Mad for…Alana

persevere (verb): to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

Take a look at the beautiful Urban family! On the right, you’ll see my cousin, Alana (Langdon) Urban. From the time she was very small, she was just a gorgeous human. She remains just as lovely today as ever, and she’s the mother to two and the wife of Chad. She grew up in Sheridan, Indiana and moved about a year ago from the Fishers area to North Carolina!

Soft-spoken, funny and wearing a bright smile, Alana is an incredibly bright woman. She’s a fellow Boilermaker fan who graduated from Purdue University! As long as I have known her, (which in this case is literally for her entire life) she’s been both kind and engaging. Her work ethic is impressive and Alana is a character and faith-filled person.

On the day the moving trucks were scheduled to pick up all their belongings and haul them across the country to Wake Forest, North Carolina, Alana found herself at the funeral of her brother, Justin, sister-in-law, Amanda, and niece, Kendall. It was an incredibly difficult situation– a tragedy beyond all reason. On top of her grief, Alana was faced with a stressful move. The house closing had already taken place, and really there was no turning back. She called and asked me to help manage the movers so she and her sweet family could be fully present for the difficult day. I was so thankful to have SOMETHING meaningful to do for her, however small. God rained down grace on Alana during that time, because I marvel still at her undeniable grace in the midst of an unfathomable set of circumstances.

Some time has passed and I hear that the Urbans are adjusting well to their new city and situation. I’m so pleased to hear that because they so deserve peace and happiness! Alana was home for a visit recently and I missed seeing her because it happened while we were out of state on vacation. Mom and Dad were sweet enough to send a selfie of the three of them having an ice cream cone together in downtown Zionsville.

I have prayed hard for them all– Alana, Chad, Avery, and Connor– as well as Alana’s parents (my aunt and uncle). I read this bit of wisdom a few months back and tucked it away for the right moment. It seems to fit correctly today, and I hope in it all of us who occasionally need an extra dose of sunshine ourselves will also find the strength and generosity to be needed bearers of light for others.

“The world may bring deep darkness, but we are the bearers of light. We’ll join our flames together and shine in the blackest of nights.” (John Mark Green)

Alana, you are a strong, compassionate woman because you were raised by a strong, compassionate woman. You’re an incredible mom and wife and a person who has always inspired me by the gentle positivity you always share with others. I know that while the world is filled with suffering, it’s also full of folks overcoming it…just like you! Best wishes to all the Urbans as you tackle the new school year with all it’s challenges and fun. Also, BOILER UP!! If you and Chad make a trip back this fall to see a game, give us a shout! Tom and I would love to buy you a beer in West Lala!!

Mad for…Lara

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. (Audrey Hepburn)

I saw this photo of the beautiful Zweibel family and since my mind was already on all the college kids I am going to miss horribly as they head back to school, I knew the Lord was urging me to write for just a moment about the very sunny and loveable Lara Zwiebel. I could just as easily have chosen her gorgeous and talented sister, Anna, but today I have a few things to say about her little sis. Lara is an utterly stunning young lady, both inside and out! She’s pictured at left, above, with her parents and her older sister, Anna!

Lara is a Louisville native who is a student at the University of South Carolina. I’m not sure if her sorority sisters know what a beautiful voice she has, (she’s incredibly gifted) but I am certain that those friends of hers are better for having met this intelligent, compassionate and sunny young woman! Thanks to her Aunt Lisa and her cousin Christian, the Thieme family has had the chance to get to know her a bit over the years. This past winter when I was struggling with my health, I received the most lovely handwritten note from Lara. How many college students do you know who will take time out of their crazy world to write a thoughtful note to a woman across the country they really don’t even know that well? This is an integrity filled, selfless gal– that’s my point.

Her words were bright and in them she revealed to me the depth of beauty that resides in her heart. It was a meaningful gesture. She was not only articulate and kind, but her words were filled with gratefulness for the small moments and her faithfulness and good sense of humor were both readily apparent. As I re-read her note (which you KNOW I kept because I am a woman who adores a nice piece of mail filled with kind words) it reminded me of this sort of quirky awesome quote I noticed this week.

“With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, ‘Studs, you’re an optimist!’ I never said I was a optimist. I have hope because what’s the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven.” (Studs Terkel)

That made me laugh and it pretty much sums up things up nicely, huh? We might as well choose to see blessings and giggle a little through this life, like Lara clearly tries to do, because what do we gain from choosing otherwise, am I right sweet girl?

As you begin your junior year, I hope you will see the sunny side of everything, work for the best, press past any mistakes, and achieve great things! The sunshine you sent me back in February? I’m sending it right back at you, wonderful, smart, big-hearted Lara! Thanks for being a giant scoop of awesome sauce! Go Gamecocks!