It Will Still Be There…

Every time I read the title this song starts playing in my head…

… just me? Ok, back to the actual topic of this post.

Things were a little hectic around our house for a week or so when we got back from Colorado. We came in at 12:30am Sunday night/Monday morning, dropped our bags, went to bed and were back out the door to be at school/work by 8am. One day that week I was telling our office manager about the mess at our house.

She responded by saying, “Don’t worry about the mess, it will still be there when you’re ready to clean it up.”

The truth in her statement really struck me. The fact that we worry about the little things that aren’t going away. When she said it, it was clear that she didn’t mean that she thought people should keep a dirty or messy house but that keeping a clean house isn’t the most important thing. She says this same phrase to her daughters who have small children when they complain about their houses being messy with toys.

Granted, you could talk to Andy and find out that I don’t need any support delaying housekeeping…

Sometimes in our lives, there are things we want to get done that are good and even important but get crowded out by essential things. In the most extreme cases, this could mean that education gets neglected because all of one’s time has to be spent procuring food. In my life in modern first world America, this looks like not scrapbooking or blogging or working on computery things for fun because work and school are more important right now. (For example, it took me three months to finish this post.) Our world often makes it seem as if we have to do EVERYTHING Right! Now! However, what is more important is that we trust God to show us which things will still be there when we’re ready to get to them and the things that won’t last. Give us wisdom, Lord.

“Don’t worry about anything, what you will eat or drink or what you will will wear, your heavenly father knows that you need them.” (from Matt 6:31-32)

Finding the Gospel in Unexpected Places

The biggest thing that I will take away from my time in Seminary is my “theology brain”. What I mean by that is I can rarely just sit and listen to something anymore, especially in church but also in my everyday life.  In church, I am constantly trying to understand the theological implications behind what we’re doing. Overall, I think it is a good thing, but I have to be careful to stop myself from having a critical spirit. It is funny, I think the stereotype in culture is that Christians are uneducated thinkers, but personally, my pursuit of authentic Christianity has honed my critical thinking skills more than any public educational experience.

Another situation when this “theology brain” happens to me is listening to the radio. Most of the time I realize that the theology or world view coming through the speakers isn’t a very good one, but every once in a while something will catch my attention. Sometimes, I’ll hear a song that taps into a truth about God or the world even if I know that isn’t the artist’s intention. One such song is “Just Give Me A Reason” by P!nk. (You may be thinking, “Wait… what??”, just go with me for a bit.)

Well, lets take a walk through the lyrics shall we?

“Just Give Me A Reason”
by P!nk
(feat. Nate Ruess)

Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I your willing victim
I let you see the parts of me
That weren’t all that pretty
And with every touch you fixed them
When I read these lyrics I can’t help but think of Eve and the serpent in the Garden. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6) Eve was a willing victim to Satan’s snare thinking that the sin he offered would fix the seemingly lacking parts in her. Not only does this happen to Eve, but it also happens to all of us. This thought touches the very core of who we are as fallen humanity.
Now you’ve been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you’ve had enough
Of our love, our love

Again, just as quickly as Satan draws us in, he leaves us behind. The temptation never tells us that up front of course. Tragically, we all discover that every touch doesn’t fix us, but it leaves us even emptier than when we started. Continue reading

Our Garden Experiment

gardenday10This garden has been over a year in the making. We originally intended to get it started last summer right after we moved here. Well, last summer came and went and all we had done was read a book on gardening and buy some cinder blocks. Work and school got going and the garden dream got filed for another day.

I’ve read some financial blogs where the author has used Dave Ramsey’s plan for getting out of debt and they love it so much that they affectionately refer to him in their writing as ‘Uncle Dave’. In our house it would be Uncle Mel because the only garden books we really read were Square Foot Gardening, editions 1 and 2, by Mel Bartholomew. We’re counting on you Mel!

We chose the square foot gardening method because Mel’s approach fits our lifestyle the best. He recommends doing your garden in a 4′ x 4′ space and making your own soil (1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss). Considering that we live on the side of a mountain and 90% of our land is really steep and/or rocky it seemed to fit what we were looking for.

One of the reasons we didn’t get the garden going last summer is we felt like we didn’t have enough time to get it set up. It was also the reason that we delayed planting this year until Memorial Day, when Andy was finished with school. However, once we actually got out there and did it, it took maybe 2 hours tops and was fairly simple. The hardest part of the whole thing was getting water to the garden because we put it in our only flat land which is about 200 feet away from the house. Our hose is less than 100 feet, so we had to carry buckets of water down. Next year, it should be even easier because all we have to do is put some compost on top of the existing soil and we’re ready to plant. Continue reading

25th Birthday Party: The Surprisee’s Perspective

As you read in the previous post, Andy went all out for my birthday. I could act humble and say that it was way more than I wanted but let’s be serious, it was everything I’ve always wanted. I’m not selfless or holy enough to wish people would just make a big deal of Jesus and not a big deal of me. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but I’m not there yet. I mean I want people to love and know God but I’m still working on the whole crucifying my pride thing.

All of that to say, it was exactly what I wanted and he knew it.

He had built it up for me not to expect much because his last big test day of the semester was the day after my birthday. It would have been fine if that was the way things went, but what actually happened was so much better. Not only did he give me a surprise party, he just went all out for several days. It was a surprisingly humbling experience. I realized that I hardly give him enough credit for how well he knows me. After just the first present on the morning of my birthday, the first thing I said to him was, “You really do get me!” Beyond being a humbling experience it was just incredible overall to have someone understand me so well and use that knowledge to make my life awesome.

On my actual birthday (the day before his test, so I wasn’t expecting anything) I had a present waiting for me when I woke up and I thought that was going to be all. Then, I got home from work to find him making dinner for me. A dinner that he thought I’d love… aka macaroni and cheese with bacon in it, honey pepper chicken and apple sauce. I did love it. At that point, I thought that was the surprise.

The morning of my actual birthday… when I was clueless and already impressed by his creativity. I had no clue how true that tweet was going to be. Also, that is a map of VA with hearts on both of our hometowns and on the place where we met.

We had decided that we would celebrate my birthday the day of his test, and when he picked me up from work, he said that we had dinner reservations at 6:30 but I could open my presents before dinner. I thought that sounded great, but when we got home, well, you know what happened. And it was awesome. For the first 20 minutes or so, I didn’t really know what to do because I was so surprised.

Two of our friends videoed the main event, so you can watch that below.

Andy said he didn’t get a picture of the cake but luckily I had enough sense to snap a quick photo of the masterpiece.

20140603-202811-73691500.jpgHow awesome does that cake look?!? And it tasted even better. 

Things didn’t stop with the surprise party. It was the main event, but I also got two more presents that night, homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast a few days later, and lastly the blog post that you saw a few days ago. After all of that, I think he’d be justified in skipping the next few birthdays. He keeps telling me that he doesn’t want much for his birthday but that hardly seems right after all he did for me.

I love you and my birthday was everything I’d always wanted. Thanks for loving me so well.

Sarah’s Surprise Birthday Party: A Behind the Scenes Look!

Sarah has always dreamed of having a surprise birthday party.  So, for her 25th birthday, I gave her one.  It was Tuesday, May 20, after I finished my last exam of the semester.  I thought to myself, a very clever thought, “Since Sarah also likes the blog, I will make a surprise blog post about it!”  Here it is!  The birthday presents just keep on coming…

A Surprise Party: A Story Told Mostly in Pictures

photo 1Here I am, with the cake ingredients arrayed on the counter-top, preparing to prepare for the preparations.  I made a red velvet cake, courtesy of one of my favorite food blog people, the Pioneer Woman.  Cake found here.

photo 2Our home pre-tidying.  I know; it is a disaster zone.  Actually, it wasn’t bad at all.  I just cleared off some surfaces.  By piling everything on the bed.

photo 3Mixing the cake ingredients together.  A vital step in the process.  They don’t turn out as well if you skip this step.

photo 4The batter.  I tried to get the food coloring levels right.  At first, it was pink velvet.  I added blue to darken it; all of a sudden, we had purple velvet.  I added more red, resulting in maroon velvet.  A good enough color!

photo 5The cake baking.  Again, an essential step.  If you skip this one, it is too runny to cut neatly.

photo 6The first layer crumbled a little as I dumped it out of the pan.  You might think this is a problem.  Actually, this made sampling a lot easier (and less noticeable)!

photo 7The mid-cooking clean-up.  While the first layer cools.

photo 8After you drop the top layer on it, you can’t even tell the bottom was all crumbly.

photo 9Mixing up the frosting.  The cake was good.  The frosting was phenomenal.  That recipe was also courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, found on the same page as the cake recipe.

photo 10Birthday decor, compliments of cousin Elena.

photo 11More decor.  An artful display of cards on the piano with an arrangement of flowers in the foreground.  The flowers were a gift from Sarah’s parents.

photo 12Here is a subset of the assembled group.  Naturally, we are playing Bang!.  If you were hoping to see the cake, I am sorry.  There is no photographic evidence.

We had a great time.  Sarah was thoroughly surprised.  Planning a surprise party was harder than I thought.  I was constantly on edge while trying to keep it a secret for a month.  Definitely more stressful than the exams happening at the same time.  But worth it!