Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Monday

I have no profound military or nationalistic Memorial Day moments. I mostly have the typical holiday experiences of a day off. I have also come to celebrate this weekend as my Anniversary Weekend!

Seven years ago this weekend (on the 26th to be exact) my man and I met with our immediate family members to say our vows under a huge Hedge tree. Ours is a funny story, at least to me.

Just over eight years ago, I moved to Wichita in order to be closer to my family. I had left a time and place that needed leaving and I was looking for a fresh start. God had already started the process by leading my sister and her family to a church that they loved. This congregation that I met included a certain drummer who played in the worship band. I saw him again when I first went to the single's ministry a Friday night in February. We actually met at a birthday party of a man that I did not yet know, but was part of the group. He asked me to dance and I was a bit smitten.

He asked me for a date in April, and I accepted. On our first date, which he dressed very nicely and I was a bit casual, we went to a nice steak restaurant. At the end of the evening I shared with him the time and place that I had left before coming to Wichita. It was one of the hardest conversations I had ever had. After a week had passed, we met again and he shared with me that he felt God was telling him "no" regarding pursuing me. He tried to assure me that it was not because of my past, but I didn't really believe him. Part of me was relieved. I didn't want a "knight in shining armor" to try and save me. I was already saved!

That summer, we tried as much as possible to not have any feelings except friendship for each other. I was still healing and growing, so I was a bit oblivious, but my man was praying for me and seeking advice about me. I wasn't oblivious to some of the niceties that he showed me and I have to admit, he confused me a couple of times! It was during this time that I found wholeness in my Lord. It was one of the most rich spiritual times of my life. I have never felt so close to Jesus as I did then. It was an amazing summer!

By the end of August, I was noticing a bit less subtlety on Pat's part and I was a bit uneasy about it. I had decided that I was going to remain single and love it! Isn't God funny when we decide our plans?! My mom visited one weekend and stayed with me, so I took her to the singles group that night. After the Bible study, we went to an ice cream shop in an upscale shopping center that had a pond with a sidewalk path around it. Pat found my mom immediately after we exited the shop and the two of them began to walk down the path with me trailing behind. It seemed they had a nice time. I was a bit peeved, but couldn't help chuckling about it. He was smart. Get in with the family first. I was still a bit unconvinced.

Somewhere in there, I had my brothers meet him. I value their opinions greatly, and I didn't want any feelings I surely didn't have to skew reality. It didn't hurt that my sister was good friends with his sister. That can reveal even more! Pat, undeterred, continued his pursuit in the most stealth manner. He is a hunter after all.

On the first Tuesday in September, I came out to my car to find a piece of paper on my car. I opened it and it had a single happy face drawn on it. I knew immediately. Pat had forgotten that when he first met me, back in February, he had given me his business card and drawn a happy face on the back. I still had it (still do). It came to pass, that on subsequent Tuesdays, I received a more and more complicated happy face messages. Finally, after a few weeks, I came to my car and, excited to find the note, found nothing. I was extremely disappointed. I figured it must have blown off or something. I went home and found affixed to my door, a lime green poster-sized paper with a huge happy face drawn on it! I laughed and laughed! I also realized that I must like this guy!

Thus began our courtship that basically taught me to trust Pat to lead our relationship. He did amazingly well. He asked to marry me in April and I convinced him to "just get married" by the end of May. We had planned a July wedding, so we kept that as a reception and ceremony for other family and friends. By the way, don't do that. I highly recommend a tiny wedding with no frills like we did, but skip the extra.

The day we were married was truly the most wonderful day. I had absolutely no stress and the most important people to me were there. The ceremony was simple and incredibly meaningful. It was intimate and exactly how I felt our marriage should start. It was all about the marriage and not about the wedding. It was perfect.

Our marriage has not been perfect, but I have to say that it has been amazing. I have not had a better seven years in all of my life. I cannot wait to see what else God has for us. I have been thinking for the last several weeks of all the ways my husband has helped me grow. I can't start listing it now, as it would go on for way too long! I'm sure that it will come out as I share. Most of the learning moments I have, had originated somewhere with him. I am so blessed. I love that we have a positive snowball effect and I want to keep it going. I find it fascinating that the Hedge tree is one of the strongest trees with incredibly hard wood. It may not look as pretty on the outside, but the heart is strong.

This weekend is the time I remember how much God loves me and gave me my husband and me to him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Muscle-making

I'm not much on exercise just for exercise. I think it is ridiculous to pay to "work out." Yes, I've done it, and I can't say I won't do it again. I will think it is ridiculous when I do it again. I see the big thing on blogs is to do a certain video, but let me just say... if you take up certain hobbies, you will not likely need to purchase such things! Today was a gorgeous day of 60 degree temps and full on sun that spurred my husband and I, both off work today, to work outside in the yard. We have built a new garage (well, not us exactly) and now we are building a staircase to enter the second floor loft (my husband, exactly). It is an outdoor entry and he is doing a fabulous job so far.
While I was awaiting opportunities to help him, I saw a need that I could attend to. We have a very sloped back yard and one area that we frequently walk needed stairs dug in, with the extra soil going to another area that needed filling. Fortunately, this particular area has the most wonderfully loose, somewhat gravelly soil that was rather easy for me to dig. The most difficult areas were those in which the weeds had taken a firm hold. I worked hard and to my astonishment, dug in quite a nice set of 4 stairs in the bank. We are still working on the grating that will be the actual run of the step. This project will also allow me to move some perennials from an area that is no longer sunny due to the garage to a lovely sunny bed created by the steps. When the ground warms up a bit more, I will begin the move. I want to make sure I don't hit frost - yes, there is still frost in there.
Gardening will do a lot for those arms! Especially wheelbarrow's full of dirt to move. I don't think my back will like me much tomorrow. I guess I didn't lift with my legs. I feel like I got a great amount of exercise, got to be outside (not in a stinky gym or watching a television), AND got a great project done! If you need cardio, which I absolutely hate, just push that wheelbarrow around faster and up the hill instead of down!

I feel like I'm having to stretch some spiritual muscles as well lately. In our small group book, I just finished reading about pain. Yesterday, I wrote all this out, only to discover that I'd lost a connection somewhere and the following was all gone (kept the above portions which is why they are a day off!). Probably not a bad thing, as I was rambling a lot! What I will rewrite is how much pain can hone us and our ability to love. It deepens our responses to others, making real the empathy we want to convey. I don't think anyone truly searches for pain in order to relate to others more deeply, but it is a great silver lining. I am trying to focus on that silver instead of the gray of the cloud that seems to be following me.
I am also trying to find the gratitude in my pain. I want to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18, my memory verse), and I find this difficult when directly dealing with pain. I find it simple when I deny the pain and pretend it isn't there. If I continue to deny it, I won't be able to work through it and allow God to heal the hurts and bring me closer to Him.
Talk about a workout. I am thankful that He allows rests. I am thankful that He provides people to walk with us through trials. I am thankful that "In my anguish, I called to the Lord, and He answered me by setting me free!" Psalm 118:5 (another of my memory verses!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Precipice of Old

I'm wondering if I'm there. I think I'll have an answer by the time I go to bed tonight, or for sure by the time I wake. My manly man offered us to help with our high school youth group this weekend by driving them to Anchorage to see a Christian Rock concert. This will be an overnighter. I'm wondering many things.
Will I go crazy in the car when I'm used to this drive being a quiet reflective 3 hours? Or will I join in the silliness that is likely to ensue once we reach the mountains?! Our car stereo is broken and only plays the radio, but it cuts out in the mountains, so if we do sing-a-longs, it will have to be from memory: will I remember the songs? Will what I wear be indicative of my age at this concert? Will I keep thinking it is way too loud?! Will I jump up and down with the beat and scream and yell at the end of the songs? Then after the concert when we go to a church to bed down, will I crash or will I want to stay up all night and whisper and giggle? Do girls still do this? Or are they "too mature" for such things? Am I? What will our shopping time on Saturday say about my lifestyle? Will I have to look at clothes in a different department? I know my sizes are barely there in the jr.'s! That's not a ego lifter. Moving on quickly...! Will I look back on this weekend as "sick" or "cool" or exhausting?!
Hmmmm. So many questions. Primarily, will God be glorified through me to any of these girls? Will Pat and I reflect a Godly couple to them. I pray we do, and I pray we make it through with all our senses!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Maintenance

OK. This really happened yesterday, but it's close enough.

Yes, that is me down on the dolly. I told my husband that I would like to learn how to change the oil in our car. He's been working pretty solid the last few weeks, so I haven't had to give in to that request. I say these things, and I'm not altogether sure that I mean them. He finally finished this hitch of work this weekend, and we stopped by NAPA on the way home from church! Oh joy. I must admit, that as unsure as I was about this project, God had really blessed me this particular Sunday and I felt more confident and adventurous as ever! Today was the day. We made it home and promptly took a 45 minute nap that somehow lasted 2 hours. I normally do not function well after a nap that long. Again, God was blessing me yesterday and after a few groggy minutes of walking the dogs, I was awake and ready to tackle the oil change.

My fabulous husband got me set up with the car up on jacks and showed me where to unplug the oil pan. I took the socket wrench and rolled up under and proceeded to turn the plug. Nothing really happened. It turned, mind you, but never loosened. I alerted my love of the situation and he took a turn on the wrench as well. Same result. We then discovered that there was a nut in a bolt type thing that was the plug. The plug was eventually removed and the draining commenced. It commenced for a long time and looked a bit odd. After a large amount of fluid and time passed, it finally stopped and my stud-man took a look at it. He also noticed the odd coloring. Once he examined the fluid closer, he realized that it was indeed transmission fluid. We had successfully drained all the transmission fluid from the car. Oh dear. Perhaps that 2 hour nap did more damage than we thought.

When I realized that my honey thought it was a bit funny, I relaxed and we enjoyed the laugh! We refilled the transmission fluid through his ingenious funnel Macguyvering and proceeded to find the correct plug for the oil and, yes, I changed the oil in the car! It was not difficult, though I appreciated the loosening of the plugs and filter beforehand. What should have been a 45 minute to an hour job took several hours and we got very dirty. I was glad I put on a pair of my husbands Carharts. I felt pretty proud of myself by the end of it all. It was a fine end to a fabulous day.

I am so thankful for a husband who is willing to show me how to do things, and then have the humility to laugh when he's made a mistake! I enjoyed the opportunity to share with him more of the life lessons he has taught me and how his examples have helped me to mature and grow in the Lord. I am so blessed. I am a huge receiver of God's grace. I certainly don't deserve any bit of it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sea Glass Sign

I remind you that last week I found my first piece of sea glass. I don't often walk the beach, as it is usually cool, windy, and difficult to walk on! I have yet to be enamored by agates, though I do enjoy finding funky rocks that imagine I'll do something with later. I have yet to do anything with my growing collection of funky rocks. Regardless, it is something to keep my eyes occupied while the dogs run and exercise. I'd never even thought to look for sea glass. In my wildest dreams I'd hoped to find an old Japanese glass net globe, but figured I'd buy one for $7 down in Homer someday. I was thrilled at seeing that little piece of green glittering at me from the common pebbles that surrounded it. I almost didn't believe it was real. I mean, I knew it was glass, but I figured it must just be a broken bottle piece since I wasn't near the usual tide line, but up higher where it was firmer footing. When I picked it up, I discovered it had been tumbled, smoothed with no sharp edges.

It dawns on me that I think I might be tumbling. I'm confronting an issue that I had hoped to avoid at most costs. Living away from it, I had succeeded thus far. It is not to continue that way. It was really inevitable. I hope to emerge with soft edges, but the tumbling is not pleasant. Back to the sign...

I had not shared much about the start of the Women's Group. This was in part because I felt a little disappointed. In myself. Without a study, I had not really prepared anything else, and for two weeks relied on God's leading. That sounds good, but what it really was, was lazy. On Wednesday, after I checked the mail and found nothing, I began to take another look at materials that the church already had in stock. I picked up a book and I was shocked!

On the front cover was a picture of a jar of sea glass! I made some kind of exclamation and asked my husband if it was a sign. He said "no." I wasn't too sure. Thursday, I went to church, retrieved the supply of books and studies and waited. After I shared my sign possibility to the rest of the gals at group, two more shared sea glass experiences they've had within the last two weeks! I think it was a sign! They all agreed! We've begun to read the book and workbook, You Matter More Than You Think by Dr. Leslie Parrot. It's subtitle is "what a woman needs to know about the difference she makes." I think it will be just what God wanted us to do right now. I give up! I also feel so encouraged. I'm excited to start a summer study and to have direction. The gals are great and I am so blessed to be included in their lives. I can't wait to know them more! Thank all of you for praying.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I've Enlisted!

I have volunteered. I am now in a prayer army. I'll start at the beginning:

At the beginning of the year, my husband and I decided that we needed to curb excess spending and really tighten our purse strings. We had saved a bunch, borrowed some, and built a garage on our property. We now needed to restock our savings. The plan was implemented, and I created a new budget on Excel. By the way, I love Excel and I love budgeting. Yes, I'm strange, but I love seeing savings build and plugging those numbers into their respective categories to see how we are doing financially. We do very well in having no other debt than our mortgage and now garage that we'll eventually roll into the mortgage. I love the savings building so much that I even voluntarily agreed to postpone the kitchen remodel that we've been talking about since we bought the house (only a year and a half ago). Yipee! Let the savings begin!
Somewhere about a couple months ago, my handsome man and I individually began to be convicted that we needed to give more. We began to discuss it, and found that God had already laid that out with the other! How awesome is that? I love it when He does that, especially with finances.
Shortly thereafter, we became aware of some friends who had financial needs due to a loss of provisions from another source. It was a no-brainer. I feel honored to be a part of their adventure!
Just the other day, literally, I received my invitation to enlist as a prayer warrior for these friends, specifically on the health battlefield. Satan has been able to see that they are solid threats to him and has been on the attack. Not only are the adults' health affected, the 2 young one's are as well. These are the more emotionally distressing battles. If you feel led, please join me, at least on this National Day of Prayer, to lift up my friends, J & M, living overseas, as they strive to serve the Lord where He calls them. In an effort to keep them safe, that is all the information I can give. If you would like more information, leave me your email and I will fill you in (if I don't have your email!).

I hope we all have a specific focus for our prayer. I've been able to "see" so many answered prayers, and even those that don't turn out the way we thought, but better! How incredible that we can directly speak to our God!

O LORD, You have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from them, O lord. Awake, and rise to their defense! Contend for them, my God and my Lord. Vindicate them in Your righteousness, O lord my God; do not let them gloat over them. Ps. 35:22-24 (their/them, my emphasis) from Praying God's Word.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Misty Melting Monday

Today has been a total reversal of the last two fabulously sunny days. It seems that it coincides with my study of Esther and the reversal of destiny that is so prevalent and the topic of Chiastic Structure that was introduced in the study but also brought up by a local Bible teacher! I won't do justice to the definition given in the study, so if you really want to understand the literary term, I highly recommend doing Beth Moore's study of Esther!! There's a roundabout plug. To give an example of it: "Eat to live, don't live to eat." See the reversal? Anyway, the mists have been flowing in all day. Right now I can barely see across our pond. It comes and goes, but having it instead of snow is a positive. The weather is continuing to melt our snow and the bank in front of the house is slowly receeding!

As the snow is slipping away, I am finding my energy return. I went to a friend's son's soccer game the other day. He is four and there is something so sweet about watching 4-5 year old's try to play soccer! They do pretty well, considering, but there was a moment that was extradordinary! Towards the end of the game, one boy had a wide open shot. He wound up and gave it his all; only to find the ball alluding his toes, but finding the heel. He proceeded to trip up and the ball literally cushioned his fall the entire way down. It was perfect. The ball travelled along his body as he fell down, yet never hit the floor hard. All of us in the "crowd" stifled our giggles, and exclamations as his little teammate made his way to help his friend. Then it happened. The 2nd boy had an open shot as well, but his sights were only on his friend. He, the 2nd boy, disregarded all of us in the stands yelling for him to kick the ball, in order to bend down and help his fallen friend. Once he realized the game was going on and his friend was ok, the rest of the kids had made their way to the scene and the shot was no longer open. To my dismay and humbling realization, most of us watching began to bemoan the lost goal opportunity. It hit me immediately that we should have erupted into cheers for that boy's actions, for they showed the best life lesson. I loved how the focus was totally for his friend and the game was completely secondary. Only after the shouts penetrated his conciousness did he mentally return to the game.
I was so convicted. I wondered how often I was "in" the game and didn't stop to help a fallen friend. I knew I had gone right past. I have a tendency to become very task-oriented and narrowly focused. Leave it to a 4-year-old's soccer game to impact me. I truly hope my heart will be melted as the snowbank in my yard and that I will be able to see the friends who need a hand and not bemoan a lost opportunity to further my goals or finish my tasks.

Friday, May 1, 2009

LPM Verse 9!

I wrote about this verse already and it seemed to be a clear indication that it needed to be in my memory bank. I truly hate that I will not likely live as near to my physical sister as I have in the past (at least until our nursing home days!), but I need to open myself to the spiritual sisters that I do live near! I have had a taste of the sisterhood in the blogosphere, and I love it, but as I agree with a friend who said last night that physical connection is different! It's hard to hug, lay hands on, or catch all the expressions of people across the wires. I'm excited to deepen my family bonds!

Proverbs 27:10 (NASB) "Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend, and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.