Monday, January 31, 2011

Idols

We don't often discuss our idols. The worst part of idols is that they can be anything. Even religious things or good things can become idols, and we don't even notice that we care about them more than we should. Of course we can enjoy the things of this world, but we cannot live for them, love them or desire them over our Lord. Our homes, our children, our futures....these can all become idols, even though, on their own, they are blessings from God. We must be careful, because idolatry, even of "good" things is sin.

This Five o'Clock Club has been kicking my butt; this is no suprise to my very patient husband. I am making excuses every minute of the morning. I am grumpy, I am SO sleepy, I am having trouble staying awake while I am reading the Scripture that I woke up early to read.

On Saturday morning, when I wanted to lounge in bed while Adam looked after Charlotte, he kicked me out of bed saying, "C'mon, you're a mom. You can't do this anymore!"

And he's right. Sleep is my idol.

Of course we depend on sleep. In his book, Humility, CJ Mahaney wrote that God gave us sleep and the desire for it so that we would be physically reliant and needing of rest, mirroring our reliablity on Him. We are weak in ourselves, and without the rest that He ultimately provides, we can do nothing. But our desire for sleep cannot rule over us. It cannot be something that consumes us; like our homes, children or husbands, this good thing can become an idol.

And I need to get control over it in my life right now. I'm a working mom, and I will probably not feel rested until June.

And God's grace is enough for that. So my prayer is that tomorrow morning, when I rise early to sit at Jesus' feet, His strength and not mine, will keep me awake during 1 Chronicles. Confess and repent of your idols today, even if on the surface, they are good things. Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

So, how's Charlotte feeling? Any better?


I'd say she's recovering...Thanks for asking. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recipe for a Rough Morning


There are many different ways to make a rough or difficult morning. This is the recipe I used today with great success; everyone in the family managed to pitch in while we mixed it together.
  1. One forecast of 4-8 inches of snow resulting in no snow

  2. A couple good-size benchmark tests for both me and Adam (I used fresh, but you could use frozen)

  3. A dash of no time to make real lunches

  4. A liberal helping of the dog following me around all morning in fear that I would forget to feed him

  5. One-two tablespoons of wanting/needing to have a day off

  6. A cup and a half of Charlotte waking up on the wrong side of the crib: moody, cranky and probably not feeling 100%

  7. A pinch of having to read 1 Chronicles 4 in my Bible reading plan this morning

  8. Some leftover, cooked discussion from last night

  9. A little bit of worry about being late to school on a testing day

  10. Season to taste with frustration, grouchiness and fatigue. Simmer until all the ingredients are absorbed.

I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. But my God is. He is glorious, mighty and has ordained all things for our good and His glory. Praise be His holy name, even this morning. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Writing

According to my grandmother, stereotypes exist for a reason. In my experience, politically correct or no, I have found this to be true. The stereotype about English teachers (even though I guess there are many...) is that we are only English teachers because we can't get our writing published. To a point, I think this is true; I feel that I'm getting into a writing funk.

This couldn't happen at a worse time of year. Yes, we have snow days coming for a couple more months, but then my senior class sponsorship duties kick in for the end of the year, and I can barely breathe, let alone teach and take care of my home. So this is not the time of year for me to be dreaming of book contracts, plotlines and character names. But I kind of am.

I picked up something I wrote a couple years ago, pre-Charlotte, and I read it, and it was pretty good. So that's probably part of it. Fluffy plot, like usual for me, but well-written and kind of funny, also usual for me. So will I write? I don't know. I'll probably try. What will I write? No idea. I want something real, not fluffy, and God-honoring, but not sappy Christian lit.

No sermon thoughts today since we had extended session in the baby room with Lisa. All but one of our babies slept for some of the time, so it was a pretty easy day. Tomorrow, we begin again, and since I've failed miserably at the 5 o'clock club this past week, I'm going back to the first rule: when your alarm goes off, get up. Hope you had a good weekend. Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 Things Thursday: Husband Edition

On one of my favorite blogs, Women Living Well, there's a new challenge about marriage until Valentine's Day. I recommend it, and have been pretty convicted about my marriage and my husband in the past week. Ooh, the sermon last night was part of it - the story of Isaac and Rebekah - what a sweet story of faith, love and God's providence that is.

Because of that, "my gift is my song, and [Adam] this one's for you."

  1. I love that he pursued me the way he did. He couldn't remember my name, but he always came to say hi to me, and he asked me out for my birthday. He was thoughtful, sweet, respectful, chivalrous and transparent. We both had baggage, and we unpacked it together. We got to know each other on the phone separated by an ocean, and looking back, our relationship was perfectly ordained by God.
  2. I told him this earlier this week, before this challenge - I love his sense of humor. He can always make me laugh, and I genuinely think that he is funny. We have inside jokes that are so inside, I don't think we could explain most of them to anybody.
  3. I love holding his hand and kissing him. I love when he puts his arm around me. I love when he rubs my head while we watch TV. I love that when he hugs me and Charlotte sees us, she gets mad that she's not involved in our hug. :)
  4. I love that he's a homebody, like me. When it comes down to it, we both like being at home. We're not world travelers, we're not adventure seekers. We love being at home doing nothing with each other. And I love that about us.
  5. I love that he is learning to take the lead. We did not enter into marriage with any idea of biblical roles: biblical womanhood, biblical manhood, biblical parenting, biblical family-ness, nothing, so coming into our roles has been a challenge. Sadly, this is often the case in our society. But, seeing him grow in his leadership role is encouraging, and spurns me on to grow in my homekeeping, helping, caring, soothing role. He falters sometimes, as we all do, but God's sanctification and conviction in his life is evident and encouraging.
  6. I love that I am still the only one for him. His heart has never wandered, never for a second, and whenever he is in a compromising position, he chatters nervously about me. He never wishes that I would be any different than I am, physically, or any other way. Cliche or not, he loves me just the way I am, and there is great comfort and security in that.
  7. I love that he dragged me out of bed this morning. Not at the time, but I love that he can be bossy, firm or blunt when he needs to be. I need that sometimes (don't we all?), and he provides by irritating me at the time for my own good later on.
  8. I love the man he is becoming. When we got married (as I said earlier), we had no idea what we were getting into. We were just blithely skipping into marriage, and though divorce was never an option for us, we really had no eye on the future of the committment that we were making. I think that's partly natural, like becoming a parent for the first time: there's no real way to know what you're getting into until you're in it. But our marriage could have been a disaster after a couple years, and instead God's grace was sufficient to build it up for His glory. Praise Him for that.
  9. I love how he is as a dad. Of course he was going to be a great dad - he teaches elementary school and is really just a big kid himself. But I'll admit that when he told me that Charlotte was a girl after she had been born, I asked him if that was okay with him. :) He is a great dad for a girl to have: he roughhouses with her, but not too hard, he reads her the Bible every night before bed, and he spanks her with purpose and not with anger when she's disobedient. He's a really great dad, and he will be such a blessing to our child(ren).
  10. Last, but not least, he likes to do what I like to do. We like the same movies and shows, we play family video games together, we both think that cable TV is a total waste. There's a line in the movie High Fidelity that "it's about what you like, not what you are like" and with us, we're on the same page. Honestly, for most of our relationship, we have been on the same page, about big and small things alike, and that is a true testament to God's grace in all things, big and small. Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up


Here are two pictures taken this weekend.

This weekend, Adam and I took our now-traditional trip to Staunton, VA for our anniversary. (Oh, and for my out-of-state family, it's pronounced "Stanton;" here's looking at you, Bellefontaine, OH heehee.) Staunton is the home of the American Shakespeare Center and an exact replica (mostly) of Shakespeare's indoor Blackfriars theatre. This is the first year we've gone together (I went for a workshop a couple years ago) since last year, Faust was playing and that isn't really up our alley or romantic at all. This year, we saw Comedy of Errors on opening night and it was fantastic. Hilarious, innocent fun, with acoustic renditions of "Walkin' on Sunshine" and "Play that funky music" performed by the actors during the intermission.

The rest of our anniversary trip went as it did last year: dinner at Shenendoah Pizza (which was PACKED because there was a band setting up to play - no, Dad, we didn't stay because we had to get to the playhouse), a visit to Blue Mountain Coffee for Brit and Pufferbellies for Adam and Charlotte. This year, we stayed at Franklin House, a cute B and B that is not really like a B and B. Before we left this year, we took the tour of the theatre (because, as I told Adam, we have to take the tour) and that's where these pictures came from.


Here's the house, the theatre only seats 300 (but in Shakespeare's time, without fire regulations, 500 would have crammed in the same space.)



The lights stay on during the whole show. That makes the actors able to play off of the audience and patrons can all see everyone in the theatre. It's very cool (and very historically accurate :)).

And Adam in the door onstage.

We had a great time celebrating our six years of marriage, and look forward to doing it again next year. I know I promised you a mushy anniversary post....sorry. :)

Here's a preview picture for the next post....








Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Things Thursday

We all know that as I grow in my skill of homemaking, and that since I am currently a working mom, I have much to learn in this department, especially since I don't take care of our home finances. But 10 Things Thursday today is about money - in a good way.
  1. Save your change. My husband is much better at this than I am. But...over the past year, we (mostly he) have saved up about $120 in change. We are using it to go to Staunton again for our anniversary this weekend, and I am so excited! We are staying at a cute little B and B and going to see Comedy of Errors at the Blackfriars! Of course, we will probably also eat at our anniversary restaurant, Shenendoah Pizza. Hooray, saving change!

  2. Use your change. This is what I do, especially since we switched over to Dave Ramsey's envelope system for most of our budget. When I pay with exact change (like I always swore I would never do when teenage me saw my mother digging in her change purse for correct change), then I get even cash back to put back in the appropriate envelope. Yay! Charlotte will probably roll her eyes at me about it one day (behind my back, NOT to my face), but I would rather get that 6 cents out of my purse than get 4 pennies back.

  3. Budget money for yourselves. Adam and I each get $40 a month for miscellaneous items that are just for us. He can buy a magazine, comics or save up for a video game. I can buy a new hair clip, a book, a candle, something for Charlotte or save up for a new Vera bag. We both use our money when we meet with our mentors/mentees. We can grab breakfast on a late morning. It gives us flexibility and avoids us feeling trapped in a budget where we can't ever buy anything for ourselves. It also makes us save if we want something big, and that makes the reward that much sweeter.

  4. Tithe. No, really. There is, in my mind (and I'm pretty sure in scripture), no excuse for not tithing. Period. Tithe consistently and give sacrificially more. If this is a problem for you, think about the fact that all you have is from the Lord. Your skills, your education, the ability you have to work and the job that you have, whether you like it or not, is all a gift from God. The money is already His, and He has blessed you with it. How much of it will you return to Him for His work? Will you be obedient to His command?

  5. Donate stuff you don't use. Okay, this isn't a strictly money comment, but hear me out. There are times when we feel like we should be contributing more to the "greater good," whatever that means; for example, events like the year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake or the Arizona shooting that just happened remind us to care for one another. I don't know about you, but for our family, the thought of contributing even $20 extra a month to a certain cause/charity is very daunting. But, I can go through our home and donate items we don't use. Clothes and decor can go to Goodwill, books can go to the library, and junk can go in the trash. Not only are you helping someone else in need (and taking care of local people), but you are also caring for your home in purging it of clutter. Have something more specialized (like Charlotte's old braces)? Find a charity online for them. Or, if you're crafty, find a way to donate your craft (see one such knitting charity here.)
  6. Don't be prideful about where you shop. This is a tough one for me, and I've learned to kind of embrace it. I call the Dollar Tree (the dollar store where everything still is a dollar!) my home decor superstore because that is where I get many of my decorations. Goodwill is hit-or-miss, but I've been very successful lately at Marshall's for decorating our bedroom. I bought a big Yankee Candle this weekend in a scent called Cinammon and Sugar (yum!!) for $10 that would have cost $24 for the same size. Oh, and who doesn't know that my absolute favorite store to go into is...Once Upon a Child. I cannot even describe my joy upon walking into this store!

  7. To piggyback on the previous one, sometimes it takes a lot of work to find the best deals. I was gone for two and a half hours on Sunday during Charlotte's nap shopping for stuff for our bedroom, and I came home with about four things. I know that Adam thought to himself, that's it? That took you two and a half hours? But I searched for good deals where I went, and if there weren't any, I left empty-handed. And you know what, ladies? That's what we are called to do - dig through bins and shelves to find the best deal and not rest until we find it!!
  8. Give simple gifts. It is very easy to get wrapped up in dollar amounts when trying to give someone a gift. I am guilty of this - trying to spend the amount that shows how much I treasure a specific person. This is so foolish! Sometimes good gifts are expensive, but oftentimes, they can be simple, well-thought out or homemade. Listen, I'm a working wife and mother, so I'm not going to tell you to get all crafty for people's birthday gifts, but it's not always a bad idea. I like to knit anyway, and I'm currently working on a gift for...oops, I can't tell you. :)
  9. Use the library. I know, I know, this is a complete duh thing to add to this list, but don't you know it took me about five years of marriage to remember that the library was my all-time favorite place as a kid?! I love the library! The best part about it, besides the fact that it's free, which really is the best part, is that you can rent movies. Movies for adults, movies for kids, random documentaries that you would probably never watch in a million years but end up being pretty interesting. I also love checking out cookbooks; if there are no good recipes in the book you checked out, you're not out $25. Just take it back and....wait for it....get another one! Or get a book on cleaning or organizing or decorating. Learn to make your home cleaner, prettier or smoother-running. All for free. :)
  10. Keep your ultimate goal(s) in mind. I want to be a stay-at-home mom. We know this. But for the time being, that goal is nowhere in sight. But, I can still learn to be frugal, how to coupon and shop, budget and save money here and there. I can grab a snack or drink on the way home from school without blowing our budget. Or, I can find a cheaper substitute I can bring with me to school so I won't feel tempted. I am very easily discouraged (Brit can tell you) when I mess up my amazing plan just ONCE. Don't get discouraged if you mess up your plan once. Just don't keep doing it, and keep your eyes on the big picture! :)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Shoes...

Charlotte and I used the snow day yesterday (I had a feeling that we would have one, so I scheduled the appointment...:)) to go back to UVA and pick up her new nighttime braces. Aren't they sporty compared to her old ones? They seem like they would be (to me, who doesn't have to wear them) much more comfortable than the old-school ones that she's been wearing.

I found this charity where we can donate our used braces, and since club feet aren't genetic, I think that we will do that with the old braces. If you're interested in the charity, it's here. Cool, huh?

Other than that, today was a freebie snow day. Charlotte and I went over to Erin Carroll's house to play with Julia and baby Mason. It was a lot of fun, the girls helped make pizza and I didn't bring the camera. Sorry, Brit.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear Brittney....

, happy birthday to you. Thank you for being so funny, supportive and encouraging. You are so important to me, to Charlotte and to our family, and I don't know what we would do without you. I've never had a friend like you, and we value you so much. I hope you had a great birthday, and I'm sorry your present isn't here yet. We love you.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today in Pictures

Today was a fun-filled day in our house. Thanks to my parents' generous Christmas gift, we had new bedroom furniture delivered today. But first, we had to clear out the old: two dressers from both of our childhoods, and two kids' nightstands (we bought them because at the time, real nightstands were too big for our bedroom).

And all of the furniture piled into the guest room...

Then, while Adam was showering, Charlotte decided to play with my shoes...


She liked these black ones the most - I think they stayed on the easiest.


Before we went shopping, I put Charlotte's hair into a ponytail. How cute is this picture?



And then, at the end of Charlotte's nap, the furniture came! These delivery men were the best we've ever had, putting down blankets, tightening hardware and ever giving me some advice on where to put this chest.
And here's the dresser and one of the bedside tables.

Nice, huh? Thanks, Mom and Dad! Now, maybe our bedroom won't be so neglected in terms of decorating and cleaning. :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 Things Thursday

Back by popular demand....well, not really. I just miss it, so here it is....10 things to like about my January right now since we're all kind of in a post-holiday season coma.
  1. Life can go back to normal...we're not booked every weekend, traveling all over, hosting, or fixing grand feasts. I know, I know, I like those things too, but usually after Christmas, I'm ready for them to be over so that our schedule can resume.
  2. Getting to use our Christmas gifts. There is nothing greater than using something new that came from someone else's thought, love and generosity. Adam and I got to pick out some new bedroom furniture using a gift card my parents bought us, and it was so much fun. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
  3. Re-adjusting my sleep schedule. I don't really like this about January, but I know it will pay off in a couple weeks. Oh, and if you're one of the girls doing the 5 o'clock club with me, I am so proud of you! I had no idea that me posting about that idea would start up a wave of early rising women in our body. God is truly glorious! Keep it up!
  4. The fact that it is almost February.
  5. Adam's and my 6 year anniversary is this month on the 15th. Do you ever look back on your anniversary and think, wow, we are such different people than we were when we got married...we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but God surely did. God definitely knew how Adam and I would fight against and grow in our roles over the years, and He ordained that we would grow together as well over the past six years. Oh, you know there's a mushy anniversary post headed your way. :)
  6. The snow, and not just because I'm a teacher ;). When we lived in Bowling Green, OH, I loved going outside at night when it was snowing. I tell my students this sometimes...I loved how the clouds in the sky and the snow on the ground absorbed all of the sound in the world, so that it was never really more silent than it was on a snowy night. Snow is so refreshing and clearing....especially here in VA because it doesn't last as long as it did in OH.
  7. On a significantly less contemplative note, I really like after-Christmas sales (which, I know are technically December). Usually by then, all I can afford is some wrapping paper and a bag of bows, but I love bargain hunting and being in one last crazy shopping crowd for a while. It's also, as in #2, fun and sometimes challenging to spend gift cards.
  8. This year, I have had a great time playing with Charlotte and her Christmas gifts. She got a play kitchen this year, but she doesn't call it a kitchen. She says, "Cook it, Mommy. Cook it." Haha. It's hilarious to watch her tuck the phone into her shoulder and stir a pot with the other hand. Adam said she's just doing what she sees me do - cook dinner and bug Daddy about when he's coming home from school. :)
  9. Video-chatting with my in-laws, especially with Charlotte. That is a very fun thing to do that we just kind of figured out how to do.
  10. And last, but not least, Brit's birthday on this coming Monday. She won't tell me what to get her, but she said I'll figure it out. She's probably right. :)

During my quiet time this morning (which was a struggle after Wednesday night church and no caffeine for three days), the verse that stuck out to me that we need to be constantly reminded of was: "...sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." Gen. 4: 7b God spoke these words directly, to Cain. How true they are, and how they should spur us on to obedience and faith, discipline and repentance.

Have a blessed day. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A new dawn, a new day


Tomorrow, Winter Break is officially over. School begins again, and the rubber meets the road in full force again. Charlotte goes to daycare, Adam goes to school, I go to school....dinner, dishes, laundry....lather, rinse, repeat.

But this break has really relaxed me. I am feeling so well rested and calm about the rest of the school year, knowing that I am exactly where God wants me. And if His will is to change His plan for our family, He will be faithful to do it. And if not, we will know that it is not the best thing.

I didn't write a super-contemplative New Year's post. I don't think that's really my style (do you? maybe you do...hmmm...), so I'm sorry if not having one disappointed you. I will say that I look very forward to this year and what it will bring. 2010 was a year of such trial that I am eager to begin this year with "a fresh day's grace" as Adam says, growing in godliness, together as a family and seeing with the Lord has in store for us. I also look forward to becoming better at running and making my home; God has been so gracious in that area this year that I am excited for what I will learn this year.
Be encouraged by a fresh year and the ever-fresh grace of God. Join the 5 0'clock club with me. Get into the Word consistently and purposefully. Pray with faith and purpose. Plan - days, months, the year. Use your time wisely. Spend and save wisely. Build and maintain friendships wisely. Forgive. Let go of bitterness and vengeance. Let's have a great year together. Soli Deo Gloria.