Monday, December 12, 2011

Moving Week (again? really?)

We are moving this week.

We have started packing.

We are both working this week.

Desperate times, people.
Call in the re-enforcements. You already know I live on coffee and Diet Coke. But now, now we breakout the big guns.

Are you ready for this? I am.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Those who have walked in darkness

I do not know how to blog about this week.

There are so many back stories that I cannot explain. So many people who have been in my life for a very long time, in places very far away, that fell on my doorstep this week.

To keep a long story short, an old family friend's mother was put into hospice over the weekend. My mother drove down with her to Cincinnati this week, to spend time with them, and to help driving.

At the same time, an old family friend's son and his wife (who is my sister's age, who we grew-up with) had their first baby on Saturday night in Ft. Wayne. It did not go well, and the baby (and the whole family), came to the NICU at Riley in Indianapolis.

And this is how, on Monday night, I found myself, with my mother and sister, in the NICU lobby at Riley with people I had not seen in years, who are not from Indianapolis, who I never in a million years thought I'd be seeing here under this circumstance.

Their story is not mine to tell. I will not try to begin. All you need to know is that this pregnancy and baby were perfect. In the last minutes of labor, something went wrong, and then... we were all in the NICU lobby.

There are no classes called "How to Talk to Someone About Their Parent Being Put into Hospice" or "How to Comfort Someone as The Watch Their Baby Die" at Wheaton College.

There is no preparation for this in life.
There is only faith.
And a lot of crying.


I can only write about how it felt to be there. There is no explanation as to why a beautiful, precious baby, born to loving parents, will only live a few days.

There is only faith.
And a lot of crying.

This is not a philosophy blog. I am not going to talk about the problem of evil in the world, why an all-loving, all powerful God allows these things to pass. This is a life blog.

This is a faith blog.
And a blog that involves a lot of crying.

I cannot explain the grief, shock or pain of those grandparents. It was overwhelming. But in that same sadness, I cannot explain how strongly I felt the presence of God. Not of comfort, not in contrast to the pain, not in spite of it... it just prevailed.

This life has some terrible, dark moments. But this life is also not void of our God. And that reality nearly knocked me off my feet on Monday night.


The other reality that knocked me off me feet?

The church is real. And it is not a building. My mother, sister and I are not special. We were just sent. We were put exactly where we were, when we were, to be doing what we were doing in that moment. Not only were we sent to that hospital that night, but I had people who never met these people praying for them like they were their own brothers and sisters. It only took a simple text message.
Jesus was not kidding when said he that he would build his church on himself as a rock and then make us the extension of himself into this world.

This moment of life was much, much bigger than me.


This faith, that our God loves us, was something these people knew. And in that horrible moment, despite not being able
to feel
it, they were trying so, so hard to cling to those truths we prayed over them. When we found words of praise, they echoed them. It was one of the most incredible expressions of faith I have ever seen.

My job? To go. My job was to pray the words. The words that came to me like someone wrote them on a piece of paper and hand them to me.

That our God has saved us
That there is comfort for his people
That those who walk in darkness
will see a Great Light



The baby did go to be with Jesus today. Please keep this family in your prayers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When did this become my life?

Yesterday, I got something [nice] for free. I was really excited about my free thing. I couldn't wait to go home and wear it.

Then, I realized [with shock]... that I was excited over a pair of sweatpants.

So, I did what any self-respecting panicked girl would do. I called my sister.
"Call them yoga-wear, and it's totally fine." She soothed me. Then we discussed Costco vs. Name Brand paper towels. Yes, we are cool and you totally should be jealous.

You see, I bought Robert's (and a few others) Christmas gifts on Black Friday and Dick's Sporting Goods. And I got a free $20 reward for my purchase. There were lots of Lady's Under Armour items I would have loved for working out. There were super great tennis shoes I could have used. Fleeces that I fawned over. But $20 only goes so far in the world of high end, over-priced sports wear.

I found a really nice, comfy pair of sweatpants on sale that my $20 would cover. They are actually pretty cute, for sweatpants (they are technically called "Fitness Training Pants"). They remind me of something I would throw on over my swimsuit and head to the beach in (in my younger days, when I lived by the beach). They are not something that I would be embarrassed to be wearing if you stopped by unexpectedly. Really, they were pretty nice and lounge-y, not... sloppy.

And yes, I would do yoga in them.
... So, it's okay, right?!
I also bought a pair of bright pink fleece gloves to match my winter coat (super cute)... and to ease the lameness of being excited over sweatpants.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Night with Abram and Jane

Last night, we watched our niece and nephew while my brother-in-law was out of town and my sister had dinner with a friend.


It is always an adventure, and there are no dull moments with those two. And here is what we learned last night.


1. Otis is an endless source of amusement. In the eyes of our nephew and niece, Otis is the silliest, funniest, and most entertaining thing on the planet. If you have met Otis, you know he is actually a fairly boring dog who loves bed time. But everything about Otis is fascinating to them. His tail. His food (which Abram calls "rocks"). The way he scratches with his hind leg (and Abram gets quite put out that I cannot make Otis do this on command over and over again). The way we can share our pillows, blankies, and snacks (wait, NO!) with Otis. Needless to say, Otis loves the kids. Not only does he like playing with them, he knows he will get some extra treats when they are around. I really wish I could have snuck a video of Abram playing "baseball" with Otis, because it was amazing.




2. If you decide to make giant gingerbread men with 2 pre-schoolers, one of them will make it with you while the other one munches on candy. Abram actually enjoyed the activity more than I thought he would, because he got to assemble something to match the picture on the box (like Legos, right?). He loved this. Jane only cared about the gingerbread man's hair. And munching on M&Ms.


3. The only thing worse than being FORCED to eat dinner is bed time. As the adult, you must use this wisely to your advantage.


4. Our house is not child proof. Lamps, laptops, computer mice, papers, scissors, nail files, wires, permanent markers, sewing kits and glass are all something these children got a hold of somehow, at some point last night. None of them were lying out, so they found them in their somewhat stashed away location. These items are now at various and random high locations in our house until further notice. Also, nothing was damaged, including the children.


5. The best toys at Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Robert's house are Otis, Uncle Robert's tablet (when he lets you play with it), the clip magnets on the fridge, the elliptical, the fan, the Porsche car dealership (are you really surprised that's the only real toy we have?), the porcelain cats, and Otis (again). Also, thank goodness for the Disney Channel via Video on Demand.



You may play with the tablet with Uncle Robert's supervision,a s pictured here.

6. No matter how much you beg, cry, explain Mommy lets you do it, or attempt to negotiate, Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Robert will not let you {3 and 1/2 year old nephew who is doing very well at potty training} sleep in their bed in your "big boy underwear". Pull-ups are not optional and you will wear one to sleep. End of story. You will lose this discussion every. single. time.


7. Loving these two is the best thing ever.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent: A reflection of a liturgical junkie and culturally insensitve blogger

Does anyone else's soul long for Advent the whole year round?

I grew up in a church where we did the candle light thing during December and read some nice reading about Advent-something. I remember sitting there and wondered how the families were chosen to be the "Advent families". It was a like a big, random raffle to me. That's all I remember. Needless to say, I did not grow up in a very traditional or liturgical background.

In college, I occasionally attended an Anglican church, and something about the tradition and liturgy filled a thirst that I didn't know I had.

The first time I went to a PCA Good Friday Service, I was stunned. You end in darkness. TOTAL, SILENT DARKNESS. The service is breath-taking. I don't think I can ever not go to that service now that I have experience it.

Then, with the first Christmas Advent, we re-light Jesus into the darkness, candle by candle, moment by moment, declaring a hope that is not realized. I sort of felt jipped for the years I didn't know about this option of Christmas celebration (and I am in no way blaming my parents or unhappy with my church up-bringing. I am actually very, very grateful for it. I'm not even sure I'd appreciate the liturgy if I had grown up with it.).

This put my popping-out-a-Swiss-chocolate-every-morning-for-an-extra-breakfast-treat-advent tradition to shame. And this is what I have learned about Advent.
Week 1
Darkness is so key to Advent. This seems in total paradox with holiday cheer, doesn't it?

In a Bible I had growing up, on the blank page between the Old Testament and New Testament, I wrote these words:

After 600 years of silence...

600 years is a long time, people. I can barely wait 6 minutes at Starbucks, and coffee has nothing on eternal salvation or help in suffering.

600 years between the last prophets and the coming of Jesus. And what did Israel have to hold them during that time? What culture, what church was Jesus born into and what faith did he fulfill? If you don't know much about the Jewish culture, let's do a completely inappropriate reference to Fiddler on the Roof. "Tradition... Tradition!"

Tradition. Liturgy. The practice of having faith in silence, in total darkness, in consuming oppression. Don't get me wrong, it is pretty clear in Jesus' life that these practices got pretty messed up and were on the verge of destroying the Jewish faith (and let's not even get started in the breaks over this stuff between Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Protestants).

But there is a lesson for us non-denominational-chocolate-eating-adventist out there.

We hope for our light, we do not see it. We pray, but we pray into silent darkness. Our salvation is complete, but not present now.

We hope for our light
.

And there is something very important about reflecting on this principle. This is week 1 of Advent. Hoping for our light while we live in darkness. Anticipation of justice and redemption.

Stir up your power, O Lord,
and come to our help with mighty strength,
that what our sins impede
the grace of your mercy may hasten.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever
.

New English translation according to the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. 2010

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you excited for Turkey Day?
I am.

I told you in Unashamed Love that it was the first of a few (http://chrissysdullmoments.blogspot.com/2011/11/unashamed-love.html). My last post should have been post II, and I forgot to tag it.

This is post III.
Child Like Faith and Honest Praise
This is my last Thanksgiving at the house on Stockard Street.

I have loved spending Thanksgiving with my sister in Indianapolis pretty much since she got married and moved here. And now, on Stockard Street, I am less than 10 minutes away.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for those years. The years in college when I was in a dark place, and I would come down to Indianapolis and be alleviated from it for a while. I would make the drive down, get in late, hug Mandy and Steve, and crawl into that perfect guest bed that they have. And breathe.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for period from 2008-now. Yes, we were in TN last year, but it feels like a tiny blip on the radar. I am grateful for the chance to have woken up nearly every day for a year in a house where I was loved, challenged, taken care of, and laughed constantly. For Rob not giving up on me when I wasn't ready to let people close, and still managing to become one of my best friends. For Mandy and Steve saving my financial butt. For the ability to hold Abram almost everyday when he was a baby.

I am grateful that when I met and married Robert, he lived less than 10 minutes away.
I am grateful for the house on Stockard Street, for my last year here.

Am I scared now? Nervous? Of course. But I never could have imagined this life for myself, these past years, so who I am to limit what could be coming?

So today, I will be grateful for what is and what has been. And I will brace myself (in a good way) for the changes that I am sure will bring a slew of dull moments.

You are worthy
of a child like faith

of my honest praise
and
of my unashamed love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Right now.


Right now, I am sitting at my secretary desk, typing this, instead of tackling my insane pile of junk to get done.

I am drinking...

Diet Coke.


And munching on these bad boys {Andes Creme de Menthe Cookies. I found them on sale at Marsh. Don't judge}.

I am telling myself that it is okay that we have to be out of our house before Christmas. That somehow, despite it being the busiest time of year, we will find time to pack and move. That despite the fact that my parents (who are experts at moving) cannot help us move, we will have enough help and ability to get it done.

I am telling myself that moving will not ruin Christmas for me, since it is my favorite time of year. I will live viacriously through other people's Christmas decorations, beautifully wrapped presents and Christmas movie nights.

I am talking to my dog, asking him if he can finish the PILES of laundry I just didn't have time to do last week (btw, I have NO IDEA what Robert found to wear to work today. Sorry, SWC peeps.). He looks at me with sweet amber eyes that say, "WTH, Mom?"

I'm telling myself it is okay that I woke up this morning and realized that our sheets needed to be washed and our bed needed to be flipped, and I'm not going to do either for days.

I am telling myself that it will be okay that I don't know if we'll be able to work out the deal on the house we are looking to buy. That if it doesn't go through, we will find a temporary place to live and the RIGHT house in due time.

I am telling myself that Robert and I are in the right jobs for right now, and despite my doubts and uncertainty about the future, we will be okay.

I am telling myself that there are things I cannot understand, cannot fix, cannot clean (right now), cannot change, and I need to get it over it.

I am telling myself that I will not have a panic attack. Or a mental breakdown. That I can ask for help, that it's okay not to do it all this year.

I am telling myself that these changes are good, and though it's a lot, it is what I am supposed to have.

Yesterday in church, our pastor preached on one of my favorite Bible passages. It's the story of Jairus, how he comes to Jesus because his daughter is dying and he believes that Jesus can heal her. And how Jesus doesn't make it there before she dies. In the meantime, a desperate, cast out woman gets enough courage to touch Jesus' cloak, in the hopes that after 12 years of suffering, she can be healed.

Do you know what I love?

Both of these people are at their wits end. Both need Jesus' immediate attention. The timing is up for both of them. The woman already suffered 12 years with no break. Jairus' time runs out, and his daughter dies.

Both have doubts. Both are fearful at their circumstances. Both get the healing and help that they seek.

Isn't that the joy of what we believe? Isn't that our hope? Isn't that the whole point? That our time is up, our strength has failed, everyone else has given up on us, our circumstances overtake us... and that we are saved.

"Ignoring what they said, Jesus told him, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe.'" Mark 5:36

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Unashamed love

Dear readers, you didn't think I forgot about you, did I?
You didn't dare think, "I bet her life got dull."
Did you?

This will be a series of posts. Because this event is too multifaceted for me to blog in one post. So here's part 1. The title of today's, "Unashamed love" comes from a song that was my favorite song when I was in YWAM. I hope these series of posts reflects an unashamed love for Jesus.

Unashamed Love
I am a do-er. Type A. Get 'er done. I don't care what you call it, I am a person of action and sometimes, to my detriment, not of thought. But I will tell you, there is almost no challenge I will turn down, no project I will not try to finish, no person I will not connect with.

I planned in my wedding in, like, 3 months. When I get a new job, I've never had an employer that could keep me busy at first. They always underestimate my ability to get things done efficiently and well. It's a gift.

My energy, my skills, my organization (or lack there of), my can-do, push-it-through attitude. It's a gift. I mean that -- this is who I was made to be, and for a good reason.

But, like all of our strengths, it is a weakness. I have a hard time letting go, and I get frustrated when I having trouble achieving the results I expect from myself.

We have been house hunting. I have spreadsheets. There are lists (A,B,C) based on price, location, floor plan and details. I knew nothing about real estate when we started this process, and now I use words that I didn't know existed a few months ago. We have walked through dozens of houses.

To my dismay, we have not found one that we both agreed on that we could actually buy.

I tried harder. We saw more houses, I re-vamped my search, I researched, prodded, learned.

Nothing.

I became frustrated, depressed, even. I got mad at Robert for not liking the houses I wanted (because then I would have accomplished my goal). I threw my list into a crumpled ball across the living room. I said, "No more. I am not looking at another house."

I took my crown, my gift, and set it aside. I walked away. I said, "Jesus, this isn't happening for me. YOU do it if it's supposed to happen." It was too much for me. I was trying too hard and making no progress and it wasn't worth it, and it certainly was not what Jesus was trying to get me to do.

We got an offer on our house about a week and a half later. So, timidly, I pulled up some searches. The same searches I had been on a week before and found not a single house I wanted to see.

There were listings. SO MANY NEW LISTINGS. Good ones, too. Houses that look like they have what we are looking for, houses in our price range. Houses that would make the A List.

A beloved college professor of mine had this awesome saying. "Do you trust God to be God? I mean, God lights his own cigars, people." That's right, God doesn't need my gifts. And He is faithful unto himself in his love and mercy for me. So, do I trust that? Do I let God be God and Chrissy be Chrissy? Do I doubt his unending love for me (yes), his ability to accomplish anything in any manner of time (yes), his intent to bless us (yes)? Let's say, it's something I am working on.

"You're calling my to lay aside the worries of my day,
To quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place.
You are worthy
...of my childlike faith, of my honest praise
and of my unashamed love.
Of a holy life and of my sacrifice
and of my unashamed love."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My teeth and provision

Remember Anxiety Girl? http://chrissysdullmoments.blogspot.com/2011/10/im-fixed-upon-it.html#comments

The one who was scared to take a part time job because, how will we live?!

It is week 2 and going well.

I was sitting in the dentist chair yesterday, crossing my fingers and toes that I didn't need my second crown this year. They ended up just doing a filling, but the jury is out on whether or not that will work.

Do you know what? I get a new dental benefit with my new job. It's only good through December. So even if I do need a crown, I have all this benefit I get to use. We had run out on our old insurance for me, and I'm sure I'll need more. It renews in January. Amazing, right? Oh, and I wound up last minute doing something extra yesterday that made money (all toward the deductible, which isn't even that high).

Provision.

And the part-time job? I will not be working part-time again until the week of Thanksgiving. In fact, I'm actually double booked and need to figure out which jobs I can and cannot do. So by Thanksgiving, I'll be happy to have a break.

Provision. So simple, so clear. I am incredibly grateful that we are so provided for... even if it does come with a sore mouth.

And as we go off to look at another bunch of houses that we will probably decide do not work for us, I will remember that the right house will come along. It will be provided. We just have to be patient and look for it.


So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New cookie


It's cold, guys.

Fall has arrived... though I guess it's supposed to warm up this week.

With the blast of cold, I started to crave something warm and cozy to nibble on this weekend. Like that rich, chewy topping on Barefoot Contessa's apple crisp. Except, I only wanted the topping.

So, I made the topping, made a few adjustment... and made it into a cookie. I refined it later.

My husband, who does not like oatmeal cookies, gobbled these up. We enjoyed them, as pictured above, while playing Ticket to Ride on Sunday.

Nice and cozy, huh?

Oatmeal Cookies
1 c butter, barely softened. Still cold.
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour (I use King Arthur's Flour)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Indonesian cinnamon
a few sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 bag of pure, high quality white chocolate chips (I use Kroger's Private Selection White Chocolate Drops)

Preheat oven to 350F. If butter is very cold, dice into pieces. Cream butter and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs, mix well. Add 1 cup of flour, the salt, baking soda, and spices. Mix well. Add in the remaining flour. Stir in oatmeal on a low setting. Add chocolate chips in on a low setting.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop generous spoonfuls onto sheets. Refrigerate sheets or dough in between batches. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Best served warm.

Variations
For oatmeal cups to hold ice cream (WHAT?!), reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups. Grease muffin tins with butter. Put generous spoonfuls of dough into each cup. Bake at 350F for 8-12 minutes, until desired browning on edges. They will be soggy and fall in the middle (hence the cup shape for ice cream).

Monday, October 24, 2011

We are crazy, but not like that


If you have been to our house since we moved back to Indianapolis, you may have noticed the new additions to our family.

Ceramic (porcelain? I don't even know) cats.

And as you have passed them by in our front hallway, you probably think, "Good Lord. Robert and Chrissy have lost their minds."

The truth is, we are totally nuts. But we are not ceramic-cat-nuts. These were a gift from Robert's grandmother, who painted them (with 14k gold paint, as she will make sure you know) herself and is very proud of them. At some young age, like 4, Robert commented on how he thought the two Egyptian-like cats were cool. Ever since, it was only a matter of time before they became Robert's cats. The white one is a different story, but you get the idea.

When Grandma gives you something, you can't get rid of it. You know this is true. And if she were ever to come over and the cats not be displayed properly, it'd probably hurt her feelings. A lot. So... Otis has some step sisters. And we enjoy acting like they are a part of our family.



This is Tigris. She is the smallest of the cats. She may be small, but she is sassy, let me tell you. There's a reason she's all blinged out in that gold.


This is Euphrates. She is the largest, and fancies herself the queen cat. She may be quiet, but that doesn't mean she isn't silently plotting ways to kill you and take over the world.


Finally, we have Liz. I'll have to admit, I wasn't sure what to call her, since I named Tigris & Euphrates together, and Liz's appearance does not go with our Egyptian theme quite as well.

My brother-in-law, Rob, commented on her the last time he stopped by, and I explained to him my naming dilemma. I told him I considered "Cleopatra", but it just didn't seem right.

"How about Liz? Like Liz Taylor, who played Cleopatra?" He suggested.
"Oooh, that's PERFECT. She looks like a Liz, and it goes with the theme while being different."
"And you know she'll love up to. She has drama queen written all over her." He added, and we about fell over laughing.
And this is why I love my family.

So welcome to our home, our guardian cats. At least they hypoallergenic.