Monday, March 30, 2009

The Much-Needed Vacation Day

Rather than planning a hectic day of events, my husband and I opted to keep it simple and relaxed. After lunch, we drove over the river to historic Jeffersonville, Indiana to check out Schimpff's Confectionery. We have heard of this little shop since moving here almost four years ago, and had never been. The Schimpffs have been operating for over 100 years, and they have been featured in numerous magazines and on Food Network. We were given a tour of the entire shop before the owners took us through the candy-making process.
This is what customers see upon first walking into the candy shop - a wall filled with presses of various shapes and sizes for the variety of candies they make.

I couldn't help but smile at the little lady who sits just inside the window making her little candies all day. We were really amazed by just how much of what is made is done purely by hand (and she promised us that she doesn't lick her fingers in the process).

The sugar mixture boiling in preparation for making the cinnamon candy

They told us during our tour that this table has been used since 1891 in the candy-making process!

We were each given a sample of their famous cinnamon candy, and then we were sure to purchase some on the way out the door~

This is the area of the shop where they sell all of the candy to the customers. This place was packed! On a Monday afternoon, in the middle of the day, we were squeezing around people trying to see what all they had and then to simply get out the door.

I, of course, could not end the day in good conscience without our traditional photo (it really is becoming a habit, and I thank my husband for his patience with my obsession). We ended the afternoon by eating an early dinner at Rocky's Italian Grill on the Indiana side of the Riverfront. The weather was beautiful, and it was so peaceful to sit together in the quiet restaurant and enjoy good food. I was so glad to have the day to rest and relax, and being able to share it with my husband, my best friend, made it all the more sweet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorite Photo(s) Friday

Proof that having A.D.D. isn't necessarily a bad thing. I left for work yesterday morning to an office/guest room filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes, and this is what I saw upon returning yesterday evening! My husband put his new computer together in just a few short hours, and even with some hitches along the way, he still had everything up and running by last night. I am always impressed by everything he puts his mind to, and this is clear evidence of what can come from A.D.D. and a sharp eye for detail!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What My Momma Gave Me...

...Hips. My momma gave me my hips. I am what some would consider a lanky, maybe even srawny, girl in the upper half, but I make up for it below the waistline. This has always been one of my jokes with my mom since we are built so similarly. We talk the same (though she, as with the rest of my family, has the stronger southern accent), we are built the same, the look in our eyes is often the same, and we have very similar facial expressions. While I am definitely a hodge-podge of varying family traits from both sides, the older I get the more I see these similarities between me and my mom.

We are also very different in some ways, mostly evidenced in our personalities and preferences. She likes sage green; I prefer the bold statement of red and other rich colors. She likes horses and small dogs; I like dogs that are the size of small horses. She received years of formal training in music performance; I kind of rebelled against and opted to do things my own way (which is an indicator of my severe lack of discipline in the area of music).

In short, my mom and I have some rather distinct likenesses and differences. We have had an interesting history in our relationship, having been through some very rocky seasons particularly during my adolescence. However, after all of these years, I can look back at how the Lord was working even during those difficult times, and I am thankful that He's brought us to a place of forgiveness and mutual understanding. I am grateful for the relationship we have now, and for the ways in which I can rely on her as my mom and friend. One of the things I have been able to talk with my mom about since getting married last year is the topic of motherhood. She knows me well, and also knows of my deep longing to also be a mother someday. While she cannot fully understand the struggle, she is a wonderful listener and graciously reminds me that she will love any grandchild she has, whether biological or adopted.

Not only do I have my own mom for whom I am grateful, but I have also been personally touched by other mothers whom I have been blessed to know over the years. There are two in particular I am continually encouraged by at a very deep and unique level, my "mom" from back home who has gone from mentor to friend in recent years, and my mother-in-law. Both of these honorable women experienced some of the same emotions and thoughts I am going through even before my husband and I begin having children of our own. Both of these women have impacted me deeply because of the ways in which they have displayed the undeserved, unmerited love of our gracious Father.

I am encouraged by them because they too have given life to two children. One of them traveled over land and sea to bring her daughter home, and the other brought her son home from a Catholic orphanage in west Texas. Did either of them know, fully comprehend, the great gift they were giving another human being? Did either of them anticipate the joy these two individuals would bring? I am sure they had an idea, hence some of their anticipation in bringing their children home, but the Lord has a way of blessing us beyond all we ever ask or imagine. I remember numerous conversations with my "adopted mom" back home in church offices, on livingroom couches, in car rides, as she poured out her heart about the pain that comes with not being able to bear children. I remember hurting for her, knowing I could not comprehend the depth of her pain at the time, but even in my immature understanding, I knew the Lord was near and I knew the Lord would do a great work. And He has... I have had conversations with my mother-in-law about that day when they received a phone call from the adoption agency that there was a baby available and ready to be brought home. In a flurry of activity, they packed up and drove to Amarillo at a moment's notice that they might bring home that 10-day-old baby boy. Little did they know that that little person at that orphanage in Amarillo would be used as an effective instrument in teaching and preaching the Word of God. The Lord worked through both of these willing women and their husbands to give life, and He has given life abundantly.

I still struggle with the unknown of mine and my husband's circumstances, and he is more than understanding when I am in those moments of very real pain and uncertainty. About 27 days out of the month, I can honestly say that I am completely at peace and content with however the Lord chooses to bring children into our lives. We count ourselves privileged if I was to either carry one myself, or if we were to bring one home via adoption. Either means of building our family proclaims the Lord's grace, speaking truth of the intricate ways in which He breathes life into being. About 27 days out of the month, I am simply eager to be somewhere more permanent so that my husband and I can begin talking more intentionally about a timeframe and the details of what we are going to do. And the remainder of the days in the month? I do struggle. I do cry and wonder and question what in the world He is going to do in our lives regarding children. I know that whatever He does is His will for our lives and not our own, but I confess that I am not always content to simply know that. During those other days of the month, I have a very impatient and anxious heart. I am at a prime age when countless friends are welcoming their own little bundles of joy, whether biologically are through adoption, and I count myself as blessed to witness such joy. But I cannot deny that I don't hurt at times. I was telling my husband earlier this week that I cannot deny that desire that resides deep within, that nurturing desire to mother my own child. I know that such a want will not be fulfilled on my own timetable, I fully acknowledge that now is clearly not the time for that, but I have to at least admit to my husband that that desire is always there. Sometimes the gnawing is subtle, and other times it's quite overwhelming.

I am eager to give life in whatever way the Lord ordains us to do so. That nurturing desire has no requirements. In other words, I do not and have never seen adoption as a "Plan B." Adoption is a specific and privileged calling just as carrying your own child is a gift. The mothers who have impacted me the most are not determined by the way in which they became mothers, but rather by the unconditioned love they instantaneously bestowed upon the babies they welcomed home. May the same be said of me when the Lord ordains that same blessing for us. I discovered this quote on another blog, and I want to echo the thanks to all of you mothers near and dear:
"To all mothers, be they natural, birth, or adoptive, may you receive the thanks and honor due you for bringing us life and love... for sacrificing so much for us. May the Word to you be, 'Well done, My good & faithful servant. Come and share your Master's happiness.'"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Double Dose of Pink!

For the second time in just four months, I was blessed to take part in hosting a sweet baby shower for two of the women at Grace this past Saturday. Both are having girls (one having just barely made it and welcomed daughter #3 into the world today!!), so we went all out with the pink! The tablescape was beautiful, and the food was heavenly. One of the women has a chocolate fondue fountain, so we had all of the goodies for that, and then I tried my hand at strawberry cake sandwiches (which could be its own blog entry on the near-disaster which almost took place in my kitchen on Friday night).
These are the two wonderful, adorable mommies we honored on Saturday~

This picture does not do justice to the gift they were each given from our pastor's wife. She made these sweet blankets with her very own hands, and the sentimental side of me teared up at the thought of how meaningful a gift these will be for years to come~

And these lovely ladies are the ones whom we honored in November - my how time flies! Those two little ones are definitely crowd favorites wherever they go~

There was a thought lingering in my mind this week as I kept reminding myself to post these pictures...the time is short, so we savor and enjoy it while we can... If each us at that sweet shower this past weekend look around, we see other women and their husbands who are in very similar seasons of life. The vast majority of us are going to be entering into ministry alongside our husbands in the very near future, and the exact location is unknown. I was told numerous times by one of my dearest friends back home that one of the bittersweet realities of ministry is the meeting and parting of friends along the journey. I count myself blessed to have had in the past, and also currently, friends who have graciously reminded me of this as a means of encouragement and preparation. I love the women at Grace so much. We each have very different schedules from week to week, but when we meet together for such celebrations, the time is truly sweet. Oh, may we savor this fleeting season, and then take with us in the months and years ahead what we have learned!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shared Hope Even In Sorrow

"Rock of Ages, when the day seems long
From this labor and this heartache I have come
The skies will wear out, but You remain the same
Rock of Ages, I praise Your name..."

One of the most incredible aspects of the Christian life involves fellowship, a fellowship unlike any other on this side of heaven. Upon receiving the gift of salvation, we are welcomed into this intimate union with fellow brothers and sisters. What I find most amazing, the very thing which brings me to tears as I write, is the hope to which each of us clings. No matter the circumstance, no matter the pain, no matter the heartache, no matter the wrongs committed against us, no matter what the case may be...we have the shared and only hope - the hope of our Great Shepherd.

In less than a week, two dear acquaintances of mine have been faced with tragedy I cannot even begin to understand or imagine. Both of these sweet and encouraging women have blessed my life and that of many others. They are the kind of individuals, sisters in this undeserved inheritance, who remind me of how sweet the Lord is to orchestrate specific people at specific points in time that we might be encouraged in the faith. These women are both faithful wives and sacrificial in their time and giving to those around them. While I am not as closely connected with either of them in this particular season, I can look back at recent years and consider myself blessed to have known them.

These two dear sisters have unexpectedly lost a parent in recent days, one having lost her father and the other having lost her mother. The suddenness of both incidents have thrown family and friends off guard, the shock greatly affecting any who knew them. Rather than hearing of pain, anger, and the common questions of why overwhelming their speech, though understandable and very real emotions to experience during such tragedy, there has been a different resounding theme... How else other than through the hope of Christ can both women testify to the nearness of the Lord? How else other than through His saving grace and deep comfort over them can they continue to call Him Great Shepherd? A true mystery to those who do not know such hope...

Please pray for these precious sisters. They are each also expecting their first daughters in the very near future, which must add another element to this season of inexpressible joy and sorrow. Pray that the Lord will continue to overwhelm them with His kindness and nearness, and that they will cling to that hope during this dark valley. Pray that the Holy Spirit will be evident in His ministry in and through both of these families in the coming days and months.

I would also encourage you to call your mom or dad and simply tell them of your love and gratitude for them... I called my own mom a few days ago and just cried. If your family, similar to lingering questions with my own family, does not know the hope that surpasses understanding, pray the He would move and work. Pray that He would use you as the instrument of grace in their lives, that they will see the evidence of such undeserved grace and kindness. Pray that, if He so wills, He would call them into this unearthly fellowship. And praise Him that He gives us one another to walk through such dark nights of the soul together.

What are We, the Church, Doing? What SHOULD We, the Church, be Doing?

"The Floodgate is Now Open - President Obama and the Vulnerable Embryo"

Fight the Freedom of Choice Act

Beloved these are dangerous times
because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine
and the wind has blown you all over town
because there is nothing holding you to the ground
so now you would rather be
a slave again than free from the law
Chorus - Beloved listen to Me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need but Me
Beloved these are perilous days
when your culture is so set in it’s ways
that you will listen to salesmen and thieves
preaching other than the truth you’ve received
because they are telling lies
for they cannot circumcise your hearts
Beloved there is nothing more
no more blessings and no more rewards
than the treasure of My body and blood
given freely to all daughters and sons

(Words & Music by Derek Webb)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Randomness Ahead...'ve been warned. In my lack of blogging the past couple of weeks, and in the midst of a quiet season, there is not much that seems to merit the dedication of a focused entry. But, alas, here I am, and I'm determined to write something, even if none of what I write comes together in one coherent thought.

Here's the very random and brief rundown of the events in recent weeks:
1) My husband had the flu - I have never seen him as sick as he was last week. He was miserable and we thought he would never break the 101.5 fever he held onto for a few days. In ways only the Lord can orchestrate, the week was a sweet time for us. His illness was yet another "growth spurt" for us in that I was given the opportunity to care for and serve him in some of the most basic tasks, and he in return rarely, if ever, complained. It's amazing how such good can come out of something like a case of the flu.
2) I've seen two movies in the theater in less than a week's time: "He's Just Not That Into You" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic." I have personal reviews in mind for both of these films, and in conversation you would find that I would recommend both for various reasons.
3) I had another interview at work for a different position (again). I tried to hold out on not telling anyone, and I have still managed to do so here at work. I have learned something about myself - the more I share with people, the more my hopes are elevated. This isn't always a good thing, particularly when it comes time for the interviewing manager to share the bad news of not being the candidate they have selected. There is no news of this position yet, but I can at least say it was the most encouraging interview I've had here thus far. The manager with whom I met actually thought it was a good thing that my resume does not reflect the typical experience or educational background he is used to seeing. He actually liked that I bring a unique background to this company, something I'm not exactly accustomed to hearing...
4) My dog decided to help herself to some of my husbands's leftover medicine from last week, causing us to panic and wonder if she would suffer death by off-brand cold relief. Thankfully, we have a friend we were able to call who gave us some pointers on symptoms to look for, so we were on night watch for a couple of hours. And, thankfully, the dog that did the chomping is also the one whom we affectionately refer to as "The Iron Stomach."
5) The class I decided to audit this semester has proven to be a real joy to attend, and the Lord confirms each week that it was for my good that I take a semester off to think things through.
6) I've been trying to journal more consistently. And I'm actually nearing the end of my current journal, which is always somewhat thrilling to me as it indicates that I get to start writing on fresh, blank pages in the very near future. The journal I keep now was blank once upon a time, and since the start of filling the lines with ink, I have gotten engaged, entered into marriage with my husband, and celebrated our first full year. This one will probably be tucked away as the most cherished I have ever kept.
7) And I'm still trying to make reading a priority at least a few minutes each day. On the bedside table are: Persuasion by Jane Austen, Women Leading Women by Martin & Stovall, and Foundations for Soul Care by Dr. Eric Johnson.

Is this a pathetic excuse for a blog entry? (Yes...) I don't think it is necessarily because it at least lets my faithful readers know that I'm still alive and kicking!