life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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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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Our President’s Day Getaway with a Surprise

Over President’s Day weekend (February 18th-20th), Dayne & I ventured on a little getaway to Absecon, NJ (pronounced ab-SEE-con, not AB-se-CON, like I originally thought). We arrived typically late (thanks to me) on Saturday night to Clarion Inn & Suites and unpacked our bags in our jacuzzi suite. The suite was spacious, the bed was comfortable, the jacuzzi was suh-weet!, and the bathroom was okay. Unfortunately, I took zero pictures of the suite.

On Sunday, we headed out to the Atlantic City Aquarium, home of the stingrays you can pet and absolutely nothing bigger than a seaturtle. It was fabulous. We love going to places like that.

Us at the Atlantic City Aquarium, 2/19/20.

We have a tradition (Dayne hates when I use that word, since he claims nothing we do has actually been repeated enough to become a tradition) of buying magnets from everywhere we go on vacation together, so we picked up this little guy:

He is proudly hanging on our fridge with our Aruba and Bushkill Falls magnets (3 whole traditions!).

After the Atlantic City Aquarium, we had lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s and then did some outlet shopping. Dayne got a few new work shirts from Eddie Bauer, and I finally got new black heels for work (my old ones were completely falling apart) and a couple pieces of work clothes. Shopping at the outlets was exhausting because: 1) neither one of us likes shopping, and 2) it was SO cold & windy & FRIGID that day. But it was fun to be together and to get something accomplished.

One of my goals for this trip to Absecon/Atlantic City was to finally eat at The Melting Pot, which we did that night, even though we weren’t very hungry. Being not-so-hungry is both good and bad at The Melting Pot — good because you won’t spend as much money (it is expensive), but bad because everything is so freaking delicious. We split a cheese fondue as an appetizer, then a salad, and finally a mixed entree of shrimp, filet mignon, chicken, sausage, and veggies rubbed in some cajun spices and dipped in this amazing fondue that I cannot even describe to you with justice. I also had a perfect glass of white wine. The saddest part is that we could not fit dessert (chocolate fondue) in our bellies.

The damage. Taken after everything was eaten because I could not stop stuffing my face & enjoying myself long enough to take a picture beforehand.

Blissfully fondue-d in a little corner at The Melting Pot.

Our getaway was simply lovely. While the hotel was mostly not relaxing (there were no noise barriers at all, so falling asleep with doors slamming, kids yelling, and people dropping dumbbells in the room above us was incredibly difficult), the temporary relaxation of sipping sparkling white wine in a warm jacuzzi tub in the evenings made up for it.

The reason I chose to take pictures at all during this trip, besides wanting to have something to remember it by, was also to document that on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 (the day when all these pictures were taken besides the lighthouse one), we found out that our offer was accepted on a house.

So… we are under contract on a house! While it is exciting and worthy of celebration and even worthy of describing the God-ordained details to you, there is so much involved in the process (still) that I don’t feel like divulging any of the details is quite appropriate yet. But we are in the process, and we just had our first home inspection, and we are throwing a lot of money around, and I may be developing an ulcer, and we have started collecting boxes because we’ll be moving pretty soon if all goes well.

With so much going on, and with both of us working full-time, I have had little time to blog. Today, I stayed home from work because of stomach pains (see aforementioned possible ulcer) and finally had the time to gather my thoughts and pictures and put together an update. I desire to blog more, but the days have been so fast-paced, tiring, and uncertain that it becomes quite difficult. There is still lots more I could write about, and I would love to document the whole process on the house so that other future first-time homebuyers could learn from it, but we’ll just have to see how frequently I get a chance to blog. Otherwise, there will be bigger updates like this a little less frequently.

We’re doing well, we’re happy to be in this stage of life and in the process of buying a home, and I will do my best to keep this blog in the loop of any updates. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


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He Said/She Said – Fall 2011 Edition

Happy weekend after Thanksgiving! The holidays are such a fun and distracting time, yes? I looooove all the Christmas decorations at home and at work:

my favorite part of my desk right now

I’m already anticipating the sadness that will wash over me in January when all the lights and colors and cute Christmas-y figures have to get put back in boxes for another year.

On a completely different note: A month or so ago, I had an idea for a blog entry that would help you get to know Dayne and I – as individuals – better, especially the ways in which we are different. I came up with several questions that I thought might be interesting, and asked Dayne if he’d be into it. He was on the ball and got it done before I did! We might be doing this on a more regular basis, particularly as our marriage grows and we grow as people 🙂

Anyways, I hope you enjoy our first His & Hers:

(Some context before you begin: “Dayne” is my husband, and “Lisa” is me [duh]. We answered these questions completely separately, but we did do some post-editing together afterwards [mostly for length]. Oh, and Dayne is a software developer… more about that below.)

What Amazes Me:
Dayne: 
Humanity, and it amazes me in a multitude of ways.  To start with, I think it’s just downright insane that we even exist. When I step back and look around, I can’t believe that I’m able to do the things that I can.  Even writing this answer down is amazing.  I’m able to think thoughts, direct my body to move and type words (the fact that we have language is pretty high on the amazing scale, too) without even really thinking about it (and at 60+ wpm no less).
And don’t forget the fact that I’m writing this onto an invention that 30 years ago was so big that it had a room all to itself.  Humanity has one-upped itself again and again, especially when comes to technology and our ability to invent. I have a device that fits into my pocket which I can make phone calls on and is more powerful then the computer I first built back in high school.
Amazing!
Lisa: Sunsets. Definitely sunsets. I see God’s creativity and love in expansive skies. Also – love amazes me: the strength, commitment, and complexity of it. I think unconditional love is the most fascinating thing of all — especially when I see glimpses of the limitless grace and mercy that God pours out in His unconditional love for humanity.

What Gets Me Goin’ in the Morning:
Dayne: 
Probably two main things: Work and Traffic.
I enjoy my job, or at least the work that I do while there.  I’m a computer programmer, though I’m attempting to convince people to stop using that term and instead use “software engineer” since the title “computer programmer” screams “overweight-guy-in-a-dark-room-with-way-too-many-empty-Mt-Dew-cans-next-to-an-extremely-bright-computer-monitor”.
Many people think that software engineering is about writing code and making a computer do things, but what isn’t understood is that it’s truly an art form.  I design how systems will interact, how they will communicate, and more importantly, how each piece of the larger puzzle will be defined.  On my current team, we spend a lot of time during the day attempting to define the thing that we are working with.  I’m currently reading a paper that talks about the “Ubiquitous Language” that developers have to obtain before they can work on a project together.  I debated with 3 other developers for over an hour last week about how we incorrectly named something “lock state” instead of “status change” in our code.  Getting everyone to use the same vernacular allows us to talk at a higher level about what we are creating.
And, number two thing that gets me up in the morning?  Traffic.  I hate fighting traffic, so I try to get to work early enough to avoid it.
Lisa: Currently, my new job really motivates me to get up and moving. I look forward to it, and I have a lot of independent work, which I like. On the weekends… I am extremely food-motivated. The thought of a homemade breakfast and a hot cup of coffee usually makes me want to get up!

Current Thing I Want to Try that I Haven’t Yet:
Dayne: 
I think I’d like to work at a start-up company at some point.  There is an excitement that comes from working on a project that may or may not survive if it’s not good enough.  At my job, if your project doesn’t work 100%, you fix what went wrong and then move on to another project.  There’s no risk and thus no real reward out of a completed project.
Lisa: Parasailing. I’m terrified of it because I’m afraid of heights, but I’d love to forget about that and go for it in a beautiful place. Also, I really want to take a cooking class.

If I Could Go Anywhere in the World, I’d Visit:
Dayne: 
I’m told Colorado is nice.
Nah, but seriously, I’m not that interested in Colorado. I think I wouldn’t mind seeing New Zealand; I was impressed by some of the scenery in The Lord Of The Rings. Since I’m not the “traveler” in the family, I think I’ll stay at the broad generalization of a country as my “anywhere”.
Lisa:  I’d love to go to Israel and see where Jesus did His ministry, except I’m apprehensive of going there now. I really want to take Dayne with me back to Italy; there’s so much I want to show him, especially in Rome. Other places on my list: Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Greece, South Africa, Egypt, Hawaii, Rio de Jainero, California wine country, San Francisco, Maine, Atlanta, etc. I’m currently trying to figure out where we should go for our first anniversary – I’d love to explore more of the Caribbean islands. Dayne & I loved Aruba (where we honeymooned) and I think we’d like to go back someday.

Things I Love About Being Married:
Dayne: 
While this probably isn’t the most romantic answer, I love being taken care of.  Lisa is a great cook and has been great at meal planning and having something ready for us every night, even if it’s just a frozen pizza.  When I was flying solo, it wasn’t uncommon for me to skip dinner after work simply because I didn’t have food in the house.  Lisa also sees things that I don’t.  When single, I wouldn’t do laundry until the night that I was wearing my last clean pair of underwear (and sometimes, I wouldn’t even do laundry then).
Having someone who is always thinking one step ahead of me around the house is great.  I feel loved and taken care of by Lisa’s unending energy to get things done.  We’re only a few days into Lisa’s new full-time job and already I’m starting to see what I will be missing by not having a wife that is home and has time to get things done around the house.
Lisa: Having someone around to do guy things that I never liked doing: taking out the trash, killing spiders, cleaning the toilet, etc. 😉 And Dayne is often very generous with doing things for me – one morning when it was raining, he got up early to go outside and get my umbrella from the car for me, as well as move the car closer. And the most spectacular thing about being married is having my best friend around at all times. I almost always have Dayne around to talk, hang out, and cuddle. He’s an amazing support and lots of fun.
Oh, and maybe the number one thing I love about being married is just the endless amount of learning and growth that is possible as individuals and as a couple. There is always work to be done and blessings to uncover. Marriage is unlike anything else in this life, a complete mystery that I believe points straight back to God and His will. “‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:32

Things that Have Been Hard to Get Used to in Marriage:
Dayne: 
The hardest thing for me to get used to was just existing in a one bedroom apartment together.  While I had lost most of “my time” way back when we started dating, I’ve also now lost “any time” that I had to myself.  During our courtship, I at least had a few days a week when I’d go to my place after work and wouldn’t see Lisa.  Those were my times to play video games, catch up on Hulu or watch a crappy Netflix movie streaming on my PC (all Netflix streaming movies are awful).  At this point, I don’t feel like I have that time to myself.
That’s not to say that every waking moment I have is spent doing something together with Lisa.  We actually have been doing good recently at having our own time to do things we want to do.  The difference here is that even if I’m playing video games or watching TV, Lisa’s there.  I can’t do “man things” (read that as: fart) without being afraid of repercussions.
Lisa: Being unselfish with everything – time, money, energy, plans, goals, decisions. Working on not having to have everything my way. Picking my battles. These are all things I didn’t really have to do when I was single.
Also, Dayne is a guy. He just doesn’t and never will think like me. It’s hard to get used to accepting and celebrating difficult differences instead of agonizing over them.

Things That Still Fascinate Me About the Opposite Sex:
Dayne: 
They place emotional thoughts higher than logic. I’ve broken this down into a systematic equation:

Logic = formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning.
Women = Beings driven by emotion
Emotions ≠ Logic

Now, we can use the transitive property of equations to combine the two:

Logic = formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning.
Emotions ≠ Logic
becomes
Emotions ≠ correct reasoning (shortened version)
or
Emotions = incorrect reasoning

And now with some substitution, we end up with this:

Women = Beings driven by incorrect reasoning

Lisa:  Guys handle their relationships completely differently than girls do. Girls are constantly trying to keep in touch, asking personal questions and thinking about the underlying meaning behind everything in their relationships. Guys just exist with each other, smack each other on the back, and carry on. Not that they don’t love each other, they just don’t make their relationships so complicated!

If I Were Stranded on a Beautiful Desert Island for a Week, I’d Need These to Keep Me Happy:
Dayne:
 I feel like this question is flawed.  I wrote a few sentences about how I’d need a fast internet connection and how I love working online so much that I wouldn’t even realize there was no food.  But then I saw “beautiful” in the question and I had to delete it all.  I’m feeling like this one question is really two questions in disguise.  “If I were stranded on a desert island for a week, without food, I’d need these to keep me happy”, and “If I was to spend a week on a beautiful desert island, I’d do this to be happy”.
So, I’m going to ignore Lisa’s question and answer my own two questions.
1) I’d need an internet connection.  I do a lot of tech reading and there is absolutely no place to do that better then with trusty Google.  Some people will say that there are good tech books out there that I could have mentioned, but let me tell you to be wary of those people.  Anyone that buys a tech book isn’t to be trusted.  Books are dated before they are even printed and there is no real value in buying them when most of the information that they have in them is free online, as long as you’re willing to dig for it.
2) In my question, I described Aruba, so I’d have to say that I’d do nothing.  I loved our honeymoon and we did as close to nothing as two people can do without being complete bums.  By the way Lisa, I wouldn’t mind going back there.
Lisa: Books (including the Bible) and a notebook and pen for writing. It would also be nice to have some good music. Oh, and I’d probably freak out without a cell phone or a way of keeping in touch with people in case of emergency. But I guess that defeats the “stranded” part. I think being anywhere alone for an entire week would get to me.

Favorite Date Activities:
Dayne: 
I enjoyed ice skating on New Year’s Eve with Lisa last year, and I wouldn’t mind doing that sort of thing again.  While we haven’t done this yet, I’m excited for when we get around to taking a cooking class together.  We made some pretty good meals as a team while we were dating, so I’m excited for us learn some new skills in that area.
I also really enjoy making reservations at restaurants that don’t exist. (Post-editing for clarification: Dayne did this for our one-year anniversary. He unwittingly made a reservation for a restaurant in Vermont, and then took us to a restaurant that had been boarded-up in West Chester.)
Lisa:  Trying out a great new restaurant. Going someplace we’ve never been before. Day trips to fun locales like the beach or Baltimore’s Inner Habor. Going for hikes/walks on nice days.

Favorite Movies:
Dayne: 
Almost any movie.  I can watch anything from chickflicks to crazy shoot ’em ups.  I like them all.  But, I like shoot ’em ups more and that’s a genre that I don’t think I’ll get to see as much of since Lisa isn’t a fan.
Lisa: I love romantic comedies and Johnny Depp movies. I like some action movies. Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Proposal are definitely up there with my favorites; I could watch those movies over and over again. Despicable Me is a favorite of mine & Dayne’s. Some of my favorite classic movies are Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like it Hot, and Roman Holiday.

Favorite Bible Verse(s):
Dayne: 
Matthew 6:25-34
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A25-34&version=NIV
Lisa: One of my favorite life verses is Psalm 127:1: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (God’s plans are superior to ours and we need to seek Him first in all that we do.)
Another is Psalm 73:26: “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (God is enough.)
I also find this verse from Ecclesiastes fascinating: “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” (Ecc. 11:9) (We are to follow our hearts and pursue what’s in front of us, but also know that God sees all and holds us accountable for everything that we do. It’s finding a balance and seeking the holy.)

I Really Want:
Dayne: 
I want a new TV, a new desktop PC (which I want to build), and a new red wagon.
Lisa: A baby. … But not really, not yet. 🙂 Currently, I am waiting for the right time to have Dayne sit down with me and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and all kinds of other Christmas movies. Other than that, I am pretty content. I guess the one thing I would like, but I know will happen in the right timing, is for us to get a house.
And a baby.