Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Gas Stove

Today I am using my gas stove for the first time.  Wonderful David got the fire on it started for me, and relieved me of the stress-inducing job of playing with the combination of fire and natural gas.  Needless to say, I am a bit of a baby, and he is good to me.

Okay, just finished my virgin run on the new stove.  I have never cooked spaghetti this quick before in my life. Fabulous!

This is my third day without meat.  Last night, though was a little rough.  We went to a buffet for my dad's birthday- his 75th, as a matter of fact.  I stayed away from all the meat, but I did splurge a little with a couple dishes with cheese or butter in them.  Overall I consider it a success though.  Today I have done very well- lunch was a large salad with spinach, tomatoes, guacamole, and italian salad dressing, with an orange and banana as a side dish.  Dinner tonight is spaghetti with mushroom sauce, salad, and fruit.  I haven't decided to give up my sodas yet- they are my comfort food through all this change.  And I still maintain that I will only do this as long as I want to, and I have permission to stop at any time. And I feel great about all of it! :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Yesterday I ate no meat.  I also ate little other than raw fruit.  I had oatmeal for dinner though, along with my fruit.  I woke up yesterday morning with what I feel is an inspired drive to start eating healthier.  I haven't decided for how long I will forego meat.  I might not even continue through this evening.  The point is, I want to for now, and I will continue for as long as I want to, and I have given myself permission to stop at anytime.  And I think that is the most important principle: all of us strive against rules, myself immensely so. It's deeply embedded in my nature to lust after the forbidden fruit.  So, in order to have success, I make it so that I am okay either way. I am also praying for God to teach me to love submission.  I think that there is so so much to be said for those who have the skill of making up their mind to do something, and then accomplishing it.  I'm slowly getting there. God and I are working together on slowly taming my rebellious heart, and I see improvements every day.

I felt better this morning when I woke up.  I felt lighter, and I had more energy.  And, I managed to feel well-rested after only eight hours of sleep.  That is huge for me.  The last few days I have been feeling tired, and I have been sleeping in a little later every day. A lot of times I would still feel tired after sleeping for ten or eleven hours.  Not so this morning! :)

I think the trick to making any sort of dietary change is to wait to eat until you are very, very hungry.  Then, everything tastes like ambrosia!

I've also been slowly tackling getting my house in order.  The new house is still piled with boxes, yet it feels comfortable.  My furniture is surprisingly suited color-wise to the curtains that were left by the people who lived here before.  And, the color that I chose for the walls adds the perfect final touch.  Now I just have to go scrounge around in some thrift stores and garage sales until I find the perfect artwork for the walls.  In my new house I want to keep things as simple and uncluttered as possible.  I have been forcing myself to let go of a lot of things the last few weeks, and it really shows!  My bedroom is almost completely finished, and my kitchen is getting close to being done.  I think I might do some laundry today, too! It's easy because my washer and dryer are inside.

I have been feeling so appreciative of things that I took for granted before- toilets that work without having to be jiggled, dishwashers, laundry in air conditioning, vent to the outside for the dryer, and my wonderful husband for providing me with all of the above.  And also, I thank God for providing us with everything, and for giving us challenges to help us appreciate what would otherwise be normalcy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Undiscovered Genius

All this time we have been thinking that our little Trinket was *special*.  We thought that she had a wonderful personality, but wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the box, so to speak.  Oh, have I been proven wrong.  About one week after moving into the new house, as we were sitting down to dinner, I noticed my cats strolling nonchalantly into the living room.  They were supposed to be put away in our master bathroom.  I figured, no problem, the door was probably just not latched, and a draft pulled it open.  We put them back in the bathroom, shut the door, and thought that was the end of it.  Lo and behold, who came wafting back through the living room five minutes later?  If you guessed the cats, you are correct.  And with a spirit of delight amongst themselves to boot.

So, we put them into the bathroom one at a time.  I figured that Gizmo was the culprit, seeing as how she is far more dexterous with her little paws than Trinket.  After David put Gizmo in the bathroom, we gave her five minutes, and nothing happened.  Then, I put Trinket into the bathroom.  15 seconds later, I saw a little black and white paw shoot out underneath the door, cup the edge of it, and pull it open. 

We decided to switch their living quarters since the bathroom door isn't dependable about latching.  We converted the coat closet on the first floor into a kitty condo, complete with lights, litter box, food, and a water bottle, with a table cloth on the floor to keep things sanitary.  The first two days they were peaceful, and content.  Now, for the last three days, I am greeted in the morning with ths sound of my little black and white cat trying to figure out how to twist the door knob.  That cat amazes me all the time!  I have decided that before now it wasn't that she lacked intellect, she was just training us to do everything for her and let her do whatever she wants.

Belated Open Letter to my Neice on her 18th Birthday

Dear E-,

I wanted to take a minute to write you a letter for your birthday, and let you know just how much you mean to me. You have grown into such an amazing, precious young woman, burgeoning at the threshold of your adult life. The future is full of possibility and wonder, especially for one as smart, talented, and unique as yourself.  I want to encourage you, and give you the heartfelt words that I wish I had heard at your age.

1. Have faith in yourself, but have even more in God.  He can forgive anything, and will.  He will aide you in your heart's desires, and He can bring anything about- even more than you can imagine.  Never doubt that He is holding you in the palm of His hand, lovingly cradled, protected and provided for.  He already knows and has made provision for every step of your journey through this life, and He will be working through all of this for your good.  Life might not always be pleasant, and there will be a lot of pain. Have faith that there is a purpose to everything.  You won't always get what you pray for, but God will always hear you and answer.  Unmet requests, even those delivered in heart-wrenching cries, are not really a "no" as some want to characterize it- they're more like an "I love you too much to give you that."  You might not understand why things are happening the way they are at the time, but hopefully you will come to appreciate hindsight greatly.

2.  Never give your power away to anyone else.  Never hang your happiness and success upon what someone else does or says.  When you make your happiness dependent upon what someone else thinks of you, you might win a battle or two, but you will lose the war, and a whole lot more.  You can choose to be happy, even if the world is falling apart around you.  That's not to say that others have no affect upon our feelings- it is possible to be hurt by others.  Your choice is how long the hurt will be your number one feeling. Also, it is important to honor your sadness when you have it. Invite it in for tea, and before long it will decide to be on its way again.  I want to commend you on your skill at feeling already.  I have to say that I greatly admire your access to your tears- mine are not so accessible to me, and I have had to expend a lot of effort in learning to let myself cry sometimes. What a blessing that you have such a sensitive heart!

3.  If you never ask, the answer will always be no.  If you do ask, you risk hearing the word no, but you also might just get what you want!  There are no iron-clad rules for how you must live your life. (Aside from the law of the land and Biblical morality)  Once you are out on your own, you get to decide how much time you spend playing, and how much time you spend working, and how clean your living space is.  Others will always have their opinions about how you "should" be conducting your life, but I've learned over the years that what others think of me really is not my business.  Let them think what they want; you get to make up your own mind.  If it's Godly, legal, and you like it, then go for it!

4. Be assured of your salvation.  Never underestimate the power of grace, and the fact that when God looks at you, He sees His love for you.  You are infinitely lovable, and 100% likable.  You are beautiful, talented, smart, and kind, and you have a million reasons to hold your head high.  It is necessary in this life to get really good at a few of your favorite skills, but don't stress about being perfect, or being the best.  At the end of life, it won't matter how much money you made or how famous you were- what will matter is how well you loved, and how much joy you experienced.  And, it will matter what you did with your talents.  A talent doesn't necessarily need to make you money or become a profession as much as it needs to be used to bless others and glorify God.

5. Focus on what you like about everything, and let go of the things you don't like.  Don't talk about the negative.  Accentuate the positive.  Expect nothing, and appreciate everything.  Gratitude is the name of the game if you want to have a happy life.

6. Always walk into relationships.  Unhealthy relationships are those begat by people running to or away from someone or something. Be confident in your ability to meet all of your needs yourself (with the strength imparted by God), so that when someone else comes into your life platonically or romantically they can be enjoyed and appreciated without the weight of expectations.

7. Do everything you can to stay out of debt.  Credit cards and the companies behind them will eat you alive if you let them.  If you feel you must have a credit card, pay the balance off immediately if you ever use it.  The best option is to use cash.  There's just something psychologically significant about feeling the dollars in your sweaty palms before you spend them.  Holding physical money before spending it makes letting go of it harder; you want it to be as hard as possible. If it's a good idea to buy something, then it will still be a good idea in a week.  Always wait at least two days before buying something that costs more than 10 dollars. Do your best to owe nothing to anyone but kindness and love. 

8. Keep a plant alive for at least 6 months before getting a pet, and especially before getting married.  The fantasy of having a pet or spouse is very different from the reality of having one. Cacti don't count, either (or any other kind of plant in the family of desert plants). Cats can learn to open doors of all kinds, so you have to make sure you're up to the task of caging Houdini before you enter into that bag of fun.

9.  Don't stress over being like anyone else in your walk with God.  Your faith is between you and God, and no one else.  Beware of those who act like they already have it all figured out- that just means that they walk closely with denial. It's okay to be wrong, and to make mistakes.  Being wrong and making mistakes are both great opportunities for growth.  Never, never, never, never explain yourself to anyone, unless they ask.  If they want to know, they'll ask.  If they don't ask, they won't hear you even if you do your best.  If they do ask, keep it short and simple.  "Because that's what I wanted to do" is sufficient in most cases.  Now that you are an adult, I reiterate that there are very few iron-clad rules about what you must do with your life, and as long as it's moral, legal, and you enjoy it, then more power to you to go for it!  I also must say that I admire you already for your strength of personality, and your ability to do what you like without explanation.  I like your confidence in yourself- well done!

I know that this open letter has been more didactic in nature than my other open letters to people.  Perhaps this is because you are still young, and in writing this to you I am also reminding myself of these things, and revisiting my hard-headed and stubborn 18-year-old self.  I hope that you find some of my thoughts helpful, and whatever you disagree with or know already you will set aside, and forgive me for redundancy.

I want you to know that you are an absolutely scrumptious young woman.  You are superb and delightful.  I love your thoughtfulness and feeling, and the way that you absorb what's going on around you like a sponge before adding your input.  You are beautiful, smart, and conscientious.  You are careful, deliberate, and absolutely precious. I love you so much, and I am so delighted with how intelligent, mature, and fantastic you are.  I love how you accept people for who they are, and for the confidence with which you face the world. I love your passion, and your artistic pursuits.  You have a beautiful heart and soul.  I truly loved your paintings you showed me the last time I was in your room.  You have a gift with the paintbrush. I love how creative and expressive you are with your writing and artwork.  Do everything you can to hold onto and nurture your talents.  Only you can speak the words in your mind, and express the feelings in your heart.  Your spirit is a priceless treasure.  I can only praise God for the blessing of putting you in this world as my wonderful neice. Before the beginning of time He knew who you are, and finely crafted you with your unique skills, abilities, and soul.  I will continue to pray for you, your life, and your future, and thank God for you.

I love you dearly, my E-.

Your loving Aunt

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moved In

Ahhh, finally back on the computer for the first time in a long while!  All of our stuff is officially inside our new house.  We are no longer moving things from house to house, but are now working on moving things out of boxes into their new spots inside our new house.

I have accomplished so much in the last week!  And, I have had so so so so much help to do so! I have had more people inside my new house in the last two weeks than I had in the old house in the entire time we lived there.  I have been feeling so blessed and grateful for the last few days.  We completed painting four whole rooms in the space of 3 days!!! About a dozen people from our church, plus my family, and my sister-in-law on David's side of the family all helped with the painting and cleaning.  I didn't quite finish shampooing the carpet before time to move in, but the carpet I did finish looks fantastic.  This past weekend it took us four hours to get all the stuff from the old house and all the stuff from storage piled neatly into the new house.  I was amazed.  And so, so grateful and appreciative! 

So, now I am slowly and gradually getting things put away and in order.  I feel a tad bit overwhelmed with organizing my stuff into my kitchen cabinets.  I am going from 5 cabinets total for putting things away to about 25.  I have plenty of storage space now. 

Another change I am grateful for is being able to do laundry inside the house!!!! I feel so blessed and lucky to be able to do laundry in air conditioning without having to dress for the out-of-doors.  I no longer have to worry about my underwear being on display to the public if the wind happens to catch them and waft them across the neighborhood.  And, my new garage can be used for storing the car now that there aren't a bunch of large appliances taking up all the space!

The best part about all of this is that I can now have friends over to my house, and we actually have enough space to entertain!  Our old house was sort of close quarters for having more than 2 people over to visit.  Now, we can have lots of people over and everyone can be comfortable! Hooray!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Countdown

It is officially three days until the closing date on the new house!  WOO HOO! I felt like this day would never, ever get here!  I am so excited, and I have practically been counting down the hours.  I find thoughts along the lines of "It's already 10 am, so this day is over and doesn't count...." and such.  I still have quite a bit of packing to do though.  I have most of the items not necessary for daily living in storage, so at this point it's packing things up that I "need".  What can I say- my college degree is mostly in procrastination.

It's been awhile since I last blogged because I have had a lot on my plate to deal with, and I haven't been in such a happy frame of mind for most of it.  I have a goal of only blogging things that are positive, funny, helpful, or quirky, and nothing negative.  I feel that we are called to focus our minds on higher things.  That doesn't mean I am free from days (or weeks) of "Bah Humbug!" though.  My cats can attest there have been quite a few of those lately.  Thus, the lack of blog posts.

I'm feeling much better now though!  David and I have been so lucky and blessed to be surrounded by loving family members and our church family, and I have been delighting in spending time with them recently.  Tonight David is spending time with some of the younger men from church, and I am so thrilled for him- he has been so excited about it, and about developing deeper relationships with guy friends.

The silver lining in the midst of the pain recently has been the fact that I have fell the Spirit and presence of God more now than ever before.  David and I have been reading a few chapters in the Bible and in another book of our choice for the last few weeks, and we have drawn such strength and peace from it.  Last night we were particularly uplifted when our nightly Bible allotment fell on Isaiah 53-55: "For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the hills shall clap their hands." (excerpt)