Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All we like sheep...

My brother and I took part in a children's musical at our church not long after our parents moved us from Louisiana to Texas. "We Like Sheep" was a somewhat comical musical based on the passage in Scripture: "If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray" (Matt. 18:12-13). There are very few details I remember, due to my rather young age of five at the time, but there are key aspects of the musical that I will never forget. For one, I tend to remember what I wore to all the countless musicals and skits I have been involved with over the years, and this one was no different. We all wore white sweats and white socks; the girls had "ewe" painted on our sweatshirts and the boys had "ram" (in case anyone questioned who the boys and girls were I guess?). And who can forget pigtails?? I loved it when my mom put me in pigtails, and mine for this production even had cute little sheep ears attached with pink bows! Yes, I was a vain little girl which is why I remember such meaningless details so vividly.

The other detail that I remember, one much more significant than curly ponytails, was my big brother's role in the musical. The featured character was a little toot of a sheep named "Grimey." He always wanted to do things his way, and longed for adventure away from the rest of the boring sheep. My brother is the one who was cast as "Grimey." Now let it be known that I absolutely adored him growing up. Although he pounded me on numerous occasions, I followed him everywhere. I wanted to be like him, talk like him, joke like him, and what is more cool than having a big brother who will beat up anyone who calls you names?? So I naturally thought it was the most awesomest thing in the world that my big brother got to be the black sheep of the bunch. At some point in the musical "Grimey" finally decides that he's had enough of his dull flock and takes off on his own. The rest of the sheep wondered what would come of him: some were concerned and some were rather relieved to finally have him gone. But the shepherd is the one who went in search of his beloved sheep. The story was complete when the shepherd returned to his flock carrying "Grimey" over his back. Not only did he rejoice to have his sheep back with the flock, but "Grimey" was relieved and thankful to finally be home.

I spoke with my brother a couple of weeks ago when he called to wish me a happy birthday. Not only was he sober while we were talking, but he said some things that made me more hopeful than I have been for him in quite some time. Although I have learned to not raise my hopes too high, this conversation was particularly encouraging. My brother has been in Hawaii for almost a year now, working at a posh restaurant and basking in the beauty that is the mild climate and breathtaking oceanview. Because he was coherent when we talked, he was extremely clear and made some very honest comments. He admitted that living in Hawaii has been a wonderful experience, but that it has been just that: an experience. He acknowledged that he cannot make a life for himself down there, and that he has much more important things to take care of here (his daughter in particular). Rarely does he let his guard down to weakness, but during this conversation he basically let me know that he is lonely down there. He has to fork over a ton of money to see loved ones, whereas we are all a drive away from one another if the need or desire arises. He informed me before we hung up that he is planning on moving back home in September. I could not fully express how much of a relief it was to hear him say that, and I made it a point to emphasize to him how happily this news would be received by the family.

I have no idea where my brother truly stands with the Lord. I do know what the fruit of his life communicates, as well as the amount of times Romans 1 has come to mind when thinking about him. There were many years in high school and college spent burdening myself over him in a way that was ungodly. Some may see the prayers and pain I experienced as something admirable, but in all honesty, he was too great of a burden. It was not until I moved to Louisville that I had to vocally and internally acknowledge that nothing I do will be what saves him. We can pray, oh how we can pray! But nothing I do or that my dad says or that my mom does not do will be what draws him to the Lord. The Lord goes after His own, and we are told in John that there are sheep not yet of the fold who will certainly listen when He calls (John 10:16). Not only does this proclaim the truth that the Lord knows those whom He has called, but it moves us to prayer and reliance on the Lord's sovereignty. He alone is mighty to save. My brother is still that sheep, running from the Shepherd. But should the Lord run after him, calling and cleansing him by the blood of the Savior, such will be a day of great rejoicing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thank you Paula Deen!

Homemade sweet potato chips!
Seasoned with salt, sugar, seasoned salt, black pepper, and I can't remember what else since I'm not the one who seasoned them!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On iPods and Birthdays and Doggies

Hopefully you can ignore the exhausted girl in the picture and just see what I got for my birthday last week! I was so glad that I got to stay home for my husband's birthday, especially since mine happened to fall right in the middle of my most hectic week in regard to school - my 26th birthday was sandwiched between two exams, two position papers, and two book reviews. Needless to say, last week was a blur, but my birthday itself was a sweet day of celebration. I arrived home after work to find that my husband had cleaned the entire house, which would have been plenty of a gift for me! I'm still not a very good wife when it comes to cleaning - dishes make me gag, bathrooms make my stomach short, I have a long way to go in the task of keeping a clean house. We then went out to dinner, and he surprised me with this adorable little iPod Nano! He even went to more than one location to make sure he found it in red. I haven't had a lot of time to spend at length on iTunes yet, but so far so good. My husband thought for a long time about purchasing an iPod for me all because he knows that I always have a song in my head. Because of that, and partly due to the nature of my job, it only made sense to him that I have music nearby as often as possible. How right and how thoughtful he is~

The little toot in the above picture had a birthday today. That's right, not only have me and my husband and other friends had birthdays, but Maia turned two years old today. I can't believe how much time has flown by, and it's so fun to look back and see how many more laughs we have had because of her.

I couldn't resist putting one of my favorite pictures of Nali on here. I took her for her annual check-up and shots at the vet today, and he found that she has a heart murmur. He's not terribly concerned about it right now, but it's there and he wants to see her again in six months. It made us kind of sad, even though it's probably nothing serious. Nali is going to be five years old this year, and she has the biggest heart of any dog I have ever known. I have always said that if I had the time to do so, I would get her involved at a hospital or rehabilitation center of some sort. She is such a lover of people, is so sensitive for being a dog, and it just breaks my heart to imagine anything wrong with her! As I said, it's probably no big deal, but I was still sad to hear that she may having something wrong with her.

I know that I haven’t written much recently, but school has taken priority over the past couple of weeks and will remain there until this next week. As the semester draws to a close, I can hardly believe that I only lack three classes before graduating. There are a lot of things going on right now, too, aside from school. Some of these things are not going on the blog at this time simply because I don’t want to get ahead of myself when the Lord has not revealed His plan in a specific area for me and my husband. And I just have a lot of things and people on my mind, some encouraging and some more concerning. This is one of those seasons in which I’m borderline overwhelmed with some of the things going on in the lives of those I know and hold dear, and therefore one of those times when I am clinging to the Lord all the more in prayer and seeking His glory and whatever he deems is for our good.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean
on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will
make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Make a wish!

(photo courtesy of
Happy birthday to me...and the Pope!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun and Firsts for My Husband's Birthday

Thursday was a day of fun, firsts, and relaxation. April 10th is my husband's birthday, and although this is our fifth birthday to spend together, it was extra special since this was our first to spend as husband and wife. I decided to take the day off from work because, regardless of what he wanted to do, all I wanted to do was spend the day with him. We enjoyed sleeping in that morning (it's only right to sleep in for Spring Break on a day when you would normally have work or classes!) and went out for breakfast. After getting back to our townhome and hanging out for a little while, I then requested that he not come into the kitchen unless given permission. This kitchen amateur prefers to be alone with her newest recipe, so he didn't mind giving me the space!
A hint of bitterness still lingers after not being able to taste more of our wedding cake at our reception in January, so I thought it only right that I incorporate our favorite cake into whatever I was going to make for his birthday. Although I don't own the glory that is a Kitchen Aid mixer, I was content to work with my little $5 handmixer I found at a garage sale last spring.

This cake could not have been perfect, which made the next step in the recipe so difficult! The recipe instructed me to crumble up the entire cake while it was still warm (of course, I had to sample it to make sure it tasted good!) into a bowl and mix it with cream cheese frosting.

After rolling the cake and frosting mixture into small balls, I dunked them in white almond bark. This is the delectable finished product: cake truffles! The recipe for cake truffles has been passed around the company where I work, and my husband's birthday was the perfect opportunity to try it out myself!

Evidence that I am clearly an amateur in the kitchen: I boiled a whole chicken for the very first time on Thursday. Ever since my mom came to visit over a year ago, my husband has teased me about getting her recipe for chicken and dumplings. As with the dessert, I thought this was the perfect day to try my hand at a dinner I knew he would love (pending that it turned out well, of course). There are a couple of things I may change next time, but overall, the chicken and dumplings was a perfect meal for us to celebrate! I more or less combined my mom's recipe with her husband's recipe: he uses biscuit dough for the dumplings while my mom prefers to make the dough from scratch. I played it safe with the biscuit dough this time around, but I am sure I will go for homemade the next time.

And as the main gift, the one he has been waiting for, I bought him a new drill. We have numerous pictures and other home decor things that are still in boxes due to not having something to hang things on the walls. We went to Lowe's about a month ago, and he was able to pick out the one he liked. I was glad to be able to save up and give him a gift that he has wanted for so long.

I have known this for awhile, but it really hit home on Thursday: I absolutely love doing things for him. I loved being able to spend the day with him and cooking food for him that I knew he would enjoy. I loved giving him a present that he was looking forward to for so long. And when all was said and done, on his birthday when everyone is calling to tell him (or sing to him) happy birthday, he said the sweetest and most humbling thing to me as we were getting ready for bed on Thursday night: "I am so glad that you got to take a day off from work and rest. I hope it was a restful day for you, even though you were busy cooking." I almost cried at how thoughtful he was in saying such a thing. All I cared about was that he had a fun and relaxing birthday, and all he cared about was that I enjoyed the day as much, if not more, than he did. I could not even come close to asking for more in the love I have received.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Neglected Hobby Revisited!

My new friend, Tracy, invited me to attend "Scrap Mania" at the Archiver's store yesterday. Archiver's is a little piece of heaven wrapped up in one store for anyone who invests time and creativity (and money!) into scrapbooking. They hold these events just about every Saturday of the month where you can come in from 5-11pm and spread out at one of their tables. When Tracy invited me to go last week, I didn't waste any time agreeing to join her. And rather than waiting until 5:00 to meet at Archiver's, we arrived at noon! So we spent almost ELEVEN HOURS working on our scrapbooks. I decided to start small since I had never been to Archiver's before and didn't know how much space they alotted us to work, so I brought a very small album I have been putting together. This is a collection of pictures in memory of my grandparents~
Cover page featuring my grandparents, Bair-Bair and Poppa, surrounded by a collage of pictures featuring their exquisite gardens~
This page is proof that it takes a little while to get back into the groove when you haven't scrapbooked in a long time! This is my least favorite of the pages I worked on yesterday, but it still makes me smile to see my grandfather fishing out the water after the lake flooded near where they used to live. (If you can't see the blue writing, it says "More Water ~ More Fish!")

I had to refrain from using this awesome stencil on every single page I put together~

These two pictures were taken at my aunt and uncle's house. All I did for the border was take the scraps from the pictures and cut them into little squares.

My grandmother was in love with her flowers. There is another page I was able to work on, but could not get a decent picture of to put on here, where she is beaming over her most recent blossom. The quote I put on that page, which seems rather appropriate for my grandparents, is "I will be a healer and lover of things that grow."
I truly enjoyed getting to sit for hours working on one of my favorite hobbies. While I don't own all of the absolutely incredible tools and accessories that the ladies around me had, I enjoyed working on my simple little book. Working on something like this naturally took me back to the days when Bair-Bair and Poppa were still alive, when they would stock us up with their newest jarred preserves, take us for walks through the gardens to see the newest blooms, and how I always wanted to be just like her. My grandparents were simple people: thankful, humble about the ways in which they were blessed, and simple. Therefore, I find it only fitting that the book in memory of them remain sweet and simple, illustrating how much they enjoyed the little things in life.
I also loved the time I had to spend with Tracy. Ever since visiting the church where we are currently attending, I have been extremely encouraged by her. Now if I can only wait patiently for the next Saturday when we get to join together in the mania that is scrapbooking!