Monday, February 28, 2011

Embarrassing Pastry Moment

February Challenge Question 28:
28. Describe an embarrassing moment that you had within the past few years.
I think I must block embarrassing moments from my memory.  I can’t think of any specific times of embarrassment that I can tell you about in detail, but I know I frequently do embarrassing things. I did something kind of embarrassing last week.  I was eating a Pop-Tart at work, and I like to eat them by breaking off one chunk at a time, consuming that one chunk and then proceeding to the next chunk. Well, on this particular day, my Pop-Tart was crumbly from getting stuck in the bottom of my purse. I broke off a chunk, took a bite, but I had to continue to take more and more bites or the Pop-Tart chunk would break into lots of little Pop-Tart bits and fall all over my lap.  So I ending up trying to shove the whole chunk into my mouth, and some bits still broke off and I caught them in my other hand.  I was really hoping no one was watching, but one of my coworkers walked up and asked, “Is that a good cookie?” I just hope no one else saw. 
Phew.  That’s the last day of the February Challenge.  It sure was a challenge, but a lot of fun, too.  Thanks Laura!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Paper or Plastic?


February Challenge Question 27:

27. Paper or plastic? And why?
Paper.  It is rarely an option anymore, so if paper was offered to me, I would definitely take that.  I like using paper bags when packing for trips or picnics.  (That makes me sound really cheap  thrifty.) However, I do not have many paper bags, because most stores just send me off plastic ones. Target has some great plastic bags, though.  I really appreciate that.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hallmark Makes Me Cry

February Challenge Question 26:
26. Do you cry during books/movies? If so, what cues the waterworks?
Yes, and it doesn’t take much.  I cry after Hallmark commercials.  I even get a little misty from that Christmas Whataburger commercial they run every year.
When I was little, though, I would cry just if a movie was good.  I remember when I was about 5 my parents took me to the premier of Beauty and the Beast.  We didn’t do stuff like that very often when I was little for money reasons, but my dad got free tickets from work.  So this was a big deal. I remember there was even a buffet in the lobby of the theatre before the movie started, and the place was huge. It was a big deal. In the theatre, I sat between my mom and dad, the lights died down, and Bell took the screen and filled the room with her beautiful voice.  I loved the movie.  I loved Bell.  I loved all the talking home goods.  I loved the singing and dancing. I was enthralled by this movie.  When the credits rolled, I just started bawling.  My parents were confused.  “What wrong?” Nothing was wrong; I was just overwhelmed by the beauty that is Beauty and the Beast.
Since we are on the topic of Disney princesses, I thought I would share a couple photos of my parent’s dog, Dottie, when my sister and I dressed her up as Snow White.


I have to add here, though, that one Christmas Hallmark made me want to cry for a different reason, not because their commercials were so touching, but because my family wouldn't stop watching the Hallmark channel and their movies have the worst premises—one woman marrying Santa Clause and another losing her whole family due to tragic accidents right before Christmas but Santa winds back time and brings them back in time for Christmas day. Really?

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Houstonian’s Perception of the Beach

February Challenge Question 25:
25. Which do you prefer: the mountain or the beach? (Or both?)

Both—but not until recently.
I live in Houston.  The nearest beach is in Galveston, and if that is the only beach you know, you will not like the beach. The water is brown, and you can’t see your hand six inches under the surface. It’s terrifying—I wouldn’t know if there was a jellyfish or a shark about to attack me—it would be a total surprise attack. (That is one kind of surprise I don’t like.) The sand isn’t all that great either, and there isn’t any pretty greenery or big rocks along the shore.
 I always thought I was just a mountains girl until we went to Cozumel for our honeymoon.  Wow! The water is transparent blue.  You can see the fish…You can see your toes! We went snorkeling, because you actually can! We even got to swim with a dolphin named Triton.  If you go to the right beach, the beach is fun and beautiful and relaxing.

I’ll prove it with some pictures for all you Houstonians out there that still hate the beach.  I promise God has made some gorgeous coastlines. :)













Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interesting Characters


February Challenge Question 24:
24. Write about your favorite character from a book or movie.
Hmmm. This is a toughie. Well, as you know I have a theatre background. One of my favorite plays is A Streetcar Named Desire.  I think it is beautifully written and Blanche is a very complex character.  I also like Nora from A Doll’s House for the same reason.  I just think they are two very well written characters.  I don’t like these two characters' decisions and actions; I actually very much disagree with the choices these characters make.  However, I enjoy analyzing literature, and these characters are interesting to discuss and analyze.  I really enjoyed writing papers on A Streetcar named Desire and A Doll’s House in college.
As a kid, I really liked—and have to say I still do—Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, and Anne (with an “e”) of Green Gables.
Isn't children's literature great?  What was your favorite novel as a child?
February Challenge Question 24:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Is Your Treasure?

February Challenge Question 23:

23. What was the last significant decision you had to make?
Well, my husband and I were planning some big vacations and getting really excited about them.  However, over the last few weeks, we have decided to not go on these vacations.  We have decided it is not a wise use of our money and that it would be more responsible to put that money toward a house.  God has really been working on my heart in terms of finances and spending.  His Spirit really convicted me as I read 2 Corinthians a few months ago. I realized my heart was not right in this area—I was selfish with my money, money that is not even mine.  All that we are belongs to the Lord; He bought and paid for our lives with His precious blood— but I do not fully grasp this. If I did, I think that I would obey Him perfectly.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says we are to give not because it is asked of us but because we desire to.  God cares about our heart, not merely our actions. And I realized that in my heart I did not desire to fully give God my money, our finances.  I thought, “Haven’t we given you enough? Can’t we have this vacation?”  The problem was not that I wanted to spend money on a vacation—the problem was with my heart.
I wanted to ask God how much money was enough, how much did He want. But God doesn’t play that game. It would be easy to give us a number, but then giving would just become a religious duty, not an outpouring of our hearts. I am forced to meditate on the fact that Jesus took on God’s full wrath for my sins.  And I have to ask myself, “Can I not give Him my all?”
Oh that our hearts would love God more than earthly treasures! He is eternal. We have nothing to worry about if our treasure is in heaven.  I may never get to see Venice, Italy, but I will one day get to see my Lord Jesus in heaven.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An English Major

February Challenge Question 22:
22. What was your college major, and how did you decide it was right for you?
Michael and I after my graduation.
We got married three months later.
I majored in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. 
My first major was Theater, and I was interested in acting and stage managing. I never felt like this was the direction God wanted me to do, though.  I don’t know how to explain it.  However, at the end of my freshman year, I totaled my Jeep and was then unable to pursue the opportunities in acting and stage managing that I had at that time, because I had no transportation and no money. (God will keep speaking louder and louder until He gets our attention.  And you know what—today I am thankful that He totaled my car.)
However, not too long after I totaled my Jeep, I got a job as an English tutor at the college I was attending, and my boss there kept encouraging me to write more poetry and short stories. I have always loved to write.  In high school, I had a wonderful English teacher that fostered this love.  (Actually, I’ve been blessed with a lot of great English teachers.) I learned so much about writing poetry from her, and I joined the creative writing club and became a staff member of the literary journal, both of which she sponsored.
Anyway, after I totaled my Jeep, I started to see more opportunities with English than with Theater.  I also realized working in a theater would mean I would be working a lot of nights and weekends, and that was not what I wanted for my future family.
Now, I’m working as an English tutor for two local colleges.  I love seeing light bulbs go off in my students’ heads.  And I look forward to someday teaching my future children how to read and write. (We want to home school.)
I still write poems, too.  Some of them are posted on my blog. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Drive or Fly?

February Challenge Question 21:

21. If you were traveling a long way away and money weren’t an issue, would you chose to drive or fly?
Fly, unless it’s a road trip with LOTS of stops. Otherwise, I just want to get there as quick as possible.  I hate being cooped up in a car for long periods of time.

What about you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Scents Does That Make?

February Challenge Question 20:

20. Are there any smells that remind you of somewhere/time/person? What are they?
Used to if I smelled an ex’s cologne, I would feel nauseous. Luckily, I either have not smelled that cologne in a while or I forgot the scent.
Also, anytime I smell a dumpster, I instantly think of the summer camp I used to work at, and that makes me happy. There was a dumpster on the other side of the dirt road from the mess hall, and for some reason the smell of trash just triggers camp in my head.  Camp as whole did not smell like garbage. I don’t want you to think the place was a dump; it was beautiful.
My husband laughs at the fact that it’s a cologne that makes me nauseous, not the garbage. Yeah, it’s ironic.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Put a Bird on It

February Challenge Question 19:

19. Does your home have a theme/color scheme?
Yes.  My theme is birds and trees.  (The two just belong together.) And my color scheme is green and blue.  I eventually want my house to resemble a forest.  I want to decorate with mostly green and white and some blue and brown. And I want a big green rug that resembles grass to lay out on my wood floors.  And someday I want to have a bird bath—a bathroom decorated with lots of bird things. (I like birds.) But for now I have to work with what I have.  Here is what my apartment looks like right now:











This is just our living and dining area.  I’m not done with our bedroom.  The color scheme in there is red and grey, and I am in the process of making some pillows out of bird print fabric.  I’ll show you when I’m finished.
So yeah my motto with decorating is probably: put a bird on it. So when I saw the following video clip I cracked up!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Thoughts on Surprises and the Story of Our Engagement

February Challenge Question 18:
18.  What are your thoughts on surprises?
I’m a big fan of surprises. This is how much of a fan I am—I know my wedding anniversary present is in Michael’s sock drawer.  I could go find out what it is right now if I wanted to, but no, I want it to be a surprise.  Side note—since my present is in his sock drawer, he said I’m not allowed to put his socks up.  Woohoo! Less laundry!

Michael is a good surprise planner.  The biggest surprise he ever planned for me was our engagement.  (Okay, I have to admit, I had a feeling he was going to ask me when he did.  Women’s intuition, I guess. But he still did a wonderful job of planning the occasion.) On September 19th of 2009, Michael picked me up from work and swept me off to the Japanese Garden in Houston, which is lovely by the way.  When we first walked in, he reached into his pocket. A ring box!  No, a camera.  He wanted to take pictures.  Here they are:




Then we started to walk around the garden, hand in hand. We passed a gazebo with a hobo sleeping inside, a lesbian couple having a picnic, and a pond full of giant gold fish.  Then we came to a quiet bench and sat down together.  Neither one of us said anything.  Then Michael finally spoke.  “I memorized a poem for you,” he said.  “You did!” I was really surprised here because Michael is not a fan of poetry—but I am. He started to recite the poem, got nervous, and read the rest from his cheat notes he had tucked in his jean's pocket. (Isn’t that cute?!) Here is the poem:

There is a time when freedom must be bound
By what we freely choose to call our own.
For if not, someday we will have found
That we have made the choice to be alone.
I cannot call my love for you a choice:
I simply made a turn and you were there;
And all I was came singing with one voice
To lift my soul ten feet into the air.
But lightning bolts do not outlast the storm:
The years demand not ecstasy but will.
My love for you must take a different form,
One that lasts a lifetime, deep and still.
And so I make my choice, if you'll agree,
And seek your answer: Will you marry me?
When I heard the words “if you’ll agree,” I knew the next line must end with “Will you marry me?” And it did! I said yes, and almost knocked him over with a big hug. We were both so excited and jittery and happy.  I remember Michael asking me if I was okay.  He said I looked like I was going to cry. I had so many emotions at that moment—I was a mess.  But overall I was elated! 

God has shown me more of His sweet grace by giving me such a loving husband—what a gift!
 
 And what a great surprise. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Tattoo?

February Challenge Question 16:

17. Would you ever consider getting a(nother) tattoo? Please explain.
I think I would like to get a tattoo for my 60th birthday. I figure by then I’ll already be saggy, so I won’t have to worry about my tattoo getting stretched out. I’m not sure what I’d get, but I would want it to be small and inconspicuous.  Small because I’ve heard getting tattoos is painful.  (I wouldn’t know from experience.) And inconspicuous because I’m not really a fan of how they look—I just want to get one for the experience.
Also, I think this would be a fun experience to share with some girlfriends.  We could all go get granny tattoos together.  Any takers?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Camp Good News friends, remember Tattoosday?? 
At the summer camp I worked at in my highschool and college years, we created a theme for every weekday: Mustache Monday, Tattoosday, Wacky Wednesday, Jam Jam Thursday, and Fanny Pack Friday/Name Your Guns Friday.  Oh I miss those days!
I couldn't find a picture from Tattoosday, but here's one from Mustache Monday:
Jenni and I sporting our mustaches and...
Well, we got a little carried away.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In 10 Years...

February Challenge Question 16:

16. Where (spiritually, physically, emotionally, OR vocationally etc.), do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I will be 34 (minus 2 months).  Wow, 10 years is a long time.  I’ve had a lot of changes in my life in just the last year and a half, like graduating from college, getting married, working fulltime, raising my own puppy, cooking, maintaining a blog.  Lots of great changes!

Well, let’s see.  In 10 years, this is where I see myself:

Spiritually
I would like to be perfect. Ha! But do you feel this way? I mean, I want to worship God perfectly and obey Him perfectly.  But we all know that’s not going to happen—at least, not until I die and go to heaven.

In the mean time, I am thankful that God promises to grow me in holiness day by day. And I am thankful that He sees Christ in me instead of my imperfection. I will rest in Him.

Physically
Well, by then I hope that I’ve already had some children, and Michael keeps telling I’m going to be pudgy after the whole giving birth thing.  Not necessarily, right? Anyway, I’m glad he’s fine with the pudge I may gain, but my goal is to be the same weight-wise as I am now.  I would like to gain some strength in my arms, though, for things like lifting pots and carrying around wiggly kids.

Emotionally
I have always been an anxious person, and I fear rejection.  But I do not want fear to control my life—I want God to control my life.  My prayer is that in 10 years I will have learned to trust God with more of my fears.

Vocationally
I hope to be a stay-at-home mom. Michael and I also want to home school—so I’ll be pretty busy with that. :)

I’m excited about the future.  How about you?


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Joyful Wretch

February Challenge Question 15:
15. What is (are) your favorite verse(s) of the Bible?
I really like Romans 7 & 8.
Go read it.  I’ll wait.
Whistling.
Aren’t those encouraging chapters!  I am thankful that God has given us Romans 7 & 8, because it is encouraging to read that Paul, even Paul, one of our super heroes of the faith, struggled as I do with sin. I am thankful that God acknowledges this battle we fight inside, yet says--dear child, I see you as clean. I know I deserve hell because that is the penalty for sin, but thankfully God made Jesus who never sinned to take our penalty, so that we can become blameless in Jesus. I fail in this battle over sin every day, but I know God sees Christ’s perfection when he looks at me and not my imperfection. (Isn’t that wonderful!)

I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder that I am not condemned.  I am free.  I am free to “approach the throne of God with confidence.”

Such good news!  I love God’s Word!

Creating Traditions: Our First Valentine's

Yesterday Michael and I celebrated our first Valentine’s together as husband and wife .
He surprised me by putting nothing on our schedule for the evening (remember—there is always a schedule). I surprised him with heart-shaped pancakes.  We enjoyed our night, making and eating a lovely brinner (breakfast for dinner) together.








We didn’t buy presents. We didn’t develop big expectations for the day.  We just cleared out our schedule, relaxed and enjoyed one another’s company.  I think this will become our Valentine’s tradition.
How do you and your spouse spend Valentine’s? Do you have any traditions?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sleeping In

First things first...Happy Valentine's Day! (I will have photos of heart shaped pancakes to share with you soon.)

Now on to the February Challenge.

February Challenge Question 14:

14. What time does "sleeping in" mean to you?

My husband and I share the sleep cycle of a senior citizen; we go to bed early and we wake up early. We are usually in bed by 9:30 pm and awake by 6:30 am. (Yes, you calculated right. We both require 9 hours of sleep.) Sleeping in for me is sleeping until 8:30 am, which probably means I stayed up late the night before watching a movie with the hubs.  It definitely means it's the weekend; if not, it means I'm sick, and you should come bring me some chicken soup from Chick-fil-a. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Legalism, Light, and a Scar

It’s been a busy weekend, so I’m just going to cram February Challenge questions 11-13 all into this one post.  Here you go:
11. What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?
1. Give my hubby a big squeeze.
2. Go to the bathroom.
3. Read God’s Word.  I at least really want this to be number three, not checking email or getting straight into the day’s tasks or catching a few more Z’s (We’ve all done it, right?).  I’m working to make this number three, because the more I get busy with chores and work and appointments, the harder it is for me to slow down and get still before the Lord.
Yesterday, number three didn’t happen. I went to bed late, woke up late, and rushed off to a tutor training meeting.  This reminded me of something important: we can set goals for ourselves (read the Bible in a year, be still before God each morning), but we have to be careful to not turn these goals into laws.  If we turn our goals into laws, we just put the yoke back on that Jesus so lovingly took off.  His precious blood was shed so we no longer have to bear the heavy burden of the law.  But I’ll willingly put the yoke back on and struggle under my own man-made laws. I have even felt so guilty for not going to God at my set time that I didn’t want to face Him later that day or the next day, because I condemned myself for breaking a law that I made up for myself. How silly!
As God’s children, we desire to be still before Him and to read His Word. That’s why we make goals—keeping a relationship strong takes discipline. We have to make time in our days for what’s important to us. But I think another thing we often forget is that we can pray throughout the day. Prayer isn’t just for morning quiet times. We are to pray continually—make it our lifestyle.

12. Do you prefer natural or artificial light?
I’m like a houseplant; I gravitate toward windows. I love big widows. One of my work places has a whole long wall of floor to ceiling windows.  It’s very nice.
I also like bright rooms.  I will turn on every light in the house, including every lamp, when I am working.  I need lots of light.  However, two of the ceiling lights in our apartment give off so little light that it really makes no difference if the lights are on or off—so I have to turn on all the lamps.  My hubby will come behind me to turn off all the lamps because the ceiling lights are on, but then I can’t see.  My hubby would be content living in a cave.  I find that many men are this way.  What’s the deal with that?

Miss Scruffy prefers natural light, too.

13. Do you have any scars? Explain.
I’m taking this question to mean physical scars, not emotional.  I do have a scar on my right knee. I wish I had a tough guy story to tell you about this scar, but I don’t.  I was born with less than average balance and spatial awareness, and I am a pansy. I got this less than cool scar in the fifth grade because I came in at a bad angle while trying to ride my bike up someone’s driveway a few houses down from mine.  I fell over and scraped my knee on the cement pretty bad.  I didn’t cry until I looked at my knee.  It was that gross, and it wasn’t until then that my brain registered that I was in pain.  My friend walked me back to my house.  My mom cleaned and dressed the wound, and that was that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Aspire to Be an Eyeball Cook

February Challenge Question 10:

10. When you cook, do you measure out everything exactly, or do you eyeball it?
It depends.  If I’m making mac & cheese out of the box, I eyeball it.  (I’ve cooked that stuff for years.) For anything else, except for maybe instant oatmeal, I measure everything out exactly.  I’m kinda new to this whole cooking thing, so I don’t want to mess up my meals. I’m not accustomed to what all those measurements look like yet.  But I aspire to someday be an eyeball cook.  It would just make things quicker and require less dish washing. And that sounds wonderful.  Plus it would just make me look super cool. ;)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canasta: A Family Tradition


February Challenge Question 9:
 
9. What is your favorite family tradition?

 
Canasta! When my family gets together over holidays (or non-holidays) we always play Canasta. There's usually lots of trash talk, potty humor, and snacks involved, so as you can imagine, we have lots of fun.
 
We usually play partners.  Then we each give our team some original name like "The Winners" or "The Sharks." My Dad and Uncle Mike make up one team, Mom and Granny another, and my sister, Molly, and I the other. 
 
Molly and I weren't allowed to play when we were little, however. Canasta is for adults.  They would start playing when it was time for us to go to bed, so the game was always very intriguing.  When they finally decided we wouldn't be too annoying to try to play with, they put us together as a team.  They didn't want to join with either of us to form a new team; we’d be a liability.  And they were right.  We were awful. 
 
Then one day while Molly and I were losing again, I finally dragged her aside for a little heart to heart. "Molly, the key to Canasta is to make canastas," I told her emphatically.  I wanted to win. That little heart to heart was all it took.  After that we had about a year long winning streak. It was awesome.
 
When Michael and I got engaged, I knew that meant he would become my new Canasta partner.  He had to learn the game.  And to my joy, he's been a pretty good partner.  I just give him heart to hearts every now and then. ;)

Some family photos:



Oh, you have to see what Michael listed as his favorite family traditions:
 
Chocolate rolls on New Years' Day
Cream cheese braids on Christmas morning
Cherry and chocolate pie on Thanksgiving
Chocolate chip cheesecake on my birthday
Key lime pie on Dad's birthday
 
Notice a theme?


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