Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Tuesday Confession

One time, I ate 4 pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in one week.
Ok, so it was last week.
Half-baked. The Tonight Dough. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
I have no regrets.
In fact, last night I was bemoaning the fact that there was none left in the freezer.
I would have killed for some more Half-baked.
It's truly a miracle I'm not 400 pounds.

Do you have any culinary weaknesses?
I would ask for tips on how to overcome them, but I don't feel even a little bit bad about eating all that ice cream last week.
What's your favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Casual Fridays

Ok, so apparently the latest trend floating around the interwebs is to choose three fictional characters that you feel depict you in some way or other, post up their pics, and explain yourself. My brother and sister(in-law) both did it, and I've decided to give it a go myself. Here goes nothing.

First up: Belle from Beauty and the Beast
Because she and I share a love for reading, we don't settle for the provincial life, and we both have dads that many probably consider a little "out there" but we love them fiercely and defend them to the grave.

Next: Anne of Green Gables
Because, once again, I share a love of literature with Anne Shirley, we both live in our own little worlds a lot of the time (#introvertsunite), and we will bust a slate over a boy's head if he be gettin' too cray.

And finally: DJ Tanner from Full House
Because we will always be the big sister (ergo, IN CHARGE), we hate to let Dad down, and we both have no problem chopping our hair short with absolutely no warning. 

How did I do? Which fictional characters do you think resemble me? Which fictional characters resemble you

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"What a real woman wants is a real man. What a real man wants is a real woman.
It is masculinity that appeals to a woman. It is femininity that appeals to a man.
The more womanly you are, the more manly your husband will want to be."

~from Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot~

Monday, September 19, 2016

Keep Moving

Our adoption is over. We didn't get a referral. We won't be bringing any children home from Ethiopia. It hasn't gone at all the way we expected it to. And surprisingly, we are full of peace and joy. I went back and forth with myself over whether I wanted to write about this publicly or not, but once again, reading Elisabeth Elliot's writing has helped me sort through a lot of my emotions and thoughts about the end of our adoption. 

You see, we knew from the very beginning that we were stepping into this process on faith. We knew very well that we might make it to the other side with no child to show for it. Or at least we said we knew it. I don't think I ever really believed we wouldn't be parents when everything was said and done. But God knew. 

We've had people ask us why, if we thought this was God's will for us, are we not immediately pursuing adoption from some other avenue or why don't we continue to wait it out. Those are certainly valid questions, and they aren't easy to answer. When I got to pages 30 and 31 of Let Me Be A Woman, I found that Elisabeth Elliot was able to start to verbalize some of the things I've been learning through this long, sometimes hard, journey:
"The truth is that none of us knows the will of God for his life. I say for his life--for the promise is 'as thou goest step by step I will open up the way before thee.' He gives us enough light for today, enough strength for one day at a time, enough manna, our 'daily' bread. And the life of faith is a journey from Point A to Point B, from Point B to Point C, as the people of Israel 'set out and encamped in Oboth. And they set out from Oboth and encamped at Iyeabarim, in the wilderness...From there they set out and encamped on the other side of the Arnon...and from there they continued to Beer...and from the wilderness they went on to Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley lying in the region of Moab.' So far as we know, nothing happened in these places. Oboth, Iyeabarim, Arnon, Beer, Mattanah, Nahaliel, Bamoth mean nothing to us. That immense crowd just kept moving. They traveled and they stopped and they made camp and packed up again and traveled some more and made another camp. They complained. There were so many complaints that even Moses, who was a very meek man, could hardly stand the sight of these whom God had called him to lead. But all the time God was with them, leading them, protecting them, hearing their cries, goading and guiding them, knowing where they were going and what His purposes were for them and He never left them. It is not difficult when you read the whole story of God's deliverance of Israel to see how each separate incident fits into a pattern for good. We have perspective that those miserable wanderers didn't have. But it should help us to trust their God. The stages of their journey, dull and eventless as most of them were, were each a necessary part of the movement toward the fulfillment of the promise...The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived--not always looked forward to as though the 'real' living were around the next corner."
The truth is, I don't know why God had us go through this experience to not end up with a child from Ethiopia. I do know that we trusted Him to do His will in our family as we started the process to adopt. And I do know that we are continuing to trust Him to do His will in our family now that our adoption is over. I'm not sure if that means we will try to adopt again in the future. I'm not sure if that means we will have children biologically. I'm not sure if God will ever give us children. He hasn't promised us that.

What I am sure of is that His plan is perfect, and I have learned in an even deeper, more intimate and personal way that I completely trust Him and agree with whatever His plan is for our family. He has given me peace and joy that I can't explain or even understand myself. 

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. It's really true. 

To wrap this up, let me conclude with another excerpt from Let Me Be A Woman in which Elisabeth Elliot is talking about something her husband Jim Elliot wrote to her in a letter:
"'Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living,' he wrote to me, and those words have helped me very often since. We accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it."
Oh that I would live with a thankful heart in every circumstance. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Casual Fridays

Today I'm sharing two videos that the hubs and I made. I watched them earlier this week, and they make me happy so hashtag throwback Friday or whatever you kids are calling it these days. Enjoy!

Our cover of One-Eyed Cat by Jenny & Tyler
We made this right before we got engaged. Sweet times.

Our cover of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
We like to be as silly as possible. It keeps life interesting.

Thank you, thank you, you're a beautiful audience. We'll be singing together till we die. Feel free to throw out a request in the comments. I'm not saying we'll do anything about it, but feel free to throw it out there anyway. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"For love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive."
~from Little Men by Louisa May Alcott~

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Tuesday Confession

I loathe unsweet tea.
Like, I completely despise it.
If you come to my house and I offer you tea, it goes without saying that I mean sweet tea.
And not just "sweet" but kick-you-in-the-mouth, this-might-give-you-diabetes, two-cups-of-sugar-per-gallon sweet.
Recently, I started to steep some tea to make a fresh pitcher and realized we were almost out of sugar.
I still made the pitcher but yesterday I dumped it because who drinks that?!
Is that too wasteful?
Do you like unsweet tea?
If you do, why?


Monday, September 12, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Let Me Be A Woman

A couple Fridays ago, I mentioned I was reading this book and hoping to get a recap up soon. Well, here it is, though it's coming to you a bit later than I originally intended. Nevermind all that though, let's just get to it.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote Let Me Be A Woman to her daughter Valerie during Valerie's engagement. The book is made up of 49 letters or notes to Valerie and the notes begin with the very creation of woman and then move through the different stages a woman's life may go though such as singleness, marriage, motherhood, and widowhood. And since Elisabeth Elliot herself has lived through all of these stages, she is uniquely qualified to write about them. Mrs. Elliot breaks down what it means to be a woman from a Biblical worldview.

In fact, the first words you come across when you open this book are, "In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her."

Now, you can probably imagine how controversial a book like this might be. I mean, when you're saying things like...
"The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird--up, away from the world, into the sky, into freedom--so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling--wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God."
"Because [submission] is the thing asked of her by her Creator, it is the thing which assures her of fulfillment."
"And it is the will of God that woman be subordinate to man in marriage. Marriage is used in the Old Testament to express the relation between God and His covenant people and in the New Testament between Christ and the Church. No effort to keep up with the times, to conform to modern social movements or personality cults authorizes us to invert this order. Tremendous heavenly truths are set forth in a wife's subjection to her husband, and the use of this metaphor in the Bible cannot be accidental." 
...people tend to bristle. We don't like to be reminded of our limitations. We don't like hearing that God asks us to be submissive--subordinate even--in marriage. And we certainly don't want to hear that God created woman for man. Surely we've progressed in our thinking, right? We've come a long way since Elisabeth Elliot wrote this, and we've thrown off the repression and inhibitions we've been burdened with for centuries.

The thing is, Elisabeth Elliot wrote and published this book 40 years ago in 1976 at the height of the strong feminist movement that swept the country during the 70s and 80s. It was just as controversial then as it is now. There is nothing new under the sun. But the fact of the matter is: the Bible is always true. What God has to say about womanhood is always right. He created woman, and He made the rules about what it means to be a woman. Those rules haven't changed, and if you're a Christian with a right view of God, those rules are actually incredibly liberating, stabilizing, and comforting. You can fulfill your feminine role in this world with confidence, self-esteem, and grace. And that's what this book is all about.
"We are not required to somehow 'overcome' our sexuality. We affirm it. We rejoice in it. We seek to be faithful to it as we seek to use it as a gift of God. Unfaithfulness to one's sex is unfaithfulness to everybody, for a woman must be a woman both in her relationship to men and to other women....This faithfulness that I speak of is our answer to the call of God."
"...God has set no traps for us. Quite the contrary. He has summoned us to the only true and full freedom. The woman who defines her liberation as doing what she wants, or not doing what she doesn't want, is, in the first place, evading responsibility. Evasion of responsibility is the mark of immaturity. The Women's Liberation Movement is characterized, it appears, by this very immaturity. While telling themselves that they've come a long way, that they are actually coming of age, they have retreated to a partial humanity, one which refuses to acknowledge the vast significance of the sexual differentiation."
All throughout this book, Mrs. Elliot deals with the themes of self-discipline, accepting limitations, and taking responsibility. Only when we do these things can we experience true freedom and joy. It's the way God made us, and praise Him for it. I truly am thankful for God's design of the sexes, and the more I understand His design, the more joyful I am in my femininity. The war on sexuality that is so rampant in our culture baffles me, and when I look around me, I see a lot of confused, unhappy, bitterly stubborn people who are missing out on the peace and joy God has to offer. It's really heartbreaking.

Obviously, men also have a distinctive Biblical role set forth in Scripture (and it's no easier than a woman's!), but since this book is to women about womanhood, that's what the bulk of it deals with. I really don't understand why women want so badly to assume masculine roles.
"To subject femininity to the criteria of masculinity is as foolish as it would be to judge meat by the standards of potatoes. Meat would fail every test. For women to assume an ersatz masculinity means that they will always lose."
Anyway, brass tacks: I fully agree with everything Elisabeth Elliot says in this book, and I 100% recommend it to any woman in any walk of life. I think it's vital to saturate our minds with truth, even (or maybe especially) when that truth is counter-cultural and goes against everything the world is preaching so loudly at us. Maybe that makes me outdated, old-fashioned, narrow-minded, and repressed, but I don't think so.
"We are called to be women. The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman."
What do you think? Have you read this book? How does the gender war in America make you feel? I know this is a pretty touchy subject, but let's talk about it in the comments. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Casual Fridays this is the best joke I've heard in a long time:

Q: Is your refrigerator running?

A: Because if so I might vote for it.

That's all for today. Have a great weekend and be sure to laugh. Life isn't forever.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Word for Wednesday

"Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us."
~from Little Men by Louisa May Alcott~

Friday, September 2, 2016

Casual Fridays

Well, it's September (what?!) and I'd say it's about time for a proper catch-up and what better way than with a Photo-Prompted Post, amiright? Here's what's been going on lately in no particular order:
First of all, this. This is what I'm dealing with over here. Anytime I'm blogging, reading, cleaning, watching TV, or even going to the bathroom (TMI?) I have these two shadows who apparently think my life should just revolve around them 24/7 and what's the problem with us constantly putting our heads in your lap, Hannah? I love it though. I realize that dogs are not for everyone, but really, why aren't they?! Love my two little buddies and this will not be the only picture of them in today's post. Duh.
Look at Auntie Hannah's big girl doing schoolwork. I can't even believe she's old enough, but this is officially her first year of school, and she is so smart. Every time I see her, she is telling me all the new things she's learned. Pre-K ain't got nothin' on this girl--or her awesome homeschoolin' momma!
And speaking of her momma, we had a big Girls Night Out the other night to celebrate her amazing weight-loss accomplishments. She's working that post-baby body into shape (and looking fabulous, by the way), and what better way to keep that motivation up than to splurge on some cheesecake after going at it hard for 30 days straight. Way to go, Lynds, and just know that I will always be available to blow your healthy eating lifestyle with you when you need to. Because sometimes, you really just need to.
The monsters and I braved Lake Hollingsworth this week. It's the first time we've been back since the Major-Dragging-Me Debacle from the beginning of the summer. I still have a pretty ugly scar from that day, but I'm happy to report that we made it all the way around with no major (get it? Major...) incidents. They're finally done with the construction so we didn't even have to brave any scary orange fencing or anything. And on top of that, the weather was beautiful. I can feel Fall coming.
As you may have noticed, I broke my awesome recap-ing streak this week. I mean, obviously I can't keep that pace up. I'm not trying to read 52 books this year, I'm trying to read 20. So that means we don't get a new recap every single week. But that was a pretty great run (6 weeks in a row!), and it was a little disappointing coming to the end of it. This is the book I'm currently reading, and I'm actually hoping to have a recap up Monday, but no promises. I love Elisabeth Elliot, and this book just makes me love her even more.
I mean, just look at these guys. They're my favorite.
A couple weeks ago, Cody had a work party and we totally went because we're totally grown-ups and grown-ups go to "work functions" with their "colleagues" and what-not. I've noticed around the internet that people are calling this kind of thing "adulting" lately, but I personally have decided that if you're using the word "adulting"--you're doing it wrong. Anyway, the party was super-fun, super-ritzy, and Cody works with some super-cool people. As the trophy wife, it's nice being able to finally put faces with names. (And yes, I did just refer to myself as Cody's trophy wife.)
We had a (kindof) beach day recently, and even though we weren't on the actual beach long enough (it was a crazy day), I loved getting to spend some time with my nieces and sisters. And check out this little blonde beach babe. I love this crazy kid to pieces. We snagged this quick shot together post-beach, pre-lunch. (Yes, we were off the beach before I said, crazy day.)
New Rule: when we finish a 1000-pc puzzle, it gets glued and framed immediately. I mentioned in my last puzzle post that when we first tried to put that middle one together, our niece got to it and it had to go back in the box for a while. Well, it happened again. We had some friends over several weeks ago and their little boy got to our State Plates puzzle (which was completed and waiting to be glued) and took it completely apart and put it in the box of the Noah's ark puzzle. Hence, our New Rule. Thankfully, of the three 1000-pc puzzles we've done since we've been married, the State Plates one is the easiest and after a week or two, I got it out, put it back together, and glued that baby pronto. I'm really loving having them actually up on the wall.
My amazing mommy(in-law) started nursing school this week. We are so proud of her. She is one determined, hard-working woman, and I'm so thankful she's my husband's mother. She raised him well, and she still continues to set an excellent example for all of her children and their spouses. We love you, Mommy!
Look at this baby, y'all. Just look at her! I can't even with that smile, and apparently, she started rolling over this week. I'm feeling very conflicted about her hitting these milestones because my reaction waffles between "yay! she's SuperBaby!" and "stop growing up, Auntie Hannah misses you, Japan is too far away!" It's rough. 
This is the piece I've been working on lately, and let me tell you, it's been kicking my butt. It's an arrangement that blends Blessed Assurance with Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. It's beautiful. Not so much when I'm plucking it out, but it's starting to come together. As much as I'd love to be able to sit down at the piano and be able to just flawlessly play anything you set in front of me, I'm not that good. Practice, practice, practice.
Glamor Shot! Isn't he sweet?

The latest with this pup is that he's been chasing his own tail a lot these days. This isn't something that Colonel ever really did much, and I think it's hilarious. He keeps us laughing.
Oh you guys, I am getting fancy with the PhotoGrid app. Cody and I went to our first Orlando City soccer game on Sunday, and it was fantastic. This was one of Cody's birthday presents, and we had so much fun. We're big soccer people to start with, but the OC fans are insane and that just makes it that much better. We got rained on--completely soaked--but WE WON (2-1) and nothing was bringing our spirits down.
I realize that I haven't given you guys a pedicure update lately. (I also realize that you probably don't care that much about my toes.) But rest assured, I've been giving my feet the TLC they deserve and my most recent pedi attempt has been the most successful one in a long time. No smudges!

Are you so done with this post? Have any of you even made it this far? One more photo to wrap it all up:
Have an awesome weekend and fill me in on what's been up in your life lately down in the comments!