Monday, September 20, 2010

Scenes from a happily married couple.

There were several reasons that we decided not to get a television once we got married.  The obvious benefit of having one less bill to pay.  The disgusting nature of so many shows, images, and messages that are invited into your home when you do have a television.  And the biggest reason was that we wanted to spend this first year of marriage getting to know each other...not vegging out in front of the tube.  It is this third reason that has caused us to fall into such intellectually stimulating conversations as the one below.

Scene: 9pm Sunday night.  We were eating dinner.

Usually, I am pretty strict when it comes to meal time.  Lunch by 1, dinner by 7:30 or 8 at the VERY latest.  But yesterday, we were going to be at church at 5:15pm, and I felt like that was an awkward time to eat.  I thought it would be kind of a late dinner, but it would be okay.  Well.  We didn't end up getting home until about 9.

I was sitting on the floor of our living room eating a bowl of spaghetti and talking about how much I hate the feeling of hunger.  My stomach feels like it's turning inside out, my hands get shaky, and I really just feel awful.

Rod, however, is the opposite.  He's one of those people who "forgets to eat."  How is that even possible?  I told him I thought he was crazy.

"How can you forget to eat?!  I don't think my body would allow me to forget."

"I don't know," he shrugs, "I just don't think about it."

"You mean, you don't start feeling like you're going to die?  Because that's kind of how I felt tonight."

"I've just never needed to eat a lot...maybe that's why I'm so good at fasting."

I agree.  He is good at fasting.  For instance, he can go several days, and only feel mildly upset in his stomach.  I'm not exaggerating.

He says, "That's probably not good.  Maybe I should fast from something I use more."

"Something you use more than food?" 


"You could fast from bending your knees."

"Or maybe I could fast from moving my lips."

"Or breathing through your nose."

And so forth.   I love not having TV. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

So here I am.  Still.

Or rather, here WE are.  Rod and I have been practicing our waiting skills.  Last December, he finished student teaching and began job hunting.  We figured by the end of May and the end of the school year that he would have found something.  Then when that didn't happen, we figured for sure we would have something by the end of the summer.  Nope.

For the last month or two, we have been living in this limbo, wondering if we will have a new life next week or if we will have to keep waiting until next year.  Everyone has been unbelievably supportive and encouraging, reminding us that we are in a good place and offering to take us out to dinner or to take us in for a weekend.  My dad said that we've basically already taken any advice he would give us.
1. Don't try to make tons of money
2. Live your life to help people
3. Be open to whatever God wants for you.

Still, in spite of all that, I find myself waking up every morning with my fingers already crossed and my breath already held.  Is this the day?  Are we finally going to know?  I have scriptures plastered all over the walls reminding myself to trust in the Lord with all my heart and that God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.  I run around telling people that we are listening to God, being patient, trusting in His will and provision, pausing only to straighten my perfect-angel-believer-halo.

But on the inside, I am Veruca Salt, twirling around Willy Wonka's factory, breaking golden eggs and singing "Don't care how, I want it nooooowwwww."  Every day feels like the last straw, and I don't know if I will last through another.  And every day, God gives me what feels like the minimal daily requirement of grace, patience, strength, and hope.

I am reminded of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, when God provided bread from heaven and told them to gather it from the ground and eat it.  "So the people of Israel did as they were told.  Some gathered a lot, some only a little.  But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough.  Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.  Each family had just what it needed." (Exodus 16)

That promise is what I have been clinging to recently.  Whether I need a dixie cup full of grace or a grand canyon full, I trust that God will provide what I need for each day.  Why else would He tell me not to worry about the future?  Easier said than done.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Smokehouses and 5K flyers

Lesson learned the hard way: pool halls are creepy....even in the middle of the day.

Here's what happened.

Since I don't know the area as well as some of the other employees, and our 5k is just a few months away, I was asked to visit just the businesses on our street and hang up as many promotional flyers as I could.  So there I was.  Fully equipped with a box of colorful 5k flyers, a tape dispenser, a stapler, and extra staples.  After stopping by the library, the grocery store, and a few gas stations, I parked my car outside of a strip mall.  I figured I'd start at one end and work my way to the other.

Stop #1: Nail salon.  Really nice people.  Didn't know English.  The conversation had sort of a Me-Tarzan-You-Jane ring to it.  But, hey, I got my flyer hung.

Stop #2:  Laundromat.  No one cared, so I just left a flyer on top of the detergent dispenser.

Stop #3: I'm on a roll now.  No one's said 'no' to me, and I am getting this 5k pro-mo-TED!  As I open the door, I briefly glimpse the sign: "Smokehouse and Saloon."  Isn't that cute? I think to myself.  Maybe it has a Western theme.

I swing open the door, and before my eyes have a chance to adjust to the darkly lit room, I am smacked in the face by a wall of alcoholic, cigarette, smoke-infused air.  I reel back slightly and blink several times.

Have you seen the movie Enchanted?  Where the cartoon Disney princess finds herself turned into a real human in New York City?  She climbs out of a manhole in the middle of Times Square wearing a giant prom dress, glitter falling out of her hair, hands posed gracefully like a Barbie doll's, eyes wide and bewildered.  That's how I felt.

The first thing I see are two pool tables in the corner, then the bar, the tables, and then the people.  This room is full of men.  Only men!  All between the ages of 35 and 70, all with mustaches, hats, sunglasses, beers.  And, I'm not kidding you, from the pool tables, the bar stools, the corner booths, they all turn slowly and look at me, and the room seems to get very quiet.  There must be 30 or 40 of them.  I hold my breath, unsure of what to say or do.  My instinct is to yank open the door and run back to the safety of the Nail Salon (never thought I'd say that sentence).  I hear the word "girl" whispered more than once.

From the back room, the bartender, a woman (thank ya, Lord) comes out in a too-tight-for-her-age black tank top, bleached hair, dangly earrings, long fingernails.  "What can I do for you, sweetie?"

I try to look perfectly comfortable and natural walking up to the bar in my flowery skirt and little bows on my shoes.  There are eyes all over me.  My voice sounds tiny and it echoes.  "I'm with a non-profit organization down the street? and we're having a 5k in September to raise money.  I was just wondering if there was a place I could hang up this flyer."  I swallow.  She blinks a few times before calling the "owner" from the back room.  A woman who looks to be in her 70's, also with a tank top, short shorts, bleached hair, eyeshadow up to her brows.  I ask her the same question, and she takes my flyer and says she'll tape it to the front window.  I turn and walk out the door, still feeling the eyes.  "Thank you.  Have a nice day!"

I realize I'm being a little dramatic, and I'm sure I was never in any real danger.  But still.  Wouldn't you have felt the same way?

From now on, I'll stick to hanging my flyers in dentist offices and insurance companies.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Delish. Nutrish.

Pistachio Chicken......mmm-hmm.

2 chicken breasts
a bunch of pistachio nuts, deshelled
some mayonnaise

Oven = 350 degrees

Chop up the pistachios.  Use a knife, a rolling pin, or (my preference) a blender.

Take a chicken breast, butterflied, coat in mayonnaise, roll in chopped nuts.

Lay carefully into a non-greased, warmed pan and flip after a couple of minutes.  This is just to brown the nuts and seal them together.  Don't worry if it falls apart.  You can eat the pieces....yumyumyum.

Once both sides are browned, put in a non-greased, glass casserole dish and throw it in the oven for twenty or twenty-five minutes.  Just until the chicken is no longer pink.

Tonight, we had this with wild rice and a BIG glass of cooooooool milk.  Happy tummy :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cherries & Berries

Yesterday I saw someone get pulled over by a cop. On foot. On the Interstate. I'm not kidding!

I drove past the police officer who stood next to his motorcycle, spread-legged stance, radar gun to his eye, and just as I passed him, he walked out to the middle of the road and waved to the car behind me to pull over. I was genuinely impressed.

My husband has never gotten a speeding ticket, and he likes to bring up this point every time I tell him to slow down. He's been pulled over, I don't know, three? four times? Once we were picking some friends up from the airport and we got pulled over shortly after Rod made a wrong turn.

The officer asked his normal question: "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"60?" was my husband's innocent response.

"65. And do you know what the speed limit is here?"

"No, sir, I don't"

"It's 40."

Rod looked like he was about to puke. I was this close to searching the back seat for an empty paper bag or something, but I didn't want the cop to think I was reaching under the seat for my gat.

Long story short, the officer let us go after realizing we were lost. I could. Not. Believe it. It's like Rod has this magic ticket-deflecting aura around him.

My best story is that I was going 42 in a 30 and the lady-cop (whom I did not recognize) let me go saying, "I enjoy seeing you sing in church, so I don't want to give you a ticket." I thanked her and then the Lord.

When I told my friends at church, they were not impressed. "Well you're not a very good witness, are you?"

If I ever get pulled over again, I hope it's by an officer on foot. That is just so cool.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mirror, mirror, on the wall....

When the only mirror you have in your house is about the size of a cafeteria serving tray and is bolted to the wall in your bathroom, you have to improvise when it comes to checking out your full-length self. You could just be boring and bring a step stool into the bathroom to make sure your paisley skirt and yellow peasant shirt at least kind of go together...but if you're like me, you get much more creative.

Sometimes I use the oven door. Sometimes (if it's dark outside) I'll use the bedroom window. But today I spent a fair amount of time standing in the living room staring into the dark television screen. Mind you, I was not checking my posture or coordinating my shoes with my shirt...I was posing. With my guitar.

My mom bought me a guitar strap for my birthday in April, and since then I have been practicing playing while standing up. This is not an easy feat, considering I have spent the last three years as a guitar player sitting on my buns. I realize now what bad habits this created in my "form." Bending over to see the strings, holding the guitar at an angle so I can check the placement of my fingers. Not good things.

So half the time I practice now, I do it standing up. And today, I caught my reflection in the TV and decided to experiment with different ways to stand while playing my guitar. Feet spread wide like an A. Or close together and slightly turned out like a ballerina. I even tried the I'm-really-getting-into-this-song-and-I-look-like-I-have-to-pee stance, which honestly looked the coolest.

After about 5 or 10 minutes of testing my new rock star poses, I realized how absurd I was acting, pulled myself together, and closed the TV cabinet. It's sickening how distracted I can get with my own reflection. I'm like a gerbil or something.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Hollywood

Dear Hollywood…

Thank you. Thank you very much for your input and your labor. I know you’ve tried hard and given your best effort, but I’m afraid you are just not good enough. You don’t make the cut. There’s something much better for me than you. And although you may be surprised to hear this, it is you who has taught me to speak with such words.

Hollywood, you do not know me. Yet you tell me who to be. You convince me that I am less than. You convince me that others are less than. You have taught me how to compare and conclude.

You discourage.
You distract.
You distort.

You have plastered yourself across the billboards in the sky, the magazines in the store, the pictures on the screen, and you have come into my house and invaded my eyesight. You have shown me an image – an idol – of a beautiful woman, and I am not her. She is not herself. Yet she and I and others strive to become what we think she is. What you say she is.

We spend and skimp and starve
And tease and tone and tuck
And pout and plump and puke.

And, Hollywood, I am sick.

I am sick of this and through with you. I am pulling you down and tearing you up and shutting you off.

My eyelids are closed. My ears are plugged. My mind is resolved. I will run away from you, screaming until I bleed to make my voice louder than yours in the real ears of my real brothers and sisters.

We will know the truth and the truth will set us free!

We are precious and accepted
blessed and eternal
significant and treasured
wanted and desired
beautiful and adequate
chosen and adopted.

We are valued. We are enough. We are loved.

We are free.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The first time I ever heard Susan speak, I was sitting in my upstairs apartment, and she uttered the phrase that no one EVER ought to say. It floated up through my window from the sidewalk below where she stood with another woman.

"So, when are you due?"

I winced at the response of the woman standing with her.

"What?....Oh. No. I'm not pregnant. I'm just fat."

I overheard the rest of the conversation as she told the not pregnant woman how she had rescued a tiny puppy and now was being forced by our landlord to get rid of it. Later that evening, I saw her standing outside, so I went to introduce myself to her and the puppy. She proceeded to tell me all about how she had been in a car accident recently and spent the following month in the hospital and had gained 30 pounds because of it. She said she had some clothes that didn't fit her anymore and wondered if I wanted them.

"Sure! I'll take a look."

I gave her my phone number and told her to let us know if she ever needed a ride anywhere.

But before I ever got a chance to look through the clothes or give her a ride, Susan decided to keep the puppy and lose the apartment. I drove home to find her packing an unspeakably huge amount of stuff into a red SUV.

"Are you busy? Can we load your car up with some stuff too?"

For the next couple of hours, we climbed up and down the stairs, stuffing all of her clothes and meds and valuables into garbage bags and throwing them into our cars. She kept giving me things.

"Here, these are really good shoes....Oh! This sweater will be so cute on you....This purse is real leather. Quality."

She used the word "shit" like it was a comma and kept saying "If I have to carry one more thing, I'm going to pass out." I was genuinely afraid she would.

When we got to her new place, she ran around like a newlywed showing me all of the features. Hardwood floors, dimmer lights, two closets, washer and dryer. I can't even tell you how many times she told me I need to come over and have dinner or let her wash my clothes or just hang out. She was clearly desperate for a friend.

At one point she gave me a little wooden sign that hangs on the wall and says, "I believe in angels." She hugged me and said, "I want you to put this in your place and don't ever forget me." I thought she was being a little dramatic for just moving down the road.

A week went by and I thought about going to visit her a couple of times, but always came up with a good excuse not to. One day I came home from work and was met at the door by my neighbor, Katherine. She gave me the news.

Susan had passed away.

A mixture of congestive heart failure and a drug overdose. Immediately, all of my moments with her flashed through my mind. Did she do it on purpose? Was she planning it all along? Is that why she gave me all of that stuff? Did it have something to do with her loneliness? Could I have prevented it? Was it my fault?

I grieved her for awhile, and guilt sat heavy on my chest like a dental X-ray vest. I should-ed on myself over and over again - Should have called her, should have gone to see her, should have, should have, should have.

And, you know what? I knew Susan for a week and a half. I don't know why she's dead. I don't even know her last name. But for me, it was a consideration in grace. Grace for people who are less than desirable to be around. Grace for myself when I'm selfish and not Christ-like.

I don't know what Susan did with her life, where she worked, who she loved. But I know this. Her life touched my life, if only for a short time. And if you are reading this, her life has touched yours.

Susan. Your wooden angel is hanging in my room. And you will not be forgotten.