’m fine if he fills his time with fun things until I return.

This is getting longer than I intended, but I wanted to share with you what Beth shared with us. She based most of her message around Deuteronomy, but she created an acrostic for us to remember why we should HOLD FAST to God.
His affection is set upon me.
Only He is my praise.
Loving Him awakens my true heart.
Doing His will does me good.
Fleeing to Him means fleeing with Him.
Any tighter embrace will also replace.
Satan wants what we have.
The Lord is my life.

H.O.L.D.F.A.S.T. God has sent His love upon me.

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HOLD FAST….it’s coming

Due to the amazing ladies retreat I was on this weekend, our weekly update will be a day late. Please come back tomorrow for a full-write up on the Sutters of the south and to hear a bit about the wonderful and tiring weekend.

To wet your appetite, here’s a picture of Jon after work one day last week.

Beautiful smiles, long toes, and a lonely heart

This week had Jon and I departing from our home on Tuesday and going in separate directions. Jon headed to Raleigh, NC for his annual training for work, and I headed to Bridgewater, NJ to audit a 401(k) plan for one of our clients. Somehow, when booking the flights for my co-workers and me, I mis-booked my flight which allowed me to get into Newark about six hours before my co-workers. This mistake allowed me to spend the afternoon with Grandma Sutter. I really enjoy listening to Grandma, because she tells me stories of days in the past. I think my favorite was when I asked her how she met Grandpa. She told me that she went to this book club that an “interesting man” was leading, and how a lady in the group who was a faithful believer shared with Grandma that she knew it was God’s will that she marry that man. Thankfully for all of us Sutters, that woman did not marry Grandpa. I already miss my time with Grandma. Now I just need to find a client in Colon, MI or Syracuse, NY so I can visit with my other grandmas. We even got to see some does, a fox, a bunny, and birds while on the backporch chatting. It was really peaceful.

Jon had an interesting time at training. Some events happened back at the office in Greenville that Jon’s boss was insistent that Jon take some leadership in the field in Raleigh to rally the troops. He insisted that this was a time for Jon to step up to the plate. Hopefully, this time is remembered when the promotions come out next month. If nothing else, I am sure all of the attendees at training will remember Jon’s rendition of Billy Joel’s Piano Man on his harmonica.

On Friday, I made the trip out to Long Island to visit with Sam, Ashley, and our new niece Colette. Let’s just say, I now understand why all of our family does not like driving to Long Island. It took me three hours to travel 45 miles. I met my goals of not killing any pedestrians and not getting honked at, but I was very tired when I arrived at Sam and Ashley’s. We had a marvelous visit which included my first crepe experience, smoothies, a newborn baby (Ashley’s new niece Charlotte), the beach, a lighthouse, a GREAT seafood dinner, a GREAT Italian dinner, and of course lots of snuggles with our new niece. I got to enjoy some beautiful smiles from her, and her long tiny toes are so precious.

However, no matter how great the week and weekend were, I MISSED JON! I’m so thankful the Lord allowed my travel schedule to be altered to allow me to be home with Jon this week. Praying that travel season passes quickly over the next few months.

Birthdays, Haircuts, and Hiking

Last Monday, I mentioned that we were taking our dogs and my mom hiking at one of our favorite spots in Carolinas. Pisgah National Forest. It’s the easiest trails with the most beautiful scenery. When we went camping last, we learned that the girls like swimming, so we thought it would be fun to let them do it again. In the pictures, it looks like they may not feel the same excitement, but I contend it was because of the powerful waterfalls. If anything, we did succeed at filing their nails. My mom even enjoyed it too. Getting from the bank to the middle of the river was a little tricky since the rocks were so slippery, so Jon wanted to throw in some added difficulty by trying to photograph her while she did it. Out of respect, I only posted a couple of pictures of that adventure.

The week was filled with appointments which isn’t rather exciting, but the week ended with a highlight. My sister from Virginia came into town because she missed us so much. Well, that’s what I tell myself. She came into town because she had a dentist appointment, and she happened to get to see us too. While she was here, we decided to celebrate Dallas’ 36th birthday (My brother-in-law). It also happened to be haircut night. We have a pair of hair clippers that we were given, and my sister is trying to save cash, so Dallas and Ethan both got haircuts. Jon didn’t think he was up to cutting his hair like the other guys. I didn’t complain (see pictures). As you can also see from the picture, Ethan wasn’t too excited about his haircut either, but thankfully, Madelyn was happy with the new dress I bought her for her “potty present.” She has needed much encouragement, but she has finally mastered the art of using the restroom in a “big girl potty.” I also got to paint her nails which she just LOVES doing. Girls are so much fun! I also must mention that my sister from Virginia was promoted last month to the District Area Rental Manager for Penske Truck Leasing. This means nothing to you, I’m sure, but it means a lot to all of us, and to put the icing on the cake, her district was #1 her first month in charge. Nothing like setting expectations a little high, eh?

I continue to be an addict of pinterest.com. I have been gathering so many ideas. Just wish I had time to implement even half of them. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, then you must get with the program. Just kidding. I actually just learned of it a few weeks ago, but it saves me from having to have a thousand favorites on my browser. There are so many neat ideas that I would love to remember, but sadly depreciation schedules and tax rules are what fill my mind at the present moment. It’s either that or blogs. I have come across so many inspiring blogs recently. One the couple had their baby, and he passed away 10 days after birth due to a congenital heart defect. They knew early on in the pregnancy that the baby had these defects, but since they were believers they carried him to term knowing the outcome. Well, she’s pregnant again, but this time with TWINS! Can you imagine? I’ve realized I might have to start weeding out some of the blogs I read, but there are far too many good ones. I don’t even know where I would begin to cut. AND, they give me a nice little break during the workday or on my lunch break.

I don’t usually mention when I am taking a break from the blog, but since my house won’t be empty, I’m not too concerned. I’m headed to New Jersey for work on Tuesday. Lately, travel just burns me out, but thankfully, I will get to see Jon’s Grandma, hopefully, some aunts and uncles, and then I will end the trip with a visit to Long Island to see my beautiful new niece, and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. The only downside is that I won’t get to see Jon again until Sunday evening. What makes it even sadder is that I will leave again the following Tuesday for work and again will be gone through the weekend. Ugh. SO looking forward to the day when I don’t have to travel, BUT I am very thankful for technology. Jon and I are able to e-mail most of the day, and I can usually snag a 15 minute phone call in the evening with him. Not sure how people did it in the olden days when their husbands were off to war with only letters to look forward to.

In honor of my absence, I will leave you some beautiful sites from our hike last week. I will definitely be checking them out this week while I’m away and missing my little family.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Wow, this week was busy. At first, I didn’t think it was too busy, but we crammed it full of a lot of stuff. Some fun, some not so fun. To start, I cleaned the garage…that fell in the not so fun, but it was such a big project that I took a picture. In case you can’t tell, the before pictures are on the left, and the after pictures are on the right. I’m pretty happy with the results. I think my dad would be too since the OCD of it reminds me of how he kept track of things. I still consider it an accomplishment that we can park in the garage after four years. Praying that it continues.

On Tuesday, my work took us to a baseball game as our firm Summer Celebration. Each year, we get together with our Charlotte office to have a fun activity. Due to some people dropping out, we had extra tickets, so I got to bring my nephew. He was SO good, and we had a blast. My favorite part was while trying to park. It was far busier than I had anticipated, and I did not want to pay for parking, so while I was on the hunt for free parking, Ethan pipes up from the back and says, “Aunt Ashleigh, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t like to walk very far.” Poor kid. Aunt Ashleigh disappointed him, and we had to walk a ways to get to the park, but he was so cute when he said it that I later rewarded him with some Chick-fil-A ice cream. He also was sweet enough to get his sister a ball and a cookie even though she couldn’t join us.

This weekend, Jon and I spent a lot of time together which has been MARVELOUS, especially since his travel schedule at work has picked up a bit, and mine is about to get a bit crazy over the next couple of months…like two trips to Piscataway, NJ…what?  So excited though since I will get to meet my new niece and see some family. The joke at Jon’s work is that his travel has begun to increase….back to Greenville (i.e. he has been spending most of his time in Atlanta). Thankfully, it has not been as bad as this past spring or even last summer, so I’m holding out hope for a slow summer.

Anyway, on Friday, my girlfriend was having her studio’s grand opening, so Jon and I headed downtown for dinner and to see her studio. We had a marvelous time, and of course I took pictures of our food. We have been getting some amazing coupons lately, so we were pretty proud to say that our entire meal was only $14 for a pretty fancy restaurant. My mom’s church was also hosting a patriotic concert, and she was running the first aid station, so we stopped by and Jon pretended to be some injured old person. She offered him ice cream…I like that kind of nurse’s station. 🙂

Date night continued on Saturday, but this time it was at home. Jon put on the works. I had TWO appetizers and some amazing supper. He even set the table up by the firepit which was pretty awesome. He tried this new recipe for grilling corn which was amazing. A little cilantro mix made them so delicious. How would it be 4th of July without grilling out too? I didn’t get any pictures of it, but we had our neighbors over this evening for a great time of fellowship and of course hamburgers and potato salad. We hope to take my mom and the girls hiking tomorrow at Dupont State Park. It has some pretty incredible waterfalls, so here’s to hoping that I’ll be here next week to update you on our lives….that is assuming you’re here….