Monday, September 28, 2009

Always something new...

As noted a couple posts ago, it's been a year since J and I married and therefore, a year since I moved up here. We would both readily admit that this year hasn't been an easy year. However, we would both admit just as readily, that many--if not all--of the challenges that we've encountered have brought us closer together. I'd say that's a good thing.
One significant frustration this year has been church. Not long after J moved here he started attending a church (granted he was still driving back on many weekends to visit me and so attended only a couple times a month) and when we got married I joined him in going. After nearly a year in the church, we realized that things just weren't right, for reasons I won't delve into here. So, in mid-June we made the difficult decision to spend some time looking around for a new church.
Okay, anyone that knows me very well, knows that church-hunting is indeed one of my least favorite activities! So, I got a little (okay, a lot!) nervous. Just the prospect of visiting churches stresses me out and makes me go completely into my shy-shell (unfortunately easily done in new situations).
** [As an aside, you'd think at 27 I'd be able to get over this shyness, but I haven't found that solid footing yet. And let me tell you, after moving to a new city to live in a new life situation, starting 3 jobs, visiting multiple churches, etc., this year has indeed tested my abilities of adaptation. Maybe I'm a smidgen better? If so, it's most often because Jeremy is by my side. I still internally quiver in fearful anticipation of new places, people, things (all nouns, right?!), but he continually encourages to me to step out of my comfort zone and let people get to know me. I do tell him that I've pretty much been living outside my comfort zone for some time and he reassures me that he knows this. Okay, done with my long aside...back to the church story.] **
On top of the general nervousness I experienced, the main people in our area that I was acquainted with were the people I went to church with. It was a very lonely feeling to strike out once again into the world of meeting people and trying to make connections and build a community here in a city that we often feel very disconnected from. We have remained good friends with one couple, we just don't see them as frequently. But still, it's nice to know you've actually known someone for a year, instead of just a few weeks!
To make a rather long story short, we aren't completely settled, but we have found a church we think we'll stick with. We've been warmly welcomed by several and have started attending a weekly home group. The whole starting over is slow going, but regardless, it's a start. And for that, Jeremy and I are both very grateful to see God at work.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Have I told you about the most amazing burger I ate last weekend? I haven't? Well, you really must hear.
Since I failed to take a photo, this is vaguely what it looked like in words:

Top bun
Crispy onions
Grape tomato jam
Gorgonzola cheese
Beef patty
Avocado mayo
Bottom bun

Delicious! The tomato jam gave a sweet edge, mixed with the pungent of the cheese, and the saltiness of everything else. Mmm, wish I could eat it again!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I think eggplant is squeaky. When you eat it, the skin squeaks against your teeth. I don't like that. Therefore, I'm not really fond of eggplant. However, one of Jeremy's co-workers gave us a beautiful little eggplant and I felt compelled to try some dish with it, despite my misgivings about eating squeaky food.

Tuesday night I made an eggplant and red lentil sauce which I served over boiled, buttered potatoes. You know what? It was tasty! The flavor was nice, the texture and look, could be off-putting to some, but overall it was a success. I think part of the reason I liked it, is that the recipe called for the eggplant to be peeled. Aha, squeakiness resolved. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Year

A year ago today Jeremy and I exchanged vows and became husband and wife.


We honeymooned in Saugatuck, MI, where one afternoon we did this...

A year later we returned for a weekend to celebrate a year of life together. And one evening we did this...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Said to me today...

woman: "Ain't you never seen a black person before?"
me: "What?"
woman: "Is that why you're staring?"

I'm left flabbergasted because this is the first moment I actually laid eyes on the woman. She really had her hackles up about something. I felt badly she thought I was staring. I wanted to respond indignantly and tell her I've lived in Chicago and Indianapolis and I've seen, talked to, worked with, befriended many black people. However, this would have come across as quite defensive. So, I let well enough alone and didn't look at her again.

My co-worker then watched her walk out with what we think were stolen cassette tapes from our book sale area. Just a very weird moment for me which came at the end of a very long, tiring day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Encouragement along the journey.

I've been a fairly consistent journaler for close to 10 years. I don't hold myself to a writing schedule, but instead, write when I need to or want to. It takes me anywhere from a year to two years to fill a journal. I consider the notebooks very personal and wouldn't want to pass them off to be read at some one's leisure. When I don't feel like talking, these pages are my ears to hear my joys, sorrows, frustrations, and conundrums; a place to keep my memories; sometimes even a place to find clarity.
For the past several journals I've chosen a verse or verses to write in the front cover to serve as a reminder of who I am and what Christ has done for me. Sometimes they are words to encourage during a particular phase in life.
Last week I finished up one journal and pulled out the next notebook to be filled. I pondered what verse I wanted to put in the cover. At church on Sunday, I heard/read these words and knew that they needed to serve as the "theme" verses.
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19
Spiritually I've been feeling a bit in a dry spell and I see these verses as an encouragement and reminder of the awesome work of God. He is our Creator and Sustainer. Without Him, we are nothing. What a wonderful image to "be filled up to all the fullness of God." I want that! So, this is a prayer for myself and a mile-marker at the start of another journal that will be filled with the life lessons of a girl striving to grow more like Christ through life's ups and downs.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Brief reviews...

Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances are the three short novels in a series by Alexander McCall Smith. Each book features the ridiculous troubles of Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, a noted romance philologist and the famed author of the book Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Items of little consequence take on great importance to Dr. von Igelfeld who thinks much more highly of himself than his colleagues or really anyone else. The dry humor employed by McCall Smith wouldn't be accessible to just any reader. However, I did find myself chuckling at the antics of von Igelfeld, especially when following his train of thought which always held himself in highest regard. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs was probably my favorite with the very memorable scene where von Igelfeld is confused with a surgical veterinarian and the result leaves a little sausage dog nearly legless.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer was definitely a more compelling read than Twilight (somehow I couldn't get myself into the whole Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle). This science fiction book is mostly the story of a girl and the people she lives with fighting to help her take back control of her body from an invasive host that lives inside (these hosts are taking over the world). Overall I enjoyed the book. Meyer did a good job of making me feel the urgency of the characters. In general, my big complaint about Meyer's writing is that she is very repetitious. She doesn't trust her readers to remember what they've read several chapters before. Therefore, her books aren't nearly as clean and succinct as they could be. I don't mind reading a 500 page book if that's how long it takes to tell a good story. For Meyer's stories, that's just not the case.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reading Round-up 2

Well, it's that time again. Another third of 2009 has passed, so I'm reporting in with my reading thus far. May 1 I posted about my first 4 months of reading in which I achieved a little over a third of my yearly reading goal (20 out of 52). I've read like crazy this summer and discovered some treasures along the way.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
The Duggar's: 20 and Counting (yes I know, silly, but I was curious!)
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
The Seance by John Harwood
Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The Love of God by Oswald Chambers
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Nursery Crimes by Ayelet Waldman
Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick
Now You're Speaking My Language by Gary Chapman
The Big Nap by Ayelet Waldman
Protuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
Note to Self by Samara O'Shea
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
April and Oliver by Tess Callahan
A Broom of One's Own by Nancy Peacock
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee
For the Love of Letters by Samara O'Shea
A Playdate With Death by Ayelet Waldman
The Wild Trees by Richard Preston (audio book)
Songs of the Humpback Whales by Jodi Picoult
Death Gets a Time Out by Ayelet Waldman
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (audio book)
Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet
The Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

By my count, that's 39 more books bringing me to 59! I'm excited to have reached my goal already since I've fallen short the last several years. I know I'll keep reading some new books this fall, but I'm hoping to spend some time re-reading books I've loved in the past, as well as reading books from my own library (my shelves have been seriously neglected since I started working at the library).
I've thoroughly enjoyed reading some mysteries this summer--Ayelet Waldman, Carola Dunn, Alan Bradley--and imagine I'll pick up a few more before the year is out.
Some favorites from the list are The Elegance of the Hedgehog (noted in a brief review I wrote a couple months back), Now You're Speaking My Language (very insightful, challenging and encouraging book about communication in marriage), The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton, A Homemade Life, and The School of Essential Ingredients.
New Moon is the worst book I read. Seriously, I just couldn't do the Twilight series. I tried. I read the first two and decided it was a complete waste of my time (sorry to all the Twilight fans...I don't know how you do it!).
If there is any book on my list you'd like a further review of, let me know.
Have you been reading anything great? I'm always up for recommendations.
Happy Reading, Friends!
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