Monday, January 31, 2011

Project 31 Day 10: Challenges and Growth

 Spare no expense to save money on this one. 
--Samuel Goldwyn

Ok, so I'm going to be a day behind from here on out . . . but that's ok, right? Busy-ness can just eat you up.

Day 10.  What is Jesus teaching you as a wife, mom, or friend? (Or just woman in general?)

My gender pretty much has nothing to do with it. 
Pretty much. ;] 

From the time I was in preschool, I have always been concerned about money. I'd count my piggy bank diligently, ask Daddy how much his pay check made, and then promised if I won the lottery, I'd pay off the house mortgage and buy him his dream pick up truck. I haven't stopped counting every penny in the bank, but I've never bought a lottery ticket. Maybe I should try that sometime . . .

Now, Chris takes care of the bills, but I'm the one that tracks our dollars: where do they go? how much are we making? how much are we spending? How much are we saving? Will we survive the summer when school's out and I'm not getting paid? How much are we tithing? How much should we be tithing? Are we eating out too much? Should I get a second job? Blah blah blah the list goes on. 
Money keeps me awake at night, and my dollar-bill ramblings give Chris a headache. He finally just puts his finger to my lips and says, "Honey, I love you, but be quiet. God will take care of us, all right? We're doing well, we're okay, and God is in control. So stop worrying. For the sake of all that is good in the world, STOP WORRYING."

Don't you love it when God uses another human being to speak his truth? 

So long as I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and food in my stomach, I'm okay. God promised to take care of the sparrows, so I know He'll take care of us, even if the economy is scary, the job hunt is terrifying, and the bank account shrinks. God is in control, and He will make it all okay--it may not be fun, it may not be pleasant, but somewhere, somehow, we will make it through. 

Sometimes, God does little things just to smack me upside the head and remind me He's really in control. Last week, one of our cats started vomiting  nonstop. We took her to the vet--which is NOT cheap. She seemed just fine after her visit Friday, but Sunday night she started vomiting again. So we call the vet--they want to run x-rays, blood work, the whole kit and kaboodle. It's not cheap. It's not an arm and a leg yet, but, golly it is the farthest thing from cheap. And I don't feel like I can put her down yet--not without just cause like cancer or something. Even putting your pet down costs though. Lots. Golly. So we agree to trying to find the ailment, and I start to panic that we won't have enough money. I check our account, and there is MORE than enough to cover this. Chris's boss recently gave him a raise, and the last two paychecks were higher than expected. We can at least, now, pay to find out what's wrong with the cat and then, hopefully, afford to fix it. Maybe.

Honestly, if someone at the humane society would have told me that in ONE YEAR this cat would have costs me the hundreds and hundreds of dollars, I would have sadly turned away from that cute little kitten and moved on, but no, no one warned me of her flea issues, tape worms, feline respiratory infection, and now the puke machine . . . So I brought her home, fell in love . . . and now God is taking care of it. Taking care of my worries.
They really shouldn't exist--my worries.
I think I keep them around because it gives my brain something to do at all times. You know, keeps life interesting and in a moderate panic.
Energizing, ya know? ;]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Project 31 Days 8 and 9

Whew. Sorry I'm behind.
Yesterday was uber busy . . . The good news is that my cat has finally stopped puking and it's not a blockage. The bad news is that the vet has no idea why she started puking. Oh well. Pets, what can you do with them?

Whoever said that a pj day in first grade was a good idea . . . Don't listen to them. Unless you have a gallon of Red Bull available to outweigh the sugar you feed them. Ours was Thursday, and I'm still recovering. Tons of fun for the kids, but for me . . . wow . . . wipeout. You know what's funny about first graders? The more tired you become, the wilder they get . . . and louder . . . and the attention span gets shorter . . . until finally, you're collapsed at your desk, that gosh-awful children song stuck in your head, listening to the nonstop whir of the pencil sharpener because six-year-old pencils are always dull, and trying to remember what 10-7 is so you can teach the class. All you want is your warm bed and a good book, silence, peace. Still it has it's good sides--I'm never short of laughter.

Anywho, on with Days 8 and 9!

Day 8.  Have a beauty secret (e.g. hair tip, make up tip)?  Share, please!

Hm . . . Like I said before, I'm not a fashionista, and when it comes to hair and make-up, I'm kind of a minimalist, but I will pass on a hair tip my stylist told me:

In your final rinse, use cold water

Warm water opens up pores (which is why it's a good to rinse your face in warm water or hold a warm wash cloth over it before washing your face--it opens pores so they can be cleaned and flushed). Using cold water in a final rinse snaps those pores shut. When you rinse your face in cold water, it closes the pores, minimizes their appearance. When you use it on your hair, the pores close tightly around the hair follicles, helping reduce frizz and makes your hair shiny.

I also recommend any hair products by Aveda.
One of their cosmetology schools is just down the road from our apartment, and, since hair cuts are only $12 and nothing short of fabulous, I love going in. At first, I was wary of the styling products the stylists were trying to sell me, but I gave them a try, and they are awesome: really lightweight so your hair feels soft and looks natural but the style holds wonderfully. What I also love: they're relatively inexpensive for organic salon products. Not cheap, but they won't kill your wallet either. Plus, they're so totally worth it, and that's coming from a cheapskate.

Here are the ones I keep and use whenever I want to do more than throw my hair in a pony tail:

Smooth Infusion
When I'd rather my hair look smooth instead of choppy, I use this stuff. It's really light, and, if you don't use it directly on the roots, it calms any frizzles and brings out the shine without looking greasy.

Volumizing Tonic

This baby has pretty much become my best friend. On top of having really straight hair, mine is thick, heavy, and not big on the volume department. A couple spritz of this miracle, and I have all the bounce I need and then some. Just spray a little on the roots of damp hair and then blow dry upside down, and wow. Love.

Light Elements Shaping Wax
I was not into the idea of wax. I sort of anticipated that my hair would look like someone had sneezed in it, and boogers are just not my style. Then, my stylist introduced me to my new favorite. Hello Light Elements Shaping Wax. You and my hair . . . you're going to be buds for life. When I want my layers to stand out, look choppy and defined, I rub a little of this on my fingers and then short of "fluff" my hair, pinching/brushing the layers in my hair so the wax sticks. You really can't tell that I'm wearing wax. No snot-look for me :] Fabulous.

All righty then . . . on to Day 9 . . . 

Day 9.  What virtues do you value in yourself?

I had no idea that there were so many different virtues. I wanted to look them up to try to make sure I wasn't making anything up about myself . . . Golly. 

I know I thrive in helping people. I have a desire to make things better, to help make other people happy. Part of it is because I'm a people-pleaser (which has HUGE downsides--I get hugely stressed and upset if I can't make everyone I'm around happy), but the other part is I just like it. Youth group and school pegged me as a leader the person directing everyone in how to do things, where things go. I'm not. I'm the kid behind stage making sure everyone has water, that the costumes are pressed, that snacks are ready, and the props are where they should be, who ask what needs to be done so she can do it. When I went on mission trips, my favorites weren't the door to door evangelism or even playing with kids--it was helping out in a classroom, sorting and distributing food goods, and laying the foundation for a new church building in an impoverished Christian community.  I miss being able to do things like that. I love community service. I love helping my mom clean the kitchen after we've come over for dinner or take care of my siblings over the weekend. I love helping friends clean or set up for a party or a big move. As a little girl, I used to make my daddy lunch and keep his glass of gatorade full when he did weekend yard work. Those little things are my favorites. 

The virtue other people have told me they respect is that I stick to the things I believe in. In college, most of my friends had different beliefs than I did--little, small beliefs or big ones. I decided early on I wouldn't drink underage. It's not that I have an issue with alcohol or think it's sinful. I just didn't want to drink before I was 21. I decided I wouldn't date my freshman year of college.  I didn't think dating was a bad thing to do--I just knew I had a tendency to get too attached too quickly and dating, for me, wasn't going to be a light thing. I had a huge crush on a friend of mine freshman year, and several people told me to go out with him, kiss him--something, anything at all--to get him out of my system. I didn't, and that was for the best. My good girl pals that year each came back to me, at different times, saying, "I don't agree with your decisions, but I am so impressed that you didn't change your mind, and I respect your commitment."

So, yes, those are my virtues. I so look forward to reading about yours! :]  

She Breathes Deeply

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Project 31 Day 7: Pretty Woman

Day 7.  Write a blog to encourage another beautiful woman.

Bozz aka Mattie aka Martha aka . . too many nicknames. 
 You're awesome. Period. 
You took me under your wing when I was twelve and you were thirteen. Why? Because I seemed lonely Then my parents built a house right next to yours. Thanks for checking out the framework--good to know it was sturdy enough to hold you swinging around on the beams.

You taught me almost everything I know about art. You say you're not any good, but, girl, your work blows me away. Every piece is epic.
You made me go running with you when I hated it; even went so far as to make me chase you for the walkman cd player, my only piece of sanity in an insane pastime, and bribe me with "How to Speak Gaelic" cds when I finally ran a ten minute mile.
You got me into soccer, even let me play with you a bit . .  . even though I sucked . . . a lot.

Even though we live far apart, now, we still talk on the phone for hours. I love it that we pick up right where we left off.

Has anyone told you that you are a gem? Cause you are. You really really are. Beautiful inside and out, sweet, smart, witty, and strong. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you're not enough or that you're too much. God made you just right, and He wouldn't change you for the world. Don't settle for less, girl, because you deserve the best.

I miss you. Hope to see you soon.

I still wrap my gifts in tinfoil in your honor. And I never watch "The Last Crusade" without noticing that missing flower in the zeppelin scene. We still need to finish the "Taken" series. Just a thought ;]

Changing it up

You can't say that civilization doesn't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
--Will Rogers
As I write this, I have one cat in my lap, trying to simultaneously climb onto the keyboard and steal the hair tie around my wrist, and another in a corner somewhere, most likely puking or recovering from puking. It's been about 8 times a day since Tuesday morning. Yup.
Yes, I'm a horribly person for not bringing her to the vet, but we were kinda hoping it would pass . . . you know . . . and save me $200. No such luck. Still flitting around, chasing, playing, and snuggling . . . just puking . . . a lot.That vet trip had better work miracles. I'm about out of carpet cleaner -_-

Be ye warned: those of you wanting pets, people aren't lying--it's freakn expensive . . . and messy. Fun and lovable, but oh my goodness work.

Really, I'm not posting to talk about the cats; they just happen to be foremost on my mind. Oh the puke  . . .

I'm going out on a limb here in the next three months. Those of you who know me know I do not like limbs. I'm a feet on the ground kind of person. Flat ground. With the horizon and path clearly in view. Few surprises. So, this summer, God has put a tree in my path, with me on a limb. Do or die. Leap.

Unless something happens between now and Tuesday, I'm pretty sure I'm not going back to teaching next fall. Not because I don't love the school--my employers are beyond fabulous, the kids and families are wonderful--it's just not me. All through high school I saw myself as a teacher--language arts for middle school or high school. I started college and changed my mind--everyone was doing teaching. It seemed so much more distinguished to be a pure-blooded English Lit major--head in my books, discussing the meaning of life, random hidden symbolism in the mention of stepping stools, the true condition of man, the proper use of the comma--important, life-changing things like that. English Education? What on earth could you do with an education major?
Don't get me wrong: I LOVED my major. I thrived in lit class. But what on earth do I use it for?? "Anything with communication," people said. "Politics, law, anything."
I hate to ask, but, were you fibbing just to make me feel better? That wasn't very nice, kind-hearted intent as it was.

All that to say, I have almost finished my first year of teaching, and it's just not a fit. It's been a fun year of learning and exactly where I needed to be right now. It's just not where I think I should stay.
And that scares me.
The job hunt scares me. The only time I've ever left a job is when I already have something new lined up. All my dominoes set to go. Poke, and they're off!
Not this time

I want to try to get into a publishing house. I know I'd start out as a peon, but the thought of being able to discover new talent, to pick up a document and say, "This, this is something special, and you, well, you kid, have a gift. Congratulations. You get to share it with the world." That thrills me. I realize it probably won't be like that--there will be a lot of rubble to sort through before you find the gem, and, often, it's the rubble that sells, fake stones polished on the shelves while diamonds gather dust.
I might not find anything, but, hey, at least I have a direction. I may get there, and I may hate it, but then that just means I get to try something new again.

I like new things :]

Now, if you'll excuse me . . . Cat is retching and I can't find the puke . . . Treasure hunt, anyone?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 6: Jaded Beauty

Day 6.  Jaded beauty.  Has the world's definition of beauty ever jaded you?

Meh, I'd have to say every time I go shopping. 
No really. 
I'm not the tiny, stick-thin kind of girl you see strutting the runways. There's nothing wrong at all with being thin or being a super model, but it often feels like clothes are MADE for that body type and not any other. Thin is a matter of perspective, and the super-model figure seems to be the only point-of-view designers take when putting new creations on the sales floor. They should come with a label: 

Do Not Try On if You Have Any Fat On Your Body at ALL. Your Self Esteem Has Been Warned.

It took me a year to find a new pair of jeans that fit both my waist, my thighs, and the honky tonk badonkadonk. A. Year.

It seems we woman are obsessed with our weight, even if we're tiny we still worry about being fat. My sis-in-law is 5'2", 95 pounds, and worries about gaining weight.  What happened to the Renaissance beautiful woman who had curves? Who had cellulite? And was portrayed in every form of art as the ideal. WHERE DID SHE GO??? 

Then, the clothing industry assumes (and we all know what they say about what happens when you "assume") that if you've got it, you want to flaunt it. Modesty? That was for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie. A Dead Concept. Grow up, move on. It's the twenty-first century for gosh sakes. Show a little skin . . . or all of it. Take your pick.
And if I believe in a thing called modesty? What do you have to offer me?

In high school, my self esteem was outrageously low. Why? Because God gave me curves, and I hated them. None of the boys at school would look at me or talk to me. Unless, that is, their English homework was in jeopardy. I blamed my body. I blamed the fact that I had a booty where the other girls did not. I thought if I could just get skinny, just loose that offensive behind, I would win the favor of high school males. Now, we all know high school males are not at all the most evolved of human beings, but don't tell that to a fifteen-year-old girl. Staring in the mirror, trying not to cry, trying desperately to figure out what was so wrong that no one would give her a glance.

Here's the bottom line: God made each of us an individual, a beautiful wonderful individual who doesn't look like anyone else. Who has a purpose no one else can fill. I find it humorously ironic that society's biggest war cry is "BE AN INDIVIDUAL!!!" and yet it demands "But make sure you're doing the just like everybody else." Double standard? Maybe?

God looks down on you and cries, "Look! Look what I made! Isn't she fantastic! Have you ever seen anything like her! It's perfect! I love her!"

My husband looks at me and tells me that I look like a woman. He actually sulks when I talk about dieting.

So, forget the clothing industry. Forget Hollywood. Listen to the people who love you. They're not just saying it because they have to. They are speaking beauty to you because you are.

She Breathes Deeply

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Project 31 Day 5: Someone Who Has Made Your Heart Come Alive

Thanks again everyone for all of your sweet comments! You guys are awesome! Thanks to you, I don't think I'll be scared of fashion pics any more  ;]

All right kiddos, I think you knew this was coming . . .

Day 5: Write a blog thanking someone who has made your heart come alive

Oh, Hubs, was there ever any doubt?

When I met you oh so many years ago, when I was 15 and you were 19, you were, by far the cutest boy I had ever seen . . .
You will KILL me for posting this super old pic. . . but I'm taking the risk. Oh, and that cutest guy ever thing? Not changing :]

We've known each other for almost ten years, and you still light up when I walk in the door, still wrap your arms around my waist and kiss me like it's the first time. Still tuck me in at night when I'm asleep before you, still read a Bible passage and pray with me before bed, just like we did over the phone when we were dating 1000 miles apart.

You listen to my crazy rants, and laugh at my antics when I'm feeling silly. You make me feel beautiful even when I'm in my crummiest pjs, no make-up, hair in a sloppy top-knot--You make me feel like a super model.

You take me on adventures. You love dreaming up adventures. I feel safe with you, even if we plan on doing risky things like moving out of town, out of state, out of country. Even if we never do those things, I know life with still be an adventure with you. I know you are a Godly man who wants to follow His direction, and your unfailing faith in His provision and protection eases my frightened heart. I know if you say, "We should go," I can go with you because you're following the guidance of the One in charge of it all. I don't need to be afraid--you're looking out for us, and so is He. You remind me of that when I need it so desperately.

You're smart and witty, and we laugh so much together. I love that we laugh. I love that we can still talk about everything and nothing at all or sit in silence and still treasure just being in each other's presence. I love that you're a nerd--that you play video games, watch sci-fi movies, and read Lewis and Tolkien. I love that you let me love those things with you. That you encourage me in my own nerdiness, that you are both my harshest and most encouraging, helpful critic when I bring you my writing. You're the best editor.

 Thank you so much for just getting me. You know everything about me and still love me, treasure me, and you don't try to change who I am. You don't think I'm weird, that I need to be anything but the person God made me to be--and you thank me for being just that every day.

Thank you for growing with me -- for taking on more responsibilities and learning to do un-fun things like clean up cat puke and clean the kitchen. Thank you for being my helper and my leader. Thank you for holding me, hugging me, kissing me, and telling me I'm stunning every chance you get. Thank you for all our funny random little times together. Thank you for challenging me: for helping me out of my ruts, for sticking with me when I beg to be isolated, for not giving up when so many others would have walked away. Thank you for encouraging me, even when things get tough you help me see God might want to use the nasties to make me stronger, to make me bigger for Him so I can serve greatly.

Thank you for waiting me for me--for not rushing into things, for saving yourself for the woman you'd marry, then waiting until that day she became your wife. Thank you, thank you.

 Oh, and most of all, thanks for just being you. Because "you" just as you are, well . . .

You're pretty much epically awesome.

Love you with all of my heart :]

She Breathes Deeply

Teacup Conversations

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. 
--Abraham Lincoln 

I'm afraid that my title is slightly misleading: I own no teacups, and the more's the pity.

But Chris and I do have several conversations late in the evening, he on his computer and I lounging in a my favorite papasan nearby spouting off madness. Sometimes tea is involved--Sleepy Time, usually, or some other decaffeinate herbal drowned in vanilla creamer. Some conversations are about the game he's playing. Sometimes it's on the meaning of life. Sometimes it's about work or dreams to change the world. Sometimes politics (which usually leaves us in an invigorating sour mood--nothing is more energizing than feeling you could do the job better . . . even though you don't want the job and probably couldn't do it anyways). Other times, I try to shock and appall him with random facts on pregnancy I've researched, just so he'll better appreciate what I will one day go through while he simply makes midnight runs for avocado or whatever oddity I will crave but never eat under any other circumstance. 

No, I'm not pregnant. 
I'm just a planner. In grade school, I planned for high school. In high school, I planned for college. In college . . . I planned little . . . except midnight runs to Taco Bell and how to save up for a semester overseas. When I graduated, I planned a wedding. I got married . . . it seemed only logical to plan one or both of the next reasonable steps: home-buying or pregnancy. God is teaching me to live in the present :] 
But, yes, all that to say, there is no baby. Not yet, anyways. 

ANYWHO . . . 

Tonight's topic?
Treadmills, Being Buried Alive, and the Benefits of Treadmills in Case of the Latter   

Me:Can I ask you something?   
Chris: You mean other than the question you just asked me?   
Me: Pfft. When we move out of this tiny apartment, so we have room . . .  Can I get a treadmill? I know they HAVE to have them for cheap on Craig's List. 
Chris: Uuuuh . . . house or treadmill?   
Me: Treadmill is much cheaper than a house.  
Chris: Every little bit helps.    
Me: Don't say that. It makes me not want to spend money on groceries *wink   
Chris: Ok, money does you no good when you're a corpse, so . . .   
Me: Coffins are expensive! I don't know why, because it's not like anyone can admire it after the funeral . . . or you can enjoy them . . . or the padding inside.    
Chris: They have padding?? 
Me: Oh yes, so the corpse is comfy. Cause you know, you can totally enjoy it after you've gone.   
Chris: Well, I mean, if I get buried alive, I'll be sure to enjoy it.    
Me: I AM TERRIFIED OF BEING BURIED ALIVE!!! Like in an avalanche or a landslide or a coffin! Just imagine all that tangible suffocating darkness, swallowing you, and you can't move or figure out which direction is up as you suffocate and freeze to death.    
Chris: You'd suffocate before you'd freeze.    
Me: Doesn't matter! They're both dreadful.  
Chris: It's not like you'd need to know the direction up, anyways. You'd be dead before you could do anything.   
Me: Not true! People dig their way out. I've seen National Geographic disaster specials, and people dug out.  
Chris: Ok, so it's possible to survive.    
Me: But I can't dig out! I'm a weakling.
Hence the treadmill? 
 Me: Exactly! I use a treadmill, work out, get strong, and then I'll be able to dig out of being buried alive!

I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty foolproof . . . and that I'll be getting a treadmill once we move. Yup.

Oh, and that was the abridged conversation. It only got weirder . . .

This is how I spend my evenings with the hubs, laughing and discussing the outrageous. It makes for a great night :]
Do you have any weird phobias? Or favorite tea time topic?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Project 31 Day 4: Style 31

Check out this awesome post Branson at Reflections of Something has started! She is collecting stories of inspiring women in others' lives, so, if you've written about someone important to you, link up!

All righty, so on to day 4 . . .
I am going to be completely and totally honest with you peeps: today's assignment scared the willies out of me.  
No really
Not only am I not super-model tiny (is it just me, or does it feel like all clothing is catered towards super-models and not at all towards curves?) , I'm not at all a fashionista. Not even the tiniest bit. So when people ask me to take take pictures of what I wear, my heart and stomach decide they want to perform an unnerving tango. I'm creative on paper, not with my wardrobe, much to my dismay. It's not that I can't pull a cute outfit together, I'm just not one of those who can throw t-shirt and shorts on and it look like it stepped off of runaway. That's not my gift, and that's ok. :]  At least think my outfit is on straight in the picture . . . I think. I'm infamous for having things crooked because I'm too impatient-- I just want it on my body so I can go! haha.

Anywho, here's the outfit for the day . . .

  • Top:  H & M . 
  • Jeans: Express Stella Slightly Boot Cut (the only jeans I've ever found that fit both my waist and the ghetto booty ;] ) 
  • Accessories: 
    • Homemade black choker (I'm pretty much never without a necklace, and chokers are my favorite)
    • The bracelet was a gift from my mom--the funds from the bracelet pay to have girls from the slums purchase a birth certificate so they can go to school. I wish I could remember the name of the company, but I've misplaced their card :[ 
  • Shoes: a great steal from Ross ($12!). I wear them all the time
 So, yup, that's me on a good "fashion" day, haha.My sweet hubs was the photographer, and he was Mr. Uber-Perfectionist with the camera--so cute! :] He makes me smile.

I hope you're having a simply fantastic day! God bless!

She Breathes Deeply

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project 31 Day 3: Inspiring Beauty

Thanks everyone so very much for all of the sweet comments! I loved reading all of your posts :}
All righty . . . starting up Day 3 . . .

Day 3: Who is someone you know who inspires beauty? 

I feel like I know several people who really "inspire beauty" and bring joy to others.
  • My husband
  • My three younger sisters
  • My brother
  • My godparents
  • My parents
  • My parents-in-laws and grandparents-in-law
Really the list goes on. All of the people listed have such hearts of service and a radiance about them that it's hard not to feel loved in their presence. 

I did want to focus on two people, though, who really stand out in my mind.
My mom, Jackie
 I know, "My mom" is something totally expected and almost cliche, but, you know, people say it for a good reason. Here are some reasons my mom has helped inspire beauty in my life:
  •  I know, without a doubt, that no matter what has been going on, I can always count on her to be there for me. 
  • If we ever argued, my mom always stepped up and apologized. She always wanted to resolve the problem so that hard feelings didn't fester. She admitted what she had done wrong, her desire to fix it, and then challenged me to to the same. It helped our relationship grow and taught me very important lessons in conflict resolution and how vital it is in a healthy, growing relationship. 
  • She practiced what she preached. If you come and lecture me "Do as I say, not as I do," well my little passive aggressive self rears up and does the opposite quietly and felt like the words had no value because there was no action. If mom challenged me in some way, I knew it was sincere--that she was challenged herself, striving towards bettering herself and those around her. She was very honest about her own struggles, flaws, and her battles against them. She was humble and honest and never, not even once, assumed anything near perfection or tried to lead you to believe she was perfect: the woman was and is completely honest and transparent.When she came to you about something, you knew you could trust her, that they weren't just empty words tangled around some untouchable ideal. They were, "Listen I see this in you, I see you struggling with it--I am, too. Let me encourage you and challenge you as God and others have encouraged and challenged me."
  • She is so much fun! My mom loves a get-together with good food, good people, and great conversation. We can talk about literally anything, and I love hanging out with her. 
  • She has a heart of service. Everything I learned about serving in the church, the community, and internationally, I learned from my parents, and especially my mom. I grew up with both parents serving in the church and the family at home. My mom had a heart for missions and international adoption. She introduced all of us to that love and stirred the fire inside us. 
  • She loves collecting memories. Some people collect stamps or figurines, my mom collects memories. She has scrapbooked so much of our family history and fun. Now, as a family, we love talking about things we did together years ago, last week, or whenever, and laughing about it. 
  • She taught me to laugh at myself . . . because really, life is funnier that way :]
Person Number 2 is a woman I only met recently, but her ministry has changed the lives of countless others, and touched my husband's and my hearts.

Dr. Ananthi Jebasingh 

This summer, my mom had a wonderful opportunity to serve at the Good Samaritan School in New Dehli, India. The school began twenty years ago when a little boy knocked on Ananthi's door begging for bread. She didn't want him to turn into a beggar, so she agreed to teach him as if he were in school. The next thing she knew, she didn't have room for all of the children asking to learn. So she began a nonprofit school for the beautiful children in the slums, giving them a chance to escape the slums and hear the beauty of the Gospel. You can read more about her story here and the school's website. They are always in need of donations to help pay for teachers and meals for the children. They are also looking for monthly sponsorship of children--for $35 a month you can help pay for  child to go to school, a school-day meal (often the only meal they receive that day), and medical care. My husband and I are sponsoring a little seven-year-old girl named Esther, and we pray for her every night. We may not be able to go to India, but we can make a difference for a precious jewel there.

These are all pictures my mom took of the school children during her visit Summer '10

She Breathes Deeply

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Technically, this is actually a chowder because it contains potatoes, but what it really is, regardless of definition, is awesome. :] Incredibly easy, wonderfully simply, and super delish.

If I'm out for soup and sandwiches, my first and favorite has always been broccoli cheddar . . . except at this one restaurant whose soup strongly resembled orange cheese jello. Seriously, I poked it, and it jingled as a cohesive whole. It reminded me of this one time I had the flu and . . . well, I won't go into that.
Anywho, on with my mother's brilliant recipe!

Photo Compliments of Google Images

  •  2 10oz packs of frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • 2 cans cream of potato soup 
  • 16 oz cheddar cheese . . . or whatever cheese you'd like.
  • Milk for thinning, if you like. 
1. Take 3/4 cup of water and add it to the frozen broccoli in a pot (or dutch oven  . . . I don't have a dutch oven so I use a large pot . . . or a crock pot if you're not in a hurry).
2. Turn heat to high and allow the water to begin to boil. Break apart the broccoli as the water and veggies heat. As the water heats, add onions and garlic. Stir occasionally and allow the water to evaporate most of the way.
3. When the water is nearly completely  evaporated, lower the heat to medium-high
4. Add potato soup. If using the condensed soup, be sure to add two cans worth of milk or else your soup/chowder will be too thick, like that lousy restaurant's broccoli cheese jello. Stir to get everything mixed up.
5. Add Half and Half. Stir
6. Add cheese. Stir until cheese is dissolved. If you're using a yellow cheese, like cheddar, the soup will turn yellow. If you find it's too thick, add a little bit of milk until you're satisfied with its consistency. Because it's a "chowder" it will be a little thicker by nature.
7. If you are using a crock pot, you can leave it on low for quite a while, but I find it's just as good straight out of the pot after the cheese has melted.

Growing up, this was a huge family favorite, and it continues to be! Happy cooking!

Project 31 - Days 1 and 2

Because I'm starting a day late, I thought I'd double up the entries.

Day 1: What is your definition of beauty? 

Anything that makes you light up inside, that makes the corners of your mouth tickle, your heart feel a little brighter, that points you to the Creator, the Master Artist. Beauty is something that gives joy--it's the gift and the giver, it sweeps you off your feet, if only for a moment, so that your breath catches, even if for a just a sweet second.
The Lake District of Northwest England
It may be the stunning woman walking down the street, her head held high, her hair a tapestry. Maybe it's the written word, something speaks to your heart and you read it over and over and over again. The tree frog on your window, singing in the rain. A bright flower in the desert. Sparkling words on a dark day. The song of the waves rolling over pebbles, sounding like thunderous applause for something, Someone. The roar of a thunderstorm and skipping of lightning. A thriving human, radiant in person, in identity, in life and word and action. It's a baby's laugh. Your favorite song. That old joke.  Shooting stars. The kind smile, gentle hand, generous heart.  It brightens, lightens, lengthens.
Then it brings your gaze back to the One who came up with the idea, who molded it all.
I don't think it really has anything to do with appearance and everything to do with the  the Thumbprint of God on all of us, telling us there is Light in Darkness, there is something Beyond this life, calling us back to Him.

I thought about it long and hard, and that's what I came up with. Beauty is whatever brings you joy and reminds you that there is a God who loves you. It comes in different shapes and forms for everyone, but it's there. He's calling.

Day 2: What makes you uniquely you?

  • I am the most observant yet oblivious person--I can remember the most random details and conversations in great detail, but I can't figure out the most obvious instructions. 
  • I've been telling stories since before I could write. Then I learned to write, and I wrote and illustrated stories. I'm still working on a rewrite/continuation of a story I started when I was twelve. I'll finish it before I die, I promise. 
  • I have no sense of direction, but a great appreciation for the scenery.
  • I rarely follow an exact recipe--I mix and match, add things or delete them as I go . . . Cooking is one of the few activities in which I'm impulsive. 
  • I have a wild imagination. 
  • I'm curious--I want to know the whys about people and the whats about nature. Then I'll repeat all the random theories and facts. My cranium is a bloody vault for those sorts of things, but I can't remember where I put the clean laundry.
  • Talk Like a Pirate Day 2008
  • Spending money literally makes my stomach hurt. God and I are working about my provision-trust issues. It's an exciting journey :] It's something Chris is helping me with, too--He's much better about spending wisely without fear or regret. 
  • I can sit in a room filled with people and just listen. I'm perfectly happy just listening and watching. Of course, I love being involved and included, but just being in the presence of pleasant people energizes me. 
  • I'm borderline obsessive--If I have a goal or idea, I won't stop until it's brought to fruition. If it's something I like, then I want to learn everything about it and tell all my friends about it. 
  • I thrive in change but I also love the constant. I think it came from going to college out of state. I got used to the settling in, moving away, then settling back in. So now that I've been in the same place for two and a half years, I'm both content  and have this desperate itch to go somewhere new. 
  • I love stories whether it's in books, music, movies, or every day conversation. I love stories so much, that I'll read summaries and spoilers on movies I will never see and books I will never read. I just want to know what happens. 
  • I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my own performance. I can sing, play piano, draw, and paint, but I'm constantly comparing myself to people better than I am so I haven't performed in years and I am reluctant to show any of my artistic work to anyone. I love music and art, though, I really do. I feel alive when I participate and when I do it well. 
  • I've never kissed or dated any man but my husband. I was his first kiss and love as well. I am so thankful that God helped us wait for each other. It was so incredibly worth it.

She Breathes Deeply

Project 31

Found this project on another blog, and, honestly, I think it's a pretty inspiring idea. 
This is what Mandy at She Breathes Deeply has to say about it: 

What is "Project 31"?  It is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and women who portray beauty in a inspired way.  "Project 31" is you celebrating your God given beauty, and celebrating the beautiful women around you. The meaning behind the project is taken from this:
Proverbs 31: 10 -31

    Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil 
All the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, 
She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: “ Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Pretty good stuff, huh?  Wanna join in?  Here is the challenge...  For 31 days, blog each day about things that celebrate your God given beauty, and the beauty of the women around you.  I attached a list below you can follow, or you can make up your own (please link back here, though).  


Day 1.  What does beauty mean to you?
Day 2.  What makes you uniquely you?
Day 3.  Who is someone you know who inspires beauty?
Day 4.  Style 31.  Post a pic of you in your favorite outfit.
Day 5.  Write a blog thanking someone who has made your heart come alive.
Day 6.  Jaded beauty.  Has the world's definition of beauty ever jaded you?
Day 7.  Write a blog to encourage another beautiful woman.
Day 8.  Have a beauty secret (e.g. hair tip, make up tip)?  Share, please!
Day 9.  What virtues do you value in yourself?
Day 10.  What is Jesus teaching you as a wife, mom, or friend? (Or just woman in general?)
Day 11.  Post a recipe.  Or if you don't cook, try a new recipe and write about how it turned out (pictures please!).
Day 12.  Write about what wears you out as a woman.
Day 13.  Write about something you would like to change about yourself for the better.
Day 14.  Style 31.  Post an outfit pic!
Day 15.  Write to encourage a friend.  Inspire her beauty.
Day 16.  Write a letter to your daughter, or a young girl in your life.  Tell her what beauty means.
Day 17.  Write about 3 things that make you happy.
Day 18.  Describe your personality.
Day 19.  Write about your favorite comfort food (we are women- we ALL have comfort food!)
Day 20.  Write about your job and why you love it or hate it.  
Day 21.  Write a letter to your husband to encourage him (or if you are single- your future husband.)
Day 22.  What are some needs that need to be met in your community?  Blog about how to extend your hand to those who need you.
Day 23.  What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?
Day 24.  What is Jesus teaching you presently?
Day 25.  Style 31.  Post a pic of your favorite comfy clothes.
Day 26.  What do you hope your grandchildren will say about you someday when you are gone?
Day 27.  Write a blog to encourage someone and build their confidence!
Day 28.  Write about your insecurities as a woman.
Day 29.  Write about "a day in the life of me."  (Pics are great!)
Day 30.  Who is your role model as a woman?
Day 31.  Write about your dreams and goals as a beautiful woman!

Join in with me! I'm starting this tomorrow! I'd love to hear what the rest of you lovely ladies have to say! :]