Monday, 28 February 2011

On Being Angry With God

If I were to be completely, 100% honest with you, I would say that I have been angry at God.  That's not something that is difficult for me to admit to myself.  It is also not something that I find hard to admit to God, either.  Believe me, we've talked about it.  Or maybe I've just told Him so, but often enough that it feels like we've really hashed it out.

Slowly but ever so surely things have been getting more difficult to handle.  And then last Wednesday it all hit the fan.  Without going into details (because of its sensitive nature), something that we have dealt with this past year - something that would qualify as a family emergency - decided it was high time to pay us another visit.  And . I . was . pissed.

And the flood gates opened.

Again, God?  REALLY?  What the heck?!  What gives?

I told Him I couldn't believe He let this happen again.  After all the prayers for healing, for a miracle.  And not just my prayers either.

My rant continued.  I told Him how tired I am of not being able to find a job.  Of not being able to afford our own place to live.  Of seeing all our belongings gathering dust in my parents' garage, not knowing when we will get to sleep in our own bed and use our own dishes again.  Of not having friends or a social life in this city.

It's been a few days.  We've talked about it some more.  I think a big part of the problem is that God's reasons and God's timing are unknown to me.  I mean, from my point of view, I don't see how any of these things are good now or will be good ever.  And I want things to change and get better NOW.  I don't feel like sitting back and waiting anymore.

I don't feel angry with God today.  It's probably been my best day since Wednesday.  I still don't understand what He is doing or why He is doing it this way.  I know all the Sunday school answers, and I don't want people who have no clue how this feels to recite them to me.  I know that God has a perfect plan.  But sometimes it doesn't feel like it.  I know that God knows what He is doing and He's not going to mess up.  I know that He does hear my prayers.  But sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.  I know that He will work everything together for good.  And that His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts are higher than mine.  I know all of that.  But I would be lying if I didn't say that some days I want His timing to be my timing and that some days I want Him to run His plans by me first.

I've said some things to God in the past several days.  Things that, if I were God and someone said that to me, I would have gone all Madea on them like in this clip.  I'm not proud of it.  I know that if I were to dig down as deep as I could go to get to the root of the issue, I would find my heart to be the problem instead of God.  Just because He hasn't delivered in this situation doesn't mean He won't.  None of life's crap negates who He is.

Plus, I realized that in my moment of weakness, I reverted to a spoiled little three year old throwing a tantrum.  So today even though I don't know the hows or the whys of stuff, I'm not having such a hard time remembering the Who.  And I'm thankful for grace and mercy.

I still wish things were different.  I still wish there was healing instead of brokenness.  I still wish that I had a job and that Matt and I could afford to live on our own*.  And I don't think it's wrong to want those things.  But I know I need to have faith that eventually, God will provide.


*We are still so thankful and grateful for (and to) my parents for their kindness and generosity.  We really appreciate them opening up their home to us the way they have, and they have been nothing but wonderful and kind and supportive in the whole situation.  Us wanting to move out has nothing to do with them.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cooking Favorites: Online Edition

As I've mentioned before, while living with the parents I do most of the cooking for my family.  In the past (almost) 3 months, I have tried my hand at a variety of dishes and I am happy to report that I have yet to burn or ruin a meal!  I've cooked several things out of the British cookbook that I bought with my birthday money (can I just say I love Yorkshire Pudding?  Yum.), and when my mom bought the South Beach Diet Cookbook, I started cooking a lot of those recipes.  But I haven't really blogged about cooking or baking in a while.  For shame!

I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite recipes that I have made over the past few months, so here goes!  Today I'll share recipes that I've found online that are tasty and easy: (Listed in no particular order)

-Grilled Asian Chicken.  I actually made this last night!  It was my first time to ever grill anything on a charcoal grill myself (I've used propane grills, but really mostly for hamburgers) and I was so giddy when it turned out well!  I was afraid that this would be the one to do me in - this would be the one where I would overcook chicken until it was no longer juicy and yum.  Thankfully, though, I still have a perfect record with chicken!  It was so good (and beautiful)!!  I put a little more garlic in than it called for (we love garlic), and next time I will use one less tablespoon of sesame oil.  It was actually pretty easy, and I made some mashed potatoes and a salad to go along with it.

-Fettuccine with Sweet Pepper-Cayenne Sauce.  This is an incredibly simple dish, and it's healthy and tasty!  And cheap.  So...I love it, basically.  It's one of the few dishes I have made more than one time since Matt and I have been married.  It's also one of the recipes that I don't follow 100% exactly, because I use spaghetti noodles instead (we always have them on hand).

-Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf.  Ok, don't dis it 'til you try it.  Because really?  It's amazing.  It's a healthy meal, and so tasty!  Instead of tomato paste I've just used ketchup, and for the hot pepper sauce I use Sriracha, so it has a bit of a kick at the end!  I've also made this more than once, and everyone in the entire family really likes it.

-Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomato, and Cream.  This is really good, but not quite as healthy because it has sausage and heavy cream in it.

-Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana.  I had this at a friend's quite a while back and we've made it once or twice since.  I really like that it has kale in it, and it's just overall delicious.  And easy!

-Beef Bourguignon.  It takes a while to make, but it's pretty tasty!  I like how the wine turns the meat a purple color.  I served it with rice (although I can't remember if I used basmati or plain white).

-Chocolate Cupcakes.  Having never visited the Martha Stewart website until I googled cupcake recipes, I think I found a real winner!  They aren't your typical light and fluffy cupcake, though.  They are almost a mix between a cupcake and a brownie (crownie?!).  I made the white icing to go with them and they were so. good.  I feel like they were pretty easy to make, and even easier to eat.

-Lemon Meringue Pie.  For some reason we had FOUR BOTTLES of lemon juice in the fridge, so we started making lemony flavored things.  This was my first ever attempt at lemon meringue pie and it went swimmingly.  My mom, who is not a fan of meringue, actually really liked it.

That's all I can remember of the awesome recipes I found on the internet so far (although I think I made a kale and quinoa soup that was good, but I'm not entirely sure...).  But it should be enough, right??  I'll probably do a couple other posts to share recipes from actual cookbooks later on.  Because honestly, who wants to do a lot of digging and searching to find new, tasty recipes?  Having someone tell you what's good is much easier!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Baby Steps

So even though yesterday started out a little rough (orrrr me being an airhead.  Whatevs.), there were some shining moments toward the end of the day!

At Zumba I was asked to be a part of the "Zumba Crew".  Essentially what this means is the instructors know that I am there every week and feel like I would be a good, friendly face for newbies (and oldies) at Zumba.  So myself and about 10 other people became the "ZCrew", complete with colorful Lance Armstrong-esque Zumba Crew bracelets.  We will be greeting people as they come through the doors, helping people feel welcome, and holding the other ladies accountable.  As cheesy as it may sound, I'm pretty excited about it, and I think that's partly due to the fact that it means that I am once again a part of something.  Small as it may be, I have at least one evening a week where I matter and can make a difference.  It's a baby step, but at least it is a baby step forward.

Here's the other thing.  On the way home from church the Krispy Kreme red "HOT NOW" light is always on.  It's like the Bat signal.  High in the sky, it calls to me.  And last night Matt and I answered that call.  It was Matt's first time to ever visit a Krispy Kreme and his first time to ever have a fresh one hot off the press (although he has had them before - he recalls eating stale Krispy Kreme donuts when he was younger and was not impressed).  It was like being with a kid in a carnival.  OK, it was more like 2 kids who got away from their parents in a carnival.  Awesome.  And guess who walked out with a dozen hot, fresh donuts?  Yeah.  Us.  Felt like winning a ring toss game and walking away with a giant teddy bear (I'm just guessing - I never won those dumb games).  Curse the marketing masterminds behind the Krispy Kreme light!

Anyway.  Today was almost as productive as I hoped yesterday would be.  Aside from my car battery dying in the parking lot at Target this morning and having to call my dad to come give my car a jump, I have labeled today a success. (Hopefully tomorrow and the rest of the week will catch on and follow suit.)  I sent emails, called people, filled out applications...and so on and so forth.  Not fantastical, but again, baby steps.  I'm cool with baby steps, so long as they are headed in the forward direction.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Monday FAIL

This morning I woke up all optimistic.  I got up with Matt at 6:20 and I was ready to conquer the world!  Today I was going to call schools.  Today I was going to convince them that I am awesome and they want to hire me as a substitute!  Today I was going to turn things around!

So this morning I made my first call to the first school on my list.

And I got an automated message.  That's odd.  It's school hours.

Oh wait.  It's school hours on President's Day.  WHEN THERE IS NO SCHOOL.

FAIL

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Not For the Faint of...Gut?

Just FYI, this post may be TMI for some (if you don't like hearing about sinus related health issues, you fall into the category of the "some").

In the two months since we have moved, I have had the worst ongoing cold/allergy/sinus issues.  Just to give you an idea, here are a few of my many accomplishments these past 2 months:
-Almost single-handedly using five whole boxes of tissues (the big ones, y'all.  I'm about to buy my 7th box.  Because I'm finishing my SIXTH.)
-Experiencing no less than 10 nose bleeds
-Taking Benadryl just to be able to fall asleep no less than seven times

About a month ago I caved in to my husband's insistance that I purchase and use a sinus rinse.  I've avoided those things for years.  I have friends who use the Neti Pot.  I've heard stories.  And I just could not fathom that pouring liquid up my nose into my already over-populated sinus cavities could possibly produce any favorable results.

Au contraire, self.  Au contraire.  My whole childhood I was prone to sinus infections.  By the time I was 15, I had already had more than one surgery to correct the issue.  Since then, I've not had a sinus infection, but mostly because we were paranoid and took swift action any time I had a stuffy nose.  But in the past 2 months, my problem has grown to definite sinus infection possibility.  Enter sinus rinse (haha).  For someone who is currently on the market for health insurance, this sinus rinse has been phenomenal in "self-medicating".  I no longer have pounding sinus pressure in my face.  I can breathe.  And TASTE things.

I've been using the hypertonic solution (aka two packets per 8 oz. solution instead of just one) one to two times a day.  It's every bit as gross as I've heard, and possibly more*.  But it's worked.  So here's to the Neil Med sinus rinse people.


*When I blow my nose, the solution and snot bubbles out my left EYE.  Don't ask me how I know it's snot.  Take my word for it.  Because I don't think you want to enhance that mental image.  Like I said.  Sinus surgeries.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Shadow Monster

Oh hey.  Remember the last time I posted?  It was several days ago.  I've wanted to post since then.  Really.  I have a handful of things that I really want to post about; things that I would love to share and put out there.  But something has come up recently.  I think it's been sneaking up on me for a while - you know, like those shadow monsters in cartoons.  This shadow monster's name is depression.

I hate that name.  I hate that shadow monster.  I've seen him before, but he's left me alone for the past 6 years or so.  Funny thing is, he's smaller than he used to be.  This is good, though.

Let me explain.  Depression runs in my family.  At one point or another, most of us experience a bout (or bouts) of depression.  I've had severe depression before.  This is not severe depression.  This is minor.  Easily fixable.  This isn't my first rodeo.  I know what I'm talking about.  Just trust me.  Okay?  Okay.

This time it took me a while to catch on that I might be depressed.  I've been exhausted and had no energy.  I sleep more.  I'm more irritable.  I cry more.  I lack motivation to do things that I like to do and things I need to do. (Then I feel bad for not doing them.  Then I feel worthless.  Then I have even less energy or motivation to do anything.  It's a vicious cycle.)

I am positive that once I find a job and my days have purpose again, I won't feel like this anymore.  Once I am making myself useful on a regular basis, I am very hopeful that things will improve.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentines Day

That's today.  Not that any of you are unaware, though.  I know this because many of you have griped about how much today sucks.  It's filled my facebook news feed all day.

I like Valentines Day, and I'm so tired of hearing nothing but negative about this day from so many people.

And don't think I just like Valentines Day because I am married (although it is nice).  I liked it before then, too!  In college I had two outstanding V-Days that I remember quite clearly.  One involved getting together with a few of my single girlfriends and eating pizza before watching the Phantom of the Opera and singing along loudly to every single song.  And of course, consuming unhealthy amounts of Ben and Jerry's.  The other was during my senior methods semester when I had all my classes with the exact same people.  I took them Pirates of the Caribbean Valentines and homemade strawberry cake batter cookies with milk chocolate chips.  It was a total hit.

When I was younger I didn't like Valentines Day as much.  I was the awkward chubby girl with glasses and a gap-toothed smile that the other kids only gave Valentines to because they had to.  I always came away with less than most of the other kids in my class.  And in high school...well, I was just confused and stupid, and we'll leave it at that.

But I've grown up since then.  I'm not claiming I have everything figured out or that I am perfectly poised, but I think Valentines Day is a great idea.  Not so much the commercial side of it, but the thought behind it - letting the ones in your life know that they are valued and loved.  That doesn't have to be a significant other.  It can be family members or friends.  Everyone needs to know they are loved.

Unfortunately though, it seems to me as though Valentines Day has become a day of selfishness and wallowing in self pity.  People focus on what they think they don't have (love, usually in the form of that special someone) and choose to take for granted the many people in their life who do love them.  And even more so, people don't even think about the greatest love of all (John 15:13) that Christ continually pours out on them (whether they choose to believe and/or accept it or not).  And I will be the first one to admit that before college, I was that person every single year.  I was that person on more days than just the one in the middle of February!

Don't get me wrong, though.  I know there are plenty of folks who have good reason to dread this holiday.  Perhaps people who have gone through a horrible breakup recently or someone who has lost a loved one.  That's totally different; a horse of a different color.  For those of you who have gone through one form of loss or another and the wounds are more raw today, I am truly and deeply sorry.

I also know that not every single person hates V-Day.  And I know that feelings of loneliness and the desire to share life with someone are completely valid.  We are relational beings.  That's how we were created.  We were meant to love and to be loved.  But I think it becomes a problem when we get so focused on it and become bitter and pessimistic.  I just wish we could embrace a holiday about loving others instead of asking why more people don't love us.

So, on that note, I hope you did have a good day either because of or despite the fact that it is Valentines Day.  And no matter who you are, remember that you are deeply loved, even if you can't always feel it.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Love Story

Yesterday afternoon Matt and I drove to Austin for the wedding of our friends Stacie and Ryan.  I have been so blessed to know both Stacie and Ryan for the past (almost) five years.  The summer we met, Ryan and I were both counselors and Stacie was a backpacking guide at Camp Eagle.

I got to watch their relationship progress from acquaintances to friends to something more.  Stacie pulled me aside to tell me when Ryan told her he was interested and we squealed like little girls.  Ryan told me months in advance when he was going to propose to Stacie.  The weekend he proposed it took every ounce of self control I had to not text her something along the lines of "AHHHHHHH!" and "I HOPE YOU HAVE FUN AT THE BEST DATE EVARRRR!!"  And over the next few months of their engagement, we often talked weddings and marriage and got all giddy over her ring even though we had seen it a million times already.

Times have changed since we met, but one thing is abundantly clear - Ryan and Stacie were made for one another.  The wedding was wonderful and Stacie was an absolutely radiantly beautiful bride.  Their reception perfectly showcased their personalities.  I'm surprised the dance floor didn't cave in!

So congratulations to Ryan and Stacie!  Marriage is a wonderful and fantastic journey and I could not be happier for the both of you.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Shaking the Dust

The aesthetic changing of this blog is a somewhat "public" representation of the changes that I have chosen to make in my own life.  It's been two months since we lost our jobs and I've had plenty of time to just sit and think.  And believe me, I have.  I've done some soul searching.  I've been reading Shauna Niequist's book, Bittersweet.  And you know what?  I'm ready for that fresh start.

Matt and I went to some counseling at our church to help us through the numerous "grown up" decisions we were abruptly presented with and clearly not prepared to handle.  The counseling was very helpful in that not only were we given wise counsel and a listening ear, but our counselor also gave us legit personality assessments to help us figure out who we are, how we function, and why we function the way we do.  This has enabled us to somewhat "study" one another and figure out one another's needs better than just guesswork.  It also gave us plenty of insight into the communication styles and needs the other has, and how to better meet them.  That being said, I'm learning a lot about myself, as well as Matt, and I like it.  I feel as if the past two months have been a whirlwind of self discovery (among many other things).

One thing that I want to avoid from now on is focusing on the past and our losses.  I won't pretend that I'm completely over it.  Let's be honest, losing both jobs and our home as newlyweds was terrible.  Add to that the loss of a community that we dearly loved and it was completely devastating.  At first I was just in complete and utter shock.  I could hardly believe the bombshell that was delivered to my husband and I.  After the shock came grief.  I cried every single day and had trouble sleeping at night.  There was no light in my eyes and no bounce in my step.  Following the grief, anger.  I was furious.  I couldn't wrap my head around the possibility that people who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior could treat fellow believers (or anyone, really) in such an unloving manner.  There is no way around it - the way things were handled were so, so wrong.  I'm still disgusted by the decisions and actions of certain individuals (not everyone).  And I'm still mad about the injustices of the situation.  I know I didn't deserve that.

But you know what?  It's over.  It's done.  It isn't going to change.  And I'm really and truly fine with that.

I don't want to look back anymore.  Jesus instructed His disciples to literally shake the dust from their feet when they left a town that rejected them (Matthew 10:14 and Luke 9:5).  While the situations are a little different, the overall message is the same.  So this post is me finally shaking the last bit of dust from my feet.  I don't want it to be an over-arching theme in posts.  I don't want it to be what defines me to the rest of the blogging world.

So I'm choosing to look forward.  I'm choosing to focus on other things.  It might pop up from time to time because, like I said, it was a big deal.  And I'm sure it will affect things down the road.  But I don't want my blog to be a depressing place.  That's just not who I am.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Changes!

I've decided that my blog has been stuck in the past for far too long, so over the next however long it takes, I will be tweaking things and changing them around.  I'll be experimenting quite a bit and trying new things out, so if you feel up to sharing what you think works and what doesn't, go for it!

One of the changes is the title of my blog and the actual link, and I'm pretty excited!  I think it is more descriptive of my writings.

So for now, bear with me as I work to make this blog to my satisfaction!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

That Kind of Day

Today has been a skip-the-glass-and-just-drink-the-wine-straight-out-of-the-bottle day.

So that's exactly what I'm doing.

(Lest anyone think I am getting drunk...I'm not.  There's not much wine in the bottle.  Not enough to bother pouring into a glass anyway.)
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