Caught My Eye Friday, Jul 22 2016 

A year or two ago I used to do a weekly blog post called “Thrift Store Thursday” in which I showed outfits that I had purchased at various thrift stores. I had fairly good feedback from those posts and it was an easy way to post regularly. However, I discontinued it because I purged over 50% of my clothes and embraced minimalism (umm…actually “simple living.” More on that distinction at a later date). I still shop ot thrift stores, but only if I actually need something, not just for fun. I decided that consuming just isn’t all that fun after all.

However, a couple of blogs that I regularly read post a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning list of “happy links” or thought-provoking blog posts and articles. I enjoy reading over these leisurely on Saturday morning. I thought I would do the same with the plan of posting every Friday on things that “caught my eye.” Some will be serious, some will be silly, and I will include a work of art and a new quote as well. We’ll see if I can be diligent or not. Only time will tell. So, without further ado, here’s what caught my eye this week.

Trump’s Ghost Writer Tells All

This article from The New Yorker, is about Tony Schwartz, who was the ghost writer for Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal. He has never spoken out about Trump or the process of writing the book (which ruined his career), but because of his concern about the election he finally did. It is a compelling and important read.

Cats are the Unsung Heroes of Mental Health

Anyone who knows me knows that I am on Team Cat. Dogs are tolerable, I suppose, but cats are my jam. I am a card-carrying crazy cat lady with no shame. I really enjoyed this article about how beneficial cats can be with people with mental health issues and autism spectrum disorders. Bottom line: dogs are so easy going that they tolerate bad behavior, but cats won’t so those on spectrum can start to learn social skills. Plus…purring heals the soul.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism

“The antidote to white fragility is on-going and life-long, and includes sustained engagement, humility, and education.” A great article with lots to chew on including white privilege, what it is, and why we (as white people) don’t really think about it. 

Syrian Children Hold Pokemon Go Pictures

The Syrian refugees. Syrian children. Remember them? With the GOP Convention, black lives matters, blue lives matters, should we discuss all lives matters, shootings in Nice and Munich, etc. we seem to have forgotten all about them. I’ll just let a quote from the article speak for itself,  “Syrian graphic designer Saif Aldeen Tahhan has also used Pokémon Go to highlight the devastation in the country. He created images — each carrying a ‘Syria Go’ logo — to show the impact of the war on the Syrian people over the last five years. ‘I created these images as a way to turn attention to the Syrian war, and to focus on Syrian suffering instead of Pokémon, which people are crazy about,’ he explained. He told Al Arabiya: ‘The world has become obsessed with this video game, so I told myself why not use it as a medium to convey our suffering. Everyone is now searching for Pokémon, however, Syrians are searching for the basic necessities of life. Honestly, I don’t think the world feels for us.'”

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An interesting article that gives one pause  when considering the next great app or gadget to improve productivity, to climb the corporate ladder, and to win friends and influence people. Instead, the author muses, “I’m not trying to climb the ladder. The status quo is a world of ladder-climbers evaluating their worth by rungs. Teach me instead how to cultivate wisdom and mastery, so I can make a difference and enjoy a life of progressively deeper insight and influence among the places I’m invested.”

Curiosity can be purchased here

What Happened?! Friday, Jul 8 2016 

It seems that we all woke up to a new reality in the United States this week. Although, not really a new reality, but likely one that my fellow brown-skinned Americans have been quietly living and it was just brought, again, to our collective attention. So here I am a white woman stumbling through a post on race, so let me preface it with this. I had never heard the term white privilege until a few years ago. I am now very aware of the privileges inherent to my skin color and am trying to further educate myself. It is a hot topic in higher education and I have been to many workshops on privilege and inclusion and try to be mindful. I’m sure I still have miles to go. I have not lived the experience of being a minority in the United States.

 

black lives

 

I am currently reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra and today I read a passage that kind of sums up how I feel as a white woman writing about race. (Akhmed-male oncologist; Sonja–female surgeon, Deshi-female nurse; all in war-torn Chechnya in the mid-1990s)

“You’re the nurse,” Akhmed said, curtly. “We met earlier.”

“He speaks out of turn, without being addressed,” Deshi observed.

“I just wanted to say hello.”

“He continues to speak without being spoken to. And he has an ugly nose.”

“I’m standing right here,” Akhmed said, frowning.

“He tells me he is standing right here. As if we have been made blind and idiotic.”

“What am I doing wrong?” he asked Sonja. “I’m just standing here.”…

“Do you see the way he looks at me?” Deshi asked, her voice trembling with indignation. “He is trying to seduce me.”

“I am doing nothing of the sort. I’m just standing here!”

“Denial is the first impulse of a traitor.”

“You’re quoting Stalin,” Akhmed said.

“You see? He’s a lecher and a Stalinist.”

In the above scenario, I might be Akhmed, trying to make comforting comments or ask honest questions, but somehow accidentally offending someone. So I ask that you please extend me grace as you read. I have so many emotions, thoughts, and questions running through my head that are hard enough to articulate. Offending those whom I am wanting to stand in solidarity with is the last thing I want to do. If I do offend, it is in my ignorance and your gentle correction is appreciated. (Hateful comments are not and will not be published. However, you may feel free to disagree with a rational and well reasoned argument.)

I went to bed Wednesday night with the heartache of the Alton Sterling killing on my mind and woke up on Thursday morning reeling with news of Philando Castile. I lived for 6 years in Baton Rouge and MN is my neighbor to the west–all too close to home and heart. Normally when I hear about tragedies on the news I feel sad upon initial hearing, maybe for a few minutes after, but that’s about it. It’s not that I’m uncaring. In fact, I’m an easy crier and  am not ashamed of my emotions. It’s just that news of refugees, loss of life from natural disasters, bombings overseas, etc. seem (a) so far removed from my life and daily experience, (b) I hear so much bad news that I become numb and immune, or (c) I get overwhelmed by the details of my own life that feeling for others not in my immediate circle gets crowded out. Often times, I think that is a protective mechanism because we can only bear so much hurt and pain before we get paralyzed with sadness. However, the past two days I have silently cried several times and had one big ugly cry while watching black female police officer, Nakia Jones, share her thoughts via video.

This is different. I have many black friends on Facebook and I am seeing their fear, grief, anger, and sadness playing out in raw, real, and honest ways. Yesterday morning, when my 19 year old son, Noah, woke up and I told him about Philando Castile, I followed that up by asking him, “You know we’d be having an entirely discussion this morning if you were black? Do you understand that?” One night earlier this week at about 9:00 pm  Noah had a slight headache, wanted some caffeine, so he went to a convenience store to grab a Dr. Pepper. I didn’t think twice about it…because he’s white. I can’t imagine what I would think and feel for him to do the same simple act if his skin were a different color in these days. I want to hug my black friends and let them know I that understand how they feel, but I don’t. I can’t. What I can do is listen. I can be a witness to their feelings. I can say that it is very scary, but I want to stand with you.

I wrestle with what CAN I do in central Wisconsin, which is the whitest place I have ever lived. In my county, the racial demographics break down as follows: White–94.4%, Black/African American–.8%, Native American–.5%; Asian–2.9%, Hispanic/Latino–3.1%, and other mixed races (http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/55097). Can I protest? Should I write my senators and congressional representative? I feel helpless and I don’t know quite what to do. I wrote a blog post over nine years ago pondering who I would have been during the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, it seems like I will get the chance to know if I would be the person who would stand up or sit down. I want to stand. I also want to know how.

I know what not to do:

  • I know that to say “all lives matter” minimizes the situation. Of course all lives matter! No one is debating that. It’s just that all lives aren’t at risk right now. We are focusing on a crisis, not elevating one race above the other.
  • Responding in violence and hate is not the answer. Since I started formulating this blog in my head, we learned of more senseless shooting, this time with snipers targeting police who were simply doing their job to keep peace and maintain order. As attributed to Gandhi, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
  • Don’t create a strawman argument. This means that ranting about “black on black crime” and Alton Sterling’s rap sheet which have nothing to do with the  issue at hand.
  • Making assumptions about someone else’s lived experience is dangerous territory. We can take some advice from Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. “First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


strawman
I also know some things to be true

  • All men (and women) of every color, occupation, social class, religion, and morality (even the “bad ones”) were created in the image of God. (So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them. Gen. 1:27). My fabulous husband wrote more about that here.
  • I serve a God of peace and it is there even in the midst of chaos. (Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14: 27)
  • Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13)
  • Beauty can come from ashes. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

So for now, all I know to do is pray–for healing in our country and our world; for safety of our police officers; for the careful judgment and calm under pressure of law enforcement; for peace that passes understanding; for release from fear for the black community, for sensitive hearts, for honest and loving discussions, for love and understanding.
stewart

2016: Looking Forward Friday, Jan 1 2016 

NYE

I love the closing out of one year and the welcoming in of another. While this year we actually got dressed up and left the house to attend a wedding and reception, we typically ring in the new year on the couch in our jammies watching movies. It was fun to get dolled up and leave the house for a change of pace, but home is nice too.

It’s nice to celebrate, with great fanfare, the change from the old to the new. I so enjoy the idea of a whole new year that lies ahead, full of possibility. The new year contains no mistakes, no regrets, no new experiences, no adventure, no disappointments. It just exists. It’s full of potential joys and possible heart break. While thinking ahead to this new, blank year, I am a natural dreamer and planner. I relish thinking about the what-ifs, how-tos, and should-Is of the new year.

Last year, I wrote about being more intentional and also my ongoing “relationship” with my iPad. Well, I had no idea that last year would involve a cancer diagnosis and passing of a close family member, several months of Robert covering another chaplain’s territory and working about 70 hrs/week, and new course preps and overload at work for me. Instead of being intentional, 2015 was more about survival. Not only was there not much creating, I also did not develop great habits and routines and I feel back into the TV/iPad trap. We were lucky to have a home-cooked meal a few times a week. However, my one great success was that I did establish a good nightly routine of writing all year in my gratitude journal and reading poetry each night before bed. I filled a journal and read three complete books of poetry. That routine is not firmly developed.

There are plenty of people who think making resolutions is stupid or pointless. The nay-sayers claim that most resolutions are never kept or followed through with. They claim it is an exercise in futility. Or like one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton, stated  in her New Year’s Day blog post, “I don’t want a new, better life in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that my life is already staggeringly beautiful.” Those are lovely words, but I disagree. (Sorry, Glennon. I agree with 93.74% of what you write.)

I do want to notice the beauty in my daily life, hence the reason I started a gratitude journal last year. I try to find the joy in the small things, give myself and the people I interact with an extra dose of grace, and reflect upon and appreciate what is. However, that doesn’t mean that I still can’t dream. The Bible tells us that “without a vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) and Willie Wonka, with apologies to poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy, stated, “We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams.”

So yes, I want to lose a few pounds, exercise more, and develop a good morning routine. I still need to put my iPad in its proper place. However, my main priority in 2016 is to create with my hands. I love to crochet and quilt, and I just joined an embroidery club a few months ago. I also want to write more poetry and learn how to create mixed media fiber art. I want to try out new recipes and complete some DIY projects. I will make time to create. There is no quota on how much time or how many projects–just an intent to do so. If I make one thing, then that is one more thing that I have created.

finaly

Today was a ridiculously successful day in that regard. Of course I have been home today with no agenda, so it is not a realistic gauge of the what lies ahead when the realities of work and daily life become more real and consistent. However, today, I colored one of the pages in the coloring set that Robert got me for Christmas–so relaxing and so fun!

coloring

 

For the past few days I have been crocheting a bed for kitty girl and I finished it today. She’s hard to see in it since she is black and against a navy blue chair, but she does like it.

 

And I made chicken and sausage gumbo from scratch, which is the most labor intensive meal that I ever cook. It’s pretty much an all day affair.

gumbo

 

So, here’s to a 2016 full of new creations and hand crafting!

So About My Morning Routine… Wednesday, Dec 9 2015 

morning

It’s been over two months since I last posted here. At that point I was 4 days into my 31 days of developing some new routines…particularly a new morning routine. It never happened. October was a hard month. 10 days after my last post my father-in-law died from cancer. There was my own grief, travel, and most importantly, supporting my husband and children through their grief. All routine went out the window. That was not only okay. It was the best thing at that time.

Due to a multitude of factors that I won’t go into because I don’t want to be a whiny baby, it has been a very hard semester. It’s been tough emotionally, physically, and mentally. I have never felt caught up or on top of things. I’ve been tired and overwhelmed which has made my brain feel fuzzy. Yet this is my life for this particular season. So, do I feel like I was defeated by not establishing a good, solid morning routine this semester? No! I adapted and did what I needed to do each month, week, day to maintain homeostasis.

Not only have I not had a good morning routine this semester, but my house has frequently not been as clean as I would have liked, I have not engaged in many creative pursuits (crocheting, quilting), and we have eaten out or had thrown together meals more than I would like. That’s the best I could do. I have peace with that. There have been other life periods when that has happened such as finishing my doctorate, being bedridden with a herniated disc and recovering from back surgery, and my first year on the tenure-track. I have learned that these times are temporary and I give myself grace.

I’m still alive and well. My life will be chaos for the next two weeks as finals roll in and massive amounts of grading await, but then comes sweet rest and a change in routine. We are very much looking forward to my mother-in-law coming to spend Christmas with us and creating new memories with her.

I will revisit the morning routine issue again in January. In the meantime, I would like to share an interesting and thought-provoking blog called My Morning Routine. Various up and comers are interviewed a couple of times a week with the same questions about their morning routine. It’s kind of an interesting read. Check it out!

 

31 Days of Routines: Baby Steps Sunday, Oct 4 2015 

Woo Hoo! I did it. I ate breakfast and had a leisurely quiet time this morning.

  
To be fair, I must remind you that not only is it a Sunday (which is way easier and different than a work day), but it was an unusual Sunday. Normally I am heading out to church, but today I had a special lunch with some ladies in a town about an hour away, so I had to miss church which gave me more time at home this morning. I had an unrushed morning of breakfast, then I was able to bring my fall/winter clothes up from the basement (Brr…it’s gotten chilly here) and load the dishwasher. 

If yesterday was about eating frogs, then today was about biting elephants. 

 

The elephant is an article that a colleague and I have been intending to write for months. Aside from the fact that we have both have had some unexpected family crises, we also keep letting it fall to the bottom of the priority list. I mentioned that I thought we were both overwhelmed by the enormity, so we needed to break up the article into six parts and each write about three. This morning I tackled one of my three parts. I wrote for an hour. I didn’t get finished, but I made a good solid dent in it and now I’m not staring at a blank computer screen anymore. I’m hoping to finish chewing that bite of elephant tomorrow.

And finally, I’ll be going to sleep before midnight which is a rarity for me. Not only that, but I have overnight oats in the refrigerator for an easy, filling, and nutritious breakfast tomorrow, my clothes are picked out and hanging up, and my lunch has been fixed.

 
P.S., Typically I prepare steel cut oats overnight (heated up, turned off, and then sit all night), but I only had about a third of a cup. I am trying refrigerator rolled oats for the first time. Hope they’re good!
  

31 Days of Routines: Eating Frogs Saturday, Oct 3 2015 


Did I get up and start embracing my leisurely morning routine? No. However, I didn’t really plan on doing much in terms of routine today. This weekend is more about getting my house in order (quite literally!) and resting up from the past two weeks. I did at least hope to eat breakfast, but that didn’t happen either. I slept late, picked up coffee, and went to my Hand Embroidery Group at 9:00 this morning. I also got grocery shopping done, which I have been putting off for five days. I did some paper sorting and organizing upstairs, conquered the laundry, and made 100 flashcards for Spanish. It’s been a lazy and easygoing, yet productive day.

A soul-filling and delicious joy of the day was making homemade gumbo. It’s been a blustery, mostly cloudy, and cool fall day, so the flavor and warmth of gumbo seemed just perfect. It’s an all day process starting with browning chicken and vegetables before simmering them into a stock to create a rich, golden broth. While the broth was simmering, I baked the roux (dropping the pan once while stirring and starting over). Then I sauteed the cajun trinity and the andouille sausage in the roux before adding it and the shredded chicken back into the broth. That simmered for a couple of hours and then I cooked the rice. It was a delicious labor of love.

During one phase of gumbo cooking, I caught up on my blogs in feedly. One of them mentioned a book about procrastination called “Eating Frogs.” I haven’t read this book and honestly, I’m not going to. However, I do like the concept behind it. I am a procrastinator and at 47 years of age, I will probably always be one. As with all things, there are pros and cons to procrastination. I thrive on the adrenaline of deadlines. I often do my best work under pressure. And sometimes procrastination even pays off. For example, I am a little behind on my ironing, but it has gotten cold here, so some of my clothes in the ironing pile will just move into storage without needing to be ironed. Score! Negatives though are things not getting done and hanging over my head, then building up.

The notion behind “eating frogs” comes from Mark Twain. The premise is that if you do the most dreaded task of the day first thing, then the rest of the day can only go uphill from there. Well, I didn’t eat a frog first thing today because of other plans and obligations, but I did eat a frog. I have had some mending to do for a few months. I don’t like mending because it isn’t very fun, creative, or inspiring, but it is necessary. I’m not one who throws something out because it is torn. The sewing machine has been sitting at the end of the dining room table for a couple of months in anticipation of mending. And sitting…and sitting. Today I gathered the 5 items and it literally took me less than 20 minutes, which included changing out thread and loading the bobbin. 20 minutes to complete a task I have put off for weeks! I’m glad that frog has been eaten. Maybe tomorrow breakfast will actually happen.

31 Days-Routines and Rhythms Thursday, Oct 1 2015 

  

  
I think this is my third or fourth year to participate in the 31 Days of October that I first learned about from another blog that I read, The Nesting Place. (And I can’t remember how many Octobers I have participated and am too lazy to look and see). At any rate, the point of 31 Days is to take the month of October and do something that you wouldn’t otherwise do…every day. One October I wore the same 10 items every day for a month. Last year I worked on cleaning out the basement a little bit every day. So what’s in store for October 2015?

ROUTINE!!

Sounds exciting, huh? Well, it is for me. This semester has gotten off to a weird start. Usually we begin the Tuesday after Labor Day, but Labor Day was late this year. Therefore, we started the Wednesday before Labor Day, then had that next Monday off. Since then, I have been out of town to 4 different cities in three states in the last two weeks. I am wrapping up week five of the semester and still haven’t found my groove. I have been in a constant state of frazzled catch-up and it is no bueno. I’ve always been a go with the flow kind of gal, but I also like rhythms and routines. I need flexible routine, I guess, but at least some scaffolding of structure to my days and weeks. I wrote about this not too long ago.

I still have a very well-established bedtime routine. I shower, brush my teeth, write at least 3 things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal, read one poem, and then read a book until sleepy. What is not routine is my bedtime. I would love to get in the habit of being in bed by 10 and lights out by 10:30. The reality is that I am rarely in bed before 11:30 and closing my eyes around midnight. Even though I have a good, although belated, night routine, my morning routine is a hot mess!

I have been getting up originally at 6:00 am, but that has become more like 6:30 as the semester has progressed and I’ve been tired from all of the traveling. My snooze alarm and I are carrying on a torrid affair in the morning. Since I shower at night, I get up, wash my face, do hair and make up, throw on some clothes, grab my coffee (that I made while doing my hair), and head out of the door. No breakfast. No quiet time. Rush, rush, go!

I would like my mornings to include a sit down breakfast. I don’t want eggs and bacon, but I’d like to intentionally sit down with a cup of coffee and oatmeal, cereal, grapefruit, and/or toast. I want to spend some time in prayer and either reading my Bible or a devotional, and I want to do a short yoga or exercise routine like using the 7 minute exercise app. Adding in all of those things would probably only add 30 minutes total to my morning routine. But I have to take baby steps to get there. If I add in all these changes at one time, I will get discouraged, fail, and drop the new routine completely. So…for the next 30 days I will chonicle the steps in my new routines. I firmly believe the following quote, which is why this is so important to me.

  
While working on my morning routine, I want to address the ebb and flow of my weekly routine as well. This includes daily time for household management and chores, keeping work at work, guarding my evenings and weekends, and making time for my hobbies. If When I am successful in establishing my morning routine, I might add in an afternoon or evening routine that involves drinking tea and doing something briefly that feeds my soul, like reading, creative writing, crocheting, etc. 

Here’s to the routine that 31 Days will bring!

Leavetaking… Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Tonight is the last night of the full nest in our home. Tomorrow afternoon we will drive up to Duluth, Minnesota to move Noah into his dorm. We have had quite a hectic weekend, but as the last of the laundry was done and the van was loaded up tonight, naturally I became a bit pensive. Always an easy crier, I’ll admit that I teared up a bit in church this morning looking over at Adam running sound and Noah playing the cajon and thinking what handsome, capable, intelligent, compassionate young men they have both grown into. My heart explodes with pride. Not only do I love them more than mere words can express, but I really, really like them too. They are so hilarious, witty, smart, engaging, and fun!

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook last week. If you are too uninspired to go to the hyperlink, I’ll summarize. Basically a guy I don’t know, named Alan Heathcock, posted the following poster that his 16 year old daughter received as a birthday gift:

FB poster

Just ponder those word for a moment. Basically, as a female, your life is defined by a boy. Ick. As many fathers would be, he was kinda miffed about the message this was sending to his daughter, so he wrote his own. It is cut and pasted below:

What I want for you: A life driven by a sense of freedom. A life of learning and being empowered by the knowledge you can change the world. To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies. To be a voice for those suffering and change the laws that oppress and discriminate. To be the first human to walk on Mars. To sit at the head of a boardroom table. To travel the world and paraglide off the peaks of mountains. To eat amazing meals in the world’s most beautiful cities. To tell and hear jokes in many languages and watch the sun rise on the shores of lakes and oceans and know that people are beautiful and the world is beautiful. To know your life is of your design. Your whim. Your dreams. Your work. I want you to be kind and considerate, curious and tenacious. To give respect and demand respect in return. Most of all, I want you to know you’re loved and that I truly believe you can claim an extraordinary life filled with wonderful relationships and adventures all without ever compromising who you are or who you want to be.

It sounds nice overall at first glance, but upon re-reading it I found it was focused on “success” as the world defines it. For example, “To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies.” Yes, shoot for the stars. We should encourage our children to become people they never dreamed they could be and do things they never imagined they could do. But…the reality is that most of us never will go to Mars or cure a disease. Some of us will quietly impact the world in small, but significant ways one person at a time. Some people don’t want to sit at the head of a boardroom table, but would prefer to be the idea person or graphic designer behind the scenes. That’s noble and good too. Also, he spoke more about his wishes for his daughter’s accomplishments than her character. However, what Mr. Heathcock did do was to inspire me to write my own prayer and wants for my sons as they both go out into the world. Here’s mine:

What I want and pray for you: A life of purpose, passion, and service. A life of knowing that you are loved deeply and fully by your dad and me. A life of sharing that love with others, especially the lonely, the marginalized, and those that the world deems “unlovable.” Even your enemies. I hope you have a community of loyal friends and family who are your loudest cheerleaders, your sanctuary, your sounding board, and your safe place. A community with whom you can be silly, outrageous, serious, open, protected, vulnerable, whimsical, and thoughtful. I pray for you joy more than happiness and contentment over complacency. I pray that you are a world changer, a justice seeker, a servant leader, an extender of grace, a voice for the voiceless, and a righter of wrongs. I hope you pause and find delight in daily, simple things like the taste of melting butter on fresh bread, the sound of a loon’s call, or the pure beauty of a fresh snowfall. I hope for you a life of learning, of always discovering new books, meeting diverse people, traveling the globe, and being exposed to different thoughts and ideologies so you can consider multiple perspectives and reaffirm truth. I pray that you find your vocation and that it is something that contributes value to the world and passion to your soul. I pray that you know the incredible depth and breadth of God’s love for you. That you are secure in knowing that you are His precious child and He loves you more than any of us can comprehend. I hope you know that nothing can separate you from His love. That even though people, including me, may fail you, He never will. That He doesn’t sleep. That His grace is sufficient. That He is patient and longsuffering. That God is not “safe,” but He is always, always good. I want you to know that you cannot lose my love. That you are my joy, my heartbeat, my legacy, and my delight. I am so very, very proud of you. Always.

my poster

Clothed and Unafraid: Terrell Edition Sunday, Aug 16 2015 

Robert and I are fans of the Discovery Channel show, Naked and Afraid. In case you haven’t seen it or heard of it, a male and female are dropped into some remote area naked and left to survive for 21 days. They each get to bring one survival item which is usually a fire starter and/or machete. When the two contestants first meet, obviously being naked with a stranger of the opposite sex is awkward and weird. However, you quickly realize that the embarrassment is the easy part. It is the sunburn, total exposure to insects, nothing to retain body heat at night, and walking over rocks, thorns, poisonous snakes, etc. that is the worst part of naked. (There is also plenty of “bad naked”–Seinfeld reference–when you are bending over to chop wood, climbing trees, etc.). 

At any rate, it is interesting to see how they adapt and suvive for 3 weeks, as well as manage the emotional, interpersonal, and psychological challenges. With Naked and Afraid in mind, during our vacation in the UP, we had a taste of this survival challenge. Our cabin was missing a few key items, so here is how we adapted in the face of such hardship. 

On our first night we had planned to grill out steaks. We couldn’t find any matches in the cabin which was odd considering the grill, the beach fire pits, and the fireplace. The office was closed and the nearest town was 15 miles away, so Robert went into survival mode and made a fire with a piece of paper and the electric burner on the stove.  Boom! Fire!
  

 
The next night I was making smothered pork chops. Oh horrors! The frying pan in the cabin was missing. There was a saute pan about 5-6″ in diameter, but that wasn’t going to work for 3 porkchops. I adapted in the moment and cooked the porkchops in the boiler. So hardcore.
  

After the porkchops, I needed to use the browned bit to make a roux and then the gravy. Alas, there was no whisk to be found and I couldn’t use a fork because there was a nonstick coating on the pot. The pioneer substitute for a whisk? A plastic slotted spoon. Crisis averted and gravy made. No lumps either!
  

And finally, it was unusually hot and humid in Northern Michigan (upper mid-80s and quite humid) and we had no a/c. Robert had read up on ways to use fans going in different directions day versus night to suck out the hot air and bring in the cool air. He also had all sorts of cross ventilation going. The one fan needed to be turned backward to cool the interior down and it kept falling off the windowsill. Enter McGyver with brooms and physics.
  

Clearly we are hardcore survivalists and ready to take on any challenge. Our PSR (Primitive Survival Rating) went up at least 2 points. Such pioneers! 

  
 

25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage–Part IV Thursday, Aug 13 2015 

  
Well, tonight is the final list which is good because I’m tired. I probably could thing of a few more things beyond this final list of five, but I’m ready to move onto other topics. Robert and I have been talking about lots of big things and thinking deep thoughts while away on our anniversary trip and there are other things I now want to write about. Anyway, for my final list of things…

21. We compensate for one another and complement each other. My hands are almost always cold—ice cold. My family jokingly calls me the Ice Queen, and now since the advent of the movie Frozen, Elsa. People seriously flinch when I touch them and I had to rub my hands together or run them under hot water before dressing and diapering my babies. When Robert and I were dating we used to joke about his warm hands compensated for my cold ones. Ironically, on the rare occasion that his hands were cold, mine were warm. That pattern of opposite body temperature has played itself out over and over. However, it works in other ways too. He is alert in a car and loves to drive. On long car trips, it is rare that I can stay awake longer than 30 minutes. He does plumbing and electrical. I repair clothes, make curtains, and bedcoverings. He prefers mowing the lawn and I prefer weeding the flowerbed. I am extroverted and quicker to respond in anger. He is introverted and much more patient. It’s nice to have that balance and a yin to my yang.

 

He made the headboard, I made the quilt and most of the pillows.

 
22. My husband is the person I most want to tell my happy, exciting, sad, and/or troublesome news to. When I have a great day at work, hear a funny story, feel sad and upset, or simply need to vent, Robert is my go-to. He’s the first one I want to share the good news with because I know he will share in my joy. He’s the one I most want to share my bad news with because I know he’ll comfort me or share in my “righteous indignation.” He’s my safe place.

23. Husband before kids and marriage before parenting. We were encouraged to put each other before any potential children in our premarital counseling and I have heard that advice many times. However, recently I saw an internet article stating that point and the comments were vicious! Many women were responding that their children would always put their children ahead of their husbands. In my opinion, that’s too bad and they will probably be the couple that you see at a restaurant who don’t talk to each other because they have nothing to say. Ideally, there is a husband-wife before children and one day the children will leave. Then you are back down to the husband and wife. We are facing the empty nest in less than two weeks. I am so glad that we have put time and energy in maintaining our marriage. 

Our children have certainly been well loved and provided for, but part of that is creating a home in which they know their parents love each other and are committed to each other. Shortly after watching The Titanic, when we had a one year old and a three year old, we vowed that in a life or death situation, we would each focus on saving the children over each other. However, as far as daily life went, our marriage partnership was a priority over the parenting one. That doesn’t mean that we neglected our children. It just meant that we had regular date nights, went away overnight without our children at least once a year, and had a part of our life that didn’t revolve around them. On date nights we didn’t talk about our kids–we had plenty of other things to discuss. We have had a wonderful time as a family and were full partners in parenting, but now that we will be just a couple again, we have a solid foundation for the rest of our married life.

24. I’m glad we waited and he’s my one and only. Yep, we dated for 5 years, were engaged for 11 months, and still waited until marriage to “know” each other. That was a conscious choice from the start, in large part due to our faith and our belief that scripture teaches that sex should not occur outside of marriage (pre-, extra-, or otherwise). We also appreciated the sacred, bonding, spiritual commitment that literally “becoming one” means. We talked about it and waited…and waited…and waited. As with many (most?) things in life, it wasn’t easy, but it has been worth it. We both developed the spiritual discipline of self-control during that time and that has been an important and valuable character trait to have throughout life as a married couple and as individuals. We also aren’t haunted by past relationships and the comparison game, since we know we are each other’s one and only. 

25. We couldn’t do it without God being the bedrock and foundation of our marriage. And finally, the glue that holds everything together, that makes the good times better and the bad times endurable, is our faith in God. We know that He has bound us together. We believe that scripture teaches that marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church. We believe that we give glory to God by loving each other sacrifically and well. 

  

And in the words of Forrest Gump, 

  
 

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