Monday, January 31, 2011

Movin' and Shakin' and Groovin' and Bakin'

We moved this weekend.

Yup. Moved out of our apartment (which we have loved) into a house (which we love more).

We have a yard. We have enough bedrooms for our growing family. We have less square footage, which we actually kind of like. We have a sidewalk. We have a little humming neighborhood.

And we have stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

You may remember my 2011 Resolution to prepare my life for whatever God has next for us. A huge part of that means weeding out all the unnecessary “junk” that’s cluttering up my life – in my car, in my house, in my heart.

Although I haven’t updated the progress here much, I have taken no fewer than THREE carloads of “stuff” to Goodwill, and I have a fourth awaiting my attention at the apartment right now.

I was quite proud of that accomplishment.


I was proud until, well, we moved.

Boxes upon boxes. Bags upon bags. Stuff. Stuff. And more stuff.

They guys (who were gracious enough to help us move) could barely fit all the stuff in my living room.

It was piled high. And two days later, I am still going through boxes and bags of – you guessed it – stuff.

Decorations. Dishes. “Might-use-this-someday’s.” And clothes. OH! The clothes!!!

My husband (who was oh-so-sick the day of the move) accidentally mixed the clean and dirty clothes into the same bags. We have no way of telling what’s what; so all of our clothes – every single article of what we currently wear – are piled in the hallway outside our laundry room.



We cannot see the carpet in our entire hallway. And the pile, at some points, is over 3 feet high.

I’m ashamed to say that doesn’t even include the BOXES of clothes that are stored away for spring and summer.


In Korea, we had one outfit for each day, a couple sets of play clothes, and one “nice” outfit for church. I had two pair of shoes. Two. Pair. Of. Shoes.

A white pair for spring and summer. A black pair for fall and winter.


Now, I can’t find room for my shoes. My hallway is full (FULL!) of clothes.
And I started thinking about all the time my hubby and I spend on laundry alone. The washing and drying (and the electricity bills that come with it). The folding. The ironing. The putting away. The sorting. The digging. The searching for something to wear amidst the umpteen stacks that fill our drawers and closets.

If you don’t see where this is going, lem’me spell it out for ya. We’re going all-out Korean style, and this seems as good a time as any. As we wash (and re-wash) our pile(s) of clothes, I will be choosing 7-10 “outfits” for the girls, 1-2 “church dresses,” and a couple sets of pajamas.

Hubby and I will have even less (since we often wear the same outfit to work/play/church).

I’m ditching the shoes.

Yup. I’ll probably end up with more than 2 pair, but definitely not more than 4 or 5 (goodbye, lovely shiny red pumps that I would love to wear again someday but don’t have anything to match you now).

Stay tuned, I might take some before/after pictures, if I can swallow my pride for a minute.

A few more updates:

1. We are still TV-free and loving it. When Chloe is tired, she will occasionally ask when we’re going to get a TV. Those moments are just that – moments. They last only a few seconds before she takes off into her imaginary world of talking butterflies and giants and heroines and damsels in distress. Maple doesn’t seem to notice a difference. (In the name of full disclosure, for a couple afternoons a week, we do have a DVD player in the car that the girls watch on our 30-minute commute.)

2. While we’re not all-organic, chemical-free… we’re getting there. I’m still poo free (for the most part). I make a couple loaves of whole wheat bread each week, along with a couple batches of healthy granola. The girls are snacking on raw fruits and veggies and only ask for chips/cookies/etc. if they know we have them in the house. Otherwise, they don’t seem to miss them.

3. I’m not losing weight. Like, at all. But I am eating healthier and binging less. Hubby and I started P90X (aka: Excersize created in the pit of Hell) last night. Progress is progress, yo. Don’t hate.

So that’s it. May your week be filled with smiles and bubbles and sidewalk chalk.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Korean Adventurer

I find myself lost in nostalgia today. My dear friend Kathryn and her family are heading to South Korea in the next 24 hours to begin a year-long work that God has called them to.

I'm am so excited for them. More excited than words can say. Living overseas is one of those life-changing, soul-searching, faith-building, family-uniting, God-ordained things that cannot fully be put into words. It is impossible to walk away from an experience like that unaltered. And I know they will look back on these memories as precious, cherished, beautiful times.

As I read her blog and talk with her on the phone, I find myself reliving the 24 hours before our own departure.

I was in a panic. I had never been to Korea and had no idea what to pack. I was trying to fit our entire life (including a month's supply of diapers and toiletries) into 4 suitcases, and I was failing miserably.

I was saying what "goodbye's" had not already been said by that point. I was desperately grasping for some calm in the midst of chaos.

Then I think about the airport. My mother was crying. My husband was focused. My children were content. I was... excited.

For the 3.5 of us boarding the plane, our nerves were so jittery, none of us slept for the entire 16-hour flight. The flight attendant served my bi-bim-bap. This was my first Korean dish.

When we arrived in Seoul, Pastor Kim and his lovely wife picked us up. While we all wanted to be friendly and conversational, my family and I all fell sound asleep on the hour-long ride to our new home.

A crowd of kind-faced Samonims greeted us at the entrance to our apartment building. We were so amazed at how these little, happy women carried our massive luggage up three flights of stairs to our second story apartment. We opened the door to our wood-floor, large-window, brightly-lit apartment. There were balloons on the windows and "American style" bread on the table. A hand-made glittered poster board read: "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God." A few dishes, no doubt donated by the Samonims, were sitting on the kitchen counters. And several large bottles of water cooled in the fridge.

Our Korean-style bedding was lying on the warmed floor in the master bedroom. A dark burgundy leather couch sat against the wall of our living room.

I was exhausted. Completely foggy-brained. I remember looking at the Samonims, who were watching us with a mixture of curiosity and anticipation, and profusely repeating one of the few words I had learned on the plane ride over: Kam-sa-ham-ni-da. Thank you.

Chloe, exhausted and overwhelmed, cried herself to sleep that night.

We awoke early the next morning to a pink princess alarm clock Pastor Kim had given us: "Good morning, Princess. Good morning, Princess."

And the adventure began.

Our first visit to the church (where, in all my pregnant glory, I fell down an icy set of stairs).

Our first trip to the grocery store.

Our first unaccompanied trip to the grocery store.

The first snow fall.

The first time I met Easter.

The first time I was invited into a Samonim's house.

The first time an American friend visited us. (Shout out to Ansley!)

The first time we toured Seoul.

Our first meal at a restaurant.

Chloe's first Korean word.

Learning to bow.

Learning to read.

Learning to live.

Each memory could be an entire post all on its own.

We learned to love the adventure that was outside our front door. We learned to cherish the respite that was our warm apartment. We learned to let go of our agendas and cleave to the relationships that mattered most.

It was hard. It was challenging. It stretched me further than I ever thought I could go.

But it was beautiful. And it was dear. And it's an experience I will live over and over again in my heart and mind.

Kathryn, my dear friend, I'm so thrilled for you and your family. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. May God's presence feel near, His direction clear, His works evident, and His heart revealed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 - Part 2

I've been trying to decide how to tell you about my "resolutions" for 2011. You see, they're not true "resolutions." More ideas. Thoughts. Feelings. Beliefs.

I could tell you that I Resolve to Be More Organized. But the truth goes much deeper than that.

Two months ago, after receiving a heartbreaking bit of news regarding my lovely city of Memphis (more on that later), I could not sleep. I cried out to the Lord, "Use me! USE me! use MEEE! Use my car. Use my house. Use everything I have."

To which the Lord clearly, deliberately stated: "Your car is not ready to be used. Your house is not ready to be used. You are not ready to be used."

Ugh. Truth.

At that moment, my car was so full of trash and jackets and bookbags and makeup and Starbucks cups and sippy cups and teddy bears and scarves and hats and apple cores... that I couldn't fit another person in there if my life depended on it.

My house - full of more junk. Full. Bursting at the seams. Items that had little use and no place to call home floated through my house like ghosts, seeking a life they once possessed.

And myself. My heart. My life. Full. Full of good things, like love for, and time with, my children, husband, friends, family. That's supposed to be there. Time with the Lord? Eh. It was there, but not as much as it should be. But then there's that other space: that space that can be filled and emptied and refilled over and over again. It's the space most often occupied by TV, facebook, more TV, gossip, TV, movies, TV, magazines, TV, idle shopping, TV, music, and more TV. (Did I mention TV?)

With the plethora of cheap entertainment and empty space-fillers at my disposal (and in constant use), is it any wonder I had no time for anything else?

My car. My home. My life... all totally unprepared for use in God's Kingdom.

That thought led to a slew of emotions, resolutions, goals, projects, plans, and determinations.

That was two months ago.

But over the past two months, through prayerful consideration with my husband, that big pot of resolutions has simmered and boiled down to a concentrated, purposeful salve of resolve.

I am resolved...

1.) To remove mindless TV from my life. We sold the xbox. We sold the movies (all 341 of them). We sold the DVD player. We sold (gasp) the TV. There may still be evenings when hubby and I cuddle up to the glow of the laptop screen and enjoy a movie together. But it is no longer the constant hum of our home.

2.) To prepare my house and car and every area of my life for the "promised offering."
Two days after I cleaned out my car, and elderly lady (with a trunk full of Christmas presents) broke down right in front of me. I was able to comfortably fit her and all her packages (plus a few of my own) into my car to help her home. Confirmation, anyone?
My house will take much longer than the five hours spent on my car. But, as my verse for the year says, "I want you to have all the time you need to make this offering in your own way. I don't want anything forced or hurried at the last minute." I have time, and I plan to make the most of it.

3.) To do what I am supposed to do right now. I don't mean this in the "big-picture" way I have said it in the past... as in, "I'm living where I'm supposed to live, doing the job I'm supposed to do, etc." What I mean is right now. At this moment. Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? When I'm at work, I plan to work. When it's dinner time, I cook. When I should be with my children, I'm with my children. And when I should be folding clothes, I'm folding clothes. No more doing home from work or work from home. No more talking on the phone instead of talking with my daughter. No more resting when I should be busy or busyness when I should be resting. "For everything there is a season."

4.) Above all, to seek first the Kingdom of God and trust that "all these things" will be added unto me. I tend to jump on bandwagons. All or nothing. That's my motto. "I'm eating 500 calories a day so I can lose a million pounds." OR ""Look how immaculately perfect my house can be when I spend a ka-jillion hours a day on it." OR "I can sew new wardrobes for everyone in our family plus some for the neighbors!" OR "Apple Pie, anyone? I baked 23 of them this week just so I could get the perfect crust."
When I'm on those bandwagons, they become priority over everything else. They become a god. And I am convicted.
So my plan is to have one true bandwagon this year: God's Kingdom. And I'm going to trust and believe that, if everything I do is with that purpose in mind, "all these things" will fall into place.

Happy 2011, y'all.

The Quote That Started It All...

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