We’re Being Set Up

A little over a year ago, I posted this picture with the following caption on Facebook:

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“A week or two ago, someone very dear to me told me they wanted to pay off one of my student loans. No reason, just because they love me. I woke up this morning to an email, telling me that the pay-off had been applied to my account. Happy tears immediately filled my eyes, and I was suddenly struck by something even more incredible. The heaviness of my spiritual debt doesn’t condemn me anymore because it’s already been paid for. I didn’t deserve my student loan being paid off, and I didn’t deserve my sin debt being paid off. As overwhelmed with joy as I am over this financial blessing, I’m even more overwhelmed that the God who created everything thought I was worth dying for. How neat is it that the most random things can point us back to the grace of God?? Today and every day, no words are better than Paid in Full.”

After reading about this incredible outpouring of grace, my good friend Clifford Cox told me that his instinctive reaction to it was “Whoa! What’s God doing over at the Hendrickson house?? He must be setting them up for something big.” And you know? I think he was right. Since that conversation, endless seemingly-random events have woven their way into the Hendrickson household, too many to be coincidental.

Our worldview has evolved.
Our living situation has evolved.
Our church has evolved.
Our relationships with friends have evolved.
Our roles in ministry have evolved.
Our finances have evolved.
Our readiness for kids has evolved (aka, we got a giant dog).

Our life together feels a little like dancing on the edge of a spinning plate right now, but it also feels like we’re on the edge of something great. No clue what it is, but I’m excited. Please be in prayer for us in this season of newness and unknown-ness! While I’m waiting for the next steps to be uncovered, I’ll be clinging to this promise:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”
— Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

Jamaican Vacay

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I hope I never reach a point in my life when plane travel isn’t this much fun! I love traveling with Daniel, of course, but I love traveling with our families too – there’s something comforting about being surrounded by Hendricksons on a plane. :)

We spent Friday night before our flight in Thackerville so that (1) we would have a shorter drive to the airport and (2) we could leave our German shepherd named Fitz at the house so he could play with the other dogs while we were gone. (Also, he turned a YEAR OLD while we were gone! I never thought I would be sad about missing a dog’s birthday…I was wrong.) The next morning, we headed to Dallas to meet more of the siblings at the airport. And of course we got Auntie Anne’s, but if I didn’t document it, did it really happen…?

My biggest mistake was wearing jeans. I usually wear jeans even when we are headed to the beach because I freeze on the plane, but then I just change as soon as we get to the resort. Little did I know how much standing around/waiting/walking what felt like 4 miles to our room we would do. Needless to say, jeans were a bad decision and literally the first thing I did once we got to our room was peel them off and put on shorts.

To be honest, I really didn’t take very many pictures, and I don’t feel bad about it AT ALL. Like I mentioned in my vacation preview post, we came into this vacation with basically no agenda, and it was AWESOME. We spent most of our time eating, laying on the beach, snorkeling, and avoiding the random rainstorms by watching movies in our room, and aside from getting a little sick, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Highlights from the trip include:
– the water (the color blows me away every time!)
– cliff diving and snorkeling in caves
– eating lobster on the island
– my 90-minute massage…heaven!!
– the gorgeous sunsets
– hanging out with almost all the Hendrickson siblings

Hands down, the best part was no obligations. Setting an alarm, eating healthy, keeping track of what time it was, putting on makeup – I didn’t worry about any of it. AND, I didn’t have to cook or clean anything for an entire week!!
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Final thoughts for future beach vacations:

(1) Maybe reconsider jeans for the plane,

(2) Take more swimsuits,

(3) Never stop using MONAT because it kept my hair from drying out,

and (4) Never take a hair straightener to the Caribbean again. Pointless.

Needless to say, I’m already looking forward to the next trip on our calendar: we have another family trip planned for next summer with the Simma side!! Where are we going, you ask? That’s a secret…for now! ;)

Jamaica Vacation Preview

Back in May, we spent a super relaxing week on the beach in Jamaica with Daniel’s family, and it was WONDERFUL. It was one of the only vacations we’ve been on that didn’t include much of an agenda, which, to be honest, was exactly what all of us needed. This vacation was such a breath of fresh air, in more ways than one! (Minus the day that a few of us probably got food poisoning…but let’s not talk about that.)

Lots more photos to come! Hope you’re having a happy week!

4 Years Married + Accepting Grace

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Marriage looks so beautiful in movies, between the glamorous weddings, the luxurious honeymoons, and the Pinterest-worthy houses to raise beautiful Gap model children in. The problem with this image is it leaves no room for two things: sin and grace. Because the world we live in is flawed, all marriages will experience hindrances, hiccups, and disappointments. Literally every marriage in the world is made up of sinners, and two sinners combining lives does not equal utopia. This sounds stupid, but before I got married, I had no idea how sinful I really am. Married life makes you very aware of how selfish you are and reminds you of the fact that your mistakes (and deliberate sinful choices) DO affect other people, whether you mean for them to or not.

If you grew up in church, you probably heard the same thing I did over and over – that no sin is too big for God to forgive. It sounds great, right? I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a version of that sentence. I’ve even said that sentence to other people myself. And yet somehow, after over two decades of existing on this planet, I found myself empty on one particular night, broken and convinced that God’s forgiveness couldn’t possibly extend to me.

I’ll spare you the details, but I genuinely can’t remember a time when I’ve been more wrecked over the sin in my life than I was that night. My own selfishness finally caught up with me (I was living proof of Numbers 32:23 – “You may be sure that your sin will find you out”), and Daniel got caught in the crossfire. The ugliest moments of my life were laid bare, and I felt hollow, completely exposed and ashamed. I couldn’t see how on earth God could cover this situation with His grace – why would someone who claimed to love Him be so defiant and self-centered?? How could He look at me, weak and muddy and disobedient, and still love me? Still want me? My head spun with condemning thoughts straight from hell: “I can’t believe you did this. You’re a horrible person. If you really loved God, you would act like it. And how could you hurt Daniel that way? You must not even care about him. You’ll never be able to move on from this. This is one of the worst things you could ever do. This will haunt you for the rest of your life.” And on, and on, and on. I was teetering on the edge of really believing those things, and it was paralyzing.

But then an incredible thing happened.

Daniel – my husband, my partner, my friend, the person I had just hurt – became a tender instrument of God, whispering words of grace over me, his voice slowly but surely drowning out the accusing background noise. He quoted Romans 8:1, reminding me that there is NO condemnation for me in Christ, including condemnation from myself. I couldn’t do or say anything; I just sat there and drank in the truth he (and He) was speaking, emotionally and spiritually spent, my heart aching but becoming whole again.

That’s what marriage is. It’s not just planning a wedding, going on a honeymoon, and trying to coexist for the next 50+ years without being miserable. It’s FORGIVING each other. It’s being willing to be the strong one when the other person is weak. It’s choosing to love when the other person doesn’t deserve it. It’s finding the tiny cracks and crevices in their heart and pouring grace into them until they’ve healed.

That experience revealed a chasm within me that I didn’t even know existed. For years, I had been more than willing to believe in God’s grace and forgiveness for other people – but I couldn’t believe it for myself. Anytime I failed, I condemned myself repeatedly, frustrated by my own imperfection. I held myself to an impossible standard and was doomed to a life of disappointment. I think there’s something about our frail humanity that makes it difficult for us to accept something we don’t feel we deserve, including God’s grace toward us. We are totally right to believe that we’ll never be good enough, but when we are in Him, there is no need for self-condemnation. Jesus’s blood covered it ALL, and God’s forgiveness is all we need. If you’ve confessed your sin to God and truly repented, don’t continue to live a life overcome by guilt and regret. His grace is enough.

When I think about how lucky I am to be married to someone who personifies God’s grace to me, words fail me. Daniel continues to love me through my most unlovable of moments and has preached the Gospel to me with words AND actions more than anyone else in my life. We’ve packed a whole lot of life into 4 years, and I can’t wait for more!

What a sweet day. I’m glad the joy didn’t end there. ♥

Photo credit: Anna Lee Photography and Catie Bartlett Photography

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Homemade Mashed Potatoes

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I may not be good at a lot of things…but one thing I AM good at is mashed potatoes.

My recipe is COMPLETELY made up, so most of my directions include the words “until it looks/tastes right”, but whatever.

Start by gathering your ingredients. Potatoes are awesome in that you can season them pretty much however you want, but personally, I like to use butter, garlic powder, salt, parsley, sour cream, and milk or cream. Feeling creative? Try out your own seasoning combinations and let me know what you use!


Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Two words: SO. GOOD. Served most often with baked breaded chicken and green beans.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 large Russet potato
2-4 tablespoons butter (depending on how much you’re channeling Paul Dean)
Sour cream (a heaping spoonful)
Milk or cream (until it looks right)
Garlic powder (until it tastes right)
Kosher salt (until it tastes right)
Parsley (a few pinches)

Instructions

1. Fill pot with cold water and a pinch or two of salt. Set aside.
2. Wash and peel potato. Chop into small pieces and pour into pot. Turn burner on and heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Keep the potatoes simmering for 15-30 minutes, depending on how big your pieces are. If you’re not sure if they are done, taste one!
4. Drain VERY well and return potatoes to the pot.
5. Begin adding ingredients, starting with the butter and sour cream. This is very important – be gentle with your mashing! You don’t want to over-mash, or they’ll taste like glue. Mash just a little for chunkier potatoes, or longer for smoother potatoes.Slowly incorporate new ingredients one at a time. Add milk or cream until your desired consistency is achieved.
6. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, and parsley (or add your own flavors!).

If you don’t get them right the first time, keep practicing! It took me awhile to really perfect mine. Happy eating!


What’s your go-to recipe, the one you KNOW you’re good at? I want to know!

Unboxed: April Birchbox

I swear, every time I’m seriously considering quitting Birchbox for awhile, they put something AWESOME in my box! I have this fear that I’m going to quit right before I discover something else I didn’t know I wanted until I tried it. Silly? Maybe, but there it is.

imageSample #1, 2, and 3: Davines OI Shampoo, Conditioner, and All in One Milk
Gosh, where to even start. Historically, I’ve just gotten rid of my hair care samples since I started using MONAT. But since this box had THREE products in the same line, and I had used Davines before MONAT and really liked it, I decided to give them a try. I hadn’t used any other brands on my hair for 6 months, and curiosity got the better of me: would I really notice a difference if I tried something else besides MONAT? The answer was a resounding YES. I made these samples last a full week of showers, and I could already feel/see my hair changing. My hair was soft, yes, but it also felt kind of heavy and sticky from the new products instead of weightless and soft, and it was much less manageable. I started shedding a lot and getting acne on my hairline again. It took forever to dry and style, and my color became duller and less shiny. I’m not making this up!! I was stunned by how many things happened in such a short period of time. I can’t believe I used to put up with all of that and think that it was normal.

Sample #4: The Beauty Crop PBJ Smoothie Stick
I LOVE this lip color stick. It’s like a giant crayon, only creamier. The color is the perfect pink, and it’s not too bright. It goes on matte and lasts a decent amount of time! I wouldn’t necessarily call it “long-lasting”, but you don’t need much to touch it up.

imageSample #5: Aquareveal™ Satin Bright Soft Water Peel for Face
Still haven’t gotten a chance to try this one, but it smells divine! The reviews on it look really promising too. I’m a little nervous about using a peel, but everyone says the texture and the way your skin feels afterward are both great.

imageSample #6: Juliette Has a Gun Anyway perfume
Perfume samples are probably my least favorite because I’m really picky. The last time I got a Juliette Has a Gun sample, the scent was too strong and musky for me. But this one was a pleasant surprise! So far, I’ve only used two perfumes loyally, and this one might become the third musketeer.

imageSample #7: Au Naturale Cosmetics Trio Set in ‘Lovely’
I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual colors in this set, but the texture was nice! I think I would like them better in different colors – it’s hard for me to visualize, but I did like the quality of the products.

I’ve got lots of fun content coming up this month, including my May Birchbox, a Walmart Beauty Box, pictures from our family trip to Jamaica, and more! Stay tuned. :)

 

It’s Daniel Day!

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When we met, I was 19 and he was 21. WHAT. We were such babies! And yet somehow, seven years doesn’t seem like the right length of time for us to have known each other. Simultaneously, it feels as if we met only a few moments ago, and also decades ago (yes, I’m old enough to say decades). How is it possible for someone to engrave themselves so deeply and so quickly on another human’s heart? I think it’s because he’s always been part of me, before I even know who he was. He is the guy I thought about, prayed for, wrote letters to, cried to the Lord over, and waited impatiently for.

It’s his 28th birthday today, and like always, I’m full to the brim with things to say. Daniel, we both know that mush is absolutely my forte and absolutely not yours, but I’m sorry – you’ll just have to suffer through me saying nice things about you right now.


I’ve said it a hundred times already, but you are the most diligent, hard-working person I know. Not exaggerating.

You pretend like you’re not good with words, but your short stories, comic poetry and on-the-spot made up lyrics to literally every song on the radio suggest otherwise.

I know you so well, I can tell what kind of mood you’re in just based on your voice.

I love that you ask me what I think about shirts before you buy them. Even though most of the time, I don’t mind if you get one even if I don’t like it, a lot of guys wouldn’t even think of asking.

You are sarcastic and silly, yes, but the truly sweet things you’ve said to me will stay with me forever. Your words are powerful, and you have used them to build me up. I’ll never be able to adequately thank you for that.


It’s not the big, expensive, photo-worthy gestures that make me love him. It’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that continued to add up over seven years. Little things like bringing me Milano cookies from work, warming up my side of the bed when our heat went out, cleaning up after Fitz, and letting me have the window seat on the plane. He’s the best, closest friend I’ve ever had. He’s strong, he’s wise, he’s dedicated, and he’s worthy of all the respect I have to give.

Happy 28th, Daniel! I love you more than Chick Fil A, and that’s saying something. :)