Friday, December 9, 2011

Cruisin' to Christmas

My wonderful husband reminded me today that God gave me a gift, and I'm not using it. I've been blown away by some of the things that were said to me during (and following) the Love Bomb. I got on tonight to write again ... and I had ignored a lovely, touching, heartfelt comment someone left me over a month ago. I really need to get on a bit of a "schedule" of writing, even when I don't feel like I have anything to say!

We spent Thanksgiving in an unconventional way - at my parents' house AND with my in-laws! I am so blessed! Tim and I have not one, but two amazing families! I can't tell you how much it warms my heart that we can all get together and enjoy one another's company. I know they say opposite attract, and that may be true, and while building a relationship around that isn't impossible - there is just something comforting about having similar backgrounds! We have plenty of differences to celebrate, but when it comes to some of the "big stuff" that it is easy to fight about (especially when kiddos come along) ... we pretty much had the same foundation to build on.

Tree given to us by Tim's parents (I added the ribbon)

And now we're speeding toward Christmas, which is in a mere two weeks. I love Christmas! I enjoy the lights, the music, the smells of baking, cool temperatures (hey, we live in Texas!) and warm beverages. But most of all I truly love celebrating the arrival of the life that paid for mine. And I think this year, after losing Lil Bit, I'm starting to understand, just a little, what a sacrifice that really was. I'm so thankful. Around Thanksgiving I started thinking to myself what I was thankful for - and the list just keeps growing. When you think you've had a hard year, just look around.

Last time I wrote, we were down to one car. We recently rectified that! Its surprising how quickly you can save up for something when you've been practicing better stewardship. A little over a week ago we found that we had saved up AND stumbled across the perfect vehicle for us! God had his hand in it before we even knew actually. So, in a little wholesale lot near our house, there was a dark green, 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser. We went to take a look, and found it to be in immaculate condition! These things are known for just going and going and going. After a few days of thinking (there is a down side, bad gas mileage!) and praying, I withdrew some cash. Boy, it sure is scary holding enough cash to purchase a vehicle in your hands! We made the seller an offer, and he said "Plus TTL, so $____ total" and that just happened to be the cash we had in hand. Tim had asked me to withdraw a little more, but for some reason I had taken out less - totally a God thing that it worked out (AND we spent less than we could have!).

The Beast!

And lastly - I've kept up with Couch to 5K! I'm nearing the end of Week 8 ... and Week 9 is the last week! I'm a runner! A few weeks ago I did get my new shoes. I really like them! We went to a local shop where they videoed me on the treadmill for a few minutes, and went back in slow motion to see what my weaknesses were. That kinda led us in picking a shoe, then I ran a bit in the new shoes to see if it helped correct my slight over-protenating ... and it did! Wow, I'm really a runner! Thank you Couch to 5K!

I ended up getting Saucony Guide-5s, really enjoying them!
 
I hope you'll take some time in the next few weeks to remember Christ, get to know Him better, and just soak in this season, this day ... a pause in the typical holiday rush. Nothing says I love you like some quality time (especially if it is spent baking ... I'm really going to miss my siblings "Coocee" tradition this year!).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bombs and Blows

I am in awe of God ... and some amazing strangers. His timing is perfect.

I came home today to an unusual number of emails. Brow furrowed, wondering if I had invited some kind of spam and would find offers of hair growth, weight loss, male enhancement, and urgent messages that I needed to enter my password for eBay, Paypal, Amazon ... and by the way the prince of somewhere wants to give you money for nothing ...

Not even close. What I found were over 100 comments on my most recent blog about losing Lil Bit and the summer fires raging in places dear to me. Thank you. Apparently I was Love Bombed - I'd never heard of it! What a wonderful outreach! And they weren't just shallow comments either - people (maybe you?) read the parts of my heart I had poured out "on the page" so to speak.



The timing was amazing. At work this week, a coworker made a silly comment to me about "when my baby comes" ... somehow the news that I had lost the baby had missed this individual. It wasn't intentional, but it still hurt and took me by surprise. Tomorrow we are having a baby shower for another coworker - this will be my first baby shower. But in His way, God has lifted me up and held me close and I will be ok.

So many commented on my strength - and I'm compelled to tell everyone - it isn't me! Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That includes this. In fact, during the month I've been silent ... I've started doing "Couch to 5K" ... and at a friend's suggestion got a Road ID, and along with my name and age, my husband's and families' contact info, I have that verse. Lord knows I can't become a runner without his help! In a week and a half ... I'll have "earned" the new shoes I promised myself! As much as I liked Cross Fit ... I quit doing it when I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to start an exercise that I could continue or easily alter for pregnancy - if running is too much, I still have the time (and equipment) carved out to turn it into walking later.



I healed quickly from the D&C, and had a relatively "normal" cycle following. During my prenatal testing, it was found I am no longer immune to rubella ... so this second cycle (which seems to be going swimmingly) we are avoiding and I had my MMR booster. Not so fun - and the chances of contracting rubella are slim ... for the average American. Given Tim's contact with not only the public, but the often-ill public in both the pre-hospital and hospital settings ... well, it was a good idea. It really does sting though - squeeze your kiddos extra tight while they're administering that one.


Unfortunately - our blow wasn't a "love blow." It was a blown head gasket. Even in that, there is so much to be thankful for. Tim was driving to his second job ... on IH-35 ... in morning rush hour traffic ... when Green Bean (as I've named his car) stalled. Praise God, he got it started again and was able to exit and even find a good place to come to a rest. A final rest. As in, it is looking like rest in piece(s) Green Bean. Blown head gasket, frost plug needs replaced, throttle body work, new spark plugs/wiring harness, and so on ... adds up to almost three times what the car is worth.


Even being a one-car couple while we save up for a replacement for the Escort comes with blessings. When we drive together, we get to spend that extra time together that we often don't get (like tonight, when I'm at home sitting in my running clothes writing a blog while Tim is 30 minutes into a 12 hour shift). And thanks to a split in the side of one of my tires mere days after the Escort bit the dust - we have two new tires on the Civic (only one of which we had to pay for thanks to Discount Tire's warranty).

I wouldn't share these trials with anyone else. The past couple of months has tested us as a newlywed couple, and we are coming out closer than ever - to one another and God. Tim is my best friend, and I just know God has things for us to do together if we're facing this many trials. I used to always say in video games ... if bad guys keep coming, you must be going the right way.

Thank you for reading, praying, and crying with us. It brings me immeasurable pleasure to know God has used my ramblings to speak to someone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I will rise ... up from these ashes ...

Fire. September has been filled with fires, both real and figurative.

Though I know God is taking me somewhere and will bring beauty from ashes ... this is not the post I wanted to be writing. About now was when I was planning to tell the world that on July 14th, we found out we were pregnant.

Our personal firestorm started on September 2nd. After spotting off and on throughout the pregnancy, something was suddenly different. Since the Labor Day weekend was coming, the midwife at the birth center we had chosen recommended I come in, have an ultrasound, and we wouldn't have to worry over the long weekend. I told myself in a few hours, I'd be going home feeling silly, but with a beautiful picture of our tiny unborn child.

Instead, I watched as if not in my own body as the ultrasound tech found an empty gestational sac measuring seven and a half weeks ... I should have been closing in on eleven weeks. And so the wait began as we mourned our little one who just wasn't made for this world.

Sunday we found out our physical world was burning as well. A fire raged out of control in Bastrop, destroying about 95% of one of our favorite state parks close enough for "getting away for the day" ... and in the end close to 1500 homes. In town, Steiner Ranch was burning ... evacuated. An affluent part of town in a non-coastal area that you just never imagine fleeing from nature with nothing but the clothes on their back.

BASTROP FIRE_2011
Eerie photo from Bastrop State Park taken by Texas Parks and Wildlife


Even the theme of the books I was reading this month (The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins) dealt with the fire of revolution ... exciting, but painful. [A good read by the way, though a little depressing at times. She kinda leaves you hanging between books 2 and 3, which I don't like ... but she does wrap it up in the end].

And just last week, I found out the the Boundary Waters is on fire as well ... over 100,000 acres burned. It came very close to where we were on our trip, but stayed a few lakes over. While it is easy to imagine Texas burning this summer, after countless days above 100 degrees and little rain to speak of ... but the Boundary Waters? In the land of 10,000 lakes? I know it isn't, but it almost felt like a cruel joke.


BWCA Sept 2011 (109)
Terrifying photos a camper shared on Flickr take during their recent BWCA trip
I stayed home from work a good bit, waiting on the inevitable that never came. My return to work happened in stages, as the slightest poorly executed comment could send me crashing. Last Tuesday, I went for a follow-up sonogram ... which confirmed my feelings that the miscarriage was not over. After a "first available" appointment with my OB/GYN, a D and C was scheduled for two days ago - he thoughtfully diagnosed a blighted embryo.

With most of my initial mourning behind me, I feel somewhat energized by the fact that my body is now catching up with what my mind and my heart already know. I'm starting to have hope again. And while God will bring beauty from the ashes of our personal fire, I know he can from the wildfires raging in places we love as well. As so many have said, just look at Yellowstone. Look at the mythical phoenix.

I know only He can use this for something beautiful, and I have faith that He will. We will always miss you, Lil Bit.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nicaragua

I've started to write this several times, and just couldn't come up with a better way the the travel journal style I used after we took our BWCA trip. I think it deserves better than that, so I'm going to try to concisely tell you where we went, what we did, our impressions, and even include *gasp* some pictures!

At the end of June, we departed with a small group from our church to go on a medical mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua. They have a long-standing partnership with Nicaragua Resource Network (NRN), whose goal is to help Nicaraguans help Nicaragua - primarily through education.

Our first experience with the differences between Nicaragua and the United States began at the airport. NRN recently purchased a property known as La Quinta Primavera ... and we suspect that the obvious permanence of such a move may have led to the sudden change in treatment at the airport. Our personal belongings were in our carry-ons (which was fortunate, in the heat and humidity we would have begun to smell pretty quickly without a change of clothes) and the medical equipment was in duffle bags which we checked. The government seized the duffles, and it was a good 24-36 hours before we were able to get them back. They claimed suspicion that we might be smuggling illicit drugs as vitamins. I am almost positive someone had to slip some Benjamins to get them back.


While there were some purely medical aspects to the trip in which my paramedic husband was of great assistance (health screenings of children who live at one of the schools, and a few special cases) for the most part our tasks were things in which anyone could assist. We did lice treatments/vitamin A (for vision) distribution/anti-parasitic administration and hygiene/fire safety classes at three different schools. We also went on food distributions in three communities, as well as spent some time with students sponsored by people who were on the trip.

The school visits were hectic, but the kids were amazing. Very few buildings in Nicaragua are air-conditioned, so the classrooms had either vented cinder blocks or windows. No screens, no glass. I can't imagine packing a group of American students into such an environment and getting much done. But these kids/young adults are hungry to learn and eager to pay attention. Sometimes they were eager to participate, but more on why they weren't shortly.



Tim and I volunteered to teach fire safety. With the younger students it was just plain fun ... but we felt a little silly teaching high-school students about stop, drop, and roll. Until we started asking questions. Something we take as such basic, life-saving knowledge simply isn't taught here. And these kids live in shacks of plywood and corrugated tin practically stacked on top of one another in areas where the government has given away land to anyone who builds some kind of structure on it. Their mothers cook on open fires, and those homes fortunate enough to have electricity it consists of exposed wires and bare bulbs. Short-circuit was almost always one of the first responses we were given when we asked for possible causes of fire. So we taught our hearts out. We actually got pretty good at it towards the end, and the students loved learning "Stop, Drop, and Roll" in English. When we asked for volunteers to show what that looks like, the older students usually were hesitant. I don't blame them. Despite their living conditions, they showed up to school in pressed, spotless white shirts. So Tim and I did a lot of rolling on the floor and crawling low to avoid smoke inhalation.


The food distribution was the most heartbreaking. There we were invited into the homes of people who had so little in the way of material things, but who had great joy and trust in God. They knew this food we brought (a collection of rice, beans, oil, sugar, salt, etc. which should feed a family of four for two weeks) was not from us but from God. We would stand in the dark houses, only lit by the sun coming through the door and the holes in the tin roof, on carefully swept dirt floors praying with these Nicaraguans and their families. In Nicaragua, everyone prays at once. Afterward, at one home, I remember the interpreter telling us that while we were praying for the health of her family, one mother was praying for us to be blessed at home so we could come and do this again.


We also got to meet Pablo, the boy we will be sponsoring. I was sponsoring a young lady before Tim and I even met, but she did not return to school last spring. Knowing we would be coming on this trip, I held off getting a new sponsor. I was able to ask Jenny, one of the missionaries who lives and serves out of the Quinta,
if there was someone especially in need. Pablo came to her mind. He approached her last year in the neighborhood pictured above (in Los Brasiles, just outside of Managua) asking how he could attend the school. They let him start, as a kind of trial to see how he would do. He did very well, and is working hard. He is 13 and in the 3rd grade (which isn't as unusual there as it would be here) and very determined to become a teacher so his mother won't always have to work. She cleans six days a week in a textile factory, and his step-father is a security guard, but they make probably $1 a day. Things are generally a little cheaper in Nicaragua, but definitely not that much cheaper.



After the mission part of our trip was over, Tim and I spent a few days as an addition to our brief Arkansas honeymoon relaxing at a wonderful Surf Lodge on a black-sand beach about an hour from Managua. It was a wonderful opportunity to process all that we had seen and spend some time alone together and with God before returning home. Our perspectives were definitely changed. We  pray we will be back someday.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Jewel in Heaven's Crown

I don't know if pets go to heaven, but if they do there is a special Jewel there now.

Jewel was a rescue ... she came to me after a random conversation about sewing lead to the fact that I've had birds in the past, and someone knew a family looking for a home for a bird. You see, Jewel didn't like men very much, and it made it hard for her to get along with families.

I was lonely, having just moved back to Austin, and was always hearing the funny stories about a co-worker's scarlet macaw ... so I thought to myself "Why not? I'll go meet her, and see if we hit it off."

They warned me as I approached her cage on the back porch that she often doesn't take to strangers so not to be offended if she screamed at me. She almost immediately climbed up my arm and made herself at home on my shoulder - and my heart melted.

She could be loud, don't get me wrong, and she didn't talk like many Quaker parrots do. But she sure could communicate. It seems I was always learning a new quirk or trick she had under her wing. And they were right, she didn't like men - particularly men walking dogs? Despite that, Tim welcomed her into his home and even made a tentative friendship with her.

Last week, I came home and cleaned her cage, checked on her food and water, and started getting ready for dinner (we were going to eat with Tim's dad). As I waited on Tim to get home, I sat down to work on something and suddenly had that "It is TOO quiet" feeling. Sure enough, there she was ... fluffed up on the bottom of her cage, trying to lay an egg.

After dinner we reassessed the situation - and she hadn't made any progress. She was alert and aware though, and even drinking water. She knew who we were (she tried to bite Tim and snuggled for a bit with me). She even made her way back up to the place she always slept for the night. The emergency vet in the area didn't serve birds ... so we waited until morning.

We rushed her to the first avian vet that had any openings, and they confirmed what we thought - she was egg-bound. She was given pain medication, and the vet broke the egg so it could be removed. The procedure was successful, but he told us she had some tissue death in her cloaca. He didn't have time then to talk to us, so we made an appointment to come back in a few hours and discuss our options ... reconstructive surgery (which honestly doesn't sound promising when we're talking about a 100 gram bird), giving her antibiotics and seeing how she does at home, etc. Well, she made the decision for us and passed away not long after.

Tim kindly offered to take us to the farm and bury her there. We found a nice spot on a bit of a hill, and Tim said the sweetest prayer. He said he was thinking some kind of "tribute" like a bird house or something would be nice.

Jewel left us with some great memories, and these are just a few of them.

  • The way she would wait to sing her "It's morning and I'm a bird" song until I had turned off the fan when I was sleeping in
  • The way she would dance when someone clapped
  • The way she liked to be covered and then "found" under a towel, and would even cover herself
  • The way she loved carrots and hated corn
  • The way she still made little "baby bird" wings when given a snack
  • The way she liked to cuddle, and ride around in the pocket of hoodies
  • The way she didn't like to be watched when climbing the stairs
  • The way she waddled and followed her humans around the house
She will be missed. As annoying as the noise could be, the apartment is much too quiet without her.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

When It Rains

This afternoon, while waiting for Tim to back out of the driveway, I watched in awe as water flowed ... no, gushed ... from the gutters near our front door. It feels like we have been so long without rain, that even writing about it makes me feel the need to get up and get a glass of water.

Aaah, much better! Recently at one of my Bible study groups we were reading in John about the woman at the well. This time, rather than focusing on the woman and the fact that Jesus told her to turn from her sinful life and sin no more - I really focused on what He was offering. A drink that means you will never be thirsty.

John 4:14 - "but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

My soul will never be thirsty. God has provided for me a bottomless well that will never run dry. He has promised me eternal life. There is peace for my soul. I can trust what He says is true.

I know I've written about trust before, but in my humanness I find I often need to be reminded that I can trust God. Tim and I both wear rings on our right hands that say "Trust in Me" in Hebrew. How frequently I find myself staring at it and shaking my head, wondering how I forgot.

This morning, my straight-razor shaving husband showed me quite a lot of trust I think! After a brief instruction of what angle and what pressure to use, he asked me to shave the back of his neck for him. It was wonderfully intimate and I'm a little proud of how well I did. The short, scraping strokes were a little frightening at first; I kept expecting blood to bloom from beneath my attentions. Instead, short dark hairs just fell away and left smooth, touchable and slightly pink skin behind.

Why do I bring this up? Well, honestly I just wanted to write about it. And because I know right now we're going to have to trust God a little. It seems that as soon as we found we were going to be fine for our mission trip to Nicaragua, and after buying work boots to protect Tim's feet when he goes with some other ACF men to help in Joplin, we are facing another expense (and just plain inconvenience). Thank goodness for Dave Ramsey's first baby step - an emergency fund. We may need to use it.

At the end of last week, we realized I'm going to need a front brake job. Which is quite a feat - as I drove about 80,000 miles before needing on (thank you Honda and thank you Dad for teaching me not to run up on things and cram on the brakes!). No big deal - I'd drive Tim's car to work one day and he'd do it for me - he's done many brake jobs.

But then, tonight, he called me as soon as he pulled in to work. First to tell me our malaria pills are in. Then to tell me (I could tell by his voice something was wrong) that his power steering blew a line or something as he pulled into the complex. Dang it.

Perhaps it is because we've been reading "Jesus Calling" ("Enjoying Peace in His Presence") but I felt a peace about all of this washing over me. God will provide for today. In Matthew, when asked by the disciples how to pray, Jesus only told us to ask our needs for today to be provided for:

Matthew 6:8 - " Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Matthew 6:11 -  "Give us today our daily bread."

God just doesn't say "Ok, I've got your soul ... now you've just got to tough it out down there till you die or Jesus comes back. Good luck!" He cares, deeply, about my every day needs. That is assurance enough! The God of the universe cares if I have enough to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear. The basic necessities. He cares if I have a safe way to get to work. That may not mean I have a highly modded, race-ready snarling monster of a car - waxed, fully fueled, and ready to rumble. Or rally. No, but I have a car that went 80,000 miles without a brake job (or much of any job outside regular fluid changes to be honest). And it may not mean I know, right now sitting at my desk that isn't really a computer desk ... but inside of our lovely and air conditioned apartment, what the outcome will be tomorrow morning. Or when the cars get worked on. But I do know that we will be ok even if it doesn't look like what we think "ok" would look like. Our wonderful and creative God is all over it.

Matthew 6:26 to 30 - "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"

Philippians 4:19 - "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Three Responses

Don't worry - I don't plan to ONLY write about being a paramedic's wife now that I am one ... but I've had some prime examples of what it can be like the last few weeks.

So, once or twice a month Tim is "on call" ... or has what his system calls "OCP." When he is on call, he is basically in a line of people who will be called upon to take over a shift if someone is out sick (in theory). A couple of weekends ago, he had OCP on Friday. It was getting to be about quitting time at work for me, and late enough that people would have called out. So we bought tickets to see Fast 5 at Alamo Drafthouse.

Big mistake. Not five minutes later did he get called in. *sigh* Not only am I a night shift widow again ... but I'm holding two tickets to a movie we wanted to see. Thankfully - Alamo not only serves amazing food, great beer, and doesn't feel as overcrowded as your average theatre - but they know it, and know that if they let me switch our tickets to Saturday night, they'll fill our two seats on Friday. We still got to see our movie, phew!

Now, when your spouse is a paramedic, you learn certain things. Like showing up to the station is a pretty good way to make them get a call ... as is asking how a shift is going. Nothing seems to bring on the calls faster than saying "It's been a quiet shift" or "We might get a golden wheel!" [a 24 hour shift with NO calls]. But sometimes I try to visit anyways (and Tim doesn't stop me). And lately it seems to get them calls. Especially if I bring food or a Sonic drink! I fell asleep in the station watching "Funniest Home Videos" and the Billboard Music Awards waiting for them to get back so I could at least see my husband. You see, when he was getting off that 24 hour Sunday shift at 6:00am ... I'd be getting ready to head in to work, where I'm due at 7:00am.

So of course, ideally Tim could work during the day like I do, and I'd only be sleeping alone one night a week instead of three. I don't think we're the only couple that tends to fight around bids.

I have yet to figure out why they call it "bidding." There is no wagering or bargaining going on. There isn't some eBay of schedules where, if you play your cards right, you can get a good deal. No, they are called, in order, by their employee number. Tim's number is in the 2000s. So he gets the opportunity to pick from the crappy shifts that are left by the time they get down to him, you see?

It is a stressful time. You worry that the call won't come through and you'll end up on the bottom of the calling list for not answering. You worry about who you will be working with for the next six months. You worry about what trucks you'll be on ... busy, not? Dangerous, not? How far from home? Will the long commute be adding to the time you have to spend away from those you love (not to mention a bed to catch you as you fall, exhausted, asleep before your head even hits the pillow after a crazy night).

This time, we had talked a lot about what was best for us, and how to prioritize that. Day shift, good partner, near home, all those good things. So I had the inside story on Tim's game-plan rather than panicking at the last moment not sure what he had to pick from, and how he made his decision.

He's still working nights. Some of his shifts end at 7am, which means I'll already be long gone. BUT - that means he doesn't have to leave as early in the evening when I get home. Plus, it has opened up the opportunity for me to take the free 6:30am CrossFit class at work (I start tomorrow). His partner is also a friend, and they've worked together quite well in the past. His 24 hour truck is so close, it is actually the one that services our neighborhood. And it is a rotating shift, which means he isn't stuck working EVERY weekend like he was when we first met.

I still miss him like crazy on the nights he works. Especially when it means we barely see one another between our jobs. But missing him during the week means he is home on the weekend. And that makes those longing hugs on the stairs by the front door worth it. I wouldn't trade our life for anyone else's.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Man and Wife

I have a good excuse for being absent this time - May 7th (has it already been 10 days?) I became one with my best friend. It seems that we draw closer every day, and I can't wait to see where it takes us!

We were married in my parents' beautiful back yard among close family and friends, and it couldn't have been more perfect. My cheeks were hurting from smiling so much (and not just the posing for pictures kind of smiling either!).

Our counselor/pastor (whom we both went to before we even met) performed our ceremony. He gave us a word ... HOPE ... to challenge us to draw closer to one another, and to God, in the future.

H - Honor one another.

O - Own our mistakes.

P - Plan (for time together, for time with God, you get the idea)

E - Every Day ... show and tell our love for one another every day.

The last one really sticks with me tonight. Because I've married a paramedic, and there are certain side effects to that. One is that we are reminded perhaps more often than your average couple of the fragility of life, and that each parting may be your last.

Hence the blog name change. Sometimes, when Tim has no choice but to bid a schedule that means he is working three nights of the week ... like he is tonight ... I have a certain response. Sometimes he has hard calls and my understanding and quiet are appreciated - trusting that he will tell me what is bothering him when he is ready ... and being ready to comfort him when he is. Sometimes he doesn't get off work on time, and it is frustrating. Sometimes, we pass one another longingly on our separate ways to and from work. And I look forward to many joyous reunions on the staircase of our apartment.

Sometimes, my initial response to any given situation is not a good one. So I go forward, overjoyed to be his wife, excited for what the future holds, and knowing God's hand is on my shoulder. And sometimes, over my mouth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What makes Good Friday ... good

When I was younger, I couldn't understand why we called it Good Friday. It was horrible Friday! Jesus DIED that Friday. I could understand why we celebrated the resurrection on Easter Sunday - He arose, He lived, He overcame death and sin! But why Good Friday? Why not mourn instead of celebrate?

As an adult; a fallen, sinful adult who knows she can never earn the love she's been shown, I can finally understand why Good Friday is good. Sin has always required a blood sacrifice. Something, someone, had to die. A lamb was slain as an offering ... a sinner was struck down in his tracks ... and on Good Friday our Lamb was crucified. Humiliated. Spat upon. The very people He came to save mocked Him and turned their backs on Him. His Father had to look away as He took our sins upon Himself. If I never received another good thing in this life or eternity - this would be enough. Even if I never even DID another good thing, I'd still be included in the flock of his precious sheep.

Instead of giving me what I deserve, God gave me His Son. And He didn't stop there. In a little over two weeks time, friends and family who love us will gather with us to celebrate our marriage. He has trusted us with the stewardship of our relationship, our friendships, income, our bodies. I can't wait to see what He has planned. How could I not give Him everything after all He gave to me on Good Friday? And how could I keep this gift to myself?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Slacker ... or not

The wedding is three weeks from yesterday! I'm so excited!!! This weekend, because of a meeting for the medical mission trip in Nicaragua we'll be attending (more on that in a bit) I didn't go to my parents' house to work on wedding stuff. And in a way, it was kinda nice to have a quiet weekend at home even though Tim was working.

Well, I had planned for it to be quiet. I ended up cleaning the kitchen, dusting, and somehow going to get an envelope from another room turned into ... furniture rearranging. We still haven't quiet gotten "Jewel's room" (ok, the bird doesn't REALLY have a room - but I do put her in there at night) to the point that it'd be a nice guest room - but at least now the sleeper sofa can be a bed. And Tim's dresser is now in there instead of in the living room. It was odd, looking at a dresser in the livingroom/kitchen.

Despite the fact that I got a Kindle for Christmas - we have a LOT of books. And we've both already been through them to clear things out. But, the Kindle should mean it won't get worse.

The apartment is definitely becoming more and more of a home. Hopefully soon we can hang pictures - we certainly have plenty to hang. I really like the layout of the apartment - it's really a four-plex. And you can't beat the view we have of a grassy, bluebonnet dusted pasture off the balcony in back. Or the constant breeze (well, right now it is more like a violent wind) we can enjoy back there in the evening. Even in the heat of summer it almost feels cool.

The Nicaragua meeting was informative. It is going to take more trust in God than we originally thought - it costs more than we originally thought. We were planning on just paying for it out of pocket ourselves, but we may actually have to hope some of our wedding gifts are donations toward the trip. But God has made it clear to both of us that this trip is His will ... so onward! I'm excited, even if there is a little anxiety about paying for it.

Today I wrote the photographer's last check ... and I'm sending off for samples/writer's guidelines for Focus on the Family's "Clubhouse" and "Clubhouse Jr." magazines. Something I've been meaning to do for a while - I have a story I need to send them.

After the wedding, I'm going to be changing the name of my blog :-) I've already got it picked out, and I can't wait to unveil it! I may need to find or make a spiffy new background as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dennys has gone too far

I just have to say that I think Denny's "Maple Bacon Sunday" is a big no. Gross. I hope it isn't Blue Bell ice cream - that's a waste of good ice cream. SURELY this is an April Fools joke?

Hot, crisp bacon = yummy! But don't you know the grease is going to congeal into semi-solid opaque globs? On slippery half-melted ice cream? No. Yuck. That sounds like something somebody threw up.

I can't say the bacon pancakes look too appetizing either.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not-So-Smart Phones and Amanda-Proof Camcorders

Well, I got ONE patch (BWCA) on the Duluth Pack … I promise pictures after I get them all on. I found some thicker thread and double-knotted it. It just takes a while going through two such thick mediums … and I can’t keep the thimble on my finger when I’m not using it because my nails push it off (and I just filed them down yesterday! I’m not going any shorter).

I was pretty productive last night. I did three loads of laundry, and I arranged “my closet.” We’ll eventually combine closets, and maybe make the front room closet the out of season/dressy closet. I was surprised by how much room I had left over once things were organized. It was still a mess from moving, and putting things away after laundry was a huge chore because they didn’t have a “place” other than they needed to hang in there somewhere. For being such a spontaneous, scatterbrained personality - my closet is very organized ... I have large sections: Sweaters, Button Downs, Summer Shirts, Pants, Skirts ... then I have them by sleeve length (full, 3/4, short, less) ... then they go from dressiest in the back to messiest in the front ... and finally everything is by color. ROY G BIV. I even found a shirt I had "lost." It had slipped off its inappropriate hanger into "the abyss" (on top of a shelf over the lower half of the closet, which I couldn't see because the clothes were a mess).

This weekend Mom, Andrea, and I are working on some of the flowers for the wedding. “How are you working on flowers so far ahead of time” you say? Dried! We ordered some dried flowers for making the “arranged” flower ahead of time (and also some wheat – so very pretty and bountiful looking!). They are surprisingly vibrant (how come they never look that way when I dry them?). The fresh flowers will primarily be trimmed and tossed into Mason jars – ala five year old Amanda picking flowers in the yard.

Five year old Amanda (actually I was probably older than that) picking flowers reminds me of a home video where I am hamming it up, showing the camera a flower and then pronouncing “FRING!” as I throw the flower to the wind and move on to another topic. My Dad recently had all the old home videos converted to DVDs, and one day while I was at work Tim was watching them (enter embarrassment, but he enjoyed himself it sounds like). That got him to thinking … we need a camcorder.

So I’m investigating camcorders. I think I like the portability of the “Flip” types, and I even found one that is waterproof (to 10 feet) and shockproof – sounds like JUST what I need! The video quality isn’t great … so that sounds like an(other) excuse to get an SLR that can take videos to me. I think I’ve settled on (after we go see them in person) the Kodak PlaySport for now, and maybe a Canon SLR later (manual focus, RAW, and video capabilities). Then we could always take the Kodak when the situation might be too precarious for the SLR.

Speaking of technology – I’m so done with my smartphone. I’ve been worse about answering emails (I see them, and I think "that's too important to answer on here" and then I forget altogether), they’re easier to break (I break ALL my phones, but I mean break to where it doesn't work anymore), they don’t work THAT great (ie – often mine is slow), and I don’t know that texting on a touchscreen has been any faster for me than the old number-pad way (what with all the typos caused by my larger-than-2-square-millimeter fingers). For less than what we’d save with the cost per month … we could get “real” internet at home (*looks around, a little embarrassed* I’ve been tethering).

I’m leaning toward pre-paid. I can hear you gasping. Yes, I’ll have to curb my texting habits (is that such a bad thing?). I think it’ll be worth the sacrifice. And I’ll only pay for what I use, BEFORE I use it. I don’t like the feeling that I’m always “behind” with my bills – that this month I’m just now paying for what I did LAST month. And I hate contracts. For example, I had no say in AT&T buying T-Mobile … but that doesn’t give me the right to leave (without paying an extravagant fee) because I have a contract. Besides, if I hate pre-paid … I can leave whenever I want. So I don’t really have anything to loose but an expensive phone.

Monday, March 28, 2011

To Do List

I still have issues writing a to-do list. I wrote one for Tim and I together ... and I practically stuck it behind the fridge. Because if I see it, I get all antsy until it is done.

So I do mental to do lists! Yay, fun! No, not really.

Today I planned to (after work). Wait, I'll get more done ... lets go further back! ALL DAY!

Work out - DONE
Work - DONE (this takes up WAY more of the day than this list implies)
Make a meal - DONE
Blow up exercise ball - Kinda done. See, this was the first sign I wouldn't finish my to do list. The instructions say to blow it up 80% and then let it sit for 24 hours. Phooey! I was going to do some crunches and push ups tonight without grinding my knees and elbows into the carpet! Hopefully when Tim gets off work tomorrow he'll remember I said to resist the temptation to sit on it - the plug isn't all the way in.

Sew patches on Duluth Pack - SO not done! My thread kept pulling through the canvas! Ugh. I'm at an impasse. I looked up sewing patches online, but it got all complicated and looked like I'd have to go buy colors of thread for each patch - no thanks. And I refuse to iron them. This pack is going to last a lifetime, so that won't work. I was excited, because I have enough now to really look cool:

BWCA
- prettiest one, sunset background with two canoe-ers. Paddlists? Two people in a canoe with paddles - how bout that?
Sawbill - Where we started our BWCA journey - plain, but meaningful
Dallas Arboretum Texas Pioneer Adventure - where the Harvey and Schreiner parents first met :-)
Lake Somerville Trailway - where Tim and I spent Easter last year, camping and fasting among wildflowers, with me lying awake at night in fear of hogs and a skunk
Dublin Dr Pepper! Yay! My newest acquisition! We went to Dublin on the way back from Tim's parents' for-sale place to get some for the wedding (and because I owe Tim like 34 of them for jinxes). I haven't been having caffeine other than my morning coffee - and whew, I was pretty silly after the one they gave us on the tour AND a float in the soda shop.

And the last item on my over-ambitious to do list - sew blackout fabric to the Roman Shade. Yeah, not gonna happen. Maybe Wednesday?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Strong Life

Today I signed up for a Livestrong.com account. Lately I've done a few weight loss plans, and they all work to some degree. I lost a lot of weight initially on NutriSystem - but, as always, I got sick of their food. And my aversion to prepackaged/processed food made it really unappealing. I do still have a few items left, and I fully intend to eat them for lunches. Does it work? Sure. It just isn't for me.

So I started doing the Weight Watchers points, but without going to meetings. Lets face it, I don't have all the time in the world to be going to a meeting where we'll obsess over weight and food. When we signed up for E-Mealz, we picked the "New Points" plan. The problem arose when I got sick, and quick tracking, and just never restarted. I'm lucky all that happened was a pudgy tummy and some hovering around the same weight instead of losing.

But I really need to get back on track. I want to be healthy! I had been tracking my points on an Android app - but I'm trying to wean myself off of apps in preparation for the move to prepaid wireless (more on that later! That's a post in and of itself!). So I checked out Livestrong.com

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. EVERYTHING seems to be on there. It is fast and easy to input what I've eaten - even down to entering our E-Mealz recipes. Quickly and easily. I don't have to go gather all the ingredients and input calories, fat, etc. Livestrong has good, user shared recipes as well. (Another great place to find recipes is Eating Well - the magazine's website). My only beef so far is that they seem to have my caloric intake goal on the high side, and the ads ... there are a lot of ads on their pages. Don't click them; ads are evil.

It doesn't matter if I lose some before the wedding even though I already got fitted for the dress, because it laces up in the back. I'm not going to kill myself or beat myself up. Just keep myself accountable to a healthy lifestyle. Including my newly reinstated morning exercise! I had been doing Wii in the afternoons, but it is hard to fit in enough of those during the week lately with FPU, women's group, and how often I'm gone on the weekend. Running/walking I can do anywhere! I'm still walking just yet. Planning to start up the running next week.

Look out 4:40 am ... not EVERYone is sleeping!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three months?

Really? What happened to just "writing whatever?" I'm shaking my head in self-chastisement.



So, a recent email from a friend shamelessly promoting her blog, and encouraging us to do the same, means I'm going to post more often. No really! See, nothing deep - just boring ... mundane.



Random pre-Financial Peace University thoughts (we're about to go to class!):

E-mealz - LOVING it! And my future husband :-) I got home from work last night to find a quick and easy freshly prepared meal that we then took to The Farm (my soon-to-be-in-laws new place about an hour away) to share with his dad for dinner. It really helps to have a plan. We had both been single for so long, we weren't too good at planning meals.




Pets - I have critter fever. NO Amanda. NO. Jewel is enough pet for now. Remember how NICE it is not picking dog or cat hair off your clothing everywhere you go!


Commute. I do not heart IH-35. This afternoon I took the toll road. I just don't know if 35 bothers me enough to pay the toll every day - but it is nice that there is an alternative. I found out my Garmin can do some pretty detailed trip statistics ... maybe I'll have to test some alternate routes for maximum speed/cost/frustration effectiveness.


Aaaaand - oh look, its time to go! So ha! That's it for today. Now I have a reason to come back more often than once a quarter.