January 31, 2011

The One with the Beautiful Friend

I have a friend. A very good friend. She is loyal. She is faithful. She is loving. She is supportive. She is fun. She is a listener. She is beautiful. She loves Jesus. 

When I read the Project 31 prompt "Write a Blog to Encourage Another Beautiful Woman," I knew God was leading me to share these words with my friend, Brittney. 

Britt, thank you for being an example of what a good friend should be. I know I can always count on you to be there, and I am learning from you what a true friendship looks like. You have stuck by me through a lot, and I am eternally grateful. 

I want you to know I love you, and I pray for you often. God has a beautiful plan for your life, Britt. I have every confidence that He is working in you in a mighty way. He's taken you through ups and downs, and you've followed Him faithfully. I am excited to see what awaits you and Nick around the bend. Just keeping holding onto Jesus. He will carry you.

I am inspired by your perseverance. You show this strong quality in every aspect of your life--and it is truly an example to me and to many others. Hold on to that hope you have within you, knowing God is act work.

Thank you for being my friend. 

January 28, 2011

The One with the [5 minute] Women

On this wonderful wintery Friday, I am joining The Gypsy Mama and others on a Five Minute Friday post. The prompt: "The Women."


These past couple days have been a day of "The Women"--just Mom and me. It's been lovely, really. Dad is on a Utah trip with the guys, skiing his little heart out, and mom wanted some company. I was happy to oblige for a few days. I arrived Thursday morning at 11:30 and we hit the ground running. Well, not really. We had no place to go, no plans made. It was "whatever we feel like doing" day. Excellent. 

The first thing we felt like doing was eating lunch at Steak N Shake. Burger, small fries, and small drink (The "Snack Pack") for $2.79? Heck yes! TWO hours later, we finally decided it was time to leave. The conversation had been so sweet, so non-stop, neither of us wanted to call it quits.:) 

Side note: Have any of you been around 2 women who haven't been together in a month or more? It's one topic after another and back again in rapid fire succession. We had one general topic of conversation with at least 45 different tributaries--all of which were necessary to the main discussion. So fun, but so hard to keep track of. 

Since then, we've bought picture frames and developed wall hangings together. 
Skyped from room to room. 
And enjoyed a few too many chocolate chip cookies. 

Sounds like a perfect day in the life of "The Women." 


January 25, 2011

The One with the Letter of Love

The glory of God is a man fully alive. [St. Iranaeus]
A letter of thanks.

Dear Kevin, 

I think you know by now how wholly and passionately I love you. But, my husband, I truly believe without your incredible love for me, I wouldn't have the capacity for such a love. God has given you an enormous responsibility--to love me as Christ loved the Church. I can say with complete honesty that you are the greatest embodiment of Christ in my life.

Watching you become a man of God is such a privilege. You have such fire for His Word, such a passion for His people. Following you as you walk in faith toward a foreign land shows me your deepest heart--obedience to Christ no matter the cost. We may feel like Abraham and Sarah at times, but holding hands and seeking the voice of the Lord is all He has called us to. I never would have dreamed we would be on this journey. But it is true discipleship, and I would have it no other way.

Thank you for loving me. Just me. All of me. You accept my whole being without making exceptions or corrections, and you encourage me to do the same. You see the woman God created me to be, and you love me enough to walk alongside me as I journey to that wholeness. 

You have made my heart come fully alive. God sees and rejoices. 

Walking with you, 


Linked up with Day5 of Project 31.

The One with a Flash of My Future

Top Ten {Tuesday} 
Top Ten Ways I Got a Glimpse into My Future 

This morning was just dandy--everything going according to plan my desire. Or not! The first two hours of my day gave me a vision of what the rest of my life will be like--you know, once my days are filled with our offspring throwing a wrench in my lovely little schedule. Of course, it'll be worth it and probably a good thing to rid myself of my fairly self-centered lifestyle

1. As I'm cozy in bed, still fighting with the reality that the alarm clock was close to buzzing, I heard Kevin down the hall. He was shouting, "No! No!" and then the bright hallway lights turned out, shining into my sleepy eyes. The cat was throwing up

2. I rolled over and pretended I was none the wiser. 

3. After my workout, I came upstairs with a plan to head to the shower. Kevin beat me to it

4. I came up with an alternate plan--eat breakfast. 

5. As I was toasting my cinnamon raisin bagel and dreaming of spreading it with Nutella, I realized the trash can was overflowing

6. I took out the trash, only to realize the bag was leaking some sort of liquid all over the kitchen floor. 

7. Grabbing a rag, I began wiping up the mess. It was at this point that I almost stepped in a pile of cat poop conveniently located on the floor entrance into the cat's bathroom. 

8. The litter box was overflowing, and someone decided it was high time we did something about it. Thanks, Cat.

9. Still donning my sweaty workout clothes and ignoring the fact that my bagel has been done for 15 minutes, I dumped a billion pounds of cat poo and swept up $11 worth of kitty litter from the floor. (Why can't they just shake their feet off in the litter box?!)

10. At this point, I had no other choice than to sweep the entire kitchen floor and then pull out the hated mop bucket for a thorough cleaning. I had been putting this off for weeks, knowing that the wintertime does nothing but make my floor dirty again in moments. 

If you have any doubts of the accounts of my morning, just ask my husband. He can attest to this story in it's entirety. (Oh! Except don't tell him I was awake while he was cleaning up cat vomit!)

Do you ever have mornings like this?! (or a hundred times worse?)

linked up with Oh!Amanda's Top Ten Tuesday.
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January 23, 2011

The One with the Beauty Inspiration

I have so many beautiful friends. For real--these girls are drop dead gorgeous and their inner lives shine the same light. I am blessed. 

One woman who inspires beauty in my life is Brooke.

photo by studio bree.

I met this gorgeous girl when we moved in across the hall from each other our freshmen year of college. As soon as I saw her, I thought, "Oh my gosh, she's so pretty. I'm sure she'll be nice, but I can't imagine ever being friends with someone that beautiful." No kidding.

photo by studio bree.

But from that day on, Brooke proved me wrong. She was the most genuine person I had ever met. She laughed without embarrassment. She loved with her whole heart. She listened with her whole being. She prayed with the depths of her spirit

I was supremely blessed to get to spend an entire summer with this girl. We were the only two females on a traveling worship team of eight. We clung to each other. We laughed and cried. We talked late into the night--sharing dreams and secrets. I never could have survived those months without a real friend like Brooke.

(yes we both fit into this sweatshirt.)

Nearly five years have passed since that summer, and I still feel Brooke is a sister of mine. I am honored to have her in my life. Being around her makes anyone want to experience the joy of the Lord that pours of our her smile. She is constantly doing too many things, but you'll never hear her complaining. She works hard to be everything God wants her to be--and I have to say, she's doing an awfully good job. 

Thank you, Brookie, for loving me and showing me what true beauty really is. 

She Breathes Deeply

linked with Day 3 of Project31.

The One with that's Uniquely Me

I pray many of you were encouraged by the words Jesus has spoken into my life concerning the beauty of a woman. My heart's desire is to learn how to fully embrace the beauty God has created in my life and to help all women experience that same freedom.

Part of this process, I believe, is seeing who YOU really are--all of your quirks, your passions, your thoughts, your talents, your hobbies, your needs. Though many of us share some aspects of our personalities, each one of us have an almost-DNA-like conglomeration of qualities. We are beautifully unique.

What makes you uniquely you?

I'll start.

Hi! My name is Melanie, and I don't have to work very hard at keeping up with my "adorkable" title. Sure, I can be cute, but much of the time I evoke a response of "aww, well isn't that cute?" I have some serious quirks. Idiosyncrasies if you will.

My toilet paper must roll over the top.
My toothpaste should be squeezed evenly from the bottom.
I insist that water be turned off when not actually in use--such as while brushing my teeth.
I keep lists.
Scrap paper notepads are in drawers all over my house--desk, bathroom, bedroom.
I fold my underwear.
I stack my socks.
I bake for fun. And to relieve stress. (Though I'm not so sure it's the baking that relieves stress or the eating.)
I really can't stand more than 5 emails left unanswered in my inbox.
I can watch hours of tv at a time, but half an hour into any movie and I'm asleep. (Kevin thinks it's the "canned laughter" that keeps me engaged during tv.)
I like skim milk, natural peanut butter, homemade wheat bread, fresh cut vegetables, and granny smith apples.
I also like chocolate chip cookies, mint chocolate chip ice cream, fudge brownies, and 99% of other ice cream varieties.
I used to really not like cats.
Now I have two.
Our bed has a severe sink hole in the center. I'm a chronic snuggler.

Those are the random facts--that honestly don't matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of eternity. The rest of my life goes a little something like this:

I grew up learning about Jesus. Mom and Dad taught me Scripture memory verses at a very young age. They even have a video of my whipping off I John 5:11-12 as if it was to save to my life. (Funny thing--it pretty much was.) I was the first one to raise my hand in Sunday School class with the answer. (Yes, I'm still that kid. I'm a firstborn ok??) I loved singing Bible songs like "Jesus Loves Me," "Beloved," "Have Patience," Special Specialitiy," and every song my mom every led during our summers of Vacation Bible School.

My little sister and I fought all the time--most of it was blamed on me. The first born has to be the one responsible and the responsible one, right? But we also loved each other dearly. We'd rather spend hours playing Barbies or "house," or "school" by ourselves than with lots of friends. We became best friends as I went through high school. I'm so thankful for her.

My years in high school were fairly uneventful. I didn't do a whole lot with school friends--church and youth group was my life. I was on my youth group leadership team from 9th grade on and I loved every minute of it. (Foreshadowing, maybe?) I learned more and more about Scripture, I memorized more Bible verses, and I learned the true meaning of getting outside my comfort zone.

I graduated Salutatorian with a 4.0 GPA, was class speaker, and on Homecoming and Prom courts. I really don't know how those things happened. I was far from cool. I just pray it was because people were drawn to the Jesus in me.

I spent the next four years of my life meeting adulthood head on at one of the best universities--Spring Arbor. I learned how to live with people other than family. I learned the true meaning of stress. And how to deal with it. I learned what friendships are really made of. I learned how to think for myself--and how to not think I know I all. I learned so much about worshiping, and studying Scripture, and pretending to understand philosophy. (It's still beyond me and I was Philosophy/Religion major.) I learned what it meant to fall in love once and for all.

And all of those experiences are what have made me into who I am today. I'm not done changing. Becoming. But for now, I'm embracing who I am. I am Melanie. Wife of Kevin. Daughter of Karen and Danny. Sister of Ashley. Leader of teens. Lover of good books and hot tea and piano music. I will forever be a list maker, a family girl, a homebody, and a pursuer of no-nonsense relationships. I hope I will also love baking and hostessing--opening my door to anyone who will enter. I will continue to pursue the heart of God with as much passion as He has pursued me. I want each day of my life to matter in eternity.

Who are you?

She Breathes Deeply

Linked up with Day 2 of Project 31.

January 21, 2011

The One with the Beauty of a Woman

Jesus says, 
"I created you.
I had a plan and a purpose for you life even before you were a dream in your parents' subconscious. 
You are beautiful
You are wonderfully made.
I knit you together, stitch by stitch, placing every limb, every bone, every organ, exactly where I wanted them. 
I make no mistakes

When I was forming the land and the sea, 
the birds and the fish, 
the sun, moon, and stars, 
the animals and plants, 
I wanted to save the best for last.
I created man in my image, but I knew it was not good for him to live on his own. 
Though Adam knew no different, I knew he would not be complete without a counterpart. 
Together, the two would more perfectly display my qualities
He would be strong
She would be sensitive
He would rule with power
She would reign with grace.
They would fit perfectly together and, in my image and because of the capacity I gave them to love, they would be given the ability to create life. 

And so, I created you. 
As a woman, you came from man, because the two of you were made to be reliant and inseparable.
You were given my image, my glory. 
It is in you that I display my breathtaking beauty
You are the crown of creation
Only then did I say, 'It is very good.'

And yet you reject the very body I created. 
You look in the mirror and ignore all that is perfect and look only at what you wish to change. 
You see flaws
I see unique beauty. 
You complain
You believe the lies Satan whispers in your ear, telling you how ugly you are, how you are too fat or too skinny, or how you'd be better if only you had that jean size or that cup size or that hair color. 
And the more you listen to his deceit, the more difficult it becomes for you to hear my gentle voice. 

I weep when I see you degrade yourself. 
I am saddened when you don't trust my Truths
I make no mistakes. 
I made you wonderfully--exactly as I intended. 
What right does the creation have to question the wisdom the Creator
Believe me when I say I take great delight in you
I rejoice over YOU with singing.
Embrace my all surpassing love. 
Know it as yours and float in it."


And today, Dear Friends, I offer this prayer for each one who knows the lies all too well. 
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the saints, 
to grasp how wide 
and long 
and high 
and deep is the love of Christ, 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

--Learning to embrace my beauty,

This post was originally posted We Chase the Son (the devotional blog of my husband and me), and is also participating in Project 31 at She Breathes Deeply

She Breathes Deeply

January 20, 2011

The One with the New Living Room

I have to confess--I've always been a "rearranger." Growing up I moved everything around in my bedroom every 3 or 4 months. (Until I rearranged it in such a way, that all of the other possibilities were completely overruled by the placement of the oversized dresser. It was impossible to move things around after that. I was sad.) In college, I was lucky to have a roommate who shared my love of rearranging. It was harder work with all of the dorm room furniture and the stacking and lack of space, but every few months we gave our room a makeover. It was great. 

Our living room got a bit of makeover last week. I rearranged a few pieces of furniture about nine months ago, but something was just calling out for refreshment of sorts. When Kevin mentioned for the tenth time that he wanted his computer desk in the living room so we could chill out together in the same room (I'm a tv girl. He's a computer game guy.), I figured I'd make something work. Heck--my husband really wanted to spend time (or at least space) with me. Sweet!

It took me about an hour of envisioning and moving and thinking to come up with something that was totally fresh and new, while remaining functional. I think I like it! 


I'm pretty proud of the room dividing I did. :)


Kevin's space is quite nice for him. 
Please don't look too long and hard at my only wall arrangement on that ginormous wall. It's something I really want changed--just waiting for the right items. 



I love the "bookish/study" look to the leather chair and end table. And that new little lamp, proudly propped on my Greek Lexicon, is turned on by the switch over the piano and adds the perfect amount of lighting which the room was lacking before. 

So, I know it's totally different (and honestly it looks better in person), but what do you think? 

January 19, 2011

The One with the OPPOSITE Sexes

Today, I would like to share a little word of encouragement:

It's ok to be different from your spouse.

Every form of media seems to have something to say about this topic of relationship compatibility. (Which, oddly enough, is easily mistyped to form "comBatability.") We hear messages about what type of person you should marry based on your Myers-Briggs indicator or your astrological sign or even your birth order. 

Kevin and I failed at all of those. 
No, seriously. 

We are complete opposites on all of 1 of the MBTI test. 
We are both Scorpios. (Which doesn't matter at all to either of us, but most secular relationship advice says no Scorpio should marry a Scorpio. Volatile connection apparently. Ooops.)
We are both FIRST BORNS.* (That's a no-brainer. Two bossy, head-strong individuals getting married?! We are dumb.)

*I know a few other first born-first born couples, and they have great marriages too, so THERE!

But you know what? I'm so over those worldly interpretations and you should be too! No, Kevin and I don't have tons of commonalities. But our faith and our standards and our passions and our dreams are spot on. We share a sense of humor and a love of good food. We love learning and playing good music together. We are both utterly ridiculous at times (me much more than him). We love to think deeply and read good books.

And we're pretty cute.

I don't understand why he loves to play computer games so much and I don't think I ever will. I will probably always be a bit annoyed by it, in fact. But it's something he enjoys and it's what he does to relax, so I'll go with it. 

He may never comprehend why I get so dang emotional all the time or why I can't just shut off those nagging thoughts until things are resolved. He'd rather be able to say "Move on, Mel" and have it really work. But it never will, and he'll keep learning how to deal with it. 

All those remarks aside, the truth remains-- you can be different from your spouse. It's so cool to learn about the opposite sex from a person you know and love deeply. It seems there will never be an end to this educational process--we're in this for the long haul. 

And honestly, I can't wait to keep getting to know him better. 

Your spouse is always changing, learning, growing. It's a beautiful thing. And you get experience life with them. It's annoying sometimes, sure. It can be completely angering every now and again. But I encourage you to be thankful. Look for the growth and commend each other--spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Make an effort to enjoy each other's activities. Go out of your way to spend time with each other, experiencing new things. 

So what if you're not very much alike or if ALL the research says your relationship is doomed! Are you willing to prove them all wrong

One really really awesome way to learn more about each other is through reading the books entitled For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. I simply cannot say enough wonderful things about these books. Within hours of reading each chapter and having our perceptions about each other totally rocked, both Kevin and I have made diliberate efforts put into practice what we've learned. And the crazy thing? We're BOTH reaping the benefits! It's astounding! 

Both books are candid--no fluff. They are easy to understand and give straightforward advice that really works with immediate results. This couple did serious scientific research by interviewing thousands of "regular" men and women. They present their undeniable findings in these small books--each written specifically from the man's or woman's perspective. 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read these books! (women read the Women book, men read Men, of course.) Borrow them from the library, buy them online or at a used book store. Do what you have to to get snag a copy and change your perspective, your marriage, and your life. 

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January 18, 2011

The One with the Laughing Stock

Top Ten {Tuesday} 

Top Ten Things I do that Evoke Laughter from Others*

*alternately entitled "Top Ten Things I Do That Are Awesome and Help Make Everyone's Lives Easier that I Wish People Would Stop Making Fun of Me For because I Really Don't Appreciate It, but I Know It Will Never Change"

1) Being too organized

2) Having lists and time tables for everything. (Yes, everyone in my wedding party called me crazy for the down-to-the-minute schedule, but in the end I wasn't a "bridezilla" and everyone knew where they needed to be. So there!)

3) Creating a "Subway Order Form" to save time and chaos and headache on a trip with 28 teenagers. (Believe me, adult leaders, you WILL thank me.) 

4) Always wanting my pens back (I will take full responsibility for being made fun of for this. I am a pen snob.) 

5) Rearranging my house frequently or changing my profile picture frequently, or changing my desktop background frequently. (I guess I value some change in my life--change that I can control, though, evidently.)

6) Using my 4 inch thick unabridged Greek Lexicon as a shelf for a short lamp. I knew that class would come in handy!

7) Washing the inside of my dishwasher. (It's not my fault the space gets moldy from being wet and sealed off 99% of the time) 

8) Having more file folders than my husband has sheets of paper. 

9) Getting annoyed when no one is listening the directions as I explain the rules of a new game. (But seriously, how else are we supposed to play if you don't shut up and learn!)

10) Being committed to going to bed at a decent hour (10 or 11pm) in order to get up at a decent hour. (I've never been the "cool kid" that could--or even wanted to stay up at all hours past midnight. I value my sleep and if you've ever been around me when I haven't slept enough, you will value my sleep too.)

linked up with Oh!Amanda's Top Ten Tuesday

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January 17, 2011

The One When Babies Bring Us Together


The occasion was beautiful--two of my wonderful college friends carrying their precious baby girls. I was excited to celebrate, but I didn't know how much I needed them. A little piece of my heart goes dormant when we can't be together, but watching it come alive again within a moment of reuniting is a beautiful thing. 

 It wasn't near enough time, but being with these girls, this weekend, was exactly what I soul needed. 

January 14, 2011

The One with the War on the Dishwasher

Today is one of those "Getting Tons of Things Done But You Don't Really Feel Like You're Getting Anything Done" days. It's a really good feeling (sometimes, once a week TOPS!) to be accomplishing, accomplishing, accomplishing. Scurrying hither and thither, cleaning up messes as they are made, baking cookies in between times, filing paperwork, balancing the checkbook ledger, cleaning the dishwasher. 

Oh wait. That last one just stinks. literally and figuratively I might add. Cleaning things that clean things is dumb. It seems totally counterintuitive to me. Am I crazy for feeling that way? 

Let me be clear: there is NO connection whatsoever with my extremely clean, somewhat uptight, totally Type A personality and the need to clean this dishwasher. BELIEVE ME. I have been ignoring the issue for weeks months. 

The blasted machine does a pretty terrible job of cleaning my dishes, but it's decent enough to use. So we use it. In fact, Kevin has taught me to really use the dishwasher. I was the clean-before-putting-in-the-dishwasher type of person. Pointless, I tell you. Also, he's taught me a little detergent goes a long way. Good to know. 

All that to say, the darn dishwasher was so grotesquely discolored (with what could only be mold and mildew) I could ignore it no longer. 

So I strapped on some gloves, grabbed a scouring pad, Clorox scouring powder, and straight up bleach and went to work. The scouring did not work. I was irritated. Bring it on, you blasted grime! I poured 100% bleach into the detergent compartments and let it run it full cleaning cycle. 

I have never seen such a beautiful sight in all my life in the last hour!

Now, just don't let it happen again, Dishwasher. 

Does anyone else hate cleaning things that are supposed to clean things???????? 

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January 12, 2011

The One with My Friend Debbie

Today, at the end of a Wednesday, I wanted to talk a short walk down memory lane. Yesterday, I was able to spend 5 minutes with my lovely friend, Debbie, and I was instantly reminded of the blessed time I spent with her this summer. She has become such an instrumental part of my life. God brought us together at the perfect time--we both needed someone with whom we could share our hearts. 

This summer we:
shared responsibilities. 
laughed super hard at Catalog Living.
discussed our favorite blogs.
reminded each other to enter the Pioneer Woman's giveaways. 
talked about healthy living...and how we were both gaining weight on camp food. 
gave girly advice. 
recounted favorite HIMYM episodes. 
shared stories and wisdom and frustrations of marriage. 
discussed books.
shared how Jesus changed our lives. 
listened to great tunes. 
talked church. 
ordered "My Husband Rocks" shirts together. 
talked about our moms' fights with breast cancer. 
experienced the beautiful freedom in holding no secrets. 

I'm only sorry I didn't become this close with her for those four years we lived "next door" to each other at Spring Arbor. 

But living "across the street" at camp and sitting right next to each other for the majority of every day of this past summer made up for lost time. 

I'm so thankful for you, Deborah. You are an inspiration to me and a friend I could never replace. Love you.

linked up with Wednesday's Walk


January 11, 2011

The One with the Friday that Deserves It's Own List.

(last) Friday's Factoids. Yes, "factoids."

1. Leaving the house on Friday afternoon is NOT a good idea. At least not last Friday. The roads and stores were packed--I'm talkin' Christmas-season-packed. It was ridiculous and I hope to never encounter such pointless chaos again. These people were doing errands like it was going out of style. I even tweeted about it.  

2. I really hate strongly dislike returning pop cans for their deposit. It's gross. And smelly. And boring. 

3. On the other hand, if it weren't for recycling all of those pop cans in order to get my $0.10 per can back, I never would have seen the hidden rack of closeout prices. Thank you, Meijer, for crazy good deals. 

4. Making coffee is something I am not good at. But that's ok, because I'm not picky about my coffee and I only wanted a reason to try my new Peppermint Mocha creamer. It's delish. And good until December 2012.

5. I'm really excited about the massive amount of fresh vegetables that are filling my refrigerator shelves. (And thank you again, Meijer, for your great 10 for $10 deals that actually included REAL food.) It's been a long time since I was in the mood for veggies. I know that's terrible, but it's true.

6. Diet Coke with Lime rocks our socks. (Diet Pepsi with Lime is a sufficient substitute when you go back to Meijer to buy more Diet Coke with Lime--because all Coke and Pepsi products are $1 for a 2 liter--and almost ALL of the Coke products are sold out. I guess America my smallish town has spoken. Coke rules.) 

7.  My husband and I frequently burp at the same exact time. It's weird. 

8. I have been reminded, yet again, that doing my Jillian Michaels workouts is totally different than running. Even running 5 miles regularly does not prepare your muscles for the pain of the JM. YOWZAH.

9. (Quality) cooking gadgets at Kohls any store are ridiculously overpriced. Come on, Food Network and Cuisinart and KitchenAid. You guys have awesome products, but I am NOT paying those prices. Even with gift money. Sheesh. 

10. I have learned that sometimes I just can't stop talking. Seriously. Making a conscious decision to stop the flow of words is like trying to plug the Hoover Dam. Really darn difficult. Impossible. Sorry, Husband

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January 10, 2011

The One with the Perfect Power

Isn't it amazing how God works? He often asks me to be patient, to wait on his sovereign timing. He wants me to trust in His plan for my life and enjoy the journey as He leads me. I must not rush ahead, being over-eager to see around the corner. It will come. 

Wait patiently on the Lord. He hears your cries. 

At the precise moment when I am weakest, God shows His strength. He waits for me to get the point when I'm not striving--trying to do everything in my power to achieve a result. When I finally reach the point of frailty, then the Lord's power and glory will be evident when he comes to my rescue. 

Why do I doubt? How can I wait so long to admit inadequacy and my need for Him?

Can anyone relate? 

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January 8, 2011

The One with My Love of New Kitchen Gadgets

CSN Stores contacted me a while back about doing a review of any product in any of their 200+ online stores. SWEET. I got especially excited when I discovered the cookware.com branch. Umm, yes I'm totally there! 

I had an awful time narrowing down my selections. They have every item I have ever even considered wanting for my kitchen. Brands range from Rachael Ray to Cuisinart, KitchenAid to Calphalon. I'm fairly certain cookware.com carries every quality kitchen product known to mankind. 

I looked through my wishlist and crossed off the items I received for Christmas (thanks, family!!) and finally made my decision(s)----

drumroll, please..................


This is the most beautiful cutting board I have ever owned. No. It's way better than that...considering I've only ever owned 2 plastic cutting board of only-average-physical-appeal. But nonetheless, this is a really great looking slab of wood. 

It has this lovely little moat carved out around the edges to contain all of those pesky juices. 
AND there are two finger grips carved into the under side of the cutting board--for easy transportation. Very convenient. 

Between the quality of the Chicago Cutlery brand, the hard wood that will keep my Chicago Cutlery Santoku knife sharp, and the sheer beauty of this slab of cherry wood--this board is a new staple countertop product. I love it. 


But get this, my exciting new cutting board is not alone in the newbie section of kitchen gadgets. Nope. It has this amazing set of stainless steel measuring cups to keep it company.

And don't tell the cutting board, but I'm also a little bit in love with these measuring cups. If you know anything about me, you know I bake ALL the time. My measuring cups (I already have 2 sets) are always dirty. In fact, sometimes I just shake the flour off and call them clean. Don't judge. 

I chose these new cups because I needed a sturdier measuring device. As I was scooping out and packing brown sugar, I heard a crack in the handle of my lovely candy-apple-red plastic measuring cups. Not a good sign. Though these new steel handles have some give to them, I know they're not about to break. The cups themselves are thick and strong and just scream, "I CAN STAND UP TO ANY MEASURING JOB YOU THROW AT ME!"

Something I didn't know about these color-coded measuring cups was the awesome convenience of the extra length in the handle. These handles are at least an inch and a half longer than mine (or anyone else's measuring cups I've ever used.) This is way cooler than I would have thought. It's nice to not have to stick my whole arm into the baking supplies. :) 

In other words, I highly recommend these measuring cups
And the cutting board. 
Even if I wasn't asked to write a review, I would be singing their praises. These products (and subsequently cookware.com of csnstores.com) are TOP NOTCH.  

January 7, 2011

The One with the Long Post for the Long Thursday

Thursday was a lovely (and totally packed) day. After a productive early morning of cleaning, making breakfast and lunch for my husband before his sub job, a great workout, and a delicious bowl of oatmeal, I headed out to accomplish our weekly grocery shopping. I have to admit, I really really enjoy grocery shopping. Thanks to Meijer, Aldi, and the local farmer's market, I had a trunk full of produce and money left in my wallet. :) My favorite thing? Spending $17 at Meijer and saving $22. woot. 

After munching on a fresh Braeburn apple the size of my face, I stopped in for my weekly Bible study with Brandy--one of our teen's mom, who also happens to be a great friend. :) Upon arriving home, I unpacked our blessings of abundant food, made myself some lunch, enjoyed conversation with my husband and waited for our friends to arrive. 

And what had been far too long, we had finally managed to schedule an evening with Britt and Nick. We had such an awesome time hanging out with them. The boys instantly starting chatting about their newest computer game obsession and played ping pong, while Britt and I talked for an hour straight before starting dinner. The four of us (mostly me and Brittney) prepared two homemade pizzas for our evening meal and had a blast playing Scene It: Friends Edition

While playing we discovered the following to be true: 
1. After at least 8 countless times of watching all 10 seasons of Friends, we still can't answer all of these questions. Guess we have some work left to do. :)
2. Britt, Kevin, and I are all stereotypical firstborns (i.e. reading the rules, watching the rules segment of the dvd, enforcing the rules, etc). Poor, Nick. teehee.
3. The same three people mentioned in number 2 should have a big advantage in the game given the extra year we've been watching. But Nick totally schooled all of us. 
4. If you haven't seen all 10 seasons at least bajillion times, this game is really no fun. 
5. But the opposite is also true. :D 

Later that night, they taught us to play Krokenol--a sweet Canadian game that's totally easy to learn, super hard to master, and awesomely fun to play. (Apparently, I'm being sponsored by the game to say that. No, I'm really not. It's just that cool.)

Around 9pm, we all figured it was time to say goodbye. And then we proceeded to stand at the door and talk about marriage and it's complications for the next hour and a half. It was seriously SO good. It made us all realize we're really not alone in this thing. Other people understand, they've been there, they're going through that.  Hearing Nick's side makes me realize a lot of the things about Kevin are just an across-the-board-guy-thing. (As does reading For Women Only. So good.)  And watching Britt nod along as the boys describe our behaviors or as I say how I feel about something tells me two things--

1) we're good friends!
2) we're A LOT alike.
3) we're women and we have that across-the-board-girl-thing going on as well. 

It's nice to know we're not alone. 
Looking forward to a girls' weekend!

note: none of us look like this anymore. This was almost 3 and half years ago. We're all grown ups now. :D This means we need a new friends picture. 

January 5, 2011

The One with Our Christmas Day

I am ashamed to see that I haven't yet posted our Christmas Day pictures and memories. It was a quite a fun filled, food filled, family filled day! Kevin and I arrived at my parents' house on Christmas Eve (well, technically Christmas Day) at 12:45am. We were exhausted, but so happy to see mom and have a few minutes to enjoy the twinkling lights. We quickly climbed into bed and fell fast asleep. 

Christmas morning dawned bright and clear--perfect for a run. :) I wasn't going go out for a run on the 25th but when it was 8am and everyone was still asleep, I thought it was the perfect opportunity. Of course, after showering, I climbed back into my pajamas in order to encompass the tradition of Christmas. 


Ash arrived home at 9:30 am quickly followed by Chuck and Grams. I played Santa and passed out the mounds of gifts--mom and dad are way too generous, I must say. :D We spent the next couple hours enjoying everyone spoils, having a few good laughs, and drinking hot tea. After that, I flew into overdrive. The rest of my mom's extended family would be arriving in just three hours--there was so much to do! 

I put in the ham in the oven. chopped the Velveeta cheese for the salsa dip, Kevin went to work on the meat and cheese tray, mom set up a beautiful "table-scape," and I gathered the dozens of cookies I had baked for the event. I'm not sure how we got it all done in time and managed to have "real" clothes on, but we did! 


The rest of the day was lovely--we ate and ate and ate until we could eat no more. We caught up on everyone's lives. And we played round after round of Catch Phrase. What a hoot with that group! 


By the end of the night, we were happy and blessed. And totally exhausted.:) 

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? Was it quiet and peaceful or exciting and rambunctious

Check out more memories at The Goodwin Family.

January 3, 2011

The One with the Fitness Resolutions

Ahhh, yes. It must be the first Monday of the New Year. The parking lot of the local YMCA was packed. I am not kidding. People were making their own spots at the end of the rows and even leaving their vehicles along the grass. Holy moly. Can you say "resolutions"??

About a week ago, as I parked at the Y and headed down the sidewalk for my morning run, the thought occurred to me, "It's almost New Years. I remember last year how the parking lot was overflowing that first week. I wonder if it'll be the same way this year."  Sure enough. Bring on the spandex, the sweatbands, and the tennis shoes. People want to get their butts in shape. Feel the burn. Pump some iron. 

It's a lovely thought, really it is. And I would strongly encourage everyone to get out of their bad habits and add some activity to their lives. Exercise totally rocks my world. For real. I don't always look forward to the freezing cold temperatures or the sore muscles or the sweating. Snuggling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot tea often seems preferable. But when it comes time to jump in the shower, and I haven't felt the pounding pavement in my knees or wiped sweat from my brow, something just doesn't feel right. I love knowing I did something wonderful for my physical well-being. My heart is a little bit stronger, my body feels  a little leaner, my mind is awake and alert. And HEY! Feeling a little less guilty about that cookie is a total bonus! 

I look forward to a week from now, though. When I can chuckle at the half-filled parking lot as I think of all those people with good intentions who are enjoying another hour in bed. I wish them luck, certainly, and I truly wish they'd stay committed. 

But in the meantime, I consider myself part of an elite group. And I am proud.

What about YOU? Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? Or at least an inkling to feel the burn???

Speaking of burns, here's my blog feed.

January 1, 2011

The One where She Clings to Contentment

As I rolled out bed this morning, with barely 3 hours sleep, I knew Jesus was calling to me. There was no other task that could take priority in this new year. There will always be meals to make, dishes to do, mouths to feed, laundry to wash, bathrooms to clean, naps to take, books to read. But Jesus was beckoning for my attention. He needed to help me refocus, receive grace, renew my spirit. And I am convinced that He started my first morning of the year two thousand eleven off in such a way as to set a precedence for every morning to follow.   

I curled up on the couch, opened my Bible, and began to pray. Before long, I knew. My issue is discontentment. It's not so much that I'm unhappy with where I am, what I'm doing, and who I'm with. I'm fine with all of those things. No, the issue lies in my pursuit of the future. I am focusing my thoughts and endeavors almost completely on my hopes and dreams for the days yet to come. And when I found to the courage to face this painful truth, I realized the sin lies in refusing to give up those desires to my Lord--the only One who fully understands and will be faithful in ways I could neither ask or imagine. 

Jesus is wanting me to release my old ways of doing life. He wants to change me--specifically to teach me the secret* to being content in all circumstances. I will focus on thoughts on Philippians 4:11, however difficult that may be. This message was drenching my spirit once again as I visited Rachel's recent post. Thank you, Jesus, for another affirmation of the lesson you long for me to learn. And thank for letting me know I am not alone in this.  

*That is, I can do all things through him who gives me strength, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. [Philippians 4:12-13]

As I was seeking out the Scriptures for meditations to focus on my heart on contentment, I came upon an eloquent Proverb that must not be forgotten.
The fear of the Lord leads to life
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble
[Proverbs 19:23]
This verse points to the deepest root of the issue--a fear of the Lord. In loving Him, I will long to obey Him and trust Him, thus living safely in His Grip.

So throughout this year, if you notice a spirit of discontentment in me, please, Friends, bring this verse back to my memory. I might not be super thrilled to be reminded, but I assure you--my thanks will come.

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