Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to My Post-College Blog

Hello, friends!  Just stopping in to say the obvious.

After almost a year of not posting, I've decided it's time for a NEW blog to get me motivated to actually write in a blog again.  I have been well, just going through a lot of (good) changes personally and situationally.  I finally finished my masters and Jim and I are in a house now (love it) and I'm working on starting my music studio.

Hope you have been well.  I most likely miss you tons!  See you!

Oh, yeah, and my new blog is at

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life has been busy, with downs and then slight improvements,
more downs, then bigger ups and now leveling out in the middle,
heading upwards.

Good news:  we found our house!  We will be moving out of this
lovely little crampy apartment in June and into a nice 1950's 3
bedroom ranch across from a little park.  There is a HUGE tree
in the front yard and the neighborhood is really nice.  God has
been so faithful in helping us through this process to finding just
the right fit for us.  It took 3 false hopes and bids that were not
accepted to get here, but it was well worth it.

Jim is away on a camping trip/bachelor party this weekend.  It
came up kind of suddenly, so I find myself with an unexpected
time of solitude, a few days to just be me, all by myself.  It is
nice.  It's kind of lonely at first, but once you ease into it, being
alone can be incredibly restorative, especially when you haven't
been so in a while.

Jim and I have been doing really well lately.  We had some
times of conflict off and on throughout March, but it has been
getting progressively less.  I think we've come to the point of
really not wanting to fight, and also understanding how we
can avoid doing so much better than we had.  We know each
other a lot better having gone through several months of off
and on conflict.  Right now though, things are good.  I am
really so blessed to be married to such a patient and kind man.

Also, I listened to a three part sermon series on marriage on the
Cornerstone Simi Valley Podcast that was really helpful to me
concerning what submission is and is not, and the biblical view
of the role of men and women in marriage.  Cornerstone Simi
Valley is the podcast of the church where Francis Chan used to
preach.  He only guest speaks at the church currently, but I still
regularly listen to this podcast because I really appreciate the
pastors and speakers that they have.  Check it out!

I went to Shawnee Mission Park for the first time last night.  I
can't believe I've lived this close to such a nice park without
knowing it!  Wow, it was very green and beautiful.  I love, love
big, green spaces and friendly, tall trees, some with branches
that spread out as far as they are tall.  I climbed up a hill to one
such tree as the sun completely disappeared.  I was so alone that
I could just sing out loud without one shred of self-consciousness.
I felt closer to God and more in love with him than I have been
free enough to feel in a while.  And while feelings are not the
most important thing, it sure feels good when they are at peace.

Quick update: thesis is progressing slowly, and I'm planning on
finally finishing this summer.  I have almost all of my data
collected, praise God.  I have learned a lot of patience through
this process.  Also, piano lessons are going well as I continue to
gain more students in the KC area in addition to my Lawrence
bunch.  Jim is looking forward to a summer of working on the
house and then starting up his second year as a 6th grade
communication arts teacher.  It's been a good first year at his

One more quick update:  My sister Maralee is pregnant!  This is
completely exciting since it is the first time she has been pregnant
for this long, having had two miscarriages.  It's a huge testament
to God's power because doctors said this was very unlikely because
of scar tissue in her tube resulting from the ectopic pregnancies.
Praise God, who works miracles and answers prayers!  This new
baby will be in addition to her two adopted sons and one foster
daughter (on her way to being adopted).

Well, I could write so much more, but I can't afford to lose more
time right now.  I want to write a song, go swimming, cook
something... or who knows what.  Oh, and I have to finish making
my new mix of music for the car.  I've really been enjoying the
free downloads from noise trade lately!  Hooray for free music!
I got a free album from Sandra McCracken that I have been enjoying. 
Also enjoying select songs from a little known band called Scrabbel. 
It's pretty obscure, but I really like about 5 of the tracks off of the album
1909.  Jim discovered them from one of his pandora stations.

Any new music suggestions for me?  Hope you are well.  God bless.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just had the most wonderful Valentine's Day - my first as
a married person.  It was really great, especially after the
fight Jim and I had over the weekend.  I'm so glad our
fights are getting less frequent and worked through more
quickly.  With God's help, I think we will keep getting
better over time.

But it really is great to have someone in your life in a solid
way who you can get excited about doing special things for
and with.  I am really enjoying being married.  I even wrote
a song and played it for Jim.  It was called "New Creation"
and was about love and how much Jim's words affect me in
a good way and a little about our story and how God gave us
the verse about being a new creation when we got back together
last March.  He said he liked it.  He also seemed to like the
snapfish photo book.  It was a summary of our last year together
in pictures and captions.  That was fun to make.  I'm really
enjoying my gorgeous flowers that Jim surprised me with
on Sunday, a day early.  He really does take after my dad.
 : )  Dad refuses to comply with Valentine's Day.  

Marriage is completely wonderful, though also scary sometimes.
It can be scary in those moments when I'm feeling needy and
vulnerable.  I'm kind of scared of myself when I'm in that place
because I feel like I lose control over my emotions and they
sometimes cause me to do and say things I don't want to do or
say, but I feel so weirdly insecure about everything I keep
bumbling around, trying to find some reassurance that I am
lovable.  But Jim is learning how to handle me during those
times, and I'm trying to learn to be stronger as well, though I
know that may take quite a few years.  Sometimes I just loose it,
honestly.  I can't always handle my own emotions.  Good thing I
married a strong man who is there for me when I need him most!
Thanks, God, for giving me Jim.

We've had a lot of good times with the Benders lately, celebrating
Bob's and then Lisa's birthdays.  That has been really great, but I
must say, I miss my family in Lincoln a lot.  It's getting close to
two months now!  That will have to be remedied soon...

Jim and I went house shopping for the first time last weekend!  That
was so fun!  We're waiting and praying to be sure about moving
forward, but it is very exciting to consider this step.  We'll probably
make some kind of decision in April, one way or another.  Just looking
for now, weighing our options and praying for direction.

Piano lessons have been going well lately.  I have 20 students now,
split between Lawrence and the Kansas City area.  The thesis continues
to move slowly forward.  Hopefully progress will pick up soon so I can
attempt to graduate in May.  We'll see...

Well, that's about all for now.  Happy Valentine's Day!! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A few more recent pictures

Here are some recent photos, one of which is proof that I, yes I, Lisa LaVonne Bender, was a member of a dodgeball team this fall.  And not just any dodgeball team - the team that won out of the entire Lawrence dodgeball league!  This is very exciting to me because I was completely horrible for like my first 8 games.  Then, just recently, I became mildly sub-average.  Nonetheless, the whole experience was really fun, or at least, after I got over my aversion to throwing things at people.

The other 3 pics are from our wonderful time at this cabin in Missouri.  The
place was called Riverwood Resort and it was near Bennett Spring State Park.
We really enjoyed it!

Hello.  Time for a blog.

It's always a challenge to sum up life, especially when so
much is going on, both in circumstances and inside your
heart and soul.  But mostly in my heart and soul.  Yes,
there have been some big happenings.  One was very sad,
but God was ever faithful in helping Jim and I repair from
an unexpected joy and hope that ended in disappointment.
And there has been a great weekend in a cabin in Missouri
and lots of getting to know Jim's family better, which has
been just great.  But bigger to me than the events themselves
is how they, and many other growing situations over the past
several months, have begun shifting me around inside.  The
hard situations have begun changing me in ways that I couldn't
have guessed, and would not have chosen due to the death of
self involved, but in the end, very good, and so, they must be
from God, and I am thankful for them.  To be quite honest, I
hope some of them I never have to experience again, but I
know that is not for me to worry about. 

I don't know what marriage is like for other people, though
I've heard plenty of stories and observed a lot.  Still, it's
impossible to really know what it is like for others, since
we're all hardwired in such different ways and experience
things and react to things so differently.  But for Jim and
myself, it has definitely been very hard at times.  I'm not
saying this to be a downer, but just to be real.

Having said this, I must also say that I have all the hope
in the world that we are getting better at this most every
day, by the grace of God.  We've had a lot of those ups
and downs and great days and horrible ones that I hear
are pretty standard for newlyweds.  So I'm not worried.
Still, it's not what I expected.  I didn't know just how
hard it could on my emotions to be so close to someone
and so vulnerable and affected by them in many ways.
It can feel so out of control, scary, and humiliating.  But
I also didn't know how much more full my life would feel
on the good days, which have been many.  And even on
the bad ones, there's always this little consolation in the
back of my mind that I know that even though we're
fighting presently, no one is going anywhere, so we're
going to have to figure it out and work through it.
One thing that helps a lot is having confidence in the Spirit's
working in our hearts, and knowing that even when I or Jim
totally messes up, there isn't a mistake so big that cannot be
made right if we are willing to be humble and seek truth and
reconciliation.  One thing I have learned is that communication
is huge, but it isn't everything.  Sometimes talking gets you
nowhere fast and it is better to just keep your mouth shut and
wait for clarity.  Otherwise, the heat of the moment and what
you feel you just have to say to make your point more clear
can get you into trouble.  I am definitely still learning that one...

I hope you are staying warm, especially you northerners!  We
had our first snow here in the KC area tonight.  That wind is
biting!  But I cannot complain.  Renee would be rolling her
yes for sure, being in Minnesota and all.  : )  And New York
can be pretty cold too, although that won't matter too long to
Ms. Shepard since she and Tim are leaving Zoo York for the
wonderful land of Oregon.  Exciting times.

I leave you with a few pictures from our wedding back in
September.  What a wonderful day in our lives for so many
reasons (see people below who made it so great).

Friday, October 15, 2010


Hello!  I am finally back to blogging after a long departure.  Well, you see, I had important business to attend to.  June through September was taken up with planning the wedding and also moving since Jim got a new teaching job (6th grade communication arts position at a great school district) in July.  So we found an apartment, and it has been pretty non-stop until just recently.  The wedding went better then I ever would have dreamed.  I love the way my family came together and made it beautiful.  I loved all the music, both vocal and instrumental.  Did I mention the pipe organ?  And Pastor Len spoke such meaningful words to us.  I cried right before Dad gave me away, but just a little, under my veil.  I'm not sure if anyone noticed.  And I just treasured the speeches at the reception.  Maralee was sweet and funny, and Mae was pure love.  I was so blessed.  I am so blessed.  Whatever may come in my life, I've already received such a gift just in being able to experience such a wedding to such a good man.  Jim's speech was perfect, and I even settled my debts with Renee and Abby (I had to pay them $20 each since we made a bet in college on who would get married first!) and I sang and played a song at the reception.  I just really wanted to do that.

Jim and I had a perfect couple days at Niagra Falls, Canada side.  We rode bikes around Goat Island and just enjoyed the scenery and basking in the glow of our new life together.  And what would a honeymoon be without a fight?  We accomplished that one on the plane ride back to Kansas City, ha ha.  We're still learning how to live and love together, but I am greatly encouraged by realizing that our fights are getting less severe, and we are getting better at communicating and nipping things in the bud.

I am now a married woman, and honestly, I am loving it.  I will not sugar-coat it, there have been, and I'm sure will continue to be in the future, really hard moments and hard days.  But having this commitment has been so good.  When I have those times when I just do not understand Jim and I don't even believe he loves me or that he wants to understand me, I am coming to understand more and more the work that God is trying to do in me.  I am beginning to see that I need to learn to love this man who is very different than me, and that, even when I do not feel it, he really does love me and will not stop loving me when I fail him.  That is not an easy thing to really learn and believe, but I've been making good progress, by the grace of God, and thanks to this wonderful man who I now call "husband."

I am so blessed to be truly loved by Jim.  I know God's sustaining love is the only love I can fully rely on, because human love can be so fragile, but I am very aware of the blessing I have received in the love of this man.  He is very patient and kind, and that makes life so pleasant.  He doesn't react quickly. and that can be hard for me at times when I need assurance, but it is also so good for me and such a blessing when I am needing some time to process things.  Jim lets me be me, but also challenges me to rise above my sometimes natural inclination to sadness and self-pity.

Alright, enough relationship analysis.  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful month!  If you came to the wedding, you will most likely be receiving a thank you note from me soon, if you haven't already.  Jim and I are overwhelmed and grateful for all the support we received from family and friends before, during and after the wedding.  It was a truly amazing experience.

And now, as I transition back into this new "normal" life, I pray that God will increase in me a sense of urgency for pursuing the things above.  I want to be committed to prayer and the Word and fixing my eyes above.  I do not want to waste my life or squander even one of the rich blessings I have been given.  There are so many people to pray for and truths to meditate on, and doing so infuses such meaning in to the everyday duties.

I am enjoying cooking and cleaning and taking care of the apartment, honestly.  It all seems so important now that I'm married.  I want to bless Jim and make his life as a married man so much better then it was before.  I hope I am achieving this.  : )  I think he would say yes, because he is nice, and maybe also because it is true. 

I want to wish Abby and Tim a very happy engagement!!  I was so excited when she called and told me a few days ago.  How awesome!  I officially like that Tim a whole lot now.  He has a very sweet and special girl, and he is smart for snatching her up.  It was great to meet him, and also Renee's Matt at the wedding.

I leave you with a few more photos.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Hello. What an incredible few months I have had! It has been crazy, but awesome. Jim and I are engaged! Not only that, we are planning our wedding, all set for September! I know, kind of a rush, right? But turns out, entirely possible. We've got all the major things in place.

I'm still kind of in shock, but am starting to adjust to being someone's fiancée. Hopefully by the time September 18 rolls around, I will be ready to be someone's wife! Well, not just someone's wife, Jim's wife. Yeah, I think I can do that. He is pretty much the most all around quality guy, and the best fit of a man for me, I've ever had the privilege of dating. We have had and I'm sure will continue to have our share of struggles and conflicts, but I am encouraged to know that we both rely on God primarily, and also, Jim has shown me so much love and grace through the conflicts we have faced so far.

We have SO much to learn. It is exciting though, because marriage gives us this new opportunity for growth like we have never known. I'm pretty sure there will be a whole lot of joy mixed in with that growth. I am so happy, so excited... and kind of scared... but the kind of scared you are before things you know you really want to do... like going off to college, or doing something daring that you've never done before, like a Colorado hiking trip, or performing for a small crowd of people at an open mic night in a strange new city. I know marriage isn't a whole lot like those things, but it's what I have to equate this feeling of excitement to.

I hope you are doing well. I hope you have people in your life who need you and who you need. Whether or not we realize it, we need each other! Anything or anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hello and happy June!

Just a quick note to once again say that life is going great these days and I can hardly keep track of all of God's goodnesses to me. Continuing to make (slow) progress on the Thesis and get new piano students. Continue to grow more in love with my Jim. It's so great to finally be with someone where things seem to be steadily and consistently moving forward, it really is. There are bumps in the road, and I still have emotional struggles here and there and we misunderstand each other sometimes, but we're working through it and neither one wants to go anywhere. I'm so happy about that. It is very grounding and real.

Had a great weekend in Lincoln and spent some good time with Mary, Abigail, Crystal, Luke, Brianna, Cristy, Alex, Matthew, Mae, Mark, Maralee, Brian, Josh, Danny, Sivannah, Mom, Dad and Jim. Wow, what a big family I have, and that wasn't even everybody! I really enjoyed the time at the zoo, time at the mall with the nieces, time with Mary at Meadowlark, going to Valentino's with mom, dad and Jim, and time with Maralee and Brian at mom and dad's and at their house. I hope next time I can hang out with Mae a little more. She is so busy with those two little boys. : ) Can't blame her.

Hope you are well, anyone reading this. : ) Hope the summer is off to a great start and that you are productive and at peace and finding time to rest in and grow in love and understanding of God. I'm reading in James these days ("Consider it pure joy..."). If you think of it, pray for Jim's job situation and our future plans, that they would be directed by the Lord and that we would be useful vessels for him.

Had a fun day yesterday. My Korean friend, Nan Sook and also Jim's brother, Bob came over for dinner. I cooked Borscht (beets and cucumbers in a sour cream sauce) and fried cabbage and potatoes, indian style, and it was a nice time.