Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dear Dad,

Because it's Father's Day today, Kels and I are reminded that we are two of the most blessed girls there are because we can call you our Father. Although you are in Rhode Island, Kels is in Illinois, and I am in Texas, we didn't want to miss this opportunity to tell you how much we love you and some of the MANY reasons why.

Whitney: Every morning of my school career (until I could drive), Dad would drive me and Kels to school. In elementary school, we would leave promptly at 8:07 to arrive by 8:15 to Lipscomb. In high school, it was a little earlier - Kels and Dad would get in the car downstairs while I scrambled to finish getting dressed, then I'd sprint out the front door to meet them in the driveway, usually with my makeup bag in hand (to finish up in the car). Thinking back on it now, this had to be so annoying. If I were Dad, I probably would've asked me to try to be ready to go a little earlier. But not once did he complain about it and he always seemed to look forward to our trips to school. He always made sure the radio was off so we could have great conversations - and we did. He has always been so patient with me, and during my hormonal teenage years, that is huge.

Kelsey: One of my favorite memories with Dad was at the annual Christian Artist Golf Tournament in Estes Park, Colorado. Dad would play in the tournament every year, and now that I was about twelve, I came along with him to help out. He had put all of the pairings together for the four-man scramble, but when tee time came around, we realized that we were one player short. "Go get your clubs, Kels. You're our fourth." I will never forget those words. I couldn't believe it! Dad and I were playing on a team with Dave Clark and Larnelle Harris, and I couldn't wait to get out there and play. I know that Dad could still go through each and every hole that day and explain all that happened, but in a word, it was pretty magical. I played golf like I never had before (in a good way), and our team ended up lapping the fielding and winning big. I still remember the huge smile on my face when Dad and I got a picture together with our matching trophies. :)

I'm not sure if he'll remember this, but in one of my art classes my freshman or sophomore year, we were working on photography and I really wanted to take some pictures that stood out. I asked Dad if he'd mind taking me to a Civil War graveyard about 30 minutes away to watch the sun rise. He said he would (scoring Dad of the Year points already!). We headed out the next morning, waiting for the sun to rise, and it seemed to be the foggiest morning in weeks. Nothing ever really happened and my pictures turned out terrible. But on our way home, he was still so encouraging and didn't mind waking up early to spend time with me.

Another wonderful time I spent with Dad was in New Hamsphire two summers ago, right after I had gotten home from Africa. I jumped on the bus with he and Steve Green and tagged along for their concerts in New Hampshire and Maine. That trip had some wonderful Dad-daughter memories: a boat ride on Lake Winnepasaukee, a 4th of July drive in a really nice old convertible, a rainy visit to the beach in Maine, and some fun games on the bus. I was so happy to be there with him and was so proud of him when he played piano each night. I still am so proud and amazed every time I see him play, and though I sometimes claim to be "in competition" with his piano playing, I know I am not (and will never be) even close.

I love how proud of me he has always been and how he has unconditionally supported me. For every single cross country race I can remember, I always had to find him in the crowd before the starting gun went off. I knew he was the proudest Dad out there and seeing his excited face gave me the confidence I needed to run a good race.

Although I really admire lots of things about Dad, I really look up to the way he loves Mom. He prioritizes her and loves her so intentionally, and they love spending all of their time together. He always values her opinions and input, and he respects everything about her. Their relationship is such an incredible example to Whit and I. I am so thankful to have had that example modeled before me so that I can see what true love really is, especially as I prepare to get married in less than six weeks.

I love how he is able to forgive. Coming home from a trip to Texas with a tattoo on my ankle wasn't his favorite thing (I knew it wouldn't be) but after some time had passed, he had forgiven me for intentionally rebelling against him and Mom. But I still couldn't forgive myself. He and Mom sat me down in the living room and explained that they really did forgive me and as I cried, they each kissed the tattoo just to prove it. Even when I've made mistakes and we've had disagreements, Dad has always accepted me and made sure I knew how much he loved me.

I also really admire Dad's humility in everything that he does. Even though he is so good at so many things -- he's an incredible pianist, very smart, a very successful musician, etc. -- he carries himself so humbly and with so much character and integrity. Although most people know that he's an incredible pianist and musician, most don't know some of his other less publicized strengths -- 1. He is an incredible shooter in basketball and still beats me every time. 2. He remembers every statistic about every sports player you could ever think of. 3. He's becoming a great biker. 4. He is an avid learner and studier of the Bible and all that is related to it. 5. He is a great writer. 6. He plays a mean accordian and was the national champion at age seven. (Don't get me for that one later, Dad :) I hope that my life will reflect the humility that Dad has displayed in his.

I love how Dad has always led our family spiritually. Even from the time we were very young, we'd eat breakfast together each morning and Dad would read from a children's devotional book and insert our names into the story to help keep our attention. We even memorized Scripture together and prayed from our prayer list, crossing off requests as God answered them. Dad helped lay the foundation for our spiritual journeys from such a young age and I am so thankful for that.

For these reasons and so many more, we love you very much, Dad. Happy Father's Day!

Love, Whit and Kels

Photo update, part dos.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So where were we?

Oh yeah, Kelsey's birthday...

An impromptu photo shoot of the newly expanded Tunney family on Kelsey's couch.

This is my first Moody roommate, Kristen's, adorable little nephew who sat in front of me at graduation. Can you believe this is the only good picture I got at the entire ceremony? Yeah... none of the actual graduates turned out. I'm going to have to steal some from Erik. Isn't this little guy so cute? Those eyes...

I did get this one - the adorable brothers!

In an effort to document more of our time in the city (in the winter, it's so hard to drag a camera outside!), I've been carrying my camera around more. This was on a walk to the soccer field to visit Shawn. I was walking down State street and just love the green that is finally here and the beautiful homes.
Shawn's favorite new hangout.

There he is! He didn't see me at this point... or for about 10 minutes. He is a stud.

Again, trying to document... here is me before one of our impromptu Chipotle dates.

And here is our landlord. Or the back of him, at least. Many of you have heard stories. Enough said.

And then we went to Florida.
Juuuust kidding! We just took our Chipotle to the beach! It was a perfect night and feels like a city escape.

That is, until you look in my direction. That skyline is just so irresistible.

Thank you, summer, for finally visiting Chicago!

An update in pictures.

It's June 19th and it still does not feel like summer (torrential rain, strong winds, even grape-sized hail today!) but we've had some summer fun already, so I guess that counts.

There is way too much to catch up on, so I thought I'd catch up with a few pictures. Some are from my camera, others are from Mama Newby's (she's much better at capturing the moment!). Hope you enjoy!

Papa & Shawn after Mama & Papa Newby arrived for Shawn's graduation! They were able to stay for a week or so and we spent lots of meals and long walks with them. So fun. :)

Visiting Shawn at work - isn't this coffee shop beautiful? It's on the 46th floor with an awesome view of our city.

Papa (and Mama, who's taking the picture) and I eating lunch in Shawn's cafe.

It's tulip season! It only lasts a couple weeks in Chicago, but these gorgeous flowers are everywhere.

Waiting at the El to head to the Garfield Park Conservatory. If you haven't been, I highly recommend it. Especially in the winter, it's such a haven and is very refreshing to see so much green!

Eating lunch at the Conservatory.
Hydrangea at the Conservatory.

Some kind of cactus? I love the 50 mm lens!

Having a coffee break at Lovely, an adorable new discovery of ours very close to our church.

Love my Shawn.

We celebrated Mama on Mother's Day with a little brunch in her honor. :) Here's the spread.

Mama and Papa on the El. I love this picture of them - so relaxed and happy!

Waiting on the El... again. :) Sorry, Papa, that you're blurry! I still like the picture though.

Now you're in focus. I'm still learning, remember?

So then Mom and Dad Tunney came in town to celebrate Kelsey's 22nd birthday, Zach's graduation, and Shawn's graduation! Here we are at Benihana.

Our very docile cook works his magic as the parents look on.

Oh yeah, can't leave Birthday Buddha out! He came to celebrate another year for Kels.

The whole fam! We are growing at a rapid rate.

Birthday cake at Kelsey's apartment.

More to come...

My Grams.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The reality of my grandmother's death has really hit me hard. I didn't know when it would, but as I read through several emails from her through the last few years, I felt like I was able to begin the grieving process. She was so incredibly encouraging in each sentence she wrote, not wasting an opportunity to build me up and tell me how proud she was of me. I grieve, among other things, for the fact that she wasn't able to make it to my wedding as she had a stroke just a few days before. She so wanted to be there and hear the music (she was a gifted pianist) and see me in my wedding dress.

Bonnie, Mom's good friend, wrote this sweet email to some dear friends and I wanted to post it here because it says so much about Grams and what she is experiencing now. Thank you, Bonnie.

Melodie's momma, Reba arrived quietly into heaven this morning.
However, surely Reba is fully alive now, having a tremendous time with the angels working out arrangements for new pieces of music and finding her place in the chorus of those who cheer us on!
Hebrews 12:1
"So we have many people of faith around us. Their lives tell us what faith means."
Reba is now in God's presence, shouting out our names and cherishing
each second of our work this side of heaven. Her life reminds us of what
faith means behind the seen.
She was a highly accomplished musician (pianist) who loved Jesus and her family with all her heart. Reba deposited these passions into Mel and was her biggest fan.
(I remember countless sound checks when First Call was on the road where
Reba would show up and just glow from head to toe, drinking in every
millisecond of our concert. She was childlike in this aspect. A woman
who was happy to be with her babes, to hear music that honored God,
to know she was with family.)
Nothing made Reba happier than seeing Dick and Mel, Todd, Julie, Jonathan, Missy and their children excel in their efforts to further the message of hope in Christ planted deep in Reba's DNA. She loved them without reservation
or judgment, and left this world in the same manner...quietly, grace-filled without announcement.
Please remember Mel's family in your prayers.
Reba's medical condition was complex: a stroke complicated by various
other symptoms that were unexplainable by her doctors. With prayer
and consent of the family, Reba's body has been donated for research that will hopefully give answers not available in her lifetime.


I just uploaded this picture to my computer, and I love it. It just screams summer and my love looks so content and happy. I love his squinty, smiling eyes.

Today I'm feeling happysad.
Some days, it's a one-word sentiment.

I'm happy it's Friday and it's gorgeous outside and I get to hang out with Shawn! We're going to the Art Institute tomorrow (because I've never been... unbelievable) and probably running some other errands. I don't care what we do as long as we're together. I'm sad we only get to see each other for a couple hours each night during the week because of our work schedules. That will soon change because of a new job I'm starting on Tuesday! Nonetheless, I'm happy to fall asleep next to him. What a privilege. (Have I said this too much?)

I'm sad that my Grams (Mom's mom) passed away today. She was only 69 years old and is my first grandparent to pass away. I'm sad she wasn't able to make it to my wedding as we'd all planned and sad she never met Shawn, though she knew who he was. I'm happy she's with Jesus and is healed and whole. And I'm happy she's with precious Nene (her mom) who, I'm sure, was waiting there for her as she entered the presence of the Lord.

I'm happy to be going to Kelsey's 2nd of 4 bridal showers this weekend, and happy she's getting married in just over 6 weeks! I'm sad she's moving across the country to Oregon, but happy that she and Zach have such an awesome job opportunity there. What an incredible blessing for newlyweds!

I'm happy that it looks like Shawn and I will not be spending another winter in Chicago, but sad that we'll have to leave our perfect downtown apartment. We love Chicago, but we feel like God is leading us elsewhere soon. I know I'll be thrilled for the next step when it comes, but will certainly cry as we drive away from our beloved city. More details to come.

Hope your weekend is a happy one.

Apartment love.

Monday, June 8, 2009

As promised, here are the first things I've made with my new sewing machine!

First was a little clutch that took way longer than it should have, but I learned a lot through the process. The material is from an old shirt and some pants. I followed a pretty simple pattern and just altered it a little bit.

Next is a new pillow for our red chair! I found this fabric at Joann and just loved it. It's perfect for our living room. And now I'm looking for any other spot to make a pillow - they're so simple and make such a huge difference!

Lastly, remember the sewing table "before" pictures a few posts ago? Well, we gave her a little makeover - changed the paint and added new knobs. A completely new looking table that fits perfectly in our apartment - and no one would even know a sewing machine is hiding inside!

So we're ready for our next project... right, Shawn?


Doctor's orders: gain weight, eat candy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

After literally weeks of experiencing strange symptoms, seeing two doctors without any answers, and worrying about what might possibly be causing all of this, we finally have a diagnosis: hypoglycemia.

In a nutshell, I've had three episodes of severe tremors over the past month and a half, as well as a constant nagging headache, some nausea, and dizziness. The tremors were, by far, the most concerning symptom. It wasn't just as though my hands were shaking a bit. The muscles in my whole body, mainly my legs, contracted uncontrollably for up to 30 minutes. Two different doctors were convinced I was pregnant (thankfully, I am not!) but had no other ideas of what it could be. I couldn't help but think of what might be causing this, wondering if I may have a brain tumor or something very serious. Fear of the unknown can grip you.

After putting some of the pieces together, a third doctor (of internal medicine) recognized it immediately as hypoglycemia. That thought had definitely entered my mind, but because of never having low blood sugar before, it still seemed like an unlikely possibility.

But when it was all explained to me, it makes a lot of sense. It's likely that being under the recommended weight for my height is contributing to the problem, as though my body has so little fat to fight for itself that when I go without food for too long, the blood sugar drops so low that I begin to shake. This weight loss has been gradual and involuntary and probably has to do with becoming a vegetarian in the last year.

I've been given a planned diet that should help me as I change the way I eat and, more specifically, how often I eat. I eat very healthy, just not enough - and not enough protein. I also need to figure out how to put on a few pounds in a healthy way. He said that should help with the overall maintenance of my glucose level. The eating candy part is only in case I feel an attack coming on, so I'll be sure to have a concentrated sugar source on hand. And no, "gain weight, eat candy" wasn't all the advice I was given. :)

All this said, I have so much to learn about being hypoglycemic, but am thankful it's nothing more serious than that. Thank you to everyone who has been praying!

Much needed gratitude.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm not a big fan of the mundane. And that's how life has felt recently. I have often been guilty of looking forward to the next season of life and missing the "now." As Elisabeth Elliot so eloquently said, "Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now."

On a more positive note, I've been rereading Redeeming Love and have been reminded of the God who loves and pursues me in every season of life. I read this passage today and was convicted of being just like the woman in the story: not even acknowledging Him who stood behind me, loving me relentlessly whether or not I loved Him back.

[If you've read the book, you'll understand this passage a little more. If you haven't, please do!]
"Michael stood in the doorway watching her. He had gone out for her earlier and seen her sitting beside the creek, so dejected she didn't even notice he was there. He stood by, watching over her until she wandered back to the house. He might as well have been invisible. She was so tightly wrapped in herself, her own misery and dark thoughts, that she was blind to everything else. Especially him."
Just to clarify, there is nothing miserable about my life. Nothing at all, in fact. I'm just learning (slowly) to appreciate where God has me, and sometimes it's easy to get restless. But as I was thinking about it, it never hurts to take account of the blessings of your life to change your attitude entirely. Here are a few from mine that I needed to remember.

I'm thankful for Shawn and I love being his wife. This, by the way, will always be at the top of the list. He is constantly pointing me to the Lord - what more could I ask for? Whether it's praying with me before we fall asleep or asking me what I'm learning in the Word or just encouraging me, he is everything and more than I prayed for. And he is such a servant. I had a long day on Monday and asked if he would mind making dinner. He said yes without even hesitating. I came home to the smell of roasted garlic and he made us a delicious spinach and goat cheese pizza. What a guy!

I'm thankful both of us are employed full-time. This has taken a major load off of us financially and we are finally able to buy shoes and gifts and groceries without guilt. Hallelujah! Even though our jobs aren't what we want to be doing even a couple of years from now, in light of this economy, we are thankful to have jobs at all.

I'm thankful that God isn't finished with us. I have to remind myself of this a lot recently. Life seems somewhat stagnate, but He is always moving and working whether or not we realize it. I can't wait to look back at this season and (hopefully) realize a few of the many lessons He was teaching us in the waiting. There are so many different ways we could go in these next few months and years, and I trust that He will show us exactly what we're supposed to do next.

I'm thankful that literally every member of my immediate family is passionately serving the Lord. How many people are able to say that? Mom and Dad with their music ministry and serving in the worship ministry at their church, Mama and Papa Newby with their music ministry in Germany, Shannon with her art, Erik with his photography and design work for a church (and as they prepare to be missionaries), and Kelsey and Zach who will teach in a Christian school in Oregon as of August. Whew. We're pretty spread out (Chicago, Nashville, Germany, and soon to be Oregon and Vancouver). But we serve the same Lord and I am so inspired by each of them.

I'm thankful for our apartment, that it is walking distance to Anthropologie :), that it is a haven for us after busy days, and that Shawn and I will always hold it in our hearts as where our family began.

Life really is a blessing, isn't it?
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