"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

25 November 2009

"If your feet are cemented..."

I just read my friend Clara's most recent newsletter, and she quoted Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle as saying, "If your feet are cemented, God can't use you."

I'm not entirely sure why I loved this so much, but I did. I dearly hope that every time God calls, I can say, "Here I am, Lord. Send me." One of the things I struggle with most in life is staying put. I've been itching to move away from this area for a long time; the irony is that I've only been here since the summer of 2007! I know that being "sent" by God doesn't always mean being moved geographically. Sometimes, being "sent" means answering His call to serve in the very community in which I live. Right here.

There are no words for me to describe the encouragement and inspiration I feel when I read my friends' thoughts as they strive to serve God and our world as best as they can, all over the world, whether they are career missionaries or simply loving followers of Christ.

So ... are your feet too firmly cemented for God to use you?

Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas: Yippee!

I love this holiday season. Love it.

Thanksgiving doesn't hold as much magic for me, since it's not something I celebrated growing up. I can appreciate the symbolism of it, though, and at our church's Thanksgiving service last night, I enjoyed Pastor Peter's telling of the first Thanksgiving narrative. And I loved seeing the little kids' excitement as we closed out the service with song and ... bells! Everyone got little bells to shake for the last song.

As Nich and I walked home with jingles in our pockets and saw that some of our neighbors have Christmas decor up outside their homes, I got all excited for Christmas. There is something just generally cheerful about this season. People seem nicer, happier, more engaged. I just wish they knew that there is MORE than just the shopping, the family times, the food. I suppose that's why we do things like Operation Christmas Child and The Giving Tree. Just to remind people that Jesus loves them.

I've been itching to play Christmas music, to mail off our Christmas cards, to decorate. I've had the envelopes for our Christmas cards stuffed, addressed, labeled and stamped for over two weeks now - Yes, I'm that excited. Today, I'm putting the ones going overseas in the mail, but the rest are going to wait until after Thanksgiving. Nich had compromised and let me start playing Christmas music in the house this week (as it is Thanksgiving week, plus we heard it on the car ride home this past weekend). We're going to decorate together tomorrow morning, as my hubby is so thoughtful and is staying home from the annual men's football game so he can spend time with me (I'm working Black Friday and Saturday this weekend at Bath & Body).

Our house is finally mostly unpacked and CLEAN. There are a few odds and ends, but I finally feel like, "Ahhh, I'm home," when I walk in the door.

Come visit! :~)

22 November 2009

Friends With Whom We Can Be Just Us

Nich and I set out last Thursday evening toward Mount Vernon, Ohio. We had planned to drive until we couldn't stay awake, which came much quicker than we anticipated. We had hoped to make it out of the state, but NY is a bit wider than we could handle. Thus, we spent a night in Batavia and got back on the road much refreshed in the morning. I've had a bit of a cold the past few days (VERY drippy sinuses), though, so I was bummed that I didn't get to use the fitness room at the Best Western where we stayed.

Anyway, the weekend was wonderful. Our friends Jesse and Jess, who reside in Australia, were "home" visiting their family. We had a small reunion with them at Jess' parents' home (in Ohio), along with our other friends from college, Dan and Jamie and their little girl, Kylie.

It was such a relaxing weekend. It's nice to get away and out of normal routine from time to time, but often, you return feeling exhausted. This weekend was not like that at all. We were able to laugh, tour the campus at MVNU (where Jess' parents work), play games, watch movies, and just enjoy being together with friends. Nich and I often struggle with not having friends locally with whom we can just be ourselves, and this trip was a blessing to us.

One of the many topics of conversation was the concept of "home," and Nich asked me on our drive back to NY where "home" was for me. And I think I can truly say that for me, home is where he is, at least in this world. 

So now we're home. It's so nice to say that and really mean it. We're home. In our own home. It's quiet, other than the occasional swishing from the dishwasher in the kitchen. So following a quick peek at the week ahead, we're winding down for the night in our newly painted office. It's nice to be home.

13 November 2009

One down, one to go!

The office is all painted! Woohoo! I didn't realize how long it would take to do it, especially since I'm the only one home during the day to paint. But it's all done now, and we put together Nich's desk last night (which was a feat in itself - the thing's quite large).

This morning, I cleaned in there and unpacked boxes and boxes of books. It's like Christmas! :~)

I've primed the trim in our bedroom, but I need Nich's help with moving furniture out of the way. Therefore, I'm taking a break from that for now.

Speaking of Christmas, I'm very excited to decorate our home and put up our little tree. We've agreed to do only one present each plus stocking stuffers this year, which makes me a little bit sad, because I just love Christmas and wrapping gifts and giving. But not only are we trying to be more frugal with our budget (which is hard when you're already pretty responsible), we also want to be able to contribute to various holiday giving opportunities, like Operation Christmas Child and our church's Giving Tree. And you know that there will be those silly events like white elephant gift exchanges and Secret Santas here and there.

Our Christmas cards are almost done, too. I've addressed all the envelopes, and I just need to find the box in which the stamps were packed away. We're not mailing out a newsy letter this year. Not only did I feel a bit convicted about how much paper that uses up (our Christmas mailing list is close to 200), but it also cost a lot to print all of them. So this year, we're just sending cards, and I've been working a version of the newsletter to send out via email for anyone who wants it.

Tonight, we're having our annual Thanksgiving dinner with our teen community group, which is always wonderful. I'm making my friend Jess' maple sweet potatoes, which are absolutely yummy and relatively healthy.

10 November 2009

Oh, how the day flies by!

I woke up with Nich at 5:30 (he gets up extra early on Tuesdays for accountability group with his friends) this morning so that I could get a head start on my day. I managed to spend a solid hour (I know, for those of you who are moms, this is a luxury!) in Bible study before my shower. I had to be at Open Arms before nine to pick up my scrapbooks that I had lent them for a ladies' night out with our clients and to help Barb with some computer stuff.

Well ... six hours later, I am back home and being distracted by a recording of my high school friend Joie's adorable little boy reciting Psalm 23! Ha ha. So much for that long list of things I was going to accomplish today, which went like this: "Open Arms, clean furniture, finish up painting the office, & complete this week's Bible study work. And if I have time, work on our annual Christmas newsletter."

Ah, well. It is such a blessing to be a part of that ministry, and we're moving locations, so they needed the extra hands. We also spent some time in prayer for healing for one of our counselors, so that was time well spent.

But now I have to get to work!

08 November 2009

One glorious, late fall day...

One of the biggest perks of living in our new home is that we are literally just a hop and skip away from our church. Not only can we sleep in about fifty minutes more than we used to on Sunday mornings, we can walk to church! It was great fun to walk hand-in-hand out the door, and the day was absolutely beautiful for it.

We've spent most of the weekend painting the room that will be Nich's office/entertainment room. We're calling it "Nich's" because all his framed Star Wars posters, cherished Superman collection, and various other "nerdy" things will have a home there for the time that we live here. In reality, we'll both be using it for movie-watching, etc. I will post before and after pictures as soon as we're done with the "after" portion.

We celebrated Nich's "baptism birthday" today with Will. Nich was baptized on Veteran's Day two years ago, which makes it easy for me to remember. It was a good excuse to get Mexican food. There's a few great Mexican restaurants in this area, but El Mexicano is by far my favorite, one of the main reasons being that it's not anywhere near downtown Saratoga Springs. I love Saratoga, especially in the wintertime, but prices skyrocket. Furthermore, not only do they have complimentary appetizers, chips & salsa, and dessert at El Mexicano, there is el mariachi who provides delightful, skilled entertainment at each table.

In other news, I had my orientation at Bath and Body Works at the Wilton Mall. I am awaiting a phone call to let me know when I have a training shift. Hopefully soon!

The weekend flew by. I look forward to a quiet, stay-at-home weekend sometime ... after Christmas.

07 November 2009

A New Home of Our Very Own (Sort of)

Okay, so we don't own it, but it's SO nice to have our own home - pretty much for the first time since we've been married. We did have a short three months in a trailer (a very nice trailer with adorable, homemade curtains and an enormous backyard) right after we got married, but we knew we would be moving out, so we didn't really settle in or make it "home."

Now we have a spacious, three bedroom ranch with a large kitchen, a big bathroom (yay, no more "Move over!"), and a great backyard. What's more, we're here for at least a year and a half! It's nice to be unpacking, sorting, decorating, deciding where things go...

It's also yet another lesson in holiness that comes with marriage. I think EVERY engaged couple should read "Boundaries in Marriage" (Cloud & Townsend) and "Sacred Marriage" (Gary Thomas). Marriage is not about happiness. Nor is it, as Piper so well states, "... mainly about being in love. It's about telling the truth with our lives. Staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display." This means that my husband who I adore more than any other person on the face of this planet challenges me, pushes me to grow, tells me hard truths about myself, shows me sin in my life that I need to purge.

There's nothing like moving and unpacking to remind me to keep my attitude in check. I pride myself on my efficiency, cleanliness, and organization, but I find that I seldom show grace when other people don't meet my standards on how quickly, how thoroughly, or how clean things get done. Especially when I am tired from packing, lifting, loading, unpacking ... and finding thick layers of dust and grime everywhere, little odds and ends that were left behind by the landlord, half-broken blinds that are yucky to the touch. By the time Nich comes home after working hard all day, I've been unpacking, putting away, and cleaning for nearly ten hours, AND I've made dinner. So I think I have a right to be grumpy at him. But I don't, and yesterday, Nich told me that sometimes, he feels like I am very impatient with him. My first instinct was to retort, but I know that what he said is true. I am very impatient with him.

My prayer today is that I will exercise grace towards those around me, particularly my husband, who really is my very own superhero. And that everyone in our community group tonight will be respectful of our request to vacate our house by nine o'clock so we can get a few things done tonight before bed! :~)