Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Survey

12 hours until we pick up Gregg’s parents and grandfather at the airport. I’m only working a half day today, so I can get some last minute things around the house ready. Since Gregg’s been off this whole week, he’s already accomplished a lot of the things that needed to get done, which I am extremely grateful for. So, not much else to do really but clean the bathroom and make up the guest beds.

Now for a fun year-end survey that I found on Christina’s blog. Since I completely forgot about yesterday’s Thursday Thirteen, this will sorta make up for it. It’s always fun to take a look back…

1. Where did you ring in 2006? On the living room couch in front of the t.v. Yup, we’re such par-tay animals.

2. What was your status on Valentine’s Day? Happily married. Gregg & I had a romantic dinner of frozen chicken tenders and store-bought cupcakes on a cardboard box “table” that night, since all our furniture had been moved out the day before and was on its way down to Florida.

3. Were you in school (anytime this year)? Nope.

4. How did you earn your keep? I worked as an administrative assistant/bookeeper at a crisis pregnancy center, the best job I ever had.

5. Did you ever have to go to the hospital? Thankfully, no.

6. Have you ever encountered the police? Goodness, no.

7. Where did you go on vacation? Um, nowhere.

8. What did you purchase that was over $500? Our house!

9. Did you know anybody who got married? Yes, two couples from church.

10. Did you know anybody who passed away? Gregg’s grandmother, in November.

11. Have you ran into anybody you graduated high school with? Not actually in
person, but I did sort of “run into” someone through their blog and started communicating again through email.

12. Did you move anywhere? Obviously to Florida, at the beginning of the year.

13. What sporting events did you go to? None.

14. What concerts did you go to? A local Christian band who played at our church.

15. Are you registered to vote? Yes, both here in the city where I live now and in the town where we’re from in NJ.

16. If so, did you do your patriotic duty on Nov. 7? Yes.

17. Where do you live now? Beautiful Palm Bay, FL.

18. Describe your birthday. I had to work that day, but when I got home Gregg took me out to my favorite restaurant, The Olive Garden, and gave me my present- an MP3 player.

19. What’s the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2006? Buy a house! When we lived in New Jersey, it seemed like we would never be able to afford

20. What is one thing you regretted this year? That I didn’t appreciate some of the things I took for granted when I lived in NJ.

21. What’s something you learned about yourself? I am even more of a control and neat freak than I thought. Having a house to take care of seems to have brought out all of my neurotic tendencies.

22. Any new additions to your family? Our 1 yr old Boxer/Terrier/Whatever dog, Tess.

23. What was your best month? Probably January. We celebrated our third anniversary, and Gregg was offered his dream job which meant moving 1,000 miles away to start a whole new life- something we had prayed about for two and a half years.

24. What from pop culture will you remember 2006 by? I’m less into pop culture now than I was a few years ago, but I’d have to say American Idol, Season 5.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Past

The Christmas rush is over. My favorite radio station has switched back to playing non-holiday music, and I’ve returned to work. The past weekend and Christmas itself flew by, but we had a good time. On Saturday we went to the mall because I still needed to get Gregg’s gifts. He dropped me off at the entrance and met me about forty minutes later by Starbucks. We decided to drive out to the beach which is only 15 min. from the mall and had lunch at the Beachside CafĂ©, choosing to sit outside since the weather was gorgeous. After eating, we walked down to the beach which was packed with people laying out in the sun and surfing. I couldn’t believe that this was only two days before Christmas!

When we got home, I gave my dad a call because he had left a message the night before thanking me for the present we sent. At 5:30 we started getting ready for a Christmas open house we had been invited to by one of the choir members. We were by far the youngest people there, but it was nice to mingle with people from our church and enjoy the goodies that were out.

Sunday there was only one service in the morning so we slept in later than normal. After church, we had lunch with some friends from Covenant at their house. Their two daughters, 6 and 7, thought that Gregg was hysterical and kept asking him to do funny things like wear their dresses on his head. I was stuffed after all the food and sweets I had, and wanted nothing more than to just take a nap but we only had about an hour before we needed to go back to church for the Christmas Eve service. We left at 4 because Gregg had to set up the stage, so while he was doing that I fixed my make-up and read a magazine.

People started trickling in about fifteen minutes to six, stopping to take a candle that would be lit for the traditional singing of Silent Night. I had mixed feelings that evening. I was glad to be celebrating a joyous occasion, but kind of sad that Gregg wouldn’t be sitting beside me since he had to be up in the sound booth. The young adults we’re friends with all had family with them, so I sat by myself feeling rather odd and self- conscious.

The service was beautiful though. When it came time to sing Silent Night, the last hymn of the night, I felt my eyes welling up with tears. It was so moving- everyone singing the words we all knew so well together in a quiet and reverent tone, coupled with the tiny lights of candles in an otherwise dark sanctuary. I forgot that I was sitting next to virtual strangers instead of my husband, and drank in the moment. Afterwards, the room was buzzing with happy wishes for a good holiday and the excitement of knowing that there was only one more sleep ‘til Christmas. When Gregg was done packing up and whatnot we went out to dinner, then came home and went straight to bed.

The next morning we woke up around 7, showered and got ready to go out for breakfast at Denny’s, one of the only places open. The restaurant was packed, but we didn’t feel rushed to leave. We enjoyed sausage, eggs, pancakes and French toast- another diet buster in the long line of indulgences we had already partaken of that weekend. When we came home, Gregg got out the digital camera and we prepared to open presents. We started with the ones that came from his sister and the kids. Our oldest niece, who’s 9 ½ and very crafty, made Gregg a scarf and me a necklace, bracelet and earrings out of colorful beads. The bracelet was big enough to fit around my husband’s neck, but it was still a very nice thought. Of course, we took pictures of each other proudly wearing the hand-made gifts. Next, we opened the presents sent from Gregg’s aunt & uncle on his mother’s side. They got us a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel and a welcome sign to hang on our front door, with our last name engraved on it.

Then I gave Gregg his presents, the newest Chris Cagle cd and a couple pairs of boxers. He put the cd on and started handing me my gifts one by one. He got me a few cute shirts, a pair of white sweatpants aka “apartment pants”, and Jeremy Camp’s worship album. (Sidenote: I must say that this cd is AWESOME. I borrowed it from a friend last fall and played it until I thought I had broken it. I’m so glad to have a copy of my own now!) We took pictures of the crumpled wrapping paper and opened boxes strewn all over the living room, and Gregg uploaded all the pictures from that morning onto his laptop so he could send them to our parents.

After the excitement of unwrapping presents, we hit a lull so I took the time to call my family and wish them a Merry Christmas. We cleaned up the mess and a few hours later, went out to dinner. It was either Denny’s again or Golden Corral, so we chose Golden Corral and were surprised to find ourselves waiting on a Disney World sized line to get in the door. It took about twenty minutes before they found us a table, which wasn’t too bad. The buffet that day was really good, with sirloin steak, chicken n’ dumplings, pot roast, ham, and all kinds of yummy ooey gooey desserts. We ate ourselves silly.

On our way to the car, Gregg’s family called so we took turns talking to them on the way home. Once we got home, I started a load of wash so I’d have clean clothes for work the next day and Gregg called North Carolina and we talked to Lori (SIL) and our nieces and nephew. Our 7 year old nephew, Sam, told us that he saw Santa Claus going to the bathroom on Christmas Eve. I have no idea what that was about, but he thought it was pretty funny!

A few hours later, I got to see how a dryer works. For the past few days, our dryer had been making this annoying humming noise, which kept getting louder every time we ran it. When I moved clothes from the washer to the dryer that night and pushed the start button, the noise was now so loud we could barely hear ourselves think. So, Gregg being the handyman that he is, took it all apart and tried to see what was causing the problem.

He suspected it’s the motor, but wasn’t able to really fix it. I helped him put everything back together, and when we started it again the noise was still there but a lot quieter. Since then it’s just gotten worse, to the point where I can’t be in the kitchen when it’s running because I’ll get a headache. So frustrating. It was brand new when it was installed last September by the guy who flipped our house so now it’s past the warranty period, even though we only got the benefits of using it since February when we moved in. It still dries clothes and everything, but the noise is ear-splitting. I hope it can be fixed easily and cheaply.

Well, December 25 may be over, but there are more festivities for us to enjoy with the arrival of my in-laws in two days. Jeff and Liz came down ahead of Gregg’s mom, dad and grandpa so they could vacation in the area. They got into Orlando yesterday morning at 10:30 and visited with Liz’s parents who live in Tampa. Gregg called up Jeff on their way to the hotel and invited them over to our house for dinner. It was kind of last minute, but I just made extras of the baked chicken I was already planning on making and Gregg ran to the store to pick up an apple pie. Since he was off all day yesterday, he cleaned the house, did yard work and even folded laundry, so I didn’t freak out like I normally do about company coming over.

It was really great to see them again. We made the house very cozy by starting a fire (since it was about 40 degrees) and turning the Christmas tree lights on. Over dinner and dessert, we got somewhat caught up. They gave us our presents- the book Weird Florida and a roll of Taylor Ham! Liz has a small baby bump now, which was just barely noticeable under her sweatshirt. It was really nice to be with family again, and now I’m looking more forward to having everyone over for “Christmas, Take Two”.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I’m breathing a lot easier today. It’s my last day of work before the Christmas break, and I’m getting excited. Yesterday, Gregg and I worked on de-cluttering the house. He got rid of the junk that was sitting around in the living room and I cleaned up the kitchen & did a couple more loads of laundry. After dinner, he helped me fold the mountain of clean clothes and put them away. It’s so nice to have a clutter free house again!

The pile of presents under the tree is growing as more packages show up on our doorstep. Christmas cards continue to accumulate on the sill of the bay window in the kitchen. Our counters are full of home baked goodies that we’ve received from co-workers this past week. With all these adornments, the house is looking very festive. Last night, Gregg and I opened the ornaments his mom sent with the large package that arrived on Tuesday, the ones that she engraves herself every year. There were two identical silver snowflakes with our names and the year on them, which we hung on the tree. Yes, our home is looking a lot like Christmas indeed.

There’s still a list about a mile long of to do’s before Gregg’s family arrives next Friday, of course, but I’ve posted it here in a nice, neat (belated) Thursday Thirteen. Having it down “on paper” and out of my head helps me to focus on what really matters this Christmas holiday. These are just things to do, and they will get done!

13 Things I Need To Do Before The In-laws Get Here

1. Go grocery shopping for the “Christmas Feast”.

2. Finish wrapping the presents.

3. Sweep the floors, vacuum, dust.

4. Wash bed sheets and make up the guest beds.

5. Clean the bathroom. (ick)

6. Fold and put away laundry; stack fresh towels in the bathroom closet.

7. Recycle cardboard boxes.

8. Clean out the refrigerator.

9. Organize/put away papers that are piled in various places in the kitchen.

10. Give the dog a bath.

11. Sweep out back porch.

12. De-clutter our bedroom and the spare room.

13. Relax.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Let there be peace on earth

... and let it begin with me. I’m trying to start by creating peace within my home. But honestly I’m freaking out that all I see when I’m there is a big mess. Since we cleared out the storage room to make space for the bed, we now have that junk in the living room, creating a rather dangerous obstacle course. There are leftover cardboard boxes propped up by the fireplace, from when we needed an assortment to ship the Christmas gifts up north. We still have wrapping paper and bows out because there’s one last present to wrap yet. The laundry is in various stages of being done- there’s a load in the washing machine (wet), one in the dryer, and at least three that are getting wrinkled sitting in a pile on our bed. I just can’t relax when there’s crapola all over the place. And the house in general is in need of a serious cleaning.

This class on the Breaking Free series I’m taking is helping me realize that I do have a lot of strongholds, things that take me captive and prevent me from living the Spirit-filled life God has planned. My neurotic obsession with having everything neat and orderly is just one of them that appears to rear its ugly head nearly every day. I either need a maid or better time management skills. I feel like I get buried under the weight of trying to keep the house in order, and I never really get caught up.

It makes me anxious and frustrated, ultimately taking my focus off of God and putting it on my house. I sometimes just reel from the thought of there being so much freakin’ stuff to do every day. And I’ll work hard to get all my tasks accomplished, but at the end of the day there’s always things I forgot or didn’t have time to do. So I obsess about what didn’t get done instead of what did and drive myself crazy, which is completely counterproductive. I know a big part of this comes from my mother who, when I was growing up, was always freaking out about the house being neat & clean. She also tends to focus on the negative, instead of the positive.

Having a clean house just isn’t a big priority to my husband, unfortunately. Gregg will come home from work and turn on the t.v. or get on his laptop (which he’s already been on all day); meanwhile I’m making dinner and moving 50 loads of laundry around, and I just want to scream “Stop relaxing! We have stuff to do here!!” As this Christmas approaches, the peace of Christ does not reign in my heart.

Anticipating the arrival of my in-laws next week only increases my agita. While I am looking forward to it on one hand, I am stressing on the other. It’s a big deal for me to host my first Christmas, per say, in my first home. I have grand visions of the tree being all lit up with colorful presents underneath and a fire going in the fireplace while something yummy bakes in the oven and carols play softly in the background, all in a non-cluttered, dirt-free house. But I know I may have to settle for less than the Norman Rockwell painting, and I’m praying I can be okay with that.

I really want to put away my neurotic tendencies and focus on having a wonderful and memorable Christmas. None of the treasured memories I included in my past two T13’s are special because they happened in the perfect setting in a spotless house. They are looked back on fondly because they’re about spending time with loved ones and celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So This Is Christmas

Over this past weekend, I started getting a little homesick. It feels weird not be making plans to visit my family on Christmas Eve, or anticipating the yearly tradition of spending the whole day Christmas with Gregg’s immediate & extended families. I can’t help but feel just a tad bit jealous when I hear of somebody who’s getting ready to travel home to see family. You know what they say- “There’s no place like home for the holidays”. And honestly, it’s just so strange to me that the temperature hasn’t even broken 60 degrees the whole month of December, and we’ll probably be wearing shorts and t-shirts on Christmas Day.

Gregg and I haven’t figured out what we’re doing on the 25th yet. We got a very nice invitation to join some other people who don’t have family in the area, but we may just go it alone, like we did on Thanksgiving. It’ll probably end up being like any other day, since we’re planning on having Christmas on the 30th instead when Gregg’s family will be down here. We’ll do presents, and I’ll probably make a roast of some kind and heat up some of those delicious pies from Cracker Barrel in the oven (shhh, don’t tell anyone!).

That, I am looking forward to. It will be fun hosting my first Christmas, and having them visit with us for a few days. We’ve already started preparing the house for their arrival. On Saturday, we bought a cheap twin bed for the third bedroom/storage room for Gregg’s grandpa to sleep in. There was just enough space for it, too, once we reorganized everything. Sunday after church we dug out all the presents that were in the spare room closet and wrapped them. We packaged the ones for Gregg’s sister’s family and mine in cardboard boxes so they could be shipped out to North Carolina and New Jersey. UPS said they’ll be at their scheduled destinations by Thursday.

We spoke to Gregg's parents and brother Sunday and they’re all excited about coming. Jeff told us that he and Liz found out they are having a girl! I’m sure my MIL is going to spoil her rotten.

Some Christmas presents have started making their way to our house. My mom sent a package which we picked up from the post office on Saturday and just yesterday a box arrived from Gregg’s sister, courtesy of DHL. MIL said that their gifts should arrive today and tomorrow. The box that came from North Carolina was stuffed full of little gifts that were obviously wrapped by our nieces and nephew. So cute. We’re waiting until Christmas day to open them. And, I got an early Christmas gift from my boss. He very generously gave me a $1,000 bonus. Score!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… even if the weather doesn’t make it feel that way.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

With Christmas less than two weeks away now, I wonder where in the world this year has gone. It seems like just yesterday that we were wondering if we’d be asked to come for an interview with Covenant, and now Gregg has worked there for ten months already. Crazy.

We’re about to celebrate our first Christmas in Florida. Funny, I thought that it would seem less like Christmas here because of the need to turn on the A/C in the middle of December, but it hasn’t really taken away from the holiday. Just like every year, those 24 days before (or 31, if you start counting right after Thanksgiving) are filled with certain sounds, sights and smells which call to mind specific memories of Christmases past. So much anticipation and planning, with all the frenzy of going to parties, decorating, baking and listening to Christmas songs ad nauseum- they all make up the days leading up to December 25. Whether you celebrate it in 20 degree weather, or 80, it’s all the same.

Over the years I’ve discovered that these days leading up to Christmas are always better, strangely, than the actual day itself, with the exception of the presents. While most of us can say we have found that it is truly better to give than receive, who are we kidding? We all still love to get gifts. Though the nature of the presents have changed throughout the years and my excitement of waking up on Christmas morning has waned, it’s always a thrill to open up a carefully wrapped package that was chosen especially for me. With that in mind, I bring you this week’s

13 of the best Christmas presents I’ve received

1. The Christmas of 1985, I opened many gifts from my parents (who wrote Santa on all the tags, of course) that would have made any 6 year old’s day, but one in particular stood out from all the rest: a Fisher Price tape recorder. In the years before MP3 players and Ipods, this was hot stuff. I took that thing everywhere with me, tape recording stories my sister & I made up, my parents’ conversations, and my favorite songs off the radio. Somewhere in my mother’s house, she still has the audio tape of that Christmas morning 21 years ago.

2. Christmas ’04, my husband braved the crowds at the mall to actually go into some of my favorite stores to pick out clothes and ahem, some personal items, for me. Everything he got was pink, which is my favorite color! They were all things I would have bought for myself, too.

3. I awoke Christmas morning in 1991 to find a shiny, new purple twelve speed beside the tree. I proudly rode that bike around town from then on until the year I turned 19.

4. The first Christmas we were married, Gregg wrapped up a big box and placed it on the kitchen table for me to find that morning. Unbeknownst to me, this was just a decoy and my real present was a brand new ski jacket he had secretly hidden in the hall closet. While I was opening the empty cardboard box, he triumphantly brought out the jacket from its hiding place and my jaw hit the floor.

5. That same year, my sister bought us a beautiful album from Things Remembered for our wedding proofs and had it engraved with our names there.

6. My mother loved to fill our stockings with little trinkets and one year when I was a teenager, she stuffed mine with a jar of chunky peanut butter. Every time she went grocery shopping, I asked her to get me the chunky kind because everyone else in the family preferred smooth. Well, she decided to surprise me with it at Christmas instead of just putting it in the pantry!

7. Last year, Gregg bought me a bright pink fleece blanket because I was complaining I didn’t like using an old comforter to stay warm under. It’s so very soft and snuggly.

8. Christmas ’86, my sister and I each got our very own My Child doll which was all the rage that year. They were these soft dolls that came with all different hair & eye colors, because they were meant to look just like you. My sister got one with brown eyes and curly brown hair, and I got one with blue eyes and straight brown hair. We thought it was so cool that these dolls sort of resembled us and we pretended they were our daughters.

9. 2002 was the first year I got to experience Christmas with Gregg’s family. I found out that the presents come out and just keep on coming! I got a bread machine, which I was floored about since I’m sure it must have cost nearly $100. Over the years, I’ve used it to make all sorts of yummy breads like Banana, Italian Herb and Cinnamon Pecan Swirl.

10. The Christmas of 1996, I received a radio/tape/CD player from my mom which I used extensively throughout high school and college to play all my favorite cd’s and also make compilation tapes of songs from friends’ cd’s. Again, this was highly useful in the days before MP3 players or Ipods became available.

11. When I was ten, I got the coveted American Girl Doll, Molly, for Christmas and
had lots of fun fixing up her hair and changing her outfits so she could look just like the pictures I had seen in all the books.

12. Christmas of ’98 my mother bought me a VCR for my dorm room so that I could
watch movies and tape my favorite shows like Friends, Dawson’s Creek and Felicity.

13. Last year, Gregg got me Carrie Underwood’s debut cd because he heard me
mention one time how I’d like to have it after hearing “Jesus Take the Wheel”. On my 45 minute commute to work, that was my cd of choice and I played it so much, I almost wore it out. Now whenever I listen to it, it reminds me of the last few months we lived in New Jersey.

26 years worth of Christmas gifts, and I struggled to come up with just 13 of the best ones. Goes to show you that you don’t need to go crazy buying the latest and greatest stuff for your kids since they likely won’t remember ¾ of them when they’re an adult!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A quick Christmas Meme and a recap of the weekend

I saw this on Erin and Christina's blogs and decided to play along. After all, I've been listening to Christmas music pretty much non-stop since the day after Thanksgiving...

1. A favorite ’secular’ Christmas song.

Probably "White Christmas", the Bing Crosby version. It reminds me of my parents for some reason.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself– the cheesier the better).

Silent Night- it gets me every time.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

Ugh, Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town".
It's. Just. Awful.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.

Absolutely! Any song that is easy to make up your own lyrics to is okay with me. I especially love The Muppets singing this song and Miss Piggy squealing "Five golden rings!" I also like The 12 Things at Christmas That Are Such a Pain to Me. "You're so smart, you rig up the lights!"

5. A favorite Christmas album.

Steven Curtis Chapman's Christmas- it has the traditional hymns that are done beautifully, as well as a few originals which always choke me up.

Well, this weekend was pretty much a blur. Gregg spent the majority of it at church because of the Cantata, which gave me time to get housework done. I even did some ironing! On Saturday, he didn't have to be at church until 3 so we were able to spend a little time together. We grabbed lunch at the mall food court and walked around for a while. We still only have his mom to buy a Christmas present for, but we just don't have any ideas. At least we have until the 29th to figure it out since they're his family isn't coming down here until then.

Gregg came home Saturday night around 7:30 and we put together a hodge podge of leftovers for dinner. As per our annual tradition, we dusted off the VHS tape of A Muppet Christmas Carol and popped it into that ancient machine called the VCR. It was way cheesier than I had remembered, but still great.

Yesterday, I started a new adult Sunday school class on the Breaking Free series by Beth Moore. It seems like it will be really intense, but just what I need. The Christmas Cantata was at 7 that night. I thought it was done pretty well. The choir sang beautifully and I got chills when they sang "O Come O Come Emmanuel". We stayed until after 9 tearing the set down and as usual, were some of the last people to leave. We contemplated going to Denny's for something to eat, but ended up deciding to just go home and reheat leftovers again since I was pretty tired and had to get up early for work this morning.

This week won't be quite as busy for Gregg, but he still has to work two nights. Our last small group meeting for the year is tomorrow, and he'll miss that unfortunately. At least this weekend looks free so far. Just two weeks until Christmas!!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Tonight my husband is at a rehearsal for the Christmas Cantata, so I'm home by myself. Tomorrow they're doing the last run-through and showing it to the senior citizens, and then Sunday night is the actual performance which I'll be going to.

I'm so glad the weekend is here again. I have a fine evening planned consisting of lounging around in sweats eating popcorn & watching Trading Spouses and maybe a Christmas special or two. Yay for relaxation!

Anyway, here are some pictures from my mom and stepdad's trip to Florida last month. My stepdad sent them to me just yesterday.

Me and my mom.

Us at the beach. It was very windy that day!

Mom & Art

Our doggie

And here is a random and very grainy picture of our Christmas tree, taken with my cell phone.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

As the days count down to December 25, I get more and more excited about that most wonderful time of the year. I love everything about it, from getting the tree all lit up and decorated to the mystery and wonder of the Nativity story. So… I thought I would devote this week’s Thursday Thirteen to my favorite things at Christmastime!

1. Mistletoe. Who doesn’t like an excuse to pucker up with your sweetie? A few years ago, my MIL got us a real one to put up. We now have it hung between the entrance way to the kitchen from the living room.

2. Candy Canes. I’m a sucker for these pepperminty treats. From when I was a little kid, I’ve always eaten them from the bottom up. They’re great for stirring hot chocolate, too.

3. Christmas Songs. From O Holy Night to Jingle Bell Rock, I can’t seem to get enough of these festive tunes during the holiday season. Some remind me of the power and meaning of Christ’s birth, others transport me back to my childhood, and then there are just those silly songs that I love singing along to like Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and Dominic the Donkey.

4. Exchanging Presents. Every year, I find it fun to pick out gifts for people that I know they’ll love, which makes giving way better than receiving. But, receiving is pretty nice too. :)

5. Christmas Eve Service. I’ve always enjoyed this beautiful and meaningful service. Hearing the Christmas story read from the Bible, lighting the last of the advent candles, singing Christmas carols. The church that I grew up in had an 11 pm service, which meant that my sister and I were allowed to stay up until midnight. The next to last hymn of the evening before it turned 12 and we rang in Christmas morning was Silent Night, which we sang with the lights turned down low. It would inevitably move my mother to tears and now, as an adult I find my eyes welling up when we sing it.

6. Time spent with family. No matter what conflicts you have with your family the other 365 days of the year, Christmas brings everyone together and builds lasting memories that stay with you into adulthood. I always look back fondly on the times we spent celebrating. It’s hard to grasp that this is the first Christmas in my entire life that I won’t be with my family, which makes me sad. I will greatly miss seeing them, but they will be in my heart.

7. Celebrating the Birth of Jesus. I mean, that’s the whole reason for the season right? I love that during this time of year, the name of Jesus is openly proclaimed and heard even on secular radio stations. There is so much mystery and beauty surrounding this event which took place over 2,000 years ago and we do well to reflect on the fact that God became one of us. When you really think about it, it’s just overwhelming.

8. Decorating the Christmas Tree. Getting to open up those boxes of ornaments after they’ve been stashed away for a year and placing each one carefully on the branches is always a treat. I think it’s so special because you fill your tree with little trinkets that are personal to your own family and they tell a story about you, as well as contain priceless memories. When we got married, the set of ornaments Gregg had been receiving every year since he was born was passed on to us. The Christmas that we were engaged, his mom started giving me my very own because I was now part of the family.

9. Baking Christmas Cookies. There are fewer better smells than that of cookies baking in the oven: sugar cut-outs, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles… No wonder that was all Cookie Monster asked for from Santa in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

10. Eating Christmas cookies.

11. Christmas Specials. Every year I look forward to the myriad of Christmas programming that runs from Thanksgiving to December 24; classics like Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Muppet Family Christmas. It’s also fun to bust out the old VHS tapes of specials, some that don’t even air on t.v. anymore. Such as- A Claymation Christmas. People come on, we gotta bring that back! Who’s with me?

12. Admiring Christmas Lights. “One light goes out, they all go out!” It’s fun to see how people creatively decorate their houses with gold, blue and multi-colored lights, sometimes spelling out words of holiday cheer. Our one contribution to the neighborhood display growing up was always the “Christmas tree” out on the front lawn which my father made out of planks of wood and colorful lights.

13. Snow. Okay, barring a miracle I know there’s no way we’ll have a white Christmas here in Florida. So, since I’ll be admiring it from afar this year, I’ll just forget about the hassles of shoveling and that it ever made it difficult/borderline treacherous to drive and choose to remember the good parts: the way snow peacefully blanketed the ground and trees, turning our street into our very own Winter Wonderland and giving the holiday that special extra touch.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You are all weirdos!

I was tagged by Erin to do the 6 weird things about me almost a week ago. Whoops. Here’s how the rules go: Each player of this game starts with “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own with “6 weird things” as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog. So without further ado-

1. I can’t sleep in our bed until it’s made. The sheets have to be tucked in at the corners and the bedspread must be smooth. It irritates me to no end that Gregg always pulls the sheets on his side out and wraps himself up in them and the comforter like a cocoon.
2. I have trouble saying the words union, sixth, community, church and thirty. I don’t like how they sound coming out of my mouth and how it has to form in order to say them, so I try to avoid using them in normal conversation if I can help it.
3. I’m a freak about having things straight and lined up. I just can’t stand to have loose ends! When I’m at work stapling or paper clipping documents together, the edges absolutely must not overlap each other, even a fraction of a millimeter. When I tear a piece of toilet paper off the roll and there’s a small piece that is still hanging, I have to fix that also. Yeah, obsessive compulsive much?
4. When I was born I had blue eyes and blonde hair, taking after my grandmother on my father’s side who is German. But as I got older, my hair turned a medium brown and my eyes became green. What am I, a chameleon?
5. I will not eat a whole slice of a tomato because it just grosses me out; however I will eat ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomatoes which are chopped up & put on sandwiches.
6. I love garlic. Good for me, bad for Gregg. I even used to put garlic powder in my scrambled eggs before he asked me not to, because I’d end up reeking for the rest of the day.

Since I’m so late in posting this, I think everyone else has probably already been tagged but okay, I tag anyone reading who might not have.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #1

I’ve been a real Ebenzer Scrooge this week. I’ve done a lot of grumbling and complaining- about my job, about housework and that I don’t have enough time to get it done, about the dog who makes the house messy. Many nights I feel like I’m playing Beat the Clock, with trying to get dinner on the table and the house picked up all in those three hours between getting home from work and sitting down to relax with Gregg in front of the t.v. I try to maintain a balance of keeping the house clean and getting all the laundry done, while also making sure I spend some time with my husband at the end of the day. It seems like an impossible task sometimes, and I just have to let some of the things around the house go, realizing that the world won’t come to an end if I do.

So, in the midst of all this complaining and frustration, I thought I would kick off my first Thursday Thirteen with a list of things I am thankful for. In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, I bring you this week’s:

Thirteen Things I am thankful for

1. That I was saved at an early age (18) and by grace, rather than anything I
can do on my own.
2. My wonderful husband, who shows me daily how much he loves me and reassures me that I am a great wife.
3. Gregg’s parents. They have been incredibly supportive throughout our marriage and accepted me into their family as one of their own from the very beginning.
4. My family. Even though we have our issues, I am thankful that I was raised in a loving environment and had a sister to grow up alongside me, who I share many memories and inside jokes with. My parents, who grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, also have a very rich history that they’ve passed down to me.
5. That I have a job which pays me fairly well, and which I am mentally and physically capable of doing.
6. That we live in a beautiful & relatively inexpensive area of the country and have a nice home.
7. Our church. The members are committed to living out the Gospel and they have welcomed us with open arms right from the start. They also appreciate all that Gregg does in the tech ministry.
8. Our small group, with whom we’ve laughed and grown deeper these past few months.
9. That Jesus loves me unconditionally and sacrificed His life for me, so that I can live abundantly and go to Heaven.
10. Okay, yes- I’m thankful for blogging! It gives me an outlet for my thoughts, fears and struggles, as well as a place to just be myself & put up pretty blinkies.
11. Tacked onto the last one, the blogging community I’ve come to know over the last year and a half. I enjoy reading other married women’s takes on life and the support we show each other through good times and bad.
12. That Christmas is just around the corner! It is such a magical time, filled with traditions, yummy goodies and familiar Christmas carols to warm your heart, as well as reflections on the birth of our Savior and how He reconciled us to God.
13. A godly marriage which tests my character and matures my faith, and also brings me great joy and pleasure. We’ll be celebrating our 4th anniversary 6 weeks from today!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Turkey Leftovers

Sigh. 4 blissful days sleeping in, relaxing and spending all-too-precious quality time with hubby have, sadly, come to an end. They were wonderful while they lasted.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and enjoyed time spent with family eating turkey (or in some cases, Roast Pork). I was grateful that I did not have to cook a turkey, bake a pie or clean up any dishes since we went the Cracker Barrel route. We just relaxed that morning and talked to our families back in NJ who were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.

I really didn’t expect Cracker Barrel to be as crowded as it was. We got there around 2 and there were people waiting outside. Since there were only two of us, we were seated right away. We feasted on ham, turkey, stuffing, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie with pecans for the low price of $8.69 each! The food was ah-mazing and they gave us so much of it. We were stuffed by the time we left. Suffice it to say, I think we’ve started a new Thanksgiving tradition.

That night we didn’t do much of anything. I perused some of my favorite blogs and started spaghetti & meatballs around 6, which neither one of us ate a whole lot of since we were still full. We watched Spiderman 2 on television and fell asleep in each other’s arms on the couch. At 10:30, we dragged ourselves off to bed and got up the next morning around 8. We decided to go Christmas shopping, but didn’t get out the door until after 11 when all the sales were already over. We also missed all the crowds, so that was good.

Our plan this year was to try and cut our spending on gifts in half. In previous years, the spending on Christmas would just get out of control. It was insane, running here and there trying to find the perfect gift for everyone. We decided to combine couples, with the exception of our parents, and opted not to buy our nieces and nephews each a toy that would cost at least $20. We got Jeff and Liz (BIL & SIL) stuff for the baby they’re expecting in May, so that was like three gifts in one.

So we made our list, checked it twice, and headed out on our shopping excursion. I’ve found that searching for Christmas gifts can test the will and resolve of any good couple, not unlike the Amazing Race. Each year, it’s a challenge to stay focused when you’re tired and you don’t seem to be making headway. After getting off to a rather sluggish start and turning up empty handed at Sam’s Club where we only bought wrapping paper and pine logs for the fireplace, we were a little deflated but pressed on. 20 stores later, we had gotten everyone on our list except for Gregg’s mom, who’s always the hardest to shop for. It was a big thrill crossing off each name as we got back in the car.

When we got home, we put the gifts away in the spare bedroom closet and tallied up the damage. We actually almost met our goal of spending half, but we still have MIL and each other to buy for yet. We heated up leftovers from the night before for dinner and even though it was 60 degrees outside, Gregg made a fire in our fireplace. It made our living room very cozy. For dessert, I warmed up the piece of pie I had saved from our Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving and we wrapped up the night by watching Bruce Almighty.

Saturday we set out to get our Christmas tree. I have to say, it was really odd to pick out a tree in short sleeves and sandals. There were no tree farms around, either, which was a new concept to us. It seemed the only places selling them were Walmart or Home Depot and the trees got increasingly expensive the taller they got. In New Jersey we always got our tree at Max is Back and it was $24.99, whatever size you wanted. So after going to a couple of home improvement stores, we found that Lowe’s had the better selection. After hemming and hawing a bit, we picked out an 8 foot Douglas fir and threw it in the back of Gregg’s pickup.

We got it safely home and Gregg sawed off a little of the trunk before we put it in the tree stand. Our dog, for some reason, was afraid to go near it. I suddenly had this image of a chipmunk or other critter jumping out of the tree and Tess tearing through the house after it, like in Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. We happened to get a really uptight tree that was taking an unforgivably slow time to loosen its branches, so we decided to leave it to decorate for the next day and went out to the movies. We saw Deck the Halls, which had its funny moments, but for the most part was a disappointment.

Since Gregg wasn’t working on Sunday- and it was recommended by Pastor Dan that if you take off on a Sunday, you just don’t attend church there that day- we chose to go to a moderately sized Baptist church down the road. We enjoyed actually getting to worship together and found the service very uplifting.

We had a quick lunch when we got home and started taking out all the boxes of ornaments. I opened the boxes and got down some Christmas decorations while Gregg strung the lights on the tree. Then I lit a cranberry scented Yankee candle, put on some Christmas tunes and went to work trimming the tree. Gregg started another fire in the fireplace to complete the atmosphere. When we were done hanging the ornaments, I decorated the rest of the house with holiday stuff. Gregg made us pancakes for dinner and we ate in front of tv with the tree all lit up and the fire glowing & crackling. It was so romantic and the perfect end to the weekend.

And now it’s back to the daily grind. I kinda let the house go while we were on “vacation” so I have to play catch up with the chores. Yippee, I can’t wait to tackle that pile of laundry in our bedroom and get to scrubbing the bathroom! Yeah.

I’m now officially in the Christmas spirit at least: our tree is up, the halls are decked, and my favorite radio station is playing Christmas songs 24-7, which I’m sure I’ll be absolutely sick of by December 25. I’ve already begun thinking of the meal I’m making for Christmas Day, for just the two of us. This year’s holiday will be radically different from all the ones that we’re used to-we won’t be participating in any of the usual festivities with Gregg’s family, the weather will certainly be a lot warmer, and we won’t see any of that white stuff either. Now that we don’t live anywhere close to family, we’ll just have to start our own traditions.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Oldie But Goodie

After a slight detour into the life and times of yours truly, I bring you once again (let’s all say it together) the weekend update. I know you are thrilled.

Friday night after dinner we went to House of Power, which is an ATV and motorcycle shop. We’ve been kicking around the idea of Gregg getting a motorcycle to go back and forth to work with, once the lease is up on his truck. Between the car payment, gasoline and insurance, the stupid thing is costing us a small fortune each month. So it’s either a motorcycle or a cheap used car.

When we pulled up, Gregg turned into a kid at the candy store. After looking around some, we quickly realized that all of the bikes were seriously out of our price range. We were then practically mauled by this pushy and annoying sales guy who just didn’t understand that we. were. just. looking. He tried to sell us a “really good deal” and talked all about the low monthly payments. We were like, dude it’s just not gonna happen. We are DONE financing our way through life.

So, it was kind of disappointing that we were hounded to buy something immediately, instead of getting to take our time there and look at what we wanted to, but we did at least get some good ideas from this guy about the classes Gregg would have to take and the gear he needs. It made for some really funny conversation on the way home. “Okay, so what if I stood on my head and said the alphabet backwards, then would you buy a bike?” We topped off the evening by stopping at Twisty Cone for ice cream.

The next day we slept in until 9! It was lovely. Gregg fixed us waffles and bacon for breakfast, then we got ready and went out to do some errands. Tess came along for the ride. We’ve been taking her in the car with us sometimes when we go out so she’s not left home alone for several hours. She’s a much happier pooch for it (read: not as destructive). She loves to stick her face out the window as we’re whizzing by.

It was a beautiful day that actually felt like fall and just chilly enough to warrant a jacket. We went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get a gift card for my boss for his birthday, which was on Sunday, and walked around the mall for a little while. We also went in Barnes and Noble to finally replace the Sacred Marriage book that Tess had eaten a few weeks ago. Then, since it was on the way home we stopped at Petsmart and brought doggie into the store with us. She was overwhelmed at first, to put it mildly. There was just so much going on, strange people everywhere. She started shaking uncontrollably.

Another couple, with two small dogs, came down the same aisle we were in and Tess wanted no part of them. The man started talking to us about her and knelt down at her level. She began sniffing the other dogs, her tail started wagging, and she eventually stopped shaking. Then she was all about the myriad of treats and toys on display. While there, we looked into the pet training they have and thumbed through a book about how to correct destructive chewing. We got a lot of good ideas that we started implementing right away. We’ll probably sign Tess up for the 8 week training course, too. We finished off our trip by buying her a new chew toy, one “guaranteed virtually indestructible”. Yeah, we’ll see.

Sunday we did the church thing of course. It was the last Crown Financial class for me. After church we grabbed lunch and got a rack with wheels at Sam’s Club to transport the sermon cd’s from Gregg’s office to the worship center, since he’s making so many now throughout the week. We came back to church, assembled the rack outside and wheeled it into his office. Gregg needed to be there to mix sound for the Thanksgiving service at 6, so we headed home to rest and call his parents. I decided to stay home that night, so while Gregg was out I did the assigned reading for small group, got some laundry done and caught up on my favorite blogs.

I’m so glad I only have to work three days this week. Gregg and I decided against the day trip to Disney World, although it would have been fun. It’s almost $130 for both of us to get into the park, and then you still have the cost of parking and food. Our plans aren’t firmly nailed down yet, but I know that we’re definitely going to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving dinner (go ahead, call us heathens) and we’ll most likely get our Christmas tree and do some Christmas shopping somewhere in there. This weekend is really up for grabs, so we could end up doing anything. I’m just looking forward to spending that time with my hubby.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Okay, you asked for it

The short version of my life story. Here goes...

Born July 27, 1979 in Brooklyn, NY to Russell and Linda; moved to suburbia in NJ the summer of '85; parents divorced in '91; endured the trauma that is junior high; got my heart broken half a dozen times and cemented friendships that would last into my twenties while in high school; graduated HS and went off to college in 1997; gave my life to Christ during my first semester at college; earned my Bachelors degree in Social Work in 2001 at Rutgers University (go Scarlet Knights!) and my Masters a year later; met Gregg in July of 2002, got engaged September 2002, got married January 2003; went through various trials in my marriage, including switching career paths & trying to support a struggling business, which would test & mature my faith; moved to Central Florida in February 2006... and the rest is blogging history!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Getting to Know You...

Lately I've been stuck in a rut of just writing about whatever happened during the week in my wildly exciting life. Ha ha.

So- I've decided to follow in the footsteps of fellow bloggers, MeLissa and Christina, and put it out there for anyone to ask me questions. Go ahead, ask me anything! I'm not shy. Here's your chance to get the skinny on the girl from Jersey who's turned into a full fledged Floridian.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Talking Turkey

So Gregg and I have been talking about our Thanksgiving Day plans. There are a few different options on the table for us, and it’s nice that we’re not tied down to one commitment. No offending anybody because we’ve chosen to (gasp!) go somewhere else for the holiday. Being here in Florida, 1000 miles away from both families, opens up all kinds of possibilities.

We could a) Drive 10 hours up to North Carolina to see my sister-in-law, her husband and their four kids, b) choose from one of the three invitations we’ve received so far from people at church, or c) spend the day by ourselves. Ding, ding, ding! I think we have a winner, folks!

After discussing the options, we narrowed it down to C. The whole point of being able to actually pick what we want to do is to avoid the Angstgiving stress that we endure every other year. Why go through it if you don’t have to?

Even though I’m not sure we’ll go away somewhere that weekend, I still took off the day after Thanksgiving. Last night, we talked about how the rest of this year is shaping up and realized that our precious time together will be slim. The month of December is going to be crazy busy for Gregg, with him working almost every night until Christmas. We need that long weekend alone together, because before long it will be stolen out from underneath us.

It’ll be fun to decide how to fill up those three days. I’m excited! I would really love to just spend a day at Disney. We’re only an hour away and I haven’t been there in almost ten years. We’ll see.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Weekend, How I Love Thee

…Let me count the ways! You always go by so fast though. Sigh.

God was faithful to provide us with some much needed R & R, which I thought we would lose since we had to postpone our little getaway. I was really craving some uninterrupted alone time with Gregg because I hadn’t seen him for the majority of the week. Saturday, we basically did a whole lot of NOTHING. It was wonderful. We didn’t really have anywhere to be until 6 that night. We slept in until 8:30 and when I eventually got up, I made us French toast for breakfast. We ate outside on the screened in porch. Yep, it’s still hard to believe that we can eat outside in November. If we were in New Jersey, we’d be freezing inside. The heat in our apartment never worked right so we were always cold in the wintertime.

After breakfast, we basically just lounged around. The water in our house regenerated to make soft water again, so as it turns out we couldn’t get in the shower until 11:30. I was content to stay in my pajamas for the rest of the morning. I checked my email and whatnot before the shower was in use again.

We finally got out of the house sometime after 2, and went to Sam’s Club to pick up chips for the game night. On the way, we stopped at few garage sales and poked around but didn’t find anything worthwhile. When we got home I worked on my Crown Financial homework, while Gregg played around on his laptop. At Alan & Ashley’s house, they had set out an entire counter full of fillings and fixings so we could make our own fajitas. There was also a variety of yummy goodies for dessert people brought which we filled up on.

Afterwards, we broke up into two different groups to play board games. Gregg and I joined the group playing Trivial Pursuit, which we’d later live to regret. Three questions into it, I was feeling pretty stoopid. We only got one pie slice the whole game, and it was because we landed on the Arts & Entertainment square and I answered a question correctly about the Spice Girls! Seriously, now that’s embarrassing. And I was thisclose to earning us a yellow slice for history towards the end, but at the last second I changed my answer. Doh. It was a fun time anyway. The great thing about small group is that you don’t only get one couplefriend, you get five or six. It’s like, just add water and look! Instant couplefriend.

Sunday was a mixed bag. Jonathan preached an awesome sermon that morning about putting your hope in God. With everything going on, that’s exactly what we all needed: someone to point us towards Him. After church, Gregg and I came home, had lunch and he took a nap before we went back for the congregational meeting at 5. I’m not sure how to describe the meeting. Discouraging, maybe? Tense? Jonathan mediated, along with a couple of members from the presbytery. Before we actually voted, there were several people who wanted to say something so the mic was passed around. Some just asked general questions like what our vote meant and what happened if we voted not to accept the resignation. Others just came out of left field, saying that Pastor Dan had lost his mind and implying there was disharmony between him and the session, when they had been unanimously opposed to his original request to resign. Some asked for a postponement of the vote, if they could motion for Pastor to take a sabbatical, if there was any indication that Pastor had changed his mind since he announced his resignation. It seems there were certain members who were looking for any way to bring him back because they were not ready to let him go.

Finally, an older gentleman in the congregation stood up and said, “Look. Pastor Dan has asked us to support him by accepting his resignation. If we truly love him, like we’re all saying we do, we will honor his request.” After that, there was a time of prayer while the deacons tallied up the votes. When it was all said and done, roughly two thirds of the congregation voted to accept the resignation. And that was that. I’m really hoping people won’t make any more of this and allow the church to move on now, instead of causing divisions and spreading rumors. I feel like we still have many miles to go towards healing, but I know God is with us.

When we got home that night, I just threw some frozen chicken tenders in the oven for dinner and we ate in front of the tv. I was sad to see the weekend go and really did not want to get out of bed yesterday morning and drag myself to work. But it’s back to reality- the busy week with its housework, errands, activities, meetings, etc. At least tonight is small group, which I always look forward to. 

Friday, November 10, 2006


I am so glad it's FRIDAY!! This week was hard to get through in all honesty. My hubby arrived home safe & sound last night about 8 o' clock, and I was thrilled to see him. Tess was crazy excited too! He kept holding onto me and stroking my hair, telling me over and over how much he loves me. It felt SO good to have him home.

And huge praise- his parents gave us $200 towards the airfare to NJ! That is such a blessing. God is very good to us. :)

On my way to work this morning, I heard one of my favorite songs, "I Am" by Mark Schultz. This song always gets me choked up, and today was no exception. Many times last year the lyrics would just lift me up when I needed encouragement. It reminded me that God is concerned about me and has the power and resources to help me through whatever situation I'm facing. He is so awesome.

This should be a nice and somewhat relaxing weekend. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Gregg after being apart for days. Tomorrow night our small group is meeting at Alan & Ashley's for fajitas and games. Sunday is the congregational meeting where we'll vote whether or not to accept Dan's resignation as pastor. It should be... interesting, in light of the recent events that have unfolded. I know a lot of people are just bewildered at everything going on and seriously concerned about the future of our church.

Count down with me to the start of the weekend. Less than four hours to go!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Coming Back Home...

So last night my mom and step-dad blew through here again for an overnight visit. I had made baked ziti and warmed up some Italian bread in the toaster oven before they came. Everything was ready when they got to the house around 6:15. We sat down for dinner and I was not able to relax. Tess kept acting up because there was company (and it doesn’t help that my step-dad gets her all riled up, then wants her to settle down right away) so I had to put her outside on the back porch.

I kept wishing Gregg was there so I wouldn’t have to deal with both the dog and my parents by myself. I got so irritated with my stepfather at one point that I wished they’d just leave already. I wanted to cry because I really missed my husband and I was getting stressed out. My parents have this uncanny way of making things much more difficult than they have to be and it annoys the crap out of me. It’s like, I don’t have time to baby sit you when I have a hundred other things going on.

I thought I was going lose it this morning when Art had a mishap with the coffee pot because he used the wrong kind of filter, and made a mess everywhere. At that point I was trying to hurry up and finish breakfast so I could get out the door on time for work, so I really couldn’t deal with it. I love them but two days here, sadly enough, was plenty.

I’m looking forward to having things return to normal. Gregg is supposed to come home tonight around 7:30, and I can’t wait! He said that his parents were very glad he made the trip and overall it was a good visit. He sounded so far away, again, and it made me miss him even more. I feel all out of sorts with him not here. It feels like he left ages ago though it was only Monday. How do some wives deal with their husbands being gone for weeks, or months, at a time? I can barely handle 4 days.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Little of This & That

So I've been keeping myself busy while Gregg's away- blogging, housework, chatting on the phone with my sister about wedding details. Last night I did my civic duty and voted on my way to Small Group. On Monday, Gregg called me from his parents' as I was driving home from work to say he got there okay. I was so relieved. He said he had just enough time to catch his connecting flight in Charlotte, NC. Tomorrow he'll have a 2 1/2 hour layover there so he might get to visit with his sister Lori for a little while. He called me again around 10 that night and he sounded so far away. Which, I mean he IS, but anyway...

I was happy to hear from him again late the next morning. He told me it was gray and cold up there and he just could not get warm. Already, he's become a true Floridian! He was going to share a bite to eat with his grandpa that afternoon at one of our favorite luncheonettes, and see about getting together with Russ before the viewing that night.

While we were on the phone, he told me he heard from his boss (the church administrator) that the session of CPC fired the youth pastor. It wasn't completely unexpected but still hard to hear. It was for entirely valid reasons, which were in line with things that Gregg had seen himself and mentioned to me since working there. The board of elders emailed members that afternoon with an explanation of what happened, and our small group leader made several copies available so we could read and discuss it.

Crazy stuff happening at our church all of a sudden. We lose two pastors within three weeks?! The congregation is struggling to grapple with Pastor Dan's resignation and now they've been given another hard pill to swallow. God is doing some serious pruning here. This is going to bring the church to its knees, but in ultimately a good way I think. I prayed this morning that we would recognize God is sovereign in all of this and that He would protect & comfort our church.

Oh, I am so ready for Gregg to come home.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In Good Times and Bad

Today is a mixed emotions kind of a day. I’m trying to process both good and bad news at the same time.

First, the bad news: Gregg’s grandmother died yesterday morning. His dad called to let him know right before the second service started. Last night we discussed his flying back to NJ for the viewing and funeral, which are tomorrow and Wednesday, and decided it was best that he go to support his parents during this time. So, he caught a flight up there early this afternoon and will be back sometime late on Thursday.

We’re going to postpone our mini-vacation the weekend of Thanksgiving until maybe our anniversary, or just go away overnight. This unexpected trip he needs to take is setting us back about $300 and we just can’t afford to do both right now. I’m bummed, but I know how important it is for Gregg to be there. And I have complete faith that God will supply us with both the money we need and the time to rest & relax together.

I always hate when we have to be apart. I’m even more antsy about it because this time he’s flying instead of driving. Even though I know the chances of something bad happening are greater while you’re on the road supposedly, I’m still feeling really unsettled. I’ll feel much better when he’s safe and sound back in Florida.

Now, the good news: My little sister got engaged last night!!! I am SO excited for her. She’s been dating her boyfriend for almost six years, so my mom and I were like “It’s about time!” They live just outside of Baltimore and he took her into D.C. yesterday where he proposed by the water in front of the Washington Memorial. So, I think I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling in the next year. It’ll be interesting to see where they actually have the wedding since they live in Maryland, but his parents live in Massachusetts and obviously ours live in New Jersey. Congratulations, Valerie!!

In other news (which is also good) we had a very nice time with my mom and step-dad. They arrived around 3 on Saturday after driving all the live long day. We let them get settled and meet Tess, then showed them around town a little. On the way home, we stopped at Smokey Bones for dinner. Yesterday, Mom came to church with me and we had a good talk on the car ride back to our house. In that one conversation, a lot of misconceptions were cleared up and I feel better about our relationship. She said she’s happy to see us so “at home” here and that Gregg is in his element professionally. That really meant a lot to me to hear her say she feels good about the life I’ve made for myself.

When Gregg got home we headed out to Cracker Barrel, which Mom & Art had never been to. After a hearty lunch, we took a look around their store in the front and they bought a couple of things. Then it was off to the beach, where my mom wanted to spend the rest of the day, she said because the weather was so warm & beautiful. Meanwhile Gregg and I were really chilly, and they kept making fun of us since 70 degrees down here is considered cold! We took a walk along the beach and paid an arm and a leg for ice cream at Cold Stone, yummm. Mom and Art left this morning to spend some time in Southern Florida and will stop in again on Wednesday night on their way up to Savannah, so at least I’ll have some company while Gregg’s away.

And, our doggie is doing much better. We confine her to the kitchen during the day and make sure stuff on the counters and table are out of reach. We got her a new bone and a whole bag of tennis balls to play with. We’ve learned also that a ten minute walk outside before bedtime makes a world of difference. Before we were just letting her out in the backyard to “go” and didn’t take her on a leash. By spending this little bit of time with her in this way, we’ve found that she’s not nearly as annoying in the evenings and Gregg & I spend quality time together too, walking our dog around the neighborhood.

My stepdad is a huge dog lover who volunteers his time at the local animal shelter. He said that what Tess really needs is consistency, because she’s such an energetic puppy and loves to play. He didn’t really see any bad behavior in her besides the hyperactivity so that’s good. We were at our wits end with this dog a few weeks ago, and now I can see her being a member of our family for years to come.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Life in Overdrive

Things have been pretty busy this week at the B household (what else is new?) with repainting the kitchen and cleaning the house in anticipation of my mom and stepdad’s arrival tomorrow. Gregg took the afternoon off Tuesday and went back to Lowe’s to buy a gallon of the new paint. He just rested when he came home so that he wouldn’t strain his back any further, which I was grateful for. That night we went to our small group’s Fondue Night/Halloween party. There were lots of sugary goodies that we indulged in: candy corn, cookies and angel food cake & strawberries dipped in chocolate (mmmm).

Jonathan and Michelle who are not a part of our regular group showed up, which was nice. After we had all given ourselves a sugar high, we retired to the living room and kind of had an open discussion with Jonathan about Pastor Dan’s resignation. As the associate pastor, he was able to answer questions we had and clear up a lot of things. Then he & Michelle left to go to the Halloween party the singles group was having, and the rest of us played a couple rounds of Catch Phrase. It was girls against guys, and I regrettably post that the guys ending up winning both rounds. We’re going to have another game night in a few weeks, though, so the women can take the lead back!

Wednesday night after dinner Gregg got to work right away on cutting in corners with the new paint, which turned out so much better than that horrible retro green. It’s not my favorite color, I’ll admit, but it does give the kitchen a country-ish feel. I’m thinking we need to put up a sunflower border next to complete the look, hee hee. Yeah, I'm sure Gregg would love that. He started at 6:15 and didn’t finish until 11:30. So we didn’t get to bed until almost midnight and I was exhausted. He still needs to touch up a few spots yet.

Last night while he was at worship rehearsal, I cleaned the kitchen, did a couple loads of wash, dusted and swiffered the floor. Our house is starting to return to that clean, fresh place I like to call home. Gregg is going to paint the bathroom tonight and I’ll vacuum, fold laundry and make up the guest bed. Tomorrow I’m cleaning the bathroom and then we should have some down time before Mom & Art arrive. They’re flying into Charleston, SC tonight, staying over night there, and then making the 7 hour drive down to us in the morning. They’re visiting with Art’s cousin there on the 11th, so rather than spend the extra $500 or whatever dollars on flying in and out of two different airports, they decided to just begin and end their trip in the same place, even though it means a whole lot more driving.

I’m excited and also a bit apprehensive about their visit. My mom and I have had a strained relationship since, well, basically I got engaged. She’s never really thought Gregg was any good for me and had a very hard time “letting go” since I’m the oldest. A week before our wedding, she told me what a huge mistake I was making. Things are better now, four years later, but still… weird. Gregg feels like an outsider with my family, that they don’t accept him. For this reason unfortunately, he never looks forward to a visit from them.

In other news, Gregg and I may be going away soon for a little R & R. We talked about it last night, how we both need a break from our regular hectic routine, and Gregg asked if I could see about getting the day after Thanksgiving off since he’s already taking that Friday through Sunday as vacation days. We have no obligations to be anywhere on Thanksgiving b/c we don’t have family here, so we can just go away together for a long weekend if we wanted. It’ll be good to have some time alone- no dog, no phone calls, no housework- right before the crazy holiday season starts.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat?

Happy Halloween!

My life has been stressful lately, as if you couldn’t tell. I feel like I’m living in fast forward, and I know this is not how the Lord wants me to live. All the days pass by in a blur. If I didn’t keep a blog, I’d probably forget half of the things that happen in a month. I’ve been overwhelmed and trying to do this all on my own. This has led me to recently surrender to God daily all my fears, struggles and worries before the day even begins. There are just some things I can’t control.

I had been looking forward all day Friday to coming home from work and relaxing. Instead, when I stepped in the door I was greeted by chaos. There were boxes piled in the living room and all along the hallway, and interestingly a different baby gate was now up between the living room & kitchen.

I inquired about the gate first. Gregg told me that when he came home that afternoon, there was confetti all over the place. In her distress at having Gregg hardly pay any attention to her that morning or the night before, Tess chewed up two paperback books we had on the coffee table. One of them is our Sacred Marriage book for small group, so we’ll have to replace it. Good thing we’re having a fondue night this Tuesday instead of our regular discussion. Gregg said he gave her the whooping of a lifetime when he found the mess. He filled an entire plastic bag with the shredded pieces of paper, then went back to Wal Mart to exchange the baby gate we got for a wider one so we could confine her to the kitchen from now on.

And the boxes? Somewhere in between paddling the dog, cleaning up the mess and running back and forth to the store, Gregg got the brilliant idea to start reorganizing the storage room (our extra second bedroom). He figured it needed to be done sooner or later with his folks and grandpa coming for Christmas, because we need to fit a bed in there. I started to unravel. After a busy day at work, THE LAST THING I wanted to do was hear about more problems with the dog and deal with a project that was going to take several hours.

I put down my stuff on the couch, kissed Gregg, and shut myself up in the bathroom- and prayed. There was no way I could relax in the house now with junk everywhere, so we went to Sam’s Club to do our monthly grocery run and had dinner at their little food court. You can’t beat a slice of pizza, a hot dog, two sodas and a pretzel for under 6 bucks!

As we shopped, we went down the pet aisle and looked at the doggie beds. Since Tess will be spending the majority of her day in the kitchen, we figured she ought to have something comfortable to sleep on instead of just the hard tile floor. We both said how much we want her to be good, because we don’t want to give her back, but were hesitant to drop $30 on a stupid dog bed. We decided that if we had money left over in our grocery budget at the end of the shopping trip, we’d buy it. It turns out we did have the money left, so I stayed with the cart while Gregg went back to get the bed. The things we do for a dog. I think we just should have gotten a hamster instead. When we got home, we put it on the floor and she climbed right in it. Mission accomplished.

Saturday morning I enjoyed sleeping in ‘til almost 8, while Gregg worked on getting that room organized some more. Then I got up and made us breakfast, and he made the coffee. We ate out on the back porch and I told Gregg it was like being on vacation since it was late October and 70something degrees. Yeah, fall didn’t last that long. After cleaning up, we got ready and went out to run a few errands. We stopped at Steak ‘N Shake for lunch first and took our time eating and talking, in a big comfy booth. Then we went over to Bed Bath & Beyond in the same shopping plaza and used the last of the $ on our gift card to buy a new shower curtain liner and hair catcher for the bathtub. Such exciting stuff.

While we were there, Gregg got a call from Russ on his cell phone and passed it to me so I could talk to Beth. I congratulated her on the new baby which is due in December and asked about some of our friends back in New Jersey. There were six of us who got married within the span of a year and a half, and they have all already either had babies just recently or are due to soon. Crazy. If we had stayed up there, I’d be feeling completely out of the loop and it would be even harder for me knowing Gregg & I aren’t on the same timetable as the rest of them.

On our way back from BB&B, we stopped at the Ebay store and picked up some cash for a few items Gregg had dropped off. We decided to use it at Lowe’s to buy paint for a few more rooms in the house. We went with the colors we had originally picked out in April, and I was really hoping they wouldn’t come out too dark. Since yesterday was Gregg’s day off, he started painting the kitchen and will finish the bathroom a little later in the week before my mom & stepdad come and stay for the weekend.

Oh, he painted the kitchen alright. It was like being transported back in time to the 1970s. Gregg kept saying the color would look better once all the paint had dried. I’m sure that he really wanted to believe this more than anything, after having spent the entire day painting, but that wouldn’t make it so. When all was said and done, our kitchen looked like a hideous green sea monster had thrown up all over it.

Gregg stood in the middle of the room, once all the appliances had been moved back, observing the color from different angles. He kept making this icky face and finally said, “I hate it.” I confessed that I didn’t like it either. He said there was no way we could leave it up on the walls, so that means repainting the entire stinkin’ kitchen. I felt so bad. My husband had spent his whole day off trying to make our house beautiful, and the results were yuck and double yuck. Now we have to fork over more money for new paint and he has to spend more time on a project that should have been finished last night. He also hurt his back working on it and I’m worried he’ll do even more damage by continuing.

We spent about an hour debating what the new color should be. After the debacle, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the darker hues. We went back and forth, and finally selected Belgian Waffle, a bright creamy color that looks (ha!) like it will compliment the room very nicely. If Mom & Art weren’t coming into town this Saturday, I’d say we can just live with the green monster for a while until Gregg is feeling better. We picked the absolute worst week to start this, I realize that now. And there’s still the bathroom to paint!

Sunday morning we were rushing around as usual, trying to get ready. Service was pretty somber, in light of last week’s startling announcement. The church had invited a former associate pastor to come preach for the next two weeks, and his message was about our utter dependence on God. I was convicted about how much I rely on myself and try to control every situation. I was also struck by how I need to be a better wife. By obsessing over things that are out of my hands and or over stuff which isn’t really that important, I put myself above Gregg and become critical of him. Who cares if the house is spotless when I’ve neglected to spend time with my husband and meet his needs?

I need to stop being the roadrunner and just be still. Maybe then I can hear God’s voice. I have this little day-by-day verse calendar at work and ironically for October 30, it said “We are always wanting to be doing, to be giving, to be planning for the future, to be mapping out all our life; instead of resting and receiving day by day, leaving tomorrow to God”.

So yea, though I walk through the valley of the disobedient dog and ugly retro paint, I will fear not. Or something like that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This Place Has Gone to the Dogs

A funny thing happened this morning- Gregg always kisses me goodbye by the front door before I leave for work and Tess gets up on the couch, thinking she's going to go out too. When he opened the door, she ran out onto the lawn and he called for her to come back in. She wasn't listening very well though. Gregg told me to go start my car while he took care of the situation, then went inside to put jeans on since he was only wearing boxers. When I opened the door to the car and sat down, Tess jumped in behind me and climbed in the passenger seat. I quickly closed the door so she couldn't escape again. Gregg came outside looking for her and I rolled down my window to tell him she was in the car. He came around to the passenger side, grabbed her by the collar and pulled her out. Then he picked her up and carried her toward the house, stopping to say goodbye again. The dog had this look of surprise on her face, like what just happened?

Gregg decided that we now have to permanently leave the baby gate up, even in the mornings when we get ready for work. When I was in the shower yesterday and today, she grabbed clothes out of the laundry basket and started chewing on them. Yesterday she also ate the only favor from our wedding that we had saved- it was on the end table in the living room, right beside the framed invitation; a little bundle of Hershey's Hugs wrapped in netting with purple ribbon & silver-like rings. I was really upset, but Gregg said if she hadn't gotten to it, the ants would have. I pointed out that we've had it for almost four years and no bugs have gotten into it in all that time. I thought she had eaten my MP3 player too, because that was on the end table also and it was missing. It turns out Gregg just put it up on top of the tv so that she couldn't get it. We just can't trust her anymore.

I told Gregg, "What are we going to do? Just put everything away so she doesn't chew or eat it? Where can we keep her where she won't get into stuff??" He said we just need to make sure that she always has chew toys available. She does have her plastic bone, but half of it's already been eaten. I feel bad that Gregg wanted a dog so much and she's making life so difficult. We can't watch tv in peace because she jumps on the couch and wants attention. When she gets up on the bed and we tell her to get down, she doesn't do it right away but then when she is down she throws a "tantrum". By this I mean she growls and barks for several minutes. If we ignore her, she stops eventually. She doesn't compliment our life like that guy on the animal show said. She complicates it.

I really think that she is better when Gregg isn't around. The whole going crazy for any attention, I mean. She doesn't expect a lot of attention from me so she doesn't get all worked up. But with him, she goes nuts- jumping up, biting him playfully, can't sit still next to him on the couch. She's downright annoying.

Our lives are busy enough as it is without a dog to have to constantly deal with, or clean up after. What did we really expect though, getting her from the shelter? Maybe we need to look into obedience training.

Anyway, it's not the end of the world. Just one of the many challenges facing us right now. Sometimes I'd like to press the pause button on my life. I think these lyrics from an amusing country song sums it up well: "It was 1980 something, in the world that I grew up in... now I've got a mortgage and an SUV and all this responsibility; it makes me long for 1980 something..."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Weekend Recap

Fall is finally here in Florida!! It's in the 60s today and blustery. I actually had to break out my jacket this morning because it was 50 something degrees when I left the house. My hair is as flat as a pancake right now- ah, how I miss those days. A dramatic change from the weekend, which was in the upper 80s and humid.

Speaking of the weekend, we had a pretty good one, considering all of the recent drama that's been unfolding. Friday night we went to the movies with some friends and out for ice cream afterwards. The movie that we saw is a Christian film called "Facing the Giants" and it is AMAZING. This young couple deals with fear and failure, struggles with infertility, and experiences the life changing power of God in their lives and in others'. My synopsis doesn't do it justice. I'll just say go see it, and make sure you bring your tissues!

Saturday was the church picnic. We showed up around 11 and found shelter from the blaring, hot sun in the shade along with the other adults who didn't have kids that were playing on the rides. We got something to eat, then I had to go monitor the kiddie pool for half an hour. The kids were splashing each other and water was going everywhere, but it felt refreshing. By 1:30, I was exhausted from the heat so we went home and I got my homework for the crown class done. Then I checked up on my favorite blogs and surfed the internet for a while. Gregg made dinner for us- on the grill, of course- and then we headed out to Walmart to buy milk and get my prescription for bc refilled. The pharmacy had already closed though, so we just went straight to the back to find the milk and passed by the baby section on the way. We'd been talking about getting a baby gate to close off the hallway to the dog while we're gone during the day and we finally broke down & bought one. Of course, I couldn't resist checking out all the adorable (and expensive) baby stuff while we there!

It turns out the gate was well worth the money, because while we were out Tess got into the bathroom garbage, went into our bedroom & chewed up the remote for the tv in there and also Gregg's glasses (which we incidently didn't find until just last night. We knew they were missing, but she had taken them into the living room and they got stuck under the couch). In our haste to leave, we had forgotten to close the bathroom and bedroom doors so naturally she got into trouble- again. We punished her, cleaned up the mess and promptly put up the baby gate. Problem solved.

Sunday was... difficult. To see a man who poured his life into the church for the past 25 years stand before the congregation, broken and defeated, was heartbreaking. He had trouble making it through his speech without dissolving into tears. People were stunned at his announcement and stayed in the sanctuary long after service was over, hugging each other and crying together. The whole scenario was very upsetting. The church is going to be reeling from the news for the next several weeks, trying to figure out where to go from here. There is a congregational meeting on November 12 so that we can vote whether to accept the resignation and have a forum where questions can be asked of the elders.

Gregg and I went home to have lunch and barely said anything. Even though we had had the chance to process everything a few days in advance, it was still really hard to be there and see how much this devastates our church. We talked to Gregg's parents and my dad that afternoon, then went back to Walmart for my bc and to buy a universal remote for both tv's. We just made waffles for dinner when we came home. After cleaning up and moving laundry around, I read the next chapter in Sacred Marriage for our small group this week and we watched 7th Heaven together. After a very emotionally taxing day, it felt good to be at home with the person I love the most, surrounded by comforting things.

Thanks for your prayers, ladies. I really appreciate them. Please continue to lift up our church during this difficult time.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sheep Without a Shepherd

Something big is going down, and I'm not sure what it all means yet.

Wednesday night Gregg came home to find me in the kitchen, drew me close and asked if we could go out for dinner. I said matter of factly, "We just went out to eat yesterday and I already started dinner". He let me go and said "okay", then took a deep breath and said "Pastor Dan (our senior pastor) resigned today". I just stared at him in disbelief with my mouth hanging open, trying to figure out if he was really serious. I said, "what??" He repeated what he had just said and I could see he was not joking. "Now do you want to go out?"

Still in a state of shock, I turned off the stove and asked him the reason Dan would resign. Gregg said to get ready first and he'd tell me on the way to the restaurant. He explained that the pastor felt like he was preventing the church from growing the way He sensed God was leading it to. Our city has been steadily increasing in population over the years, but during this time Covenant has just maintained the status quo. He feels inadequate to be its leader at the size it's at now- almost 1,000 people- and the responsibilities & demands of his job have already taken their toll on his marriage. I know what a fraction of that feels like, having to "give up my husband" on occasion for the ministry; I can't imagine what it's like for Beth to have to do that all the time.

He's also been the only senior pastor Covenant has ever had, so this is a huge deal. Over Wednesday and Thursday, he met with all the members of church staff one by one to let them know and on Sunday he'll announce it formally to the congregation. An email went out to everyone saying that the early service is cancelled, so that "all the members of the body can be present for an important event". A committee has already been formed to find a new pastor.

Gregg said Pastor Dan apologized for having us move down here and now essentially, bailing on us. He told him how much he appreciated all the work he's done for the church so far and said he didn't know what this means for his position. But he added that the way he sees CPC heading, it will continue to have a great need for a very strong technical ministry. So Gregg is like, 95% sure that even with the pastor leaving, his job is still secure. We are confident that God is in control and has seemed to arrange different people within the church recently in order to move it forward & see His plan accomplished.

Still, it's going to be a big shock to the congregation and I'm not sure what's going to happen. It's a little un-nerving. I've heard horror stories of churches losing their senior pastor and falling to pieces over it and never recovering. Gregg sees the change as a positive one mainly, but his heart is heavy for Pastor Dan and for the church as it undergoes a major transition. He said Dan told him he doesn't know where he's going from here, if he'll ever preach again. He and his wife will stick around until May at least, so that their youngest daughter can finish high school, and then move away.

Obviously, this sort of thing can never happen at a "good time" but the same week as the Harvest Party, one of our biggest outreaches, and less than two months before the Christmas season ramps up? To make matters worse, Gregg noticed that the youth pastor's office was almost completely cleared out. He said, "I hope I'm wrong and it's just for a redecoration, but we might have a double resignation or a firing to deal with". Tomorrow is the annual church picnic, of all things, and we have to be very careful not to allude to the fact that we know anything. Last night at worship rehearsal, someone on praise team commented that Pastor Dan looked awful and wondered aloud if he was sick, saying that they should pray for him. Gregg looked over at the music director, like "oh no". But it turned out he really didn't have a clue. They prayed and that was that.

I hung out with some of the girls from our small group last night, and it was kind of weird not to share this huge piece of information in our conversations. We had a great time eating and chatting, and I feel a lot closer to them now. That's what I've been wanting- some good old fashioned girl talk. We met at Sarah's house and she showed us the baby's bedroom. If everything goes okay, in February they'll be able to go out there to pick him up.

So after a tense few days already, we have today and tomorrow to get through still. Basically, as morbid as it sounds, we're just waiting for the ax to fall on Sunday. It's going to be a very emotionally charged morning and I'm sure there won't be a dry eye in the congregation when it's over. I will say that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Pastor Dan, removing himself from leadership so that God's will can be done. That takes a lot of humility and submission. It's an excellent example for the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jesus, Be The Center

That has been my prayer lately. With all that's going on and the responsibilities of life sometimes distracting me and taking my joy away, I've needed to focus on Jesus and remember why I do what I do. It's really helped. I've felt a lot less anxious about things in general. Gregg and I have been able to reconnect after a very busy few weeks, too. We've just enjoyed relaxing together and talking about everything and nothing. Monday night he washed and folded all the dirty laundry he brought home from his trip, which I so appreciated. It was one less thing on my "to do" list. I can't stand coming home from work, knowing there's all this stuff to do yet around the house.

Yesterday Gregg got his birthday present from his parents, which he was really happy about. They sent it late because they were on vacation the week before. It was a very nice shirt from Cabela's, a tupperware full of yummy chocolate chip cookies and $50 cash. We went out to eat with some of the money before small group started at 7. It's always great every week, spending time with friends sharing laughter/concerns/prayers and rejoicing in each others' good news. One couple announced they had made the decision to adopt a baby from overseas, something they were wrestling with for a few months.

We've been discussing how various aspects of our marriages point us towards God. Sometimes the things that come up are downright funny, but mostly they’re just honest from-the-heart stuff. The couple that leads our group, who have also been married the longest, are really open about the struggles they’ve faced together. That has helped the rest of us be candid about our own marriages and not feel like we need to pretend everything’s perfect and there are no problems. I love that all of us though, whether married for nine months or ten years, have made God the center of our marriages and continually seek His will & direction.

By now we’ve had our fair share of problems and know that they are, strangely enough, blessings in disguise: they shape our character and give us roots so we can stay firmly planted in a society where 50% of all marriages fail. We realize that whether or not our spouse really is the one, this is the person we’ve chosen to go through life together with, good or bad, and we’re in it for the long haul. It doesn’t sound very romantic. I’ll confess that right now I’m looking for a private retreat in the midst of our busy schedules, full of nothing but romance. But it makes me think of something our pastor said when he married us almost four years ago- “agape love (unconditional, committed love) will sustain your marriage when the other two, philos and eros, wane”. How true.