Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coming back and taking a bite out of life!

I think I need another few days in my week to be content. Recently I have been feeling like I am being stretched so thin. Working part-time, being in school, being a wife and a friend means I am in a head spin most of the time. I feel like I am doing nothing well and my relationships suffer the most. How to scale back?
How can I live well with the time I have? What has to give?

My spiritual life is also suffering, I am feeling sluggish and stuck in a rut. My passion is fading, and I feel like I am going through the motions. I can pray for other people but my own journey feels stagnant. I am not blind to the way these two problems are connected.

When I feel disconnected from the Lord, I quickly turn to other things to keep busy and make me feel good. They (of course) fail to do so and I am left busier than ever to regain balance. I know that I should be face down, drawing close to the Lord, seeking forgiveness and letting Him tell me who I am. It just seems like that would take time, and I am feeling so rushed by life that I neglect meeting with God to make time for other 'more pressing' cleaning the bathroom, or making banana bread.

The sad part is that when Jesus and I are on the same page, life is always better, and the cleaning and baking and relationships in my life come alive! They mean so much more, and they teach me more about myself, because I recognise God's presence with me in all the moments and details of my day to day life.

I hear you - Get off the computer and open your bible, silly goose (you can substitute your own pet name there if you don't like the one I used!) So I will. I need you Lord, and I know my life is better when I am clinging to you. I want to hear your voice, and step out in faith to the things you call me to. Please give me strength, wisdom and discernment in my weakness. I need you and I am so thankful for the way the world tastes better when you're the center. I am about to take a BIG bite!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making a difference

Last night on our local news I heard a story that just melted my heart. Those of you who know me know that two of my biggest life loves are children and Africa and this story brought the two together in a magical way.

It featured a little boy who is raising money to send kids to school in Sierra Leone, Africa. His mother had been in the Peace corps in Sierra Leone and in recent years had taken him with her on trips to the nation she had fallen in love with. She had started a charity to build schools in this devastated nation and inspired by that, her son Michael had his idea for this project.

Michael's goal is to raise $10,000 which would send 40 kids to school starting this September. He wrote letter to everyone he knows asking them to send $1 (wrapped in a piece of paper inside the envelope.) He then asks that those people send letters to 10 people they know, hoping to get to 10,000 to reach his target.

I am not sure exactly what about this story moved my heart but I just couldn't let it pass without sending my $1 and writing my letters (in the form of posting on here, on Facebook and sending emails)

It is so important that children in Africa receive an education, they are the people who can transform their nation. They will determine the future of their continent. What a gift they receive through this act.

The other piece I love, is the passion and heart of this little boy. It just goes to show the capacity for love kids have. I want to empower kids who are making a difference in this world so they dream bigger.

If you want to be a part of making this little boy's dream come true, and by extension changing the lives of 40 kids in Sierra Leone please send your $1 to the address below. I also included the link to the web page.

Kids Helping Kids
Schools for Salone
PO Box 25314
Seattle WA 98165-2214

Here is the link to their website

What a great world we live in! When we have kids, I hope we raise them to be world changers and to believe they CAN make a difference in the world.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The kindness of strangers - and a little wine

Jeremy and I took a long weekend visit to Napa, to spend time with his good friend Adam, his wife Lisa and their two adorable kids. It would have been rude not to taste some wine while in the valley, and the California beach was calling us for some attention too. It was a great time. Traffic out-smarted us on the way to the airport and we missed our scheduled flight home, and thanks to the many soccer teams heading home from a tournament in California this weekend we couldn't get a flight out until this morning. What a chore, we 'had' to spend a night in a hotel and spend some quality time together watching a movie and eating in-n-out burger!!

Seriously, even though God didn't answer our prayers to get on the flight yesterday, he still gave us the hook up in terms of the people he connected us with to get us home and make our final hours in Oakland so lovely. We were so taken care of by the Alaska Airlines customer service people I even sent an email saying so to the customer service folks. What a reminder of how much it can mean when we go out of our way to serve someone else, even strangers. Seriously, the Alaska counter rep was leaving for the day and saw us leaving (we were heading to rent a car to DRIVE thorough the night to get home for a work commitment in time!) she came outside after us and asked if we were OK. When we said what we were thinking she persuaded us to come back inside and she managed to get us booked on a flight for this morning. Not in her job description at all, but how wonderful to be on the receiving end of someone elses kindness.

And then when the shuttle driver was taking us to the hotel, he asked if we had eaten dinner and when we said no, he took us to a nearby restaurant to get some dinner so we didn't have to pay for room service! I am going to keep this memory with me in the hopes I can make others feel as cared for as she made us feel.

One of the really fun things for me to experience this weekend (apart from the wine) was watching Jeremy play with our friend's little boys. They are aged 2 and 3 and are so much fun! It makes me even more excited to start our own family when I see what a wonderful father he is going to be.

Here are a few shots of our time

Monday, July 19, 2010

There's no place like home, there's no place like home

Jeremy has stopped leading worship at church at least for the summer. There was a lot behind his decision, but ultimately I am very grateful for his willingness to sacrifice for the health of our marriage and I believe God will bless him and us in this. One wonderful benefit to him not having that commitment on Sundays is that we have the freedom to make plans for our weekends without having to be back at a certain time.

I love, love, love being away with Jeremy. We have so much fun when we are not distracted by the 'to do' list that we call our house! We've had such sweet times together, laughed more than ever and simply relished the gift of marriage we have been blessed with. We have been gone the last 3 weekends for at least one night. Sometimes alone and sometimes with friends but it has been so refreshing and made our weekends seems much longer.

As much as I have loved being gone, I also love coming back. All of a sudden I get giddy excited to be coming home again. I don't recognise how much I love my house until I am gone, and I certainly do not appreciate our WONDERFUL bed until I have spent a night or two on a blow up mattress!

As we pull into our driveway a wonderful peace and contentment flood over me and I truly know I am home. It took a while to feel that way about this house, but now I love it.

This past weekend we were in Enumclaw for a weekend party thrown by some friends. We stayed over Friday night and almost ended up staying Saturday night too because I accidentally locked the car keys in our trunk! Luckily, I realised right away and we called our insurance road side assistance, who sent someone out - from Seattle - to rescue them. That took a couple of hours, so poor us we had to stay a little longer...we did some more lounging in the sunshine, played another round of beer golf, floated in a raft on the creek, drank another margarita (or 2), and laughed with our fabulous friends. Not really a chore!

But after all the fun and games it was good to be back in our bed to fall asleep.

In other news, pretty sure this weekends festivities didn't really help the whole getting fit gig, but today is a new day - or at least tomorrow will be it's bedtime as I right this!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The battle

This post is two-fold, I will begin as is tradition, with number 1.

I am now in my third week of school and I have been sitting at my computer A LOT. I have really enjoyed the reading assignments but still have moments of feeling completely out of my depth and doubting my ability to continue. I just feel like my brain hasn't caught up to speed yet and understanding the material is way more work and effort than it 'should' be. I never had problems in high school, it all came pretty naturally and this is definitely challenging my self confidence.

I feel like I am on a roller-coaster. Opening the assignment I have hope and anticipation. As I read the material the wheels in my head creaking as I struggle to wrap my head around the concepts, and then fear and doubt creep in as I realise I have to analyze it and then post my thoughts online for all to read. My meltdown peaks with some frustrated tears. It is usually followed buy a pep talk from Jeremy maybe a little tutoring and I am back on the road again, heading toward handing in a paper I feel proud of. I am so thankful for a husband who continues to be my biggest cheer leader in this endeavor.

I guess we'll see what happens as I continue to run the gauntlet of education and navigate class schedules and due dates. I need to re-learn how to study, how to read and take notes as well as how to formulate my thoughts into something close to what my professors are asking for. It’s all good fun. I am pretty sure my brain has not gone to sleep this tired for a very long time!

I get my second round of grades tomorrow so I think that will give me a better gauge of what's expected; what I am doing ok at and which areas I need to work on a bit more. I have my first big paper due next week so I am trying to make some headway now so I am not stressing about it when I am trying to pack for Napa - did I mention we are going to Napa? I am so excited for some California sunshine and the company of good friends. I digress...

In summary, school is an adjustment and something that seems to challenges my self confidence and identity on a daily basis. It will take some intention on my part to keep my head above the waves of doubt, but paper by paper, and assignment by assignment I believe I can do it. Getting an education is just one part of my 'being a better me' program. It is multifaceted, I am not even sure I know all of them yet, but education plays a big part.

Onto my second point: another facet in my life program - getting fit and healthy. Jeremy and I want to start a family soon and I want to be in tip-top condition before we begin. Since I hit 30 my body started working a little differently. I have had to watch what I ate more, or more accurately, I watched what I ate sticking around on my body in different ways than before! Clothes have started to fit a little tighter and you would never know how much I dislike cottage cheese from the layer covering my legs. Since we got married and moved, I am walking less which is really not helping either. So I need to move more and eat less - or less sugar at least!

I am committing publicly (like a few special ladies who have gone before me) to getting fit. My weight fluctuates day to day by up to 5lbs - seriously, so I am not so set on just losing numbers on a scale, although that IS part of it, I really want to lose some inches! I am making some string measures which I can compare after a few weeks. So goodbye 154lbs, farewell un-welcome bum and thigh inches see you when you are in a bikini - even if it's in December!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's purpose

I am reading through the book of Jeremiah in my quiet times, and have been reminded again of my larger purpose.

I was known before I was created and I was set apart(Jer. 1:5). We are all set apart and we all have an anointing for something in this life. While I am still working with God to figure out some of the pieces to my big picture, there are some pieces I can be working on in the meantime!

I know that I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I have not mastered any of these yet, but how transforming the journey of living and loving has been so far. I know I am called to care for the poor, the widows and the orphans.
Again, more incredible things to learn, laugh and cry about as I step out in these identities.

Last night Jeremy and I finished our grocery shopping and were walking the shopping trolley to the car. A homeless man approached us and asked if we could spare any money to give him so he could buy food. This is not an uncommon event in Seattle, we have a large homeless population. Jeremy and I have decided that we are not going to just give money out to the homeless but if we felt led, we would buy them food and preferably it would be a time we could sit and visit with them too. There are all kinds of thoughts that went with our decision, and its one you have to decide for yourselves, to give or not to give, that is the question - along with a few more thoughts...What if they want to use the money for alcohol? Do I have the right to chose how they spend their money? After all, it isn't even my money to give in the first place. It's been entrusted to me but ultimately all I have is the Lord's and I am simply here to be a good steward of it. Wow, that's a lot.

I believe the decision Jeremy and I made is the right one for us, for now. At the same time I believe sometimes God has a bigger plan that he invites us to participate in. As we left the store, and were asked if we had money to spare, somewhere deep inside me my heart just leaped. I was overwhelmed by the truth that we do have money to spare and in that moment I was in awe of the graciousness, generosity and blessing of God in my life. I knew that the Holy Spirit was doing a work in me and I knew it started with me giving this man some money.

I didn't stop right then because I wanted to Jeremy to weigh in. I knew we had made that decision together and I wanted to respect that, but at the same time I wanted to follow what I felt was God's leading to give. I told Jeremy what I was feeling and we talked briefly about it he agreed I should give something.

I returned to the man, who's name I found out was Mike and I chatted briefly before handing over some cash and wishing him a good night.

I don't know exactly what the Lord was doing but as I walked away from Mike, tears came to my eyes and I knew that God's heart was broken for him. I felt a vision sweep over me of God's hope and redemptive power. I felt God's desire for this man's life and it took my breath away. I have prayed for Mike a few times since our interaction and am hoping soon that he accepts God's invitation to be a part of a bigger story.

I see how in our brief conversation Jeremy and I were dealing with issues of trust and faith and finance and I am eager to have the Lord's refining in all these areas of our marriage but I think we will have to wait to know if anything more was happening. I believe that we are called to an intimate relationship with God and this starts with stepping out in obedience. So that is where we leave this story, trusting that this small interaction will move us a little closer to God. Perhaps that was the point? One thing we do know is that it's just a tiny, tiny piece in the story of our lives.

Step into the calling and purposes you know today and trust they will lead you to the bigger picture. God's plans for us are good and he is faithful. It's a wild ride!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot, hot, hot!

Guess the kitchen got hot yesterday, when I pulled out the butter this is what I saw...yuck!

I love the sunshine, but I think I overdid it a little yesterday. No, I'm not burnt - I applied a heavy sunscreen but I was out in the heat with out enough fluids. This wasn't a daredevil plan, and I didn't realize it until later in the evening/night when my head began to ache and this enormous flood of fatigue rolled in. Oops. Note to self. Less is more when it comes to crazy temps outside!

It's supposed to hit mid 90's today! Hello Summer indeed.

This was the sight from my front step (ignore the trash and recycling, that's not so pretty) I love the colours in the geraniums and roses, the thriving tomato and strawberry plants and the sun shining. It looks like a good day. Just wish I was feeling like going outside :( Maybe after a nap, if this headache shifts I will find some shade?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer has arrived?

The beautiful sunny weather has finally arrived in our city and although I am biased, I still think Seattle is the most beautiful place to be when the sun shines. We wanted to make the most of it, so last night we joined the Wilderness ministry group from our church and took to the waters of lake Washington in a canoe. It was perfect and fun to be out there together. My arms were sore after all the rowing, and the bugs feasted on my arms but it was all worth it.

Here are a few pics just to make you jealous.

Can you see Mount Rainier peeking over the trees (the white in the center), she was out in all her glory yesterday!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Raspberries anyone?

Yesterday we headed to Jeremy's parents to help them out by picking some raspberries from their garden! I confess, I did little picking, and was more offering moral support and snapping some pictures but it was a fun afternoon. Look at our what we took home - Might need to find a few good recipes to use all this delicious raspberry goodness!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th 2010

Happy Independence day to all my American family and friends!

I used to be conflicted about celebrating this holiday because of what it represents and because the colour of my passport would denote that this is a holiday 'not for me'. However, as I have begun to embrace this land as home, I feel that it is more than OK to celebrate it's birthday - although, I will still abstain from wearing anything with an eagle on it for the foreseeable future.

This day has also got me thinking about the words liberty and freedom. Not just for a country but more so when we apply them to our lives as believers. What does it mean in my life, day to day that I am free in Christ?

I will spend eternity with my LORD, but what am I doing in the meantime with all the liberty and freedom I have because of that? Sometimes, I know I let fear get the better of me. Instead of feeling free, I feel confined by my own limitations and apprehension. Or I become stagnant and lazy, choosing not to embrace and engage but simply to watch.

I live in a country which celebrates it's liberty and freedom and I am choosing to celebrate that for my life too. I am free, and I have been given freedom to live an abundant life (John 10:!0). Sometimes I forget that and I am satisfied with less.

I have the freedom to live life in the most extravagant and amazing ways, I simply have to step out in faith, and follow my heavenly Father's leading. He has good things planned for my life, he has hard lesson for me to learn, but he loves me fully and gives me every good gift (James 1:17) I just have to step out in liberty and freedom, and step into the abundant, transforming life that is before me.

Today I celebrate America's birthday, and I celebrate my freedom in Christ. Fireworks and friends are a perfect way to celebrate both!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dinner Tonight...

I woke up with a horrible sore throat today and it's been making me feel pretty pathetic most of the day. My well planned 'to do' list was laughing at me from the coffee table where it sat, with not much getting crossed off!

I have enjoyed planning our menu for the week, and it is helping me shop more efficiently. I hope that we will be saving money and eating better in the process too.

When I planned for this week, it was another gloomy Seattle summer day and this recipe came to mind. I took the chance that there would be a 'cooler' day for us to enjoy it; and as luck would have it the combination of the rain and my sore throat makes today the perfect opportunity.

So tonight, we'll feast on Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew and rice.

I don't have the obscure spice it calls for so I used about 1tsp of cumin, and 1/2tsp of Turmeric. It was just a simple and delicious recipe. Pretty easy to prepare and great for leftovers too.


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