Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Good Week

This past week has been wonderful for me- full of plenty of relaxation and together-time with David, as well as lots of good fellowship with friends from church.  I feel so blessed to have so many caring people in my life to talk to!  I had people over a few times during the day, for lunch and visiting.  I so enjoyed the opportunity to chat, and felt like my social needs were well-met this past week.  David and I have had several discussions about how often is the ideal for having company.  I tend towards two or three times a week, whereas David is more comfortable with two or three times a month (on top of time we spend with friends at bible study groups, church, and group marriage counseling).  I think I just have a larger cup for the wine of socialization than David- when his cup runneth over, mine is only half full!

Also, yesterday was my first full morning helping out with the 2,3, and 4 year olds class at church.  Our church lasts about 3.5 hours each Sunday (an hour each for worship, classes, then teaching hour), and the program for the 2-4s runs the whole length. Kids that age really struggle with sitting still for five minutes, let alone for a full lesson from the pulpit, so the program provides snacks, crafts, story time, and lots time before and after for free play (with plenty of room to get their energy out).  I had a great time playing with the kids, and talking to them here and there.  During the free play time, a little girl served me "lunch", which was imaginary pizza, with bananas and syrup on top. Yum... 

When we got home from church yesterday we ended up taking a four-hour nap.  It was lovely!  Then, we watched a movie marathon, and I worked on crocheting.  I have been working on crocheting a quilt for a queen-sized bed since last April.  I am finally getting close to having it done.  David and I went Saturday and bought another pound of each color of yarn, so hopefully that will be enough to finally finish.  I'll post pictures of it when I'm finished.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good Books

Lately, Wonderful David and I have been reading together before we go to sleep at night.  We've been doing this for about six months now, and boy, has it changed our nighttime routine.  It's nice to come together in unity of mind and purpose and read and pray before we drift off.  It's a good reminder that we are on the same team!

There have been two books lately that have really made a huge impact on me- the first is "The Hospitality Commands" by Alexander Strauch, and the second is "The Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller.

The Hospitality Commands is wonderful because it gives the reader a nice kick-in-the-pants motivational talk about why hospitality is important, the scriptural backing to show God's opinion about it, and then some good get-started advice.  And, it's only about 60 pages long.  It took us about a week to read it through together (we took it slow- because it's that awesome...).  Here's an excerpt that I like:

"I don't think most Christians today understand how essential hospitality is to fanning the flames of love and strengthening the Christian family.  Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way.  Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions.  We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy, and time.  Indeed, we share our very lives.  So, hospitality is always costly.  Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand.  Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory."

Another excerpt from later in the book that I like:

"Truly every guest is an honored guest, a person of infinite value who will live forever.  My wife always says to our family, 'We should treat every guest as an angel of God or as our Lord Himself.  They are all important guests.'  So, it is as much a privilege to entertain God's people todayas it was for Abraham to entertain angels.  'The encouragement assigned,' says biblical expositor William Kelly, 'is that some, as Abraham and Lot of old, entertained angels unawares.  To receive God's children now is assuredly no less honour in his eyes.'"

I just love all of that book, but if I put anything else from it up, I will basically have typed out the whole book (it's not that long).  Reading it has inspired me to think more about the way I treat others, and the way that I use the gifts God has given.  I have felt encouraged to act on my desires to share my home with friends and loved ones, and I have been so, so blessed by God both in reading the book, and in following some of its advice.

The other book I mentioned is Timothy Keller's The Prodigal God. This is another book that I feel blessed to have read and shared with my husband.  We have had many good discussions based on our nightly reading from this book.  The only thing I wish was different about it is that I want it to keep going!  I felt my heart pricked many times by the Spirit while we were reading this book, and I have found new trust in God and freedom from some of my perfectionist tendencies.  The basic message of the book is about the parable of the prodigal son, and about the oft-forgotten elder brother from the parable.  Basically, we all struggle in our relationship with God by being either a rebellious younger-brother type, or by being the prideful older brother.  The older brother was no less separated from the father than the younger brother, he just displayed it differently.  Instead, he sought to control the outflow of blessings from God through good behavior, instead of just demanding it outright like the younger brother.  In both cases, their focus was on what the father would give them or do for them, and not on enjoying a loving relationship with him.  I feel my heart has been quickened and softened through the message in this book.

Here's an excerpt:
(starting on page 35)
"...the brothers' hearts, and the two ways of life they represent, are much more alike than they first appear.
   What did the younger son most want in life?  He chafed at having to partake of his family's assets under the father's supervision.  He wanted to make his own decisions and have unfettered control of his portion of the wealth.  How did he get that?  He did that with a bold power play, a flagrant defiance of community standards, a declaration of complete independence.
   What did the older son most want?  If we think about it we realize that he wanted the same thing as his brother.  He was just as resentfulof the father as was the younger son.  He, too, wanted the father's goods rather than the father himself.  However, while the younger brother went far away, the elder brother stayed close and 'never disobeyed'.  That is his way to get control.  His unspoken demand is, 'I have never disobeyed you! Now you have to do things in my life the way I want them to be done.'
...Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching?  Neither son loved the father for himself.  They both were using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake.  This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently.
   It's a shocking message:  Careful obedience to God's law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God."

I would encourage everyone I know to read these books (if you haven't already...)!  They are wonderful! :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Day

Today has been a great day.  I am writing this at just after midnight, because it has taken this long for my mind to calm and the inspiration to journal to hit.

So, today has been a great day.  I have so much to be thankful for.  The very first thing I am thankful for is my God.  He has answered so many prayers of mine in the last couple of weeks.  The biggest prayer that He has answered for me is an answer to the aching loneliness that has drenched my heart for as long as I can remember.  I can remember being a forlorn kindergartener sitting at the top of monkey bars all by myself, watching the other kids play, and thinking, "I will always be alone."  I know now that that doesn't have to be true! I feel that I have many friends and family who love and appreciate me, and I don't think for one second that my present contentment is an accident or coincidence.  Thank you, God. 

The second thing that I am thankful for is those same people deposited into my world as gift-wrapped blessings mentioned above.  I have had several different people over to my house in the last two months, and I have felt so honored and pleased to spend time with them!  My heart and spirit have felt nourished and bolstered by the fellowship.  I have also spent a lot of time talking to very dear friends on the phone this past week, and have been so nurtured by their grace and input.

Also, I am thankful for my family members.  Today I spent a good long while talking on the phone to my sister A. (sister-in-law just doesn't seem to do that bond justice...) We talked for almost 5 hours.  It was incredible.  I was just reflecting on how much I enjoyed talking with her, and it occurred to me that what was so wonderful about it was that there was no urgency, no pressure to perform, be funny, be smart, be anything other than... me.  And that I was okay.  What a gift! My heart is aglow.

And, I am grateful for my wonderful husband.  I thank God for him every day.  He is such a wonderful leader, provider, and friend for me!  Sometimes I reflect on just how well he treats me, and marvel at the man God gave me.  I feel inspired and encouraged by his strength of character, his kind heart, his generosity, his sense of humor, and his general wonderfulness.  Thank you for being you, David!

I am thankful for my little kitties who follow me around everywhere I go during the day. I am so comforted and delighted by their presence.  I was having a sad moment the day before yesterday, and Trinket came to me and curled up next to me, and asked me to rub her belly.  Then, yesterday, I was talking on the phone to someone and an upsetting topic came up, and Gizmo came running over and rubbed her little head on my chin, then cuddled up under my neck and started purring.  What great cats!

I am also thankful for the Spirit.  I have felt such a shift in my heart in the last year.  I have become more aware of the grace of God working in my life and my heart, and He has changed me into a better, happier, more patient person.  I feel the change is completely dramatic.  I still have my moments of feeling blue, but I have an overriding sense that I'm okay now, and that I am forgiven, and that it will all be okay.

So, basically most of what I did today was talk on the phone all afternoon- but what a great day it was!  And, I learned how to do things around the house one-handed... go me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New House Pictures

Here's some new pictures of the new house! Everything is pretty much settled at this point, just needs a few final touches....



Library/ Sewing Room

Trinket had to get in every picture!

Library/ Sewing Room

New sewing desk- a gift from Mark and Nancy, my in-laws

Guest Room

Guest Room

The new bed in the guest room- a present from the in-laws

Sitting Area upstairs

Little table that David made

Dining Area

Staircase

Half Bath

Master Bath

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Backing Down

I can't take it anymore.  I am officially stopping the vegan diet.  I have been having such amazingly persistent cravings for meat the last two weeks!  It's almost all I think about nowadays. I've had dreams about steak.  I had given myself permission to quit at any time, and have been taking short breaks from it whenever I felt like it, but it's gotten to the point now that I take a "break" almost every day.  So, I think the new classification is just "eating healthy".  I'm still probably going to limit my cheese and milk products intake, but I need meat.  I didn't really feel this way until I started taking the Metformin, so it could be that my hormones are adjusting themselves, and I just have more of a biological need for protein than I did before.  Regardless, cows and chickens watch out!

Although, I will have to say that the vegan diet was good to me- I lost about 25-30 pounds in 6 weeks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happenings

It's been too long since I blogged.  Not that I didn't have anything to say- I've had plenty to say.  I've just been resisting doing it because I enjoy it.  Anybody else have moments like that?  It's like, "Oh, that would be fun! No thanks."

The cats are locked in the closet right now.  I just haven't let them out for the day.  Alot of times the presence of my cats is treated like alcohol- not before noon, please.  I'm still a tad bit irritated with Trinket for waking me up this morning.  She was rattling the doorknob and banging on the door.  Sometimes it sounds like I have a crazy old uncle stashed in the closet. "Let me out, kiddies- I was only joking!"

We kept Shayce and Kylie off and on this past week. On Tuesday they both spent the night, then Wednesday Shayce spent the night, then Thursday their parents came back into town, and Shayce was drug kicking and screaming from my house just before dinnertime.  Poor baby.

On Tuesday, they played in their room with the dress-up stuff, did puzzles, read books, colored, wrote letters to Trinket (Shayce was very excited to find out that they were almost the same age), then ate dinner (fruit and pb+j sandwiches and chips), then took a bath, then watched two TV shows and had cinnamon popcorn, then called it a night around 9:30 or so.  Kylie did not want to fall asleep, and she was keeping Shayce up, so I ended up rocking her for a few minutes (didn't work), then laying her down in my bed and letting David put her to sleep.  She knows that her David is not going to let her get up, so she usually just gives in to the sandman at that point.  Once she was asleep soundly, David carried her upstairs and put her in bed with Shayce.

On Wednesday morning, my parents came over and picked them up around 9:30.  Mom and Dad wanted to see them for a while (originally the girls ended up at my house in the first place because Mom and Dad were supposed to be watching them, and they called me and asked me if the girls could spend the night at my house Tuesday. ), and I had a lunch date with my sister Melanie! :)

After lunch, I checked my email, then took a nap.  I had a hard time relaxing and going to sleep while the girls were here because I was worried they would wake up and not remember where they were and freak out, and I wouldn't hear them. (wow what a sentence...)

I napped until 6:30, when David got home.  We had dinner together, and then Mom and Dad brought Shayce back over.  When they got here with her, it was about 8:30, and it was bedtime.  So she went upstairs, picked out a few books to read, and David read to her, then we tucked her in, and she went right to sleep- no tears, no fuss.  I was impressed.

On Thursday Shayce and I dropped David off at work, and then we had the car so we could go places.  We went to the mall first, and had lunch there.  I decided to go off my vegan diet that day because I bought her chicken nuggets, and she ate half of one and didn't want the rest (they were too "chicken-y"...) and I refuse to let good Chik-fil-A nuggets go to waste.  They were begging for someone to eat them with the special chik-fil-a sauce.  So I stepped up to the plate.

Then we walked around for a while, saw the ducks, looked at all the cute playhouses they had on display (they were doing a drawing give-away), then went to the candy store, and then left.  On the way home we stopped by two grocery stores- whole foods (for some more cinnamon sugar popcorn!) and Aldi's (for everything else).  Then we went home.  Shayce wanted to have cinnamon popcorn and watch a "show", so I put Rainbow Brite in for her.  Then after a little while Steve came and picked her up, and I went to go pick up David from work.

And throughout all of their time at my house, David was SUCH a wonderful husband!  He played with them (chase, tickle monster, with toys, read books, etc.), he helped me keep things put away, he did dishes, and basically just spoiled me rotten! He is So Good and Wonderful!!!!

Last night we were supposed to have friends over, but they decided to reschedule so we just took it easy instead.  I ended up falling asleep on the couch, and then going to bed at 9:30pm. At the ripe old age of 26.

I am so thankful for all the good times I have had this week, and for getting to spend some good, quality time with my neices and my wonderful husband, both together and separately.

Some pictures:

Look at that cute little tummy^  :)

Shayce

Kylie

Shayce was very excited about cinnamon popcorn!

Shayce was trying to hold Kylie still for a photo- like trying to catch a greased piglet

Little Sweeties

Monday, August 02, 2010

Healthy Living

Today I weighed in on my delightful Wii, who greeted me with a reprimand for not visiting it often enough. I found that I have lost 20 pounds since July 18th (I've weighed in between now and then.... don't hate). Veganism is good to me. Yesterday I decided to have a piece of cheesecake at my brother and sister-in-law's birthday party, and then got some cheddar peppers from Sonic (hey, I figured why stop with just one no-no?).  Then my wonderful husband and I went to Wal-mart to get groceries, and ended up taking advantage of the back-to-college sales to get some shelves and storage containers for the guest room. Fifteen dollars for a three-shelf bookcase? Yes, Please!!  Then, my amazing, patient, and wonderful husband put those shelves together for me once we got home, and gave me his input on arranging the furniture and decorating the room. He rocks!

While we were at Walmart, though, I paid the price for for my dairy indiscretions- cold sweat, queasy, stomach ache, and so forth... My body wanted to take the opportunity to remind me that some things are very obviously poison for me.

Also, I got a follow-up call from my OB/GYN.  They got the test results back from my bloodwork.  My cholesterol is not horrible, but a little high (220, when it's supposed to be under 200), and I'm not diabetic (yay!) but I was at the very most highest decimal point in the normal range.  So, the nurse I was talking to was like, "You're not diabetic, and you're not really pre-diabetic.  You're more like pre-pre-diabetic." Which is guess is still a different category than normal..?  And, the hormone levels in my blood confirmed the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD).

The good news is that there is a success-ridden treatment plan for this.  So, at this moment right now I am infertile, but I will definitely not stay that way.  And the point of all this is not to be bull-headed and pursue pregnancy at any and all cost, but to get myself healthy, and make sure things are functioning the way they are supposed to.  Then, we will continue to wait for God's timing in His blessings.

So, the treatment is a drug typically used to treat Type II Diabetes, called Metformin. They have found that it also works well as treatment for PCOD. Other benefits of the drug are that it will help me to lose weight- hooray!  One of the symptoms of PCOD is hormone-triggered weight gain, and weight loss resistance.  I wish I had known about my health issue back when I was in high school and struggling so hard with my weight.  Even back then I had such a hard time acheiving a normal weight, even with a healthy diet and daily exercise.  I have suffered so much humiliation and demoralization over my weight- it's nice to know that I'm not just lazy and completely lacking in self-control (though I do struggle with both of those things on occasion...  Doesn't everybody? lol)

So, overall, it's all good news.  I have so much confidence and hope and this is all going to work out well, and that this can be an experience to use for the glory of the King. It's a great day, isn't it!

Here are some pictures from our last anniversary, just because! All of these were taken by me with the fantastic camera that my wonderful husband got me last year! :)

Isn't he handsome?  :)

A sunset in Old Town Alexandria, VA facing away from the riverwalk along the Potomac


The butterflies in DC were amazing last summer!








I LOVE Canadian geese!


I used the special effect on my camera where I could highlight one color and mute the rest- pretty cool!


Once again, the special effects....



He's my favorite astronaut!

Sunset at the National Zoo

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Pup Update

Today was soooooooooo HOT!!! We were gone a lot of today- we went down to Lancaster to show someone the house, and then we went to my brother Steve's for his and Rita's birthday party.  Then we went shopping and got groceries, plus another shelving unit for the guest room.

The puppies were so excited to see us when we got home.  They were both very hot today, so I decided to give them a break from the heat, and I let them into the kitchen.  Here are some pics:




Guess who is losing the last of her black fur?! Boo!!!