"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

17 December 2009

On this day at work...

Today, I had - by far - my worst day at work to date. Here is why:

1. A rather crochety older woman in a wheelchair accompanied by her husband came up to my register with 3 perfumes, 3 lotions, and 3 shower gels. Two of our current promos are that you can get a free lotion with each perfume purchase and that if you buy three Signature collection items, you can get three free. Well, she took that to mean she could get six items for free by simply purchasing the three perfumes. I explained to her that we couldn't combine the promotions that way, and she looked at me, smirked, and said, "Well, you're going to have to learn how to do it then, aren't you?" I went and got the manager, who let me override the transaction so the woman could get what she wanted. When the manager walked away, the woman says, "See, you learned something today." I held my tongue, silently completed the transaction, wished them a good day, and prayed to God for grace in my heart toward her.

2. A customer came in with her screaming child, who grabbed everything within arm's reach, stuck it in his mouth, and threw it on the floor when he was done. She kept looking at everything, all around the store, saying she was "in a rush." She stayed in the store for over half an hour, took forever checking out (because she kept trying to get a better deal on her purchases), and then stayed in the store for another ten minutes or so before finally leaving. We all needed Advil afterward.

3. Our district manager was there for a couple hours, and you could feel the tension in the air. I'll leave it at that.

However, all things considered, it really wasn't a bad day. Both Ellen (neighbor and church friend) and Kristy (church friend) came by with big smiles, which cheered me up. Most of the customers were very friendly and thankful for the efficiency of the transactions and the effort of gift-wrapping.

And to top it all off, near the end of my shift, this very flamboyantly homosexual man strides up to the counter with his friend and says, "Okay, girls, I have a Christmas party to go to in, like, a nanosecond, and I need a gift bag. For my Secret Santa. She's around thirty. I know nothing about her. Help me!" It cracked us up.

I was also a bit on a high from our young adult community group last night. We went caroling around our town to various people's houses from church, "surprised" the youth group at church with caroling (Justin - the youth pastor - knew we were coming), and then had games and a gift exchange at our house. It was a lot of fun, and I'm so glad everyone came and was blessed.

Okay, that's all for now, because if I stay up any longer, I'm going to get the munchies. And I do not need that.

14 December 2009

Before-and-After Pictures, As Promised


These are BEFORE pictures of the office. The walls were lime green and squares, as you can see, with lavender molding all over the room. Obviously, not very manly for a room of Nich's own. :~) So we whipped out the primer and paint and what we now have is below:


The wallpaper(s) in the bedroom was the worst in the entire house, although what's in the bathroom and kitchen could probably have given it a run for its money. Huge floral bouquets tumbled down from the ceiling with flowing ribbons ... it was awful. And the bottom looked like stereotypical old man pajamas. One night, Nich was reading in bed, and I had just finished my book and didn't want to bother getting another one. So I told Nich that I could entertain myself by staring at the wallpaper. That was the night I noticed that the bouquets were actually upside-down on the wall! At any rate, our bedroom was not a calm oasis by any stretch of the imagination. Thus, we turned it into this:

We haven't done much around the rest of the house other than cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and putting up curtains and such, but it's home, and we are thankful for it. Please come and visit! We have lots of room!

My Grandpa

For those who read this and are prayer warriors, please keep my grandpa in your prayers. He is so dear to me, and being the oldest grandchild on that side of the family, I've always had a special relationship with him, even though I only see him every few years. His health has been failing, he's had several surgeries for this and that over the past couple years, and he's just not doing very well right now.

It is my heart's desire that he is able to meet Nich and live long enough to hold at least one of our children. And that he is able to know Jesus.

Please be praying for him and my grandma, as well as my mom (who still lives in Africa) and her brothers.

Thank you.

2009 Christmas Newsletter

Here is our 2009 Christmas newsletter! Enjoy!


05 December 2009

Teary and Discouraged Today

We had our housewarming party today, and we had all of thirteen people show up. We absolutely love the people who came, and some were surprises, but there were quite a few we were expecting who never showed ... without explanation. And then we found out that several of those people were doing other social things. I know it's a busy season of the year and that there was a marriage conference in Saratoga this weekend, but I'm very frustrated. Nich and I spend so much of our time and energy giving to our church body, and I feel so unloved and unappreciated in return. As soon as our last guests left at 9:30, I just cried and cried.

It feels as though three years after living here, we would have closer friends, friends who know our hearts and love on us mutually. It's so lonely here sometimes, that I just want to up and move ... anywhere. It's very hurtful that the very people for whom we pour out our hearts and prayers can be so inconsiderate of our time and feelings.

If the purpose of gathering as a church is for corporate worship and fellowship, I almost don't want to go to church tomorrow. I am so disappointed and lonely right now, I feel like I can hardly express myself in words.

04 December 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

We just watched that movie. Nich had seen bits and pieces of it before, but not in its entirety, and I had never seen it before at all. I love old movies.

And it got me to thinking...

Sometimes, living a life of sacrifice is really hard. Our ministry with the teens and young adults is overwhelming at times and sometimes, downright discouraging. We understand that adolescence is a period of life when you're very egotistic and thinking about other people's feelings isn't always on the radar. But we've been burned more than once, and it's hard sometimes to get back on our feet and keep loving and giving.

I've had a hard day today (emotionally) with feeling like I want to throw in the towel on how I know God has called me to serve with these young people. I think about how much more I could be giving in other places if so much of my time wasn't spent investing in their lives. Generally, I was feeling pretty darn crummy.

But then we cuddled up to watch the movie, and God showed me a little nugget to hold on to. Our washer has been glitchy since we moved in here, and every time we've done laundry, the clothes are still soaking wet when we pull them out. We've had to run them in the dryer for 2-3 cycles and then hang them for them to dry thoroughly. I was concerned about the repair bill and what the utility bills would be like if we had to keep running the dryer the way we were. Well, when I went downstairs to start the laundry this afternoon, just as I was loading the first load, all the lights in the house went out. I don't know if this had anything to do with it, but every one of my loads today have come out perfectly wrung out!

I am thankful for this small miracle today and for the reminder that I am taken care of in ways I cannot even imagine.

02 December 2009

House Pictures to Come Soon!

We've done a lot of work to make this house "home" for us. But since our housewarming party is this Saturday, I'm going to wait until afterward to post the "before-and-after" pictures, since I don't know who reads this and may be there. :~) Keep your eyes open for them, though! We're very excited about how great the master bedroom and office look now!

01 December 2009

Not a Sin, but a Stumbling Block

Tonight at my Ladies' Bible Fellowship Study, our leader asked us if we have things in our lives that aren't biblical sins but that we know we ought to stay away from: stumbling blocks.

The example she gave was drinking alcohol. She and her husband gave up alcohol consumption years ago when they were youth leaders at their church. Not only did they want to steer clear from murky waters of explaining to adolescents what was and wasn't permissible for teens vs. adults, but they also felt that they didn't want to send mixed messages to parents who were perhaps unsaved or more conservative.

One that immediately came to my mind was materialism - I like beautiful things. I know it's not a sin to have nice things, and it's not even so much that I have expensive tastes. But as of late, with the holiday season off running, I've noticed that I could quickly go down a spiral of "Wow, their icicle lights look beautiful and so festive. Let's put lights on our house!" The thing is, we don't need lights to spread holiday cheer. Icicle lights aren't sinful. There's nothing wrong with putting them up. They really are beautiful, and they do cheer up the neighborhood. I am grateful for those that have them up. But it's a small example of what I'm trying to explain. I could put those lights up, but then that needs to come out of our budget for something else, unless it was extra. And if we had that extra money, I would rather put it towards sponsoring another child from our church's Giving Tree. I would rather show people why we celebrate Christmas in that way than by putting lights on our house.

I tried explaining this to Nich tonight as we stood in the kitchen, me feeling sheepish for even thinking so much about such a seemingly small thing and him wrapped up in his fleece blanket (a bit like my own personal superhero :~)). I told him that I try so hard to be frugal and careful with the money he works hard to earn and that God blesses and entrusts us with. And wouldn't you know it, the dear, sweet husband that he is, he pulled me close and told me he was proud of me and that that was one of the reasons he loved me so.

I am so blessed.