Saturday, January 31, 2009

You'll notice...

A temporary new item on top of my blog. For the best viewing, let the song play through once, then refresh your screen. This will sync the images and the sound. I have no idea how to make shockwave cooperate the first time through... so for now, that's all.

Look for a long post tomorrow about this.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

New Look

I'm giving my blog a new look... I hope you enjoy it. OF course, I reserve the right to change it at will - maybe even within the next 24 hours. Or, like the last "make over," this may last for months.

You see, I don't use anybody else's templates or images or anything - I start from scratch. And that means that I don't necessarily have all the "flashy" stuff that other people have. But this is me, learning. And enjoying my blog life.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

There Will Be A Day

I try to update my playlist at least once very month or two - adding at least one song, reshuffling, doing something to make it different. I've been looking for a new, different song to add to the top lately. And this is the one that I identified with this afternoon, as I was searching. It's called "There Will Be a Day" and Jeremy Camp sings it.

I try to hold on to this world
with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings,
and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end,
His word declares this truth,
that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew
But I hold on to this hope
and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day
with no more tears,
no more pain,
and no more fears
There will be a day
when the burdens of this place,
will be no more,
we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day,
we'll hold on to you always
I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone
Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

But I hold on to this hope
and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day
with no more tears,
no more pain,
and no more fears
There will be a day
when the burdens of this place,
will be no more,
we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day,
we'll hold on to you always
I can’t wait until that day
where the very one I’ve lived for always
will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced
To touch the scars that rescued me
from a life of shame and misery
this is why this is why I sing
There will be a day
with no more tears,
no more pain,
and no more fears
There will be a day
when the burdens of this place,
will be no more,
we'll see Jesus face to face
There will be a day
with no more tears,
no more pain,
and no more fears

There will be a day
when the burdens of this place,
will be no more,
we'll see Jesus face to face
He will wipe away the tears,
He will wipe way the pain
He will wipe away the fear
There will be a day

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All That I Can Say Right Now...

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were just... overwhelmed? When it took every ounce of faith you had not to worry yourself sick - literally? I have. In a lot of ways, I'm in that spot right now. Along with my husband.
Yesterday, especially, was like that. But God is so faithful... it started out like this:
I didn't sleep on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning, God prepared this for me. Okay... so maybe it was "just" another sun rise. But to me... it was more. It was so peaceful. So beautiful. I walked around the hill behind our house, wearing pajamas and old tennis shoes. And was so wrapped up in the beauty that I didn't even feel the cold. What a great way to start the morning.

Later in the day, he reminded me to look at the little things around me - the little things that contain beauty, even though on the outside, they seem cold. Difficult. Painful.

I knelt in the snow and looked up... and beheld this.

But when I shifted my focus a bit... the sky came into view. It almost looks like coral. Something you'd find diving on a reef. Not kneeling in the snow in the northern part of the US.

And so, I will leave with just a short note:
I'm not posting a lot just now. Not because there's nothing to say... but because I have no words. There are trials the world can see, and then there are the battles we're fighting privately. The ones I can't talk about here. The ones that can be so painful it's hard to breathe. And right now, I can not see the answer. I don't know how things can turn out okay. If I let myself think about it, it's too much. But I know this... my God, He IS God. A faithful God. Who keeps His covenant, unto a thousand generations.

And I know that somewhere, is a job for me. And a job for Derek. And somehow, the house will fall into place. Financing will happen. We won't lose it. This has been a project to glorify God, and that's going to happen. Somehow.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did *NOT* do this past week.
So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.
  1. I did not just post something saying I would not be doing a Not Me Monday post. Because if I had done that, I wouldn't have changed my mind already about doing it. Because that's just silly. I don't change my mind that often.
  2. On Wednesday night last week, we did not throw a cup of warm water out the door, into the air. The vast majority of it did not evaporate in mid-air. It was not that cold here. No.
  3. Our heater has not been running too much. And it is not too dry in our house. My skin is not so itchy it makes it hard to sleep, and we do not get zapped every time we try to pet our cats. And I am not too lazy to go dig our humidifier out of storage and set it up in our house.
  4. I did not accidentally nap for three hours this afternoon. And if I had, I certainly wouldn't be disappointingly awake right now. As in, I'm terribly alert. And it's bed time. But that isn't me, because I am never up too late. Never. And I always get plenty of sleep.
  5. The dishsoap I wrote about earlier this week is not nearly frozen again. But even if it was, it actually did go back to an almost normal color yesterday. And that is something, right?
  6. My husband has at no point gotten me addicted to spreadsheets. As in complex ones. As in ones that will do even more than some interactive software I've used. And I am not currently converting the DSM-IV into a spreadsheet. That actually does the diagnosing for you. Because I have no need for that, and I'm not dorky enough to like that sort of thing enough to do it for no good reason.
  7. I am not making a pathetic valiant effort to "do facebook." Because of one "friend request." And I'm not finding that I'm not a big fan.
  8. This week's "Not Me Monday" post is not pathetic. Because I didn't wait until 10:45 on Sunday night to start it. No. Not me. I'm the obsessive-early-starter person from last week, remember?

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Random Things...

First off, I will not be doing a Not Me Monday post this week. Unless of course, I change my mind. But I would never be so fickle. No. Not me.

Wait. I said I wasn't going to do one this week. Oops.

Anyway, to get your fix, head on over to MckMama's blog. She'll have one, as will hundreds of other people. Literally.

Moving on.

I'd like to ask any of you who read this for prayer. Specifically, regarding jobs. My husband has one, but would like one more suited to his abilities and interests. While I think he does a fine job, and admire his ability to stay kind to angry customers (because almost nobody calls the phone company when they're in a good mood), he apparently is less than satisfied. Don't freak out - he won't quit his current job until he's got one that is even better to replace it with. But, for his sake, I'd really like him to find that better job. And for myself. I don't have one. I've been mostly working on our house, until about mid-November, at which point I was in enough pain that I really got kind of lazy. Now, a month post surgery, I'm feeling pretty great. And I need a job. For money, yes. But it's got just as much to do with sanity and wanting to get out of here a few hours each day.

Regarding the sudden drop in number of posts:

I've been attempting to limit my "sit and think about things" time. Subsequently, I find myself having less to write about. And that is part of it.

The other part? My heart is just so... full. Of all sorts of things. Concern. Worry (yes, I know I shouldn't worry, but I have been). Sadness. Pain. But also good things... joy. Peace. Hope. Thankfulness.

It's like there's so much in me that I'm having trouble letting any of it out. I don't like to do super-long posts, and I'm not usually a fan of jumping from one thing to another.

Lastly, one of the things most predominantly on my mind is one thing I cannot and will not write about here. It's not that I'm trying to be all secretive. It's that there is privacy to be protected - privacy that is mine, and privacy that belongs to other people.

I'm trying to become less addicted to reading blogs. Seriously folks... I could easily spend hours reading them. And not just once. And not just once a day. Two or three times. Every day. If I let myself. I am only letting myself check those that are on my "favorites" list (on my computer, not my blogger profile). And those only once a day unless something exciting is being chronicled. Why? Four authors of blogs I read have had a rough go of things lately. Not just "unpleasant" but really hard, tough things. A fifth blog I ended up reading because I read about it somewhere... and it detailed an event so very close to what happened to a friend of mine this fall. A baby nearly died of a complicated case of RSV. Another baby did die. A family with two newly adopted babies from Africa watched their home burn down. A mother has been told that her little girl has brain cancer. Again. And they're out of options. A man has died after a lot of treatment to try and save him following a traumatic brain injury. I found that it was getting to be too much. I was too involved. Yes, "Bloggers are real people, too." But I feel compelled to devote the bulk of my energy and involvement to the people I actually know. You know, from real life. It's not that I don't pray for people I read about here... I do. On my knees, in my basement, late at night. And it's not that I don't care. It's that I only have so much energy, period. And I need to carefully consider where I am using that energy.

Now, on to happier, lighter subjects.

Today was one of those days where I just felt so special. And unalone. We had church this morning... I got a hug from two people I only see when I'm at church, and they are two very important people. One is Lynn... who has been a voice of reason, of reassurance, and a steadfast presence in my life since I was a sophomore in high school (so for ten years now). The other is my Pastor. I am so amazingly blessed to be part of the church I am. Then, after church, my mother in law gave us money to go out to eat. Giving money is her way of saying "I love you." Seriously folks... I'm pretty sure she could inherit the world and most of it would just flow right through into the lives of people she loves. So I suggested a little place my husband has never been. We were there eating when a family that is so very precious to me walked in. I collected my share of hugs from them. Do you have anybody who just makes you feel... loved... by simply looking at you? I hope so. This family is all that way. Not to mention, they are responsible for introducing me to my church, for transporting me there for months, for being living proof that God is a God of the miraculous. After a yummy lunch, we struck out on our quest for bugs for the saLAManders. We had to stop at Walmart on the way out of the city to pick up a necessity. A family was walking towards us - a mother with two little boys. As they approached, the little boy peeled of and threw his arms around my husband. Then we realized it was Isaiah... an amazingly cute and precious little boy whom we love very much. His mom is a sweet woman, who years ago, I knew through someone else and was just as sweet then.

Our cats. Are. Crazy. I'm not sure if it's the coldness of the outside air, or if it's the phase of the moon, or if aliens are beaming invisible crazy-rays into our house, but something has gotten into them. They are stealing raw pasta to eat (they love the tortellini I like to keep here). They are using a cardboard box as a fort, in which many fights and spats and cuddles happen, as well as hours of solitary tail-chasing and other random wildness. They are finally grasping the art of running on hardwood, and so they do much thudding around. When you have four cats who all choose the same time to be wired and run through the house as though on fire, it can get pretty noisy. Hilarious, but noisy.

I think that this concludes this evening's post.

Wait. No, it doesn't.

I have a request:

If you read here, and are what's commonly referred to as a "lurker" - meaning you read but never comment - could you leave a comment here? I don't need to know who you are, but I'd like to. I like to know things like that.

Thank you, and God bless.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


So, apparently, it's been four days since I posted. Wow. Usually I'm a much "better" blog writer than that.

So what's been up?

Well, on Monday, my husband and I had a sort of impromptu date night. Usually we do that on Friday, but this week, it was Monday. So no writing then.

Tuesday was a long day. Not bad... just long.

Took a few pictures... they are special to me, and I will share one here. One I won't... I'm keeping it to myself for now.

To answer any potential questions... yes, that's snow. Yes, that's a red rose. And yes, that's a gravestone. Ever since last winter, when my grampa showed me what he was ordering for my Gramma's grave, I've been thinking about going out there. Thinking about making the 20 minute drive to see "it." But I haven't wanted to. I was afraid. Afraid it would hurt. Afraid I'd cry. Afraid maybe if I did cry, I wouldn't be able to stop. Afraid that it would be like getting that news all over again.

But it wasn't like that at all. When we pulled up, I scanned the cemetary, looking for it. You see, I'm a little ashamed to admit, but I have only been there two other times since she died. Once for the burial, and once that first Mother's day. There it was... shiny, black. Nobody had been out to the cemetary at all since the latest snow. No foot prints. Just drifting, pure, white snow. Seeing the stone there, so permanent, was somehow... peaceful. It proclaims for every person that sees it... 'But ye must be born again." It's what she'd have wanted. It's who she is. It's who he is. It's who HE is.

I will admit, seeing my grampa's name next to hers was almost like being slapped across the face. I guess somewhere, I knew it would be there. He will be buried next to her, and I knew that. I also knew they'd have one stone. But somehow, I didn't expect his name to already be there. And his date of birth. There's only one date under his name though... only a beginning. I watch him, and I know his heart is still broken. I know he still sits up at night missing her. But his life isn't over yet. He's still just had the beginning, not the ending. And so have I. I've just had a beginning. Sometimes, a quarter of a century sounds long. Sometimes it seems like there's nothing left. But really, I know there's more. So much more. And until I step into eternity, I know I will only have a beginning.


What, you may ask, is this? Well... this is what happens if the following applies to you:

-You live in a crazy cold place. Like one where your nose literally gets ice inside if you leave the house and take too many breaths.

-The ductwork for your heating system has not all be run and is not connected to anything useful.

-You do your dishes in the bathroom. The bathroom that is on the north side of your house in the freezing place.

-You keep the bathroom door closed, because your dishes are in there. And it's cold, because it faces north.

-You need to somehow get more insulation inside the wall that faces north in the cold bathroom.

-You leave the dish soap on the sink, touching the north wall.

-The temperature of the dish soap reaches its freezing point... whatever that is.

So yeah. Behold... what was once dark blue and transparent, is now light blue, slushy, and very difficult to squeeze out of the bottle.

*I'd recommend not doing this to your dish soap.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.
Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did *NOT* do this past week.
So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.
  1. It is not currently Thursday. Because I would never start my "Not Me Monday" post days in advance. No. Not I.
  2. My cat is perfectly behaved. He never destroys things. And I am never a slob. I always put everything where it goes, as soon as I am done with it. I would never let a padded mailing envelope find its way to our living room floor. And if I did, and I was, and he did, and he wasn't (didja' follow that?), even then this would not be the envelope that I mentioned. And those holes would not be shaped like kitty bites. And there wouldn't be little pieces of that envelope all. over. the. house. Because as I said, I'm a neat freak.
    And even if all of that did really happen, I for sure wouldn't make my husband, who kindly threw away the envelope, dig the envelope back out of the garbage and put it where we found it just so I could take a picture for my "Not Me Monday" post.
  3. I did not just type a nice long post, (not this one, a different one) and get giddy when I did spell check and it found zero errors. I'm not so hung up on "doing things right."
  4. I did not go to a doctor today, and nearly breaking into tears, inform him that it doesn't seem to matter what I do, I just can't sleep. Because my faith is bigger than that. He did not surprise me with more compassion than I expected when I told him very briefly what was causing the sleep disturbance. He also didn't give me just enough Ambien to get caught up on sleep.
  5. There are not areas of my life that are too personal, too... painful, embarrassing, or "ugly" for me to share here. I am always an open book. Right? Okay... seriously. Not always. Because nobody needs to share every single detail of their life with anybody else. There are some things better left unsaid.
  6. I do not smile every time I think of "our" skunk. And his name is not Leroy. And he is not something I am fond of. No. Because he is, after all, a wild animal and I certainly shouldn't be comfortable around him. After all, he could be dangerousor he could even stink.
  7. I have not used verbs to come up with nick names for each of our cats. If I had, their names would most certainly not be Crying Cat, Biting Cat, Kicking Cat, and Chirping Cat. Nope. Because we don't have any cats that cry, bite, kick, or chirp.
  8. My Furbis cat did not actually kick Derek's Bayleigh cat in the head. No. Because seriously, what cat kicks other cats? As in picks up his or her foot and kicks another cat? Definitely not mine. Because he's normal.
  9. I am not stalking MckMama's blog right now. Because I'm not hung up on being one of the first ten people to submit my link to Mr. Linky. Because no way would I ever be so superficial as to care what number I am on an automated link submission form.

    **editing to add this: I did not diligently stalk her blog until 9:00 AM this morning. Only to seriously miss her post by seventeen minutes. I wouldn't give up at such a silly time. I am not number 189. So there. Stalking is apparently useless.
  10. I am not currently working on a slideshow that will grace the top of this blog for one week, beginning January 31st.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Glancing Back... and Laughing.

So tonight I did some looking at old pictures. There are some that make me go "aww" and even a few that make me go "wow." But there were a bunch that made me laugh. I've chosen to share just a random handful of them with you. Enjoy. :)
This was a beautiful goose family. At some point between camera being down by my side and being up to my eye, they went from serene and picturesque to all-out hissy fit.

This one made me laugh not because it's hugely hilarious, but because of how posed and "phony" it looks. I promise you, they really did line themselves up like this.

I'm used to kids and even some adults making funny faces at the camera. But deer?

I'm not sure which is better - ears back and tongue out, or jaw being all crooked. But both are amusing. :)

My beloved posing for his Christmas pictures. Do you have any idea how tempted I was to just use this for our card instead of a picture of both of us?

Not only were these four swans swimming in the northern Mississippi river in January, they also lined them selves up very systematically. And just as I snapped a picture, that eagle in the background caught their attention. And I thought it was funny.

This made me laugh. These two sat on the log together, looking at each other, for quite a while. Five minutes, at least.

Remember my post about being alone in the crowd? Does anybody in this crowd seem... different somehow? Don't ask me what a domestic duck was doing hanging out with a flock of mallards, but there he or she was. And it, like the rest of these, made me laugh.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Alone In A Crowd.

Do you ever feel that way? Alone? Even though you're in a room full of people? I used to feel that way most of the time. I felt no more connected to the people surrounding me than I do to the people I see on television or read about in a book. And in my day to day life, I see this loneliness in the eyes of people around me. The longing, the pain, the sadness.

I'm not sure how to explain what has changed. I wish I could. I wish I could say, "I did _____ and then it went away." Because if I could say that, then maybe other people would be able to do the same and leave that feeling behind. I can't offer anybody a step by step list for how to accomplish this. I also can't say that I've "arrived." There are still days when I look around myself at so many faces, and I feel so different. So isolated. So alone. But those days are fewer and farther between. So, since there has been improvement, I will do what I can to share with you what has gotten me here.

In 2002, I had a meeting with my Pastor. He told me that I should get a copy of In Him. In the back of this book is a long list of scriptures that talk about who we (those who have received salvation) are in Christ. He told me to get a notebook and dedicate it to my "In Him" study. Each day, I was to look up a few (between two and five) verses from this list, and write them out in first person. So I did.

Here are just a couple examples, to help you "get it."

2 Corinthians 5:21
For my sake He made Christ to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him I might become endued with, viewed as being in, and an example of the righteousness of God - what I ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness.

Ephesians 1:7-12
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, I'm a free person — free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all my misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything I could possibly need, letting me in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before me in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It's in Christ that I find out who I am and what I am living for. Long before I first heard of Christ and got my hopes up, He had His eye on me, had designs on me for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.

Do you kind of get it?

I know it sounds easy. Simple. Almost like it wouldn't work. But if you do this... write the verses out in first person, and you read them and meditate on them, and say them out loud (Romans 10:17 says "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."), it will get into your heart. Into the depths of you. It will help you. Change you. You might not see it right away. You might not see a difference for weeks or even months. But if you stick it out, keep putting it into yourself, change will come.

And once you start to have a grasp on who you are in Christ, your outlook will change. You'll begin to feel like you belong. Like you are part of the biggest, best family ever to exist. Because, really... you are. And that lonely feeling? It might never go away completely this side of heaven. But it will lessen. Both in frequency and intensity.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Romans 12:6

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else;
if you help, just help, don't take over;
if you teach, stick to your teaching;
if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy;
if you're put in charge, don't manipulate;
if you're called to give aid to people in distress,
keep your eyes open and be quick to respond;
if you work with the disadvantaged,
don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them.
Keep a smile on your face.

This verse caught my eye today. I was doing one of those random searches that I frequently do on Bible Gateway. This came up. And as I read it, I did some serious thinking. Self-examination, I believe the "technical" term is.

The first thing here is in reference to preaching. I don't preach. I'm not called to it - at least not right now. I can't say God will never place that call on or in me, but for now, it's not there. But at the same time... I realize that what I write here might be construed by some as "preaching." I don't mean or intend it that way, but that doesn't mean nobody reads it as such. So I need to be careful with my words. When I refer to God, or walking with Him, I need to make sure that whatever I say is in His Word. Because what if I say something that's "off" and somewhere, someone reads it as truth and is hurt or suffers because of it?

Next it talks about help. There have been several times when I've clearly been in a position where I can and should help. And when I do that, it can be hard not to just take over. To say, "You don't know how to do this. I do. I'll do it for you." Because that's not helping. That's taking over.

Those are the two parts of this verse I'm focusing on tonight. Perhaps tomorrow I'll keep going. Stay tuned - I've got another post up my sleeve. It may go up tonight, or tomorrow morning. I'm not quite sure yet.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

One of THOSE kinds of days...

Yesterday, that is.

Nothing bad happened, but neither was I feeling particularly inspired as I sat down to come up with a blog post. It was just... full. A full, exhausting day.

Today doesn't really see me in "the groove" either, but I wanted to share a little of my past with all of you.
For quite a few wonderful, sweet months, I had the privilege of loving and caring for an amazing little boy. I was his nanny. And loved it.
Here's just a glimpse of what I saw during that time:

He was usually happy and playful. He loved this big, yellow, fuzzy duck best of all. He was also, like many very young children, not at all inclined to hold still. Many of the pictures I took were like this one: With him technically in the shot, but at a strange and sometimes fun angle.

Sometimes, I'd notice him doing this... sucking on one corner of his lip and looking at something over there. This was often times followed by...

...this look. Whenever he shot me this look of pure innocence over his shoulder, I knew he was up to something he was not supposed to be doing.

When I'd bust him, he'd make this face at me. I was seriously expected to discipline and correct this child, without laughing at his naughtiness. Even though he had giant sparkly brown eyes and an obnoxiously cute fake pout.

Once he figured out that I was going to actually be serious for a moment and make him behave, he'd get mad. Somewhere, somehow, he picked up a goofy habit. Instead of screaming or crying, he'd take a deep breath and blow it out like this. And usually, I'd lose control and laugh, hard, at him maintain a serious face and teach him all the things he should and shouldn't do.

My absolute favorite time was nap time though. He was a snuggler. He'd crawl up in my lap, and lay his warm little head on my shoulder. His hand would creep up and wrap itself in my hair, and his little body would relax in my arms. Sometimes, I'd put him in his crib or playpen, and sometimes we'd lay down together on his futon, but usually, I'd just hold him and stare at the miracle he was.

And lastly, just for the fact that it's cute and it's funny, here are five pictures shot one right after the other. This is what would happen when I'd give the baby peas. He, in case you can not tell, definitely did not like them.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

I was SO cute.

I was a very cute baby. I'm not a person who looks at myself and sees pretty or cute or attractive, but when I look at my baby shots, I can't help myself. I had so much baby fat, and the cutest little round head, and the biggest dark blue eyes. I was looking at some pictures of me as a little kid. And I was so cute! So, lacking a scanner at the moment, I chose to take pictures of the pictures just so I could share them with you.

Me as a newborn.

Me at somwhere between 4 and 6 months old.

All my fat rolls.

I cut my teeth on corn cobs. Apparently, I really liked them.

Yes. I spent my first birthday covered with Chicken Pox.

My school picture when I was 4, entering preschool.

Hope you enjoyed that - just a brief glimps of me as a young, cute, innocent kid.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Not Me Monday

"So MckMama..." is a phrase frequently uttered in our home, by myself and my husband. MckMama is one of those rare people who lets herself be seen by others. She lets us see her as she follows Christ - flaws and all.

Each week, MckMama hosts a blogfest called "Not Me Monday." Not Me Monday is, in a nutshell, a no-cost-involved self-therapy program designed for people like me. It gives those who participate full license to disclose all of those details that we usually keep carefully hidden. It also allows us (the participants) to read about all of the things that other people definitely did *NOT* do this past week.

So here are my "Not Me Monday's." Be sure to head on over to MckMama's Blog to check out more, that are probably more entertaining than mine could ever be.

  1. I am not currently staring at my sweet, sweet Furbis cat. Because he is definitely not the Epitome of Catness. No, not he. And no, not me.

  2. My husband and I most certainly did sit idly and passively by as our cats (three of the four) tried vainly to get into a paper bag full of crinkly bags of potato chips. Nope. And we didn't laugh very hard. And we didn't discuss the fact that we were being naughty kitty parents by letting them be so destructive and then decide that really, it didn't matter. Because the fun of watching did NOT outweigh our desire to train them to be good, model-citizen style kitties.
  3. Just today, while typing up this post, I did NOT suddenly realize that I forgot to put up my Christmas play list. And I did not spend nearly an hour and a half preparing that play list for this blog. Only to forget to actually change it. No. Not I. And if that had happened, I wouldn't have decided I'd better at least listen to it once. And I am not forcing myself, on January 3rd, to listen to my Christmas music. No.
  4. I did not spend the days since my surgery wishing my husband would do dishes. There wouldn't have been many to do if I had, since we are mostly living off of paper plates and disposable silverware. And I didn't remind my husband yet again that I wanted him to do them. After all, it's something he hates doing. And he never promised to do them. So why would I expect him to?
    In light of that... I did not come down the stairs, look through the kitchen wall, and see my husband kneeling on the bathroom floor over a bathtub full of soapy water and dirty dishes. Definitely not. Because, I need to remind you, we do not live in a construction zone. We are not able to look through most of our walls due to a lack of drywall. And, just because we don't have a kitchen sink, that doesn't mean we do our dishes in the bathtub.
    But... if all of that had happened, he for sure would have scored some major brownie points with me.
  5. I am not currently searching for a job. And I did not seriously spend over an hour filling out an online interview thing for a local company, and get all the way to the point of needing to choose a time for my face-to-face interview before realizing that I actually do not want to work there. Not even sort of. Because I always think about that sort of thing before I fill out applications.
  6. It is not remarkably windy outside. And I am not noticing that this wind has actually blown 2/3 of the snow off the neighbor's roof. There was not nearly a foot of the cold white stuff on that roof just last night. I cannot see shingles. Because that would mean it is too windy. And I don't secretly wish that I, like my neighbor, was somewhere warmer just now.
  7. In the process of demolition this summer, we did not dislodge a skunk from his home beneath our foundationless (is that a word) entryway. And that same skunk did not then dig underneath our new deck (which replaced the entryway) and take up residence once again. We have not become resigned to the presence of this skunk. And we for sure have not actually grown fond of him.
    And he isn't so used to us that he doesn't spray us. He doesn't sit quietly on our deck as we enter and exit our house. I haven't quit being startled when I see a skunk on my porch. We did not actually name this skunk. How weird would that be?? But if all of that were actually true, surely the skunk would be so used to us that he would rarely emit any smell at all, and his name would be Leroy.
  8. We do not use miscellaneous little scraps of drywall as serving platters. Just because they have great thermal properties and don't heat up when you put a 300 degree bowl on them, and just because they are EVERYWHERE in our house right now, doesn't mean we'd stoop to using construction rubble as serving ware. No. Not us.
  9. I am not desperately grasping at random things in order to create a substantial Not-Me-Monday Post.

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I Have A Reason

Desert Song
~(c) Hillsong

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

You may have noticed there is a new song playing. It's called "Desert Song." Not so much just now, today, but in the not very distant past, the words of this song really struck something inside of me. Knowing the story behind the song - the immense pain, the heartache and grief that the singer was experiencing at the time the song was first released... makes it mean a little bit more to me.

But really, the part that struck me, that resonated with something deep inside?

"All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship"

I do have a reason to sing. I do have a reason to worship. All of the time. Whether my life is going fabulously, or falling apart. There have been several times that I have been truly broken. Not upset. Not at the end of myself. Not desperate. Or at least, not just those things. But broken. Truly, honestly broken.

It's not good to spend all of one's time looking back, contemplating the past. But there are some things that are good to remember. I have been in the place of utter darkness. The place where I wasn't fighting for peace, joy, or hope. I was torn between life and death, two forces waging war within me. In Deuteronomy, the Lord says "I have set before you this day life and death. Choose life." I have done that. I chose life, and when I did, He was there. Welcoming. Loving. Healing.
I have fallen on my knees with tears streaming down my face as I said, "Lord, not my will, but yours be done." I have surrendered the earthly confidence I had, given up that which I had so carefully kept from my King. And it was painful. But He was there. Approving. Comforting.

In the bathroom of a convenience store, I have leaned over a sink as everything around me seemed to be closing in. I have whispered, "Lord, it hurts. How can she be gone? My baby... Lord, my baby. Help me." And He was there. He knows pain. Knows anguish. And He comforts. He does not leave. He is not afraid.

In all of that (and so much more that I just can't share here) He is with me. But the reason I sing? The reason I worship? Because my God, He is God. A faithful God. Who keeps His covenant. And He has promised me that if I believe, if I confess Him as Lord, and if I surrender my life to His Lordship... I will be saved. I do not have to fear death. And I don't have to fear life. I can embrace it, knowig I am redeemed. A blessed, beloved child of the Most High God. And that is why I sing. That is why I worship.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stellan, and 2008.

First off, an important and exciting update. Baby Stellan is home. At home. Not eight or ten days after being admitted. He actually went home yesterday. He was admitted on Monday. What a blessing. His recovery has been swift. God is so faithful.

Moving on.

2008 was a long, interesting year to say the least. I could tell you all about it, but I won't. Instead, I am going to overwhelm you with pictures that depict the year. Here I go:

The single biggest, most significant event in my eyes? My dad's wedding. I could write pages and pages and then even more pages about that. Not the event itself - that was a quick ceremony followed by a leisurely snack time in the chapel. But the marriage. I've heard other adults say that when their parent remarried, they were jealous. Or they didn't approve. Or they were worried about someone getting hurt. That's not the case at all with me.
I'm blessed. I am thrilled. I watch the two of them as they love each other. So much. They love God, and they are pursuing him side by side. They are not alone. She is a beautiful, Godly woman. You'll find no objections here. It's been hard to get used to him being so far away (only an hour and a half or so, but that seems far when I'm used to it being only twenty minutes). But it's definitely worth it. With their union, I became big sister to three amazing people. Again... I am so blessed.

What's next? The work we've done on our house. First, here's some shots of one of our first days of demolition. They don't show the OH so fine white paneling with gold grain, nor do they show the gold-flower-swirled ceiling tiles. But other than that, you'll get some idea of what we started with:

The west face of the house.

The south-east face of the house (front).

The east face of the house.

The rubbish pile we made that first day.

The kitchen then.

The same kitchen - slightly different angle.

The upstairs hallway. At the end, you can see into the area that is now our guest room. There is no longer a hallway - the stairs now open up into our office area, which is 1/4 of the upstairs.

This is the room that is now part of our office area. When I was a child, this was my play room. That's my telescope in the corner.

This is the master bedroom. Out of every room, it is the one that has changed the least.
We stripped it down to the exterior walls and joists and rafters - removed and/or rebuilt all of the interior walls. Here are some "rubble shots." for you, from the following weeks.

Living room area.

Kitchen area.

Looking from upstairs down the hole left by the removal of the chimney.

My husband standing on the stairs while removing insulation.

The upstairs.

The downstairs being rebuilt - look at all that new lumber.

The new walls upstairs.

The east side of the house the day we put insulation up and windows in.

The west side of the house the day we put insulation up and windows in. You can sort of see me, my grandpa, my dad, and my dad's friend Charlie standing in front of it.
Let's see... what else happened this year?
My high-school boyfriend got married to a sweet girl named Jessica. I was at their wedding. In fact, I was the photographer. What a privilege it was - it is so good to see him happy. We still go to the same church, and are still on friendly terms. That's pretty cool, in my opinion. Here's a couple pictures from that.

I love how content she looks here... as if she knows she is loved.
It's interesting... there's so much more that's happened this year, that I don't have pictures for or of. Some friends of ours, after many years of trying and praying, finally had a son. He is, in a not feminine way, the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. We rejoice with them.
My plan was to conclude with some dramatic statement of what I've learned this year, or maybe end with an incredible shot of... something. But really, the one thing that's been proven the most cannot be photographed, and I don't have words adequate to describe it. What is it? God's faithfulness. Because in all else, no matter what, He's been faithful. Our ever-present Help. And that is really and truly what this year has been about.

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