Mary

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary recently. What a brave soul. What a faithful, believing girl. How would I have reacted to the angel’s news that I would be the one to mother God’s Son? Would I have been too afraid to accept it, too afraid of being an outcast in my community? Would I have been overwhelmed with how my family and fiance would react, too terrified to believe that God would protect and sustain me?

Mary is not like me at all. I am not at all like Mary. Where Mary was content, I would have had doubts. Where Mary invited God, I would have said no. I would like to think I would have reacted as Mary did, but I really don’t know what I would have done. Thank God, God knew who he was asking. He asked Mary, and not me.

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How I pray, when I pray.

Today I laid on my bed face down. My muscles were feeling rejuvenated after a hot shower. I relaxed my face, my arms, my legs. I breathed in deeply, exhaled deeply. I tried to clear my mind of every thought, until all that was there was just me and God. Then I began to repeat over and over and over again: God, God, God. Love me-love me-love me. I could feel him around me, I breathed Him in. He was there. I just laid there in that moment, saying little sentence prayers, listening, being with Him. Then I got up and got on with the day. And that’s how I pray.

follower

Some of you may know this about me. Others may not. But here’s my confession for the world to read: I am a complete and total blog follower. To the max. My blogger reader tells me that I am currently following 65 blogs. That’s a lot! So I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you!

My interests cover a wide range of topics and blog styles, so I’ll try to incorporate a variety for you. Hopefully, you’ll find something new!

API Speaks (Attachment Parenting)

Dispatches from the Island (Jorge Garia’s personal blog)

Enjoying the Small Things (parenting blog with gorgeous photography)

The Lost Diary (detailed run down of each episode of LOST)

Mckmama (parenting/photography/Christianity)

Adorkable Recipes (from Melanie!)

A Year of Crockpotting

lori-for when I’m feeling contemplative

lori times five- both artsy and contemplative

There’s more. Lots  more. This is just a sampling. Enjoy!

On Marriage

I haven’t done a real post for awhile-you know the kind. The kind where I share my deepest thoughts, concerns, hopes, and dreams. Well, looks like today is your lucky day.

There’s a picture on my desk at work of Kevin and I on our honeymoon. It’s one of those close-up pictures taken by one of us reaching forward and turning the camera around. I’m sure you have a million of such pictures of you and your boyfriend, or best friends at the prom. You know the kind. Anyway, here in this photograph we were in the Smokies, probably about to embark on a long hike. Little did we know then that we were embarking on a real adventure-not a hiking adventure, but a real adventure-life together! Well, I guess we did know that our life would be an adventure, but never could we have imagined how beautiful our baby would be or where we’d be now, or where we will be in 10,20, 30, 60 years. You see? We made a good decision to get married and all we can do is pray that we continue to make good decisions together for the rest of our lives.

Maybe this concept doesn’t seem so deep to you. I mean-the concept itself is simple. Make good decisions. Together. Make good decisions together. It’s not rocket science. The implementation of the concept however, trips a lot of couples up. So many couples find themselves making decisions apart. A little independence here, a little lack of communication there and you’ve created distance. A little distance isn’t the end of the world-it can easily be zipped back up and mended, if it’s caught in time. But the problem with a little distance is that it can very easily lead to a whole lotta distance. And the problem with a whole lotta distance is that once you realize that there’s this wide chasm between you and your spouse it’s practically too late to be restored. What am I saying?

I’m not talking about myself and Kevin here. But we’re (together) in the process of watching a marriage fall apart. It’s awful. Secrets, lies, betrayals, years of loneliness and depression. Like I said, it’s awful.

What we’re learning: As awful as it is-as painful as it is to watch-there’s nothing we can do for them. All we can do (for ourselves) is squeeze out every lesson from this experience that we can. So we’re making sure that we stay connected. We talk about our days, even if nothing particularly exciting happened. We listen to the other, even if our spouse has nothing particularly exciting to say. We are intentional about doing things together, even if they are not particularly exciting. See a pattern here? That’s why our “hot dates” currently involve grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons, cooking dinner together, crawling around on the floor with Sophie. It’s in the ordinary life that love is strengthened.

I’m not some marriage expert (uh, duh, I’ve only got 2+ years experience) but I have seen some great longstanding marriages in action (or inaction-it’s not all about action). My parents, for one. Both of my sets of grandparents for some others. We’re talking 60+ years of marriage here folks-happy marriage. They know the secret. I really believe that the secret is this: You stay connected through everything. Boring times, exciting times, no matter what. You’ve committed to spending your life together, so spend it together you shall! This doesn’t mean that you can’t have alone time, or spend time with your friends. If anything it validates that time, because it gives you something meaningful to share with your spouse.

Right now I’m reading The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, the synopsis of which I’ll save for my book review. But suffice to say-the topic of marriage has been on my mind.

For my married readers: How do you stay connected to your spouse? How have the different marriages you’ve observed in your life helped you learn how to be a better spouse?

Funnily enough, I didn’t start out this post to write about this at all. I actually was going to write about how God has been teaching me lately. Funny, huh? Perhaps this post is more of me letting go and writing what God had laid on my heart to write (unbeknown to me until right now). So, hopefully this was an encouragement to someone, maybe even me.

P.S. BIG thanks to Melanie for awarding me the Lemonade Stand Award! Everyone should go check out her blog-it’s great!

Countdown has begun!

I officially have 1 hour and 15 minutes left of work, and then I’m off until January 4th. Hurray!!!

I took our office’s donation of canned/dry food over to Salvation Army this afternoon. There was a very long line of people waiting to receive their food for Christmas. It was very sad. In the words of our last series at Westwinds: “Our city is sick. She’s hurting. She is rife with problems.” That’s Jackson exactly. “I want you to help me heal the city”. Hopefully, we helped heal it just a little bit.

I’m so excited for all of our Christmas plans-celebrating with our family and friends, giving gifts, and going to church tomorrow night. Kev and I are working the nursery at either 6:30 or 8 (not sure which one yet)…that should be VERY interesting and VERY busy!

I don’t have much going on at work today, just biding time until I get to leave. I’m heading over to the Toy House to pick out gifts for Seth and Ryan. We’re having a Christmas Eve brunch with the Goods tomorrow morning. Pancakes and turkey sausage and I hear Mark is making eggnog. I’m not a fan of eggnog, but I’ll give it a whirl because it’s Christmas.

Ok, here’s a picture of my big crawler. She’s getting faster by the day!

I know, I know…

I’m a horrible blogger. I know I’ve been distant, cold. I know I’ve let you down with my inconsistency. I promise I’ll change-I’ll do better, I really will try. Forgive me?

Now that we have that cleared up…

A friend from high school moved to town. Well, Spring Arbor really, but close enough. I saw her at church in the parking lot on the way in. I said, “…Court? Is that you?” and she said “Oh hi! Is this your church???” And then we sat together. She works at Jackson Coffee Company and today I went and visited her right before work (I work right across the street. Kitty corner.) And tomorrow morning we are going running together, and she shall get to know Sophie. I don’t know why, but it somehow feels refreshing to have her here. I expect good things.

I saw a bumper sticker last night that made me really angry. It said, “Don’t Drink and Drive. You may hit a bump and spill your drink.” Have any of you watched Biggest Loser this season? She’s voted off now, but there was a woman on there who’s husband, 5 yr. old daughter, and 2 WEEK old son were killed by a drunk driver. Her whole family GONE in an instant because of an idiot’s selfish decision to drink and drive. Those most precious to her-her children-her NEWBORN-dead. I cannot imagine the pain that she’s been through, it practically makes me cry every time I think of it. When I read that bumper sticker I immediately thought of her-how badly would it hurt her heart to see this sticker? It was all I could do not to floor it and rear-end the car with the offending sticker. How can people be so flippant about something so horrible? Makes me feel ill. I need to change the subject ASAP.

God has been working on my heart in my attitude towards WWKids. See, I’ve been avoiding going into the classrooms for a few months now, just so burned out, sick of begging people to participate, sick of feeling guilty when spots weren’t filled. So I prayed that God would speak to me and to change my heart. And he did. We were laying on the floor in Music, listening to Rich Mullins “Step by Step” (total Bible camp song right there!) and next to me the sweetest little girl is singing. Such a little voice, so sincere. In that moment I was reminded of why I began helping Lori out in the first place-I loved the kids! I wanted to help the kids know Jesus. So there you have it. Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me through that child. I doubt she knows what a difference she made just by singing a “cheesy” Bible campfire song.

My sweetie is changing. I can see it everyday. Her hair is longer and more “texturized” each day (I think it may become wavy in the back like mine). Sometimes I look at her body and think “she’s getting so long-she’s so tall!”. Or I’ll see how she goes from sitting to crawling, and to me it looks graceful and fluid like a child, not jerky and awkward like a baby. Her personality is blooming too. She’s got a great sense of humor-she laughs at everything! She’s so social. She’s easy-going and laid back. She’s very active and can play on her own for quite awhile (quite the independent lady!). She can recognize a few things you say to her. For example, if I say “Sophie, would you like some MILK?” she will make the milk sign. She also will clap (most of the time) when you ask her to. She’s just…well, she’s great! Here’s a pic because I can’t resist 🙂

Long day with nothing to do…

my big “outing” for today was to pick up our contacts from the eye doctor and stop at the store for spaghetti sauce for our dinner. Yippie!

This morning I was up early because I rarely fall back to sleep once I’m awakened by Kev’s alarm/his getting ready routine. I don’t really mind at all, it just makes the day longer. I got up, watched some tv, at my bagel with veggie cream cheese (which has become a daily ritual-yum!), and then my eyes rested upon “The Shack”.

Lori lent this to me awhile ago, and it was on the coffee table, not because I was reading it, but because my friends and I were completely making fun of it when they were here the other day. We were reading it all dramatically and emphasizing every adjective (there are sickeningly too many). Anyway, I thought to myself, “Hey, you know what? You have nothing to do today. That book looks like an easy read. Then you can get it over with quickly…like downing a dose of Robitussin”. So, I guess I plan on finishing it today, although I may have to spread the misery out over a few days, since I have to get started on dinner in an hour and a half, and Survivor is on tonight. I have to admit, the story itself is interesting. The writing, I swear…Words can flow like a babbling brook or crunch like a ten-car pile-up. Sorry to say, I find this book in the car wreck category. Not that it doesn’t have a good story or a good message (I’m not to the end so I can’t judge those things yet). But the mark of a truly talented writer is a person who can draw you in with their diction and flow of sentences, a writer who speaks clearly and honestly, yet without excess. As far as I can tell this book must have been published purely on the merit of an engaging plot. Just because it is a “Christian” book doesn’t mean that it can be excused from the rules of good writing…when will there be excellence in the “Christian” media? (Think “Left Behind”…books or movie(s?), doesn’t matter, they are both/all of terrible quality.) Is that too much to ask? Gosh, I’m such a critic. I didn’t even set out to write a post about “The Shack” or literature or writing or any of the stuff I just said…

What I really meant to write about was how it is finally FALL! I went for a long walk this morning before I started reading, and it was wonderful. Just me, my Columbia coat (because it was necessary over my sweatshirt!), and my iPod. The air was crisp and cool, and I got a lot of good thinking done. Mostly my thoughts were about the baby and parenting, and which stroller would best suit our needs. Seriously, this kid is going to spend some quality time in a stroller because we are out on that path so often. It’s important to make a good decision in this area! I was also thinking about how Psalm says that God knits us together in our mothers’ womb, and how it’s so cool that my baby is being “knit” right now! I’m so excited to be a mom!

Alright, enough fun and games. Back to “The Shack”…dun dun dun.

Lost treasures

This seems to be the theme of the week: recovering lost treasures. Lori returned “Eat Pray Love” to me, and even though it wasn’t truly lost, I had completely forgotten I had lent it out, completely forgotten that it is one of those books where the words become gems in your mouth. She had a few pages marked, pages that had moved her in some way, so I naturally flipped open to them. It seems an intimate thing, reading pages that really meant something to someone else, a glimpse into the soul almost. What I found was a particular page that I particularly remember from when I read the book myself. Here’s the best part:

“I couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside of me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water.”

Without really realizing it, these words are my internal mantra while I’m outside. I think I just had this revelation when I rediscovered this passage. When I’m running or walking alone, out in the beautiful woods, seeing the sparkling water, feeling the wind, that’s what I’m saying to myself. I just want God. God be with me. Let’s just be together, absorbing each other, whispering to each other. Let’s just be quiet together, communicate through the wind and the water and the trees. See how the branches sway? That’s God waving hello. Hear the birds singing? That’s God’s good morning song to me. God, let’s just take this walk together; run with me…

Easter and such

You can always tell when I’ve been thinking about the same thing constantly by how spaced out my blog updates are. Seeing how my last one was on the 15th, I feel like my blog is just due for an update but in reality not much has changed. Kevin and I are still in limbo, trying to decide if/where we would like to move to, still weighing the pros and cons of trading close proximity to our families with a warmer climate. I don’t know, for me, moving would be a wonderful new start. Not that my life here is bad, but I’ve just grown so weary of the same cycle of seasons, the same bitter winters. I hate that wind that makes you just want to go into the bathtub in mid-November and not emerge until May. Yes, it’s that bad. I love hot weather, the hotter the better. But all this is old news, all the same points, nothing has changed. Really the only news to be reported on this front is that Kevin has an interview on Friday for a company in Grass Lake. He’s not even sure if he wants it, but figures it doesn’t hurt to try. And it doesn’t, really. Our most recent bookmarked pages in the atlas: Portland, OR; Chesapeake, VA, Wilmington, NC; San Francisco, CA.

In other news, Friday night’s Good Friday lesson with the kids at church was awesome. I was with them for the second service, the 7:30, and we only had four kids. Jeff was one of them, and he had already been there for the 6. First, we made a chain of prayer beads, which are a big thing in Hindu culture and even in Catholicism, but not much used in Protestant Christianity. Which is a shame, because they are wonderful! They really help you to focus and pray, letting your fingers mindlessly play with the beads. Or you can use it to help you pray concretely for specific things, and then move the bead as you pray for it. I like it. After that, we went across the hall to the music room, where Lori and I had set up a quiet, dim setting. We drew our sins in the sand, asked for forgiveness and wiped them away. We took communion, and talked about how the candle is a symbol of God’s presence with us. With the small group of kids it was very nice, as they were all able to share their own experiences. It was a quiet intimate setting, and it seemed to really impact the kids that God was THERE, with us in the room. Very cool.

For Easter, Kevin and I went with my parents and grandparents to my Aunt Lisa’s house. It was fun playing with their RC cars in the basement, but we ate totally burned kielbasa and yucky sauerkraut (I don’t like sauerkraut!) The potatoes were HEAVENLY as was the chocolate cake with strawberries. These family gatherings are all about the food for me, can you tell? No, really, it was great to see my grandparents….and everyone else too I guess! No Stephie though, which was sad.

Mr. Sun is shining, which makes me happy.

Buried in Snow

Lost finally came back last night-yea! I hear that there are only 8 episodes though due to the writer’s strike. I heard that on the Jay and Jack Podcast, and they tend to know all the hot Lost gossip. Kara, Di, and Steph came over. We ate sloppy joes, sunchips, and undercooked (yet yummy and crunchy!) green beans. Half-baked cookies (compliments of Diana!) for dessert.

The episode was good, but not extremely exciting. Kara and I decided that it was perfect though because they needed to move the story after the season finale. They survivors needed to find out that Charlie died, and we also knew that the “rescue” helicopter was coming. It was satisfying, to say the least. On the podcast right now they are talking about how possibly Christian Shepherd is Jacob because we saw him when Hurley looked through the windows of the cabin….freaky! I don’t know what to think about that!

Di and I took our super-stupid MHSAA guidebook tests today. Seriously, we do not have to take a test on the actual rules of soccer in order to ref! That explains all the horrible reffing that we’ve had all these years. I would hope for college they would make you take a test on the rules, but for high school you don’t. I thought that was wayyy stupid…yet, explains so much. No lie, this was one of the questions: The MHSAA offices are located at 1661 Ramblewood Lansing, MI….true or false? HOW DOES ANSWERING THAT QUESTION MAKE ME ELIGIBLE TO REF SOCCER???? Honestly. Whatever, it’s a job.

Speaking of job….I love mine…he he hahhhaaaa….

I spent WAAAYYY too much time on YouTube yesterday and this morning watching videos of people adopting children from China. Some had cheesy choices for music, but all of the images just make me all the more determined to adopt. There was one that had a comment under it (posted by some insensitive loser) that said that they couldn’t understand why people adopt internationally when there are so many children in need of homes here in the US. While it is obviously true that there are children in the US that need to be adopted, it is also true that there is an extreme gender crisis in China. I’ve always (since like…early high school) felt that I was supposed to adopt from China. I believe that there is a little girl there, or yet to be born there, that God has chosen to be my daughter. The reason that that person’s comment bothered me so much was because it seemed to imply that American children are somehow more deserving of a home than Chinese children. It bothers me because God is the Creator of ALL and loves ALL of these children, and directed the places where they should be born. How can you say that one child is more worthy than another of a loving home? If God has pressed into my heart to adopt from China, as he has so many others, why do people think that they have the right to an opinion on how God chooses to grow and bless a family? I understand that there are children here, but there are children there too, and all are equally in need of a family. So what’s the problem with adopting internationally? Seriously people, have a heart.

Now I’m all in a huff! I just get so riled up about adoption and can’t wait until I’m old enough to apply.

We have a soccer game tonight, let’s stay undefeated. I want that championship t-shirt. Seriously.

Now to address the title of this post: It took me 10 full minutes to uncover my car from the snow this morning. WOW. I’d just love to move somewhere and have a lil break from winter. I do think snow is pretty…it’s just so….inconvenient. Snow is much more exciting when you’re a kid.