Friday, May 10, 2013

Featured Friend: Friday

Hello there. I am so excited for you to meet my buddy 'ol pal, Shanna!  I've gotten to know Shanna really well through an early morning prayer group of women and our Sunday Supper Club. She is awesome. Adorable, honest, upbeat, kind, funny, and someone everyone wants to be around. Whenever they are around, Hensley is tied to Shanna's hip and Tegegne's trying to wrestle Alan down. Thanks for being a dear friend to our family, Sweet Shanna. 

1. Hi Shanna, tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

 I'm an Ohio gal that came to Kansas City via Chicago. When I first showed up in Kansas City I didn't expect to like it, but I fell in love with the city, the culture, and the community. Jesus Christ is present in this place! About six weeks after moving to KC I met Alan at a coffee shop. He was the barista who made me a four berry smoothie. It was love at first sight for both of us and we've been together ever since; six years later, we're three years into our marriage and loving it. I'm a writer by trade--marketing and public relations was my career for over five years--but somewhere along the line I became fascinated by food and nutrition, so now I'm pursuing that personally and professionally. Alan is a brilliant ICU nurse at KU Med. He cares for people during some of the darkest times of their life, showing them compassion and giving their families hope and love. So far our family is just the two of us, but we hope to have many children someday. I grew up in a family of five so the desire for a large flock is in my blood, but we're just not quite ready yet. We also have a little terrier pup named Olly.

2. Will you share some of your favorite moments from your most recent island adventure?

On January 1, 2013 Alan and I took off for a six week adventure. We drove west, stopping in the Rockies, Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and Fullerton, California. From there we flew around the world, first laying over in China and making our final stop in New Zealand. We spent four weeks traveling the north and south islands and seeing as much of that incredible country as we possibly could.

I'm a house cat and Alan is a Labrador retriever.  He is quite adventurous and his spirit challenges me. He has so much energy and wants to get out and go, go, go. My favorite moments from our trip are the ones that were difficult for me in the moment, but I look back at them with pride. We spent three days backpacking in Abel Tasman park, which has some of the most breathtaking and pristine beaches in the world. It was remote; we had to pack in all of our food and gear and carry all of it around the entire time. I struggled physically and mentally during the whole hike, but now I'm so glad we did it. We also tackled the Tongariro crossing, which is famous for being "Mt. Doom" in the Lord of the Rings movies.
We also enjoyed the fresh seafood that's readily available in New Zealand, laid around on white sand beaches and drank Flat Whites. It was so cool to be with Alan 24/7 for six weeks, with barely any separation. I learned a lot about him and about our relationship. Once we got back to the US we drove from Los Angeles to San Fransisco, and then back to Kansas City through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska. I hope we can do something like that again in our life together!

3. After that adventure you started a new job. A unique one. Will you tell us about that? 

In March Alan and I moved an hour outside of Kansas City to LaCygne, Kansas. We are living on a large piece of land that is owned by YouthFront ministry, a local youth ministry located in Kansas City. There is a small community of people here who are committed to prayer, hospitality and Christian service, and together we run a high school camp in the summer and events and retreats year round. My main role is to plan, order and prepare meals for anyone who happens to be here on any given day. Through out 2012 my prayer was that God would use my love of food in service to Him, and in November 2012 our dear friend Micah Thomas offered this opportunity to us. God's Spirit was definitely instrumental in bringing us to LaCygne, and I rest in that truth when times get tough. I miss the energy and pace of city life, and I miss my great friends like you and all of the other people I love. But I'm learning how to drive a truck, shovel manure, and cook for 50+ people, and those are unique experiences that I believe God will use in the future. 

4. I love your cooking! Any tips or tricks you've learned when cooking for big groups? (Even though you've gotta make more of the dish, you have been so creative with your recipes.) 

When it comes to cooking, I feel like I've gotta fake it till I make it. I have no professional experience in the kitchen, everything I know I either learned from my mom, read in a book or just have an intuition for. I hope I can slowly change people's minds about the types of food they think they like and dislike. For example, I don't think that every meal needs to feature some kind of meat as the main dish. I like making a meal that has lentils or polenta at the center, and watching as people initially approach it suspiciously and end up digging in. I've "tricked" voracious meat-eaters into enjoying vegetarian meals! I want to continue encouraging people to set down the bag of Cheetos and pick up a carrot. Carrots are good. I promise they'll love it.

5. If you were asked to write a book, what would you write about? What are your top 5 books?

I love to read. When I was 10, 11 and 12 books were literally magic to me. I would read for hours a day,   great young adult fiction novels like The Westing Game or The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and just get tingles, they were so special and wonderful.  There is something about that developmental stage that allows a child to get completely immersed in another universe. I learned a lot about people and the world from the books I read when I was a kid. So if I ever have the wherewithal to write a book I'd love to write something for that age group. Maybe something your kiddos will read!
I don't think I could name a top 5 for books, because almost every single book I read becomes my new favorite. But some books I've read lately that I've liked are A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Life Together by Detrich Bonhoffer, My Life in France by Julia Child, and Reaching Out by Henri Nowen.

6. What are some of your favorite things to do?

I love distance running and I especially love it when Alan and I train for a race together. My absolutely favorite thing is to plan parties and get-togethers for my friends, and to spend all day cooking and preparing for them. I love it when I can get made up and dressed up and go out for drinks and dinner with Alan. I like sitting on my couch in my pjs and watching a show on Hulu or Netflix. I like grocery shopping in giant, fancy stores like the Whole Foods in Chicago or Denver. I think I'm really going to love heaven because I imagine we'll all have a giant feast together at a really long table and we'll all spend ages laughing, talking, swapping seats and trying bites of each others' meals. I also love to take really scalding hot baths in the winter months, and sometimes I'll have a glass of wine when I'm in there, I'll paint my nails, read a book, look at my Instagram feed or watch part of a documentary. I can really spend hours in a hot bathtub when it's cold outside! 

7. Anything else you'd like to say? 

Thank you, Kristyn, for keeping such a lovely record of your life in your blog, and for letting me be a part of your blog and of your life! We are so blessed by our community of friends in Kansas City!

(All of these photos were taken by Alan and Shanna on their great island adventure.)

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