Monday, April 29, 2013

April showers

I need it to stop raining.  Not only because being wet is not preferable, but the barometric pressure changes have given me the most insane sinus headache that I cannot get rid of.  Often this past week I have wanted the hubs to drill a hole right into my forehead to relieve it. Boo on sinus ickiness.  I console myself though with the beauty of all the greenness that is the outdoors right now (minus the quarter inch thickness of pollen on my porch and car).  I love the suddenness of spring; how things are budding and blooming and then BAM! --things are green.  God's so sneaky sometimes, even with the expected things.

I told someone once that falling in love with Dave was a lot like the changing of the seasons. I get really excited when I know spring is coming and every day wake up wanting to see if things have bloomed and budded yet.  And then one day I'll be driving to work and realize that oh, everything is budding and blooming!  Even though I was waiting for it and anticipating it, it still manages to catch me off guard and surprise me.  Falling in love with my husband was like that.  Love was something I'd searched my whole life for and then BAM!  All of a sudden I was in love with this guy who I'd been expecting my whole life but who still snuck up on me.  God's good like that.  Very James Bondish in his mysterious tendencies, but, who doesn't like James Bond anyways?

In other news, my birthday is this upcoming weekend and it is taking many ounces of (what little) self control I have not to bake every yummy thing I have a recipe for as means of celebration.  I have baking fever, and so few to bake for.  This needs to be remedied.  I need to work for a huge corporation so that I can bring baked treats and know they will get eaten and enjoyed by someone.  If you have a craving for baked treats, do tell, and perhaps USPS will be kind enough to get something scrumptious from my kitchen to your mailbox without being investigated by the FBI... :)


Sunday, April 28, 2013

For Dave




 You are the trip I did not take, you are the pearls I could not buy,
you are my blue Italian lake, you are my piece of foreign sky.

You are my Honolulu moon, you are the book I did not write,
you are my heart's unuttered tune, you are a candle in my night.

You are the flower beneath the snow, in my dark sky a bit of blue,
answering disappointment's blow with "I am happy! I have you!”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Explanation please

Albie

I've seen this quote all over Pinterest and thought two things.  First, that it's true.  And second, that it totally applies to certain teachers I had in high school who, according to Albert here, didn't know what the mess they were talking about.

I've always found it helpful when trying to learn or understand something to explain it out loud.  The best way for me to study for tests and exams in college was to pretend I was explaining things and speak it out loud.  (this is why I could never study in libraries, as people would look at the crazy chick talking to herself and campus police probably would have been called to escort me from the building).

Leading a group of 7th grade girls in Bible study this year has really pushed the truth of this quote to the forefront. There is nothing that makes you understand God or salvation or prayer like explaining it simply to a 12 year old.  I always find myself amazed at how simple it all is.  At how you can strip away all of our Christian jargon and secret church language and explain it in ways that can be understood.  I've used One Direction, Kate Middleton, and Disney movies as metaphors to explain things to these girls over the past 9 months.  Explaining things to them has taught me so much along the way!  

This week we were talking about worship being a lifestyle and about pursing God and listening to Him and I had the chance to explain walking with Christ being similar to a road trip across the country with your best friend; about the journey being the best part, not just getting from point A to point B.  I could tell that they 'got it' and it made me so happy.  I love seeing them understand and start to put together an accurate picture of who God is and what it means to walk with him.  I'm so flippin' excited to see who these girls turn out to be.  They totally rock my world.  

And in the meantime, God has used me teaching them to teach me so much.  To understand anew what prayer actually is and why we listen to God and why obedience is important.  To define with clarity what it means to sacrifice and what redemption is.  If you ever need to understand a tenant of faith better, tell someone about it.  Sometimes it's a struggle to explain an aspect of faith to someone, and that's OK.  Because as you fight for the right words or explanation, it increases your knowledge of the subject, even if it's by you realizing what isn't a good way to explain something.  I think it's so easy as Christians to use church words and terms and forget what things really mean.  So, go remind yourself.  It's a good way to share Christ while you practice :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rainy Day

It's a rainy Wednesday today.  I had to double check and really make sure that it is indeed Wednesday. I am having one of those weeks where my days are off.  We had a huge event here at work yesterday and my allergies are hitting me hard which makes my brain fuzzy and I haven't had a good night's sleep in ages.  All of which contribute to my being unsure what day it is.  I haven't been to the gym consistently which always makes me feel yuck, and yeah.  I'm not having a bad week at all.  Just a tired, brain-fuzzy one.

Today is Administrative Assistant's Day.  In some ways it's silly to have days that celebrate a certain profession.  (We don't have a Trashman's Day or City Sewer Worker Day, and I certainly appreciate those people!)  But, it's nice to be appreciated.  There is a Christian book store here in town that always has a breakfast with fun take home gifts and a great speaker each year on this day and I always look forward to that.  I was really blessed by my co-workers today, too!  Lots of fun treats and gift cards, which totally makes my week.  I love unexpected good things like that.

Can you believe it's almost May?  Me neither.  First of all, the weather.  Hello spring, you are supposed to be 75 and sunny not 67 and wet.  I will try to be content with you, but really, I'd like to pack away my winter shoes and bare my toes on all days, not just some of them, K?  Time, she does fly!  I have two fun trips coming up in May and a heap load of projects I want to get done.  I am totally one of those people that feels best when I am productive.  And spring fever is setting in and I want to hit my list hard and, as Larry the Cableguy would say, "Gettir done!".

What about you?  Any plans for May?

Friday, April 19, 2013

On my bookshelf

I have got to find some books to read that don't end up being part of a series.  I mean seriously, everything I read recently and love, has another book that isn't even out yet.  And Knoxville library system is atrocious and I will likely be hitting a mid life crisis years from now before I get my hands on these sequels (curses!)

Anywho, I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone on the recommendation of a friend who has fantastic taste in books.  She proved herself once again because this book was fantastic.  The first half had me spellbound; the storyline was so different and the main character I just loved.  The second half of the book completely surprised me in the direction it went, but in a good way. 

It's interesting to me that I am getting into so much YA fantasy lately.  Growing up I was not a fantasy genre fan at all; I didn't like the suspension of reality.  But what I am finding is that there is so much reality even in a fantasy setting, that sometimes these stories have more 'realness' to them than just ordinary fiction.  Does that make sense?  If you like YA fantasy, then you need to read this, and then buy the sequel when it comes out and let me borrow it, K? :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hope


There exists such a fine line between contentment and expectancy with God.  How do we know what to do with our desires and dreams.  They don't always happen.  Sometimes they do.  How do we walk out our faith in this area?

On the one end of the spectrum you have hearing a word from God and holding Him to it.  Here is where Abraham dwells; the man who was told he would be father of nations and then believed that God would accomplish it.  Note that here, a specific word from God is given.  There have been times in the past, and I’m sure there will be in the future, where God has spoken a word to me of something specific.  Here faith in what is promised is played out. 
On the other end of the spectrum is where we conform God to our will.  Often times, without even realizing it.  Unconsciously (or maybe even consciously sometimes) we say to ourselves, “If God was really a loving and caring God, he would give me ______”.  He would give me a husband.  A baby.  A house.  That job.  That ministry opportunity.  That restored relationship.  A lot of times it’s not a bad thing we are wanting.  It’s things that are good and that reflect God’s heart.  But it’s not OK to make up our minds what we want and then attach God to it, unless of course He has given us a clear word of promise (as Abraham in the example above). 

 Many a Pinterest pin speaks of Luke 1:45 "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."  You have to be careful here though, because Mary was told something specific from God.  And while that Scripture-turned-Pinterest-quote may fill you with warm fuzzies that God is going to give you your every desire if you just trust Him, that's just simply not true. 

On the one hand:  audacious and expectant faith that God will do what he has specifically promised.

On the other: taking what is good that we want and demanding God give it to us in order to keep his reputation

In the middle of this, is hope.

Because a lot of times, God doesn’t give us a specific word of promise about things. 

And so we are left with things that we want; things that are good and life giving.  And we are left with the character of God, but not the predictability of God that we so often crave.  Oh, He is a wind.  You can chase Him, and you should, but you cannot pin Him down.  Chasing him isn’t half the fun; it’s all of it.  So we move with the wind as it blows where it wills.  God is always found yet always elusive.  If you were to describe God in one word it would be: indescribable.

Hope is the anchor for the soul the Bible tells us (Hebrews 6:19).  In this specific case of Scripture it is talking specifically about the hope of salvation, but I think we can apply the metaphor to hope in general.  Hope that the thing we want will be given, and if it’s not, that a better thing awaits us.  Hope for what we want; that it would please God to give it to us, and that we would please Him with how we use it. 

When we have nothing, we have who God says He is.  And we have hope.  And always, always, the wind.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On life being like March Madness

chocolates
Life is like a box of chocolates.

Or a bowl of cherries.

I say, life is like March Madness.  It fills you with an equal amount of excitement and dread as to how it's gonna turn out.  Some bet on it; others are smart enough not to do that, knowing it's unpredictability.  It involves a lot of people and a lot of elements, and one little thing can set in a chain of events that totally wrecks the lovely plan you had for it.  It often is inconveniently timed (for us east coasters anyways).  It's horribly overpriced most of the time.  There can sometimes be painful injuries, curse words, and a lot of bad decisions in regards to diet whilst it goes on.  And there is an abundance of outfits that make one go, "What the heck are they wearing??"

See?  Life is like March Madness.

I find myself in one of those "Well this is not at all how my bracket was supposed to go!" moments in life.  As in, "a number 9 seed just usurped a number 2 and all things have fallen apart" type of situation.  Well, I guess that's why they call it Madness....or life, as the case may be.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cooler than cool

"It seems like once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool."--Bill Watterson

Joe Cool

What makes something cool?  I think it's interesting how our definition of cool changes as we age.  When I was a teen cool was what people told me it was.  Now, I define it based on what I think is cool.  (Which makes cool things cooler, yes?) 

Anyways, here's 10 things I think are cool:

1.  Confidence

Coolness
 I wish someone had been able to convince me as a teen/young adult that being myself was cooler than anything.  It's so cliche but so true.  I remember my friend Brooke in high school and how everyone loved her because she wasn't fake; if she didn't get a joke she would say so, and not just laugh.  Such a small thing, but I remember how much that spoke to me.  If you don't get a joke, say so.  If you wanna rock a floral print dress and Chucks, by all means do it.  Confidence is cool.

2.  Embracing your inner geek

Everyone likes something geeky.  Half of the things I pin on Pinterest are related to Star Wars.  And I am not ashamed.  What's the "dorky" thing that you love?  Embrace it.

3.  Crazy Athleticism



 I mean seriously, that is ridiculous, and crazy cool.

4.  Classic Cars

1966 Mustang

5.  Acapella groups


6.  Jack Bristow

(source)

If you've never watched Alias, you need to. 

7.  Jack Bauer
 
(source)

 I have just discovered 24.  Sweet mercy, it is soooo good!

8.  Crazy Talent



And you just thought building toothpick bridges in physics class was so uncool....

9. The pastors at my church

Recently I followed a facebook one-up battle between two of them.  Shepherding the masses but abounding in wit.  One of our pastors took a Big head of himself to College Gameday when they were here in town back in September.  So you are sitting at home watching Lee Corso and all of a sudden this giant cardboard head of your pastor is right there over Lee's shoulder.  Love my pastors.  They're crazy cool like that. 

10.  This guy

Popeye for real

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rules for Life


Happiness Project
 
Have you read Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project'?  I skimmed most of it in Barnes and Noble one afternoon and really liked it.  In it she talks about her personal commandments.  And as I love a good list and exercise in self definition, here's my list of rules to live by.

*Please note, this is my list.  They apply to me and my life.  I share them as a means of encouragement, not as a mandate that everyone should adopt them as their own. (and some of these are stolen from other people)

Life Rules:
1.  Be Amanda.
2.  Act the way you want to feel.
3.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
4.  Spend out-trust in abundance.
5.  Never give counsel to your fears. (In other words, don't sit down with your fears and have a conversation.  They only speak lies)

Physical Rules:
1. Exercise makes you feel better, think better, and look better-do it.
2.  Sugar and caffeine do the opposite.
3.  Listen to your body and be obedient to its needs.
4.  It's okay to "be lazy" when you need it.
5.  No food makes you feel as good as eating healthy.
6.  Drinking water is not an option.

Work and Career:
1. It's ok to not have a "career"-focus on your mission field above all else. God can use you anywhere.
2.  It is not up to you to fix or solve everything.
3.  Leave work at work

Home:
1.  A clean house makes you appreciate it more-
2.  But, a messy house is ok.  It is not a priority over you or others.
3.  Go for comfort over style; function over fashion (the same is true with clothes)

Style/Fashion:
1.  Know yourself.
2.  Invest in classics.
3.  Dress your age.
4.  If it doesn't fit, doesn't work, or is merely tolerated, it shouldn't be in your closet.
5.  Only buy things that can be worn in a variety of ways and seasons.

Parenting:
1.  Few messes are so big that they can't be cleaned; let them make messes.
2.  Good nutrition is essential.
3.  Teach your children to be self-entertaining.
4.  Promote creativity.
5.  Remember, they are yours to train but not yours to control.  They may not be who you want or like what you want.  Embrace who they are.
6.  Have a schedule but be ok straying from it.
7. Naps solve a lot of problems.
8.  Never give control of a situation to a 2 year old-remember who is in control!
9.  Invest in experiences, not toys.
10.  If you want your kids to know something, be prepared to teach them yourself.  Never assume someone else is. 

Relationships:
1.  Your husband is priority one.
2.  Children are number two.
3.  Don't be afraid to say no.
4.  Invest in those you want around you for the next 10+ years.
5.  Time to yourself is invaluable.
6.  Play with your husband.
7.  Create romance.

Jesus:
1.  Pray constantly.  This involves listening.
2.  Rejoice always; perspective can be altered when you're grateful and evaluate outside of yourself.
3.  When in distress, read the Psalms.
4.  When down, read Philippians.
5.  The Old Testament has treasures galore.  Do not neglect it.
6.  Remember that God's sense of humor is first rate.
7.  Trust the process.
8.  God created logic; He can defy it.
9.  If you're stuck, worship until something happens.
10.  Your life should proclaim the greatness of God; does it?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I say a little prayer...

I am one of those people that cannot stand silence.  I constantly have something on in the background at work.  When I'm not rocking out to my 90's pop station on Pandora, sometimes I listen to sermons online.  Chip Ingram is one of my favorites.  I was listening to one of his sermons on Revelation and in it he started talking about prayer.  He said that 'lack of prayer is the greatest evidence of arrogance and self-sufficiency.'

Wow.  That got me good!  He continued and said that when we're not praying it's as if we're saying "I can handle this", when of course, we can't.  We are meant to be desperately dependent on God, always asking for His help.  God delights in our prayers and hell shakes when we pray.  I was really convicted because even though I toss up prayers throughout the day, I spend more time watching TV or working out than I do with God.  Sometimes I think it's so easy to forget that relationship with God is what's most important, and that prayer is the avenue that that relationship is most played out on.


I read this on one of the blogs I follow recently:

The reality is, God constantly places us in situations that are far beyond our ability to bear. He places us smack dab in the middle of befuddling, perplexing, overwhelming, even crushing circumstances. Why does God do this? To humble us. To make us painfully aware that we cannot make it through this life apart from him. To highlight our desperate dependence on him. God strips us of our own strength to make us totally reliant upon his strength.


It's incredible for me to think that God wants to be with me to the point that He'll create a situation that drives me to seek Him.  All because he wants to be with me so much.  What's even more incredible is that I have this amazing opportunity to approach God through prayer any time I want, and I so often don't take advantage of it.  And I don't say that as a means of taking myself on a guilt trip, but more of a "You live on the beach and don't ever go enjoy it?!?"  type of thing. 

The truth is, I can't accomplish anything without Jesus.  I can't be a good wife or friend.  I can't accomplish goals or lead my small group or speak encouragement to anyone.  I can't have a good attitude or control myself in any way or even take a breath without Him.  If I want to be good at life; to have healthy relationships and thrive and grow and enjoy this life and be the best I can, then I need to constantly be tapping into that source of strength and power.  The same God who made dry bones walk--that same power that made dead men breathe again--I have access to it.  Imagine what my life would be if I were utilizing that more?  Here's to finding out--

Sunday, April 7, 2013

31 Flavors

 
31 Flavors


Sometimes, you just need moments of self definition.  Which, I suppose, is a way of saying that sometimes you need to sit and talk about yourself :)  I think that writing descriptions about ourselves makes us ponder who we want to be, who we actually are, and if those two people look anything alike.  (I think it's why we all stress and edit over what our Facebook profile says).  So, a bit of self indulgence today--

31 random things about me:

1.  My first name is compliments of this fine gentleman. (incidentally, my roomie in college was also an Amanda, and her parents got her name from the Waylan Jennings version of this song)

2.  When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with the Little House books, to the extent that my mom sewed me prairie dresses and I acted like Laura Ingalls every change I got.

3.  I like my orange juice over ice. Weird, I know.

4.  My favorite book of all time is Silas Marner, by George Eliot.  Who knew a classic would end up being my favorite?

5.  Going with unpainted toenails in the warmer months is akin to me as going out naked.  They must be painted!

6.  I am easily startled.  As in, I know that my husband's home and he'll come into the room I am in, and it will scare me senseless. Ridiculous.

7.I am pale as a ghost but actually tan really well (thank you Cherokee Indian ancestors for that!)

8. I put salt and pepper on my mac and cheese.  It is the only way.

9. Texture of food is a big deal to me.  If I don't like how it feels in my mouth, I don't eat it.

10. I possess no athletic skill whatsoever.  I do not exaggerate when I say this.  It is very sad.

11.  I am an avid letter writer and have been since I was a little girl.  There is nothing quite like snail mail.

12.  My eyes were blue when I was born.  Then they were grey.  Then they were hazel.  Now they are green.  I think I need to write a book about them entitled, 'The traveling eye color' or something.

13.  I have crazy long fingers.

14.  And freakishly large hands for a girl.

15.  I am right handed but left eye dominant.

16.  I have never broken a bone,

17. or been skiing,

18.  But am convinced that the first time I ski, I will break my first bone.

19.  When I was little, I had a huge southern accent (think something from Honey Boo Boo).  Today, I am happy to report that my husband, who is from NY state, says he never thought that I had an accent.  I've had people ask me where I am originally from when I tell them I live in TN cause they can't believe I'm from the south.  Here's to not sounding stupid. :)

20.  My first time out of the country was a mission trip to Ecuador.  I fell in love with the place.

21.  When I was a little girl I thought it would be cool to be a truck driver, so that I could see the country and stop at diners to eat.

28.  I love Halloween.  Call me a pagan.

29.  I think those little candy pumpkins have a lot to do with #28

30.  I think there is a part of me that is still in love with Gilbert Blythe.

31.  I was in college before I ever saw The Princess Bride.  My childhood clearly was not as perfect as it could and should have been because of this.



Thursday, April 4, 2013

Self Prophecy and a lesson in trust

I was looking back through some things the other night and came across this poem that I had written in 2008.  In lieu of a Christmas card, I came up with my own version of "Twas the night before Christmas".

Twas the night before Christmas when my little mind wandered
And upon the past year my heart sat and pondered
Oh the places I’ve been and the things God has done
How different things were when 2008 had begun!
I started the new year in the job at the school
Managing curriculum for children and enforcing the rules
Knowing I was impacting these little minds and feet
But still having problems making ends meet.
When alas in February there arose such a deal!   
$35,000 a year!  Oh I could squeal!
It involved moving far, far away
And did I really want it?  I couldn’t quite say!
After much prayer I implored God my one true request
“It is here in Knoxville that I want to be blessed!”
And then in a twinkling I heard from up above
A silent assurance and whisper of love
As I finished my prayer and was turning around
The Lord’s perfect will came tumbling down!
A new job!  How exciting!  It gave me such joy!
I was going to be the nanny of a sweet little boy!
Jack is his name and I’ve been with him since May
Teaching him things and watching him play
In the midst of a job, I’ve enjoyed family too
Enjoying my nephew who just turned two!
And delighted I was in August to discover
That my brother and his wife were expecting another!
Not to be outdone, Jack’s mom said out of the blue
They were expecting another baby too!
Two babies will be born not 2 weeks apart-
Oooh I love babies!!  They warm up my heart!
And amidst all the babies there has been traveling too!
From weddings in Florida to day trips to the zoo!
God is so good!!  And His timing a whiz
I’d gladly exchange my plans for His;
He has blessed me so much and remained ever so faithful
And for all of that I’m eternally grateful,
I’m glad this year turned out different than I’d planned
In 2009, God please send a man!! 

I love reading this and seeing where I was and where God has taken me in the 4 short years that have followed.  What I especially love is that in 2009 I started hanging out with this guy Dave.  And we became friends.  And then we started dating.  And in 2010 I stood with him before God and our friends and family and vowed to be his for the rest of my life.

It just goes to show that things can change so very quickly.  So when you reach those times in life when you feel like nothing is happening (to you anyways-there always seems to be good abounding in the lives of others), cling to the truth that God has a way of bringing things together quickly.  He's always working.  Even when you're sitting down in December and writing a silly poem, jokingly asking (and unknowingly prophesying about) your future spouse.  If you had told me that December that I would be talking marriage to a man one year from then, I wouldn't have believed it for a second. 

God is incredibly good at what He does.  Cling to that today-- 



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On my bookshelf

One of the perks of my friends, other than the fact that they are all wonderful, kind, caring people, is that so many of them like the same books that I do.  My friend Sara recommended "Shadow and Bone" to me.  I loved it! 

Here's the premise (via Amazon):

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. 

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. 

This was one of the better YA fantasies I've read.  Sometimes in fantasy genre the plot is just so out there that it's not believable.  When I read fantasy stuff I want to actually believe that the story did or could happen.  Does that makes sense?
Anyways, loved the story, and loved the characters.  I really liked the relationship between the Darkling and Alina.  And her own self discovery and process of that.  Definitely recommend!

Once again, I have chosen to read (and fall in love with) a book that is part of a trilogy, and in which the second book has yet to be written.  Drats!  It will take ages once the book comes out for me to actually get a hand on one of the copies out local library actually buys and circulates.  By that time I'll have to read this one again just to remind my brain what it's about :)