Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gift of Gifts

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Funniest 2 Year Old:  Vera
Cutest Tax Deduction:  Lydia (born Apr 15th)
Craziest/Most Loved Dog:  Marlow
Best Scenery:  Rocky Mtn. Ntl. Park
Longest Running House Project:  Laundry Room cabinets
Most Listened To Album:  Josh Garrels,
"Love &War & The Sea In Between"
Most Comforting Weeknight Activity:  "Parenthood" on Netflix
with fresh popcorn
Best Description of God's Love: 
"Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever"
(The Jesus Storybook Bible)

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Progression of a Quiet Time

Quiet Time:  a 'Christianese' term for a time set aside reading the Bible, praying, and listening to God; being quiet in His presence so that we can hear from Him.

I try to have a QT every day.  Why?  Because it's a moment focusing simply on the relationship I have with my Creator.  It centers me.  It reminds me of Whose I am and who I am.  When my life is in order, I usually get up early before the kids in the morning to do it.  When my life is not in order (which is most of the time), I squeeze it in during nap time or during breakfast, doing it in front of the girls while they eat.  It looks different every day.  Some times I just read, just write, just pray, or am just quiet before Him.

Last Monday I spent it soaking in the lyrics of the Christmas song, O Holy Night.  Some powerful lines that popped out to me:  The weary soul rejoices.  His law is love.  His Gospel is peace.  In His name all oppression shall cease.

I then moved on to study the lyrics of my all-time favorite hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.  What makes it my favorite is the story behind the words.  Have you read about it?

The gist is that the writer endured many trials.  His 4-year old son died of Scarlet fever.  His heavily invested real estate properties were completely destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.  His wife and four daughters set sail on a ship that collided with another, resulting in the death of his girls.  He received a telegram from his wife that said, "Saved alone."  Upon hearing this news, his heart cried out and he penned the powerfully written song.  The first verse is amazing, considering it was the ocean waters and storm that overtook his daughters. 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul. 

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Pretty incredible, right?  No matter life's circumstances, I want the echo of my heart to be "Praise the Lord, O my soul." (Ps. 146:1)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making It Stretch

Chris and I each get $30 a week for our personal spending money.  Anything that does not fit it the categories of groceries and gas has to be purchased using our weekly cash.  Some weeks it's easier than others to make it last through Friday.  Other weeks it's more difficult.  It is Wednesday and my money is already gone.  Here's how I spent it.

$2.50     French Press coffee at Thunderbird Coffee
$2.15     oatmeal at Whole Foods
$5.00     Christmas gift
$7.82     stuff at Home Depot (supplying my Pinterest addiction)
$13.00   jeans at Old Navy (I had a Groupon and store credit in addition)

Considering I've got Thursday and Friday yet, I'll depend on the coinage in my change purse if I need anything.  Most weeks I think it's a fun challenge to stay within our means.  But I could do a better job and especially need a boost this time of year when spending comes so easily.
Anyone else live on a budget?  Love?  Hate?

Monday, December 12, 2011

There's Some Impressive Lights In Our Hood

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You've Got Mail

It's true.  Sometimes I am too lazy and too cheap to go to a store to find real toys for my kids.  But hey, it makes their imagination work harder, right?  :)  And look how happy she is--not tainted in the slightest.  What comes to my mailbox as junk mail is treasure to my 2 year old.  She loves to go get the mail and if her name is on it, then that's more mommy points for me.  She rips it up and looks through it with concentration, then has a ball pretending some more that someone sent her mail.  Sweet, gullible thing.  And yes, that's my baby in the background ingesting some of Vera's "mail."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What It Looks Like When I Am Wanting To Be Irresponsible

Chris walks in the door and these are his observations:

Vera is watching the Sesame Street credits roll (for who knows how long).
There is a humongous dough pile that has risen 3x it's size sitting on the counter in a bowl.
There are unpacked groceries still sitting in the bags all over the kitchen floor.
The trash is smelly and needs taken out.

And I am on the computer looking at shoes online.

Friday, December 09, 2011

And I'm Imperfectly Ok With It

Under no circumstances do I want you to come to this blog, read it, and leave with the sense that I have my act together.  Despite the crafting kicks I get on, staying up way too late or the occasional organized weekly menus, I don’t have my act together.  My life is far from perfect.  You don't need all the deets, but trust me.  I just follow a good God who gets me through it all.

I was perusing pictures of spray painted lamp stands last week because I am considering changing the color of the ones in our bedroom.  I came across a picture of a nightstand and I noticed how unrealistically perfect and dull it was.  Three things were on it.  Something fancy made by Steve Jobs, something that probably smelled like roses in heaven, and a perfectly placed designer magazine.  Perfect layered on perfect, with a dash of perfect.  I'm pretty sure my nightstand is a dusty clutter of books that I’m currently ignoring.   There's a baby monitor and water marks and used tissues.

While we're there, you should also know that I have to put my phone in the trunk of my car while driving to keep myself from texting and driving.  Every time I've done it, what goes through my head is, Carey!  You have your precious babies in the car with you.  What are you thinking?  Put the phone away!  Yet for whatever reason, I still do it.

There's visible dog hair on my carpet.  I let my anger get to me.  My trash smells like poop.  Hubs and I get in fights.  My kid's finger nails are dirty.  I haven't brushed my teeth yet today and it's nearing 2 o'clock.  That's barely scratching the surface and only the stuff that's blog-appropriate to share.  I don't have it all together, folks.

Embracing the Scarf

I have several scarves in my closet, most of which were given to me as gifts.  They are beautiful and I like the concept of wearing one, but I'm never sure how to do it without feeling a little awkward.  My goal this season has been to wear one once a week.  I've consulted this guide more than once to give me a boost of confidence in how I should wear them.
Is there an article of clothing that you own that makes you feel a little awkward?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Tub Time

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Merry Christmas To Me

It was my goal this year to make as many people's Christmas gifts as possible.  I have been mostly successful, even for my difficult-to-buy-for-hubby, and it has been really fun.  I stay up late a couple nights a week for hours while everyone in my house is sleeping.  It is energizing to work by myself on projects and not be needed by anyone.  I have had piles of 'ingredients,' if you will, of stuff to complete these projects.  They had been mounding and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I promised myself I wasn't going to start anything new until all of my started on things were finished.  One of those things was this pillow that I made for myself.  Well, for our bed, actually.  It needed some kind of personalization.  West Lafayette, Indiana is where Chris and I met, fell in love, and got married.  Needless to say, it will always be a special place to the both of us.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Why I Run {This Is Church}

When picking up the race packet at the Expo on Saturday, I found a booth that was asking people to write down their reason that they run and say it in front of a camera for the news.  Why do I run?  That seemed like such a deep question to answer so quickly.  There are so many reasons.  I have to pick just one?  Because I was with a friend and we were headed out, I wrote down the first one that came to mind, but I've been camping out on this question all weekend.

Yes, one reason I run is to set an example of a healthy, active lifestyle and be a role model for my daughters.  If momma is healthy and happy, then that's a good recipe for teaching the daughters to be so, right?  I want them to grow up thinking it is normal and fun be physically active.  I want them to not be afraid to get dirty and sweat hard.  I want them to enjoy moving and exercise.  I don't want it to be a rigid, legalistic thing but more so something that is innately ingrained in how they live their lives.  They don't write "exercise" on their calendars, but instead head out for a run in between homework and TV because it matters to them and makes them feel alive and good.

But there are other reasons, too.

One thing I love about running is that it's just me and the road.  There is no one helping me or hindering me.  I've* got to come up with the strength and drive to do it.

It is the best mental release I've found.  With music or without, I zone out from mommy-hood, life's problems, and all other worries.  It gives me emotional balance.

I love that I don't have to watch what I eat.  It's worth it for that alone.

It makes me feel strong, empowered, and motivated in life.

It really feels good to know that I am taking care of my heart, lungs, and muscles.

When I am out on a run, I often get to a place where it just feels holy.  I don't have any other explanation except that I feel that it honors God.  Perhaps it's tapping into the way He created humanity to be; physically using our bodies and doing hard work.  When I am pushing myself and sweating, I often tell Him "Thank You, God, for creating my body to work hard."  I love experiencing a life opposite of laziness.  It makes me feel alive.  And it makes me feel closer to God.  There's something about the stillness when it's just me and the road.  Using my body in this way, I have experienced worship on a whole new level, and on those runs, I feel, this is church.

Christ in me, cuz really, I'm nothing without Him.

My Second Half Marathon

This was by far my most fun race yet!  It couldn't have been more perfect than running with a friend that I've known since middle school!  Stephanie just moved outside of Dallas this year so it made perfect sense for us to run The Dallas White Rock Half Marathon together.  We kept the pace with each other pretty well and made the time go by fast by being in conversation the whole time.  It was a blast!

Here's a quick recap (so I can remember in the future more than anything else):

The weather was awful!  It was pouring down rain and we were drenched the entire time.  Our feet were soaking wet from all the puddles and nothing was dry on us.  It was so cold, too.  The temps were in the high 30s, which is freezing in Texas.  I started off with a poncho, over-sized jacket, gloves, ear warmers, and then two layers of shirts.  By the middle of the race, I was warm enough to shed the poncho and jacket and gloves.  Though the conditions were unideal, it didn't put much of a damper on our moods.  We were excited to run.

That morning I slept through my alarm clock (of course), but woke up in the nick of time to throw on my clothes, eat some toast with peanut butter, do my pre-race dump, down a couple glasses of water and head out the door.  Stephanie and I had planned a rendezvous point to meet up in downtown Dallas before heading to the race.

Miles 1-5 went by like a blur.  We talked the entire time and were laughing at funny things we saw.

Mile 6:  I got emotional seeing a quadruple amputee running the race alongside me and everyone else.  It was so inspiring and I thought, If they can do this, I certainly can, too.  I also got a text at this point from a friend who took a picture of her and her daughter holding up a sign, rooting me on, from Austin!  It was so thoughtful and meant so much to me since no one was at the race cheering for me.  I ran with my phone and was able to read other texts I'd received from friends while running.  It was so encouraging!

Miles 7-9 were still on the easy scale.  I was actually really surprised by how manageable, enjoyable, and easy it was at this point.  I decided to kick it into gear and run faster.  I was still feeling really great and had tons of energy.  I put in my ear buds to zone out and listened to music.  I found the 2:10 pacer and kept up with him.  Whenever there were people cheering on the side, I'd hold my hand out to get some high fives from strangers.

Miles 10-12:  I was ready to start seeing mile markers by this point.  More than anything else, it started being a mental battle.  I knew I could do it but really wanted to beat my previous time, so I tapped into my reserve of mental power and busted it out.  At this point, I started focusing on my breathing and elongated my stride.

Miles 12-13:  Ready to get 'er done and still felt strong and optimistic.  Felt like I could keep going a few more miles, but was glad to see the Finish Line.  My final time was 2:16 which was 20 minutes faster than my last half marathon, so I was pleased.  Looking back, I think I could have finished in less than 2:10 if I'd increased my speed earlier.  Good to know for next time, I guess.

Once through the Finish Line, I slowed to a brisk walk to allow my heart rate to come down.  I walked as far as I could until the masses of people started piling up.  I found a spot to stretch until I met up with Stephanie.  After we had caught our breath and had a moment to rest, we both commented how we felt like we could run a few more miles at that point.  Not that we were going to.  :)

We were given heat sheets to keep us warm and were stupid to let those go after we'd warmed up inside because the walk from the pavilion to the car was miserable.  We were so.incredibly.cold. Our lips were blue, were were shaking, and we wanted to fall on the ground and cry in a fetal position.  The race started and ended on the Texas State Fair grounds, so you can imagine how many parking lots they have and how far we had to walk to get back.

All in all, a fantastic race which I would do again in a heartbeat.  I've caught the running bug, ya'll.  Today I am feeling pretty well and not too sore.  Last night I felt like someone had drilled a screw into the middle of both knee caps, but a good night's rest did me good.