life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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New Beginnings at Unexpected Times

I woke up today feeling like I had a fresh start. Admittedly, there are a few things that are “fresh” today, but I can’t figure out why I felt that way the very instant I woke up. It was definitely appreciated, though, as I cried 2x yesterday and life’s been feeling kinda stuffy to me lately.

Obviously, today is October 1st, and it finally feels like fall. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love the autumn season more and more, especially as it leads up to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — all times of fun & celebration. I’ve decided to host Christmas dinner for my family & Dayne’s immediate family this year, and I am beyond excited about that. I love party planning!

Remember this look from my great-aunt Louise’s surprise 90th birthday party? Acting like kids & having fun! We had goody bags and crazy straws in the retirement community.

Take a look back at last year’s post about Christmas decorating and Aunt Louise’s party here.

Beyond my excitement for Christmas, I’m starting the New Testament today in my Daily Walk Bible (see my guest post from yesterday about finishing the Old Testament). There’s something really fresh about that — after 400 years of silence in Israel, God breaks His silence by sending John the Baptist followed by His Son. It’s a big frigging deal.

I’m also finally starting my anti-anxiety medication today, after months of putting it off (you can read about my struggles with anxiety & depression throughout my blog, but more specifically here, here, and here). I’m scared (as usual), but if it helps, it will be a great thing.

Dayne and I decided to switch out our summer quilt for our down comforter last night, and it is soooooo cozy.

I chose not to make the bed or de-wrinkle the comforter AND to leave that “PCOS for Dummies” book out so that you can see that we are human, too.

And lastly, I decided to intentionally embrace my writing and make it a part of my routine, and I have defied the kittens & their chewing issues so I could get my desk space back:

That’s Theodore. He’s the main culprit.

My fresh & improved writing space.

So – on this October 1st – what is fresh in your life?

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Sometimes Life Isn’t Pretty, but it’s Beautiful

Do you ever have times in your life when you know God is doing something purposeful with you? I know nothing in our lives is an accident, but I’m talking about seasons when you can clearly see God teaching you something.

I am in one of those seasons. I love these seasons because I get so excited about what I’m learning, growing closer to God, and how He is shaping me to be more like Christ. But, from a quick glance from the outside, these seasons can look like a weird time to be thankful.

I liken these seasons in life to our house. Our house is a MAJOR blessing. Does it look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog or a Pinterest “Dream House” board? No. Do we have any new furniture besides some thrift store items and a $69 IKEA desk? No. Have we finally removed the freaky Dr. Seuss-looking rhododendron from our front yard? No. Am I sitting on a folding chair in front of aforementioned desk right now? Yes. Is one of our spare bedrooms dedicated to cats? Yes. Do we have one room filled with unpacked boxes for the foreseeable future? Yes. And does the dehumidifier sometimes startle me when it runs because it sounds like a flock of crickets? Yes.

However, if you could see the heart behind this house… we LOVE this house. We see a future in this house. We are taking steps to make this house our own piece by piece. We are making memories and growing our family in this house. And the house is already beautiful, we just need to enhance its beauty! It’s a process. Our house still has spiders and stinkbugs and scratches on the hardwood and undesirable paint colors and mess (sometimes smell), but we are going to tenderly take care of it because we love it, we bought it, and we see its potential as our house.

Dayne & I in front of our new house on move-in day.

And that is what God is doing with me and my husband. He’s invested in us, and He’s growing us in Him.

So… what does that look like in this season of our lives?

Well, sometimes it’s kind of funny. Like… we have ringworm. Dayne and I have ringworm. I joked about it when Dayne got what looked like a little bug bite on his arm, like, “haha, you have ringworm!”, but then my doctor told me I have ringworm and therefore Dayne has ringworm and now twice a day we help each other apply Lotrimin to all our “bug bites”. SO sexy.

Other times, it’s not so funny, but there is the opportunity for growth. I am currently going through some undiagnosed pain issues that have caused me to miss lots of work and to stop drinking coffee in the mornings and to otherwise completely revamp my daily routine. I am tempted to feel guilty, and like everyone at work is going to hate me, and to constantly think about all the work I need to get done, and to worry about being fired. But I am realizing – through a lot of prayer, a loving friend, a supportive husband, an overwhelmingly supportive boss, and time in the Psalms – that I don’t need to carry these worries. I have zero control over how I am feeling and I can’t diagnose myself. I can’t force myself to feel better and I can’t do a very good job at work while I’m sick. Jesus is the only solace I have, and He is completely in control of every little detail of my life. If I get fired, I get fired. If I can’t get the work done, I can’t get it done. If I can’t drink coffee, I can’t drink coffee. He will take care of me. He’s using this situation to change my perspective, i.e.: what does this look like from the angle of a sovereign, loving God? I think David and other Godly men of his time asked themselves this question a lot (Psalms 1-150).

Same with our marriage. Guys, marriage is HARD. Like, harder than I ever dreamed or imagined it could be. Like, please tell me someone is going to pay me for all this work I’m putting into our marriage. But the payment is our spiritual & emotional growth. And you better be thankful for that, because you’re gonna be in a tough place if that’s not enough for you.

Other times this season is funny and not so funny at the same time, like the Sump Pump Disaster of 2012. For a couple of days, our sump pump starting mysteriously dumping gallons & gallons of raw sewage into our yard. Where was it coming from? Why was it running through our French drain? How were we going to deal with the smell? Wonderful, yet unanswered questions. Our sump pump hasn’t run for a few weeks. It just suddenly stopped. It’s a mystery. In that, I’m learning to be comfortable with the unknown, and to not have to have everything under control or answers for everything all the time. To let God be God and to let myself be His.

So, even though it’s uncomfortable and I find myself praying for bravery a lot, I’m kind of oddly happy to be in this season. God is close to me. He is shaping me. He is showing me the reward bit by bit. And I’m learning to let go. Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing.

“[Jesus] is not saying, ‘I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.’ But, in essence, He is saying, ‘I will get you out of bed – out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive.'” – Oswald Chambers


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Christmas 2011 in Words & Images.

If I had to come up with one word to describe Christmas 2011, our first Christmas as a married couple, it would be blur. It wouldn’t be romantic, refreshing, exciting, intimate, touching, profound, relaxing, or even fun — it would be blur.

Halfway through our Christmas Day Relay, we realized what was happening: in the midst of trying to see everybody and get the gifts where they’re supposed to go and sticking to our scheduled timeslots, we completely lost Christmas and any quality time with anybody at all.

That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy Christmas or the time we did have with our families, but… we did it wrong. Now we know it, and next year we’re going to try to do it differently.

Plus, as I also learned from Thanksgiving 2011, too many holiday meals=a very sick Lisa. I can’t handle all the food multiple times a day.

So, now that my summary/disclaimer is out of the way, here are a few pictures we took to commemorate Christmas 2011, with a special bonus section at the end:

Our Christmas morning mimosas. This was something we did very, very right.

Our Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns baking in the oven. This is a tradition Dayne carried over from his family... and also something we did very, very right.

The ornament I made (out of oven-bake clay) and gave to Dayne. (Thanks, Dana, for the inspiration!)

The star on the left of our 1st Christmas ornament is the ornament Dayne gave to me.

Some of our wrapped gifts under our tree.

I really loved this ornament from Aunt Carol & Uncle Eric. Just what I was looking for!

Some of our Christmas gifts for each other: Dayne got me the candle and a subscription to Real Simple. I got him Couples TableTopics for fun conversations 🙂

We got very generous gifts from our family and friends this year. One thing that I’m ultra excited about in our kitchen is our new Griddler from Dayne’s parents:

It’s a panini press, indoor grill, and griddle all in one! You can even buy waffle inserts. We grilled burgers on it the other night, and I can’t wait to make tomato & cheese paninis and big breakfasts with it!

We are also loving this awesome gift from my parents:

SO much fun and it’s great to have a new game to play together on our Wii!

Now, as I promised, a special bonus section:

A few weeks ago, Deb and Ed (Dayne’s parents) came over and brought lunch to eat with us at our apartment. In the midst of preparing the food, we needed a stirring/serving spoon. All I could find were slotted spoons, and we needed a solid spoon. I swore up and down that we at one point had a solid nylon spoon.

Fast forward to December 28, 2011 — me hanging out on the couch browsing Pinterest after a long winters’ nap (since I got out of work early), and Dayne coming in the door around 4:30. He tells me the apartment smells funny. I had noticed a funny smell in the kitchen a little earlier, but thought nothing of it. As I got up and walked around, I noticed the smell was stronger all over the apartment – and it wasn’t the trash. I thought it might be an animal in our heating ducts. Turns out, it was this:

Completely melted through and burning in the bottom of our dishwasher. How did it get there? Nobody knows. I had started the dishwasher before my nap and it had just completed its post-cleaning heating cycle. So not only did we lose the only solid spoon we had, but our apartment smelled totally rank and we thought we broke our dishwasher.

Today, this is what our kitchen looked like, solid spoon and all:

The Countertop Catastrophe was only temporary so that the repair guy from our apartment complex could come in and fix an empty dishwasher, but it so symbolized how my life feels right now. The counter is just so cluttered with stuff, and our Christmas was so jumbled with everything, and we both worked most of last week and this week, and I would just like to get to a place where I can focus and enjoy all the aspects of this time in my life. I don’t want everything to fly by unnoticed and unappreciated; I want to embrace life and live it out.

I want to take more pictures, go more places, live more generously, give more recklessly, laugh harder, love better, take on more new adventures, and have fuller relationships. Which starts with the little things, like cleaning the kitchen counter of our apartment/my soul.

I hope 2012 is a good year for some of that stuff. I think reading the Bible in its entirety will definitely change my life, and hopefully embracing God and His Word will be the first step towards embracing everyone and everything around me.

For now, here’s to lessons learned and God loving us in the midst of & in spite of our messes.