Archive for the ‘Randomness’ Category
We moved into our new home almost a year ago. When we did that, we made a change in our lifestyle that I’d been trying to initiate for a long time before that. We started eating at the table together.
This was a particularly difficult change to make in our old place because of how things were set up and because we didn’t use the kitchen table for so long, it became a place to set things down. A clutter hot spot of massive proportions. And no matter how often I attempted to clear it so that we could eat there, I never cleared enough space. Until we moved and I was able to take everything off of it, throw half of it away, and find new homes for the rest. Thus, for the last year, we’ve been sitting down to family dinners at the table. With the TV off, and usually no phones.
Sunday night, we reached what I consider to be the payoff. We had just finished praying and were enjoying a little conversation about Jesus while we ate our pizza. We were talking about how God took Jesus up to Heaven. Then Elisebeth stated that Jesus lives in our hearts. It was a proud moment, but it only lasted a moment, because it was followed by an impromptu Yo Gabba Gabba moment.
“And in our tummy, yummy, yummy.”
Needless to say, my husband and I laughed our heads off at that. I almost choked on my milk, and I don’t even remember if we corrected her. I think my husband did, since I was busy coughing and couldn’t talk.
Not much later, Nathan discovered comedy. He was looking to either side of his high chair (I think maybe looking for the cat) and we laughed. Then he began whipping his head from side to side in order to make us laugh, over and over again.
And as we were all laughing and eating together, I just thought, “These are the moments that eating at the dinner table was made for.”
We have a lot of frustrating moments at dinner, too. But the amazing moments of family togetherness are worth so much more., it’s hard to remember the bad times.
I downloaded the WordPress app on my phone, thinking, “Hey, if I can write posts anywhere, anytime, I might actually post more than once a week (if that).”
So far, not much luck. And the post that I had written 2/3 of the way on my phone? The one I was planning to finish up and post today?
Well, my phone likes to randomly restart itself. So that post was lost. The casualty of the phone that I am beginning to believe is out to get me. At least it still wakes me up when I need to be somewhere early.
So, something to look forward to. I decided that pessimism is bad for me and the best way to combat it is to write posts about things I love. More specifically, the things I love about specific topics. To start with, I’m going to talk about the things I love about my pastor, since it’s Pastor Appreciation Month. Then, even though the show is over, I’m going to talk about the things I love about Born to Dance. After that, I’m not sure. Maybe the things I love about NaNoWriMo, since I’m sure we’ll be there by then.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about cleaning. And making plans for cleaning. And reading books and blogs about how to clean, because I never figured it out on my own. But one thing I hadn’t thought about in all that time was why I wanted my house to be clean. And none of the rest of it makes any difference until you know the why.
One of the first challenges in 31 Days to Clean is to sit down and figure out your why. Then you type it up and hang it somewhere you’ll see it. Mine hangs in my bathroom on the mirror. My mission statement is:
A cluttered house creates a cluttered mind creates a cluttered house.
A clean house creates peace, calm, and relaxation. A clean house allows love and fun to be enjoyed without distraction. A clean house saves time spent looking for items that are not in their place. A clean house saves money spent on items that are not in their place. A clean house shows that the beasts of laziness and procrastination have been conquered, leaving something better in their place.
I absolutely think that everyone needs to make their own mission statement, but I made a PDF version with a nice picture in the background, so I’m going to make that available to anyone who’s interested. You can download it here.
I also promised Before pictures. My biggest issue is clutter, as you’ll see very quickly. Anything from mail to toys to the milk jugs my husband was saving so he could use the flat plastic from the sides, is sitting everywhere. What I probably need is a babysitter for a whole day so I can just go around the house and clean out all the junk. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, so I’m doing 31 Days to Clean instead. And we’ll see what gets done. Without further ado, my embarrassing Before pictures:
The only thing to keep in mind is that I have a very curious 9-month old. The ring of large objects around my living room is designed to keep him from getting into things we don’t want him getting into. Other than that, it’s all on the to-do list this month.
The year that Elisebeth was born marked a turning point for me in the birthday category. We were thoroughly entrenched in CHAOS, and my daughter was born 10 days before my birthday. Since we couldn’t have people over, we were running all over the place to visit family so everyone could see the new baby. By the time my birthday came around, all I wanted was to sit, all day, and not have to talk to anyone. That’s what I asked for and that’s what I got that year. And the next. I didn’t actually celebrate my birthday again until last year, which was a big one, since I hit a new decade.
In the midst of my anti-other people birthday situation, I decided that I still wanted certain things to happen on my birthday. I still wanted to be recognized, and I still wanted to feel loved, and important to those around me. So, even though I didn’t want to be eating cake and ice cream or getting together with other people, I still wanted to hear from people. This became my list of requirements for a good birthday:
1. Happy Birthday from both of my parents.
2. Happy Birthday from one of my siblings.
3. Happy Birthday from any other family member.
The first year with this list, I barely squeaked by with an acceptable birthday. The year after that was about the same. Last year, I actually had a party, and while it turned out nothing like I envisioned, it was good. This year, blew them all away.
1. My mother and father both texted me a Happy Birthday.
2. My sister and one of my brothers texted me a Happy Birthday. One of the other brothers had a long argument with his fiancee about when my birthday actually was and he told me Happy Birthday a day late, because he was on the wrong side of the argument.
3. My grandmother called to tell me Happy Birthday and ask what I wanted.
4. BONUS POINTS: My mother-in-law called and sang me Happy Birthday.
5. MORE BONUS POINTS: My pastor called to wish me a Happy Birthday. Which is totally going to make it onto the list I’m working on of 10 things I love about my pastor.
And that list doesn’t include Facebook (which has revolutionized and trivialized the Happy Birthday), or any gifts.
I also had a myriad of birthday coupons in my email, so I ran around all day getting free stuff before retiring back home for a chick flick (that no one actually watched) and Chinese food with a record number of females that I enjoy being around. It may not be the traditional idea of what a great birthday is, but it all made me incredibly happy.
If NaNoWriMo has taught me anything, it’s the power of doing something that seems huge with a group of other people. I’ve written three novels using the power of other crazy writers, and now, I hope to turn my house completely around using the power of other ambitious homemakers.
And yes, I know I’m not a homemaker right now. But the fact is, I’m still the main caretaker of the house. If I don’t do things, often, they don’t get done. So I am embarking on 31 Days to Clean. If you want to join, the group that I’m doing it with is at Homemaker’s Challenge. As much as I can manage it, I plan to take part in the weekly link-up. If you want to get more information about the book, you can read about it (and buy the PDF) here. If you prefer to buy it for Kindle, I’d greatly love if you used my affiliate link to do it here.
Next week, I’m going to post some Before pictures, even though they feel a little embarrassing. The truly amazing thing, to me, is that I can be embarrassed about how my house looks now, while at the same time knowing what a vast improvement it is from the way it looked before we moved last October. And while that was embarrassing to me, what a vast improvement it was from the year before that. And that continues until my ultimate embarrassment just after Elisebeth was born. I think I truly saw my house for the first time when I emerged from our bedroom at the end of my husband’s two weeks off to “help out.” I nearly burst into tears that day, just from being overwhelmed by it. I hated that I couldn’t really give my daughter tummy time, because there was hardly enough clear space on the floor for a small blanket. But when you hit the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. And that’s the way I have been heading ever since that day. I’m slow to develop good habits, and sometimes I take a few steps backwards, but in general, the trend is toward a better house. Right now, I actually wish I had Before pictures from back then to show you. But I avoided taking pictures of my house, for obvious reasons. So, Before pictures from now will just have to work. I’ll get those put up next week along with my “Why Clean?” post that will include a download of my Mission Statement that currently hangs on my bathroom mirror.
I tried this challenge once before, but I couldn’t get the book until the group was most of the way through. And on my own, I only made it to Day 1. So this time I’m already ahead of myself. In some things, I do poorly enough that improving is easy. But this is why I’m joining in with the group at the beginning.
At the end of September, my husband is changing shifts. Instead of working overnight on the weekends, he’ll be working days during the week. It’s going to be a big change for our family. I decided that I was going to try to switch myself to the new schedule early, so at least one of us wouldn’t be a cranky mess when the time comes.
It hasn’t worked out so well. I’ve been awake at 6am yesterday and today, but it hasn’t quite been right. Yesterday, Nathan had appointments, but today I went back to sleep without even getting out of bed. My sinuses seem to have exploded with something and if I could go five minutes without my eyes wanting to close on me, I might consider it a miracle. Being sick is such a detriment to achieving goals.
I won’t be sick forever though, so I’m trying not think of this as failure. It’s merely a postponement of my plans. As soon as I’m well again, I’ll be up at 6am and getting a start on my day that’s better than watching TV while I nod off.
I’m very much looking forward to the change in our schedules. We’ll actually be able to institute a routine, since my availability at work will be more regular. And having a routine is so important. It will mean being able to keep up on housework, and not forgetting Elisebeth’s schoolwork. And kids crave structure. Elisebeth goes through phases of misbehavior that I think will improve when our schedule is less chaotic.
I know that a change in schedule will be hard to handle, but I think it may be just what our family needs.
Thank you to everyone that entered my first giveaway. I think it went pretty well. And the winner of the Frito-Lay Variety Pack is Emily. I already sent you an email to get the details worked out. I hope you enjoy the chips, and I hope to host another giveaway soon.
I also set up a Facebook page for the blog. I’d really love it if everyone who likes my blog would Like it there. Even with the site stats that I can look at with WordPress, I don’t know if it’s the same three people visiting, or new ones (obviously, at least 7 different people read it when I had the giveaway). I think having the Facebook page could be a real encouragement for me. I added a box to my sidebar to make it easy, even.
My church has always had Missions meetings. When I first started going there, we frequently had presentations by local missionaries. After a while, we weren’t having presentations anymore, possibly because the monthly meeting was so poorly attended. At some point during my most recent absence, the meetings apparently stopped altogether. When we got our new pastor, though, our Missions Director decided to move back to monthly meetings.
The first of those monthly meetings happened last month, during what has been a record-setting heat wave. We ended up with over two straight months of triple-digit temperatures before things cooled down. During the meeting, someone mentioned handing out water at a biker rally that a couple of our members were planning to go to. We made plans to get some waterproof labels and put our church’s information on the bottles along with a Bible verse.
Shortly after that discussion, the meeting nearly ended due to a lack of ideas. And then the pastor said something that ended up being magical. “Where is your ministry?” That question somehow narrowed the focus for everyone and the ideas were nearly constant for at least another half hour. We planned to hand out water at several other events, we planned to enter a float in a parade, and we talked about Halloween and the upcoming Viola Webb special offering. It was awe inspiring. I’ve never seen our church so fired up about missions.
And the magic didn’t stop with that meeting. We had our first event giving out water at a Cruise Night at The Pad near our church. We were well received and the stories I heard afterward were wonderful. Then came a softball tournament. Not only was it another great experience (and some of the stories brought tears to my eyes), but afterward, the tournament coordinators said that we’re invited to any future tournaments they put on. Alcohol consumption was way down, there was only one fight that happened after we left, and there was just a general change in attitude.
One story I heard that was pretty amazing: when the team was praying, a man stopped, set down his beer, and took his hat off to join them in prayer. When they were done, he put his hat back on, threw the beer away, and headed onto the field.
The next water bottle event wasn’t actually in Topeka. A soldier’s funeral was taking place in Holton (about a half hour away) and Topeka’s resident claim to shame had plans to be there. The Walmart there was willing to donate the water, and the Patriot Guard was going to be there as well. So, with only a couple days’ notice, church members headed out of town to hand out water. There were over 500 bikes that gathered to protect the soldier’s family from haters. With double riders on many of the bikes, that meant close to 1000 attendees at this soldier’s funeral. That’s awesome all by itself. More awesome was what happened when said bikers received refreshments from the church. They would accept the water, read the Bible verse, then stand out in front of where the water was being distributed and share testimonies and praises for God. Everyone that went couldn’t talk about it without tearing up. I hadn’t known about it until afterward, but just my imagining of it, based on the stories that were shared in church the next day, is beautiful beyond words.
This weekend is another ball tournament, and the church will be back out with water. And I’m willing to bet that God will make His presence know. But the real trick is that we’re doing something. We found a way to get out in the community so that we can watch God work through us. There’s a group at the church praying for 100 new members. And guess what? We had 4 people come forward this weekend to begin the process of joining. With the amazing stories coming out of our water efforts, I’m thinking we’ll have no problem hitting that 100.
When I was in middle school and high school, my chore around the house was cooking dinner. Most nights, that meant something out of a box, but every once in a while, I got creative. Particularly when we got closer to grocery day. The less food there was in the house, the more creative I had to get in order to put a meal on the table. On one occasion, I tossed some chili, corn, and noodles together to create what I have ever since called MaCornoChili. Terrible name, I know, but I was only 14 or so. These days, I don’t buy canned chili unless it’s for chili dogs. So I present to you an updated version that includes my recipe for chili.
- 1 Can Diced Tomatoes & Chilis (the can in my cupboard right now just says “Chili ready tomatoes”)
- 1 Can Beans (I’ve used black, red, and “Chili Starter” beans, so get what you like)
- 3 Slices Jalapeno
- 1 Lb Ground Beef
- 1 Tblsp Chili Powder
- 1 16 oz Bag Macaroni Noodles
- 1 Can Corn, Drained
- 1/2 Cup Water
Brown ground beef with jalapeno slices; Drain. Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low heat for at least 4 hours.
It’s a simple recipe, but whenever I make it, I feel like a real cook, because I come out at the end with this meal that tastes delicious and didn’t come from a box. It makes me think about how resilient I am and how I learned growing up that there’s nothing life can throw at you that you can’t handle. Or, as my mom always puts it, “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.”
And now for the part of my post that I’m most excited about. My first giveaway ever! I want to say, as my first giveaway, I may not do it like other people do. But it’s my first, and I don’t have a super huge following, so I’m expecting to have a relatively small pool to pick from. If my d20 can’t handle the job of selecting a random person, well, I’ll figure out how other people do it. There’s always my d% to fall back on and I can’t imagine my first giveaway attracting more than 100 people.
On to the giveaway. Frito-Lay is hosting a contest for bloggers called Tastes From Home. This blog post and recipe is my entry into it. For participating, I will receive a surprise package and could potentially win some nice prizes. In order to get more attention for the contest, Frito-Lay is providing me with a Variety Pack of Lay’s Regional Flavors chips to give away. What are Lay’s Regional Flavors you ask?
These chips were inspired by popular American regional cuisine and include:
- Northeastern U.S. – Lay’s Honey Mustard
- Midwestern U.S. – Lay’s Creamy Garden Ranch
- Northwestern U.S. – Lay’s Balsamic Sweet Onion
- Southwestern U.S. – Lay’s Chipotle Ranch
- Southeastern U.S. – Lay’s Cajun Herb & Spice
All of the Lay’s Regional Flavored potato chips are made with all natural ingredients and cooked in healthier oils, like corn and sunflower oils, which contain 80% or more of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat – the “good fats.” They also contain 0 grams of trans fats per serving!
There’s also less sodium in them than you might think – a 1-oz serving of Lay’s Regional Flavored potato chips contains less salt than a plain bagel!
They all look pretty delicious to me. I can’t wait to try the Creamy Garden Ranch, since I love pretty much all things Ranch. The Chipotle Ranch sounds pretty good too. And just because my brother-in-law has lived in the Northwest for the last few years, I’m probably going to try the Balsamic Sweet Onion.
For an entry in the giveaway, leave a comment stating which flavor you’d most like to try. Leave your entry by 11:59 pm CST on August 23, 2011. I’ll pick a winner on the 24th.
I’ve had this blog for 3 years. In that time, I’ve talked about a lot of stuff. But I’ve never shared my testimony. Today, I’m going to correct that.
For me, being saved was a logical thing. I was the “angel” child, but I knew there were bad things I’d done. I just hadn’t gotten in trouble for them. Usually, my brothers got in trouble for them, or no one ever found out about them for anyone to get in trouble. So when I started going to the Kids Night programs at the church across the street when I was ten, I didn’t really need them to tell me that I was a sinner. I knew it, even at that age. And it made sense to me that since God was the opposite of sin, there would have to be some sort of something drastic to bridge the gap between us. Basically, Jesus made sense to me.
I couldn’t tell you when exactly I was saved. I do know that we watched a video about bees at the Kids Night that month, but that’s about it. I have a terrible memory for time, so I couldn’t even tell you the season of the year. And apparently, I didn’t realize what an important occasion it was, because I didn’t write it down anywhere. Apparently, accepting Christ as a logical decision with very little emotion involved made it seem less momentous. I don’t know.
Nonetheless, I was saved and I continued to get up every Sunday and walk across the street for Sunday School. I only ever went to church once because the lady who ran it for my age group had had a stroke or something and part of her face was paralyzed, I think. Whatever was going on with her face, as a kid, she scared me, so I stuck with Sunday School and the guy that I was familiar with. I remember being extra fond of my teacher because he had the same name as my dad, so that apparently made him awesome.
My terrible memory for time comes in here, but I think we moved in November or so. Not completely sure, really, but I remember having a part in the Christmas pageant and being incredibly unprepared because I no longer lived across the street and couldn’t always get a ride to the church for practices. I could be way off. It could have been the Easter program, but either way, moving made it very difficult for me. For those living in Topeka, we moved from Oakland to Highland Park, so it just wasn’t a convenient trip to get to the church. And I’d been the only one in my family going.
After the program, I basically couldn’t get anymore rides to church. Despite that, I maintained my faith, though I didn’t do the things that many would consider necessary for Christians. I attempted to read my Bible but it never captured me. Probably because I was a preteen trying to read a King James version. Definitely not a version I would recommend for a young child trying to understand the Bible. I also wouldn’t recommend trying to start at the beginning and read straight through at that age. The Books of Law are difficult to get through as an adult sometimes. They’re torture for a kid, and therefore led to my inability to actually read any significant portions of my Bible.
I didn’t know about a Christian radio station at that time in my life, so I wasn’t listening to Christian music. I didn’t really have any Christian friends (at least not active Christians). Basically, I knew I believed in God. I knew that Jesus had died for my sins. And I knew that I’d accepted his amazing gift of salvation. But I didn’t have a clue how to live that out.
When I was twelve, I was molested. Which for some, would be an easy thing to lead to a loss of faith, but my faith actually got me through it. That year, I listened to Joy 88 every night as I went to bed and one night, they talked about a radio program coming up that was for victims of rape and abuse. I wrote down the date and I made sure I listened. And I don’t think I’d be half as normal and stable as I am if not for that program. The year that I turned twelve was probably the worst in my life, but my faith was strong and I got through it. The next year was tough, but not nearly as bad.
In 8th grade, everything would change for me. I started reading Piers Anthony books, which I loved, and I loved the Notes from the Author at the back even more. Until then, I had somehow never really thought about the fact that books were written by people. I’d been wanting to be a teacher since I was young, but this realization changed that. I wanted to be a writer. I was also intrigued by his mentions of agnosticism and his discussion of religion. By this time, I had very little religious identity. I didn’t really know what the Bible taught or what I was supposed to be doing as a Christian. And I was getting to be old enough to see the hypocrisy of the world around me. “Do as I say, not as I do” is the sort of attitude that has always pissed me off, and it wasn’t any different when it was Christians speaking that to the world. So I wavered. Eventually, I proclaimed agnosticism and then by the time I was a junior in high school, I’d moved on to being Wiccan. There was no one in my life to steer me any other way.
Until I met my future husband.
For a long time, I didn’t even really know that he was a Christian. Not that it surprised me when I found out, it just wasn’t really something I talked to people about. Especially given the reactions I usually got when people figured out that I was Wiccan (it ranged anywhere from thinking I was weird to being afraid of me to being downright hostile). When I was about 21, he started going back to church on a regular basis and I’d downgraded from the Wicca thing to being agnostic again.
And then a prayer was answered. Not mine. My future husband had prayed that something bad would happen to lead me to God. And it did. Through a series of miscommunications, I ended up working 40 hours at a job with the state, while also going to school full-time and tutoring. Because I had to get my hours done between 7am and 6pm, I was getting up at 5am to go to work. Leaving in the middle of the day for school, then coming back and working until 6pm. After dinner, I would attempt to get some homework done, but by 9pm I was usually too braindead for anything other than sleep. The weekends, despite my best intentions, were usually spent sleeping. I was on my way to a nervous breakdown if something didn’t change.
The day that I decided I needed help, I was at work and I went to the bathroom. The problem was that I was so stressed out and tired, I had a moment sitting there when I wasn’t sure if I was awake or asleep. If I went to the bathroom, would I actually be peeing all over my bed? At that moment, I realized that I was in a bad situation and I needed to see someone. So I called the state employee mental health hotline and got an appointment. She opened my eyes to the possibility of taking time away from work, and when I got home from speaking with her, my future husband asked if I would read a book if he bought it for me.
I figured he was talking about a Bible, so I almost said no. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything so I agreed. We went shopping and he didn’t just buy me a Bible. He also bought me a copy of The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. I read it in no time and it blew my mind. All the questions I’d had back in middle school and high school and a bunch I never even thought of . . . they were all answered. I went to church with him that weekend, wondering if the salvation I’d asked for when I was so young still counted.
And God spoke to me.
That day, the pastor was preaching from John 10:28-29 and how, once we belong to God, nothing can take us away from him. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and if I hadn’t believed in God before then, that probably would have been enough to convince me. There’s nothing quite like going to church and hearing God speak straight to you.
After that day, I knew exactly where I needed to be and I didn’t have any more questions or doubts. I promised myself that I’d never lose my faith again. And even though I did go through a long span of not going to church, I’ve stuck to that promise.
Disclosure: I just recently became an affiliate at Amazon. If you click the link in this post and buy something, I make a little money. Don’t even really know how much. Like I said. Recently.