Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the Bible in 90 days

Yup, that's right.
In the next 90 days, I will be reading the Bible cover to cover.
That's 12 pages a day, straight through.


Actually, I'm not the only one.  There are a good number of people from my church (50?  100?  Something like that?) doing the same thing.  You see, we're in a period of transition from one denomination to another, and the leaders decided it would be a good idea for the congregation to have a good foundation.  Personally.

The last time I read the entire Bible was during my freshman year of college.  I read it over the course of two semesters.  But I was drinking milk, friends.  I wasn't ready for solid food, or solid study for that matter.  So I hurried my way through the chapters, hoping to add another checkmark to my "LOOK-I'M-A-(hypocritical/judgmental/I'm-better-than-you)-CHRISTIAN" list.

I'm, um, not in that place any more.

Anyhoo.

These are the reasons I decided to join a new Sunday school class (and thus, alas, leaving my young adult Sunday school class behind for three months) to read through the Bible:


  1. First and foremost, I want to know God better.  I long to know who He is and how He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.
  2. I want the accountability.  Though I have tried to be disciplined about reading the Bible, I always venture through it haphazardly.  I wanted structure and discipline, and I am better about those things when I have a deadline or people counting on me to get it done.
  3. I am ever-in-need of developing good habits when it comes to spending time with the Lord.  Reading 12 pages a day means I need to set aside a total of 30 minutes to an hour each day of God time. I hope this will help to further establish God as the main priority in my life.

And so far, just two and a half days into the 90-day-Bible-challenge, here are some things that are happening:


  • I am bringing the Bible with me EVERYWHERE in order to sneak another chapter in.  
  • The Bible is becoming interwoven into every part of my waking life.
  • If I am up before anyone else in the house, the first thing I do is open the Word (instead of casually browsing the internet).
  • I am making connections in the Bible that I've never made before.
  • I am seeing more of God.
  • I am hearing Him more clearly.
  • If I am caught in an especially busy day, I STILL make time to read those 12 pages.
I can't wait to see what else is in store!  If I can learn all this in a couple days, what will I have learned by the end of day 90?  

Have you ever read through the Bible?  What was it like?  How did you keep yourself accountable?

Are you interested in reading the Bible in 90 days?  

Monday, January 30, 2012

buy a hoodie/save a life: CODE:PURPLE

"[In Africa,] it's not a matter of if I'll get malaria, but when I'll get malaria."
-Pam Abma

Admittedly, I live under a box labeled, "Oblivious."

I seriously have gone through most of my life assuming certain things have been eradicated in the entire world.  Things like child labor.  Sweatshops.  Malaria.

After all, there's a vaccine for malaria, right?  So everyone's good.  No one gets infected.  It's like the black plague; a thing of the past.  Right?  

...

Right?

...

Not so much, friends.

Malaria is the number two killer in Africa.
Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies from it.

This is no joke.

Malaria rarely affects us in the States.  For that reason, we remain in our oblivious boxes.  We don't see it, so it must not exist.  But once in a while, one of these issues hits home, and we start paying attention.  

I have a friend (Hi, Rebecca!) who's relative almost died of malaria.  Her name is Pam.  And if you have five minutes to spare (and I know you do), you should watch this quick video...





Did you catch that??  

We can help.  

We can do something about malaria.  

On February 16, the launch of the CODE:PURPLE Event takes place during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC.  This event will spread awareness, raise funds, and save lives who remain susceptible to malaria.

ING Activewear has developed a hoodie made out of moskeeto armor.  This is special type of fabric that is lightweight, can completely cover a person's torso and head, and repels all insects.  My friend mentioned that most people in Africa sleep under mosquito nets.  If they have to go to the bathroom, they have to leave and remain unprotected.  This hoodie will change all that.

The color purple was chosen because it's a neutral color; it can be worn by anyone in Africa, regardless of tribal association.  It's safe.

Anyways.  I hope you're getting the point here.


buy a hoodie = save a life
Got it?

But you can also spread the word.  Today.
You can follow @CodePurpleEvent on Twitter and Facebook.
You can RT this post.  You can RT other posts on the subject.
You can talk about it.  You can post about it.

You can make this cause go viral.

I hope you'll join me in discarding the "Oblivious" box,
because I, for one, know I'm ready to let it go for good.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

on it you shall not do any work

"I have no right to be tired," I moan to my husband, allowing my eyes to quickly span the house.  There's clutter everywhere, and I was looking forward to Gwen's long nap in order to clear it away.

But I sit down, exhausted -- this, despite the fact that my little girl actually gave me seven hours of uninterrupted sleep last night (Praise God!).  Still, I can't motivate myself enough to fight away the tired.  I want to rest.  I feel my body slumping down into my seat as I stumble into a conversation with God.

God, I just can't do this today.
So don't.
No, really.  I don't think I can be productive.
So don't.  
Oh.  Wait.  Really?
Not today.


Suddenly, Elliott breaks into our conversation with, "When's the last time you had a Sabbath, anyways?"

AH.  I was ready for this one, and so say without hesitation, "FRIDaaayyyy....." and then let the word linger uneasily in the air.

He knows and I know that Friday was not a Sabbath for me this week, but a day full of running Gwendolyn to the doctor's and (many) errands.

"Oh.  I guess I didn't take a Sabbath on Friday."
"Nope," he responds.
Nope, God says.
"I think I need to take today off."
"Yup," says Elliott.
Yes, says God.

And it's no wonder that I am aching to read the Bible, sitting cozy on the couch while the baby sleeps.  It's no wonder that God is drawing me nearer to Him today.

So I leave the clutter.
And I open the Word.

Friday, January 27, 2012

crying-it-out confessions, part two

She's crying.  And it breaks my heart.
The door that separates us seems like paper.  I want to rip it to shreds -- to break into the room, scoop her up, and glue back all the pieces of our shattered hearts.

"This can't be right," I think.  "How can I do this to her?"


I feel my resolve breaking.  Despite careful research, I convince myself that I'm exercising cruelty on my baby.  I decide I must be the most terrible mother in the world to let her cry for... well, it must be an hour, right?  I look at the clock.

It's been ten minutes.

I pace back and forth, back and forth, before finally welling up with tears myself and collapsing onto my bed.

"God!"  I internally cry out.  "Is this right?  Is this the right thing to do?  Please give me wisdom!"


It's funny how when I never really expect Him to answer, He does.  Loud and clear.

Sometimes I, too, have to let My children cry.


The response stops my tears immediately.  I feel utter clarity enter into my soul and brain.  It's so true, isn't it?  I think about the many times I have felt absolutely broken and left alone -- the times I have cried out to the Lord to save me -- only to be met with silence.  I think about the suffering that I have had to go through, but the blessings that those times have given.  I think about many other people who have had to endure pain for some time, only to learn great things about the Lord.

And that's when I realize that in this case, I see more than Gwen sees.  I have a fuller picture.  And even though she may cry now, she won't cry forever.  Eventually (and usually, after 10 or 15 minutes), she will be able to sleep again -- to sleep a deeper and better sleep than she has in the last month.

Making this decision has been ... powerful.  I have felt in control of the situation; I have felt freed.  And in the process, I have felt as though I am sort of growing up as a parent.  This small little hardship and decision has helped me feel more equipped to make more decisions when-the-time-comes.  And I know I am doing a good thing.

I am being the parent.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

crying-it-out confessions, part one

I don't even know how to begin this post.

I guess I'll begin by being frank:  Frankly, I don't want to write this post.  For some reason, it feels way too vulnerable to me -- too much of my-mom-self out there on the internet for people to criticize.  But I cannot get it out of my head.  It's almost as if it won't let go of me until I write it -- like nothing else will come into my brain until I get this down.

It's a vulnerable post because a lot of it is admitting that I was wrong.
Because I said never.
And I'm going back on that never.
And I'm swallowing some pride because of it.

I'm convinced that every parent experiences at least one, "I said I would never do this, and then I did," with their kids (my sister-in-law wrote a post about it a couple months ago).  We always want to be the parent that would never give their kid a pacifier, that would never let them watch TV, that would never give them sugar, that would never let them cry-it-out...

...that would never let them cry-it-out...

Please, dear reader.  Be gentle with me.  I know that I am connected to many wonderful people out there in blogland that are so anti-cry-it-out (indeed, I was one of them) that I fear some sort of backlash about posting this confession.  But I must.  And so now that that whole disclaimer is out of the way...

Long before I became a mom, I had decided I would never let my baby cry his/her-self to sleep.  I knew that parents had their reasons, and I respect each loving parent's decision to know what's best for their child.  But I knew I would be that kind of a parent.  Instead, I would be the kind of parent who took their child into bed with them -- the kind of parent that would sacrifice hours of sleep to rock or walk with baby until they felt secure -- the kind of parent that would do whatever-it-took to make sure baby didn't cry.

Well.  I'm not that kind of parent.

The thing is, babygirl had always been such a good sleeper that we didn't need to do any sort of "sleep training" to get her to sleep.  She seemed to take good naps and slept well at night.  We always put her down while she was awake and only rarely would she fuss a bit to get to sleep.

All that changed a few weeks ago.  I don't need to rehash it, because you can read about it here (and a thank-you to everyone who left me such loving, encouraging comments).

The short of it is that things weren't working.  And I can't hold her every time she makes a peep at night. And the lack of sleep was making me depressed.

It wasn't a good situation.  For anyone. 

So we had to make a drastic change.

Although, the thing is... I don't think it's been all that drastic after all.  Sometimes, I think I just get myself worked up over simple decisions.  Like, I've pre-determined in my mind the things that I WON'T-EVER-NO-WAY-IN-THE-WORLD-WILL-I-EVER-WE-CAN'T-EVEN-TALK-ABOUT-THIS-THING-IT'S-SO-TABOO- do, so much so that I nearly have panic attacks just thinking about them.  But really, I've done this to myself.  There are valid reasons people make informed decisions about the way they raise their children, and the decisions are much easier to make when we (I) take the expectations away.

But more on this subject tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

what i wore wednesday: haphazard happenings and the hair verdict

Okay, first a massive disclaimer:  I fully acknowledge that the pictures in this post are lacking.  Like... severely lacking.  It was a crazy week and it was amazing that I even got out of a hoodie and out of my house at all, let alone found a husband to take some pictures of some semi-inspired outfits.  Okay?  Okay.  Moving on.

In light of a crazy week, I am calling these outfits Haphazard Happenings.  They were cooler in person, but alas, the pictures!  The pictures!

This first outfit was much cooler/not-so-thrown-together-looking in real life.  I wore it to my friend's baby shower.  The dress is sort of a Gunne-Sax-look-alike but I don't know who made it (my mom got it from the internet).  I'll wear/show-off the shawl I'm wearing another time; it's from my sister-in-law who is a missionary in Ecuador (and hence the shawl is from Ecuador.  The color is a beautiful green, but you can't really see it here).


So, yeah, I blinked.  So we tried to take another shot...


...and somehow it was worse?

Anyways, if I seem super bundled up, it's because I was.  We woke up to this:


We have more yard/driveway than we do house.  So it was quite a rude awakening to remember - oh yeah, we don't live in the city any more and actually have to shovel everything, and - oh yeah, that snowblower we have needs an extension cord.  

Since my husband had come back from a staff seminar the night before, I decided to tackle the driveway all by myself:


Oh, yes I did.

Okay, enough snow.  Back to outfits.

Sunday was our Young Adult and College Sunday, and I was singing frontline vocals.  I wanted to look spiffy.  I tried to sort of capture my outfit in bits and pieces since husband was away all day...with the young adults and college students (it's his job, ya know?).



The funny thing is that the worship leader was wearing pretty much the same exact outfit as me, although she's 36 (now 37?) weeks pregnant, and I am... not.

 

Dress:  i.ner?... that's what it said on the tag... probably from Anthro (maybe my mom knows; it was from her closet), Leggings: Old Navy, Boots: Steve Madden


I wore this pretty red-rose ear-warmer headband from Urban Outfitters. 


And I decided to do a quick, messy updo with my hair, since I have it and all.


...emphasis on messy...


...but it worked, I think.

Thanks to everyone who gave me such good advice about the hair thing.  After much thought, I've decided (drum roll?  anyone?) I'm going to grow it out as long as I can stand it and do my very best to make it look pretty.

And as for Gwenny, she had a cute outfit on, but it seems to be cursed, as we all found out yesterday.


pleated poppy

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

can outfits be cursed?

Warning:  I talk about poop in this post.  If you're a parent or a six-year-old boy, you probably won't notice.  If you're anyone else, you've been fairly warned.

To future Gwen:  I'm sorry.  You're a baby and you're funny; there was bound to be a poop post sooner or later.  If you don't want this stuff on the internet, be mindful of where and when you poop.

So, this is my favorite "everyday" type outfit that Gwenny currently wears (size 6-9 months):


See that?  That's a tutu.  Is there ANYTHING cuter than GWEN in a TUTU?  The answer is no.  And the outfit is cream-colored, which is a nice change from the typical everything-must-be-pink style of girl clothes.

In short:  it's adorable, she looks adorable in it, and I love this outfit.

I try to "save" this outfit for semi-special occasions, like church or play group at the library.  It's too cute for me to dress her in it when we're merely going to be at home puttering around.

But of course, Gwen knows something's up.  Because whenever I "save" this outfit for a special day, she decides to poop all over it.

Here's the thing:  she neverneverneverneverNEVERnever does this with any of her other outfits.  Or when we're home all day.  With any other outfit, all the mess stays inside the diaper.  Or if I put this outfit on her and we stayed inside all day, she'd probably behave.  But as soon as I take her out in the outfit, it's like she goes crazy.

I thought it was all in my head until this Sunday.  Church hadn't even started.  I was changing her diaper and she peed over the entire shirt (this happening because she started rolling away mid-diaper-change -- I'm sure you know what that's like).  That's when I decided that this outfit must be cursed.

Either that, or Gwenny sure has a sense of humor.

Personally, I think she's in cahoots with her Papa (Grandpa) who is trying to get me back for the day I pooped all over him in church when I was baby.

THANKS, DAD.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I choose worship over wallowing

"I do not spend enough of my time in worship and thanksgiving -- 
in being content in the circumstances."

I jotted down the above sentence during devotions this morning, in the quiet of a day yet to dawn -- while my daughter slept peacefully, and while my tea warmed my body.  It was calm.  The dewy morning greeted me outside, and I thought, "Yeah, my life needs to be more about worshipping God."

Such a calm, wonderful thought, don't you think?  In those moments -- the moments of quiet and deliberate devotion -- it is so easy to think of the things we are going to do.

Let's skip ahead a few hours to 11 am.  I have spent the last hour trying to appease my crying child.  At first, I chalk up her screaming temper to being willful and spoiled, considering she only stops crying when I pick her up.  Not one to let a child scream unconsolably, I continue to pick her up when she whimpers, and she allows for brief pauses of calm when eating or lying next to me in bed.

By 11:45 am, it seems we are both at our whit's end.  I am rocking her in the nursery, and she is screaming her lungs out.  "Surely, something must be wrong with her," I think and worry as I feel my eyes fill with tears of desperation.  "I just wish she could talk to me."


I somehow calm her for 15 minutes with a small turtle toy and a game of open/close the window shade.  Finally, I decide there's no way I can physically/mentally/emotionally make it to her 1 pm nap time, and I decide to feed her and put her to sleep early.

I breathe, even though I feel I might collapse.

My blogging-friend Tim (Hi, Tim!) says that this might make a good story in hindsight.  Maybe.  Maybe it will be funny somehow, and witty.  I don't really know how that future story of this present day is going to go, but I do know this:  That I must worship God.  That it is during the weary days -- the days when I just want to throw up my hands and complain and wallow in self-pity -- that I must worship God the most.

So I thank the Lord for this day -- for being very aware of my humanity and brokenness and inability to do anything without the strength of the Lord.

I praise the Father that He is in control, and that He has given us this precious time to make known His name in all the earth.

God, I want everyone to know that You are good -- 
that You comfort -- 
that You are beside us --
that You have made Yourself known to us, 
and this in itself is a gift.
I want never to forget what You have done for me,
I want never to cease being thankful.
And so I thank You --
in the easy, dewy early mornings
and it in the weary, tear-filled late mornings.
I thank You for all You have given.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

what parenting has taught me

Parenting has taught me a great many things.  Some of the things I thought I would never learn in a million years, and other things I never knew were there to learn in the first place.  Most of the things I have learned I cannot even begin to put into words -- they are the unspeakable "Amens" that pass in and out of me like a breath before I can grasp at them.

The lessons I have learned are profound -- they stun me into utter awe before a God I feel I am just beginning to understand.

But.  There are a few lessons I can name, and I want to name them here.  In my very short seven-month time of parenting (and nine-months of incubating said seven-month-old baby), here are some things I have learned:

Parenting has taught me that months go by way too fast.


Parenting has taught me to live as selflessly as possible -- going beyond being selfless; selfless just became a part of me -- it snuck up on my selfish nature and nearly kidnapped it.  I find myself doing things I never dreamed my selfish nature would let me do, and I do them so, so gladly.


Parenting has taught me to slow. the. heck. down., and to literally breathe in moments that I never want to slip me by.


Parenting has taught me that poop is a legitimate topic of conversation.


Parenting has taught me that sometimes we have to do the hard thing to make baby healthy (even if it requires a few tears shed in the process -- both mine and hers).


Parenting has taught me just a tiny bit of what it's like for God to look down on us.


Parenting has taught me how every little decision I make affects another person.


Parenting has taught me to never say never, and that saying never means I probably will.



Parenting has taught me that I should sing my way through life much more often.

Parenting has taught me how to say no in order to protect the rhythm of our days and days off.


Parenting has taught me to never judge someone else's parenting decisions (partly because sometimes I later find myself making those very decisions I once judged so harshly).


Parenting has taught me to revere the library.


Parenting has taught me that sometimes, you just need to stop doing and start cuddling.


Parenting has taught me that nothing compares to being a parent.



What has parenting taught you?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

on being (internet) vulnerable

Click.  Click.  Click.

The post has been written, and it's time to put it up.  

Click.

I hit the Twitter button, and add a hashtag.

Click.

Success!

Then I move to the Facebook button, and...

Click.

But instead of a routine post-up, I receive an unfriendly message about spam and being flagged.  It appears that someone has flagged my posts -- someone in my friends list is annoyed by my blog posts.

This is when the wind lets out of my sails -- when the balloon pops --

This is when the vulnerability sinks in.

The truth is that I've always been an open person, almost to a fault.  It has gotten me hurt, and sometimes the wounds have been deep, but I can't seem to live life any other way.  I don't know how to change it.  I am a trusting, open, vulnerable person.  So when I write, I let my vulnerability peek through -- because, well, I don't know how to write otherwise.  And I think there are enough people out there writing about Christianity from a non-vulnerable-point-of-view, and I don't want to be one of them.

But when someone rejects me, it hurts...
even if I'm not exactly sure who it is.

When I realize that people are reading my posts and don't like what I have to say, 
it brings me down.
When I remember that there are people I know in real life reading my blog that don't like me, it feels like a punch to the heart.

When I recognize that -- yes, in fact, this is the internet which means anyone anywhere can ready anything at any time -- 
I feel... 

Sheepish.
  
Foolish.  

I wonder what-the-heck I think I'm doing here in the first place.
  
I think that, perhaps, I am just one of the many in my generation that thinks -- well -- 
that I can do anything.




But I can't.

And who am I, Lord?  Who am I to think I should be letting myself out here like this -- exposing vulnerable parts of my heart and my walk with you?  
Who am I?

And then, I want to run.

I want to delete everything.

I want to crawl under a rock and hide away until my words are forgotten.


But God has asked me to stay.

And He reminds me that as a Christian, adversity is part of the plan.  
It's to be expected, and persevered through.

And I am to fear God, and not man.

I can't be a chapter-one-Jonah.  
I can't run.

And so I write,
vulnerability and all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

what i wore wednesday: simple staples and baby slings

pleated poppy

This week, some basics, and then I have a question...

Simple Staples:  Favorite Dress


This is my favorite dress.  I bought it at a thrift store and I wear it whenever I want to look nice but don't want to make ANY effort whatsoever.  Gwenny is dressed like a sailor girl.



Dress: Thrifted, Sailor Outfit: Gifted, Rain Boots: Sperry (DSW)

Oh, and since some were interested:  Glasses: Vogue

(Don't mind those baby toys at my feet... sometimes these things are unavoidable.)

Simple Staples:  Basic Essentials

This outfit is pretty basic, but I love how throwing together some basic essentials makes for an elegant-casual outfit.  This is what I wore on Sunday to church.


Shirt: Express (Thrifted), Corduroy Skirt: Hand-me-down (Thanks Nicole!), Grey Tights: ummm?, Shoes: Payless


Teeny-tiny heels!

Baby Slings

Yesterday was one-of-those-days when Gwennybear was only happy whilst I was carrying her.  Since there were some things that had to get done around the house, I decided to sling her up for the day.  As you can tell, this made her very happy.



Baby Sling by  Baby K'Tan

Question

Okay, so here's my question, and I'd like you all to weigh in.  My hair is at that length where I need to get it trimmed and decide if I'm going to cut it again or grow it out.  The last time I grew it out was when I was pregnant, but then it got to an annoying length where I didn't like it (and started putting it up in a ponytail EVERY DAY, which I do not like doing).  And thus began/begins the never-ending cycle:  I chop it off, let it grow to about the length you see it here, and then chop it off again.  I'm never actually happy with my hair.  So a part of me feels like I'm going to go all Michelle-Williams and just chop it all off so that it's a pixie cut.  But another part of me feels like I might regret it, and maybe I should stick-it-out for now and try to grow it really long so I can updo it like the ladies in Downton Abbey (okay, so maybe not really... but sorta-kinda-maybe I would try?  Sometimes?).  

So what should I do?  Pixie-cut it or grow it out really long?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the most depressing day of the year

Did you know that the third Monday in January actually has a name?  It's called Blue Monday, because apparently it's the most depressing day in the year.

Personally, I didn't feel too depressed this past Monday.  Actually, it was a pretty good day.  But I guess for a lot of people, the end-of-the-holidays/return-to-work thing really hits them hard.

The other contributing factor to Blue Monday is not keeping New Year's resolutions.  This is perhaps something I can relate to, and since I was busy with family on Monday, I didn't have time to think of resolutions or feeling unmotivated.  But today is my very own "I-don't-wanna-do-it Tuesday," wherein I don't really feel like following through with my resolution to write on this blog for another year.

There are a number of reasons.  One reason is that I'm finding a writing outlet somewhere else, as one of my childhood dreams has come true and I'm getting paid to write elsewhere.  Another reason is that I'm suddenly very aware of how vulnerable I've been and that makes me want to crawl under a rock some days.  And probably a third reason is because I publicly announced my resolution to write for another year.

Ugh.

I brought this up to Elliott.  I hoped he would say, "Well, just don't do it any more," but instead he said, "Maybe God wants you to push through this rough spot.  All writers have to face times like this."

Argh.

So I guess I'm not going anywhere, and I will continue to write -- no matter how haphazard or uninspired the posts may be.

How did you feel on Blue Monday?  
How are you feeling about your New Year's resolutions?

Friday, January 13, 2012

these are the days

these are the forgotten days

the days that begin too slow and end too fast

the days that can pass by without my knowing
without my being

the days that fill up before there is time to notice
how the gleam in your eyes changed ever-so-slightly
and the erupted giggle is more grown-up than yesterday


I do not want a day to go by 
without cuddling and nuzzling
without kissing and giggling
without praying and singing

these are the days I want to remember when
you were just as you are


Thursday, January 12, 2012

an inadvertent technology detox

A couple days ago, I lost my phone.

And when I say, "lost," I mean L - O - S - T.
I mean that it's gone.  Forever.
I mean that I'm pretty sure it evaporated into thin air, or maybe got caught up in a black hole, or found it's way to the Bermuda triangle, or more likely it dropped out of my coat pocket and into the recycling bin, which means by now it's probably an Odwalla bottle.

All I know is that somewhere between my car and my house -- between my car and my house -- my phone absolutely and positively disappeared.

My first reaction?  Crazy, frantic searching high and low.
My second reaction?  Withdrawal.  Strange, uncontrollable withdrawal.

The withdrawal really freaked me out, considering that I've never thought of myself as particularly attached to me phone.  I'm actually the kind of person you probably get annoyed with -- always keeping my phone on silent, never answering it, and checking my voicemails (maybe) three times a month.  In fact, losing my phone was probably God's way of teaching me that I'm a poor phone steward and need to become more responsible before I get a new one.

But seriously -- the first day without my phone, I felt depressed, confused, anxious, isolated, and insecure.  It was crazy, folks.  CRA - ZY.   My husband said that there have been studies done showing the similarities between drug withdrawal and technology withdrawal.  And sure enough, one search on Google revealed as much.  This website said, and I quote:

"Being forced to stay away from computers, cell phones, iPods, [etc.]... causes young people to suffer similar symptoms to drug addicts and smokers who go cold turkey."

Umm, excuse me?  Symptoms similar to drug addicts who go cold turkey??   Doesn't that seem a tad bit extreme?

I could laugh.  I could say that losing my cell phone was a mere annoyance and leave it at that.  But I'd be lying.  

The first day without my phone was dismal.

But the second day wasn't so bad.

And the third day, I thought: "Hey, I could really get used to this."

Since then, I've been extra thankful for the unexpected and inadvertent silence that's entered into my life -- a new stillness in which I am not tied to a little ringing piece of plastic.  And I decided that I could sit and worry about my phone and wonder what I will do about it, or I could take this chance to move beyond the anxiety and isolation and trust that God has a plan, even in something as minor as this.

I'm moving beyond.

And I still don't have a phone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

what i wore wednesday: woodland tales and prairie girl

Hi friends!

Wow! - what a response I got from the first WIWW post!  And what fun!  I loved meeting new people and visiting their fashion posts.  I hope to look at even more this week.  If you're stopping by from The Pleated Poppy (who hosts WIWW), please leave a comment to let me know, and I'll be sure to swing by your site.  

This week included many outfit-changes, mainly because the weather couldn't make up its mind.

Outfit 1:  Woodland Tales


Admittedly, this is a "go-to" outfit for me when I want something fun to wear but don't want to think about it.  It's a collage of sorts, gathering clothing pieces from all sorts of stores and from all walks of my life.  The stockings, for instance, came from a department store in Oxford when I studied at the University my senior year of college.


Bird Shirt: Cabi, Jacket: Anthropologie, Tree Dress: Urban Outfitters, 
Stockings: Department Store in Oxford, Fuzzy Boots: Steve Madden


Here's a close-up of the shirt.  I love pairing the shirt with the dress because it makes it seem like the birds are dancing in the treetops.

Outfit 2:  Hodgepodge Thrift


Hat: thrifted, Shirt: Odille (probably from Anthro)

Sadly, I didn't get a chance to snag a full-body shot of this outfit (it was a busy day).  I put the outfit on before heading over to the thrift store with my family.  Before I left, I thought, "This outfit needs a hat, but I'm not sure what kind of hat it needs."  Then I found the hat at the thrift store!  Don't you just love those moments?


Here's a close-up of the shirt.  The detail is amazing.  The pattern includes all sorts of little creatures -- lambs, lions, foxes, and rabbits.  I love it so much!


Jean Skirt: Department Store in Oxford, Navy-Blue Stockings: H&M, Boots: Frye

And here's the bottom half of the outfit.  I'm glad nifty stockings are coming back in style.  I've been donning eclectic stockings in the winter for years now, so I'm finally back "in style" instead of just being odd and eclectic in my own fashion world.

Outfit 3:  Little House on the Prairie


Dress: Gunne Sax, Vintage'

This is what I wore to church on Sunday.  It's one of my favorite outfits, snagged from my mom's closet. I know it's not for everyone, but it really fits my personality.  I would live in dresses like this every day of the week if I had them.


Oxford Heels:  Payless (circa 1999)

My friend, Victoria, took this picture a month ago, but I wanted to put it up so you could see the whole dress.

Outfit 4: Vintage Gwendolyn


Gwendolyn wore this vintage baby dress since the weather was permitting.  She looks so happy to be a part of WIWW!  (The vintage dress was a gift from Victoria, actually!)

Outfit 5: The Cozy Non-Outfit

By the end of the week, I totally needed to veg out in ye ol' trusty sweatshirt...


...because at some point, we all need to cuddle in a hoodie. 


What did you wear this week?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a (potentially future) pastor's wife speaks

(Yesterday I spoke briefly about my husband's seminary application process.  For one of the applications, a spousal statement is required.  Below is (part of) my statement.)

I cannot run from God.

That is the phrase that comes into my mind as I try to express why I think my husband should attend seminary:  I cannot run from God.


Anyone who has served in ministry leadership knows that it would perhaps be easier to get a secular job, earn a comfortable living, and play it "safe."  But what my husband and I have learned over the last few years of marriage together is that God does not ask us to play it safe; He asks us to follow Him.

We have followed Him into ministry together, serving side-by-side in campus ministry.  We have followed Him into Christian community together, living for 3 1/2 years with other Christian families and being spiritually stretched in the process.  We have followed Him into support-raising, trusting God and God alone with our funds we we have asked others into partnership for the Gospel by supporting us.  And now, we are following Him in the call to pastoral ministry.

I purposefully stress that we are following the Lord into pastoral ministry together, because I am as much a part of the ministry as my husband.  I know the types of sacrifices God asks a pastor's wife to make, and I am willing to make them in obedience to Christ.  I have struggled alongside my husband, attempting to discern if this is the path God wants us to take, and I am certain it is.  God has gifted my husband in such a way and has knitted our lives together in such a way that points directly to pastoral ministry.

I cannot run from God, and I won't.
He has called us into pastoral ministry, and we will follow.

Monday, January 9, 2012

seminary applications and a "yes" from God

My husband is currently applying for seminary.

It's an interesting process -- one littered with questions of How? and When? and Are We Sure?

And no matter which way we slice it, we cannot fit the pieces of the puzzle together.  I feel like maybe we're just missing pieces right now -- that we don't have them all within our grasp -- and sometimes just have to walk away from the bigger picture while we remain faithful to to smaller bits.

I've written before about my own discernment process in becoming a pastor's wife.  But that's not the full story.  The call to pastoral ministry was first laid on my heart.  It caught me off guard sitting in church one day.  Suddenly, God brought it into my mind with such a peace.  In my mind, I saw my husband preaching, and I heard a word in my heart: Yes.  From then on, I knew Elliott had to pursue it.

The past year, we have wrestled with knowing whether or not it is the right call to pursue -- after all, there are so many ways we could go -- but a few weeks ago, I just knew that the wrestling was over.  God didn't want to wrestle with us in the matter any more -- we were the ones continuing the fight.   And with this realization came a second peace -- a second Yes.  Yes, we are on the right track.  We have to move forward.  And even though it's hard -- even though it will undoubtedly be harder later on -- it's the right thing to do.

It might be next year.  It might be in ten years.  But whenever it begins and however long it takes, I know it's where God wants us to go.  And go we must.

(to be continued tomorrow...)

Waste Not: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Since I recently ran out of laundry detergent, I decided to give one recipe a try.  It's pretty easy, although a tad bit time-consuming.  After you read through this recipe, maybe you could share your own recipe in the comments section.  I'm almost finished with this first batch, so I'd be willing to try something else.

Homemade Laundry Detergent


1/2 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Borax
1 C Grated Unscented Soap


Grating the soap and running it through the food processor obviously took the most time.  It's not that much time, but I could see how it would deter some people from trying this out (and someday I may not have time to do it this way).



Measure out and combine all ingredients.  


Use 1-2 tablespoons depending on the load.

Overall, I have been very pleased with the mixture.  Our clothes are clean and fresh and I have absolutely no complaints.  I will continue to use homemade laundry detergent for the foreseeable future.

Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars
(0.5 off for time)

Please share:  what do you use for laundry detergent?

Friday, January 6, 2012

regrets

Four years ago, we were sitting around a cafeteria table, frantically gobbling down our dinner.  We had a half hour break during an eight-hour rehearsal, and we were starving -- both for food and for fellowship.  As we quickly laughed our way through a series of topics, the question was posed:
If you could do anything else other than what you are doing right now, what would you do?

At the time, I was an actress, on a full scholarship, getting paid to act.  I racked my brain -- there was nothing -- literally nothing -- else I would want to do.  I was living my dream.  


The Illusion, directed by Harriet Power, Villanova University Theatre

I half-heartedly answered, "Museum curator," although I knew it was basically a lie.  Acting was IT for me.  I had finally made it, and I wasn't letting go.

The Illusion, directed by Harriet Power, Villanova University Theatre

Or so I thought.  

Because that summer, I gave it all up -- lock, stock, and barrel, as they say.  

And do I regret it?

Ah, that's the million dollar question.

Because sometimes, I feel it.
I feel the pain of tearing a piece of yourself away -- I feel the familiar wound.
And out of nowhere, sometimes I feel something more --
a twinge of envy boiling up inside me.
I glimpse into a life I could have had -- and a part of me still wants.
A part of me mourns for what I gave up.


And then: a reminder hits me -- He whispers softly into my ear --
What about your daughter?
It was that, or your daughter.  You chose your daughter.

And it's true.  No, really.  I couldn't have had both -- at least, not the way I am wired.  Maybe someone else with another constitution, but not me.  Theatre became my life -- inside and out, upside and down, and every-which-way you could possibly imagine.  I had given my soul to every character, every play, every director, and by the time I was 24, I had nothing left inside me.  I was a shell walking around.  I didn't even know who I was any more; all I had inside me were the characters.  It became apparent that I could not have both career and family, and so I chose.  


And the fact is that God told me to step away.

It was right before class.  I couldn't take another hour inside the theatre building, and so I climbed a tree instead.  And there, God met me.

"God, what am I supposed to do?"
Why do you keep asking? - I've already told you.


And deep within me, a song by Sara Groves rose up: "It's your chance to stand up and tell the world you've gotta rest awhile."


I didn't go to class that day.
I withdrew.
And I haven't gone back to theatre -- at least, not the way it used to be.

And if someone asked me today if I wanted to trade in my life as disciple-of-Christ/wife-to-Elliott/mommy-to-Gwen for the dream acting job, I would emphatically say no.


With no regrets.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

walking on water

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus.  
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Matthew 14:29-30

How often do I follow Your voice on faith, only to be distracted by some tangible wind?
How often do I take initial trusting steps towards Jesus, only to lose my footing?
How often do I walk out onto the water, only to drown in worry and fear?

Am I walking on water, or am I sinking?


What about you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday (First Time!): Victorian Casual

I'm really excited about starting something new at the start of this year.  In an effort to connect with more bloggers (and to keep me motivated), I'm shaking up my Wednesday routine.  Don't worry!  If you are mainly at my blog for the simple-living posts, they will still be here, just not every Wednesday.  To give you hope, I promise I am working on a review of homemade laundry detergent, as well as a couple of highlights of some super spiffy books I received for Christmas.  So stay tuned!

But back to the matter at hand.  Inspired by the lovely Megan over at Sorta Crunchy, and the other ladies who take part in the What I Wore Wednesday link up, I've decided to get back in touch with my pre-mommy (pre-wear-pajamas-all-day) self when it comes to fashion.

I did a lot of experimenting with fashion in college, but in recent years, I've been trying to cut back on my closet, and I've sort of wanted to dress as simply as possible.  But I'm a theatre-girl at heart, which means I love anything that feels like a costume.  So I thought I'd give you all a taste of the types of things I wear.

It's also worth saying that I haven't gone shopping for myself in at least three years.  All of my clothes are clothes I've had for YEARS (some dating back to eighth grade, no lie), but most have been given to me or were found in my mother's closet (she rocks... and has a better eye for fashion than I do).

So without further ado, I give you my first WIWW Post:

Victorian Casual

I call my look "Victorian Casual" because I'm inspired by the Victorian period, with the lace and the high collars, and the boots, and the fanciness.  But I'm also a mom, which means I like to wear jeans and fuzzy boots and t-shirts.  So I do what I can.


This past week, I wore this vintage coat around most days.  It's not warm enough for the chilliest of days, but it was mostly mild around these parts, so it was a good excuse to wear this beauty.


The coat was a gift from a friend who got it from her sister.  Her sister was giving it away, and Sonya decided it was my style, so she snagged it.  I am forever grateful.

(Forgive the indoor/uninspired shots.  I literally gave the camera to my husband 10 minutes before I ran out the door for work.  He was holding our baby the whole time.  I thought he did a pretty good job considering the circumstances.)


And this is what was under the coat.  Notice the lace?  My style has always been lots of layers, so I have a cardigan on top of a long-sleeved shirt on top of a tank top.  And usually I wear cooler boots than mere fuzzy ones, but when it's cold, my feet want the fuzzy.

Cardigan: Free People, Shirt: Moth, Tank: Target, Skinny Jeans: J Crew, Boots: Bearclaw

Here's another outfit I wore this week:


Again, lots of layers!  I have a small high-collared jacket over a t-shirt over a tank top (and yes, the tank top has lace on the bottom - of course!).

Jacket: Anne Taylor LOFT, T-Shirt: Anthropologie, Tank: I have no idea, 
Grey Leggings: Old Navy, Plaid Galoshes: Sperry at DSW

But to be honest, when I'm inside the house (and I'm inside the house most of the time), I switch out my boots for these friends:

Slippers:  Urban Outfitters (Christmas present!  Thanks mom!!!)

And that's what I wore.
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