Thursday, October 31, 2013

Allegiant and Redemption

So first I want to say that if you haven't read Allegiant and have no idea what I am talking about, please still keep reading.  I am going to reference this book, but there's still some good stuff here.

And secondly I want to say that if you are planning on reading Allegiant and haven't, please, please do not read this.  Because I am going to reference how it ends, and I don't want you to read the ending here.  You need to experience that in the story.

That being said, here we go.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about redemption.

Redemption is a huge thing to me.  And not just because I am a Christian and Christ redeemed me on the cross.  Though that is huge, I have learned that redemption goes beyond that.  I've learned that all things can be redeemed.  Relationships, pasts, choices.

But not how we think sometimes.  We are redeemed from being sinners and having that define us, but we still struggle with sin.

We need redemption.  More than we realize.  I have brokenness as a result of my own sin and the pain others have inflicted on me.  And some there just because that's how a fallen world goes sometimes.  I have fissures running deep in my family.  My best friend chose to walk away from me years ago.  I remember callous words spoken, the things stolen from me.  And I'm not the only one.  We all experience, and are (because really, it is our very existence and not just something we experience) broken.  Shattered and damaged.

We are walking wounded.

The end of Allegiant left me completely undone.  And I know I sound like a 12 year old girl, but hear me out.

The ending wasn't what I wanted.  I could see it coming and was yelling to myself, "No, no, no!".  But as much as I hated the ending at first, I loved it.  Because it painted a better picture of redemption than a "better" ending that didn't involve Tris dying could have.  Four wanted a better ending.  He expected it.

And I think with us, sometimes it's the same.  We want full redemption.  Now.  But full redemption does not come in this life.

Sometimes infertilty is redeemed through adoption and you never get to know that feeling of life inside of you.  Sometimes redemption is finding worth after divorce.  Sometimes redemption is a thriving life of singleness that never ends in marriage.  When I hear "I dreamed I dream" from Les Mes I think of people like Fantine who do not get their redemption in this lifetime.  Who die without knowing it.

I am so broken.  So many splits and cracks and scars mar my soul.  I am aware of it daily.  And I used to think that victory meant getting past that.  But now I think differently.

The ending of Allegiant reminded me how broken I am.

Mostly, it reminds me of Jesus.  And of his followers who were so sure and so certain that Jesus was going to take over.  To make all bad things good.  They were Four, looking for ever after (or some semblance of it) with Tris.

They did not get it.

Instead of the glorious ending they had longed for and been so sure of, they were left.

And I think that's why reading Allegiant totally undid me.  Not just because Tris died (though admittedly I would have cried just at that). But because it resonates within me.  Because it is truth.  We are broken people, in a broken world, and more often than not redemption looks like gritting our teeth and being brave in the normal day.  And I think this place I find myself in, teetering between absolute desperation at the state of things and the longing for things to be right, to be as they are supposed to be--is hope.  And I think that's what He to be for us.  A broken people waiting for full and complete redemption.  For now we live in factions and battle wars both literal and figurative.  And people are taken from us, and we are seared with scars.  But we must keep going on.

Sometimes it overwhelms me, this brokenness of the world.  Of myself.  And I wonder what I should be doing to be Jesus to people because if I am honest with myself, the answer to "What am I doing to help?"  is "not a damn thing."  That is the truth of it.  And I ache, in so deep a part of myself I keep discovering it, to make things right.  And perhaps that's just Jesus in me, because He is the only thing whole in me.  The only thing not damaged.  The one thing that keeps me pushing forward.

When I was in high school and college, the thought of dying and going to heaven scared me more than comforted me.  And even now, the thought of my life ending--of things undone, of leaving Dave who I love with a love so deep I can't tell where it comes from, makes me ache.  But at the same time, this wholeness inside of me calls to itself.  The part of Jesus that exists in a different life, in a different form...the wholeness in me recognizes Him and aches for him.  Deep calls to deep the Bible says, and I think this is what it means.  The part of me that knows wholeness that aches for wholeness everywhere.

I've reread the ending of Allegiant so many times now, crying each time I do.  Because I see it.  I see Peter and John, and all the others, so sure of what was supposed to happen, so certain of it.  And things ended so, so badly.  They had to.  But who they loved got taken.  And they are left.

And I know that this is why I love stories so much.  I am not a scholar.  Sometimes I'll hear Beth Moore or Greg Pinkner point something out from Scripture and it's so obvious but something I would not have noticed on my own.  I don't see things in Scripture that way.

But this layering of a story upon a story; using the emotion of one to see the truth in the other...this is what I get.  This is how I grow.  This is what Jesus uses to show me what He means.  I never realized it was like this for me until in college, when I read The Chronicles of Narnia and the gospel came alive for me in ways it hadn't before. I have found Jesus in Twilight and in Les Mes and in 300 and in countless other tales he uses to show me who He is.

Four was right, life does damage us.

But we can be mended.  And I think that is the most important thing I've learned.  That things can be righted.  Completely.  And if they can't...if the worst does happen, that I can survive that too.

So, thank you Veronica Roth for writing that ending.  Even though it must have split you in two.  I think only a person who could fully understand redemption could have written that ending.

And thank you Jesus.  For redemption, in all it's forms.  For stories.  For being the best story, that still leaves me undone, even as I live it out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On my bookshelf: October

Here's a list of all that I read in October:

1. Mockingjay:  Suzanne Collins

This was a reread.  I read Catching Fire a few weeks ago to remind myself of details before the movie comes out in November, and well, you can't read Catching Fire and not just keep going.  Love this series.  This book was less dark reading it the second time, I guess because I already knew who was going to die and how it all ended, which certainly made it easier to read.

2.  Beyond the Summerland: LB Graham
Couldn't get into this one.  It was just too much.  Too many names (names of characters, of places, of horses, of weapons).  It dragged and dragged so I finally gave up about 100 pages into it.

3.  Behind the Scenes at the Museum:  Kate Atkinson
I loved her "Life After Life" but couldn't get into this one.  Granted, "Life after Life" was hard to get into too and I ended up loving it.  But I couldn't make myself keep going with this one.

4.  Throne of Glass: Sarah Maas
This was a reread to prepare for the sequel.  (I have to refresh my brain like that). I think I liked this book the first go round but really liked it the second go round.

5.  Crown of Midnight:  Sarah Maas
The sequel to Throne of Glass.  Ah, loved it!  The author has 8-9 books in this series planned, and I am hoping they all get published.  I cried at the end.

6.  Allegiant: Veronica Roth

This is the end to the Divergent series, which I really think may be my favorite series ever.  You have no idea how much it means that I say that.  I've NEVER had a favorite book.  There's always been quite a few.  These have left me undone.  I won't ruin it for you by telling you how this last one turns out, but I was left completely undone.  I sound like a 12 year old saying it, but it absolutely split my soul in two.

I think that's why I love stories.  Because they have that ability.  Because even though they are fiction, there are truths in them that resonate within us.  So very deeply sometimes.  And that is what this did to me.  Because the world is broken.  And redemption is possible.  No matter how broken things get.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thoughts this morning

So my latest project has been trying to get picture frames redone and figure out what rooms I want what frames in.  I've been mostly focusing on the master bedroom first because I have a good idea of what I want in there and the colors are pretty limited so it's the easiest to work with.  I have these two poems that I wrote that I have framed in our bedroom. The colors I had used to put them on and for the background in our old house totally clashes with the blue in our bedroom now so I redid them.  I was able to use just papers and things I had on hand to redo them, which I love because that means one less errand and less money.  I am definitely of the mindset of "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!" Well, mostly.  :)

Anyways, while I was at it I used some of the same paper to redo three little frames that I had and wanted to switch out.  I took them into the bedroom to see how they would look and loved them.  The colors go so well with our wall color and will add so much to the space.  I'll get them up on the walls soon.

It was one of those fulfilling projects where I had this rough idea in mind of what I thought it would look like and it turned out so much better.  And it didn't cost me because I used things I already had.  And as looked at the pictures propped against the wall and was so pleased it reminded me again of the goodness of God.

God is so big.  But I think we forget how close and intimate he can be.  To say that God is small doesn't sound right, but I guess that's what I mean.  I forget that while He holds the world in His hands He also is small enough to bless me with a fulfilling craft project and cute backgrounds for poems that will hang on the walls in our room.  Such a little thing, but I was just so overwhelmed with how good God is to me.  To us.  To his bride.

I think I forget this more often that I realize.  Sometimes I carry around burdens I shouldn't.  And I catch myself falling back into that ancient line of thinking that God is holding out.  That He's not really good.  That He's not going to give me things.

Lies, ancient as the world.

Because if God is good enough to bless me with a pretty decoration for my wall, isn't he not just capable of but inclined to give me so much more?  Why is it that we as a church make him out to be such a miser?  He gives more than we give him credit for.

I'm thankful for His reminder of His smallness.  Because somehow it reminds me of His bigness.  It's like when people got all worked up about Kate Middleton goofing around with some people playing volleyball last week (in heels no less).  Somehow that little thing made her seem more like a princess.  Because it made her seem more real or accessible.  And it endears her to people.  God being small is like that.  It reminds me how accessible and relational He is.  Here is this God of power and glory, touching my life with goodness in the tiniest of ways.

Sometimes we need to see God through a telescope, to see the depths and vastness of His glory and all that He is capable of.  Sometimes though, we need a microscope.  To glimpse Him in the smallest of things.

Today I'm thankful for the big and small of Him, and everything in between.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Picture this

So, I have been dying to get some pictures out so Sunday afternoon I drug them all out (minus the really large ones still propped against the wall in the living room) and laid them all out in the back bedroom.  This is the current mess I am dealing with.

This is only part of them.

Ah, there's more.

I have pictures and picture frames coming out of my ears, and I am having a hard time figuring out what I want to put where.  I think I've figured out what's going in our bedroom.  But the living room has tons of space and then there's the hallway to think about, and do I want anything in the dining room?  The tricky part is that in our old house we had a mantle and the way furniture was we had more space for tabletop frames.  Here that's not the case so I'm having to rethink how I want things as some of these frames can't be hung up.  It's a fun project that's going to turn into a pretty involved one because while I'mm figuring things out I am switching out and updating photos and I'm going to end up repainting quite a few of these.  So many decisions!  Plus we haven't figured out exactly the lay out of the living room so I don't want stuff on the walls until we get furniture figured out.  For now, I have about 4 weeks until we have guests who will need this bed and room.  I just need to get it figured out before then!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Shed some light on it

My wonderful father-in-law knocked a ton of things off of our to-do list while he was here.  He also made about 16 trips to Home Depot.  And my mother-in-law made goulash.  And lasagna.  I really think they need to come visit more often.

Anywho, one of the projects my father in law did was change out this gaudy chandelier

to this nicer, working one:

So much better, yes?  We can actually see in the dining room now.  Which was really fun because while they were here we actually ate a meal on our dining room table.  I don't know that there has ever been a meal consumed at that table before.  Dave and I don't eat on it now (we eat in the living room 'cause we're fancy and formal like that).  But it's nice to know that when we have people over, we'll have a place to put them.

I have big plans for the dining room, which includes stripping down that horridly dark wallpaper and repainting the entire thing.  I have the paint, I just need to get the motivation to do it.  Hopefully in the next month or so I'll get that taken care of. In the mean time, at least I can see what I'm doing in there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

20 things every 30 something guy should have

So, I wrote my own version of things I think every 30 something girl should have.  I decided to be fair and write one for guys too.  The list on buzzfeed for 40 things a guy should own is ridiculous.  I think it was written by this man:

Sorry but I do not agree that every "self respecting" guy should own bar ware and a black suit.  I do however, think that every self respecting 30 something guy should have the following:

1. A job.
I'm not saying you have to be CEO, and I understand that with the economy some people have lost their jobs and are doing jobs they wouldn't otherwise do but have to get by.  That's fine.  Admirable.  You need a job.  One that can provide for you, and a wife and kids if you have or want them.  Be working. And don't whine that you have to work when you're at work.  Don't be a lazy wuss.

2.  A savings account.
The era of spending all of your money on the latest video game system and new toys is over.  Save your money.  Think about your future.  Save for a house, for retirement, for an engagement ring, for that cruise you want to take.  Be wise with your money and know where it's going.

3.  A place of your own.
It's fine if you have roommates and rent a place.  And sometimes circumstances force you to move back home for a while. But don't get comfortable in your mom's basement.  Be independent and self sufficient.  Do what you have to to be a man.

4.  A plan.
I'm not saying you have to have it all figured out, but know what you want and how you're going to get there.  Want to own your own business?  Buy a house?  Be debt free?  Retire wealthy?  HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?  Boys with dreams but no plan are attractive until they reach the age of about 16.  Don't just amble through life.  Attack it.  Do what's necessary.  Be able to get from point A to point B.

5.  Tools and the knowledge to use them.
I saw a post on FB the other day where a woman was looking to hire someone to install a towel bar.  Are you kidding?  You don't have to be a carpenter, but don't be the type of husband or boyfriend whose significant other has to hire somebody to install a towel bar.  There are people who have taught themselves things like this from a book.  And you have google and youtube for goodness sakes.

6.  The ability to have a conversation with just about anyone.
Goodness sake boys, learn how to talk to people.  And realize that even if you don't have a hard time talking to people, maybe they have a hard time talking to you.  Are you defensive all the time?  Do you have to be right all of the time?  Ask a trusted friend (preferably a girl) what you can do to be a better conversationalist and listener.  Learn social skills.  Don't fall back on "that's just how I am". Often that is an excuse for sinful selfish behavior.  Are you someone who says that?  You are probably single.  You have to be willing to work on yourself and be better at things.

7.  A healthy respect for women.
This involves more than politeness.  I'm not talking about opening a door for a woman or letting her go first (though those are great, and yes, please do them).  I am talking about how you define and place worth on a woman. Is it based on her looks?  Is it based on her ability to validate you and make you feel more like a man?  Let me tell you something, women are not here to define you nor satisfy you.  Don't look to us to make you feel more like a man.  We are humans, not ego-boosters.

8.  A lack of fear around children including babies.
Kids don't bite (most of them anyways).  And it takes an awful lot of effort to break a baby.  Don't be skittish around little people.  Talk to your friend's kids.  Offer to hold your friend's baby.  They are actually kindof fun.  And it's good training.  You don't want to be that dad that is scared to death of his own kid someday.  Oh, and there are few things more attractive to a woman than a guy who is comfortable around kids.  Forget cologne and red roses.  Coo at a baby and we will practically elope with you on the spot.

9.  The ability to articulate why you believe or support certain things.
Think Obamacare is stupid or that UT should be ranked in basketball this year or that Angelina Jolie is hot (something I will never get)?  Be able to articulate why.  You should be able to defend your beliefs about everything in a way that doesn't involve yelling or falling back on what someone else said.  Guys who have heated opinions but cannot, in a logical and reasonable manner, defend them are stupid.  Guess what?  You come across as a jerk.  Congratulations on annoying everyone around you.

10.  Pants that don't fall down to your knees.
If there is enough room in the crotch area of your pants to keep a small dog or a midget, you're not fooling anybody and you look ridiculous.  Have some self respect and some pants that fit.

11.  Trashcans with trash bags in them in your bathroom.
I cannot tell you how many guy's apartments I've been to that did not have this.  If this is you, your mother has done a poor job raising you.  I don't want to get too graphic but if you want to have girls hang out at your place, you need these in your bathroom for reasons that should be obvious.

12.  Someone that can give wisdom and accountability.
Not someone who is going to agree with you and support you all the time.  Someone who is mature and honest and the type of man you want to be.  Find this person.  Hang out with him.  Learn from him.  Similarly, you should be passing on what you know to someone who isn't as far down the road as you.

13.  The ability and practice of being a mature fan.
Love your team.  Be a fan.  Get fired up.  Dress in whatever color from head to toe.  Fine.  But don't be that jerk that gets so upset about a loss that it affects your day or how you treat people.  Get over it.  If you're the type of guy that sulks after a loss or rants on social media or let's off a string of expletives over a game, you are an immature idiot and I pity the woman who ended up with you.

14.  A sense of humor that doesn't involve putting others down.
Pretty self explanatory.  If making fun of others (even vague generic groups of people who aren't present) is the only way you can make a joke, you are not funny.  Stop trying.

15.  A gym membership or a decent way of exercising.
The fact that you played whatever sport in high school and every now and then participate in a pick up game of bball with your buddies means nothing.  You need to exercise.  Consistently.  It makes you feel better and helps you sleep and keeps you from becoming a fat, lazy mess.

16.  The ability to cook actual meals and not frozen pizza or canned beef stew.
Learn how to cook real food. It doesn't have to be fancy.  Learn how to grill. FYI, food from a grill should not be charred black.  If you have trouble with this, please get my husband to come teach you how to do it.

17. A servant's heart.
Help people.  Do what needs to be done for others and don't be selfish.  Volunteer at your church.  Give up part of your weekend for someone else.  Someone is moving?  Go help, and for the love of all that is manly don't carry one bookshelf and then be done.

18.  Manners.
Say please and thank you.  Don't belch at the table.  If you fart in front of a girl you better know it's ok to do it.  Hold the door open for little old ladies.  Be polite.

19.  Big boy undies.
As a man you have been entrusted by God to be the head of your family; to carry the full weight of ugliness and crap and horrible horrible things that will come.  Deal with it.  Don't be a wimp or a wuss.  Don't look for the easy way out.  Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and do the hard things.  Make the hard decisions.  If your behavior isn't manly at this point in life, you are getting in late in the game.

20.  A solid relationship with Jesus
You cannot make it in life without him (and you will crap your big boy undies without him).  And just because you "know him" doesn't mean you're close to him or have anything in common with him.  I know Lane Kiffin.  Doesn't mean I'm going to write the guy's biography.  Seek Jesus.  Do what the Bible says.  This is what will make you a man.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

20 things every 30 something female should have

So, lists such as this one have been popping up all over the place recently.  Have you seen these?  I gotta say, for the most part, I think they are ridiculous.  Who wrote this?  Carrie Bradshaw? Lauren Conrad?  I realize it's totally subjective but I was thinking that if any joker can write a list of essentials for girls in their thirties, I can too.  Notice on my list that I title it things you should have and not own.  Because really girls, as useful as it is to have spanx and the appropriate nail care routine, let's talk about real life, shall we?  Yes, we shall.

20 things every 30 something female should have:

1.  An age appropriate wardrobe.

There are few things more class-less to me than a 30+ woman who still dresses like she is 18.  Short shorts, tight leather skirts, generally anything that could also be used as part of a hooker costume for Halloween, does not need to be part of your wardrobe.  You don't have to look like a granny or a Baptist preacher's wife, but have some taste.  If your closet if full of things you either A-have had since college, B-bought at Forever 21, or C-your teenage daughter or niece have asked to borrow, there is a problem.

2.  Self control on social media.
I am appalled by what some grown women put on Facebook and Twitter.  Just because it's not to someone's face doesn't mean you should be saying it.  Beyond just being mean, are you whining all the time?  Scroll through the last couple weeks of your updates or tweets and honestly evaluate what is there.  Stop being a negative nancy or a debbie downer.  And get off social media.  You are not twelve.  You are an adult.  Chances are most of us are addicted to it.  Is that what kind of adult you want to be?  Really?  Get off facebook!

3.  A workout routine that involves lifting weights.
You need to be working out.

Walking is not working out. (unless you are 8 months pregnant or have sustained a serious injury).

I cannot stress enough how important lifting weights in.  This is what revs your metabolism and tones you ladies!  And no, unless you lift heavy weight 2 hours a day and eat nothing but chicken and egg white omelets, you are not going to bulk up.  You see those girls that run all the time for exercise and how they are skinny, buy skinny flabby with no muscle tone?  Yeah, don't be her. Lifting weights is what got me from this:

to this:  (hard to tell cause these were the only pics I had online, but that's a thirty pound difference you're seeing)

4.  A savings account.
You should be wise with your money at this point in life and have a savings/emergency fund.  You never know when you're going to need major repairs on a car or end up in the ER with a concussion or have to fly out of the country all of a sudden (my Dad always said this is why it's important to have a credit card and a passport-ha!).  Have some money set aside for something other than shopping.

5.  A friend(s) you can call in a crisis.
I'm talking hard core, you could need a ride/money/prayer/a listening ear/whatever and they are there. Providing real wisdom and sense and encouragement and knowing when you don't need that but just someone to hear you vent.  The type of friend who comes to your house at 11 pm when the same jerk who just broke her heart a month ago just broke yours and she puts herself aside and comes because you need her.  You NEED this person.  More than you know.  If you have more than one, kudos.  (Also, be this type of friend to at least one person)

6.  A handful of fall back real recipes
More than a baked potato or frozen pizza.  I mean a real meal that involves real food that you could make for your boyfriend/grandma/friend in need, etc.

7.  Good grammar.
If your able to read this sentence and its easy for you to read then their might be a problem with you're grammar that your unable to recognize.  Do you want people to think your 13 and ignorant for the rest of you're life?  Learn the difference between your and you're and there, their, and they're.  Sheesh.

8.  Common sense.
I think everyone thinks they have some but sadly a lot of people do not.  Educate yourself.  Know basic things like the difference between a credit and debit card and why the government shut down is a big deal and how to respond to people in everyday situations.  Don't be stupid.

9.  The ability to drive stick shift.
It's easier to learn when you're young, and it impresses guys I think.  Just learn how.

10.  Big girl panties.
I don't mean literal ones.  (*side note, please learn what 'literal' means).  I mean, have the ability to pull yourself together and be an adult.  Crap happens.  Bad days come.  People are going to be mean to you.  You can't avoid life and its responsibilities.  Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  The more often you do this, the easier it becomes.

11.  The ability to set relational boundaries.
Oh girls, learn this as early as you can.  You need to know when people are walking all over you, and when you are enabling people instead of truly helping them.  Do not tolerate bad behavior and adults who put their issues on you.  Learn to establish boundaries with your friends, your family, everyone!  Other people's issues are not your issues.  Don't let them suck you in.  Set boundaries.  You may lose some relationships this way, but you know what, those relationships are toxic to you.  Stand up for yourself.  Learn how to have healthy relationships.  Often this involves gleaning wisdom from someone who's had to do this.  Find that person.

12.  A good bra.
Basic I know, but really, I see so many women with ones that aren't doing a whole heck of a lot.  Take care of your girls.  Buy a good bra.  Wear it for pete's sake.  No one wants to see your naughty bits.  Ok, maybe a few people do but mainstream society does not.

13. A classic, go-to, all season, "I am going to a wedding" dress.
'Cause if you haven't started going to weddings all the time, you're going to.  And those silly ideas magazines list as good 'attending a wedding' dresses are stupid unless you are a Rockefeller and attend formal black tie weddings all the time.  Who has that many rich friends?  Find something classy and cute that can be worn with sandals in summer and with heels and a cardigan when it turns chilly.

14. The ability to take criticism.
Guess what?  You're not perfect.  You have issues and flaws and things that you do that annoy people.  You need work.  So do I.  Can you handle it when someone close to you brings up some part of yourself that is less than wonderful? You need to be able to handle criticism and not just at your job.  Can you handle conflicts with roommates and can friends point weaknesses out in love? When people point out stuff about you do you get defensive?  Break down?  Defriend them on facebook?  Walk out of the room?  Hate them? It amazes me how many young women I know that act like that with their girlfriends and lament being single. Let me tell you ladies, if you can't handle conflict with your girlfriends, you are not ready for marriage.  'Cause that type of behavior aint gonna cut it.

15.  Satisfaction in Christ alone-not a husband or kids or career or whatever.
Here's a newsflash:  Marriage will not satisfy you.

Neither will a baby.

Or another baby.

Or (insert what you think will satisfy you or make you happy here).  The ONLY thing that satisfies and completes you is Christ.  This is the defining title of your life.  Not wife, or mom, or CEO, or world traveler.  If you are looking for a man or a child to bring you a sense of fulfillment and completion, shame on you.  Especially if it's a child--you are ruining them.  Stop it.  You have worth because of who you are in Christ.  Period, paragraph, end of story.  Stop trying to edit that one.

16.  The ability to manage time.
You can't do it all.  True.  But don't be that person that says they can't balance their checkbook or workout or invest in relationships yet has time to spend hours on Pinterest all week.  You do have time to workout.  You do have time to run to the store and cook dinner.  You do have time to call a friend.  Get up earlier.  Stop wasting time.  Call your friend on a lunch break.  Don't be a 30 something that can't get herself together and out of the door on time.

17.  A little perspective.
You are not the center of the world and there are lots of people who have it way way worse than you; stop complaining.  Everyone has a bad day; everyone needs to vent.  But dear heavens, don't do it all the time.  Be able to recognize that there is someone more lonely/tired/poor/stressed/etc than you.  Your problems cannot ooze into every part of life and everyone around you.

18. The ability to separate your hormones/bad day/fat day/whatever from what is actually happening.
I was a human development major in college and one of the things we talked about in my Gender Roles class was that men are like waffles (they compartmentalize everything) and women are like spaghetti, meaning that everything in life touches everything else.  You feel fat in your jeans so you bark at your kids or snap at the lady behind the cash register.  Some guy tells you you're cute so you're super sweet and love life.  See what I mean?  Learn to be a waffle.  You won't always succeed at this but you need to discern what is really an issue, and what is just your hormones or bad day or whatever.  This is especially key in marriage and other relationships.  Are you mad at what someone said because of what they said or because of how it made you feel because you're already feeling mad/depressed/upset/whatever?

19. An understanding of the bible (if you're reading fiction more than this, you have a problem).
If you're going to people asking advice or wisdom and yet not reading the Bible or not doing what's in there, well, that's stupid.  Stop it.  Say you're in a mess because you lied to your friend and want to know what to do.  Here's a hint -God has already told us. And don't depend on Beth Moore or someone else to read God's word for you.  Read it, learn it, know it.  It is everything!

20.  Equality with men.
Here's what I mean by that:  The standards you put on guys in regards to moral character and honor, etc?  You need to apply those to yourself as well.

Think it's ok to read "50 shades of Grey" but get pissed when your guy wants to watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion show?  That's a double standard ladies.

Want to go see Magic Mike but would be appalled if your husband and his friends went and saw a movie about a hot female stripper with big boobs?  Ah, there it is again.

I'm not saying you or any man in your life should want any of those things.  But, I get really irritated at girls in the church who have these crazy ideas for purity and honor in a guy but then go read books they shouldn't and watch movies they shouldn't.  What the crap ladies?  You won't consider dating a guy who once had a subscription to Sports Illustrated just for the swimsuit edition but you watch Sex and the City and that's perfectly all right?  I am all for the pursuit of purity but if you can't see the sin in your own life because it looks like a fun chick night and not like straight up porn, that's not ok.

The Bible tells us what to pursue and fill ourselves with, and it's not filth of either variety.  And if you indulge in crap like that but hold your husband or boyfriend to a different standard, well, you're being a jerk.  Stop it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thoughts on Life: Paring Down

I was reading a blog a while back (forgive me now that I can't remember where this originally came from), and came across this:

How can I be faithful to the people God has placed in my midst? 
How can I be faithful to the purpose God designed me to pursue?

It resounded so loudly inside of me because it was just the reminder I needed to keep things small.

I am an idea person, and a go go go person.  I constantly have to be doing something, planning something, reading something, studying something, etc, etc, etc.  (insert voice of Yul Brynner on that last part).  And I get carried away sometimes with everything that I want to do and everything that I am trying to do, that sometimes, I am not doing what I need to, which is to focus.

Lately one of my prayers is that God would give Dave and I community at church.  We have amazing friends, but most of them live out of state and so I wanted some people close by.  I kept praying that God would give us new people.  And then I read that statement above and the Holy Spirit got hold of me and convinced me that instead of searching for people, I need to be faithful to the people I already have.  Which isn't to say that God won't provide some new people, but I needed to be reminded to focus on what I already have.  

God used those two sentences to give me pause. And as I've prayed over them these past few weeks I've been convicted to stop looking for new relationships when I have plenty to tend to.  To stop looking for new projects and instead to focus on the one or two God has given me right now.  To stop looking for new ways to serve when I have oodles of opportunities already in front of me.

I think as Christians we often need this reminder.  To stop looking outside of our current situation and to see what God has already brought there.  Sometimes of course he will be calling us outside of our present situation.  But I think that often we overlook the thing right in front of us, maybe because we are looking for something bigger or better, or maybe just because we aren't expecting it to look the way it does.

So my prayer now is that I would be faithful to what God has already given me.  Faithful to the people, the projects, the prayers He has already given.  I think sometimes one of the sneaky ways the devil works is to keep us distracted, overwhelming us with so many things and ideas that we miss what's right in front of us.  I feel like God should have included, "Keep it simple, stupid" in the Bible somewhere, but as it is, He has given us His spirit to tell us that, if only we'll listen.

So what about you?  How can you be faithful to the people God has already given?  How can you be faithful to the purpose God designed for you this season of life?  

Narrow down.  


Following Jesus often involves less of a to do list than what we think.  Keep it simple, focus on what is right around you, and keep walking.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In which happiness is a dishwasher

So, our house was built in 1970.  We have reason to believe (namely, because my father in law thinks it, and it looks it), that the dishwasher that was in our house is original, and circa 1970 as well.  The thing worked, though I use the word "worked" the way you would if you were to say that people in Congress work.  You know, stuff happens but none of it is really productive, and it takes a lot of time and costs a lot.

I have been praying that God would provide us with a new (to us) dishwasher and I kept praying that we would find one for $75 or less.  And then I found this little beauty for sale, and do you know how much it was?  

That's right, $75.  


This lovely little lady is a Fisher and Paykel.  She has 2 drawers instead of one that you can run independent of each other.  So say you want to run just a small load, well, you can.  The racks are all adjustable so you can fit as much in there as possible.  It's pretty amazing.  

Ah, so lovely.  You can fit so much in there!  She was used for less than a year and then the people remodeled so she lived in the garage for about 5 years until we adopted her and brought her home.  Wanna hear something crazy?  THIS DISHWASHER RETAILS FOR NEARLY $1100 DOLLARS!!

That's right people.  God gave us a super high end, $1100, barely used dishwasher for $75.  And brought my father in law conveniently to us right after we bought it to install it (had to do some rewiring).  Bam.  

A dishwasher isn't a big thing.  We had to hand wash a lot of dishes because the old one wasn't getting things cleaned.  Hand washing dishes isn't that big of a deal.  But believe me, moving into a reno house and trying to do a million and one jobs around the house after working your 8 hour day, and then having to hand wash a ton of dishes on top of that is a bit exhausting.  I'm thankful that this will save me some time and effort.

It may sound silly to some, but I have to say that praying for a dishwasher (such a small and unnecessary thing) and seeing God bring about something way more than what we expected is good for my soul.  Because sometimes we forget that he is good; that he cares; that he is capable of exceeding our expectations.  

He is capable of taking care of things.  If he can work out a really nice dishwasher, I think he can safely handle the bigger things.  All these things that I pray for, the big prayers, the ones that roll around between me and Jesus a dozen times a day--well, they mean more to him than a dishwasher.  And I mean so much to him that even though it's just a dishwasher, he did it just to make me happy.

You know, if someone had told me when I was 16 that one day I would be overly excited to get a dishwasher, well, let's be honest, I probably could have imagined it cause I have been hardwired to be Susie Homemaker my whole life.  But, I would not have understood it completely.  

Happiness is a dishwasher.  At a great price.  And family to install it for you.  And Jesus who, bizarrely enough, cares about us.  About our jobs and our friendships and our health.  About traffic and headaches and the flu and dishwashers.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner?

You know that question people ask of "If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to a dinner party, who would you invite?"  Without giving it too much thought ('cause really, that whole "invite the dead" thing could really open this up to quite the event), here is my list.  I thought I would limit it to a seating of 12 and as I would be there, that means there are 11 spots available for this highly coveted imaginary event.

1.  Robin Williams

Because let's face it.  Dinner parties without a funny person are just dull.  I like a lively event.  And as Robin here does so many different voices, he could probably impersonate anyone who I wanted to invite that didn't make the list.

2.  Ellen Degeneres

Because she too is funny, and because she asks interesting questions.  She would definitely keep the conversation going.

3.  Julia Child

Because I love her, and because she would probably cook for us.

4.  Veronica Roth

Author of my favorite book series.  She's young and smart and incredibly talented.  I would want to pick her brain about how she comes up with her characters.

5.  Kate Middleton

Because not only is she a real life princess, but I think she's classy and really, we know more about her wardrobe than we do about her, and I would love to get her thoughts and commentary on things.

6.  Jesus

I know what you're thinking, "such a church answer!", but really, Jesus loved himself some dinner parties.  And he loves people--everyone, and I would love love love to have him at dinner with people of varied backgrounds and beliefs to see how he would react and respond to people.

7.  Teddy Roosevelt

Because he said things like this:  If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble you wouldn't sit for a month.  Boom.  And things like this:  I am a part of everything that I have read.

He's awesome.

8.  My grandpa

I don't have any pictures of him to snag from the internet.  Grandpa died when I was three and I never really knew him apart from the stories my dad has told me.  I would want him there, just to get a peek into who he was.

9.  Dave

More fun than a barrel of monkeys this one, and if I could, I'd have him with me all the time.

10.  Greg Pinkner

See that fat head?  Yeah, that's my pastor.  You know he'd be fun.

11.  Ah, my last guest!  A lot of people were up for grabs, but eventually I decided to go with a girl to balance out the genders.  And here's who I picked:

Carol Burnett

Because Miss Hannigan is one of the best characters of all time.

Too bad I can't make this dinner party actually happen.  It would be pretty epic.  Man, if we added fictional characters to the list I would have been in quite the quandary.  Good thing I kept it simple.

I think it's so interesting to think about what conversation could flow from such a varied group of guests.  Granted, Dave and I could invite 10 people we actually know to dinner and with the right mix, those ten could create quite the evening I'm sure.  Makes me want to put together a dinner.  In the meantime, I'll just imagine the conversation turning to politics or Miley Cyrus with this eclectic bunch seated around my dinner table.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Today is October 1st.

Crazy that this time of year is upon us already.  I say it all the time, but it's really insane how time moves so fast.  It reminds me to enjoy the normal days, the little moments that make up life.

October is starting out as a bit of a crazy month.  My car was put in a medically induced coma last weekend while hubs and a buddy of ours replaced the water pump, which involved taking out (and replacing) just about every other piece under the hood.  I am happy to admit that the water pump is replaced and working...but now something else is leaking.  Not too surprising considering the intense surgery this car underwent and the fact that most things in her are 15 years old.

So, for now, she is disassembled and in the garage.  We're hoping we can put her back together enough to take her to an urgent care clinic sometime this week and let them diagnose her.  I miss my car.  Hubs has been my taxi which means I am the mercy of his schedule and been working 9+ hour days at work some days.  I want to run errands and go to the gym!  Oh, the gym!  My body does not tolerate not working out.  I can't sleep and I keep getting headaches and all around feel like poo.  Hopefully we can get my car back in my hands soon, if for no other reason so that I don't balloon up in weight due to lack of exercise.

My in laws are coming to visit this month which excites me greatly because I love them tons and because we've never been able to have them stay with us before in our teeny little rental house.  Now we have ample space for them and their two little doggies.  It is going to be a grand old time.

We still have lots to do on the house.  We've gotten a little stalled out and behind because we've been dealing with the car fiasco.  I'm learning to let go of lists and deadlines and expectations of when and how things will get done.  Things will get done eventually.  For now, I have a real size oven to bake in and lots of warm water for my hot shower habit, so we're good.  And I am thankful.

31 days in this month.  How is God going to surprise me?  The thought just came to me that maybe he will, in one way or another, or perhaps a whole host of ways.  I guess we'll find out.