Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wisdom for...Tuesday!

"New Year's Eve--this is the moment of beginning again...the moment in which the old touches the new, in which we offer gratitude to God."

-Catherine Doherty

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Walking With Mary: A Book Review



I recently finished Walking With Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri. And let me tell you, every step was fascinating!! I loved this book!

At Christmastime, Christians all over recognize and remember Mary, the mother of God...but the rest of the year, so many forget her. Yet what a gift she is to us from her Son! A perfect example of Christian womanhood for us to imitate, and a special motherly intercessor on our behalf.

This book was a gem in that it dug deeper into the life of Mary solely based on the Scriptures. I was impacted by reflecting on her solid faith and trust in conceiving, bearing, and raising the Son of God. She inspired me with her faithfulness, humility, and trust in God even when she was not in control and could not see the future. (such a great lesson for me!) 

Though there only a few areas Mary appears in Scripture, I was amazed at the significance and deeper meanings of them. It was so beautiful to learn more about "the Woman clothed with the sun" in Revelation, Jesus' important words to Mary from the Cross, the conversation between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, and the power of Gabriel's message to Mary in Luke Chapter 1.

One of my favorite parts was the last one I mentioned: the angel Gabriel's message to Mary (also the prayer we know as the Hail Mary). In Luke 1, we read that he called her "full of grace," God's name for her. He said "the Lord is with you," which in the Old Testament was said whenever a heavenly messenger appeared to someone on earth to give them a difficult task, a demanding mission. Mary knew this, but said yes. She was human and knew not what was ahead. She was troubled but chose faith over fear. She said yes to whatever God wanted of her and so was chosen to bear Him to the world. What an incredible woman. How blessed we are that God gave her to us as our Mother too.

This book was easy to understand despite the in-depth breaking apart of Scripture. It encouraged me, inspired me, and made me reflect on my own womanhood and how I can become more like Mary, and more like the woman God created me to be.

I highly recommend it and think both my Catholic and my Protestant brothers and sisters would enjoy it.

Want more info on this book, or interesting in purchasing it? This link has a summary and an author bio.


[Thank you to Blogging for Books for the free copy for this review. These are my honest and original comments.]

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 

 
I love you all, dearest friends, and I wish you a truly joyous Christmas. I pray you are able to lay aside the outer trimmings of Christmas and take a moment to invite the Christ Child ever deeper into your heart. That whatever imperfections, struggles, heartache may be in your life right now, you know that there is hope because of Him.
 
Yes, may all the hope and promises of Christmas bring you the peace and joy of Christ this season. He still comes, He still rescues, He still saves. Precious baby Messiah.
 
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born.
 
-"Welcome to Our World," by Christopher Rice

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Second Week of Advent

Sitting at the kitchen table with the Little Dog on my lap. Homemade spaghetti sauce warming on the stove (thank you, freezer, for giving me fresh food in the winter!). Achingly beautiful Christmas music playing in the background, making me tear up at the slightest swell of instruments.

And I'm thinking about you.

All you wonderful people who visit this site.  (um, and just a little bit about the Christmas cookies in the fridge.)You who welcome me into your home by reading my blog. (okay, I understand if that sounds a little creepy.) Who type comment love or friendly emails here and there, reminding me that my brothers and sisters live all over this big world but are so very beautifully connected.

So I wanted to say hello. And happy Advent.

You know I love this Church season of Advent. This invitation to slow down, seek quiet, trust in waiting, surrender to mystery. It wraps itself around my soul with gentle beckoning.

I responded this year to that call as with other years. I was ready to prepare Him room. I told my women's share group about my goals of finding Christ in the quiet, darkness, fasting, and waiting...just as our Advent program had focused on.

Somehow I pictured myself transformed by fervent prayer, calm solitude, overwhelming peace.

Instead these first two weeks have been more characterized by fervent grumbling, calm despair, and overwhelming uncertainty.

Don't get me wrong. I still love the season. I have my decorations up and my heart lights up when my Christmas tree does. I hosted a cookie swap with a dozen or so girlfriends. I sipped hot chocolate with two of them and crafted Christmas cards. I've absolutely relished a new Advent devotional recommended by a friend (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas).

But amidst all that, I find myself being selfish, discontent, lonely, and discouraged. I play the comparison game. I get frustrated at both jobs. I need a break from people but I get lonely at home. I choose the temporary over the eternal. I whine. I pout. I sin. It's not a pretty sight, soul-friends. And that further discourages me, because this isn't how I wanted my Advent to be. Old memories surface. Unfulfilled desires nudge. It hurts.

I'm not where I want to be. I'm not who I want to be.

Emmanuel. My heart cries out.

I keep learning.

God-Is-With-Us.

Instead of the warmth of Advent wrapping around me, I'm feeling stripped of control and comfort.

It's cold. It's vulnerable. It's painful. It's messy. But hope draws near. Because these are the conditions of the Christmas stable. Of the uncomfortable Christmas journey to Bethlehem.

Messy manger. Messy heart.

I'm finding He chooses both to dwell within.

This Advent is not what I planned. But somehow He's using it. He's making it beautiful before I can see it.

Like Mary, He simply wants me to be open. To be. To look to Him with trust so that He can enter in and be born to the world through me. (From that amazing devotional I mentioned above!)

Maybe I'm not where I want to be or who I want to be. But I know this tender Savior enters into our messes. To transform us into who He wants us to be.

Maybe He's already here.

Emmanuel.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Advent is a time of expectation…As the season of commemorating Christ’s birth approaches, something stirs in us, something deep and profound, as if we are expecting a great miracle." 

–Catherine Doherty

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Contentment is being able to enjoy the scenery when you are taking a detour."
 
-Gerald R. Payne

Saturday, November 23, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 15]


So I thought maybe if I didn't put the word "Friday" in the title of this post, you guys might forget this is supposed to be a Friday post, not a Saturday one...but then I added in the picture logo and realized it's hopeless. I'm late. I'm cheating. It's Saturday and these are my quick takes.

 
--1--
 

I love these cozy Saturday mornings at home. Slept in (a rare occurrence), drank coffee like it was water in a desert, and just slowly enjoyed the morning with prayer, books, and pumpkin waffles. Four girlfriends came over last night for homemade pizza, visiting a nursing home with our pets, and then girl talk over hot chocolate until 1 in the morning. I'm always refreshed after being with such inspiring souls.

A, Me, and R

--2--
 
My roommate GOT MARRIED a month ago and moved to NORTH DAKOTA! Craziness. It feels like it happened so fast the reality still hasn't set in! We worked such different shifts, I think the adjustment has been easier than I anticipated. She worked 5pm-2am (poor girl) and I work 8am-5pm, so we didn't see each other very often even when we lived together. But still! I can't believe she's across the country now! I'll miss our random cooking nights, movie nights, and homemaking adventures. She and her husband are so cute together and very much in love. Pictures, you ask?
 
How sweet are they?!
 
--3--
 
I was looking for a new roommate (any takers??) but in the meantime, I've been rearranging...and I'm loving the extra space! I now have a craft and reading room, with a bookshelf, all my scrapbooking/cardmaking supplies, and a futon in it for any overnight guests. It's perfectly cozy and purposeful. I can't wait to make Christmas cards in it! (and be able to close the door on the mess until I'm finished with the project!) 
 
Bookshelf is where I'm standing, and there's a card table to the side for crafting

 
--4--
 
Second snow today. Just a dusting but very pretty to see the swirling snowflakes as they fell!
 
This was the first snow a few weeks ago
 
--5--
 

I saw a funny Facebook link on "dog shaming" pictures when your puppy misbehaves. So adorably funny! Since my Little Dog has episodes of misbehavior from time to time, I decided to try one out with him...and it didn't take long for him to provide the perfect opportunity. What do you think?
 
 
 
--6--
 
Road trip! A few weeks ago K. and I went to Holmes County, OH (Amish country, my friends!!) to visit our sweet friend L. We spent the night at her gorgeous home and then enjoyed a Saturday of shopping in the quaint town of Berlin, finishing it off at a yummy Amish restaurant. On Friday night, we had a little trouble and the 4 hour trip turned into a 5 hour trip due to *ahem* some navigator issues...(that would be me). In my defense, it is entirely mostly possibly probably not Mapquest's fault.
 
This is how their directions read:
 
Take interstate 75 South.                                    2.5 miles / total trip 50.5 miles
 
Now is it not completely understandable that I would accidentally see the 50 miles instead of the 2 miles and direct K. to drive 50 miles on interstate 75?
 
Well, that's what I did.
 
And so she happily set the trip tracker for 50 miles and we didn't begin to look for the exit until we were a good 45 miles past it! It's not a good thing when the gas station attendant looks at you blankly when you ask how far you are from your destination. ("Never heard of that town...")
 
All's well that ends well. (Right, K??) My kind, map-reading boyfriend answered the SOS phone call and got us back on track.
 
Mmmm...we love Amish peanut butter. Nevermind that it's comprised of five different types of sugar/sweeteners.
 
--7--
 
Last but not least, have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Families aren't perfect, turkeys overcook, and we can get lonely in a crowd of people...but there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. :) May our Lord bless you with a grateful heart, His abundance grace, and His unending love this week. I'm hugging you right now!







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Grace was in all her steps, heav'n in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
 
-John Milton, poet

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through His grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word."
 
-2 Thess. 2:16-17

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(emphasis mine)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?"

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
qtd. in Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman, by Cynthia Heald

(Preach it, Jane. :) What a great point-- that laws and principles are there to discipline and guide us when our passions are apt to lead us astray. Our culture is one that allows passion to lead at the expense of principle.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday [vol. 14]


--1--

There's nothing like autumn in the Midwest. I'm in love. Freshly cut fields. Kaleidoscope colors on the trees. Bright blue sky backgrounds. Pumpkins and hay bales as outdoor d├ęcor.

The one thing I could do without are those tacky decorations of a witch flying on her broomstick into a telephone pole. Splat! Really? It's morbid on so many levels...

--2--

Speaking of decorations, I had the cutest Pinterest-style centerpiece on my coffee table. Did you notice the past tense there? Two glass bowls full of real acorns and a candle in the center of each. I'd show you a picture but I didn't take one. Because I was too busy being horrified by the tiny chubby worms on the bottom of each glass that my roommate's brother pointed out one day.

I promise. I washed and dried the acorns before using them. Obviously the little intruders snuck in unforeseen as eggs...or something...or wherever worms come from. They were disgusting. And they now reside in the field behind our house.

--3--
 
I am now the proud owner of these fine machines and have been putting them to good use. Laundry has always been my favorite chore. (Making beds is a close second. Because I know you were wondering.) I'm using homemade detergent and homemade fabric softener and am quite pleased with both. The scent is not quite as good as what you buy in the store, but I also don't feel like I'm breathing in all sorts of bad-for-you-artificial-chemicals whenever I bury my face in warm laundry from the dryer.
 
--4--
 
I'm reading so many great books right now. It must be the chill in the air-- all I want to do is curl up and read or watch a movie in my free time. Here are a few of the titles I have bookmarks in:
 
Uncommon Beauty: 7 Qualities of a beautiful woman, by Cynthia Heald
 
Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri
 
The Anne of Green Gables Treasury, by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson
 
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker
 
--5--
 
We had an influx of young women at the pregnancy center this week. I ended up staying two hours late that evening completing the paperwork and was a mess of emotions by that time. (Poor P-- he's so, so good with me when I'm like that! Strong, loving, steadfast man...) One young woman was a highschooler recovering from drug addictions, and now with a positive pregnancy test. Our generation makes me want to cry...so lost, so lonely, so confused, so broken.
 
But.
 
There is hope. There is One with shoulders to carry all of this. And power to heal and transform our generation.
 
So we have faith and we keep fighting.
 
--6--
 
P, my brother, and I went to a rally/conference a few weekends ago called Lift Jesus Higher. It was put on my Renewal Ministries. So incredibly powerful. Their stories, their testimonies, the sacraments. It was a day of being recharged by grace. A reminder of God's great power, tender mercy, and His desire for us to continually spread the Gospel. One of the speakers, Sr. Ann Shields, spoke about her time overseas in countries persecuted for their faith. It was sobering, this realization that though our government is rapidly eliminating God from the public square, we do not as yet know suffering and persecution as other countries currently do. It makes me wonder...do I have the courage of martyrs? Am I so attached to Christ and detached from this world that there would be no question of whom I would choose?
Thanks to P being on a first-name basis with the bishop, I got my picture with him at the rally :)

 
--7--
 

I had a friend over this Tuesday for homemade pizza and a workout DVD (thankfully, in reverse order). The workout DVD was one from the Biggest Loser series, and I'm still sore. As in: I ran a short distance from the mailbox to the house to escape the cold and windy weather, only to wince in pain as my legs protested such minimal exertion while they are still recovering. Aside from that, I highly recommend these workouts. In small doses. With a friend. And with pizza as a reward.
 
Have a lovely weekend, friends. Carve some pumpkins for me! :)




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our health, our wealth, our power--all these God can take from us. But our freedom he leaves to us....Because freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can make to God."

-Archbishop Fulton Sheen, qtd. in Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, by Edward Sri

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Haiti, Part III

We walked into the Children's Home.

Up until this point, I hadn't cried. (Though I'd come close to it at that chaotic airport!) But as I stood there in front of two dozen metal cribs in the first room, each with a skinny Haitian babe looking at us with curiosity or tears in their gorgeous big brown eyes...I couldn't stop the outpouring of tears.

Reality hits hard sometimes.

And as I picked up the nearest precious child holding his arms out to me, I knew my heart couldn't remain the same.

"To love the least of these..." (Matthew 25:40)

Over the course of the next week, we visited the orphanage often. Not all of the children were orphans, though. About 25 children were true orphans, cared for by the Missionaries of Charity sisters (love those amazing women!). The other 100 children were brought to the Children's Home by their parents, who could not care for them due to poverty or illness. Some of the children would be there for the rest of their life but some would be treated and cared for by the nuns and then return to their families, God willing.

I cannot convey all that I'd love to share about this place, the Missionary sisters, the children, and their families...but perhaps you will see a glimpse of the heartwrenching beauty of the experience through these memories from my journal...

-Changing diapers, holding babies, feeding my special boy his bowl of food and watching him gain energy and actually stand up in his crib. (he was 2 years old, dear friends.)

-The precious 6 year old girl who simply held my hand and smiled as we walked. (I later found out this girl was 12 years old...broke. my. heart.)

-The impromptu 'music band' of one orphan boy drumming on a toy, another shaking a toy, and a third one singing in Creole. Joy and laughter and awe.

-Seeing three orphans get adopted. Listening to the rest of the children sing and pray for them and their new families...and for the ones left behind. Watching the Haitian woman--one of the workers--cry as she hugged the teen girl for the last time before her adoption journey across the ocean.

-Singing the upcoming wedding songs (I had committed to singing for a wedding the day after I returned from Haiti--who does that?! Crazy me) with Haitian babies on my hips as I walked through the empty orphanage church.

-Watching the father of two children who was visiting them cry as he had to place them back in their cribs because the bell was ringing that visiting hours were over. He himself was thin and most likely poor and hungry...but he was showing me a vision of our Heavenly Father's deep, undeniable love in a way that was seared into my memory.

-Grace and Katelyn, a mother-daughter team staying in Haiti for a month, simply because Katelyn felt called to volunteer work before she left for college in the fall. They worked tirelessly caring for the children and keeping them clean, fed, and loved. And always, always with a smile on their beautiful faces.

-The Missionaries of Charity sisters. These incredible women of God. P and I were blessed to slip into an Adoration hour behind them. Thirty of them knelt there praying before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, barefoot and clothed in their white uniforms with the blue stripe like Mother Teresa. This. This was how they did it. Time spent before our Lord in prayer...to have the strength to then go out and serve Him in the least of our brothers. To feed Him, clothe Him, care for Him.

The tears just keep coming as I re-live these memories. Has it really been three months since I lived with and loved these people?

It's good to remember. So good to remember.

But it hurts to be so far away when all I want to do is hold those children again. See their smiles, hear their chatter, kiss their foreheads, and press them close to my heart.

They're in my heart. I just want them in my arms.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heart Lessons

I was tired. We were short on nurses that day. My coffee had worn off and my patience had worn thin.

I sat down beside the last patient of the day and tried to mentally slow down. She was here for a check up, she wasn't feeling any better, had no money, had no hobbies, had no energy or breath to accomplish anything, smelled like cigarette smoke, and didn't know how to get rid of her anxiety and depression.

As I type this, my heart is tugged with empathy for her as I see her struggles bunched together like that.

Yet I struggled with cynicism. She hardly let me get a word in edgewise and I'm not sure she heard me when I did. Her heart was weak from a long history of cocaine abuse. It was pumping at a mere fraction of the strength and efficiency of a normal heart. It was no wonder she was short of breath and tired.

I tried to listen. I tried to respond with kindness. But in my heart, I was frustrated, and if I'm real with myself--annoyed.

Then Dr. A came in to see her. He was tired, too.

She barely let him get a word in edgewise either. She cried and laughed and complained and pleaded.

And he just kept gently re-directing her. He went above and beyond what most doctors would do. He didn't care if her past had led her here. He simply wanted to heal her. He went all over the clinic to find her a free medication. He spoke to her the same way he speaks to anyone else. He treated her with dignity and without judgment. He smiled and gave her hope.

I stood by and watched.

Conscience-stricken.

Because a Muslim doctor just showed a Christian nurse how to be more like Christ.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

{On} the Beaten Trail...An Adventure in Pictures

That creatively adventurous man of mine made reservations at a stable...

 

Someone is almost more excited than I am about the prospect!

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Deep in the country, my heart is swelling.

Can I move here?

Checking the radar and waiting out the pouring rain!
Meet Willie, my new friend.


Ready to go!

P. and Abel bonding.
The weather provided a unique trail ride during the next hour
...an elusive mix of sunshine, dusk, drizzle, and mist. 
A country girl, a city boy,
and a great memory.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray.


-Rend Collective Experiment

(I love love LOVE this song. Foot-tapping...and soul-stirring.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 13]


I'm really kinda irrationally excited to be blogging for Quick Takes. I'm pretty sure I should feel lame for being so happy at home on this Friday night, but honestly, I love it. I've got my feet up on the coffee table, the Little Dog snuggled beside me, my roommate watching TV, and the joy of knowing there's no. work. tomorrow. I can't think of anything I'd rather do right now more than sitting here joining you fun people. Except maybe eat ice cream. Which I didn't buy at the grocery today. Aw, man...

--1--
 
The last two weekends I've gone camping. Both trips were absolutely wonderful. It was so refreshing and renewing to live simply in the beautiful outdoors for a couple weekends. We hiked, we kayaked, we played volleyball and frisbee, we went on a hayride, we cooked over the fire.


The first weekend was spent with a dozen or so young adults, solid in their faith, and loads of fun. It's always so great to meet new people and hear their stories and their perspectives. And of course I loved spending time with some of my besties and the man I love.
 
The second weekend was an annual girls-only camping trip at the lake. It was a quieter weekend with only three of us, but we all were happy to get away from stressful jobs and spend the time kayaking on the gorgeous lake, reading books in the sunshine, and talking as girls do.
 
So thankful for friendships and God's beautiful creation.
 
--2--
 
Speaking of friends, my dear friend K. just moved with her husband and four precious kiddos to Wisconsin--many hours away from here. She's an beautiful wife, momma, and friend and I'll miss her loyal, authentic, energizing friendship. But we did have a great going-away night, dancing like crazy at zumba then devouring homemade pizza.
--3--
 
Speaking of food (my transitions need some help; bear with me), I'm not doing very well in the cooking and baking department, friends. I pin recipes on Pinterest like a professional chef, but after that, it gets a bit messy...and I don't mean in the kitchen. I just cannot seem to get organized with meal planning, grocery shopping, and the actual meal prep. I'd like to blame it on working full-time and being single...but really, I don't want to blame anything. I just want to make time for it. Any ideas? How do you all do it?
 
To redeem myself, I did make 10 pints of salsa and 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce. From homegrown tomatoes. It. Was. So. Fun. I just want to be Laura Ingalls sometimes.
 
--4--
 
I watched NCIS on Tuesday. Remember my craze last year? I still love the show, I just haven't been as obsessed or made time for watching episodes. But this episode was not to be missed. It was Ziva's farewell episode. And...Tony kissed her! A pure, deep, beautiful kiss that put any inappropriate Hollywood trash to shame. My romantic little heart was so happy. If only she would have stayed on the series, though! Tony needs her! And she needs Tony! Annnd...I'm moving on to the next quick take before I lose my credibility on this blog due to a TV show that's not real...
 
--5--
 
October is such a gorgeous month. Let's pause for an Anne of Green Gables quote.
 
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
 
Me too, Anne. Me too.
 
There are a lot of special days this month. Respect Life Sunday is this weekend (and the whole month is Respect Life month). The feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (one of my favorites!) was October 1, the feast of the guardian angels on October 2, and today St. Francis of Assisi. Such precious friends to guide us by prayers and example on our way to Heaven.  
 
--6--
 
I haven't really gone shopping since Haiti. It's interesting. Part of me still wants to shop, part of me feels guilty about the idea, part of me feels like my heart still hasn't fully processed Haiti...like I still don't fully know how God wants to use it in my life. It's unsettling and a bit uncomfortable.
 
But it's good to be uncomfortable.
 
I want to go to Maurice's and buy a new dress for my roommate's wedding this month...yet I have several in the closet I only wear a few times a year...do you feel my tension?
 
I'm reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker. I shared an excerpt from it on Wisdom for Wednesdays a few weeks ago.
 
This book makes me uncomfortable, too.
 
--7--
 
Well, friends. It's quarter to nine. And I still want to make applesauce. Is that enough time? I think so. I'm going to muster some motivation to peel and slice a bowlful of apples and cook them in the crockpot overnight...can't wait to wake up to that delicious smell!
 
It was delightful joining you tonight! Have a beautiful weekend!




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:
'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'
But the good Samaritan reversed the question:
'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"
 
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

"Oceans", Hillsong United

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All in a Day

Ahhh. I feel a million times better right now. I just washed off a green clay face mask and I feel like I washed all my cares away, too. (okay, not really. but it sounds like a great commercial.)

It's amazing what some food, some quiet rest time, some praise and worship, and a clay mask can do for my outlook.

It's been a long day. Two miscarriages, a new baby, a new pregnancy, ultrasound training, piles of paperwork, piles of emotions. And to top it all off, personally I've been charting again. I know it's for my health, but it's also a glaring reminder that my body doesn't work right...and as I see these precious babies, I can't help but wonder if my body will carry one beneath my heart someday. Someday.

And so after staying late at work, buying some groceries for a camping trip this weekend, and then finally getting home this evening with a full heart and an empty stomach...I cried.

I walked through my house putting away clothes and groceries as sniffles and mini-sobs escaped.

I'm a little hesitant to tell you guys that. I've been posting all these Haiti reflections and quotes on poverty and justice...and here I blubber because of transient hunger and fear of the future.

I'm aware of the first-world status of my problems.

But you know...I still think God cares. Actually, I know He does.

Because I felt His caress as I unpacked those groceries. He wasn't criticizing me for being weak. He was reminding me He wants to be my strength. No matter what our struggle is, He wants to be in the thick of it with us. Whether it's something big like third-world hunger, or something small like a long day at work...or something universal like loneliness, fear, guilt, or heartache...He's there. A loving Father who either gently points our focus in a new direction, or generously provides for our needs and desires, or sometimes just holds us tight and cries with us.

The groceries are put away. The camping food is packed. I even found some time to load up the tent and all that. And despite the challenges, it was a beautiful, graced day at the pregnancy center. It feels great to look back on the crazy day and know that most of the to-do list got done anyway; I don't know why I worry about it.

But the moment I treasure most from tonight is when I felt His presence in the midst of my humanness. When I lifted my hands spontaneously in worship as Spotify played my favorite songs, and the God of the broken reached down and loved me in all my first-world selfishness and weakness. And reminded me that He doesn't want me to complete a to-do list for Him.

He just wants me.

He wants you, too.

Throw away the to-do list with me. He's reaching down. Lift up your hands. It feels a million times better.

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“I'm going to bed tonight grateful for warmth, an advantage so expected it barely registers. May my privileges continue to drive me downward to my brothers and sisters without. Greater yet, I'm tired of calling the suffering "brothers and sisters" when I'd never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise. That's just hypocrisy veiled in altruism. I won't defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them. Until every human receives the dignity I casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension and my belly rumbles for injustice.”

― Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

(Wow. Just wow. Anyone else feel the intensity of that paragraph? Just started this book...I think it's going to turn my world upside-down again...great follow-up to my Haiti trip!)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Haiti, Part II

Thirty of us are packed into the truck bed as we drive to our destination. (Words fail me when it comes to Haitian driving. There are next to no stoplights or stop signs. The drivers simply honk or swerve or speed up or put on the brakes--and somehow it all works.)

We pull into the Tent City.

It shouldn't really be a city at all. But it is. The earthquake in Haiti was three years ago, yet these people are still living in makeshift shacks and tents packed more tightly together than we are in the truck.

No running water, no sewage, no electricity.

For thirty thousand people.

This is their town. This is their home. These people just like us.

The kids swarm around, smiling and laughing and teasing. They know our mission t-shirts from the past missions that come down every two months. They trust those t-shirts, and they are hoping for good things. Candy, toys, clothing, crafts, hugs, and hope.

Even the young ones reach up with their arms, hungry for food and love. We chatter away in our different languages, and I begin to realize the lesson that will become so deeply embedded in my heart throughout the week.

Love transcends language. The Haitians become my friends in a way I could never have imagined. We communicated in ways beyond the broken phrases we spoke in each others' languages.

One of the days I get to visit the medical clinic that comes to the tent city. A Haitian nurse practitioner takes me under her wing. She shares her story (oh, how I love to hear one's story...every Haitian has a story...every soul has a story). Her childhood in Haiti, her education in America, her desire to come back to Haiti and serve.

The medical supplies are so limited. I watch 125 people wait in and around a one-room schoolhouse. They take a number. And they wait. Hours. For the most basic of medical care. And here in America, we complain if we are 20 minutes late getting to a room in the doctor's office. These people are waiting hours for an antibiotic. Or a pregnancy test. Or a thermometer.

I watch the young Haitian momma hold her baby close as her child is pricked for a malaria test. My own eyes are blurred with tears as I hear the infant cry.

I hold a toddler wandering around. She snuggles close. I keep watching for her mother and asking those around me, "Tu bebe?" but no one answers. Finally I find her mom but she gestures for me to keep holding the baby. I don't know her story. Maybe she has five others at home she can barely feed. But we smile at each other and that bridges the gap.

It's hot and crowded in here. I see so many faces, so many beautiful dark faces with so many emotions...fear, pride, hope, resignation, gratitude.

I can't stop contrasting it to our healthcare system in America. How unequal things are...yet the people, we're all so equal in dignity as God's creation...

A teen boy is tested for HIV and AIDS. I watch the nurse's face fall. She looks at me with sadness in her eyes as she tells me it's positive. She takes him aside and talks with him in Creole. I watch him strut through the schoolhouse, a lanky teenage boy with the cocky confidence that covers their insecurities at that age, that covers the truth he's just learned. The other men laugh and tease jovially with him, not knowing anything. But I know. I know his world has been turned upside down.

And my heart just keeps breaking. 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

(It's back. You know you missed it.)

"A feminine woman has a royal demeanor but is never, ever a snob. No self-respecting woman would ever treat another person with distaste merely to make herself feel better...Get over yourself already. Learn to deal with your issues. Turn them over to the Lord in your prayer time so that when you leave your house in the morning, you have dealt with yourself and can move on to helping others. You never know what a pleasant smile from you can do to help another person make it another day. You may never realize the impact you can make on someone just by saying thank you. Femininity is not about self-absorption, but about using your feminine gift of nurturing to care for others whether you know them or not."

-Dr. Stacia Pierce, The Feminine Factor

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Haiti, Part I

I'm so excited to share my experiences from Haiti with you, not only because it's a blessing to be able to allow the stories to travel from person to person as God desires...but also because it's a powerful gift to myself to be able to re-live the moments as I ponder and type them. Come along for the journey?

We arrive at the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, after the usual exhaustion of travel. My makeup has worn off (good prep for the week!), my skin is melting in the heat and humidity, and I can't understand a word people are saying.

It's exciting and it's chaotic.

It's chaotic.

What is this place? This can't be the airport of the capital city of a country. The capital would be much more organized and well-ordered, right? Not like this crazy madhouse.

Some clever Haitian just convinced all of us women to give our baggage claim tags to him...he seemed friendly enough but now we realize he doesn't work for the airport. Oh, dear.

I can't get to my bag on the conveyor belt from all the pushing and shoving and loud noise. Finally someone from our group finds it, with the front pocket unzipped. There went all my money for the trip, forgotten in the haste of last-minute baggage checking and happily carried away by someone somewhere between MIA and PAP.

I'm now poor. Hot. Irritable. Crowded on all sides.

Welcome to Haiti.

Day one and I'm already being taken to the end of myself.

I know this is not a vacation, but it's got to get better than this.

Open hands, Lord. Open hands. (I pray this through gritted teeth)

Here we go.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Starting Small

Why, hello, blog world.

It's good to see you again.

I've missed you so.

Will you let me come in again, share a cup of tea, a smile, and our heart-thoughts?

It's been awhile. My fingers tread gently across the keyboard tonight.

My heart is hesitant yet eager to speak.

Tonight we start small.

With just a timid "hello." An "I've missed you, my friends."

And how are you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

 
I will trust in You
You've never failed before
I will trust in You
 
If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it if I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will
 
Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?
 
I'm giving You fear and You give faith
I giving you doubt, You give me grace
For every step I've never been alone
 
Even when it hurts, You'll have Your way
Even in the valley I will say
With every breath, You've never let me go
 
I lift my empty hands
(Come fill me up again)
Have Your way my King
(I give my all to You)
 
I lift my eyes again
(Was blind but now I see)
'Cause You are all I need
 
If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it if I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment

Whatever Your will, whatever Your will
 
Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

-"Help Me Find It," Sidewalk Prophets

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Home from Haiti

I'm home.

My heart has been broken for what breaks His.

And I know my life is changed because of it.

My heart is full. How did I have such joy, peace, and freedom when I had so little in Haiti?

My mind is full. Questions that arise and refuse to settle just yet.

And our nation. It's full, so full. Of stuff. Too much stuff. We can't see through it all.

The Haitians. Their stomachs are empty. Their homes are empty.

Their eyes are full. Sometimes of pain. Sometimes of joy.

Their churches are full.

My eyes are full. Of tears as I remember smiling with the people, laughing with them...crying with them.

My arms are empty. They ache with wanting to hold those precious babies again, those orphans, those sick children. Just one more time to hold you close and love on you and press your tiny bodies close to my heart.

My heart is so full.

My suitcases are empty. Unpacked and stored away.

But how do I unpack my heart?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It has to be grace...

It has to be grace.

This calm in the midst of craziness.

We leave for Haiti this week. I'm not packed. I haven't planned my dog-sitting schedule. I sing for a wedding the day after we return and still haven't practiced two of the songs (don't worry--I have a plan).

But I'm incredibly, beautifully peaceful. And joyful. And trusting.

I feel His presence so tangibly these last few days. In a way I haven't in a long time. It's been somewhat dry spiritually for me. The busyness, the sin and selfishness, the uncertainty of the future, and even a few doubts from the past. So this rain of grace washing the windows of my soul is wonderful and welcome. I can't help but think it's the prayers of sweet friends like you who have prayed for me and this upcoming trip.

Last night I was driving the hour home from P.'s, allowing the comfortable rhythm of reflection and prayer to play out as I drove on the lonely roads. An indescribable rawness of emotion surfaced, a questioning of who I really am--or was, or will be--and if I'm where I'm supposed to be.

And then the familiar notes of one of my favorite songs started playing on the radio. Meredith Andrews, "Not for a Moment." The song I listened to so often during the breakup period between me and P.

The song that reminded me that He, this God and Abba and Lover and Friend, is the only one sure thing in my life. The only Constant. The Unchanging One. The One who never, ever leaves-- whether I feel His presence or not.

And I was reminded again. He is still here. Every question in my mind of who I am can be tossed into the beautiful abyss of knowing Whose I am. No matter what the future holds, He has a plan. He is not confused or surprised or disappointed by my life. And He loves me. Always.

Though I look at my life as the past, the present, and the future, it's all the same to Him. He simply is. He's already there in Haiti, He's already there in the decisions I need to make later this year, He's already there years from now. What a comfort.

Even now, the thoughts bring tears to my eyes. What an amazing God we serve...what an loving Father we've been adopted by.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Where There is Love, There is God: A Book Review

I remember being in 5th grade when she died. The same year Princess Diana died. We had our kids' issue of Time magazine and both women graced the cover.

As a young girl, the pictures of the beautiful Princess fascinated me...

Yet even then, I remember the indescribable, intriguing beauty of the other woman.

Mother Teresa.

That was fifteen years ago, but she continues to inspire me the more I learn about her life, her heart, and her overflowing love for God and others.

So when I saw this book become available for review, I jumped at the chance to read more of her beautiful yet challenging words. Her humility and simplicity sometimes mask the strength and courage of this incredible daughter of God. Yet in every picture of her I see that unmistakable grace, that light of Christ shining through her. And I want to be like that. That's the beauty I want.

Though it would be too extensive to chronicle my path to my upcoming Haiti trip, this woman has had a huge part in it. We'll be working with the same order she was a part of--the Missionaries of Charity-- and I'm deeply happy to meet them and see the same spirit of joy and love among them that exuded from her. As a Catholic, I firmly believe in the Body of Christ both here on earth and in heaven, so I asked for her prayers surrounding the trip, that all would work out for me to go if God willed it and that my heart would be open to whatever way things turned out--even if it meant humbly accepting that I could not go. Sweet friends in Heaven.

Where There is Love, There is God is a collection of letters, speeches, and teaching from Mother Teresa. As the title implies, the resounding theme is love. It all comes down to love. Not a fluffy, emotional type love, but a deep, powerful love that can only come from intimacy with God, the One who is Love.

Time and again, she exhorts us to go deeper in prayer to find joy, peace, unending love, and a heart ready to serve--not to perform or check off good deeds, but rather as an outpouring of the love we receive from the Father. This is what the secular world does not seem to see in Mother Teresa...that she not only served the poor and was a world-changer in social justice, but that her service was so deeply rooted in a relationship with Christ. As St. Paul says, our actions are nothing without Love.

Beautiful. And challenging. Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult.

This book is a treasure. The only downside I could possibly say about it is that it takes a long time to read--simply because each paragraph is so rich and so full of thought-provoking sentiments. And yet, perhaps to path of holiness is best taken one small step at a time. To reflect on one small truth at a time and let it sink deeply into our hearts and souls. Here are a few of those small steps that I loved. (And if you like, you can read Chapter 1 here!)

'The Father loves me, He wants me, He needs me.' That kind of attitude is our trust, our joy, our conviction. Anything may come: impatience, failures, joy, but say to yourself, 'The Father loves me.'

You must be full of silence, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. An empty heart God fills.

What does it mean to be alone with Jesus? It doesn't mean to sit alone with your own thoughts. No, but even in the midst of the work and of people, you know His presence. It means that you know that He is close to you, that He loves you, that you are precious to Him, that He is in love with you.

And if my heart is pure, if in my heart is Jesus, if my heart is a tabernacle of the living God to sanctify in grace: Jesus and I are one.

[This book was provided to me at no cost in exchange for a review. These are my honest and original thoughts about the book. Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Company!]

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 12]



1. It's twenty minutes to midnight. So we're just going to jump right in with number one. And that would be that I'm feeling a little rusty with the quick takes!

2. I reached my breaking point from stress and exhaustion tonight after work and cried through three phone calls-- my sister, my boyfriend, and my mom. Bless them! I just felt completely spent and burnt out and overwhelmed by taking care of people...The jobs are really exhausting...I see so many patients at each job and I just get worn out from people's stories and needs and coordinating their care. And the pregnancy center really took it out of me with an abortion-seeking client this past week. I love serving. And I love people. I just reach my limits sometimes. After traveling the last two weekends, I'm so thankful to be home this one. I have a million things to get done, but I have a feeling I'll be able to sneak in some time in the sun, some farmer's market shopping, and some good fiction reading...

3. My roommate A's friend from Haiti-- yes, Haiti!-- is staying with us tonight! I'm hoping to get to visit with her tomorrow at breakfast and hear more about her family and life there-- her dad is a medical missionary doctor there! So exciting! And...guess who will be in Haiti in less than two weeks herself!!!!!

4. I sold my car. Uh-huh. The convertible I always talk about in the summertime on here. I don't think the reality of it has hit me yet...some delayed grieving or something. Or maybe I'm distracted by the stress of driving my parents' PT cruiser-- a charming little thing with a stick shift. P asked me awhile back if I could drive stick, and I was like "oh yeah, no problem. I learned long ago in my teens." Well, the long ago part was right because my first day out with it had me stalling at a stoplight three times in a row. I'm telling you guys, this car was the bane of my existence last week. I would plan out my routes to avoid hills or stoplights. I would plan for twice the amount of time to get from here to there. And it's possible that I rolled quite a few stop signs to avoid shifting into first gear from neutral. But (drum roll, please) I. Am. Conquering. It. Likely I'll live a few years shorter because of it, but it feels great to have jumped this hurdle. (Okay, more like tripped over it, but hey, I'm on the other side of it now.)

5. Remember that abortion-seeking client above? She's choosing life. And words can't cover the emotions I've carried throughout my interactions with this precious woman. She called our office originally seeking the abortion pill RU-486. She ended up talking with me for almost an hour, and then the following day with one of our counselors. Then she went to the abortion clinic. Saw the ultrasound. And chose life. Beautiful, beautiful gift to walk with her on the path of decision and now to help support her through the uneasy road ahead. Please pray with us for her and for a healthy baby.

6. Oh friends, I still can't believe I'm going to Haiti!!! I so wish I had shared with you more of the details of these past few months because it's just been so many roadblocks to get here! It's really surreal to me that we're actually going--yes, that man I love is going, too. So deeply happy to share this experience with my best friend. We're headed to Haiti with a diverse group of around 40 people. We'll work with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's group) at their orphanage (my heart is aching to love on those precious babies!), their house of the dying, and their makeshift wound clinic. We'll also be visiting the tent cities and building simple furniture for them. With the craziness of this summer, I feel hardly prepared for all this. Yet my consistent prayer is for open hands and open heart. That I go with no expectations, but rather an empty willingness for God to work both in me and through me however He desires. I'm just so thankful to be going and I know He's had a hand in it.

7. So the girls are getting ready to go to bed and we decided there are some back massages due all around...hmm...blogging or a back rub...tough choice but goodnight, everyone! ;)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey."

-Pope Francis, The Light of Faith

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NAS: What I Love About Being Single

I've missed the first few link-ups for this series, but thought it would both fun and uplifting to join these sweet ladies...so I'll just jump right in this week. This week's topic for the Not Alone Series is What I Love About Being Single.
I'm going to start off with a big bold disclaimer here: my heart's desire is to be married. Ever since I could hold a baby doll, I've wanted to be a mommy. I want to love and serve God through a best-friend husband. I want to raise children to be saints and to change the world for Christ. It's knitted in my soul. It's not here yet. And I used to struggle with that a LOT. I still do sometimes. But the Lord has truly worked in my heart that I find incredibly beautiful peace and joy as I surrender to His will and timing--and as I choose to trust Him in a broken world.
In the meantime...(shhh...don't tell Him, because then He might just let me stay single--ah, the silly things we think sometimes!), there are actually a lot of things I *gasp* love about being single.
 
Freedom. I love being able to go where I want when I want. I do have an (amazing, wonderful, heart-stopping) boyfriend so I do try to keep his schedule in mind as well. But I love the freedom and flexibility of the single woman's schedule. Whether it's planning a fun weekend away or even just being able to go for a walk alone after a busy work day, being in charge of your schedule has its perks.
 
Finances. I'm able to save for the future, but occasionally (okay, okay...probably more than occasionally) splurge on the here and now. I can afford to buy organic groceries and shop at my favorite clothing store. Or go out to eat with friends. I'm honestly pretty frugal, but it's nice not to have to budget.
 
Travel. It's been mentioned by the other girls, but I love to travel. I've been to many of the States, took a Caribbean cruise, and am preparing for a mission trip to Haiti. I love new experiences and new places, so what a blessing to have these trips while I'm single and can afford them!
 
Friends. My girlfriends are my second family. This is one of the greatest gifts in my life--these precious women. They inspire me, encourage me, carry me, and laugh like crazy with me. And if I were married, there's no way I'd be able to keep up with them like I do now. We're able to zumba or workout together, garage sale together, do picnics together, have girls nights together. I love P. immensely, but there's something uniquely beautiful about the friendships of women.
 
And the random: Decorating the apartment with fun girly colors. No set meal times or having to prepare a nice dinner when I'm in a hurry or tired. Housekeeping of a small, cute apartment instead of a larger home. Not feeling too guilty when I have a no-makeup, frumpy clothing kind of day. More time for hobbies and activities and pursuits.
 
Finally--there are some spiritual benefits to the single life. I have more time for volunteer and service work. There are unique ministry opportunities when you're young and single-- I love hanging out with the college kids P. ministers to. I cling to God more. I get to know Him first and foremost as my Rock, my Lover, and the only One Sure Thing in life. He becomes my strength, my comfort, and my joy as I surrender my life to Him and His plan. He has proved faithful and I know He will continue to be Who He says He is. Realizing He--and only He--will never let me down is some of the best prep for marriage.
 
What are/were your favorite things about being single?
 
Check out the Not Alone Series Linkup for more posts!
 

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

-G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Today

Good morning!

It's Tuesday.

June 25th.

2013.

And you and me, we woke up today. We're alive and breathing. On an unrepeatable day.

It's a gift. One moment at a time. Those other days of this week--they're not here yet. Just today.

Live it with me?

Monday, June 24, 2013

For the Love of Coconut [Oil]

There's something so enticing about coconut scents or flavors in the summertime. So tropical. So festive. So yummy! I have coconut body lotion, coconut hair scrunching spray, and coconut shampoo. But my favorite coconut item doesn't go on my body, it goes in it!

I am in love with coconut oil.

My mom actually got me started on it-- she used it long before it was popular. And let me tell you, it makes the best recipes ever. It's kind of like Crisco without the hydrogenated bad stuff in it. It makes goodies soft on the inside and crispy on the outside (yep, amazing cookies) and it has just the slightest hint of coconut flavor.

Love the stuff.

So when Tropical Traditions sent me a jar of their coconut oil, I was thrilled.

So thrilled that there's only about a half-inch left of the oil in the bottom of the quart-size jar! I've used it in peanut butter cookies, in strawberry cheesecake bread, in scrambled eggs, in Chinese stir-fry vegetables, in no-bake cookies, and more. I'm addicted. My next goal is to make "magic shell" chocolate syrup that hardens when it hits the ice cream.

I've used coconut oil before, but I have to say I did notice a difference with the Tropical Traditions brand. It's softer and easier to use--sometimes the other brands harden and it's more like chiseling rock to scoop it out. Tropical Traditions never hardened like that, which made it more like shortening. Loved that.

Their website is also neat as it has tons of great recipe ideas for coconut oil, and I've liked them on Facebook to get their tips, recipes, and news articles on coconut oil as well as health and natural living. They are health-driven, energized, and trustworthy.

Definitely a thumbs-up review for this product. Not only am I impressed with the product, but I'm also very impressed by the company.

Some links for you to check out:

--Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil page

--YouTube Video on Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil

--Tropical Traditions Home Page

And oh yeah...you know how I said it goes in my body instead of on my body? Well, I've also used it as shaving cream...and hair conditioner...and a face moisturizer.

Am I sounding nuts? Um, coco-nuts, maybe?

Okay, I'm done.

[Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.]

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Sunday Morning to you

It's a gorgeous Sunday morning. Quiet and peaceful (and the house is clean!). I'm sipping the house blend from my favorite coffee shop and eating Kashi cereal before I leave for Mass.

I hope your morning is beautiful, too. Let's worship the Lord together across the miles this day, His day.

I spent the weekend with this amazing friend, who inspired me to get back into blogging! I may even join up with this cool series.

Happy Sunday, friends! Enjoy the sunshine!


Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes [vol. 11]


I'm on a roll here with the blogging thing. Three times in one week. (Yes, the quote on Wednesday counts!) Better keep rolling with my quick takes before I lose motivation...because it's a Friday night and I'm ready to party ready for bed!

--1--
 
I think my beta fish Jonah is dying. Now this may seem insignificant to most of you, but this little guy has a special place in my heart. He makes my heart happy and he was my first pet here in the apartment. I've never had a fish live this long--2.5 years--and you get kinda attached. I'm glad my roommate is home for the weekend, because I don't think I'll be able to...well...you know...send him to his watery grave. Would it be inappropriate to bury a fish in the garden or do you think his fishy-soul would be happier in water?
 
--2--
 
Flowers are abounding in our apartment right now. I LOVE it. Flowers are one of my most favorite things on earth. One giant bouquet is from a gentleman who came to the pregnancy center this week and gave us plants and flowers from his mother-in-law's funeral. He supported what we do and wanted to share those with us. How sweet is that? The second vase holds a lush bunch of pink peonies that my mom picked from her neighbors' (with permission, of course!). She surprised me by bringing them to my cardiology workplace today! Drinking in their beauty tonight...
 
--3--
 
Brogan, our Little Dog, escaped tonight. He slipped out the door when my sister and her kids were leaving this evening. I kid you not-- this dog looks like a mix between a rabbit and a white-tailed deer whenever he escapes (yep, it's not the first time). He skips and bounds and bounces through the yards and field quite merrily. If it wasn't so maddening, it would actually be pretty funny. All is well now. He's safe inside again, crashed on his pillow-bed, dreaming of adventures in the great outdoors.
 
--4--
 
I'm so happy to be home tomorrow. I have loads of things I want to do. The farmer's market, garage sale-ing, shopping, cleaning and organizing, morning Mass, running, breakfast at the coffee shop, bike riding...somehow I'm not sure I'll fit it all in but I love knowing such an empty slate of a day lies before me. My daddy's birthday is tomorrow, so that's one thing written on the slate. Maybe some ice cream cake and a boat ride on the river. Mmm...June is here and summer is not far behind.
 
--5--
 
I shut my thumb in the car door a couple weeks ago. I know. I haven't done that since I was a little kid. But let me tell you, when it happened I really wanted to act like a little kid and scream and cry. Whew. It was painful. Instead I calmly (debatable) asked P. to get the cooler back out of the car so I could promptly stick my hand in the ice (we were camping with my family). I've never broken a bone before...until now. Turns out the tip is fractured. So I've been wearing this nifty splint on my left thumb for the past 10 days (and guess who happens to be left-handed).
 
--6--
 
Uh-oh. Losing motivation. Distracted by a hungry tummy. Thinking of the Pinterest recipe in the freezer ("ice cream" made from blended bananas and cocoa powder.)
 
--7--
 
This one really deserves more than a Quick Take number, however honorable that may be. I'll be sharing more details in the future, because I'm still a bit in awe that the many. crazy. details worked out.
 
I'm going to Haiti in July.
 
And because of the multiple roadblocks that have been cleared by God throughout the past few months...my greatest desire is to completely offer myself and this mission trip to Him.
 
So more on that later.
 
And hey-- you dear, beautiful, heart-warming friends. Thanks for your comments and your bloggie-world friendship. I enjoy your own blog posts, your comment-love on mine, your support that transcends internet connections, and even you readers who remain silent but present. Thank you.
 
Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection."

~Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mess

There are dishes in my sink, clothes on my floor, papers on my desk.

But I want to write. I need to write. Is that okay?

I'm thinking of a million things I should be doing instead. Yet whenever I start working on the list, I only get through 32 of those million things instead of the whole list and then I never get to write.

So tonight I left it all and escaped to the outdoors. I'm writing before the dirty dishes and the piles of clothes and the paper messes.

I hear the nagging voice of perfectionism inside me but I choose to ignore it tonight. I never satisfy it anyway.

I've been in a childish mood today. Can you tell? I'd love to blame it on spiritual warfare and a busy schedule and people who rub me the wrong way...but you know...I really think it's just me. In the end, it's where I'm choosing to focus my thoughts (Philippians 4:8). And I'm not gonna lie, you guys. I'm choosing to be childish. With eyes narrowed and lips pouting, I want to whine about an imperfect life-- of busyness and a never-ending schedule, about juggling two jobs and burnout from ministering to pregnancy test clients, about my own body that doesn't work right with P.C.O.S.--plus that pesky fractured thumb, about a messy house, about relationship tensions and comparing myself to others who have five kids by my age. (Did you notice I'm getting my whine out anyway? Let's have some cheese and cheers, shall we??)

But really. I pause. I breathe deep. I let the breeze tickle my face. I hear that undauntedly cheerful bird chirping. I feel Brogan's fur against my leg as he curls up next to me. I think about a family who loves me. A good man who puts up with my moodiness lately. Of girlfriends who speak truth to me when others pull me down.

I breathe out.

I still feel the weight of my imperfection. Some days I'm convinced that life, that grace, that God has taught me to surrender, to let go of control and perfectionism. At best, I'm humbly thankful and at worst I'm subtly proud of it.

Then I enter a new season with new challenges. With new opportunities to let go, to trust more fully, to surrender more gracefully.

And these hands just grip so tightly.

I grasp for a semblance of control when all spins wildly about me. I can't do it all. So why does that make me feel like a failure?

When will I learn to step back and look at things in the light of Christ, in the light of eternity?

Can I come to Him with hands full of this stuff? Can I drag stuff with me if I admit I need His help in letting go?

Will He transform me from childish...to childlike?