Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Letter

http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=17b3e5ec06&view=gvatt&th=125bce2e482de767&attid=0.1&disp=attd&mime=application%2Fpdf

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fa la la la la

I was listening to the radio the other day, and a Christmas carol came on. I LOVE Christmas carols. I can hardly wait until Thanksgiving is over so it is acceptable for me to listen to those festive tunes. Sometimes I cheat and start early, but either way, I just love them. I particularly love Harry Connick Jr. and this mixed artist CD that I own.

Anyway, I was surprised to hear a Christmas tune on KISS 107.5, but there it was - so I listened. I listened to Lady Gaga take Deck the Halls and turn it into a sexually charged rap. Some lyrics: Light me up, put me on top, let's falalalalalalalala. The only place you want to be is underneath my Christmas tree.

Well isn't that just a treat. I hear the familiar tune of one of the most beloved Christmas carols, and that's what I get. Thanks. A. Lot.

I just don't get the world's fascination with Christmas. The world is happy to light up their windows, trees, and houses. They buy gifts and give to the needy. They gladly take paid holidays and celebrate December 25 with cheer. They accept Santa Claus and all those reindeer. Yet the thing for which Christmas is credited must be omitted. In fact, it's not PC to even tell your classmates "Merry Christmas!" It must be "Happy Holidays."

I don't understand. I don't understand why it's ok to exchange gifts and good will with family and friends, but not discuss Jesus. I don't get why it's ok to decorate in various shades of red and green while lighting our homes and trees, but not to celebrate Jesus. I don't get why it's ok to declare unbelief toward the Christain holiday, and still take December 25th as a paid holiday - if you don't like what Christmas celebrates and represents, then get your booty to work on the 25th! I don't get why it's ok for children to believe in Santa, but not Jesus.

The bottom line is it's NOT ok. Christmas is about CHRIST. There would be no happy holidays if it weren't for Him. No presents and holiday cheer without that baby. And no matter how secular you believe your holiday is, anything you celebrate resembling the Christmas holiday has its roots in Christianity. From the candy cane to the star on the tree to belief in Santa, it's all part of this religious holiday. So, you can try to secularize (and even sexualize) this holiday all you want, but it doesn't matter what you do - Jesus WILL be found, try as you might to hide him.

I hope you have a wonderful CHRISTmas, and that you pause to reflect on how every part of this holiday, even the commercialized and secularized parts, revolved around and relate back to one simple miracle: the birth of our Savior.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis the Season

Christmas season has officially begun. It sort of began the second Halloween was over, but now that Thanksgiving has passed and it's December (CRAZY!!), we can officially start the countdown! I love the holidays – I don’t really know why, I just do. I even love the cold and snow, until January  I love being with family, eating great food, giving gifts (and getting them!), singing at Christmas Eve services, decorating my NEW HOUSE,  lights and parties…it’s great.

The day after Thanksgiving, known to most as Black Friday, was not as “festive” for me, however! My sister-in-law and I decided to skip sleep altogether that night and head out for the Cedar Falls and Waterloo stores at midnight. We made great progress (minus an unexpected 1.5 hour wait outside of ToysRUs), getting in and out of stores in 15-30 minutes each time. We got to ToysRUs at 12:45 a.m., and after a supposed fight, they only let in 30 people at a time. We missed a couple deals we wanted, but were in and out quickly. Then across the way to Old Navy, in line 20 minutes to 3:00, when they opened. A mom brought her toddler son out in the cold with no more than pajamas and a hat on. NO GLOVES even. While some people half-heartedly asked her if she wanted to go to the front of the line, I actually grabbed her arm and made her go in. While we were all probably thinking how stupid it was, no one complained. Poor kid – she said he wanted to go to the toy store. So….I’m pretty sure unless you WAKE your kid up at 3:00 a.m. and tell him you are going to get toys, he wouldn’t have known where you were going. And since when is Old Navy a toy store?

The lines at Old Navy were HUGE, but thanks to quick thinking, I kept my eye on the lines and got in place once they started forming. We took turns shopping while one person stood in line and let others go ahead as needed. Then when we were both done, we checked out. GREAT strategy instead of getting in line at the back of the store! Less than 30 minutes and we were on our way to Kohl’s.

We arrived at Kohl’s less than five minutes before doors opened. We quickly gathered our things, did the same line-holding strategy, and were out the door! Then on to Wal-Mart. This is where our awesome morning started sliding downhill. Because the store is open 24/7, they let people in the store but did not un-wrap the carts of “good deals” until 5:00 a.m. as advertised. It was great not standing in the cold, but the store was chaotic. People were hovering around the bins, placing hands on TVs to claim them and such. They did a great job organizing the store so that lines wound through the groceries and such, but there was one problem: I had no idea which lines were for what! I immediately headed back to electronics to attempt to get a 42” TV on sale for $450. I thought it would logically be there. But an employee told me to head to the dairy section, and I did. I waited around the bins….only to find out later that the bins were full of DVDs, not TVs (I wasn’t even close enough to be able to tell!). So off I went with my little cart, scurrying as much as one can through a sea of tired, angry shoppers. I found the line for the Emersion TV! I stood in line for a few minutes, only to overhear that although I asked an employee if this was the line for the 42”, it was for the 32”. SIGH. She tried to tell me the 42” didn’t exist. I showed her the ad. Then someone FINALLY said it was in the lawn and garden section. Clear. On. The. Other. Side. Of. The. Store….so I ran. Well, I dodged and scrambled and weaved….but I hurried as best as I could! At one point I was literally in a traffic jam – couldn’t back up, turn, or go forward. Finally a clearing – yes! Then some girl pushes her cart toward me, blocking my escape route. She had some big thing under her cart blocking my way. I said, “I have to go forward!” and she said, “So do I!”. We stood there, neither wanting to budge, even though I was clearly there well before she was. Finally what little patience I have snapped. I backed up, gave a sweeping gesture to my side, and said, “Well please then, go on ahead!” with all the sarcasm I could muster. Not my finest moment, but it was obvious she knew she was wrong. Before the gap that she created was swallowed up again, I foraged on to find the TV.

Even though an employee tried to tell me the TVs were in the dairy section, I got a little terse and finally got the answer I needed: my TVs were out with the Christmas trees. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law caught up with me, only after a huge guy “stole” a TV out from under her! She was literally sprawled on a TV when a big guy came up to her, said “Not today, missy!”, and took it from her. Luckily, it was not the TV I needed, but still….Merry Christmas, dude.

After a long wait, we were done! So we headed back to Kohl’s for some leisurely shopping and to try to get a few more things on the list. Bad idea for this patience-worn-thin, extra-tired girl! Although there weren’t any lines, we had probably our longest wait yet. The lady in front of us was buying a Monopoly game that didn’t have the proper sticker on it. So they had to get an employee to grab another one….which also didn’t have a sticker…so they had to go find ANY game worth $18.99. At that point, we decided to hop lines. The person in front of us (coincidentally it was Julie’s out-of-town relatives!) also had an issue with their sticker. So the first line was done at that point and we jumped back to our original spot. The cashier scanned one of our items when the lady in front of me (the one with the Monopoly game) exclaimed, “Oh shoot, I have one more thing in my bag!”. So the cashier asked if it was ok if she took care of the lady’s one item. I said fine, none too happily. After that, it was FINALLY our turn…again. She scanned one item….again. I opened my big mouth and said something about Kohl’s cash when the lady in front of me (isn’t she gone yet?!?!) exclaimed again, “Oh shoot, I didn’t get my Kohl’s cash!”. Now I was done. I said, “Are you kidding me?!?!” while the cashier proceeded to assist this lady again.

We got out of there eight million hours later, and after driving for a couple minutes, I said to Julie, “What are the chances that, even though you gave her the coupon, she gave us our 15% off?”. I knew before even looking at it what the answer was. On a $125.00 bill, that’s about $20, so BACK TO KOHL’S we went. At this point, the other two “teams” (Jennifer and Joel, Rebecca and Wendy) who set out to shop much later than Julie and I did were all returning home. Fabulous.

At Kohl’s, even though it was the CASHIER’S ERROR, I was sent all the way back to customer service, where a snippy little girl asked me what was wrong. I told her. She then proceeded to answer the phone and help facilitate the longest ever hunt for a credit card. Meanwhile, a new customer service rep came to the back and asked if I was being helped. Stupidly, I said yes. When she turned to help the person standing behind me, I was just DONE. I said, “Wait – that girl’s phone call has nothing to do with helping me. I still need to be helped!” She ignored me. Then the snippy girl got off the phone and told me she had to “return” all the items and rescan them, and that it would take a long time. I said that’s fine. Eight million hours later, after she threw my receipts back at me, I LEFT for the third time.

We had a $10 off anything coupon at Younkers that we frugalistas could not waste, so we spend eight million more hours just trying to find something that wasn’t excluded or a “bonus buy” that we could use the stupid thing on. Finally, around 7:00 a.m., exhausted emotionally and physically, we headed back to Joel’s parents’ house.

I couldn’t help but think about the madness of Black Friday. Last year, one person even died in the stampedes. This year, adults were getting in brawls outside of a toy store. Why do we let all humanity, kindness, generosity, and general good behavior go out the window to save a couple bucks? When did we become so greedy? And how did I become one of them?

I got my good deals – but at what cost? I’m sure there are some people out there that, while they’ve probably forgotten it by now and I will never see them again, don’t think very highly of my actions that day. It was certainly an eye-opener to what our nation is about, and what started as a pleasant day turned into a chaotic mess….and it was only 7:00 in the morning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Please State Your Emergency...

Last week, Joel was working late so Brady and I were home alone. He was being a crab this particular evening, so against my better judgment, I let him play with our phone. The beeps of the buttons seemed to please him for a few minutes, and I was just glad something was distracting him. The kid is really into phones right now – so there he was, just wandering around, pushing buttons and holding it to his ear…

After I was able to pry the phone away from Brady and in the midst of feeding him supper, I heard a knock at our door. Then the doorbell rang. Now, about twelve different scenarios ran through my head as I stood to go to the door. It was probably a neighbor. Or maybe my parents….but they always call. It could be a motorist with a broken down vehicle – but that was unlikely. If you know where our new house is located, you know there is NO traffic whatsoever that would lead to a motorist knocking on my front door. Then the “mom” instinct kicked in as I rounded the corner….it’s probably fine, but what if it’s some weirdo? Do I answer the door? I don’t want to be paranoid, but it’s better safe than sorry….I have a son to think about, and Joel isn’t home. It’s dark with no street lights, and we are surrounded by woods. My mind flashed to the garage and I reassured myself the door was down.

I could see the person at the door was a man dressed all in black with a flashlight. My “mom” instinct cranked up a notch. I got closer to the door but had resolved I wouldn’t open it until I was sure it was safe and I recognized the person outside. But as I got closer, I saw a shiny flash on this man’s shirt: it was a badge. I quickly saw it was a police officer at the door and I again started racing through the thoughts: was Joel hurt? Did someone call the cops on us? Brady was screaming loudly earlier – perhaps they thought it was domestic disturbance? But then again, we are pretty remote so the chance of anyone hearing his screams was minimal…

I opened the door and the officer greeted me politely and asked if someone had called 9-1-1. I was puzzled and said no, definitely not (you can imagine where this is going by now…). Then my eyes got really big as I realized what must have happened. I told the officer, “Oh my gosh, my 1-year-old son had the phone earlier…he must have managed to dial 9-1-1!” He was a very nice young man and simply said as long as everyone was ok, it wasn’t a big deal. I said good night, closed the door, and walked back to my son, who was quiet during this whole incident and who was now smiling mischievously in his high chair, as if he knew what he’d just done and was thinking, “Ha ha, gotcha mom!”

They always say not to let kids play with phones: they could accidentally call someone, even 9-1-1! I never thought Brady would actually manage to accomplish that task, but this certainly reminded me of one thing: never underestimate the abilities of a curious toddler.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad

I have been trying to eat healthier lately; I suppose to counteract the hundreds of extra calories I will be consuming this holiday season, no doubt! Anyway, I concocted a perfect salad that was so delicious, I made it three days in a row! It’s super simple, healthy, and really satisfying. It’s as good as any $12 restaurant salad, that’s for sure! So I thought I’d share my “recipe” with you – Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Lettuce (I use darker greens, like romaine or red leaf)
Chopped Walnuts (HyVee sells them in little convenient packets)
Dried cranberries (Craisins work well – for a cheaper option, try raisins like I did)
Kraft Light Raspberry Vinaigrette (AMAZING!)
Chicken (you can cook and cube your own chicken, or I used Kirkland’s pre-cooked grilled chicken breast strips. Not as economical, but REALLY convenient!)

Optional:
Red onion slices
Tomato slices
Chopped celery
Croutons
Cheese (blue cheese or feta crumbles would be awesome!)

If you are preparing this to take to work, I would get your lettuce washed and chicken cooked the night before. I put a portion of lettuce in a Tupperware container and added my cubed chicken, then placed it in the fridge. I also put a small box of raisins and the bag of walnuts in the fridge, so I don’t forget them :) I also put some salad dressing in a really small container in the fridge. Then at work, I open the Tupperware, add the walnuts, dressing, and raisins, snap the lid back on, shake it a few times, and voila! A perfectly delicious and healthy salad in seconds. I save about half of the box of raisins for a mid-afternoon “snack”. One walnut packet gave me three full salads – and I didn’t skimp. It has protein, good fat, vegetables, fruits, and very little carbs. It's nothing magical, but this is definitely one salad I will be repeating over and over!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

I don't usually read e-mail forwards, but this one had some great random thoughts. I found myself thinking, "YES, that's exactly right" to most if not all of these. Note #'s 1, 3, 9, & 11. 

Enjoy!

1. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

2. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

3. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

4. There is a great need for sarcasm font.

5. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

6. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

7. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in. (JOEL)

8. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

9. Was learning cursive really necessary?

10. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

11. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

12. While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it....thanks Mario Kart.

13. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

14. I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

15. Bad decisions make good stories.

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Almond-less Joy


I went to Hy-Vee for groceries the other day and picked up a couple bags of post-Halloween candy that were on sale. I took out an Almond Joy to eat it  and looked at the wrapper. It says "milk chocolate, coconut, and almonds". Almonds - plural. And it pictures two almonds. Yet when I open my candy bars, there is only one almond per bar. I grumbled to Joel that I thought it was false advertising to claim that the candy bar contains almonds when, in fact, it only contains one.

So I proceeded to open my "almond joy", and what do I discover? NO almond! The almond was left off of my almond joy. I didn't even get one almond on mine! I exclaimed, "You have got to be kidding me!" I wonder if a Mound (the almond-less version of almond joy) somehow snuck into the wrong wrapper? I wonder if the machine somehow missed placing the almond on mine and somewhere someone else is enjoying two almonds on their candy?


I felt like something had been taken from me that I was owed. I felt injustice. I bought an Almond Joy and fully expected to receive at least ONE almond on my candy bar. I must be vindicated!

Then I paused. How many times in life are we "owed" something that we don't get? Life isn't fair, God even tells us that we will face hardships this side of heaven. I thought it was ironic that right as I was telling Joel how the candy bars only have one almond, even though the wrapper indicates otherwise, I opened the almond-less joy from my package. I think it was God's way of reminding me not to complain about the little things in life (the arguably false advertising of Almond Joy) because it could always be worse (no almond at all). And while I did miss the nutty crunch of the almond on my candy bar, this incident now makes me appreciate each and every time I do get one little nut on my candy bar. In fact, I experience a little bout of happiness and excitement when I see that almond now.

What do you think you are owed in life that you really don't need? A new car, a raise or promotion, a 'thank you' from a friend or family member? How do you react when you don't get those things that you deserve? And what would it take to be happy with the basics, to be happy with one almond instead of complaining about not having two? Would it take you losing your job, not having a car at all, or having no one in your life to do nice things for? It's so easy to forget how blessed we all are. And the truth is, without the proper perspective, an abundance of almonds wouldn't make us happy; we could have all the almonds we please, and then we'd probably start complaining that there are too many. We have to take a step back and remember God will give us exactly what we need and deserve. And with that perspective, you will suddenly find contentment, happiness, and even excitement in what the world tells us are the things we are owed: the ability to purchase and drive a car, having a job at all, and being close enough in proximity and relationally to do nice things for a friend or family, even if they go un-thanked.

But I have to say, I sure hope the rest of my package has all its almonds!

FOLLOWUP: So I found this online and thought it was too great to share. I am not alone in my feelings about the marketing of Almond Joy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Boy


Happy birthday to my sweet little boy! He turned one on the 7th – where did THAT year go? During an unseasonably warm weekend, we enjoyed grilling out at our new house with family, playing yard games in 70+ degree weather, and hosting some friends in the evening for a movie.

As I got ready for church the following morning, I was holding Brady in the shower. I know I won’t be able to do it for much longer, but it’s easier and Brady prefers showers with mom over baths, so that’s usually how I bathe him. Anyway, his little feet were cold from being sockless on our kitchen floor. I cradled him in the shower, the warm water on his little toes. Normally he would squirm around after a few seconds, but this particular morning, he was totally content to just lie in my arms and stare up at me. No squirming, no poking at my eyes or mouth, not even a smile. It eerily reminded me of the first moment I got to hold him after he was born; how he just stared at me without expression, but grasped my hand so tightly and wouldn’t let go. That was the moment I knew he would have my heart forever. Now I looked at this 20+ pound little boy in my arms, with a personality, with likes and dislikes, with the ability to communicate.

I really don’t know where the last year went. But I’m trying to slow down and appreciate the little moments with him, so that they don’t go by so quickly, and so I don’t forget. Like this morning – it took probably 20 minutes just to dress Brady because he would not let go of my neck. He just wanted to hug me and if he even thought I was considering pulling away, he would tighten his grasp around my neck, bury his face in mine, and wrap his legs around me. Those are the moments I live for as a mom – knowing that there is nowhere else and with no one else my baby would rather be.

I’ve learned a lot this year: I don’t get very much done when Brady and I are home; I need more patience; I didn’t know I could love a child this much; and so much more. And while I am very excited by every stage, every milestone that he reaches, I am deeply saddened when I realize I will never get those moments back. No matter how many children I have, Brady, my firstborn, will never be “fill-in-the-blank” age again. So I resolve this year to let the little things go – if I am five minutes late for work because my son wants his mommy to hug him, that’s just the way it’s going to be.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Techno-Purge

I am living like a caveperson. Our new house is about two miles from the largest shopping center in Iowa, arguably one of the ritziest, richest areas in the state. Now we are talking about Iowa here, not Beverly Hills, but still…I find it very difficult to comprehend that I am within walking distance of buying anything, ANYTHING I might want or need, yet can I make a simple call on my cell phone? No. Can I flip on the TV to watch the evening news? Nope. While we used to be smart consumers who hunted for the best deals on these services, we have been reduced to settling for whoever can actually provide to us the services we need.

I can’t remember the last time I went days without the television on. Or without a cell phone to distract me. While I will be glad to get all of this ironed out, part of me is glad to know that I can still exist apart from the technology that infests every second of our lives…and I survived!

On a brighter note, it was the easiest phone call ever to cancel our Mediacom service...instead of the usual bout of questions and relentless attempts to salvage your business, we simply said we were moving to a location where Mediacom wasn’t offered. Can’t really argue with that one…

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick or Treat

I know it isn’t quite Halloween yet, but with the Big Move on the horizon, I’m not sure I will be able to post before then, so this is my official Happy Halloween post :) I have to admit, I love Halloween. Not as much the holiday I guess, but just the Fall season in general and things that are associated with Halloween: hot cider, hayrack rides, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, pumpkin carving (the picture above is my carving from 2 or 3 years ago) crisp evenings (or this year, soggy cold everything), vividly colored leaves….while I am a summer girl at heart, I love Fall. In fact, it might be my favorite season if it weren’t for the impending doom that is winter.

Anyway, back to Halloween. Trick or treating – probably will be fun again with Brady now. But Halloween still reminds me too much of college days, where it was an excuse for teenage girls and young adults to dress as (excuse me language) sluttily and act as (excuse again) skanky as they like. And it was ok, because it was all masked in the festivities of Halloween. Where do we cross that line from Princess to French maid, from Dr. Doolittle to Naughty Nurse, from Little House on the Prairie to random mini skirt, high boots, and bra girl?

I have to admit, I (somewhat) fell victim to this holiday when in college. I paraded around in my hodgepodge little outfit that was some random semblance of whatever small clothing I owned, threw on a wig, and was someone else for a night. What is it about this kind of action that intrigues us, draws us in, entices us to play the part of someone else for a night? After discussing masks at Ignition last week, it got me thinking – Halloween is the one time we are allowed to be anyone we want to and not get made fun of, looked down on, or discriminated against for it. What if every day was Halloween, but instead of dressing up to be someone we aren’t, we were all just ourselves? What if instead of hiding behind more masks, we just shed the ones we wear every day? Maybe this year for Halloween, I’ll just be me :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Tomorrow we will be closing on our new house. I am excited to be closing one chapter of life and starting a new one as we move into our first single-residence home! It will be so nice to have a yard, an extra bedroom, non-shared walls, a basement for storage, and carpet. It won’t be as nice to mow, maintain the exterior of our house, clean more space, and attempt to keep Brady from falling down the stairs instead of climbing up them, but we take the small negatives with the huge positives. While the townhouse was a great starter home, this house truly feels like our own: we are the first owners, we will finish the basement however we choose, and we will be solely responsible for ensuring the house remains in good condition. Exciting…and a tad scary.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I’ll Be There For You



I recently heard on the radio that the cast of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. television show may be reuniting for a movie! I cannot tell you how excited I am if this is true! F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is truly the greatest show of all time. I think I have seen each episode at least 20 times, probably more. I fall asleep to it every night. I just love that show. Maybe it’s because I can see a little bit of myself in each of the characters.
Ross is my favorite. He wants to appear cool and collected, but is just a nerd at heart! He’s smart, he’s loving, he’s genuine, and he’s completely goofy. And he loves puzzles  :)

Rachel changes the most during the show: she begins as this scared, spoiled girl and grows into a woman who can fend for herself, pursues a career in a field she is passionate about, and takes motherhood head-on.
Monica is neurotic and organized, and while I don’t share her affinity for cleaning, I do like things organized. She has a ribbon drawer, I have a ribbon box  :)

Chandler is the comedian of the group, and comes in at a close second for most-changed character. The man afraid of commitment gets married. He overcomes a dull, meaningless job and finds something he enjoys – even if it’s not easy.
Phoebe is such a free spirit. Even though she’s “street savvy”, her innocence makes you want to protect her. And although I hope my singing skills are better than hers, we do share that commonality.
Joey…what is there to say about Joey except he’s dull, he likes to party, and yet he probably has more loyalty to his friends than anyone on the show. He will go out of his way for his best friends, and I hope my friends think of me with that kind of loyalty.
I would love for there to be a F.R.I.E.N.D.S. movie. I definitely hope this rumor turns out to be true!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old Hat


The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. ~ Jerry M. Wright

For the first time in my life, I feel OLD. It seems like just yesterday I was watching the Little Mermaid, wishing I was 16 years old, wishing I could grow up and be a teenager already. I wanted to read YM, I wanted to watch Clueless, I wanted to be free. Now l find myself gravitating toward Better Homes & Gardens, shaking my head at those naïve little teeny-boppers on TV, and wishing someone would tell me what to do and how to do it. How did that happen? 

I always wondered when adults get to the point when they wish the birthdays would go down instead of up. It has just recently occurred to me that I can no longer classify myself as “college age”. I have officially aged out of the Miss America competition. My little brother started college, and my little sister is almost done with college. I am married and I have a son. In middle and high school, teachers would have us write down where we wanted to be in ten years, or at 25 years old. I have no idea what I wrote down, but I’m sure I haven’t done all that I wanted to do, and yet here I am. 

I. Am. A. Grownup. And I don’t really know that I like it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Role Model



“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” ~ James 1:27



My infant son is my role model. I believe we could all learn valuable lessons from babies.
Babies don’t judge others. They play nicely with others, they don’t connive or deceive.
Babies welcome a warm smile from a stranger. They will happily interact with anyone they perceive to be friendly. Babies don’t know social “boundaries”. They simply trust people who are nice to them and don't trust people who aren't.
Babies are not racist. They don’t worry about social status, hair color, eye color, skin color, height, or weight. They treat all people – rich or poor, fat or skinny, young or old – the same. The only thing they require in return is kindness and love.
Babies are content with themselves. They don’t stress over money, friendships, or school. They don’t worry about being the biggest, best, or brightest. They enjoy being exactly who God made them to be.
Babies eat when hungry until they are full. They sleep when they need rest. They listen to their bodies.
Unless babies’ basic needs are not being met, their natural disposition is joy. They revel in the joy of living life.
Babies face challenges head on. They try until the challenge is mastered. Babies are ambitious.
So what happens to us in the time between those first few years of life and now? The world happens.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Step of Faith

For the last 5 months, we have been trying to sell our townhouse by owner. We had a buyer – she backed out. We lowered our price – still no other offers. We decided to list with a realtor, even though we’ve lowered our price so much that we are already losing money, let alone the $5,000+ we would have to pay a realtor. But without another option, we were ready to sign with a realtor this week.

Joel was out of town this weekend visiting friends, so I was preparing Sunday morning for our last open house as “for sale by owner” when our realtor called about the house we wanted to purchase. She informed me there was another offer placed on the house, and we had to decide if we were going to take the subject to sale contingency off the purchase agreement we had signed, or if we wanted to lose the house. Oh, and I had 1 hour to decide. With Joel out of town, a dirty house, and 1 hour to decide what to do, I naturally started to panic.

Do we skip this house and find a different one? Do we bite the bullet and get the house, even though ours has not sold in five months? How can I hold an open house in less than two hours? I immediately called Joel so we could make our decision, then I called my mom so she could help me clean/watch Brady.

I had all of 30 minutes to think about this decision before I signed the paperwork. I am a planner, I like to be in control, I don’t like risk or the unknown. This decision was all of those things. It impacted the financial well-being of our family. I didn’t want to make a decision based on emotion.

While we were trying to decide, I kept hearing a voice in my head say, “How much faith do you have, Cassie? How much faith?” Over and over this voice just pounded at me with the same nagging question, to the point where I was thinking, “ENOUGH! We have to make this decision on our own!” God wouldn’t be equating faith to something as silly as buying a house, so this obviously is not God and I just need to concentrate! I took a couple breaths, Joel called, and he thought we should go ahead and buy the house.

Once the papers were signed, I felt an immediate relief and calm come over me. Instead of “oh crap, what did we just do”, I really felt like we were making the right decision. I just prayed for a buyer.

The open house was a flop. No one was coming. It was un-advertised, but still, would not even one person come? Then, one familiar-looking lady came to the door. She had been here a few months ago and was bringing some friends along to look at the house. She said she had been thinking about the house for weeks now, and this was “the one”. Today, I received a call from her and we are signing a purchase agreement tonight.

Could God have made the buyer come first so we didn’t have to make this choice? Yes. But I truly believe He used this situation for a reason; not only to “test” our faith, but He was also providing an opportunity for us to exercise our faith in His plan (2 Corinthians 13:5). And while it’s not always easy, He will in fact work all things together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). I believe we are being rewarded for listening to Him.

Now I know it’s a house; it’s not like we moved to Africa to help starving children or something. But it’s a pretty big step for this normally-cautious girl who has always had issues with handing control of her life over to God. I usually ask God to bless me where I’m at instead of meeting Him where He is. Think if we had let this house go, only to have a buyer come to our door minutes later. How upset and sad would we have been? How great is the reward for obedience? We would have settled on a different house – but as much as we have looked and looked, it would not have been as good as this one.

Is God waiting to bless your life in some way, if only you would listen to Him? He never promised this life would be easy – but He does promise that if we take up our crosses daily and follow Him, we will be rewarded eternally, and on this Earth.

Things could still go wrong – until we hand over the keys, we are not out of the woods. But I know it’s all going to be alright, because for once in my life, I chose to take a step of faith instead of settling for an outcome that I orchestrated. While most days my faith isn’t anything to brag about, we know that even with the tiniest faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Or, in my case, I can move into the house God has prepared for my family.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bug-Eyed

I have to be honest; I don't understand Hollywood fashion trends. I don't know if I'm just getting older, or they are getting sloppier, but to me, the biggest names in Hollywood look closer to homeless people than Hollywood starlets. And it's not just the women - the guys don't cut their hair, don't shave, and are sporting their own version of the "homeless" fashions.

Take the big sunglasses trend. Who ever thought it was a good idea to wear sunglasses that overtake your entire face and make you look like an insect? I'm not talking about slightly larger than normal glasses....I'm talking about the ones that look like they swallowed your face.

Or how about skinny jeans and flannel prints with high heels. That combo just doesn't make sense to me - period.

Now let's talk hair. It seems the longer and messier it is, the more "in style" you are considered to be. I feel like most days, I could simply roll out of bed and be ready to go, "hollywood style". I guess we should be glad that the trend requires more, not less, clothing to be worn, but I don't want to look like a bum, either, to be considered "fashionable".

Hollywood, I beg you: groom yourselves! Brush your hair! Wear ONE pair of pants with ONE shirt. I don't know about you, but I am ready for this bug-eyed, farmer flannel, homeless hair "style" to pass.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Welcome to the Real World

At some point in time, we all have a teacher who impacts us – who we never forget. In middle school, it was Mrs. Porter. In high school, Mr. Beeken took my love of music to levels I didn’t know existed. He demanded excellence in his goofballish ways, and we gave it to him.

In college, it was Susanne. Professor Gubanc, I think, was her official title (I just called her Goober to my roommates because that is what she could be at times!). She was the most liberal, feminist, lesbian woman I’ve ever known, but I learned a lot from her, I expanded the sheltered box I lived in my whole life. I still have my beliefs and morals, but I was not as close-minded after her class. She was eventually asked to resign, I think, right after I graduated, and she wasn’t the greatest professor necessarily, but she had more passion for what she believed in than anyone I know, and for that I admire her.

Susanne always preached to us about the “real world”. She had a zero tolerance policy when it came to assignments being late. There was no wiggle room because in the “real world”, she would say, you don’t get to forget about a due date, or get an extension.

One unfortunate Monday evening after I consumed what had to be close to an entire bag of strawberry twizzlers, I came down with the stomach flu. I was out on the hall sick much of the night. My poor roommate, Macy, sat up with me since I couldn’t sleep. At 3 a.m., there isn’t much on the tv – I think we ended up watching a show about implants or bras or something. I had the aches, chills, fever – all of it. It was one of the most miserable times of my life.

Knowing how Susanne was with her assignment due dates, I anticipated that I might not be able to complete a paper that was due for her class Wednesday morning. Seeing as I could barely move let alone type a coherent paper, I wrote her an e-mail Tuesday morning explaining the gravity of the situation. Her response: “I hope you feel better. The paper is due Wednesday.”

I made a miraculous recovery on Tuesday – it was thankfully just a 24-hour virus. I managed to get the paper written and probably did well on it. But that has stuck with me for years simply because of her unwillingness to compromise.

Now that I am part of the “real world”, I find Susanne’s zero tolerance policy completely erroneous. There are many times I miss a deadline, or have to call in sick and postpone a deadline. I don’t always get things done on time – who does? I still have a job. I am good at my job, in fact. So while part of me understands that I was still expected to complete the paper on time, I am also insulted that she did not have enough trust in me to know I was truly sick. Simpson is a small school, and I had her for several classes –she was my advisor, in fact! She knew me well enough to know I was not bluffing. I was being proactive by e-mailing her ahead of time, yet it didn’t matter. I wish I knew Susanne today, because I would love to tell her what my “real world” like. And if there is a job that exists where you are not allowed one ounce of wiggle room, well, I am not interested in that job, anyway.

Oh, and to this day I still do not eat strawberry twizzlers….

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ten Things

I just felt like posting a random list of things about me, so here you go. Ten little things you may or may not have known about me:

1. I want to be extraordinary at something.

2. I fear spiders. Snakes, roaches, mice….all fine. Spiders = terrifying.

3. I am almost as afraid of failure as I am of spiders. Both fears are crippling and destructive at times, in different ways.

4. I love my son more than I knew I could. He irritates me, annoys me, screams at me, hits me, talks back to me, disobeys me….and I love it (mostly). Oh, and he’s 10 months old.

5. I am inspired by people who love life simply because they have it to live.

6. We spend our entire childhood being told what to do and what not to do, wishing we could just be free to decide for ourselves. Now that I am an adult, I sometimes desperately wish someone would tell me what to do or not to do. This is especially true when it comes to my profession.

7. I used to dance and make up songs all the time when I was little. We have some of them on video tape. If you ever need a laugh, you should take a listen to “If You Want To Cross The Street…”

8. I have an afro. When I was in 3rd grade, my mom thought it would be a good idea to cut my hair up to my chin. Thus the infamous triangle hair cut. My hair has never been that short since then, and if it were, it would literally stick straight out from my head.

9. I love the TV show FRIENDS and watch it every night to fall asleep (sorry, Joel!). You can ask me anything about that show and I probably know it. If I somehow don’t, my cousin or sister will. :) If there was a game show based on FRIENDS trivia, the three of us would win every time, no contest.

10. When I was little, I imagined that there were snakes between my bed and the wall, so I would lay perfectly still in the middle of my bed. I also would cover my head with the blankets and imagine mice were dancing around me. I don’t know what my deal was with rodents, but I certainly had an active imagination!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Braille on the Steering Wheel


Joel, Brady, and I were recently traveling to Michigan for a friend’s wedding. I was driving the Durango when something suddenly occurred to me. In the 4+ years we have owned the Durango, and in the 10+ years I have been driving, I always felt those little bumps on the cruise control buttons and assumed they were….wait for it…..Braille.
I just logically thought they were Braille dots, like on a bathroom door, to help the visually impaired navigate life a little easier. I don’t know why this particular day I connected the dots (pause a moment for that pun), but as I sat there driving with my thumbs smoothing over those bumps on the cruise control, I slowly began to realize the idiocy of having Braille on a steering wheel. Where did I think that blind person was going to drive? I laughed out loud at my realization.
There are times in life when I realize something I’ve believed or felt for so long is totally and completely idiotic. The world tells me I’m ugly, the magazines say I’m fat, the judges tell me I’m untalented, so I believe all those things. I accept those ideas as truth without really contemplating the lunacy of those ideas. Like the Braille on my steering wheel, I simply accept those “truths” for what they are, without ever questioning their existence, their meaning, or their validity.
Who are you, or rather who am I, to judge God’s creation as anything less than perfect? By whose standards am I ugly, fat, untalented? I don’t think I really want to try living up to those standards anymore, because they are just too hard to please. Trying to please the world takes far too much time and energy that could be put to use elsewhere, and all for what? A stamp of approval from Clinton Kelly that my wardrobe flatters my waistline? No thanks. It’s hard most of the time, to not get caught up in the world’s expectations of who I should be or what I should look like. I want to feel beautiful and talented. But on the days that I wake up and realize I was beautifully made exactly as I am, it’s like realizing those bumps are not Braille on my steering wheel, and I cannot help but laugh.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A New Journey


“My purpose in making this wonderful journey is not to delude myself but to discover myself in the objects I see” ~Goethe

When I was in 8th grade, one of my teachers (I don’t even remember which class) made us keep journals as part of our grade for the year. I had never written in a journal – the closest thing I had to a journal was an occasional diary entry about the boy I currently liked.

For some reason, once I got into the habit of journaling, I was hooked. I could barely go a day without writing down my thoughts. Granted, in 8th grade they still were pretty much just about my friends/crushes and who I liked/disliked at the moment. But still, something about writing that stuff down hooked me. I couldn’t wait to write about my day, usual or unusual, ordinary or extraordinary. I continued to journal for several years. I don’t really remember why I stopped or why it stopped being a part of me. I love to look back at those tattered pages and “relive” my youth.

I want to believe that although I was too immature and young to realize it, journaling was my way of connecting with God each day. It was my daily quiet time, my chance to reflect on the day in the comfort of my childhood room. I have tried a couple times since, without success, to rekindle the fire I once had for journaling. So in a combined attempt to do so again, and to meet up with the 21st century, I am starting a blog. I thoroughly enjoy reading others’ blogs and find myself getting hooked if someone is especially thoughtful, insightful, or just entertaining. Even if I never am any of those things for anyone else, I might just find something significant in myself in the process.

9/9/09. Seems like a good day to start a new journey….


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