Monday, December 31, 2012

2012--Year in Review

If there is anyone still out there that thinks about reading my blog, then you are well aware that 2012 was far from a stellar blogging year--less than 15 posts is pretty miserable, actually.

2012 was, in fact, one of the hardest years I've experienced yet.

It went something like this..
January my beloved Grandma C. passed away quite unexpectedly (even though she was nearly 92, it was still unexpected).
March I interviewed for a new full-time position at my workplace.
April I started my new job in the children's department at the library and loved it--my favorite job to date, I loved just about everything about it, including the explosion of brain creativity I experienced as I planned crafts and programs.
May my beloved Grandpa C. passed away, after 4 very long months of missing Grandma (just shy of his 92nd birthday as well).
June Jeremy interviewed for a new job in the city we'd hoped to return to--the place we both still consider home, near most of our family--but he wasn't selected.
July we took a camping vacation up into Traverse City, MI. Three days before our departure date, Jeremy got a call requesting a phone interview the following week--smack dab in the middle of our anticipated, restful vacation. Phone interview = successful. Restful vacation = unsuccessful.
Somewhere along in here my Grandma J. fell and fractured her neck.
August Jeremy flew out for an in-person interview with the same library system. I attended my last yoga class with my favorite instructor of 2 years--though at the time I didn't know it was my last class.
September I was involved in a hit and run accident with a semi--thankfully I was unharmed and my car, while scraped and dented, was fully functional after a new set of tires. And they eventually tracked down the driver, who'd gone to Canada, and his insurance covered everything
Jeremy was offered a job. We put in our 2-weeks notice with our current jobs.
We flew out to find an apartment over our months-ago-planned and anticipated restful 4th anniversary vacation. Apartment hunting = successful. Restful anniversary vacation = unsuccessful.
Another car accident, this one minor and involving Jeremy.
Within 3 weeks we'd packed up and were moving a 1000 miles across country.
October-December has been filled with settling in to a whole new state, new job, new apartment, church-hunting, and all that moving entails. I celebrated a birthday. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas here. We still haven't found a church, or really any social outlets. Additionally, somewhere along the way my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

In the midst of this monumental year, I've read numerous books (which perhaps I'll be inspired to finish cataloging here as I left off about 1/3 of the way through the year), though the count is way down from last year. I've cooked numerous meals, though only a handful of dishes were featured on the cooking blog I share with my sister--that's fizzled, momentarily at least, as well. And I found out there would be an addition of a new niece and a new nephew in 2013.

2012 has sort of kicked my butt in many ways. However, I've seen God at work too and I know that's because I've needed to throw myself at His feet asking for guidance so very many times. He has been close. Earlier in the year I read Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and right now I'm just about to finish up Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. Both books have been convicting and encouraging reads to focus my heart and mind on Christ Jesus because He is my all in all.

As 2011 turned into 2012 I remember thinking/hoping that 2012 would be a better year. It didn't turn out remotely how I expected. So, I'm taking away any pre-conceived expectations for 2013 because I have no idea what this year will bring. What I do know is that God will be here as my source of peace and strength and hope.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Meaning of Marriage

Marriage has been on my mind recently in part because Thursday is my fourth anniversary! And while I've grown in my understanding of marriage and in my role as a wife over these four years, there is still so very much I do not know. Each year has its own personality bringing joys and challenges (and there are phases where one seems to outweigh the other!). I have never been stretched as much or learned so much about myself. Marriage is a rather mysterious union. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful, I love my husband more today than I did at our wedding! But marriage is also incredibly hard work as it requires the dedication, love, and harmony of two sinful people. It is my hope that I always desire to continue to grow and learn about marriage and being a godly wife. To that end, each year I try to read at last one book about Christian marriage, right now I am reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Only three chapters in, I've already found much food for thought.

While reading last night about the need for selflessness, Keller wrote this: The Christian principle that needs to be at work is Spirit-generated selflessness—not thinking less of yourself or more of yourself but thinking of yourself less.

Further on, he discussed the life-changing possibilities of being completely immersed in the knowledge and work of Jesus. And while this is not marriage specific, I found the following paragraphs insightful. They also created in me a desire to know Jesus more deeply!
What, then, would the effect be if we were to dive even more deeply into Jesus’s teaching and life and work? What if we were to be so immersed in his promises and summonses, his counsels and encouragements, that they dominated our inner life, capturing our imagination, and simply bubbled out spontaneously when we faced some challenge? How would we live if we instinctively, almost unconsciously, knew Jesus’s mind and heart regarding things that confronted us? When you received criticism, you would never be crushed, because Jesus’s love and acceptance of you is so deeply “in there.” When you gave criticism, you would be gentle and patient, because your whole inner world would be saturated by a sense of Jesus’s loving patience and gentleness with you.

This does not mean that ever time you are criticized you are consciously, deliberately thinking, “What does Jesus have to say about this?” You won’t have to think it out like that, because if Jesus and his Word are so deeply in there, they will just fortify you, lifting you up. They will be part of you. You look at yourself through his eyes; you look at the world through his eyes. It becomes the cast of your whole mind.

This does not happen overnight, of course. It takes years of reflection. It requires disciplined prayer, Bible study and reading, innumerable conversations with friends, and dynamic congregational worship. But unlike learning other thinkers or authors, Jesus’s Spirit can come and live within you and spiritually illuminate your heart, so that his gospel becomes glorious in your sight. Then the gospel “dwells in you hearts richly” (Colossians 3:16), and we find the power to serve, to give and take criticism well, to not expect our spouse or our marriage to meet all our needs and heal all our hurts.

I hope perhaps you too might find these thoughts encouraging!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I just finished reading 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. My sister recommended the book a few months back and courtesy of the library, I finally got around to it this weekend. The book follows Hatmaker's 7 month social experiment of ridding her life of excess. She chose 7 categories to target--food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, stress--and created specific ground rules for each 30-day segment. It's a thought provoking read and I think holds an important message in our society of excess. I didn't come away from the book wanting to engage in the same social experiment that Hatmaker involved herself in and I didn't come away riddled with guilt; however, I did come away pondering how I can be a better steward of this world and this body that God has created.

One particular paragraph stood out to me. It really isn't the crux of the book, but it was an important reminder and encouragement for me right now. I thought I'd share it as it might be a particular encouragement to you as well.

Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn't for us at all, but for another. We don't know how God holds the kingdom in balance or why He moves a chess piece at a crucial time; we might never see the results of His sovereignty. But we can trust Him when He says press on, cling to hope, stay the course. He is always at work, even if the entire thread is hidden. I might just be one shade of one color of one strand, but I'm a part of an elaborate tapestry that goes beyond my perception.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Pleasures

A few things I've taken particular enjoyment in of late...

I've been reveling in big bowls of summer fruit. Particularly the cherries, peaches, and black raspberries from my local CSA share. As well as the blueberries I picked from a nearby organic blueberry farm. I think I'll be heading out there at least once more before the close of the season.

Iced Coffee
I'm a fan of iced coffee. I cold brew it myself so I can have it at whim (decaf, in case you're wondering). But, I discovered something good/bad. :) Panera sells iced coffee ($1.81 for a medium and if you're staying there, it's free refills) and beside the dispenser is cream and vanilla or hazelnut syrup if you want to jazz up your coffee for "free." I'll continue to make my own iced coffee, but I'll be treating myself to fancy iced coffee every once in awhile.

Several years ago, during my junior year of college, I fell in love with the musical group Keane. I loved their piano-driven rock and their first album Hopes and Fears is still one of my favorite CDs. Their second album Under the Iron Sea was also fabulous. Then they released a couple not my favorite albums. So, with hesitant optimism, I looked forward to the release of their newest album, Strangeland.  While nothing will ever quite be Hopes and Fears, I am so pleased that Strangeland is a return to the group's roots. I've been listening to the CD for several days now on my commute to work and I have yet to tire of it. If you've not tried out the music of Keane yet, check your local library and give them a listen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I don't consider myself much of a poet. But, in my grieving last week at the loss of Grandpa, just 4 months after the loss of Grandma, I found myself penning a poem. This is part of my healing. Part of my learning to say, "Goodbye."

This is my small tribute to Grandpa and Grandma.

Saying Goodbye

As I pass your still form,
I look into your face
and whisper a goodbye.

The word—so meager—sticks
in the hollowness of my stomach
and in the lump in my throat.

Tears run rivers of paltry
down my cheeks,
my neck.

No word can encompass
the thirty years of love-filled
how are yous?

Later, I stroll through what remains
trailing my fingers over hills of
dishes, wallets, tools, shoes.
Ninety years of possessions collected,
chaotic and out-of-place.
So unlike how you lived, unlike even
how you died.

Memories, thick as smoke, rise
from the touch of a kitchen cabinet door,
from the scroll of penmanship across
recipe cards and a well-thumbed copy of Hoyle’s,
from a glance at the ever-vigilant Grandfather clock,
from a seat at the table around which so many meals
began with Father, we pause just now…

You are here,
sort of.

I am told to find a token,
a memory.

I don’t want a thing.
I want you.
If I take of what is left,
I acknowledge you are not.

Yet, I take to help say goodbye.

I lift a sewing machine—a mere toy—
crafted by your own hands
and caress the smooth two-toned wood
seamlessly joined as one.
In this small piece I see
the couple you were and the family you built.
With each twist of the knob,
I watch the threaded needle bob
up, down,
up, down,
sewing a rhythmic memory of your life—
dedication, precision, family, laughter, faith, hope, love.

And as I tuck the sewing machine beneath my arm,
I remember our eternity and how
saying goodbye to you today
is an invitation to
say hello again
some other day
in glory.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What I've Been Reading: March/April Edition

I know we're nearly halfway through May already, but I thought I'd bring you my March/April reading list. January came and went and for the first time in several years I didn't set myself any particular reading goals for the year. Instead, I've read whatever has caught my fancy. For this year, it's been a good decision, though I hope to create goals for myself again. But for now, I'm enjoying reading at whim.

I am never at a loss for books. In fact, between work and home I'm constantly surrounded by them. I have a never decreasing stack of books I'm either perusing for information (usually health and exercise related or cookbooks--I have an addiction to checking out cookbooks from the library!) or reading just for the sheer pleasure.

For whatever reason, my reading has been dominated by nonfiction in the last few months. I'd like to highlight three particular books. Real Food by Nina Planck is a thought-provoking book asking the reader to consider their food and eating habits. I tend toward being a thinker about food anyway, particularly because of Jeremy's eating needs. But Planck's book caused me to make a few more changes, the biggest being the kind of milk I buy. I now buy my milk from the farmer. Just about the time I read the book, I local farmer began selling his cream-top, grass-fed milk at the farmer's market. It is of course twice as expensive as conventional milk, but it's a price I'm willing to pay. Plus, the milk is delicious!

I was first introduced to the writings of Lauren Winner while in college. She's written several books about her faith and conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity, which I've enjoyed and appreciated. So, I was quite interested in reading her newest book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. This is a different sort of spiritual memoir because Winner is examining and questioning her faith after the death of her mother and the demise of her marriage. While I haven't walked through either of those tragedies, I still found much food for thought. After finishing the book, I decided to re-read Winner's book Mudhouse Sabbath. It was just as good the second time around.

Lastly, while I don't have any children, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pamela Druckerman's book, Bringing Up Bébé. Druckerman is an American raising children in Paris. This book is her exploration of the difference between American and French parenting. It's both interesting and easy to read.

Real Food by Nina Planck
Girl Hunter by Georgia Pelligrini
Scenes From an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine (graphic novel)
Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner
Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Thirst (poems) by Mary Oliver

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA)
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (children's)
A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Ponytail

Today I stopped by the post office and spent $2.12 mailing my ponytail. Late last week I parted with 9 inches of hair. Thanks to my mom, I'm sporting a new short, layered, summery cut and the rest of my hair is on its way to Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair donation program.

This is the fourth time I've donated my hair in the past 12 years. But this is the first time donating to Pantene. Previously I've sent the extra locks to Locks of Love. Locks of Love makes wigs for kids with hair loss. Pantene makes wigs for woman who have lost hair due to cancer. I decided since I'm 30 now, maybe it would be nice to donate to a program for women. :)

Every time I cut my hair off for donation I figure it's the last time. And this time it may well be, but I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to share my hair with those in need.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Morning Devotion Thoughts

Romans 8:38-39 "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

When Paul says nothing can separate us from God's love, he means that even we cannot snatch ourselves from His hand. If we have true faith, we will maintain that faith until the end. Times of doubt may arise, and it is even possible to fall into grievous sin. Yet, if we belong to Christ today, we will belong to Him forever. This should encourage us to draw near to the Lord even when we feel far from Him. If we come humbly, He will not reject us.

(from Tabletalk, March 2012)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Words I'm Pondering

I read this during my morning devotions and it's giving me food for thought:

The control God exercises over everything that ever happens demonstrates that there is some significance to all that we do. In turn, this means that we should give thought to our actions and how we spend our time. The Lord is gracious, so we should not be paranoid and legalistic about making sure every moment is filled with what we might regard as self-evident "kingdom work." But we should take care not to waste the time God has given us.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What I've Been Reading


A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
The Sea Monsters (Percy Jackson series #2) by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson #3) by Rick Riordan
*Anne's House of Dreams (audio) by L.M. Montgomery
A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch

Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark
Shakespeare Wrote for Money (essays) by Nick Hornby
**One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp


*The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon
*The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
*The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) by Rick Riordan
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

**Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman
Secrets and Wives: the Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy by Sanjiv Bhattacharya
The Orchard by Theresa Weir

*= These books come with particular recommendation because of their stories.
**= These books were thoughtfully written, as well as convicting and encouraging to my Christian walk.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Being an Introvert

It's been awhile, I know. I haven't felt like there was much to say. But, here I am for the moment.

In January I read a beautiful book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is a book celebrating the everyday graces of God, a poetically written reminder that there is so much in this world around us to be thankful for. It was a perfect book to read at the beginning of a new year. I am striving to mindfully open my eyes and acknowledge and thank God. This is not easy. Everyday I have to remind myself again and again to search out those God graces.

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's blog ever since reading her book. Some posts I just skim through, but today's post hit home for me--a guest post about the introvert's role in the church. Read it here.

I am an introvert. This is an undisputed fact--one I try to overcome and work with everyday. It is a personality trait that I struggle with. It leads me to compare myself to just about any out-going girl or woman. I feel less than, like I'm missing a piece of what it is to live authentically and fully. I feel like there is something wrong with me that I can't easily engage in small talk, that I shrink into myself in crowds, at parties, and in new places. This trait has followed me around for 30 years. It's dogged my steps in this "new" city that Jeremy and I try to call home. After 3 1/2 years, I still don't feel connected and I know some of it is because of my introverted shy self.

I do know in my head that being an introvert isn't the wrong personality type. I realize that introverts and extroverts both make this world go round. But in our culture and society, being an introvert is not embraced. There is a new book out called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I want to read it.

For quite awhile now I haven't really felt like I fit in much. And I particularly don't see how I fit into church. I am lonely there. I meet Jesus there, but there aren't bonds of friendships. The social stuff seems to be all about the couples with children and those pursuing graduate degrees. And there I am. There we are. Feeling more like a square peg in a round hole. I don't know what the answer is exactly because I can't just up and change my personality. But I am so glad I stopped by Ann's blog today and read the post. They were words this introvert needed to hear.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Two weeks gone. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Grandma. There is a photo of her propped up near where I keep my car keys and my phone. The sparkle in her eyes and the smile about her lips are a reminder of all she was, but they also remind me that there are no more conversations.

Today I spent time in the kitchen making two of her recipes to feature over at The Cooks Next Door. Recipes that shouldn't be too much of a challenge for me. And yet, I found myself making second batches of each because something wasn't working. Grandma isn't here anymore to ask what I was doing wrong.

I've wanted to write a tribute to Grandma for days, but the words I try to string together don't fit. They don't capture. I want to remember her voice and the sound of her laugh; her soothing hands that were always soft and cool to the touch; her patience and the many crafts and activities she prepared for our visits to her, or her visits to us. Somehow, I can't capture any of that the way I want to. It falls so short of all that Grandma was, a woman with remarkable faith and love and joy in living.

Grandma was so many things to so many people. Wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, care giver. It’s hard to imagine a life where she is no longer dropping notes in the mail to acknowledge special occasions or just to encourage. As a young girl I remember the excitement of receiving mail from Grandma because each letter was usually accompanied by a newspaper clipping of interest, a small quote, a photo, a bookmark, something small that reminded her of me. What is so remarkable to me is that there were 21 grandkids and as I’m rather far down the line and one of a brood of seven, I know she must have been blessing the mailboxes of many others as well.

Vegetable beef soup will always remind me of Grandma. Our overnight visits were scented by the pot of vegetable beef soup simmering on the stove, awaiting our supper hour arrival. Ladled into bowls, the table heavy with well-balanced supper essentials: a dish of cottage cheese, a plate of bread (butter on the side), a tossed fruit bowl, milk poured from the brown Tupperware pitcher—always so cold. The clatter of spoon against soup bowl side. The swipe of butter across bread. The chewings and swallowings and murmurings of many family mouths eating and talking and loving.

That warmth and love I will always remember.

I miss her.

As the days pass, still a small lump appears in my throat without warning. A tear slips unbidden down my cheek. But, I breathe and thank God for so many years with her.

Oh, but I miss her!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 Reading Wrap-up

In January 2011, I listed my reading goals for the coming months, intentional reading of genres and a few specific subjects.

The fulfillment of those goals looked like this:
1 Russian novel -- 350 pages of The Brother's Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky (sadly uncompleted.)
1 science-fiction book -- The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
1 fantasy book -- One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
1 mystery book -- A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch
1 graphic novel -- Persepolis by Marjam Sartrapi
1 volume of poetry -- Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser
1 book on writing -- On Writing by Stephen King
1 book on marriage -- Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half by Rick Johnson
2 books on Christian spiritual growth -- Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman; The Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

All told, throughout the year I read 102 books. I am amazed!

Some of my particular favorite reads:
Anne of Green Gables series books 1-4 by L.M. Montgomery
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I'd love to hear what your favorite read was in 2011. I'm always looking for great books to delve into. Happy reading!

(If you want to check out any of my monthly reading posts where I briefly reviewed a favorite read, here are the links: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September/October, November, December.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

December Reading

December certainly lagged behind in my reading. This was partly due to my starting The Brother Karamazov by Dostoevsky in late November. I trudged through 350+ pages before deciding that my mood and mind needed a break. I do plan to pick it back up here and finish it soon, but December just wasn't the time.

I finished six books. The Power of the Praying Wife was a completion of my reading goal for spiritual growth/encouragement books. I also found the book insightful and convicting as I attempt to learn how to pray more specifically and meaningfully for Jeremy.

The Lightning Thief was for work. (In the next month I'll be making my way through the entire Percy Jackson series for a program at work...I've got to get reading!)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
was totally just for laughs, because those books always have something funny to offer.

The Scorpio Races
was a suggestion from my friend Becca, and I certainly enjoyed it. It's a YA book. I find it hard to know how to summarize the story, so I'll just let it be.

I read Soulspace because it was about organizing, which I have a particular interest in; sadly the book just didn't cut it for me as it was very woo-woo, without much practicality to it.

And finally, I picked up The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag because 11-year-old Flavia de Luce is the perfect companion for diversion and mystery solving. I'd highly recommend the series!

December Reading
Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
Soulspace by Xorin Balbes
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Check back soon, as I'll be posting a quick wrap-up on my 2011 reading.
Copyright Facts, Facets, Fancies, and Fairy Tales 2009. Powered by Blogger.Designed by Ezwpthemes .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul . Premium Wordpress Themes | Premium Templates | Blogger Template