Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mending hearts

A friend of mine asked me the other day if the process of blogging/journaling (of letting so many others read my private thoughts) was helpful in the healing process.
My answer was a resounding yes.
I know that I am surrounded by many, many people who love me and would lend an ear or a shoulder whenever necessary.  But, I don't always explain myself well verbally.  Writing down my thoughts?  I feel a deep sense of relief when I click that orange Publish button.  I've said all that's floating around in my crazy head, and my head..and usually my heart...feel better.

This is me.
This is my real life.

Sometimes, the weight on my shoulders is too much to bear.
Sometimes, my hopes and dreams are dashed away by the reality of the situation.
Sometimes, I feel like God is so far away.  Too far to call out to.  Too far to hear me.  Too far to step in. Too far to make things right.
I make mistakes.  I say hurtful words.  I think awful thoughts.
I sin.
Life moves on at a steady pace.
Hearts are mended.  Love is professed.  God is near.
The pinks and golds begin over the horizon.
A new day dawns.

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore, I will wait for him." 
Lamentations 3:21-24

Every.  Single.  Morning.
I don't know that I'll ever truly grasp that:
My God loves me so much that I will not be consumed.  Consumed by fears.  Consumed by regrets.  Consumed by disappointments. 
His compassions, His mercies, are there each new day;  I serve a faithful God.  
My favorite part of that section? Verse 24.  
Can't you hear the author saying it with determination in his voice, maybe with a slight quiver knowing that the living, active Father God who is powerful and majestic and worthy of praise is the One to whom he's referring?  For me, it's a tiny wake-up call.  The LORD is everything I cry out for; He has and will continue to supply all my needs.  I just have to wait.  
He knows at what point I need which blessing.  
If He knows the number of hairs on my head, He certainly know what's pressing on my heart.  What lies curled up in a ball for only me to see.  What rears its ugly head when poked or prodded by life-moments.

I was reading my Jesus Calling devotional this morning.  I've really enjoyed diving into the word after reading the author's take on the verses discussed.
This morning's passage was focused on Psalm 34 (a beautiful and perfect Psalm for me this morning) and Isaiah 55 with a focus on verses 8 and 9.  

It was Psalm 34 that hit home for me though. It's what I've been doing but need to be doing more of.

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; 
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 34:4-8 *emphasis mine*

When I diligently seek the face of the Lord, when I kneel at His feet, when I raise my hands to Him, He delivers me from my fears.  Has that ever happened to you?  One moment you're lost adrift on a frothy, violent sea of worries, and the next you're at the feet of the Savior.  You "taste and see that the Lord is good" and your worries, though they may be valid, are not as scary as they once were.  What a beautiful moment with Jesus.

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; 
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
verses 17 and 18 *emphasis mine*

I know you've been there.  I certainly have.  Broken.  Crushed.  Those words are a picture for those moments that bring us to our knees.  But when we call out to Him in our anguish, He saves us.  And our spirits are healed.  Our God, the God who created Hadley, who formed her in my womb, who connected her daddy and I together in a way we never thought possible, was there the second her heart stopped beating.  He was there the instant the terrible emotional and physical pain hit.  He was there the moment we said goodbye. 
He didn't turn His back.  
He didn't pretend our pain was trivial.  

He met us there.  
He met us there in a mighty way.

We were crushed in spirit, and we were more than brokenhearted.
But in the midst of all that was happening, He brought us perfect peace that could not be explained. 
And day by day, morning by morning, our hearts are a little less brokenhearted and a little less crushed.  
He is mending those tender hearts of ours.
And we are grateful.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This and that

This happened at our house this afternoon.
Three guesses.

Yep, you smart thinker, you.  
Our water heater kicked the bucket.  

We got a call from our downstairs neighbor letting us know that water was dripping out of the drain pipe downstairs that's attached to the water heater upstairs.
We dashed out to the balcony where our water heater is stored in a closet.
Water had filled that metal pan at the bottom, and there were lots of things on the ground that were soaking wet.  
Sadly, things are rusted and beyond repair.

fanTAStic.

So, The Husband and his dad are out buying a new one as I type this.
I'm truly thankful for a husband who can fix just about anything and for a father-in-law who can fix the things The Husband doesn't know how to! 

We are praising God for the money some members of our worship team family at church gifted us with last week.  
It has helped offset the cost tremendously. 
Thank you, sweet friends! 

The upside? 
We are being forced to clean out that totally-junked up storage closet!  Whoo hoo!
I can't wait to get out there and start organizing once everything is tip-top.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This   
 and that
are what I did Saturday afternoon with my gal-pal Bethany.
Thank you, Mommy-In-Law, for that hour and a half of relaxation!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is what I fixed for dinner Sunday evening.
4 eggs with a dash of almond milk -- scrambled

A couple of handfuls of mushrooms and 1 red bell pepper -- diced and sautéed 

Mixed together in a pan on medium with salt, pepper, and feta cheese crumbles sprinkled on top

Yum!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is what The Husband decided we should do last night, at, oh say, 8:00.  




 Neat building.
 We drove by the bed and breakfast we stayed at for our honeymoon almost a year ago.  
We loved Grace Manor.
 We made our way over to this ice cream joint down the street for some half-price beverages.
 This
 and that
are what we saw while we sat on the wall and enjoyed our ice cream treats.

Here's us on the wall.
I look dazed haha.
And tired.
You know, it was almost 11:00pm by this time.
Because we drove to Galveston at 8:00 at night.
Yeah. :)

We drove all the way down the island and then turned around and headed home.
It was a fun way to end the weekend!

Now, on to cleaning up the mess that is our storage closet!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another day, another tour

Last week's tour of master bedrooms/guest bedrooms was such fun to be a part of, that I thought I'd join in to Kelly's SUYL (Show Us Your Life) tour this week.  It's all about dining rooms.  I've checked out a few of the ones that are already posted, and they are so lovely.  I'm a little jealous of people that have an actual formal dining room, hah! We live in a condo, so our dining room is actually a breakfast room that isn't separated from our living room, but we like it!

This is looking in from the living room.  
The curio cabinet in the right corner was a birthday gift from my parents when I was in middle school.  It's oak with lots of glass inside and outside.  The top two shelves are organized. The bottom two are not.  It's an easy piece of furniture to keep clean, and it's really well made.  When we move into a bigger place, it will probably house other items and will hopefully reside in an actual formal dining room!
The table was my dad's bachelor table fifty years (give or take a few years) ago before marrying my mom.  Next, my grandparents used it in their breakfast nook.  Then, after my grandparents no longer needed it, my parents placed it in their sunroom.  Finally, I moved here, and it was bequeathed to me!  It's stood the test of time (though pieces of it, with the help of teething kittens--grrr, have come off).  The original cushions are this sort of uncomfortable, plasticky, green/taupe material.  I bought four large, beige cushions from that super store that seems to have everything when I moved in.  They are much more comfortable and have held up well.    
I like the simplicity of the center of our table.  
The vase/juice container is part of a set of plates/bowls/mugs my parents gave us for Christmas a few years ago from Dayspring (it looks like most, if not all, of the pieces are on sale now!) that refer to verse John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  All the pieces are lovely, and we really like having the entire set! 
The coasters were a gift from a student a few years ago.  They were made by a local girl who was rescued from the sex slave trafficking industry.  All of the proceeds from the purchase of coasters like these go to the girls that made them.  The organization that rescues them takes them in, provides housing and schooling, and teaches them a trade.  It's a very sad, very scary industry to be a part of, and I proudly support this organization for all they do to help those girls.  
This sideboard is a loaner from my in-laws.  It's at least one hundred years old.  The Husband's dad refinished it years ago.  We changed out the knobs and were going to install those little pieces inside that lock the doors in place, but we decided that it wasn't a good idea to do that to an antique.  Hence the rubber band.  It's so tacky, but the doors won't stay closed without it.  Ce la vie.
The crystal bowl on the left was a wedding gift.  It's filled mostly with sympathy cards.  The card on the right that says "I LOVE US" was from The Husband on a particularly difficult day recently.  Love him.  
These plates were a gift from my sister and her family.  
I like this part of the room.  The glass cross belonged to my grandparents.  The wooden cross was a gift from Tennessee (I think!  Mom, correct me if I'm wrong).  The framed rose pen and ink was done by my grandfather.   
We registered for this painting at Target and received it at one of our wedding showers.  
I don't know that this lighting fixture really flows with the rest of the room (it seems too nice!), but we do like it.  The gal who lived here before had it put in.  We haven't found another fixture to swap it out with yet.  
This Unity Cross is on the top shelf in the curio cabinet.  Instead of a unity candle or a rose ceremony at our wedding, we had the Unity Candle.  It was perfect.  Perfect.
The photo book on the left has pictures from two engagement "shoots."  Our friend Bethany took all of the photos inside! This book was one I made to be used as a wedding registry book.  As people entered the chapel, they signed one of the pages within.
The photo book on the right has pictures of when we were dating up until our engagement.  I used that as a shower registry book.  I had three showers, so there are LOTS of signatures in that one. :)
These are my 'birthday dolls.'  My grandparents gave me one each year from birth through my 18th birthday.  Then, I was given one for graduation and one for our wedding.   I'm hoping one day I'll be able to pass these along to a future daughter for her birthdays.  
My grandmother did this painting.  
You know, with two very artistic grandparents, I have the ability to draw stick figures with triangle tops and square bottoms.  
Go figure.
This is the counter looking into the kitchenette.  I don't have an actual kitchen, but I'm really looking forward to have a fabulous one one of these days that will house ALL of our many appliances, pots, pans, dishes, glassware, etc, and none of it will have to be stored in closets elsewhere in the house and forgotten about!

Well, thanks for tagging along again!  Feel free to link up with pictures of your own dining rooms!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Changes

It was time for a change.
A fresh start.
"Out with the old and in with the new," as they say.
So, instead of getting a wardrobe makeover or a haircut or a pedicure, I thought I'd change up some things here on the blog (though I'm crossing my toes that I'll get to redeem a gift card my generous MIL gave me for a pedicure posthaste!).
I wanted more color, and I found this blog background with the gorgeous, brilliantly-colored pillows and knew it was the one.  I edited a few things, added a bit more color here and there, and took some things away.  I like it very much, and I hope you like it, too! It feels so summery to me, like a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table, or a new comforter on the bed, or freshly-painted, neatly-trimmed toenails.  Y'all I really need a pedicure. It's em-barrassing.

*Ahem*

So, there's that, and here's this.

At 11:00 last night, you know that time when great ideas tend to smack you around until you get up and do something about them, I decided to look up fun black bean recipes.  Since starting to adhere to The Trinity Diet, I've become more conscientious of the amount of protein The Husband and I are getting daily.  Before, I was sort of ho-hum about the whole thing.  I'm not a fan of meat (I just don't care for the taste or texture of most meats), so I was solely getting my protein from small amounts of nuts/dairy/eggs/fish and the like.  And, because I'm the one who fixes most meals, my poor husband was doing likewise.  After meeting Steve, the author, at a Bible study months ago, and then reading this book and seeing what an amazing benefit can be had when one eats a meal consisting of proteins, carbs, and good fats every three-four hours, I decided to find other ways of getting the right amount of proteins in yummy, healthy ways.  We're pretty good about eating healthy carbs (fruits, veggies, whole grains) and good fats (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.), so my main concern right now is getting us at least 60 grams of protein in our diet a day (split into four or five meals...so roughly 15 grams per meal).  I can't speak for The Husband, but I sure am enjoying the extra energy I've had since beginning to eat healthier.  Anywho, I typed in "black bean crockpot recipes" (since black beans have a good amount of protein in them per serving) on my iPod because I have mad-googling skills like that, and found one that I liked but wanted to change up a tad.  So, here's the link to the original recipe.

But like I said, I changed it up a bit.

Now, be warned.  It is incredibly detailed, and you might not be able to handle all of the prep work and the endless amount of measurements and the tedious cooking specifications, but you know I am an expert when it comes to all things kitchen, so, well, just try your best. *thumbs up*

I think I just heard EVERY SINGLE PERSON that knows me in real life hit the floor and burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. 

Seriously, it's one of the easiest meals I've ever prepared.  It smelled so amazing all day as it cooked.  I wish I could have taken a picture of the smell and posted it on here.  Did you just get that mental image?  You, seeing that I posted a scratch-and-sniff photo, leaning into your computer monitor,  and reaching out a tentative finger nail and lifted nostrils?  I saw it.  It was awesome. :)

Ok, on to the details and the pictures.

I took one package of black beans (the cheap ones from that superstore) and soaked them overnight in cool water.
I drained and rinsed them off this morning and poured them into the crock pot (one of my most favorite wedding gifts of all--thanks Michelle!).
Then, I measured dumped out at least half a jar of mild salsa (you could choose medium or hot, but we had the mild kind in the fridge) and a little over 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and mixed those in.
Finally, I added a can of chicken broth to moisten everything, and stirred it all well enough to make sure the beans would stay covered by the liquid.  
Everything cooked on low for eight hours.
I stirred well and ladled out some into a bowl.
I plopped a dollop of sour cream on top and sprinkled on some gorgonzola cheese crumbles (mostly because we're completely out of shredded cheese and partially because I just love me some gorgonzola cheese crumbles and will eat them with almost anything).  I also steamed some asparagus.  Yum!
The Husband took a bite and said, "Mmmm!"
I liked it, too!
--with an extra sprinkling of gorgonzola for good measure :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tomorrow

Father's Day is tomorrow.

I have an amazing Heavenly Father.  
My God has neither left me not forsook (that's a word, right?) me.  Every beautiful instant through every hardship He has been right there holding me and leading the way.
He has given me a husband I cherish, a daughter I love and miss mightily, a family and a group of friends who have stood by me, and a mom who has been a rock and a source of encouragement.

I also have a dad who did all of the things a fantastic and caring dad should do. Daily
I can't count the number of sweet memories of moments with my daddy that I have floating around inside my head.  Starting way back in my childhood, moving through those ghastly middle school years, into high school and college, and now as I tip-toe my way through adulthood.

He
~ gave the best piggy-back rides to breakfast in the mornings.

~ tucked me into bed every night.  On especially cold evenings, he'd bundle up under my covers and warm up the bed for me while I took my bath and got ready for lights-out.

~ went to every football game, band or choir concert, and recital I was ever a part of.

~ told me I looked pretty in every new outfit my mom and I came home with.  Even when the "outfits" were hideous, ridiculous, or too short.  To this day, my mom will still say, "Did you show Daddy what you got?" and of course I'll have to try it on for him to see.  And, of course, he still says I look pretty.  :)

~ would play great songs from the dark ages whoops! 50s and 60s on the record player in the living room.  I don't know how he ever got any work done as I danced and sang along (LOUDLY) to "Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini"and "Earth Angel" and "Oh What a Night" and "Sixteen Candles" and "Catch a Falling Star" and every Beach Boys or Elvis song that came on.  I could go on and on and on with the list of Golden Oldies songs he taught me to love.  I was also so thrilled that he taught me how to play records and to do it without scratching them. I soon learned that I could play those songs even when no one else was around.

~ walked me down the aisle and danced with me at the reception.

~ sat by my side after we lost Hadley.  His presence and his hand on my arm meant more than any words he could have said.

There are so many more snapshots of memories I could type up, but it still wouldn't do him justice.

I am thankful that my Heavenly Father provided me with such a fantastic earthly father.  My dad is a great dad, and I am blessed beyond measure to have had him present and active in my life every step of the way.  No, he's not perfect, but I don't see the mistakes when I see him.  I see a daddy who loves his wife and daughters.  A daddy who has done his utmost to support them and provide for them in whatever ways he could.  Thank you, Daddy!  I love you!

The Husband and I had lunch with my parents and my sister a few days ago when they came to town.  We took a few pictures after eating yummy Mexican food.




I should have taken a picture of the green sauce.  The Husband liked it so much that he asked the waitress to put some in a container to take home with us.  Yeah.  So, for the next few days, he had tortilla chips and green sauce for snacks daily.  Yeah, the lack of nutritional content of that snack has not slipped me by.  I can just see the author of The Trinity Diet cringing now, haha!

I cannot fail to mention that The Husband is a daddy, as well.  
He loves our Hadley oh-so-much, and I know that if she were here with us right now, he would be doting on her and loving on her and cherishing her just as much as my dad has done with my sister and me.  I believe (and Readers, I have to keep making myself say those words, "I believe," because satan keeps butting his head in and throwing doubt-bombs at me left and right) that one day he will get that chance, and I can't wait to see him step into that role.  He will make mistakes, but he won't be known for them.  He will be known for how much he loves and supports and provides for those lives that depend on him and love him fiercely.
It will be beautiful.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm taking you on a tour, People!

Good grief, is it as hot where you live as it is where we live?! We got in the pool this afternoon to take a break from studying, and instead of being cold or even cool, the pool was lukewarm! It was still a nice diversion, though, and I'm very thankful our complex has a nice pool area that's only thirty or so steps away from our front door. :)

Deep breath, Guys and Gals.  I've decided to try something a little different on here.  Now, don't get too nervous.  Just sit back with your handful of dark chocolate chips (Hmm? That's just me?  Oh.....ok), and enjoy (or critique, hah!).

Kelly, a gal whose blog I read often, does a "Show Us Your Life" post every Friday and other bloggers link up to it.  So, it's like an online "tour" of homes and places and people in our lives.  Isn't that fun?! This week's tour focuses on master and guest bedrooms.  I do so love our bedroom (it's really my favorite room in our home), so I thought I'd participate this week.  We no longer have a guest bedroom.  Over the course of almost eleven months (the length of time we've been married), it has gone from bedroom, to office, to nursery, back to an office.  Right now, it's not anywhere near how I'd like it to look, but such is life, right?

All right.  On to the tour :).  Ooohh,  if you are a IRL (in real life) friend or family member, you do know how I oh-so-love to give tours of our home! And go on tours of other people's homes!  And look at people's homes on the internet!  Hah!  You know, it's not like our home is some gigantic mansion with tons of expensive furniture and fabulous artwork and every item in its proper place (though, People, I sure do try my darndest to keep things where they belong...The Husband...not so much).  I just love to share with others how we've taken small rooms and made them special to us--how we've made our two bedroom/two bathroom condo a home. :)

When you walk into our room, you look straight at our bed.  
I like the neutral colors of this bedding and the sage/green color on the walls, but those lamps do NOT match.  I'm constantly on the lookout for some cute, cheap lampshades to replace those maroon ones.  I do try to be a good steward of what we have, so I will continue to do my best to not be aggravated by those non-matching, tiny lamps.  
Inhale, exhale, eat another chocolate chip.  

My parents gave us this canvas the week before our wedding.  My mom got it from a store owned by a few cousins of ours called Creative Touch in Hutto, TX.   
 I ADORE it.  
I believe every word it says, and though it doesn't come easy, and it takes a whole lot of effort on both of our parts, I want all of those things to be present in our marriage.  
Beautiful is the marriage...
I got all of the metal items from Hobby Lobby.  

This is my nightstand.  
He and I are reading Rooms together.  We were reading the Left Behind series (hence The Remnant), but we're taking a little break.  We also were reading Shepherding a Child's Heart, but we haven't picked it back up since losing Hadley.  I think it might be a while before we dive into that one again.  I started reading The Trinity Diet (EXCELLENT!!) this past weekend, and then I liked it so much I began reading it to The Husband.  That happens with a lot of books. :)  I also just finished reading a book on the Kindle called The List.  Very good read!  
You might have noticed the earplugs.  
Saved.  My.  Sanity.  

 This is The Husband's nightstand. 
We both have Jesus Calling.  Have you read it?  We enjoy reading each day's devotional.  A sweet lady at the school gave us each a copy after Hadley was gone.  It was such a thoughtful gift.  
Notice the three flashlights?  That's just a sampling of his collection.  Just a sampling... :)

This canvas hangs next to our window.  It's one of my favorite shots from our wedding reception.  I think it's so neat how she took it at an angle! 


 The piece of furniture on the left is our armoire, and I like it because we can watch a movie and then close those doors and hide the TV and other electronics from view.  The framed picture is a collage of images the photographer took at the hospital.  I stare at those feet and remember how tiny and perfect they were.  I can't look at it too often though.  The cross was a gift from my parents on the day of the funeral.  It's beautiful.   

We read somewhere once that couples should have lots of pictures of themselves together in their bedroom to remind them often of their love for one another.  I think that's so true.  Even when we're in the middle of an argument, even if it's particularly rotten, I can look over at those photos and see such joy there.  
The bear was given to us at the hospital by a group that ministers to families who've lost a child.  What a sweet thing to do for those in the midst of grieving. 

I'm not thrilled with how this corner looks, but I do like having the rocking chair by the sliding glass door that leads out to the balcony and being able to sit and enjoy the weather without having to actually go outside and "enjoy" (that was sarcasm...) the weather. ;)    

 We got these door hangers right before the wedding (the other sides say Groom and Bride), and they hung on our doors while we prepared for the big day. :)

 And, this is what you see when you get ready to leave the room. I got this at Hobby Lobby years ago, and it's still one of my favorite wall decorations! 

Well, thanks for going on the tour with me. 
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour on Kelly's blog after you've reached in and grabbed another handful of dark chocolate chips (Say what?  That's just me again? I really ought to put those away.)  And, if you like to take guests on a journey through your home as much as I do, link on up!