Sunday, March 27, 2011

on, on u of k

this is benny & i at open practice for uk down in florida.  it just so happened that we went to st. petersburg on surprise spring break and the cats were heading to tampa for the ncaa tournament.  blow our minds!  so here we it up.  we took pics like the paparazzi & i thought they were appropriate to share since we are about to play to get into the final four {starting in four minutes}.  enjoy big blue nation!

this guy in the white had challenged them to a 3-point competition and was rocking them.  it was so fun to watch the guys have so much fun together!
we also had the extreme blessing of getting to not 1 but TWO uk games while we were there.  we watched wv v. clemson {i cheered on the tigers but they didn't make it through}, then uk v. princeton.   next we advanced to wv. v. uk.  we literally screamed our faces off.  and we're about to right now.
things i wanted to remember but didn't include originally because the game was starting:
-ben was so excited.  well first he was down because he thought we couldn't get tickets, then down because they would cost a million dollars and then down because we found reasonably priced tickets but had no address to ship them to in florida.  but then he saw on uk's site that they were giving out student tickets monday at the joe craft center.  we saw this at about 6 on monday evening and they close at 4 so we had no idea what they would tell us in the morning.  but we called and...yep...the cheapest tickets so far and we were both allowed to have one!  i'm not a student so we were worried that they wouldn' let me be in on it.  we still had to buy a 'session' so two games instead of just the one we really wanted to see, but it was still fun, just more expensive.  and then if uk won {which heck yes they did!} they would automatically charge us for the next session of the cats.  so we literally couldn't not go!
-wildcat-mania = ben's dream.  i loved that ben got to do something that he really loves, cheer on the cats to victory.  and we did cheer.  hard.  his great love for uk athletics may be a bit of a problem but we'll let it slide just this month ;)
-big blue nation was everywhere.  seriously everywhere.  it was like driving 12 hours to lexington, just with better weather.  uk fans travel so well.  there were lexington news crews running about, young people, old people all in blue.  its funny that when two people are for the same thing, its like everyone is family, everybody knows everybody {even though you definitely don't know those people}.
-at our first game i felt like i was in one of those ncaa commercials where they plug all the schools, there were hats, bags, visors, tees, hoodies, etc. all with different schools on them, lots not even in the tournament or playing at that venue - everyone decked out in their loyal garb walking through the halls of the arena.  maybe they were filming a commercial and i just didn't know about it?
-i had zero uk apparel with me.  none.  we packed in twenty minutes and i piled in the first things i could get my hands on.  the last thing i thought about was getting to go see uk play...i mean what are the chances that they'd get seeded to play in florida?  i had to go to target and pick up a blue shirt {they are harder to find than you might think}.
-the refs hated us and were awful.  i actually boo-ed someone.  i know, maybe it wasn't the 'right' thing to do.  but you know, it was the right thing to do.  also, out of a giant uk section two florida fans were seated next to us.  c'mon.  but they were very nice and maybe even clapped for us.  so it wasn't as bad as i expected.

-ben & i got to cheer on our boys who are now headed to the final four.  one of the top four teams in the nation!  what a run!  and we got to cheer them on in person: sing, dance, clap, high five, hug and hollar.  absolute bliss.  it definitely will be one of my favorite vacation memories with my hubby for a long time to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

unbelievable blessings

so the brzinski's were having a 'when it rains it pours' experience a few weeks ago.  this is likely far too long for anyone to read that isn't well, me...but we have been experiencing the coolest forms of provision & blessing lately & i must get some of them written!
 in december ben was having some chronic pain in his abdomen and after seeing multiple doctors, trying different medicine, etc. things were still eh.  the doctor recommended running a slew of tests and after talking about it, calling our insurance and the care provider to find out the cost, we decided it would be worthwhile to go through with it. {the tests came back fine by the way, yay!} but about a month and a half later we receive a bill that charges us for 100 percent of the cost.  each line item says:
you pay: an arm & a leg
we pay: $0
{over and over and over again}

what was going to be about $150 out of pocket visit turned into about $900, just like that.  but we called ahead!  but we made sure it was something we could afford!  after many many calls to our insurance company while on my lunch breaks & lots of "on hold" music, i find that we need to write an appeal letter.  they keep track of all calls that come in and what each client is told in the paitent's notes and there was nothing for ben at that time.  kind of like they never told us that we would pay 20 percent rather than 100 percent.  we hadn't met his deductible so that was the reason for the discrepancy, but had they only told us that before we may have made different decisions, you know?

the lady was so kind to me even though i was a little testy.  i had to apologize to her, i know it wasn't her fault after all & i hate when people do that to me.  she told me all the steps i needed to take to appeal the claim but it pretty much seemed like a lost cause.  since hundreds of dollars hung in the balance a ten minute letter and a stamp weren't too much for us though.  so we write, we send, we wait, we pray.  i hated thinking ben would be stressed about money.  i hated that it would feel like a burden to him.

then...right around the same time... benny's car went ka-put and was overheating like crazy.  to the point where it couldn't be driven, even to the repair shop.  so ol' faithful AAA came & towed him to the dealership where they proceeded to tell us that we needed about $1,000 worth of work done.  YIKES!  really?  so ben being his thrifty self {i think i'm rubbing off on him} called around to get other quotes.  it's an interesting thing because without looking at the car they don't really know but we got a rough quote of $600 and we like a $400 savings so we got towed yet again to the next shop. 

unfortunately, this was just about the busiest week ever for both of us.  ben has midterms and papers due, we have club and meetings to get to, i'm slammed at work and pushing as hard as i can because i'm scheduled to take off spring break with ben!  we had planned on going down to visit our friends shannon & andy but after our recent financial bodyslams we decide it would be best to reside in lexington.  my oh so sweet lexington parents have an extra car and blessed us so greatly by letting us borrow for a few days while ben's car was out of commission.  we got all the places we needed to be.  didn't miss out on school, work, ministry or life.  it was really an ease to our minds.  i know that not everyone even has a car to be broken, much less a replacement car when it does.

about halfway through the week ben's car {aka the green bean machine, its a phatty van} is ready to come back home with us!  ben goes to pay the piper and lo & behold...our bill is not $600 but only $256.  two-hundred & fifty-six dollars verses one-thousand dollars.  is that not the craziest!?!  gosh, hearing ben say that was like music to my ears. 

a day later, the following thursday, lots of crazy happened.  i worked all day, then we had leadership.  we heard from rick iffland who taught us a lot about living a life hard after jesus & what kind of generation we will become.  it was awesome.  from there i went to steak & shake with some friends that i just love.  they let the old lady tag along.  on the drive to s&s my car started making an awful noise.  ugh!  how is this possible?  i keep driving and hope it will stop.  then my mom called and made an unbelievable offer to let us go to florida and stay in a condo they had just returned from & would help us to get down there for spring break.  i thought for sure that ben wouldn't agree to a trip so spur of the moment {to leave in 2 days} sponsored by my parents.  but i had to get to bible study & so did he so i resolved to wait to talk about it until i got home. i had stayed later than normal at biblestudy that night & when i went to leave i saw a text on my phone that said "good news when you get home"  i had a feeling it was about our appeal letter that we had been patiently awaiting.  but when i got home he was sleeping, so both of our news would have to wait until morning.

sometime in the 6 am hour we were able to catch up and get on the same page.  i tell him that i've figured out my car noise.  it's my heater i've decided.  the noise doesn't happen without the heater.  {later the noise just disappeared...awesome!!}  he tells me that our letter has come back and...the insurance company listened to their recorded phone conversation and that the employee did indeed tell him that they would pay 80 percent and that we'd pay 20 percent and that they would take care of the claim {just this once}!  aaaaahahhhhhh!  is that not the wildest?  we ended up paying even less than we had thought from the beginning!  i never thought they would agree to that.  never.  i don't like to over-spiritualize things but i really do believe that God has provided for us in so many huge ways lately.  it really makes me appreciate the ways he provides for us daily that i am often guilty of overlooking.  we are so blessed.

if you saw my previous posts you probably already know that ben didn't shoot down the florida idea.  he was for it!  so for it!  so, on friday morning we decided to get away together, with the help of my sweet, generous parents.  on friday night we headed to nky to visit benny's family & see some friends who we'd already made plans with. to florida we flew.  {well, not actually flew, but you know.}  i'll be back to share more about that trip & some other incredible things we've gotten to experience & witness but until then i'm just going to give thanks & praise over & over to my God who is for us!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

absolutely perfect

if you're real life friends with me, then you are likely friends with my friends and have already seen this but i just had to brag about what a great photographer my friend jenna is and how precious a family my friend cory has.  two of my besties, both precious & talented.  i thoroughly enjoyed going through the 500 pics that jenna posted {HERE}.  i don't know if this is a secret {if so jenna or cory...let me know and i'll delete} but i just wanted everyone to see how awesome!  cory brought all of the cutest props you could ever imagine and jenna worked her magic.  follow their names linked above to learn more about these ladies too!
i really had fun tagging along for family/anniversary/birthday pictures.  love you all.
i'm glad no pictures of me 'assisting' have surfaced ;)

Monday, March 14, 2011

team libby t-shirts & a sunny update

i needed to post this a week ago but life got so busy prepping for my week at home {spring break} that i'm just now getting there.  sheesh.  so, an update on team libby.  our friends are training so hard for the big race.  its so cool to see how God is growing them and strengthen them through training.  it's such a clear parallel to our walks with Christ: the pursuit, the discipline, the reward, the journey, the progression, endurance, perseverance, the heart, the passion, the finish line!   it's inspiring really, it makes me wish i was running.  maybe after this race {that i'm supporting but not participating in} i'll begin.  don't hold me to that.  it also mirrors the adventure that the ryder's have been on.  incredible.

but like i said an update on team lib.  libby is doing well and has one of her last appointments coming up soon!  what a praise.  read their story for the first time or catch up {HERE}.

we're still raising support.  the race is april 30th and things are rolling.  if you would like to donate check the chip in on the right to use paypal.  in addition to the donating, we are also selling t-shirts!  we hope this will be a great way to raise extra support, give you something to take with you & provide a way to share an amazing story of God's goodness and a faithful family.  all proceeds go directly to the ryder's.

for information on how to get a tee for you, your mom, your little nephew, your neighbor, your mailman...go {here}.  
the deadline for purchasing is march 21st so GET IT FRIENDS!
{and feel free to share this with anyone you please}

we're in florida!  woot woot.  it is sunny and beautiful.  gosh it is perfect.  we got in about 2 am this morning, slept and then ventured out.  although i sunscreened twice and wore a long sleeve cover up for 2 of the 4 hours we were out laying and wandering i still managed to sun burn weird little patches on my left hand, a plum-sized patch on my neck, the underneath of one bicep {if i had biceps} and oh yeah, my belly button {just the rim and inside}.  who burns their belly button  if you knew my track record of tanning and knew how pale i was before spring break you probably would have seen this coming.  dangit!

also, the cats are coming to tampa to play in the ncaa tournament.  what are the chances?!  holy moly.  is this real life. tickets were much more expensive than we anticipated and there is  weird thing with stub hub so i'm not sure if we'll be able to go but if we do...ben's head may explode.  i love uk basketball but ben LOVES uk basketball.  it would be a dream if we get in there.  i'll let you know how it all pans out.

i'm stuffed full of yummy food & the biggest single scoop of ice cream you've ever seen so i'm going to go snuggle my hubby.

day 2 of sunshine begins tomorrow. ow ow!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the plan

two days ago i thought that ben & i would be relaxing at home in lexington for our spring break, with not a lot to do.  don't get me wrong, i had come to terms that i wouldn't get to adventure and was content to just 'be'.  
my unbelievably kind & generous family asked if we'd rather go here:
and, of course, we obliged.
so we leave tomorrow.  48 hours ago we didn't even know it was a possibility.  i'm basically freaking out.  we are so blessed it is ridiculous.  i can't wait to spend the week in the sun, be warm, wear flip flops, read, relax, and again, just 'be'...but 'be' in florida {that sounds better}.  and needless to say, the best part will be some quality time with the Lord & this guy...
{pic from s.b. last more about that adventure here, here & here}

my guess is that ben may be watching some basketball during the week so if that's the case i may update along the way {if we have internet...i have no idea if we do}.

for now we're in nky, loving time with the in-laws, visiting friends, assisting in family photos for the margraves {sort of} & shopping for vacation essentials {sunscreen & teddy grahams}.  

a perfect weekend leading into a perfect week {hopefully}.
spring break 2011, baby!   

Friday, March 11, 2011

spring break

this will be posting while i'm at work.  slaving away on a friday.  but not just any friday.  this friday is the beginning of spring break.  now you're probably thinking...people with full-time jobs don't get spring break, jen.  you would be correct, except that benny is still a college student and since he's off & i have a week's worth of vacation yet to take before may i just had to take advantage.

i had big dreams of traveling together. i planned all kinds of things in my head, far away yet economically places to visit and explore but alas, life happens and it wasn't in the cards for us {this time}.  so we will be having 20 kinds of fun here.  in kentucky. when do i get the - wait....there may be a new plot afoot, but i'm not certain. i can't finish this post yet because i just don't know how i'll be spending my spring break.  let's just say...i'll be back with more details!

i saw this the other day & with our random snow last night after i thought spring had sprung it seems fitting...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the curse is broken

{disclaimer: i wrote this weeks ago & this mainly for our team & family to remember...just like joshua 4}

i've been leading younglife since the fall of my sophomore year at uk.  may will mark my 3rd year out of college, so i've got 6 good years under my belt.  however, until last night {two weeks ago} i had never given a club talk.  club is basically a big party where all kinds of kids from the high school are welcome to come over; we sing, dance, play games, and laugh {hard} all in the hopes of breaking down barriers with our friends and sharing the glorious good news of the gospel with teenagers who desperately need it.  {see this video if you want a better picture of what the mission is about}.  at the end of club someone speaks.  a leader gets up and speaks truth in a way that will relate to students.  not a watered down message, a powerful one. 

for my first 3 years of leading i was at a private school here in lexington.  we were starting up and small.  {and we stayed that way}.  for the first little bit we partnered with another school in town and although we helped run club skits, songs, whatever we never took ownership of speaking because it was really the other school's club we were crashing.  then there was a time when we ran no club at all & just went to be with students.  if you don't have a large mass you can't really run a traditional club.  you still get to share the gospel with kids, it just looks different.  i hate public speaking with a passion so missing out speaking at club wasn't really something i was mourning. i should talk about sayre school another day.

after marrying ben i moved on over to lafayette so that we could lead together.  {doing ministry together is really fun by the way}.  my first year there i think i got out of talking mainly because i'm not gifted at speaking and 3 other people on my team were awesome at it.  why not go with your strengths right?  then last year there was a big ol' group of girls that i was close with that kept coming around and my team thought that it would be good for them to hear me 'preach it' from up front.  i felt panicked and nervous but i prepared my talks.  i was supposed to have 2 that year i think {which isn't many out of all the clubs but like i said, i have a physical, very real fear of public speaking}.  both of those clubs didn't happen, i can't remember the reason, maybe bad weather, cancelled school, district bball games, not enough students...i can't remember.  i just know they didn't happen.  i was sad that we didn't have club, but again kind of relieved to not have to get up in front of a big crowd and stare into their faces while stuttering with dry-mouth.  embarrassing.

this past fall, i again had 1 or 2 talks planned out.  ben insisted that i must give a talk.  i love preparing for the talks, i think God teaches you a lot if you have to teach other people.  i would just prefer to teach small groups of people rather than a large one {wink wink}.  so again, i prepare, read, pray...get ready and club.  hmm...maybe God doesn't want me to give a talk.  that's what i thought.  maybe we're forcing this and i'm really not meant to speak in front of club.  God makes people for different purposes, maybe that's not mine. 

this spring, about a month ago it happened again.  we run consistent clubs and then when my turn rolls around, no club.  it was valentine's day, so maybe everyone was on a date.  maybe it was cold.  maybe God just didnt' want me to talk?  but we pushed it back one week, everything from v-day club we were going to keep the same for the following week.  sidenote: not having club stinks.  i know some schools have never / will never experience a time when you plan for club or a hangout and not enough people come to run it, but let me tell's rough.  it's this awful feeling that there are literally thousands of students out there that you're not reaching, not investing in.  that's hard.  and you feel like you've failed, which if you really have been faithful, i know is not from God but it's a thought that's difficult to avoid.  but all we can do is show up, speak truth & pray hard so that's what we did {and do}.  we prayed hard, we gave our campaigners a charge to go after it, care that your friends hear the gospel and then....aaaaahhhhhhhh

the following week....we had club! and it was awesome.  so many new faces.  so much energy.  our team and our students that partner with us got to see God move and got to be a part of it.  that was such an encouragment to them and to us.  i pray that our faithfulness would never be dependent on results but if i can say was just the boost we needed.  i think God sometimes allows hard things so that we know we can't do it ourselves, so that we are broken and dependant because that's when he shines through, he gets the credit, he gets the glory.  that monday night, there was no question, God got the glory.  and i gave my first club talk.  i didn't feel shaky and my face wasn't red {that used to happen to me}.  i'm sure it was the holy spirit quieting my heart.  so maybe i kind of got all scrambled at the end and finished my club talk without some of my favorite points but i think it's ok.  i know that those two minutes i accidently left out God can handle ;)

so the curse is broken.  my first club talk complete.  i'm sure i will get better with practice, well at least i hope to.  i hope that God will use our feeble efforts to advance His kingdom.  that's my hope.
and an update on our club situation: the past two weeks have been incredible.  we're so encouraged & have been blessed beyond belief to see how God is using the tool of young life to draw people to himself.  please pray for our friends at lafayette, that they would see God, his huge heart for them & see His salvation! {isaiah 40:3-5}

Friday, March 4, 2011

new york, new york {part 2}

in case you missed part 1 you can find it {HERE}.  i added an extra special pic on there for you.

so wednesday.  we should have left for home that afternoon.  we knew we couldn't leave so we slept.  slept in and then finally decided not to waste the day {even though it would cost more money to do something}.  riding the shuttle, the airtran, the train & the subway all adds up.  but i am so glad we adventured.  it was unbelievably worth it.
we rode from new jersey to new york.  it was warmer than monday, that was nice.  we started at ny penn station {of course} and had made up our mind to walk 30 blocks up to central park & see what there was to see.  i don't know what part of town we were in as we strolled, we saw so many things.  we went to a ribbon store.  it was awesome and filled {literally filled} with card catalogs.  i couldn't believe it.  i wanted them desperately to ask me if i wanted to just take one since i was visiting.  big ones, little ones, utter perfection. 

then, speaking of card catalogs, we found the manhattan library {i think that's what it said} so we must be "awesome inside, let's go!"  not awesome.  it looked just like a kentucky public library.  boo.  once we stepped out of the burning inferno that was the lib, what do my wandering eyes spy?  why, it is the new york public library directly across the street in all her glory. 
the place is absolutely breathtaking.  marble everywhere.  intricate, detailed, massive.  it was so incredible.  all i kept thinking was, what if someone had their wedding reception here?  it was gorgeous.  even the ceiling was amazing, rich wood perfectly carved or covered in a gigantic mural. 
and what could make this better? it is the last day of their exhibit 'three faiths'.  it was a collection of all their art, artifacts, books, etc. that related to islam, judaism & christianity.  there were old bibles, scrolls, etchings and so much information about each of the three monotheistic religions. it was overwhelming. 
{this is a scroll of esther}
it was a bit dark within the exhibit to take very many shots but believe was amazing 
the history of it all...gosh.  we literally could have walked around for hours upon hours in that place.  we decided that we needed to keep moving {instead of study every fact} if we had any hope of getting to central park before dark, which we all know from home alone II is necessary or bad things can happen to you.  before we left we wandered into a scriptorium where they were teaching people the art of penning scripture.  we were too late to join in but it was so neat to see.  we scooted through the rest of the enormous building taking non-flash pictures and scoping the place out.  someone told me that's where ghostbuster's was filmed.  treat!

so like i said...movin' it so we can get to the park.  both of our phones are dead and we are in a giant city, alone.  we don't even know the time.  who's got a watch anymore?  we stop into best buy to recharge.  julie's cousin had given her a heads up that sometimes, on the day of, broadway shows will have a lottery for tickets that you can get for greatly discounted prices.  we had no idea how it worked, so once our phones we charged {just enough} we gave the gershwin theatre a call to see what the skinny was.  they said, you must be here by 6 to participate in the wicked lottery and that tickets would be $26.50, and i think that's all the info we had.  we were thrilled!  that's so cheap.  it was uhh..about 5:38 and the theatre was about 10 blocks away.  we walked as fast as our little legs could carry us.  we tried to keep up with a really tall man to keep his pace. we made it and there were people everywhere.  so much for our little underground secret. 

everyone is waiting outside so we wait outside too. then i see two couples go in and out of the front door.  i follow to see what happens there.  good thing! that's where you sign up.  we put our names and number of tickets we want {two for both}. he says, "be here at six with cash."  jules, and i look at each other..."uhh we've got no cash."  YIKES!  the nice man responds "you've got 4 minutes, run!" as he looks at his watch {apparently people do have them}.  julie literally sprints to the atm on the corner of the block and back with minutes to spare.  she's so fast.  then they come out and start calling names.  there's over 100 people there and we have no idea how many people they will end up calling or what kind of seats you get if you win.  we were clueless.  3rd name, jen brzinski!  that's me!  yay!  we're in!  and we've got cash.  we get in line behind #1 & #2 called.  behind us was the sweetest korean guy who'd been in the country for 5 months.  he kept saying, "i am such a lucky guy!" it was awesome!  come to find out we got front row seats and they only called 9 names.  uh, lucky?  YES! wicked lucky!  {i'm sorry i had to}

{little fun fact: the last woman called was linda brzinski!  9 people out of 100+ and you got 2 brzinski's?  what are the chances?}
we had about an hour and a half to kill so we wanted to eat before the show (it is a long show).  i asked a man working at gershwin for advice on where to go and he {who i thought said his name was dream, it wasn't} sent us to just the right place.  i wish i could tell you where so you could go yourself.  it was just like an little irish pub nearby but it was yummy, good & close.  all the things we needed.
the show was amazing.  the set & costumes were crazy & fun, they were extremely talented folks.  strong voices, humor, the whole deal.  it was incredible to get to go. when we got shoo-ed out of there we made our way over to serendipity. 
{sidenote: jules asked a couple to take this pic for us & then they asked us to do the same.  while taking their pic jules said to the man "man,you're tall.  {weird pause} well, taller than a girl."  baaahahhaa what's that mean?}
you know from the movie, serendipity.  they close at midnight and it was about 11:30 when we left so we were hustling once again.  i think we saw central park, sort of.  we also peered in the windows of fao schwarz {no toy stores are open at midnight of course}.  we made it to the coffee shop / dessert shop at quarter til and they let us come in.  jules got a retro oreo something or other which was really like an oreo milkshake, but very good, and i got mint frozen hot chocolate.  it was giant and i would 100% recommend it.  {and they had really great cold water.  i know that sounds stupid...but it was the best of the week}. mmm, i wish i could have some more frozen hot chocolate right this second.

it really was an amazing, adventure-filled day.  four forms of transportation later we arrived at our hotel around 2:30a i think.  we slept {of course}.  we were supposed to fly out of thursday but then found that we had been bumped to friday.  we didn't want to spend any money so we knew we were meant for a day stuck inside the hotel.  we woke up, ate our bundle of free waffles and back and uh....maybe came back and slept some more.  maybe until....uhh 2.  don't judge!  we ordered pizza in, packed up, did some work on the hotel computers & watched home alone, how fitting.

needless to say, we made it home finally, 3 or 4 cancelled flights and a lot of fun later.  jules, thanks for taking me along with you.  i'm really glad that we're friends & co-workers.  what an awesome deal.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

dream team

i have two ministry related posts to share {maybe 3} so enjoy...

last friday we had a 'placement party' for new leaders in lexington young life.  i was certain that we wouldn't be getting a new teammate based on the great needs at other schools in the area but God is good.  so very good & gave us emily {he would still be good if emily was at another school...but you know}.  a blessed addition to our already awesome team.  i am so thankful for these warriors that i get to work alongside.  their hearts for the Lord & for kids are ridiculous & i am spurred on by them daily.  how awesome that God allows us to be a part of his mighty work AND that he gives us brothers & sisters to run with us?

psalm 90:17
'may the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.'

for the kingdom!

emily made us this since we've yet to take a team pic.  what a bunch of princesses. 
yes, my husband is wearing a midriff baring top with his facial hair & dylan is really dainty.