Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slowly Speeding Up

We're needing some prayers from my pals out in bloggerland.

First, there is one. sinkin'. document. that is holding up our visas, and our plane tickets, and our trip as a whole. Basically, we cannot book our flight until we get our visas, and we cannot get our visas until this document is approved. It's a document we have just sent for the FOURTH time (each time with slightly different wording), and we really need it to go through this time.*

Secondly, we just found out that we need to be out of our home in TEN DAYS. We have some friends who are doing us a favor by renting out our home while we are gone. Because they are willing to move here, we are able to leave our furniture, dishes, pots, pans, etc. (which will greatly reduce our moving and storage expenses). However, they must be moved out of their apartment by January 1. Which means we need to be out by January 29. Please pray that I have the energy and ability to get everything packed up and ready by that time. My husband is working extra hours; so I will be doing most of it on my own.

Thanks, y'all, for your prayers. We really need the Lord's perfect timing in all of these situations.

*Update: We just heard from the church that these ARE the correct documents, but they need ORIGINAL, NOTARIZED documents from the state, like, YESTERDAY. And next week is Christmas. Please be praying that we can get these VERY quickly and easily.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Emotional Whiplash, Anyone?

Well, folks, all the "big" events are over. (Though I think it's a little sad that, this year, Christmas doesn't qualify as a "big" event.) Papers turned in. Exams completed. Brother married.

So this week... this week is focused on my little family. Laundry is getting done. I'm on my THIRD load of dishes in TWO days ('cause that's what happens when I don't do dishes for two weeks). Three boxes are packed. One room has a vacuumed floor. Things are looking up, people.

Hubby is graduating on Thursday. I'm so proud of him and all his hard work. I'm glad he's finally able to see it all pay off.

While I really haven't had the opportunity to think about Korea much over the last few weeks (see this post to find out why), I now find that it is at the forefront of my thoughts.

I find myself simultaneously excited, nervous, and sick-to-my-stomach thinking about all of the changes that are about to happen to our little family.

I am excited about the new culture and the new city. I love the thought of waking up every morning and looking out my window at a completely foreign landscape. I love the idea of discovering the "everyday" things like the closest coffee shop, the most convenient grocery store, and the best place to take Chloe to play. I'm excited to move into a new apartment that is already furnished - a chance to start fresh and leave clutter behind.

I am REALLY excited about sharing this adventure with my husband. Brandon and I have both had our own mini adventures, but most of them were while we were still dating, and many of them were experienced separately. And I can remember, in every adventure (traveling drama team, freshmen year at college, backpacking across Europe...) the ONE THING that would have made each experience PERFECT would have been to share it with him. I can specifically remember watching a fountain/light show one evening in Rome and tearing up as I thought, "I love being here. But I miss Brandon so much it hurts." But this time... THIS time we get to do it TOGETHER. We get to taste the food, to see the sights, to learn the language, and to make new friends... together...as a family. That part is VERY exciting to me.

But some of the things that make me the most excited are the things that make me the most nervous: The weather, the language barrier, my first grocery shopping trip (how does one say "kraft macaroni and cheese" in Korean?), and the cultural differences. I have a rather morbid fear that I am going say or do something that is perfectly fine here in the states, but it completely offensive and rude there. Hehe... it sounds silly when I say it, but it's seriously something I think about. I also wonder about the food. I'm not concerned with going out to eat - I can always find something to eat at a restaurant. I'm more concerned about cooking (anyone have a good recipe for a whole squid?). And anyway, all of this may not matter in the long run because, quite frankly, I'm not sure we'll survive the 20-hour plane ride with a TWO YEAR OLD!

I realize that most of these "fears" will be squelched in our first month there. So far, our dealings with the church have been VERY positive. We are absolutely confident that they will take care of us and make sure we adapt well to our new surroundings. I KNOW that many of my worries are irrational and silly, and I DON'T give heed to them for any length of time. As a matter of fact, I'm usually able to rationalize my way out of thinking about them at all. I'm just sayin' they're there, ya know?

But then there are those very few things that make my stomach churn: What will happen to Chloe when we take her away from her grandparents and aunts and uncles? She sees many of them on a weekly (if not daily) basis. How will it effect her little psyche to suddenly rip her from all the stability that can only be provided through a loving extended family? And when baby #2 comes along, will I be able to manage ON. MY. OWN. with two little babies. Now, I realize I have my sweet hubby there. And it is not my intention to trivialize his role in taking care of the children. But the fact is that he is going to Korea to work. He will be gone during the daytime, almost every day. Here in Georgia, that wouldn't be an issue. If I get overwhelmed here, I just call one of the TWELVE phone numbers I have of people who are HAPPY to see Chloe for FREE so I can have a break. But what happens when I am on the other side of the world and Chloe is having a tantrum day and baby #2 didn't sleep last night and I haven't showered in four days and the laundry is backed up and people are coming over for dinner tonight??? What will I do THEN???

Now these fears, these are very real fears to me. These are fears that I can NOT allow myself to think about. These are fears that could keep me up at night. These are the things that make me doubt whether or not we're making the right decision.

But these fears are not too big for my Daddy God. I know that I know that I know that all those mini adventures and experiences have prepared us for this moment in our lives. I know that "God doesn't order something He can't pay for." If He has called us there, He is going to be my provider there... in every way.

So, for now, I don't allow myself to think about the fears and worries. Because there. is. nothing. I. can. do. about. them. Only Daddy God can take care of those things for me. So, since it's His responsibility now, what's the point in me thinking about them?

I may have even taken this to an extreme. I don't allow family members to talk with me about any negatives regarding this trip. (Some of them may even think I'm in denial about the "bad" side to moving to Korea.) But the fact is that those "negatives" are all too real, but they're not mine to deal with.

So I think about the positives. I talk about the positives. I get VERY excited about the positives. I'm moving to a new country! In a new apartment! With new people and new adventures! And I'm doing it with (and in support of) my best friend and husband! Not only that, but we're doing it in the absolute knowledge that we are walking in God's will. It's a very exciting time, y'all. Very good things are about to happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Any snow-people out there? With or without eyes of coal?

My last paper was turned in as of 9:38am today. So, besides on teensy exam on Monday, my school days are over for a few years. (Wow. It feels really weird to say that, especially without a degree in my hand. Oh well.)

But in light of my recent emergence from the dark hole that is finals week, I have been thinking more and more about what it will be like when we arrive in South Korea.

We don't have our tickets yet; so we don't know the exact date we will arrive or into which airport we will fly. But we do know this... it will be cold... and snow-covered.

Now, people, I am a Georgia girl through-and-through. Born and raised in the great Peach State. And as such, I have never lived in what has been described to me as "real snow." Now, don't get me wrong, I've seen snow, sure. We have one or two days of snow every one or two years around these parts. But, honestly, by the time we get out to play in it, it has mostly melted away... or melted and refrozen into REALLY HARD ROCK-LIKE snow. (Trust me, you don't want to get in a snowball fight with THAT stuff). Now sure, I've gone to the mountains and even taken the odd trip to Western Canada. So, yes, I have SEEN snow.

But lived in it? Notsomuch.

Here's what really got me thinking about it: At Thanksgiving this year, I was talking to hubby's aunt who lived (for a couple years) in South Korea with her daughters. So when she heard we would be arriving in January, her first question was: "Have you bought Chloe a snow suit?"

A WHAT? You mean those things people wear when they ski? I don't plan on taking my 2-year-old skiing, thankyouverymuch.

And that's when it hit me (as if the whole moving-to-the-other-side-of-the-world thing didn't freak me out enough): I'm going to be LIVING in SNOW.

I mean, in my mind, life will be like this:

Wanna go for a walk? Put on your snowshoes, and snowsuit, and parka, and gloves, and 2 scarves, and hat, and earmuffs.

Perhaps that's a bit extreme. But, honestly y'all, I don't even know where to BUY a coat that's warm enough for real snow.

Snow that looks like this...


Or this...


Or THIS!!!...


That's right, folks. THAT is South Korea. All three pictures. And the first two? MY FUTURE HOME TOWN!!!

I haven't freaked out about the language barrier. I haven't freaked out about the fact that I have NO idea how to teach English. I haven't freaked out (too much) about the "weird" food. But this? This "snow" thing? I AM FREAKING OUT JUST A LEEEEEEEETLE BIT.

So, I'm asking you faithful few readers (particularly any of you who currently live (or have ever lived) in snowy places... how do you cope in the snow? What kind of coats should I buy? Are snow suits necessary? How 'bout snow boots? Mittens or gloves? Wool socks? Those funky snow shoes that look like tennis rackets????!!???

I welcome any and all advice (as well as a few well-deserved jabs at my panic).

Thanks friends! Thank you SO much!

Monday, December 8, 2008

That Big Red Freshness Lasts Right Through It... Your Fresh Breath Goes ON and ON...

So, it's been a while since I updated here. Hm. It's been a while since I updated anywhere, for that matter.

Life is really busy and stressful right now, but it's manageable... mostly because the end is in sight.

I have 2-3 more days of hard-core paper school work. Then I'll be able to breeze through to next Monday, my last day.

My brother is getting married this Saturday; so once my papers are turned in, all of my time and energy will be dedicated to that.

The following week: B's graduation and (hopefully) graduation party.

The week after that: Christmas.

But then... as soon as Christmas is over... when everyone else will be winding down and getting ready for the New Year... when Christmas lights are coming down and resolutions are going up... we will be frantically (and excitedly) packing up our home for The Big Move.

THAT is the week I am looking forward to.

Right now, my house sits in TOTAL disarray, giving hardly a nod to the order and cleanliness I was able to maintain this summer. It's overrun with dirty clothes (a total of 6 baskets) dirty dishes (now where did I put my counter tops again?) and I don't even want to TELL you the last time I swept or mopped my floors (mainly because I can't remember).

(How's THAT for a run-on sentence?)

And at this moment, there is quite literally nothing I can do about it... because if I have a spare moment, then it is spent on schoolwork, wedding preps, graduation plans, and Christmas shopping.

But the week after Christmas... the week in which all other commitments fade into the past... I will get to focus 100% of my time and energy on my home. And it won't just be to clean or organize. Oh no. It will be to pack and plan for the great adventure upon which we are about to embark. I'm just a little excited, can you tell?

So, for now, I'm just biding my time, keeping my head down, and pressing through. Because in less than 3 weeks... exactly 17 days... all of the stress and the worry and the out-of-the-home work will be completely completed. And I will be, quite literally, home free!

That's what I'm clinging to in these last few stressful days of the semester.

And it's very exciting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rambling and More Rambling

I just completed my last "regular" quiz of the semester. The next 5 days will be filled with papers and exam prep.

Then next week, my little brother will marry his girlfriend of SEVEN years! How exciting! They started dating in 8th or 9th grade, I think. The true-blue high school sweethearts.

After the wedding: one last exam.

After the exam: Hubby's graduation.

After that: Christmas.

After Christmas: PACKING LIKE A MAD WOMAN! Because then we'll be TWO WEEKS away from The Big Move.

So, yeah, this isn't such a fabulously entertaining post. But it does me good to see how my next few weeks are going to break down... um... in terms of time... not in terms of emotion.... 'cause nobody 'round these parts has TIME for emotional break downs.

Allllllrighty then.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Questions People Ask Us... A LOT

If you haven't already, please read this post before proceeding. Otherwise, this here post might not make a whole lot of sense.



When most people find out about our plans to move to South Korea, they smile... look a little freaked out... and say something like "what an adventure" or "how exciting for y'all."

However, they almost always come back later with a list of questions. Because most people ask the same questions as everybody else, we find ourselves reciting our answers as if from a pre-memorized script.

So, for your reading pleasure, here is a list of the TEN most oft-asked questions and our oh-so-redundant (to us) answers*:

1. Will you have the baby in Korea?
Yes, we will. I have googled, podcasted, libraried, and chatted about all the different options that we have. While my U.S. OBGYN and Pediatrician both have agreed to do whatever it takes to allow me an American delivery, hubby and I have decided that it is in our best interested (and in the best interested of the new baby) for me to stay put. (Would YOU want to be in an airplane for 18 hours with a 4-week-old baby? NO THANK YOU.)

2. Does Korea have modern medicine?
This is a funny question to me, seeing as how many of the specialists and renowned doctors here in the U.S. are, in fact, Korean. The answer is yes, they are just as medically advanced and modern as we. Sure, they have some different customs (like having the mom and baby stay in 85-degree rooms post-delivery because they are afraid that being cold might harm them), but none of these customs are forced on foreigners. A simple "no thank you" will allow me my "American" birth traditions.

3. Do the doctors speak English?
Not usually in the smaller cities and towns. However, in Cheonan (the place we will call home), there is a very well-known University Hospital with a special "International Ward" that will provide interpreters, if needed.

4. Will the baby be a Korean citizen? (This question is usually followed by some awful story about a kid that thought he was a citizen, only to be exported or somesuchnonsense at the age of 18.)
He or she could be a Korean citizen, if we chose to make him/her so. However, when the baby is born, we will go to the U.S. consulate to file paperwork on him/her as an American citizen. If we do not file this paperwork, then the child will have to go to a consulate at the age of 18 and file more paperwork to declare him/herself an American citizen. Because hubby and I are citizens, our child will have all the rights and protections as babies born on American soil. Being born overseas does not diminish his/her citizenship as long as we declare him/her a citizen soon after birth. (Do you think I used the word "citizen" enough in that paragraph?)

5. Where will you live?
One person even asked if we would live in mud/grass huts. Seriously, y'all, here's a picture of their capital city Seoul.

No grass huts here. =) We will live in a newly-built 3-bedroom apartment provided by the church.

6. How long does it take to get there?
As little as 15 hours, as much as 24 hours... depending on layovers and airlines.

7. What ages will you be teaching?
Whatever ages we want, apparently. I believe hubby will be teaching late elementary/early middle school age. I will teach younger elementary and mommy/toddler classes so that Chloe Jane can go to class with me and help. No worries, y'all, I'm only teaching 9 hours a week - just enough to time to get to know some other young moms in the area. =)

8. Do you speak Korean?
Nope. Hubby knows some basic phrases from his short trip. But, apparently, the South Koreans are so big on learning and speaking English, that we won't need to know much. Ansley, a friend of ours who has lived there a little more than a year, claims to speak little-to-no Korean simply because she does not need to. Still, hubby and I have decided to try to pick up as much of the language as we can while we're there, just for the experience of it!

9. How do you know what to pack?
Oh, that's simple: we don't. We do know that they're much more conservative in the items that they own simply because there is not room in apartments for the things we "need" in our sprawling American suburban homes. So we will ship 2-3 boxes of "stuff" (blankets, pillows, toys, favorite pots and pans, etc.) and take a few suitcases of clothes. Our furniture is being provided by the church. I'm really looking forward to a more simplified lifestyle.

10. Is this something you have always wanted to do?
Yes and no. Since high school, hubby and I have dreamed of submersing ourselves in some overseas culture. We knew we wanted to travel - not just as fly-by-night tourists - but as students and "citizens of the world." Lofty goals for a 16-year-old, and I'm pretty sure that in our many, MANY discussions regarding our travels, South Korea NEVER came up ONCE as a place we would want to live. After we got married, those conversations became fewer and fewer. I think it hurt too much to see the reality of how much those kind of trips cost and how many people actually get to live out those kind of dreams. But even in our silence, the desires were still there. And now, we are SO THANKFUL that our Daddy God knew the desires of our heart and that He knows EXACTLY where we should begin our adventures abroad.

If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer. So feel free to comment away!!



*I qualify these answers with this statement: All or most of what we understand about South Korea comes through third parties: other people, google, books, etc. We could DEFINITELY be wrong about some of the information, and we won't know until we get there. I promise to keep you updated throughout the learning process.

The Big Move (live and in color)


The time has come, my friends, to let you in on our upcoming adventure: The Big Move.

Allow me to start by directing you back to this post, in which I relayed to you, in great detail, how it came to be that my sweet Hubby would fly to the other side of the globe to interview for a job.

At the time of that post, we thought he was interviewing for a teaching/tutoring job that would last three-to-six months and have him returning before the beginning of the 2009 school year.

However, our Big Daddy God had other plans. During hubby's 10-day jaunt across South Korea, he fell in love with the country, and apparently, it fell in love with him too. They asked him to stay for AT LEAST a year. Of course, realizing they couldn't ask him to be away from his wife and child for that long, they offered him an increase in salary and an all-expense-paid move if the three of us moved there together.

After several cross-continental phone calls and late-night prayers, hubby and I agreed to move to Cheonan, South Korea in January of 2009.

So, here it is, just six weeks out from The Big Move, and things are just humming along.

Not knowing exactly how to proceed with this story, I will dedicate my next post to: Questions we get asked...a lot.

Toodle Pip.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Food for Thought...

Check out this article, written by a fellow Lee U student and facebook friend Katie.

Thought provoking, no?

I have my own thoughts about this rather controversial subject, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A REEEEAALLY LONG POST (to make up for the last three weeks of nonexistent posts)

The last three weeks have been a total blur. Starting with midterms, we moved to the worst. cold. ever. then on to working at the insurance agency every afternoon, which brought us to the October 31 and the fabulous Fall Festival at our church. It has taken me an entire 8 days to get caught up from those few weeks, and I still have some VERY neglected areas in my home.

But through all the chaos, neglect, and stress that has been in our home and in our lives over the last week, the Lord has been nudging, whispering, and reminding us of how blessed we really are.

I am particularly grateful this evening. You see, it wasn't that long ago that I was in class 15 hours a week, at work 30 hours a week, in church 9 hours a week, and doing homework 7 hours a week (on average). Count it up folks: (give me a minute to pull out my calculator... and please don't laugh at the fact that I can't do simple addition in my head) that's 61 hours.... six. one..... sixty one! hours that I worked outside the home. Did I mention I was pregnant for part of that time?

After Chloe was born, I quit school and cut my work hours back to 25 a week. Still, finances were tight, the house was a mess, and things were not well.

Around Chloe's first birthday, the Lord moved on my husband's heart, and he decided he would pick up more hours at work (and accept some financial support from family) so that I could quit work, go back to school, and focus on being a wife and mom.

I won't lie to you. This was NOT an easy transition for me. I never considered myself the stay-at-home type. I was a professional. I was the person who hired people to cook and clean and keep my kids. (Granted, I never actually hired anybody... but always thought it was a great idea in my head.)

But I eventually found my homemaking groove and began to recognize the substantial difference in the atmosphere of our home. Hubby had undies and socks folded in his drawer when he got ready for work in the morning. Dinner went from hamburger helper and McDonald's dollar menu to real meat with fresh veggies. There was less tension, hence, less fighting. Chloe was more obedient because of the consistency of being with her parents more hours in the week.

I don't want to paint a picture of perfection. My house was still mostly messy. I still burned dinner AT LEAST one night a week.

But the atmosphere. That's where we saw the difference. There was room for the Lord, and time to spend in His presence. Difficult discussions were no longer rushed in between to-do items. Instead, they were thought out and planned before the first word was spoken. The Lord really used that time in our home to heal and restore and bless our family.

Then the semester from H-E-double-hockey-sticks started (that's happening now, for those of you who are just joining us). I'm taking more hours than I have ever taken as a mom (in a vain attempt to graduate in December). Hubby is student teaching, which means looooong hours and NO (I repeat NO) pay. The economy went to pot, which - speaking frankly - means people don't pay rent, and owning a rental property doesn't do anybody any good if nobody is paying rent.

In the meantime, family crises (not directly in our home, but in the homes of family we love) seem to be jabbing us left and right, with little reprieve between rounds.

Now I realize those last couple paragraphs sound a lot like complaining, and I'm not saying that the last couple months haven't been FULL of PLENTY of that from my mouth.

But that's not what this post is about.

You see, the Lord gave me a glimpse - even if just for a few months - of what a happy home looks and feels like.

And, here's the kicker y'all, it's still within reach! We know where the Lord has called us, and The Big Move* will put us smack dab in the center of God's will. If we can hold our breath and press through for just a few more months. If we can scrape by and eat Ramen for just a few days longer, then the Lord has a HUGE blessing waiting for us at the end.

When we were in the midst of everything (midterms, economic stress, family crisis)I asked a friend, "Where is the Lord in this?"

Her response was to remind me of the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11).

Mary and Martha knew Jesus could heal their brother Lazarus, and they sent for him in plenty of time.

But Jesus, knowing that Lazarus was at death's door, CHOSE to delay. For TWO DAYS he stayed where he was.

When he finally arrived, Lazarus was dead and in the grave. Martha's response was so similar to my response to the difficulties of the past few weeks, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." In essence, "WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN?!?!?!"

But the story does not end there, she went on to say, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." And He did. Lazarus was raised from the dead.

This is the story I am clinging to these days. I have been in the place where I have said, "Where is the Lord in this?! Why has He not intervened?!"

But I recognize now that, after his delay, He is going to bring a mighty miracle out of this situation. God will still do what Jesus asks for on my behalf.

So... this post didn't exactly go the way I intended.

I think I just needed to see it all in writing. God has brought us to where we are. God has brought us to where we are. And, despite the appearance of things, we're on the verge of an amazing blessing.

I think I just needed to write that out for myself.

Anyways.

I'll update and comment as much as I can, but PLEASE know that I am reading your blogs and keeping up with your lives (but not in that creepy stalker way... more in that I-love-my-sista's-in-Christ way... you know).

In the mean time, Peace out. Or, rather, Peace In.

*I know I keep promising, but it's coming soon... the post about The Big Move. So, so soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just call me Mrs.Inconsistent....

Ok, so I realize this isn't exactly the most riveting post ever written, but I feel I owe you faithful few an explanation as to why I have been MIA over the past little while. So, with the help of my friend the list format, here is my list of fall-flavored excuses:

1. Fallen leaves: make a really nice crunchy sound as I walk across campus to deliver my papers and take my midterms.

2. Golden sunshine: makes me happy as it beams through the big glass windows of the insurance office (my former place of employment) where I have picked up a few hours in order to help out while they're looking for someone permanent to hire.

3. Cold weather: makes my throat hurt, nose stuffy, and head ache... and causes me to run to the Peppermint Tea that has been hiding in my cabinet since last winter.

4. Pumpkins: make me think of my ever-growing belly, and the little person inside that is sapping all my energy (and all my appetite)

5. Earlier sunset: make me remember that my time is precious these days; so blogging might have to take a backseat for a while.

There it is folks. My fall-flavored list of excuses, designed just for you.

Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

With Faith Like a Child...

I mentioned last week that Chloe has started saying her bedtime prayers herself. Her sweet little prayers really are the most precious thing I've ever heard, and it's no wonder to me why God chooses to use little children as examples for the rest of us.

Mommy says, "Chloe, do you want to pray tonight?"

Chloe, "Sure!"

Then she folds her little hands under her chin and starts talking in a soft whisper (while mommy does the same and pretends to close her eyes while actually watching Chloe pray):


Lowd God, cank you for mommy. Cank you for daddy. Cank you for grandma. Cank you for grandpa. Cank you for Papa... Ganna... Pops... Nana... House... Cookies... Baby... Blanket... Bed... Light... Ducks... Blocks... Books... Kitty-kitty who gave me a boo boo....

Some nights this can go on for a really long time, until she has completely exhausted her entire vocabulary. Some nights it's over as soon as she finishes listing all the family members.

The first night I heard her sweet little prayer, I teared up and thought "Aww, how sweet." While it blessed my heart that she was so comfortable praying, I am ashamed to admit that I wasn't all that convinced that those kind of prayers really make a huge difference in the Heavens.

I mean, she didn't lift her hands. She didn't cry. She didn't speak in a foreign tongue or "cry out" to the Lord.

I mean, it was a sweet prayer, don't get me wrong. I just wasn't convinced it had a lot of ... you know... power.

But then life struck our little family. Tragedy. Crisis. Whatever you want to call it. And I found myself unable to find a prayer to pray.

I didn't know how to pray. I didn't know what to say. I was angry and confused and utterly and completely overwhelmed by our circumstances. Mostly I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do except pray... and that just wasn't coming easily.

And in the midst of that place, Chloe's sweet little prayer came back to me, and I found myself talking to Jesus: Lord God, Thank you for my family. Thank you because we're healthy and warm and dry and fed. Thank you for covers on the bed and food on the table. Thank you for my strong husband. Thank you for my sweet daughter. Thank you for caring parents and loving friends. Thank you that we're not alone in this because we have a lot of people who love us....

It may have been with bigger words and a clarified accent, but it was essentially the same prayer.

And. it. was. powerful.

I walked out of that prayer time with a revelation of the goodness of God in this difficult time. I realized that, even though things are difficult, God is still the King, and He is still working on our behalf. He knew this trial was coming, and He hedged us in before and behind.

Suddenly the situation didn't seem so overwhelming. I knew that God was in control... all because my daughter taught me how to pray.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nothing New Under the Sun....

So our family is in a bit of an upheaval right now. Hence, the lack of meaningful posts in a week. So, as a form of apology, allow me to present to you one of my new favorite sites. It was featured in The Red & Black (campus newspaper) today, and it's quite fun:

ugastyle.com

Check it out! Have fun! I'll be back before ya know it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last night....


For my second post of the day ('cause I'm on a roll), allow me to present: The Perfect Evening (a.k.a.: Last Night).

1. As he walks in the door from work, Hubby takes a big whiff of this season's first pot of Chicken Stew which is just coming to a boil on the stove.

2. For 30 minutes, Hubby, Mommy, and Little Girl lie on our big bed and talk/read a book/sing.

3. Everyone sits down for dinner (did I mention it's our first pot of Chicken Stew? Yum, Yum!)

4. Chloe gets up and watches Emperor's New Groove while mommy and daddy finish dinner and have first adult conversation of the day.

5. Mommy decides Baby #2 is craving some chocolate chip cookies.

6. Hubby and Mommy decide that, in order to counteract the cookie calories, everyone will walk to the store to get the chocolate chips.

7. The Perfect Walk commences, complete with cool Fall Breeze, the smell of campfire smoke, and lightning in the distance.

8. Everyone arrives home and begins to make preparations for cookie baking.

9. Mommy helps Chloe make her first batch of cookies, while Daddy takes pictures.

10. Chloe and Mommy eat too much cookie dough and only have enough room in their bellies to share one baked cookie. Chloe announces it is too hot but tasty enough to smear all over her face.

11. Chloe kisses Daddy g'night and cuddles with Mommy a few minutes before bedtime.

12. Mommy hears Chloe pray for the first time - the sweetest moment of my life.

13. After Chloe is in bed, Mommy and Hubby cuddle on the couch with some cold milk, warm cookies, and a good movie.

14. Mommy's bedtime prayers are extra thankful.

On Marriage...

I've been evaluating some things recently. Namely - the concept of marriage. I suppose every individual enters into marriage with a truckload of ideals, assumptions, preconceived notions, and theories about how marriage should look and feel. And while we would all hope that most of those assumptions are based on the Word of God and our relationship with Him, the truth is that many of our ideals and notions come from previous experiences in this sinful world. We enter into our marriage contracts with baggage. Baggage that we chose as we made unwise decisions in our dating years. Baggage that was chosen for us as our parents made unwise decisions in our childhoods.

Relationships we have had. Relationships we have observed. Weddings. Affairs. Divorce. Sappy movies. Country music. All of these things serve as building blocks, that range from tiny pebbles to cornerstones, in the foundations of our ideals about love and marriage and Happily Ever After.

But what happens when we feel the floor trembling beneath our feet? What do we do when, suddenly, one of those cornerstones begins to crumble underfoot and all we can do is watch it slip away into oblivion? Do we finagle the other stones in such a manner that they replace what has been lost? Do we try to regain what has turned to dust beneath us? Or do we look for new footing - a new foundation - in the Word?

These have been my thoughts over the past few weeks as Hubby and I struggle to find our footing in the midst of this life-changing upheaval.

But last night, the Lord led me down a very vivid memory lane. He took me back five years ago, to our engagement, and then through our first year of marriage. He walked me through our financial problems and our infertility scares. He reminded me of the emotional struggles I had, and of the grace He gave my husband during those times. Over and over He showed me how faithful He has been to me... to us. And so, in recognition of the goodness of the Lord and His ability to be our only foundation when all earthly foundations crumble, here is a list of Lessons Learned in four years of marriage:

1. The one spice that improves every dish is Grace. Every conversation, every confrontation, every imperfection, every inadequacy, every part of our marriage needs a little (or a big) sprinkle of Grace. And where there are big mistakes and imperfections that threaten to sour the whole pot, add a whole cup of Grace. Seriously, you just can't put too much. But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Romans 5:20

2. Don't sweat the small stuff. Hubby and I have had our share of major struggles during the short four years we have been married. So we learned very early on that, if a towel doesn't get hung up or if the dished stay in the sink one night (or two or three), don't sweat it! There are much bigger things that will drain your time and energy; so why waste it all on little things like that?

3. Housework is design to make my life better, not more miserable. I lived most of our first three years in a housework pendulum swing. If company was coming over, our house would be spotless. Every candle lit, cookies in the oven, matching towels hanging in the bathroom, floors shiny, temperature perfect. But when I couldn't maintain that all the time, I would just give up completely. I was always amazed at how quickly our house would go from perfection to utter C.H.A.O.S. ("Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome" - flylady). But since January of this year, the Lord has been teaching me about making our house a home all the time. It never has to be perfect, but it always has to be livable. Sure there are dirty clothes in the hampers, and of course last night's supper dishes are still in the sink. But there is a large empty floor with room enough for me and my daughter to play. The sheets are clean and comfortable when hubby and I crawl into bed at night. We have clean clothes to wear and food on the dinner table. My house hasn't been "perfect" in almost a year, but our family is happier and more comfortable in our own home than we have ever been.

4. Hubby cannot complete me or meet my every need. And believing that he is called to fulfill my every need holds him to an impossible standard and sets him up for failure in my eyes - every time. But my Jesus can "meet all my needs according to His riches and glory." And when I turn to Him for fulfillment, I am able to look at my Hubby and see the amazing man that God has created just for me - the man designed, not to complete me, but to be my partner and my friend.

5. Laugh. A lot. Anything and everything is bearable when it's tempered with a little humor.

And on that note, allow me to end with a Joke Of The Day:

Confucius say: “Beans in sandy soil causes Dust in the Wind”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

For any would-be detectives out there...

Wanna know the clues to look for if you're wondering if someone is pregnant?

1. The subject is female.

2. She's snoring in a not-so-comfy chair in the middle of a very public place.

3. Next to the chair you find the cheese scraped off some vending machine crackers, but no crackers to be found.

4. She's holding a half-empty bottle of Ginger Ale or Sprite.

Should you stumble upon said subject, do not - I repeat, DO NOT! - wake her up to ask if she is all right... unless you have a death wish. I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So... everybody knows....

We told the grandparents yesterday, and everybody else today.

There were several mixed responses: Some were really happy, others were tinged with sadness because of The Big Move, most simply replied "Congratulations!"

But my favorite response, by far, came from our two-year-old little girl:

me - "Mommy has a baby in her belly."

Chloe - "Two babies?"

me - "Noooo, ONE baby in mommy's belly."

Chloe - "One, Two."

me - "Is it a boy or a girl? What do you think?"

Chloe - "Two babies. A boy... and a gull... and a SCHOOL BUS!"

I'm not sure we've grasped the concept yet...

Wanna know a secret?

Psssst. Hey...you. Yeah, the one sitting at the computer. I have something to tell you.

Come a little closer 'cause I have to whisper.

... I don't know why! It's just one of those things that people whisper about.

Are you ready?

You sure?

Here it goes...

I'm having a baby!

Due May 24.

*smiles*

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The 411...

So, here's where I'm at, ya'll:

I have LOTS to write about. I mean LOTS. But most of it is still "secret" - not for public knowledge. And while I don't consider ya'll to be "the public," a few members of "the public" may stumble across this here little bloggy and then all would be lost. The world as we know it would end.

Okay, maybe it's not quite that dramatic. But I just wanted to let you know why I haven't been writing anything of significance over the last week or so. Mainly, my thoughts and prayers are consumed with some Big Happenings in my life. So, I promise promise promise that as soon as these things become "Public Knowledge" I'll be heading straight for my laptop to tell ya'll AAALLLLLLL about it.

In the meantime, I am not abandoning you. (Calm down. Breathe.) I'll be around - here and there - with some lighthearted posts and more Coffee Buzz on Friday.

Peace out, ya'll.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday's Coffee Buzz: PSL


All right, ya'll. It's time for me to tell you about the greatest drink that ever existed. In fact, it is so fabulous that I am convinced it should be included in the End-Times Wedding Banquet; therefore my request for such a drink in Heaven is a regular part of my prayer life.

Of course, I jest. But... ya'll... if you have to pick one time of year to splurge on a scrumptrulescent latte, this is it.

It's only available at Starbucks 6 weeks a year - usually mid-September to the first of November (at which time the not-so-scrumtrulescent gingerbread latte takes its place).

And now, introducing, the creamy, comforting, fall-flavored...

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Pumpkin? And coffee? In the same drink?"

For those of you who may doubt my word, allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine beautiful Fall day. The warm sun on your cheek is only countered by the crisp breeze that brushes past your nose. Leaves crunch beneath your feet, and the aroma of fresh-baked pumpkin pie floats on the air. Now, imagine if you can, pouring that perfect fall day into a paper cup and feeling its warmth as you put it up to your lips for your very first sip of Fall.

That, my friends, is the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Think I'm exaggerating? Go to Starbucks. Fork over the four bucks. Close your eyes. And sip (don't gulp) just sip.

Mmm...

If, however, a trip to the local Starbucks is out of the question (or the budget), do not lose hope! There is a substitute that is almost as good...

Ingredients:

International Delight Creamer in Pumpkin Pie Spice
(Usually found in the dairy case this time of year)
Smooth, Bold, Dark Roast coffee (Starbucks Sumatra works great)
Whipped cream
Ground cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice (optional)
Cinnamon stick (optional)


Recipe:
Brew coffee as normal (or a little bit stronger if you like a strong coffee taste in your latte).
Place coffee and desired amount of Pumpkin creamer in blender of choice. (I prefer the Magic Bullet.)
Blend on "whip" setting for 20-30 seconds. When blender stops, a nice foam should rise to the top.
Pour into desired cup and top with whipped cream.
Optional:
Sprinkle ground cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice on top of whipped cream.
Drop in a cinnamon stick and use to stir.


Chances are that you have most of the ingredients in your house, except for the creamer. But a large bottle of that creamer is $4 or so; and it will last you through several scrumptious home-made lattes. (For our budget, I sometimes go with a cheaper coffee to make up for the $4 difference.)

All right, ya'll. I'm really interested to hear what you think. Am I completely off in my description of the PSL? Did you enjoy it as much as I said you would? Did you try the home-made recipe and join me in my prayers for a PSL drink in Heaven? Let your taste buds do the talking!

Bathroom Wisdom...

The girls bathroom in the UGA Journalism building holds more words of advice than a fortune cookie manufacturer. Here are a few of my favorites...

Not all those who wander are lost. - JRR Tolkein

If we could hang our sorrows on pegs and choose those we liked best, each of us would take back his own, for the others would seem hard to bear.


My personal favorite: Idiots! You all are in college - get your degrees and move up in life!

Why waste all the money and someone else's chance to better themselves in order to just get your MRS degree and be a mom?!

(and underneath that)

Hold your newborn baby in your arms for the first time. Then you have the right to ask me that question.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On waiting...

It has been a week of waiting. Waiting in the looooong line at the coffee shop. Waiting on the curb for my late ride. Waiting on the phone for the customer no-service rep. Waiting in doctors' lobbies. Waiting on test results. Waiting to hear from the Lord. Waiting for someone I love to make a very important decision. Waiting.

I expect to have some periods of waiting in life. I am human, and I deal with other humans daily. We are finite in our ability to multi-task, and therefore, some things must wait. I understand this at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, at the doctor's office.

My daughter is also learning this truth. She wants a peanut butter sandwich. I have my hands elbow-deep in soapy dishwater. So she waits. She waits for me to rinse that last dish, to wipe off my hands, to get out the bread and jar, to spread the PB on the wheat bread, to cut it into little triangles, and (finally) to place it in her "spot" at the table.

I understand that waiting is all a part of living in this fallen world. But here's what I don't understand: waiting on God.

He's not human. He is not finite in His abilities. If he wanted, he could examine a patient, ring up some apples, steam a cappuccino, wash dishes, and cut the crust off a Peanut Butter sandwich - all at the same time! (Not to mention raising/setting the sun, giving me breath, and preparing the earth for His return.)

But if that is true - if He is able to do everything at once without delay - that means that He chooses to delay His answers. We wait on Him because He has decided that we should wait.

That's a hard pill for me to swallow sometimes.

Why would a God "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" choose to delay His answers... to make us wait?

And the thing is this - many times, when I am called to wait on the Lord, it's not a pleasant place. Here's what I mean: in a Christian walk, there are times that are refreshing and restful. There are times when our walk is easy and there's soft grass beneath our feet. But these are rarely the places where the Lord chooses to tarry. No, He usually chooses our waiting room to be in the desert - where it's hot and difficult and painful beneath our feet.

But why? Is there purpose in the waiting?

For this answer, I think of a time in my life when waiting was perhaps the scariest thing I have ever done. I was 5 months pregnant in a plane on my way back from Memphis. We had arrived at Atlanta ahead of schedule, but as we began our decent into the city, the engines revved up and we began to climb again. The pilot came over the intercom and said, "It looks like we're going to be circling for a little while. Please remain seated and keep your seat belts fastened as we may be experiencing some turbulence."

Turbulence, my friends, was an understatement. That plane jumped and shook and plummeted and climbed. It was impossible to see how far up we were because, upon looking out the window, all we could see was the black cloud of a storm front that had just rolled into our area.

For over an hour, I prayed and quoted scripture as I white-knuckled my arm rest and tried to think of anything other than my current situation. While the plane jerked and groaned, I kept waiting for the captain to come over the speaker. I wanted him to say something - ANYTHING - to let me know that we were almost out of this. But there was silence over the entire plane, except for those occasional dips that would cause the entire cabin to let out a collective gasp. In those moments, I watched - with fervent focus - the faces of the flight attendants. They were talking calmly, reading magazines, and acting completely oblivious to (what I thought was) our impending doom. Throughout the entire occurrence, their faces were my sole source of comfort. Apparently, they had been on flights like this before.

Of course, in the end, because of the capable hands of our pilots, we landed safely and without incident.

In this place of waiting on the Lord, I am so often reminded of that trip home from Memphis. I'm uncomfortable, and scared. My world is rocking and shaking, and nothing is in my control. I don't hear the voice of my Pilot reassuring me. I just have to trust that He knows what He's doing. He doesn't give me a reason for the delay, but I know it's for my good - so I don't crash into other planes or get struck by lightning on my way towards a landing. In the meantime, I turn to His Word, worship, and the faces of Christian friends who have been here before - because knowing that they survived and therefore are not phased by my panic, is a source of comfort to me in this place.

Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Things That Make You Feel Like a Jedi....




A conversation between me and Starr...
shunamite84: automatic doors make me feel like a Jedi
Superstarrfab: that is random!!
Superstarrfab: Good job
shunamite84: haha!
shunamite84: thanks
shunamite84: hehe
shunamite84: I stole it
Superstarrfab: huh?
Superstarrfab: who'd you steal that from?
shunamite8: a button on facebook
Superstarrfab: that would be a great blog
Superstarrfab: things that make you feel like a jedi
Superstarrfab: I love it!!!
shunamite84: AWESOME!
Shunamite84: we should work on it together!
Superstarrfab: we really should
shunamite84: ok
shunamite84: lets try
shunamite84: - automatic doors
shunamite84: vacuum cleaners
Superstarrfab: clap on clap off lights
shunamite84: ...
Superstarrfab: the car windows that you just push once and they keep going down
shunamite84: automatic flush toilets
Superstarrfab: good one
Superstarrfab: automatic towel dispensers
shunamite84: hehe
shunamite84: auto water spouts
Superstarrfab: I walked by one of those in the church bathroom and out popped some towels
Superstarrfab: I didn't even need one
shunamite84: haha!
shunamite84: elevators
shunamite84: maybe?
Superstarrfab: no that's good
shunamite84: electric knives make me feel that way
shunamite84: 'cause you don't even have to go back and forth
shunamite84: it's like one of their cool swords
Superstarrfab: exactly
Superstarrfab: those curvy mirrors in gas stations
Superstarrfab: I don't know why
shunamite84: um
shunamite84: curvy mirrors?
shunamite84: elaborate
Superstarrfab: you know
Superstarrfab: they're all--- I see EVERYWHERE and EVERYTHING
Superstarrfab: they really are!!
shunamite84: ooo
shunamite84: good one
Superstarrfab: escalators
shunamite84: oooooo
shunamite84: better than elevators
Superstarrfab: they are awesome!
Superstarrfab: moving sidewalks
Superstarrfab: oh yeah!!
shunamite84: YEAH!
shunamite84 yo-yo's
Superstarrfab: o...kay
Superstarrfab: heehee
shunamite84: 'cause they just come right back up
Superstarrfab: yo yo's are cool
shunamite84: like you have the power to pull them into your hand
shunamite84: whatever
shunamite84: they make ME feel like a jedi
Superstarrfab: magnets
shunamite84: yeah!
shunamite84: magnets!
Superstarrfab: good!
shunamite84: the evil eye
Superstarrfab: good one!
shunamite84: it's a method of mind control, I'm pretty sure
Superstarrfab: hairy men make me think of star wars, but not jedi's
Superstarrfab: Chewy
Superstarrfab: and poofy hairy dogs
Superstarrfab: I hope you are transferring this to a blog right now!
shunamite84: totally

Coffee 101

Can I just say.... I LOVE the whole coffee house culture?

I love sauntering up to the glass counter - filled with pastries and power bars and bananas - and ordering my Skinny Extra-Dry Cinnamon Dulce Cappuccino at 180. (Yeah, I'm one of those people.)

Some days it's not that complicated (or expensive). Some days it's just "Large, Dark Roast, Room for Light Cream."

I love all the different flavors and smells and sounds. I enjoy talking over the espresso machine to place an order. I like knowing what flavors go with what coffees from what areas of the world. And I LOVE it when my barrista knows my name - and my regular order.

If you are one of those people who never knows what to order, I'm the person you want next to you. I have, on more than one occasion, ordered for a perfect stranger who knew what they wanted, but didn't know how to order it.

It is because of this passion for the drink of bean, that I am initiating a new Friday theme: Coffee 101.

Basically, each Friday, I will highlight a coffee shop, or drink, or flavor that, I believe, can make all our lives a little more pleasant.

Today's Topic: Starbucks Coffee - Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Expensive Coffee.

About three years ago, I chose Starbucks' Sumatra blend as a subject of an entire research paper. I traced the source of the bean (in Sumatra, Indonesia) from the farmer's fields all the way to my paper cup in the coffee shop in Athens, GA. And it was in the process of this research project that I discovered something:

Starbucks is the best coffee place on earth. Allow me to explain why...

Have you ever heard of "Fair Trade" coffee? Starbucks has.

In fact, they are the single largest purchaser of "Fair Trade" coffee in the U.S.

What does that mean? Starbucks pays third-world farmers above and beyond the "market value" for coffee in their region.

Example: "In 2003, when commercial-grade arabica coffee ranged from $0.55 - $0.70 per pound, Starbucks paid an average of $1.20 per pound for all our coffee."

Because of Starbucks' decision to participate in the "Fair Trade" program, farmers that harvest coffee beans for Starbucks very quickly become the wealthiest farmers in their region. In the case of Sumatra: "Originally, membership [in the Fair Trade organization] consisted of 100 small-scale coffee producers located in two villages. By the end of last year, there were 455 members from five villages." Not only that, but the Fair Trade Certified coffee is also organic, which means fewer harmful pesticides or toxins in those villages.

Granted, Starbucks isn't the only reason for this growth, and it certainly isn't the largest purchaser in every region.

But... it is the largest coffee chain in the U.S. that deals regularly with Fair Trade Farmers.

So, the next time you treat yourself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte, extra whip... or a Java Chip Frappuccino... or a plain ol' cup of joe, ask your barrista if it's Fair Trade coffee in your cup today.

If it's not, let them know you'd like to see that stuff brewed more often.

If it is, you don't have to feel so bad about spending $5 on a cup o' Joe, because that cup of Organic Fair Trade coffee in your paper cup means a better life, more food, higher education, and so much more to farmers in third-world countries around the world.


So, that's it, ya'll. Now I'd love to hear from you. Do you have any more creative names for Friday's theme? Coffee 101 is a little blah, in my opinion. Second, what's your favorite coffee? Coffee shop? Anything you always wanted to know about coffee, but you were too afraid to ask? This is your chance...

Sources are here and here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Make it all better...

Sitting next to my little girl at the lunch table today, I saw (on more than one occasion) her pleasant no-cares facial expression turn to a slight frown and then suddenly to a full-out bawl-her-eyes-out cry.

It's something I have seen before. As a matter of fact, it's an almost daily occurence.

Something had hurt her, injured her, offended her.

Just like every other time, I put her tear-streaked little face in my hands, let her know that she has my undivided attention, and I ask, "What happened to mommy's baby?"

And just like every other time, she tells me - between her sobs - exactly what had happened. Today, it was:

"Table 'n' Kneeeeee!" - The table hit my knee

or

"Chip 'n' mouuuuuth" - The chip hurt my mouth or (more likely) I bit my tongue.

or

"Lemon 'n' haaaaaand!" - The lemon burned the cut on my hand.

And each time, after she tells me all about what's wrong, I put my arms around her and hold her head against my chest. I say, "Shhh, I know it hurts, but Mommy will make it all better." Then I kiss whatever area has been injured and, finally, turn my attention to the culprit.

"NO! NO! Table! You get a spankin' 'cause you hurt my Chloe." Then the table gets a spanking.

She especially finds delight in this last action, and usually joins me in teaching the guilty party a lesson. It doesn't take long for her to completely forget about her injury and continue on with her previous conversation or activity.

But it's not always that easy, is it?

Sometimes the people we love are hurt in ways that we cannot fix.

We can't always kiss the boo boo and make it go away. We usually can't punish the person or situation which is causing the pain.

We feel helpless. Sometimes, in our own effort, we are helpless.

Today is one of those days for me. I don't have answers. I don't have solutions. I don't have magical healing powers. I can't erase what has been done. I can't fix it.

So I pray. I pray that Daddy God will take their face in His hands, so that they know they have His undivided attention. I pray that they can pour out their hearts to the One who asks, "What happened to my little one?" I pray that, even now, His loving touch begins to bring healing and restoration.

Then I pray that He kicks the Devil in the teeth! Because this battle ain't against flesh and blood, ya'll.

But above all, I pray that they can see that He understands, that He is intimately acquainted with pain... with suffering... with injustice. And He is working on their behalf. He's not sitting idly by, waiting for someone down here to do something. He is petitioning at the Throne. He knows their pain, and He's all about the business of restoration.


It's obvious, of course, that he didn't go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That's why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people's sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed....
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Hebrews 2:16-18, 4:14-16 (The Message)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Memorably Random...

I'm back, ya'll, and while I still don't have anything spectacular to talk about, I figure something is better than nothing.

So, I present to you (in none other than List Format) memorable and random moments of my college career:

Fall 2002: Met Christan, my new college roommate and soon-to-be lifelong friend. Before I officially met her, my mom and I *glanced* in her closet to take a gander at her clothes "to see what kind of girl she is." Yeah, can't believe I just admitted that on the internet.

Spring 2003: Discovered "Phase 10" which has forever changed my college experience.

Spring 2003: Went to class every morning in my pajamas - a cup of coffee in one hand and an umbrella in the other. Wish I had a picture...

Spring 2004: Learned that, sometimes, I know what's best for me even if it doesn't make sense. In the future, I will listen to that little voice inside...

Fall 2004: Discovered that ministry can sometimes mean watching my best friend eat crickets.

Spring 2005: Realized that Athens is home, no matter where I live.

Fall 2005: Realized that no amount of schooling could teach me as much as a day at home with my little girl.

Fall 2007: Determined that I probably need to graduate in this decade.

Fall 2007: The coffee shop girl sees me every morning and asks, "Daddy's favorite today?" - which I interpret to mean, "Large Dark Roast with a Shot of Cinnamon and Room for Cream?" - my dad's favorite coffee, and my regular order - a fact I may have mentioned to her on a previous occasion.

Fall 2007: Met Peter Pan in the elevator...seriously... oh, did I mention it was Halloween?

Spring 2008: Found a nook in the library which remains, to this day, my favorite study spot on campus... ESPECIALLY during a thunderstorm!

Spring 2008: Realized that I REALLY hated my major, and decided to change with only two semesters to go before graduation. My adviser blank-stared me for a full minute when I told him. I think that meeting really made him happy (note the sarcasm, please).

Spring 2008: Stood in the rain a full 7 minutes because I forgot my umbrella...was in my hand.

Summer 2008: Thought a student in front of me was going to poke me in the eye with his pencil when I said, "The U.S. should have an alliance with Israel. Bush is right." (Note to self: Do not discuss International Affairs in International Affairs Class.)

Summer 2008: Did not open my mouth again in said class until the day before the exam, when I said, "I'll bring cookies if everybody will come to study group." Needless to say, I was quite popular at study group.

Fall 2008: Met masculine man with feminine voice at Jittery Joe's. Still not sure what that was about...

Yesterday 2008: Tripped over my own two feet and almost fell flat on my face. Caught myself before more than my pride was hurt. Wanted to punch petite blondie who laughed. Bring it on, Barbie! (Ended up laughing right along with her... you know, 'cause I'm cool like that.)

Today 2008: Finally got nailed in the back of my head with a racquetball. I had it comin', ya'll, I had it comin'.


So, there you have it. Memorably Random Moments of the good ol' college variety. What are some of you favorite moments in high school/college?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Be back next week....

Ok, ya'll, I'm feeling a bit dry today. Nothing extraordinary to report - nothing funny, nothing deep, nothing new.

BUT... I have been all over the web this morning and, let me tell you, there's some GOOD stuff out there today. So check these out:

Inside Out at Plunderful Life
The Food Stamp Challenge at Embracing and Being Embraced
Skeptic... over at To Know Him

I'll do my best to be back on Monday with some fabulous post that I have yet to come up with!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You have reached my12hats, please leave a message after the beep.

Beeeeeeep. Hey ya'll. I'm over here today. Come back tomorrow for wild and whacky tales. Or something like that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Whistle while you work... toodle doo tooo dooo dum dum

Well, ya'll, it's working. The HCG, the funky power vitamins, the 600 calories. I don't want to go into all the boring details, but suffice it to say that my metabolism is ahead of the game.

It's working, ya'll. It's working.

Wooo hooo!

Monday, September 1, 2008

BFF How-To Video

Here it is ya'll. From yours truly and Starr.

Even though it's not part of the contest, might I suggest you check out our PRELUDE first.

And if you'd like to know what inspired our genius, check this out:
how-to

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

BFF HOW-TO: HOW TO TALK TO YOURSELF WITHOUT LOOKING CRAZY



Shoot, ya'll. I put the wrong web address. Natalie is actually at nataliewitcher.blogspot.com NOT nataliewitcher.com. I hope this doesn't deduct points...

The PRELUDE

This video is NOT for Natalie and Kim's BFF How-to Video Contest, but it IS the prelude to the "submitted" video.

Enjoy...



Shoot, ya'll. I put the wrong web address. Natalie is actually at nataliewitcher.blogspot.com NOT nataliewitcher.com. I hope this doesn't deduct points...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Because we are all wanna-be producers...

So, no posts this weekend because Starr and I are WAY too busy working on this:

how-to

So, Monday afternoon, ya'll. Same time. Same place. Be there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Shack - in review

I just finished "Loving on the I Am - Part 3" and posted it below. This was actually written a few days ago, but I decided not to post it until the "I AM" series was finished. So here goes...

Everybody's doing it, ya'll. And since I just finished reading the very book that incites so many diverse opinions, I decided to go ahead and throw in my 2 cents.

To begin with, here are the things that I really like about the book:

While I don't consider this book a life-changing eye-opener, I do love some of the pictures of God that are portrayed by the author. And these portrayals did provoke some interesting thoughts and questions in my mind:

I recognize, in The Shack, the Jesus that I know as my best friend. I love that he is portrayed as a man, that he discovers the wonders of creation through a man's eyes. I have never thought about Jesus, as a man, enjoying the wonders of a world that he had created for man.

I also love the picture of Papa God, leading us through difficult places in order to dig out the roots of bitterness and give us the gift of forgiveness. Like the God I know, the God in The Shack allows his children to crawl into his lap and bawl their little eyes out. I really love that picture.

Time and time again, I saw pictures - snapshots, if you will - of the God that I know and love and walk with.

I also think that, for those who are really hurting, this books offers a good shot at answering the question, "If God is so good, why is there so much pain in the world?" I can absolutely think of people in my own life who are struggling with this very question, and for them, I think this book could be a good move in the direction of understanding and, ultimately, healing.

But as much as I love those things about the book, here's the bottom line, ya'll: It's a good book. A good fictional book. It's not the Bible. It's not absolute truth. It's fiction.

And just as with any piece of religious literature that a Christian reads, we are called to weigh any written words against the written Word of God.

There is definitely some questionable theology, as Eric's Wife points out so very well. I won't go into all those details because, quite frankly, she said it all a lot better than I ever could.

So, read the book, and if you like the flavor of it, then take the meat and spit out the bones, ya'll.

Eat up the wonderful reminders of God's unconditional love, 'cause that part was quite tasty. But weigh it against the Bible, and if any of it causes some indigestion, I suggest you throw it out.

Just don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

Ok, I think I've driven my over-cliche'd metaphors into the ground.

You get the point.

If you have read it, what do you think about it?

Loving on the I AM - Part 3

In those five words - "I AM who I AM" - Moses would find the faith to realize that, even if he could not see the goodness in what God was doing, he could believe in the goodness of who God is and know that, because God is good, what he does is good.

From our perspective here in the 21st century, we are able to look back and see exactly what God was doing during those 40 years.

In those 40 years of wandering, a transformation was happening in the people of Israel.

The taste of quail and manna for 40 years cleared their palates of the spices of Egypt so that, when they reached the Promise Land - with its milk, and honey, and giant grapes - they would not still desire the tastes of the foods they ate in the land of bondage.

When they left the land of Egypt, it is probable that they trusted more in the Egyptian gods than they trusted in the God of Abraham (Exodus 32), but after 40 years of relying on Him for food, water, clothing, and direction, they would know the I AM was the only God who had provided for them on their journey.

It took 40 years to raise a generation birthed in freedom. Those who were left to wander in the desert an addition 40 years were those whose roots were still in Egypt. Their mindset was that of bondage because it was all they had ever known... and all their parents had ever known... and all their grandparents had ever known. But the generation that entered into the Promise Land had been birthed in the desert, in freedom. They had never tasted the bitterness of slavery and had only known the freedom of the Lord. This was the generation the Lord would use to conquer the giants of Canaan.

And as for those giants, for the same 40 years, those giants had tilled the land and planted vineyards. They constructed fortified cities and infrastructure to sustain an entire population. They built houses and cultivated their gardens. All of these things were completed upon the Israelites' arrival. They would not walk into an undeveloped wilderness. (Would that have been much better than the desert?) But they would walk into booming societies and economies that were primed for the new rulers - God's chosen people.

In the midst of 40 years of wandering, God's people could not know what God was orchestrating "behind the scenes." And because their faith was in the actions of God instead of the being of God, their reaction was disappointment and (as a result) complaining, mumbling, grumbling, arguing, and (ultimately) complete doubt in the promises of God.

But Moses never lost faith during those 40 years of wandering*. Even as they approached the Promise Land, it was Moses' faith in a good God that saved the Israelites from total annihilation (Numbers 14).

So where are you today?

I think if we're honest, many of us can say that we have been in a place of disappointment with the Lord - a place where His ways don't make sense, where following Him feels more painful than giving up and going back to our old bondage, where what He is doing seems to be the opposite of what He said He would do.

But I believe the Lord is calling each of us to a new revelation - a new knowledge of Him as the "I AM." Because when we come to a place where we can say "I trust in who You are, regardless of what I see You doing," then our hearts will be in a place protected from disappointment in the Lord and (as a result) from complaining, mumbling, grumbling, arguing, and (ultimately) the complete doubt in the Promises of God.

So the questions pounding in my mind today, in the midst of a desert place, are these: Is God a good God? Is He a man, that He should lie? Do I believe that, regardless of how it feels right now, God is working all things together for my good?

In the revelation of the "I AM", I can answer these questions positively, without fear of disappointment.

What about you?





(*Of course we know that Moses was disobedient as they reached the Promise Lane and was therefore not allowed to enter... but that is a different story for a different day.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Loving on the I AM - Part 2

As soon as those words poured out of my mouth, I suddenly understood the significance of the exchange between God and man in Exodus 3.

In verse 13, Moses asks a very intriguing question: "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God could have given Moses any number of names: Jehovah El Elohim (the Lord God of Gods), El-Shaddai (The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People), Jehovah Shalom (The Lord our Peace), Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord is Present)... countless names by which the Lord has revealed Himself to His people through the ages.

But on this day, to this shepherd and former prince of Egypt, God chose to reveal Himself in five simple words:

"I AM who I AM"

Though I cannot point you to any scripture that would prove what I am about to say, I believe with all my heart that, with those five words, God imparted to Moses a revelation that would carry him through the plagues of Egypt, the miracle at the Red Sea, and the journey through the desert. I believe that it was this phrase - "I AM who I AM" - that caused Moses to stand strong in his faith when everyone else, including his brother and sister, doubted God's plan in those 40 years of wandering.

God could have given Moses any other name, but each of those names, while vitally important to our understanding of the Lord, only describes to us the characteristics of God and what He does.

But I believe God wanted to impart to Moses a truth that runs so much deeper than what God was doing, because over the next 40 years, what God was doing wouldn't make much sense to Moses and the Israelites.

Had Moses put his faith in the actions of God, here is what he and the Israelites would have seen:

What God said He was going to do is found in verse 8: "So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey."


What God DIDN'T say was:

I'm going to take you out of Egypt and into the Promised land, but in between here and there will be 40 years of desert wandering.

I will make sure your clothes will never wear out, and you will never outgrow them. But the clothes you have on your back when you leave Egypt will be the same clothes you wear everyday for the next 40 years.

And I will provide your food, but you will eat the same thing everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - 365 days a year, for 40 years.

Oh, and by the way, you won't have a map or any idea where you're going or when you will arrive. Because you'll have to wait on me every day for the next 40 years. You can only move when my cloud moves, and sometimes we will stay in one spot for days - long enough for you to build the temple and make your sacrifices.

Finally, when you get to the Promised Land, you can't just walk in and live there... because it is overrun with giants. These giants will have to be conquered, but you will not do it. You will have to send your children and grandchildren into battle against those giants, without you.


Had Moses walked into that situation putting all his faith in what God was doing, I believe he would have given up before the first Plague.

But I believe that on that day, at that burning bush, with those five words, God imparted to Moses this truth: Do not believe in what I am doing, because you may never understand what I do. My ways are above your ways and My understanding far above your understanding. But put your faith in who I AM: I AM good, and I AM holy, and I AM God. Put your faith the I AM, and you will never be disappointed.


More to come...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Loving on the I AM, Part 1

A couple Sunday nights ago, I preached a sermon on Exodus 3*, where Moses meets the Creator of the universe in a burning bush.

I absolutely love this story. I love the life of Moses - his birth, his trip down the river, his upbringing, his flight, his introduction to the God of his fathers, his fear, and (ultimately) his obedience.

But, until last year, my love for this story stopped there. I did not love the part about wandering in the desert for forty years. I did not love the fact that things had to be so hard on God's people, when Moses had been so obedient. I did not love that side of God - the side that would promise His people a home and then make them go through all that before they could "earn" it.

That's the way I thought until last year.

But last year, all that changed because (and this may seem counter-intuitive) last year was a year of disappointment for me. Sure, good things happened. I wasn't depressed or distraught, just... disappointed.

You see, the Lord has given me and hubby some promises, and soon after those promises were given, the opposite appeared to happen. When we had faith for a miracle, we watched our friends suffer as they mourned the death of their wife, daughter, friend, and mother-to-be. When we should have been able to put aside a little nest egg and pay off some debt... our car broke down beyond repair, an A/C unit went out in our home, the plumbing in the front yard had to be replaced - all costing us thousands of dollars that left us further in the hole than when the year began.

And through it all, through my anger, disillusionment, disappointment and, yes, bitterness with the Lord, He continually pointed me back to Exodus 3*.

And through it all, my response to this passage would be, "I don't understand why you keep sending me here. Why is this part of the story so significant?"

One day, in the midst of this year-long conversation, the Lord asked me one question: Why do you love your husband?

After thinking a minute, I decided to go with my gut...

"Well, Lord, I love him because he is funny. He makes me laugh and finds the humor in any situation."

But your brother is funny, and He makes you laugh. Still you don't love him in the same way you love your husband.

"Ok, Lord, I suppose I love him because he's so kind. He's the most tenderhearted person I know, and I love that he cares about other people."

But [so and so] and [so and so] are just as kind, just as tenderhearted. You still don't love them in the same way you love your husband.

And the list went on and on... I named characteristic after characteristic that all cause me to "love" my husband, but each time, my reasoning was found faulty.

Finally, I said, "Lord, I love him because he sacrifices for our family. He is a good provider, Lord, and he works so hard so I can stay home. He works really hard for me and Chloe."

But what if something happened to him and he were completely unable to do any of the things you have just described? What if he is completely debilitated and can no longer hold you or make you laugh or provide for you? Would you love him then?

"Of course, Lord. Of course I would still love him."

Why?

Completely flustered at this point (because I was obviously getting this answer wrong), I huffed:

"Because he is. I love him because he exists."

More to come...

*When I posted this entry earlier, I said that the story was found in Exodus 7. My mistake. It is, in fact, found in Exodus 3.

Tantrums of the Terrible Two's... and other life lessons

Recently, I feel like I have been floundering in the sea of parenting. It seems to me that just as I find my footing, another wave comes crashing in and takes my feet right out from under me.

I just have to keep telling myself that it's only a wave and that, if I can keep my head above water, I might actually be able to enjoy the ride. (Anybody got a float out there?)

As this little person, who was once so helpless and needy, begins to approach the third year of her life, she suddenly has an opinion... about everything.

"Mommy, I wanna eat pee-budder bed" (interpreted peanut butter and bread)

"No, sweetie, that's what you had for breakfast. You are going to have chicken and peas for lunch."

"NO! Mommy! I wanna eat pee-budder bed! PEE BUDDER BEEEEEDDD!"

"No, Chloe! Chicken and peeeeeas! CHICKEN AND PEEEEEEEEEEEES!"

(Ok, maybe I don't really respond like that. But maybe, hypothetically speaking, I feel like it on the inside.)

All summer, this struggle has turned into a never-ending battle of wills. And finally - FINALLY! - a couple weeks ago, everything fell into place.

"Ok, Chloe, bath time." (Picture me wincing, waiting for the ensuing battle to begin.)

"Yes ma'am, mommy."

*double take*

What was THAT? Did my little girl just say "Yes Ma'am" without being told?!?!

Now those of you up North might not get the significance of those two little words, but down here in the Peach State, every polite child says "Yes ma'am" "No ma'am" "Yes sir" and "No sir" to parents, family, teachers, and strangers. It's just good manners ya'll, and from the time Chloe could put two words together, I have reminded her that "yes ma'am" is the proper response when I ask her to do something.

And here, after months and months of struggling, it was like angelic music to my ears.

Over the coming days, as she was becoming more and more regular in her polite responses and instant obedience, I was becoming more and more aware of the fact that she has so few choices in her life. She's doesn't get to choose what she eats or when she drinks. She doesn't get to decide what time she goes to bed or wakes up. When I leave the house, she leaves the house. When I say bath time, she takes a bath. She can voice her requests, but I ultimately make her every decision.

And I was feeling a bit like, perhaps, I'm not preparing her to make decisions herself. Maybe she needs to make some choices on her own. So I began to ask her, instead of tell her.

"Chloe, would you like oatmeal or grits for breakfast?"

"Do you want a snack before you go night-night?"

"Would you like to put your shoes on or go bare foot?"

In the beginning, it was going ok, perhaps because she didn't understand that it was a choice.

But then, the chaos began. It started at the store (you know, because all ear-piercing-scream-lay-in-the-floor-kicking-make-everyone-look fights with toddlers happen in the most public place you can find). I asked her if she wanted to wear her "monkey" (read: leash), or if she wanted to ride in the buggy. She said she wanted to wear the monkey. But the moments that followed were nothing short of terrible.

She would say, "'Dis way, mommy, 'DIS WAY!"

I would say, "Wait a minute. Mommy needs to look at this item."

"NOOOOOOOOOo!!!! THIS WAY!!!!!"

Thus began the biggest toddler battle we have had so far. For the finishing touches, she was so angry as I put her in the car that she actually BIT my ARM. My sweet, angel, darling baby girl sunk those newly-formed teeth right into the very arm that was TRYING to buckle her in, to keep her safe from harm.

This behavior continued over the following week, with increasing frequency.

She would want juice. I would hand her juice. She would push juice away and say "NO!"

She would cry and whine and rub her eyes, but when I asked her if she wanted to go night-night... "NOOOOO!"

"No" - a new favorite word, I suppose.

The sweet requests and lively conversations had been replaced by strong-willed demands and incessant whining.

What had I done to my child?!

I really was at a complete loss, drowning in the waves of high-pitched screams and crocodile tears. I looked it up online. I scoured my baby books. Nothing I had ever read had prepared me for this.

This went on until last Friday evening, when I left the house (on my own) to shop for party supplies. That evening, I spent a large portion of my time outside of the house talking with the Lord about the changes that were happening in Chloe. That is when I heard one line that has changed my entire perspective:

You are giving her too many choices.

I suddenly got it. She was not ready to handle even the smallest choice: oatmeal or grits? She didn't know what she wanted. It was my job, as her mommy, to tell her what was best for her and give her only that.

That doesn't mean she can't have requests. That doesn't mean I ignore her requests. It simply means, when I say bedtime, and she asks to read a book... Ok. One. Then night-night.

It's that simple.

I also realize that, at any point, she can choose to go against my decision. But, in the last couple days, I have slowly seen the return of my sweet little girl. She seems to have dropped "Yes, ma'am" altogether so that everyone is "Yes, sir." Hehe. And I'm ok with that.

Because of this re-transformation, I have come to realize something: she needs those boundaries. She needs me to say "no" and to tell her what her next move should be. Otherwise, she is overwhelmed by all the choices. Bedtime? Snack time? Bath time? Book time? She is, frankly, freaked out by the lack of guidance. But inside the boundaries her father and I set, she is at peace, knowing that we will always have her best in mind.

And it is in the midst of this parenting pendulum that I recognize a truth about the Lord.

Perhaps the Lord is allowing me to see this truth in response to another lesson I have learned recently. Perhaps the reason the Lord does not always give us what we ask for is because, like Chloe, we don't really know what we want.

But the Holy Spirit knows us so deeply, so intimately, so closely, that He knows our heart's desires even better than we know them ourselves. He sees us rubbing our eyes and yawning, and He knows what our bodies want and need. And even if we kick and scream and cry and bite along the way, He knows that in the end (if we choose to walk in His will), He is actually giving us what our hearts desire.

And that is where I take comfort this afternoon - in the knowledge that, even if I don't understand or don't agree with what the Lord is doing in my life - He has my best in mind, and He knows (better than I do) how to fulfill the desires of my heart.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Recipe of the week, in 5 minutes or less...

Ingredients:
3.5oz Pre-cooked frozen shrimp.
3.5oz Fresh asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
(You may also use fresh green beans)
2-3 Garlic cloves
Sea Salt
Ground Pepper
1/4 Lemon (optional)
1 ZipLock Steamer Bag

Throw frozen shrimp and fresh asparagus into the Steamer Bag. Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic with the flat side of a large knife and add to bag. Salt and pepper to taste.

Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool for one minute and empty contents of bag onto a small plate. Serve with chopsticks.

Optional: spritz some lemon juice over the entire dish for some added flavor.

Enjoy!

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood