Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eight Years in Pictures

:: 2001 ::

:: 2002 ::

:: 2003 ::

:: 2005 ::

:: 2006 ::

:: 2007 ::

:: 2008 ::

:: 2009 ::

Happy eighth birthday to my joke-telling, rule following, High School Musical loving, bright, beautiful, too-wise-for-her-age, sensitive, thoughtful, little-sibling-adoring, first-born daughter. May our lives be blessed with you for many more years to come!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Same Question...Different Answer

I have developed the habit of asking myself a very pointed question. The same question. Over and over again. Sometimes I ask it in frustration, sometimes in desperation, sometimes in joyful anticipation. But I frequently ask it, especially these days.

What does God want from me?

Six simple words. Always the same question, rarely the same answer. Sometimes He speaks just one word: trust, obey, believe, wait, pray. Other times, it's things like, "Speak my Name while you're visiting so-and-so", "Be still and know that I am God", "Spend more time in My Presence", "Give grace" and so on.

The question is fairly easy to remember and ask, but often more difficult to listen and obey. Then again, no one ever said this was gonna be easy.

Please do let me know if you already have or decide to cultivate the same question asking habit. I'd love for you to share how He answers as well.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Resolutions: Update

Remember this post? Maybe you made one just like it. Or maybe you're not a blogger, but decided to change some aspects of your life in 2009. Well, since the year is more than half over, I thought I'd reflect on my 'resolutions' and see what I have left to complete for the second half of the year. Here are my three resolutions {in case you don't have a chance to revisit my original post} followed by my progress in italics:

Number One: Return to my pre-pregnancy weight before the end of the year.

I have recently decided to try to lose some of my pregnancy weight, which you can follow along with on my other blog, Chronicles of an Almost Healthy Foodie. Although I know I will feel better about myself if I get back to the size I was last fall, I am not going to stress myself out over it. During this season of grief after losing Olivia, I think my spiritual and emotional health are far more important than my dress size. So, I am working towards this goal as we speak, but it is open to reevaluation if need be.

Number Two: Read 12 books.

It is actually kind of comical that I set this goal for myself, as I never was much of a reader, but realize the importance of cultivating a good reading habit, especially as it pertains to setting a good example for my children. I've always been more of a magazine reader {I even love catalogues!}, but never much of a fiction girl. *Insert dramatic life changing events here.* I then decided to maybe pick out a few books, as a simple diversion for my reality at the time and for personal enjoyment, and I haven't looked back. These are the titles I have read so far: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic and Sister, The Tennis Party, Remember Me?, The Undomestic Goddess, The Yada Yada Prayer Group (book1), The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down (book2), The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (book3), Jemima J, Waiting with Gabriel, Holding Onto Hope, and A Symphony in the Dark. That makes 13 books read, which means...resolution complete!! I am already in the midst of The Friday Night Knitting Club, even though I've met this goal. Maybe I formed a new enjoyable habit! **BTW, just because I listed a book here, doesn't mean I recommend it. A couple of these novels were what I deem 'inappropriate' at parts, which I ended up just skipping over.**

Number Three: Try 12 new recipes.

I wish I would've kept closer tabs on this resolution. I pretty much know for a fact that I've only tried one new recipe {Buttermilk Scones from Baking with Julia} in the last 3 months, since cooking meals from scratch wasn't too high of a priority. As I look back though, since the beginning of the year, I have posted recipes for Easy Baked Ziti, Easy BBQ Pork, Artisan Bread, Baked Potato Soup, and Easy Strawberry Shortcake. Does the Peanutty Playdough count too? So, I guess that makes about half a dozen new recipes tried in '09. I did purchase the fixings for another new recipe this week and I *know* that once the weather cools down {a.k.a. will be using my oven much more}, once I start entertaining more, and when Thanksgiving looms, I will be dusting off all the cookbooks. I surely do miss trying new recipes, new techniques, and sharing the results with my friends and family. Maybe if I subscribed to a cooking magazine I might be inspired more often to try new things!

Ok. Your turn. Do you remember what you resolved to change in 2009? Care to share how that's coming along?

Keep. Moving. Forward.~

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Sunday Morning

I had to leave the room.

I'm not exactly sure why. Everyone around me was worshiping and praising. I was just crying. I thought it best to just excuse myself before I really started sobbing and began to distract other people. The songs were, I would say, more devotional than they were uplifting. {What's the opposite of uplift??}

You know how 'they' say that your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness? Well, sometimes when I start thinking along a certain track, it is very difficult to switch tracks. Sometimes this is a great asset for those tasks that require a lot of focus. Sometimes it is just inconvenient and difficult when the timing is wrong. It's especially difficult to 'change lanes' when that line of thinking involves Olivia. Now, back to my story.

So there I was, already on the Olivia track, with these emotionally intense songs offered for worship, and it was. Just. Too. Much. I quietly left the room and headed for the car. I do have to mention that the Husband, much to his credit, did come after me to make sure I was okay. I wish I could've had better reasons for him, but I could hardly understand myself at the moment.

The weather was so perfect. There was a really big tree in front of me that was somehow calming to look at and I could hear the birds singing. Little did I know that as I appreciated the serene surroundings, He was setting the stage for my own personal time of worship.
I opened my Bible to make sure the verse I have come to love was still there. Yep. It was.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Ps. 27:13-14)

I love to personalize that Scripture for myself, praying it back to Him and did so that morning as well. HE then led me to 1 Corinthians 15.

...You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed it's own body....There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another...So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.

Even now, as I type, my eyes are flooded with tears at these thoughts.
I sat there, riveted, imagining Olivia. Coming to life because of her death. My bare kernel. If you could have seen how broken her little body was, you would be able to truly understand how much these verses mean to me. Her body which perished in my imperishable. Sown in the ground in weakness. Raised to heaven in power. A glorious heavenly body.

And I received comfort there. Reading and rereading. Immense comfort. When I left for church that morning, I never expected Him to meet me there. But He found me. Sitting quietly in the front seat of a rusty mini-van.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

P.S. I know this is supposed to be 'wordless', but I can't help but add additional details. Olivia's name was written by To Write Their Names in the Sand. You can see Olivia's memory post here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Talk About It: Close-up

A child photographer frequently sees things differently through the lens than I would. For example:

Everything is a close-up. When I discovered these pictures on my camera, it reminded me of the trip I took last week and this special mirror that was in our bathroom at the inn. I believe it's for applying make-up or other facial treatments and allows you to see all the minute details of your face, close-up. I'm not sure I appreciate being able to see every little hair, crease, and pore! I started thinking about my relationships and relationships in general. How often do I let people get really close? Not physically, mind you, but emotionally close enough to see all the my flaws and imperfections. Nearly everyone looks great from a distance and I'm sure that's true in relationships too.

What about you? How close do you let people come? Always at arm's length? Allow a few close friends in close enough to see your nitty gritty?
Too scary to let anyone see the 'real you'?

Anticipating a good chat,

I'll give my proper response in the comments section....

P.P.S. Yep. That's me smiling in the first picture. That does happen more often these days....

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Ugly

As in, the trio, along with the good and the bad. I know I've been MIA. And now you'll know why. Since the ground beneath me keeps threatening to open up and swallow me whole, I didn't really think you'd want to hear about it. I don't want pity, but judging from some of the kind emails I've been getting {sorry about not responding to those!} I figured that ya'll still care about little 'ole me.

The Vehicles

They have all broken down. On the same day. To pretty much un-driveable status. One has been repaired and cost more to fix than my mortgage payment. The other one, well, it's turned into a three-ring-circus. We thought it was fixed. Then it wasn't. Then it was. Now, it isn't. Catch all that? It is still at the repair shop awaiting some details to be worked out. I guess one working vehicle is better than none. My lawnmower broke last week as well. That was the back-up lawnmower. The first one hasn't been working for some time now. I might really have to buy that goat I've been thinking about.

The Loo
That's bathroom, in case you aren't familiar with UK-speak. It flooded last week. You know that little hole in the sink that's supposed to drain out the excess water if you fill the sink too much? Well, apparently mine doesn't work. A small child brushed their teeth, left the water running a bit, turned off the light and closed the door. Thankfully I was staying up late, but didn't realize the situation until several hours later, after the whole floor, cabinet and drawers underneath, and most of the hallway outside the bathroom door were converted into our own personal indoor pool. I've always wanted one of those. Just not this poor man's version.

The Job
There isn't one. Again. The owner of the dump truck Hubs was driving decided to sell it. I can either consider it depressing or encouraging that I didn't even really cry over this or barely even panic. My honest thoughts were, "Great. Here we go again." I guess when you've been through what I've been through the last few months, being unemployed {with no unemployment check} doesn't seem so daunting. HE has sustained us for the last six months, has carried us through losing our daughter, and I'm sure HE will still be here for wherever this road goes. I am honestly so sick & tired of this specific roller coaster. It is just beyond frustrating.

The Vacay
So considering all that, we did what any already grieving people should do...we took a vacation. That probably sounds totally ridiculous, but it was just what we needed. Not financially, mind you, but spiritually and emotionally. I didn't think I would actually enjoy myself, but there were several times when I was startled by the sound of my own laughter. That hasn't happened in a long time. The kids were in good hands, the scenery was wonderful, the quality time with my husband was even better. We talked. I cried. We gained perspective. We came home ready to face the world again.

So there you have it. Some of the time I am trying not to focus on what I am actually having to walk through. Some of the time I either want to laugh hysterically or cry uncontrollably. Typing all that out just now, it seems like my life is more like the plot to some sordid comedy movie, where a poor bloke who's totally down on his luck ends up seeing his fortune totally reversed. Well, that's what I'm praying for myself anyways {Ps. 126}.

If you've made it this far through my post, you must really love me :>)