Monday, June 29, 2009

Building a marriage

My heart is burdened with an increasing amount of broken marriages in my circle. I used to hear about moms and dads getting divorced, but now those moms and dads are my contemporaries and it breaks my heart. And I am praying hard. It's difficult to balance my concern with prayer; because I can't physically do anything about it.

I think often men and women, as married couples, assume that a marriage takes care of itself. That you either marry the right person or you don't. And if you marry the right person, all is well. But anything that you don't work at or build up will eventually crumble or just never mature. Every day is a choice, and a chance, to be the husband or wife God wants you to be.

I am no expert and have not been on the brink of separation or divorce. So I admit, I do not speak from the experience of one who has been there. But though my marriage is not deeply troubled (not to be mistaken with never has been troubled) currently, I am no stranger to heartache.

I do believe that daily private communion with Christ, for each spouse, is essential to a thriving marriage. And applying that in practical ways is the second essential. If you merely strive to be the one your spouse wants you to be, discouragement and depression eventually set in. When you dig deep, however, read His Word and soul-search as to whom God wants you to be, you have cleared so many hurdles already. Not that hardship will never land at your door. But you embrace the hardship beause you serve the One Who works all thing for good for those who love Him.

As I said before, I have not been estranged from my spouse before. But the fire of pain in my life has grown me up. Because it is in the fire of pain that one is molded and made stronger. It is the time when you must put all your "ideas" and "words" of faith to practice...and walk the line. I don't know anyone who prays for or looks forward to the fire. Life is full of it and eventually our roads will reach dips. I pray that God gives you and I strength enough for each one.

I am heartened to continue building my marriage. Day by day, moment by moment, choice by choice. There are days I have failed. I have let it go and let it all hang out, letting my husband carry the responsibility of marriage alone. And we will all have days like that because we are human. But I shouldn't let it become the normal because I am also a child of God, equipped with the Holy Spirit. I have a changed heart that wants to love my husband.

I know this is old news, but if you've never watched the movie, Fireproof, you should. What a wake-up call to never leave our partner behind. I think I'm also going to delve further and take the 40-day journey through the Love Dare. Our marriage is deep, but I believe working on it this way can make it even richer and fuller. If anyone else has taken this journey, I would like to hear how it has affected/ challenged you. FYI, it was only $11.99 at Family Christian Stores last week. It might still be available at that price.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Greater Love

Last night I watched a very disturbing movie, Beyond the Gates. It's a re-telling of the actual events of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. The back of the video jacket reads,

"At first, life is relatively calm at Rwanda's Ecole Technique Officielle, a European-run secondary school where UN peacekeepers provide protection for students and refugees alike, in a country scarred by historically warring factions. And a wise if world-weary Catholic priest (John Hurt) is an apt spiritual guide for an idealistic young teacher (Hugh Dancy). But when Hutu militia launch a bloody attack on the school, the two men must search their faith and decide whether to face death amongst the refugees or flee for safety."

It was disturbing because it was hard to watch the bloodshed (I closed my eyes many times), the reality and harshness of death without escape. But it was also extremely challenging. I have it so good here in my cozy home in a fairly safe town, within the relatively safe United States. I have no worries of imminent death by wild, rugged militia. I found myself wanting to stop the killing of all those innocent people. But the reality is...the majority died within the camp. And the UN did nothing to help. Of course, they could not rescue all, but it's a shame they could do nothing.

But what impressed me the most was the sacrifice by the British priest. No, I didn't agree with all his religious rhetoric, but it seems when it got down to the brass tax, he really did believe in the Lord. (Obviously, I don't know him, but I'm just going by the movie). When all the other whites headed back in the UN trucks for safety, he stayed among the people and died. "If I go, I might never find my soul again." He gave his life for that last load of children so they could escape. And they did escape. Remind you of another man who gave His life so others could live?

"Greater love has no man this, that a man lay down life for his friends." Jn 15:13

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day and such

I am so pooped.

We got waaay too little sleep this weekend. But that is the price to pay when you're having fun with family, right? So today is my recovery. I am paying bills and sitting on the couch catching up with online tidbits.

On Friday, I shopped with my friend, Susi. She found some really cute stuff! I, on the other hand, had no intention of buying clothing for myself, seeing that I've gained a couple pounds. So what does a girl do when she's in this state? Why, she buys shoes of course :) I found an inexpensive pair at Ann Taylor , very chic and a couple more pairs at Marshalls. The Sketchers will be eversonice for casual when I want to wear tennies, but not my exercise or yard shoes. They have good support, too. And the sandals are simply for looks. They are extra cute, you must know - they have a sand-dollar/flip-flop like look to them. And they are bronze, so they will go with so many outfits!

I ended up buying my niece a cool super-size volleyball that can be used in the water as well. She turned 10 this weekend! Her party was Friday night. Once again, all our families got together, and boy, did we have more than enough food. There was salmon cooked on cedar planks, bbq chicken (made by yours truly, but a tad dry), salads, huge fruit platters, rice, etc. For dessert, there were walnut puffs, lemon chinello (?) cake from Costco, and chocolate birthday cake. Needless to say, everyone had their fill of food, laughter and catching up.

On Saturday, my husband, daughter and I went to Panera Bread for breakfast. We have not been in quite a while. It was so relaxing...classical music playing while we sipped coffee (I sipped the coffee) and munched on bagels and souffles. That definitely set me up for a splendid day. Then we had a short visit from M's friend, Sam, from Georgia. He was over here seeing his dad for Father's Day...and seeing a girl. Yes, he got quite the tease from us. We took him to lunch at McGrath's before he had to finally depart on a romantic excursion ;)

Have you every been to Family Christian Stores? I love that place. I just can't get enough - from their discounted gifts, to their variety of music, to the neat jewelry - I could find myself spending
forever there. I bought a few things for a graduation party we attended later that night. Some fashionista earrings with Scripture on them. Very tastefully created. After shopping there, we went home and we all took naps. We must have needed them, because we woke up groggy, but feeling relaxed and refreshed. My brothers came with us to the graduation party and we stayed so late! Way too late for Brilla, anyway. But there were so many wonderful people there to talk with, delicious food, and Foosball. One of the gals I enjoyed chatting with is a friend I haven't seen in a while - and she was 39 weeks along! Such a brave woman to be out and about chatting with everyone. I was so happy to see her. Graduation parties are like that sometimes, you see all these old faces and get to catch up.

On Father's Day, we went to church. I fixed up B in a cute new-to-her sleeveless blue dress, given to us from the sweet Asberg family. Then I took time to fix myself up for M! It's always so rushed on Sundays, since we try to squeeze out our winks to the fullest before getting up to get ready. Then we rushed out the door to make it just in time for Sunday School. There were only 2 girls in there, but we had a deep time of discussing what the Bible says about abortion. Like I said, deep topic. I guess we are following it up with stories and testimonials next week. After a wonderful church service, we headed home for good ol' homemade sandwiches - Daddy's request. Around early evening, we popped over to my in-laws for a dinner/dessert with my father-in-law. He has such a tough work schedule that is was nice to actually talk with him. He makes the best potato salad and he didn't fail us this time. Yum. After a couple hours, we then headed to my parents' house for some ping-pong, pool and pie. It was so much fun! I lost a lot, but who cares? We had lots of laughs and my dad enjoyed opening cards and gifts. I think Bri had a delightful time, too, getting lots of attention from her grandparents and uncles. The poor girl ;)

And that is all about our full weekend. And now you can see why I'm feeling tuckered out. But life spent surrounded by family and laughter is not anything to complain about; life is truly blessed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I don't know why Monday is my least favorite day of the week

My, June is flying fast. It is already the 16th. Whew.

I got my exercise in the early Monday morning. I did 30 min on the elliptical, then lots of hills on the treadmill for another 30 minutes. I can tell I'm pushing my body because I've worked up a good sweat the entire time. After a shower and lots more water, I felt refreshed and ready to move on with the day. B did pretty good this time in the kids care area. About a month ago, B went from loving to go there, to being afraid of me leaving her there. And then last week, she had her worst temper tantrum ever. She's doing pretty well now. Just part of the parenthood journey.

Last night we had our kids Bible club. We played tug-of-war and Mike plus two other little kids won. I think it was mostly Mike. But then we did guys versus girls and the girls won. We then played an interesting game where there were two teams, 3 kids on each team. One had to be carried by the two other teammates. Whoever tagged Mike at the other end of the lawn won. Needless to say, when Brilla was the person being carried, the winning team came easily! She's only 30 lbs.

Our topic was our battle plan as soldiers in God's army: 1) Believe Jesus died for your sins. 2) Remember you do not have to sin. 3) Obey God. 4) Thank God for the victory. Then we discussed the armor of God. They had all kinds of questions about what each piece of the armor of God meant...and I thankfully was somewhat prepared. I can't emphasize how healthy it is for me to have to know what I myself believe so I can share it with them in a way they understand. But you really never know what the kids will ask; they don't come from a Christian home, so they're full of curiosity. And excitement. And boundless energy ;) Needless to say, there was lots of interaction. So much so, that we ran out of time for our fun craft. However, we had a neat old time saying our Bible verse,

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:11

In our previous lessons, we have discussed how Satan is a very real enemy, about his origin, and his tactics. So, the light really came on about how we can protect and fight against him. And we also thanked God for the victory! I pray that these kids would actually put on and use their armor this week.

After all the kids went home, our house had heated up to a nice 77 degrees. So we headed out for a walk. Our little B is extremely adventurous and has little we climbed up a steep hill, she repeatedly wanted to go up it herself, not caring about all the rocks, etc. Then, she proceeded to skip very fast on the way down. She is 2 1/2, and two going on three is one of the most daredevil and carefree ages I have seen yet. I think B will probably be athletic since she has so much gung-ho.

After putting the little munchkin down for bed, M and I relaxed while watching a couple episodes of The Office online. Feels so good to laugh; and that show is ridiculously funny. My hubby was very sweet and gave me a back rub while we watched. Ah, gotta love the end of the day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another Moment of Hope

I can't remember when it was, but I think I was getting my church clothes on this morning, and the though him me once again about wishing I could have changed how things turned out for Amelia. If, for example, she was sitting or leaning or her cord in my womb, could I have moved her a bit and prevent her dying? What if I had felt her non-movement sooner, would she still be alive?

Is there something I could have done to stop this irreversible loss of my daughter?

Then clear as a bell, the Holy Spirit reminded of me of Where she is at. She's in Heaven. Only because of this reality do we hope and have consolation. That is the only thing that wipes our tears and brings us out of that place of grief. If there was no hope of heaven, we would just have to say that "time heals things" or other bits of bunk.

I don't want to make it seem that I'm always grieving about losing Amelia, because I'm not always thinking about her. But her memory is always here and once in a while, I am sad. And I want to honestly share about those moments.
I have to share that I got to go on a date with my romantic hunk on Friday night! Our sweet sitter arrived at 5 and was there until 9:30! We had 4 1/2 hours to spend together. Alone!

First we went for dinner at Cheesecake Factory in Southcenter. I ordered the yummy and HUGE fish tacos. In fact, after my "small", ahem, supposedly small, side salad and some delicious bread, I guess I had room for only one taco. What I really liked about them was the amount of fish inside. There's a good portion. My favorite tacos by far, however, are the ones at Steamer's. And believe me, I'm a connoisseur of fish tacos :P We did not have room for some lemon torte (I know, we had no cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory) and decided to have dessert later on.

We then headed to Acme Bowling. After my last episode of bowling with ladies, I had no clue how I would do this time. I really stank in the first round, but came back and beat M overall in the second, 236 to 231. 236 is a lame score, I admit, but at least I won!! We would have loved to stay and play more, but the music videos on the full-size screens were overwhelming and quite lewd. Next time we'll come before 7pm though and maybe I'll beat my husband again.

Lastly, we grabbed some milk chocolate w/ walnut cookies from Mrs. Field's and headed to Borders to browse our favorite magazines. Of course, M grabbed the decks and home plans while I grabbed the glute buster workouts (how to have the best butt ever!), clean eating and style magazines. I can dream, can't I??

We had a really fun night together. We need to do it more often!

On Saturday morning, we had breakfast out with my side of the family. Very early! At least for a Saturday morning. We had fun chatting about this and that, and finally got to go home fully stuffed and take much needed naps.

In the evening, we had M's aunt, uncle and young cousin, who are missionaries home on furlough from Central Asia, over for dinner. Salmon, brown rice, and broccoli! Yum! Also, I made a gluten-free chocolate cake. Btw, it was unusual but super-delicious and I think I'll make it again. Here is the recipe! Try it yourself and tell me what you think. I loved it.

Here are the recipes for the Avocado Salsa and Fruit Punch I said I would post last time:

(These are from Taste of Home magazine)

Avocado Salsa

1 2/3 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 cans (2 1/4 oz each) sliced ripe olives, drained (I just buy one can of whole and slice my own)
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 TB cider vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 medium ripe avocado, peeled
Tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine the corn, olives, red pepper and onion. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, chop avocados and stir into salsa. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: about 7 cups. This baby is huge!! Make sure you are serving this to a group or share it with neighbors.

Tangy Fruit Punch

1 can (46 oz) pineapple juice (or buy frozen and make it up)
1 can (12 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3/4 cup lemonade concentrate
1 cup water, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 large ripe bananas
1 package (20 oz) frozen unsweetened whole strawberries, thawed
2 liters ginger ale, chilled

In a punch bowl or large container, combine the pineapple juice, orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, 1/2 cup water and sugar.

In a blender, cover and process the bananas, strawberries and remaining water until smooth. Stir into the juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Yield: 25-30 servings (about 5 quarts). This is very sweet, hits the spot, but make it for a big group.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This last weekend

This last weekend was whirling busy, but pretty fun, too...

Saturday was my students' Spring recital. 30 people actually fit in my living room! Praise the Lord, it went great without a hitch! Of course, I'd been prepping quite a bit for the evening. A couple days before I made up prize bags, certificates and programs. Then Friday, I baked and put together food; specifically oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, banana cake, Jell-o jigglers, avocado salsa (I'll post the recipe sometimes soon!), cheese & crackers, and tropical punch (another recipe to share). Actually, some of the food was done on Saturday, but that was the overall goody menu. Then on Saturday, Mike mowed the lawns, set up chairs and I planted some potted flowers, cleaned up the deck, and did all the last-minute stuff. We obviously work like a team because I actually had make-up on, hair done, Brilla dressed (with mouth wiped), candles lit, dinner cooked/eaten by the time students arrived! Next year, sadly, I can't have the recital at my home. There will be too many students...probably double the guests. Can you believe I wasn't able to take pictures of the first recital here? But as the teacher, I guess I couldn't be taking photos the whole time...I'd miss out on their hard work performance. It was so much fun and only lasted an hour!

On Sunday I played for offertory, and that is always interesting because I am always nervous whenever I have to play solo in front of people. I feel like it's it's my recital. If only my students knew. I always tell them, though, that nothing is worse than my most embarrassing moment, which happened at my first recital at age nine. After I had played my song, I promptly hurled. And, yes, I had to walk down the whole aisle, all eyes staring, with the stuff all over me.

Don't worry, it hasn't happened since, and will *not* happen again :)

Sunday night we played ultimate Frisbee with people from church, mainly the senior high/college group. There were some younger and older sprinkled throughout as well. The event was to say "farewell" in a fun way to one of the college girls who is going off to minister at camp for the summer...part of her college major, I believe. Needless to say, we had a blast. Whew! I have not played ultimate in a while, so the first round was like, "Whoa, I'm out of shape!" After the initial oomph, however, I got in the groove of things. Unfortunately, our team lost. We were ahead for a while, but then the other team (which my husband was on) got on a winning streak, and we didn't come back! Oh well. It still left me wanting to play more Frisbee this summer. What a competitive and awesome game. My body is not "sorely" regretting the game (get it??) like I thought it would, but even a couple days later, I'm still tired.

Please pray for my husband and his crew, that work will steadily come in. Much is at a stand-still right now. We personally are being provided for; we're paying bills, etc. And there is work trickling in. We are excited how God has provided all along, however, and are not worrying over the state of the economy. In fact, it's kind of challenging to be creative these days.

The weather has been beautiful lately. I've been watering my flowers and yard, and taking wonderful walks with Brilla. Perhaps Daddy will join us today :)

Have a blessed Tuesday!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Moms Night Out and Missing Her

Can't you totally feel summer heading our way? Both in the weather and schedule-wise! Bible study is over for the year, and though I love it, it is good to have a break. It took up about 8 hrs of my week (including leadership training).

A few Saturdays ago, I had some fun with other Moms at Lucky Strike Lanes in Bellevue.

Loreena and Jackie are on the end

The lovely Jackie

I went with my 2 neighbor friends, Loreena and Jackie. We were glammed up for the night. The attire for the evening was listed as "cocktail dress" nice. But when we arrived, most of the ladies had opted for nice jeans and casual shirts! I guess it's better to be overdressed than underdressed :) I thoroughly enjoyed myself, though I stunk at the bowling part! Honestly, I love to bowl. But it's hit and miss with me at how I do each time. I even hit the gutter a couple times, which was completely embarrassing...I felt less embarrassed when practically all the other women did it at least once, too. I ordered one of my favorites...a Shirley Temple. And their BBQ chicken pizza was amazing. Just like I make at home, except they didn't have whole wheat crust :) Really you should try out Lucky Strike. The atmosphere is wonderful, they have full length screens so the guys don't miss "the game", the food was delicious/reasonably-priced, and it is comfy cozy on their couches. Oh, and they have a dress code, too. Fancy-schmancy!


On the Sunday before Memorial Day, I was struggling emotionally. I went down my checklist...PMS? No. Pregnant? No. I had just seen pictures of a mama holding her newborn daughter and the tears wouldn't stop flowing. I missed Amelia so much. So I headed by myself to the cemetery because I needed to see my daughter's grave...and pray...and cry. I'm glad I did. I needed to let it all out. I did not know the cemetery had installed her grave stone already, but there it was. Serene and beautiful. I wept as I prayed to God, and told him all the feelings bottled up inside. There's nothing like talking to the Lord, the one Who ultimately loves me and knows my heart. Finally I was able to sit back and simply bask in His goodness and praise Him. And ask Him to pass on my love to Amelia.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Visit to the East Side

This weekend, I was able to hop over near Spokane, specifically Elk, to visit my dear friend, Julie. She turned 30 this year!! Yes, thirty, flirty and thriving. Truth is, she doesn't look a day older than 20.

I drove over with my brother, Brian, who switched driving shifts with me. Mike and Brilla were home celebrating my mother-in-law's 60th birthday, so they couldn't come. Of course, I would have loved to go to that, too. It's always hard when you have 2 events that take place at the same time. But Julie's party was planned first! Not that I minded!

It was wonderful. She was totally surprised at the big bash held for her Saturday night. We had fun playing volleyball, talking, eating tacos and homemade spice cake and later licking yummy huckleberry ice cream - thanks to Josh Anderson. I should have taken a picture of our cones! They were deliciously huge! And huckleberry is a rarity; I've only been able to taste it over there on the "other side".On Sunday, we attended their church, Peaceful Valley. The people are so friendly, and I got to see some of Julie's friends I'd met before. They had a baptismal service, huge potluck and recognition time during the potluck. Fun afternoon! Later in the day, we met the Wood family's (Julie's family) sheep, chatted with the entire clan and Erin & Josh, before stopping in town at TJ Maxx.I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Wood family again!! They are incredibly hospitable, light-hearted and fun to be around.They have all gotten so much older! I couldn't believe my eyes. Some of them were in me and Julie's children's choir when they were young. Time doesn't slow down, does it?Brian and I both agreed the trip wasn't as long as we expected. We talked the whole time, making 5 hours whir by.

My Monday today was spent doing office stuff, picking up the house (the dishes that were "going to be washed" were still there :P), and kind of wishing the weekend was here again. Brilla and I ran a couple errands this morning, getting music books and picking up prizes for Bible club. Then the afternoon was piano lessons, followed by a very rowdy Bible club. Summer is in the air! I always hold the thought that they take in more than they let on! Praise the Lord for that :)

I have gained a few pounds lately. It's the eating! I will be counting my calories (biggest challenge for me) and consistently working out again. I kind of got away from that the last 4 weeks. It doesn't help when you have a sick toddler that can't go to child care! But again, when there's a will, there's a way. The weather's been so nice, there's really no excuse to not head out for a power walk in the sunshine.