"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

27 April 2010

Wild Olive Tees

Hey, guess what? I'm on Wild Olive Tees! :~) I sent them a thank you email with some pictures after I received our orders for their HOPE for Haiti T-shirts, and they posted me on their blog. Click here for the post.

Unfortunately, they aren't printing any more HOPE shirts, because it was a mission-specific fundraiser in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, but their other shirts are absolutely beautiful as well! And Wild Olive Tees partners with other missions, so check them out.

26 April 2010

Breaking It Down, Part 2: "Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll."

My blog is PG. Sorry. I can't talk about sex. All I have to say on this is that it's definitely worth the wait.


Oh, fine, fine.

Here are my two cents on this topic.

Ummm ... here goes.

Since having sex means that you are willing to consider parenting (I know, teenagers don't get that), you should definitely talk about number of kids before getting married. I mean, just so you both know you're on the same page. The difference between two and three kids isn't a huge deal, but the difference between one (or none!) and twelve is. It's sort of like playing ping pong versus tackle football. Two completely different ball games. You know?

Thankfully, if your premarital counselor/pastor is worth his job title, this topic WILL come up, so if you don't bring it up, it will be brought up. How's that for passivity?

Premartial counseling? What? All I have to say on that is this: DO IT. And stick to it. Be honest. You get what you put in. Seriously. Nich and I really believe that our first year of marriage was so healthy because we worked through so much of our metaphorical baggage before we said "yes."

Another conversation you should have before your wedding day is birth control. This probably will not come up in premarital counseling. It didn't for us. And yes, it may be awkward. No, I take that back. It WILL be awkward. But you should do it anyway.

It's not so much about whether you'll use birth control or not (although that in itself is an important discussion), but also what you are both comfortable using. From the beginning, I was not okay with the use of birth control pills for me. I'm not comfortable with the idea of ingesting alternate hormones to interrupt and control the natural cycle of my body. Also, in researching various forms of birth control, particularly if you profess to be a Christ-follower, you must fully understand the abortive functions of many of the options out there. But these are discussions you and your spouse-to-be need to have.

Finally, be honest with each other. It's a whole new level of vulnerability and trust. Take it as you're ready to.

And just because I adore Rebecca St. James (and because I feel weird that I just blogged about sex), here's another song I love. And another.

Oh, yeah. It's my birthday today. Go write a poem, hug a teacher, eat some sushi, travel to somewhere exotic and take lots of pictures for me.

24 April 2010

Breaking It Down, Part 1: "Figuring Out the 'Rules'"

A couple days ago, I posted a quote from Pioneer Woman from her live chat hosted by Barnes and Noble (I have to interject here to say that I much prefer Borders, but B&N gets kudos for hosting the chat). Anyone could post questions, and PW answered the ones she could/wanted to. One of the questions was from a young woman named Amanda who is getting married this summer. She wanted to know: "What is one piece of advice you would give a new bride?" Note that she said "one." :~)

This is PW's response: "Every relationship is different, of course. BUT: The first year of marriage is inherently difficult. Turf wars. Figuring out the "rules". Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. (Wait...huh?) Don't expect it always to be perfect. You'll go through seasons. Don't hold grudges. Don't bring up past hurts over and over. Embrace the differences between you and your spouse---don't try to make your spouse a version of you. Remember why you married him. Have his back. Have fun. Touch toes when you get in bed at night."


So of course, I had to share with everybody who is remotely acquainted with me.

Which means I put the quote on FB (and cited my sources, as a good English teacher should). 

Then a friend of mine suggested that I blog about the quote, since I am sort of a newlywed still and she wanted to know my thoughts. I told her that unfortunately, not only am I an inconsistent blogger, not very many people are interested in what I have to say on a day to day basis. I honestly just meant that there just aren't that many people who read this blog, so I blog whenever I feel like it, rather than blogging for my readers.

I discovered I have more readers than I realize. :~) Friends who I had no idea were interested in blogging. Strangers.




Does this mean I have to start being good all the time now? ;~) Anyway, in light of all this new discovery, Kat, this is to honor your request. I don't have time to talk about everything PW mentioned in one blog, so I'll do it in several posts.

I definitely agree with PW that every relationship is different, but there are some basic foundational truths that are necessary for a healthy marriage. There's no better time to lay down that foundation than in the first year of marriage. Obviously, you can learn the lessons later on, but why make life harder for yourself, right? Also, please keep in mind that I am still a newlywed, so I'm learning the ropes, too. I don't have it all figured out, but due to lots of personal mentoring by older women in my life, other couples pouring out into our relationship, and excellent premarital counseling, Nich and I feel like we set a good foundation in our first year.

1. "Figuring Out the 'Rules'" 

When people live in the same space, even just as housemates, there are expectations, both spoken and unspoken. The spoken ones are easy enough. Wash your own dishes. Don't eat each other's food in the fridge. Put away your stuff. Let each other know when you'll have guests over. It's the unspoken ones that are tough to figure out. We all have different boundaries, and being married means learning about your spouse's boundaries, being sensitive to them, and respecting them - even if they are different from yours. As a good friend of mine said to me over and over while I was engaged, "Different doesn't mean wrong. Different is just different."

For example, something I learned early on is that the Nich is not responsible for my feelings. Let me clarify. Obviously, as my husband, and as the one person who has promised to cherish me for the rest of my life and take care of me, Nich should treat me with love and tenderness. But he's human. He's going to have moments when he's cranky. He can't be in more than one place at a time. In short, he's not perfect. I need to know that, and I need to give grace for that. And when I'm feeling vulnerable, grumpy, irritated, you name it, I cannot take it out on him. Nor can I blame him for it. 

Let me make this clear. Say I'm feeling overwhelmed and rushed because:
1. I had a difficult day of subbing where the kids were awful and mean.
2. There was a roadblock on my way home, which made my 15 minute drive over half an hour.
3. I don't have time to go for my run.
4. I have to make dinner.
5. I have the closing shift at work tonight.

Then say Nich comes home and just wants a good, long "hello" hug from his dear little wife. And I flip out saying, "I don't have TIME for this! Can't you see I'm BUSY?" That's not okay, right? 

Make sense?

I also highly recommend taking Cloud & Townsend's "Boundaries in Marriage" class if it's available anywhere near you. If anything, read their book

Any other "rules" you can think of?

Zaminamina Zangalewa

  Zaminamina oh oh
  Waka waka eh eh
  Zaminamina zangalewa
  Anawam ah ah
That chorus is from a 1986 hit song by a Cameroonian makossa group 
originally known as "Golden Sounds. They changed their names to 
Zangaléwa after that song became incredibly popular.
The 2010 World Cup's official song is Shakira’s version of this song, 
"Waka Waka, This Time for Africa" as both a tribute to African music, 
with the World Cup being held in South Africa this year and as "a nod 
to the folks back home who’ve partied to this song since way back in 
1987 when the song rose to prominence thanks to West African DJs in Cartagena" 

22 April 2010

Happy Earth Day!

I'm not exactly an environmentalist. Far from it. But I do believe in taking care of what I've been given, and that includes this earth, my body, my home.

So I do my best by:
- turning off lights when I'm not in rooms
- unplugging chargers when they aren't being used
- turning off the laptop instead of just sticking it on hibernate
- using reusable tote bags when grocery shopping
- putting my plastic and glass IN my reusable totes so I don't forget to take them to the store
- recycling all paper/cardboard products
- shopping at farmers' markets in the spring/summer/fall
- growing my own vegetables in the spring/summer
- eating healthy foods
- washing out and reusing Ziploc bags

Although, to be perfectly honest, that last one may stem more from my mother's obsession with not wasting anything. What can I say? She's Korean. :~)

I'd also love to have a clothesline for the spring/summer/fall, but we have yet to figure out how to rig one up. Our backyard is sparsely vegetated ... as in, the owner has NOTHING planted in the backyard. 

Any other good ideas out there for taking care of our earth and living in a healthy way (without breaking the bank)?

16 April 2010

Four years ago...

Four years ago today, a most handsome and kind man asked me on a date for the very first time.

The rest, as they say, is history. 

15 April 2010

Not My Gift

I've been thinking a lot recently about how hospitality really isn't my thing. I'm not the kind of person that just throws my door open and says, "Come on in! Whenever! Whoever! Root through my fridge!" There are a handful of people who I don't mind just popping over all the time, but they are a select group of people.

Mind you, I like to throw a good dinner party once in a while or have a game night.

Once in a while.

Not all the time. With whoever. Whenever.

Is this bad?


I don't know.

I think much of the explanation for this is ingrained both in my nature and upbringing to keep my house tidy and clean. I feel an extra dose of pressure when I know people will be coming over. I like to have time to pick up those miscellaneous pieces of mail lying around, dust off the surfaces, make sure no underwear missed the laundry hamper, that sort of thing.

I also don't like it when people throw open the refrigerator door and THEN say, "Can I have a drink?" Then they proceed to open up the brand new bottle of your special raspberry lemonade that you JUST splurged on half an hour ago at the grocery store, intending for it to be a Saturday morning treat for you and your hubby on a picnic lunch. But manners say you should smile and say, "Sure!" Sigh ...and although this aforementioned scenario has really only occurred once, it bothered me. A lot.

So that's part of it, too. I have boundaries, but I also have manners. Sometimes those two things clash, and then I struggle with it internally. And seethe for a while. And ruminate.

I hear you saying, "Just let it go."

Did I mention I'm Type A? A for anal-retentive? A for over-Achiever? A for never-was-allowed-to-settle-for "good enough"?


So hospitality is not my gift. I tried explaining that to Nich yesterday as we were enjoying dinner in the backyard and preparing for our young adult Bible study. You know what he said in response?

"Sounds like the kind of excuse that would make your head explode if you heard someone else say it."

Why is he always right about me?

14 April 2010

Small Gifts

Oh, the little things that bring me happiness.

- Like the fact that I just looked through the pile of mail I've ignored for a week and noticed that an envelope from my bank (which has now been absorbed by Wells Fargo, and I'm not sure how I feel about that) has a little picture advertising the 2010 World Cup on it.
- My dishes are all washed and sparkly clean. 
- I woke up to sunshine this morning, which actually counts as two things. One, I love waking up to warm sunshine on my skin. Two, the days are getting longer, so the sun comes up earlier and stays out longer. Hurrah!
- The sky is so gosh-darn-blue outside.
- Most of my seeds have sprouted. I call them my "plant babies."
- And I have a husband who did all the laundry last night while I was at Bible study.

So although there are circumstances I'm struggling with, this morning, I'm just glad for these small gifts.

05 April 2010

Face Down

One of my favorite worship songs is "Face Down" by Matt Redman. The lyrics go like this:

Welcomed in to the courts of the king, I've been ushered into your presence.
Lord, I stand on your merciful ground, yet with every step, tread with reverence.
There is none in heavens like you, and upon the earth, who's your equal?
You are far above, You're the highest of heights, and I'm bowing down to exalt you.
And I'll fall face down as Your glory shines around.
Yes I'll fall face down as Your glory shines around.
Let Your glory shine around, let you glory shine around.
King of glory here be found, King of glory!

My Tuesday night ladies' Bible study has just started Beth Moore's study on the Psalms of Ascent. One of the challenges she calls us to meet is going face down before God every day. Needless to say, that's challenging for many of us.

Some of us are easily distracted. Some of us fiddle. Some of us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.

And then there's poor Janey, who is WAY past her due date and is just ready for that darn boy to make his appearance into this world! Pray for her. :~)

Nich and I spent Saturday in Lake Placid on Saturday. You can read more about that here. My face down time up until that point had felt forced and a bit awkward. I've felt the discomfort of lying on the rough and scratchy cheap carpet of our bedroom, turning my face from side to side, praying bland prayers. And I'm not even pregnant. Although I'm sure being pregnant probably makes prayer time more focused.

Anyway. I'm glad God listens even when I'm boring.

Saturday was refreshingly different. Nich and I had taken the day to be together, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We strolled around downtown Lake Placid, sipped coffee, window-shopped, laughed at the antics of small children, wished for our own puppy...

Then we spread our blankets in a shaded spot by the lake and ate our picnic lunch. Nich dozed off as I started my face down time for the day with God. As I lay down, God reminded me to quiet my spirit. I listened to Nich's breathing slowly growing softer, the rustle of the steady breeze through the carpet of pine needles and pine cones, the unsteady thwack of an amateur tennis game in the distance, the giggling bravado of children on the beach sticking their toes in the shaved-ice-covered lake.

And I realized: THIS is beauty, and this, this noticing, this awareness, is worship.

One glorious weekend...

Before I tell you about my weekend, I have to share this. I was all morose about my memory card adapter not working (so I can't upload any pictures to share), so I posted on Facebook about it. I hit the "Share" button, and then read what I'd written: "My adapter for my memory isn't working, which makes blogging and Facebook much LESS fun." Laughter is good. Cracking up at myself is even better. 

Like the day last week I pulled back the bedroom curtains and exclaimed, "What the crap?!" at the sight of snow on the ground. 

My Tuesday night ladies' Bible study started Beth Moore's Stepping Up study last week. It focuses on the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134), and so far, I LOVE IT. I enjoyed Esther, but like David, it was much more of a character study and less of a challenge than Beth Moore's personal application studies. Plus, I'm not into the whole woman-power, let's-commiserate, go-girls, let's-bond mentality, and the sub-title under Esther is "It's tough being a woman." Sure, it is. I'm not disagreeing with that. Sometimes, life is like this. Life is a hard trek, for some more than others. My life is smooth sailing compared to those in Haiti right now. Not that the entire study was "woe is me," but that subtitle just turned me off.

I pretty much had forgotten that there was such a thing as spring break until a friend's birthday party last Wednesday night, so I was half-thrilled and half-bummed when I was reminded. 

Thrilled to have some days to relax, balance my checkbook, clean and vacuum around the house, etc. 

Bummed because I wouldn't be working, which in the subbing world equals no income.  Speaking of subbing, I have had no response from the director to whom I wrote that letter. Furthermore, our manager at BBW has had to cut hours for this quarter, which means I only get 4-8 hours a week right now. Considering there's no school in the summer, I'm missing the big sale season at BBW (more hours), and we're going on this trip to Korea (that will be another post), this summer will be tight.

So, the weekend.

 Good Friday

I spent the morning mopping the kitchen floor, working on the trim for Baby Josiah's quilt, and straightening things up around the house. Tanya came over in the early afternoon to hang out in the sun with me. She treated me to Subway for lunch, and we brought back our sandwiches (tuna for me and turkey for her, although hers was more of a pickle sandwich than anything) to my house and ate in the back yard. We sunned, chatted, and worked on our Bible study all afternoon. 

I ended up not having to go to work (again, cut back hours). The plus side was that I was able to go to the Good Friday service at church with Nich and our teens. We hadn't seen some of them in a while due to school plays rehearsals and performances, so it was good to see them again. 


Nich and I had a rare Saturday off together. Usually, his Saturday mornings are taken up by men's group and leadership meetings. I'm convinced that the new guy who heads up men's group at our church must have no personal life. He sends Nich about a thousand (okay, maybe more like fifteen) emails a day. He also made these leadership "committees" for every aspect of men's group and wanted there to be a monthly meeting for each committee. Since Nich serves as a leader on three of those "committees", this means he has to give up an extra hour or more three Saturdays a month. Not that there's that much they need to talk about that they couldn't communicate through email or phone. It's just that this guy goes on ... and on ... and on. Pontification. Thankfully, Nich and I are on the same page about this, and he has let this guy know that these meetings will not be happening for us.

So on this particular Saturday, we slept in an extra hour and went on a breakfast date to The Silo, which is very similar to The Cracker Barrel in style. We ran into some friends there, which is always fun, and strolled around the store after a yummy breakfast. Nich had The Southerner and I ate half of my Greek omelette, boxing the rest. We then hopped in the car and drove north to Lake Placid, where we had spent part of our honeymoon almost two years ago. It was an absolutely gorgeous spring day on Saturday. We enjoyed strolling around the town, sipping coffee, and window shopping. While Nich looked at some hiking poles at EMS and relaxed on an Adirondack chair, I popped into Life is Good and got him this shirt. We both really like the store a lot, but we don't often shop there because it's a tad expensive. Nich also never buys himself anything other than Taco Bell, so it's nice to be able to treat him once in a while. 

We got a sandwich to share, spread a couple blankets by the lake under some trees, and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Nich took a nap while I worked on my Bible study for the day, and we shared a quiet hour basking in the filtered sun. Near the end of the afternoon, we went to Ben and Jerry's and got ice cream, which we savored on a bench while people watching. One of the things I love about places like Lake Placid is that it's so relaxed. No one's in a hurry. And you hear many different languages. 
That night, we found out that the much-awaited Watson baby (for whom I made that pink 'n' cream blanket) made her appearance!  What terrific news to end a wonderful day! Welcome to the world, Claire Victoria! And many congratulations to proud papa and mama!

Easter Sunday

We had decided to go to the eight o'clock service, because generally, our church gets PACKED on Easter Sunday with all the Chreasters. It made me wish that our church offered an eight o'clock service every week! I felt like we had a much longer day to enjoy! We came home, changed out of our church clothes, and I tackled the mess of a flower bed in our front yard while Nich trimmed the magnolia and the hedge. I don't think the yard had been touched in the past couple years other than the grass being mowed, because the flower bed was a tangle of weeds and dead former plants. As I dug out the brown on top, though, I discovered some new life bravely trying to make its way through! I don't know what the flowers are, but from relocating some of them, I know that a few of them are some kind of bulbs! I'm excited to see what comes up in a few weeks! 

We dozed away the afternoon in the back yard then worked on Easter dinner. This is the first Easter we've had just the two of us, which felt kind of funny and okay at the same time. Does that make sense? We had decided to make a seafood dinner instead of the traditional ham, since neither of us really likes ham.  Nich seasoned the ahi tuna we had bought at the newly renovated Price Chopper near us while I prepped the veggies and basting sauce. We had a lovely picnic dinner outside with glasses of wine and the sunset, me with my all-time favorite Prospect Mountain White, and Nich with the delectable homemade wine we received as a housewarming gift from some church friends. 

It was truly a glorious weekend in celebration of the matchless gift God gave us two thousand years ago.

If my memory card adapter worked, I would share pictures with you. But it doesn't.
As a last note, why do I always pour 1/3 c more milk than I actually want to drink? This also happens with coffee.