Wednesday, December 18, 2013

christmas card

I was really going to do a Christmas card this year. Then I remembered that I'm sick and pregnant and don't do anything.
 
If we had a card, this is what it would have been like.
 
2013 was our year of new things. People came and went in our lives. We cried tears of good-bye, we rejoiced in the new friendships and lives that were given to us.
 
This is a photo of what we used to be like - relaxed, happy. Apparently, I didn't look like death all the time, I was actually kinda skinny, AND I washed my hair. Those were the days ;)
Here we are on a vacation, our last time before we become parents. I'm about 21 weeks pregnant here. If I look tired, it's from vomiting.
This is a photo of my mom, sister, and me from my friends & family baby shower. Here, in addition to giving up on washing my hair, I have also apparently given up on wearing shoes. {I did wear sandals to the shower, I hadn't put them on yet} I am 28 weeks pregnant here.
An Otis, for your enjoyment
For all our changes in 2013 and the pending ones in 2014, I meditate on two things; a quote from Oswald Chambers & a Bible verse shared with me by a dear friend who is going through many changes herself.
 
 "God calls us to His service and places tremendous responsibilities on us. He expects no complaining on our part and offers no explanation on His part. God wants to use us as He used His own Son."
 and
" 'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord,
    and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.



Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.' " (from Isaiah 43)
 
Have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

thankful

I haven't done the thankful-for thing on Facebook this November, because it's not really my style. Though I love reading other peoples' posts and think it's a wonderful display of gratitude.

But I will tell you this - today I am thankful for 2 very specific things.

I am thankful for my sister, Mandy. She has taught me very important lessons about friendship. She has taught me the sheer joy that comes with having someone synced with your brain and heart because you are alike and relieved to know you are not "the only one". She has also taught me the complete opposite - how to be friends with someone so fundamentally different from me that I would never have naturally been drawn to them. I credit her exposure in my life to the reason I have any friends who are introverts, including my husband. She has shown me how to connect with people who are not out-going by nature, how to better-love someone who isn't of the extroverted persuasion, and the value and joy of people who balance us out.

Speaking of those people... I am thankful for an ever gracious husband. The kind of husband who doesn't murder his wife when she manages to cause over $500 worth of damage to his truck within 10 minutes of arriving home... after a night where he didn't get any sleep because the aforementioned wife is pregnant and wakes up all night long to use the bathroom or to readjust. Honey, I don't have anything to say to console you other than "I don't take it for granted, and I'm never going to touch another car while I'm pregnant."


Be grateful, friends.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Waiting.

I don't think I'm the most patient person. I never have been one for waiting around. People keep telling me not to wish pregnancy to go by fast, because I'll be wishing I could have him in for a little longer once he's here.

That's probably not true of anyone who has had some form of hypermesis, but that's not the point. And for the record, of every {very sick} pregnant person I've polled, 100% would take labor, delivery, and/or a c-section and the newborn stage over any point of pregnancy. But again, not the point.

The point is, or rather, the question is - am I using this time well? I will admit I have spent more than my fair share of pregnancy in self-misery, watching Super Size vs Super Skinny on youtube, popping pills like candy.

But lately, I think I've been moving out of it. I've been challenged to make my world very small, but to do my best to love very well in that world. It's a very humbling and very thrilling experience. Though I've had to say good-bye to family members (both for the rest of my life and just until we can visit again), I've been given great people to pour into right now. I've had very specific "pray for them", "be with these people", "say no to that", "say yes to that", or "just sit here and read the Bible and be open" moments. Every single spare second I have is gold, because I have so few of them that are anywhere close to productive (like that I'm awake and not vomiting for).

I have found, that in the waiting, there is good work to be done. I have found, that in fact, I don't think this is a stage of waiting at all. It is a season of doing... differently. And different isn't easy. It's hard to know none of your grandparents will see your firstborn. It's hard to want to get Thai food with your brother-in-law, or ask him a question about the nursery setup, only to remember that you don't live together, you haven't in forever, and he lives in Atlanta. It's hard to go to a job everyday that you are pretty sure you won't be returning to post-partum. But it's beautiful to see new friendships grow. It's amazing to have your niece put a pillow besides you "for when the baby is here". It's rewarding to listen to what you should do, and just do it.

No season in life is totally about the wait - God uses the weak, God doesn't do things our way, God doesn't care about our priorities anyway.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

husbands of sick & pregnant wives are definitely saints

I have two nursing students shadowing me once a week for six weeks to learn some wellness coaching.

They are hilarious, and they come on my hardest morning of the week - Thursday - and they definitely lighten the load. They are two men in their 20s - we will call them Mike & Ike, since that is very close to their actual names. They follow me around like two body guards, helping, doing my job, and making me laugh.

Ike's wife was apparently just like me when she was pregnant with their now two and half year old son - sick, tired, cranky. Luckily, Mike has a good sense of humor and strong stomach, though he has not had to first-hand deal with a pregnant woman who is this sick. Ike told me today that he thinks they could handle another child, no problem. He called having a two and a half year old "the easy part" compared to dealing with his wife's pregnancy. He then stated, in a polite way, that he is terrified of making it through another pregnancy with her.

Friends, I appreciate your love, support, and encouragement. But I will be honest - my husband is an unsung hero in this pregnancy. Though he's not dealt with the sickness, he's dealt with the sick wife. And that is no easy task.

Today, I mentioned to Mike & Ike that this baby measured ahead in his ultrasound a few weeks ago, so there's a tiny hope he may be ready to come early.

Ike replies, "You know, first babies come late a lot. He may be 2 weeks past your original due date."
He then paused, and said, "I can't believe I just said that. What was I thinking? It's like I want to be smacked."

Yes. Husbands of sick, pregnant, wives are definitely a great bunch.

Monday, October 14, 2013

there is no moment

The question I get asked most often right now is, "Are you feeling any better?"

I smile. I put on a brave face. I usually lie.

But the answer is simple - no.

It's true that the overwhelming nausea has passed. But I threw up so hard last week that I burst some blood vessels in my face. I frequently feel like I'm going to pass out. My stomach always feels like I'm suffering from some type of stomach bug. I don't really qualify that as "better". It's just... different.

I realize this isn't everyone's experience, and trust me - I wish every pregnant-woman-to-be out there a less-sick feeling pregnancy than this.

I struggle with how to make it through work. I struggle with how to do anything besides lie on the couch. This doesn't usually lead to good places - it's pretty bleak when your own husband looks bravely at you and says, "No, we can't go out with friends anymore. It's too much for you. You just have to rest."

Friends, it's a little depressing.

There is no moment of feeling good.

But there is this moment - he moves. This baby is alive and well.

He moves. All. the time. This may be a little boy, but he moves like a little Chrissy. We play games. He pushes me, I push back. I eat candy, he swims around. I sit in a position he doesn't like, and it starts a dance party. Robert can feel him any time, he moves so much and responds to me so much.

And when I think about it all - work, being sick, what to eat for dinner (that I won't throw up), how to keep saying no to people, how I will ever manage anything again - I get so overwhelmed. Then he moves, and it makes me smile. Then I am reminded that we are only sustained the true Mover, the one who moved heaven and earth to be connected to us. It doesn't take any of the grossness away, but it gives me strength. Strength to worry less, to keep going, to be faithful where I can be.

Because God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in a time of trouble. If he doesn't move the mountain, if he doesn't move you away from the mountain, I pray he gives you strength to climb it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I am really nervous about this whole baby thing.

Today is the day we find out our baby's gender... if baby cooperates. I'm early for this ultrasound, so I am pretty nervous they won't be able to tell. Not nervous for me, nervous for how crazy I'll go on the staff if they can't tell.

In some ways, I think today will change so much. After today, I will say, "My son" or "My daughter". I will tell my dad what color paint I want the nursery. Today, this baby will get real for me in a very big way. Today, I get a huge reminder that this baby isn't a pregnancy, an experience, but an actual human being.

I was never chomping at the bit to have children. It's a hard story to share, because so many people seem so confident that they want children, that children will enrich their lives. It's hard to say when I know so many people who have had struggled to have their own children. But I know other people need to hear they aren't alone if they feel like I do. And that it's okay if they don't want kids. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad Christian or anything.

I had no break-through moment about the whole thing. Honestly, our decision was more like a mathematical calculation than it was an epiphany. I'm 28, which isn't old, but certainly didn't make me want to wait any longer to start. Waiting, for a variety of reasons, wasn't a great fit for us. While it never makes sense financially to have a child, it certainly isn't an issue right now. There's no reason why we can't make it work. We have a great support system. We will have so much help with this baby.

So we are having a baby. That's really how it went. Some days, it panics me to think this is what we've chosen. I want to grab our current life around me, knowing it's all just grains of sand that will slip through my fingers. Last night, I struggled to pick my 3 1/2 year old niece up around my growing belly, realizing my primary role of aunt would fade into being a mother of my own child.

But today, I have a little hope. More than I am ready to announce "Lotus Elise!" (girl) or "Enzo Ferrari!" (boy), I am excited to see the outline of our baby's face. To see the tiny profile, to guess if it has my nose, or Robert's face shape. This gives me hope, my friends, that we'll be okay. It's a tiny moment, but it gives me relief. We don't have to be anyone else. We can do this our way. Even if our way is going to mean having to convince my husband that naming our child after a car is not an option (thanks for filling his head with ideas, Sean).

Friday, August 23, 2013

this is faith

When I heard the news that my grandmother (and final grandparent) had passed away, the first thing that came to my mind was a song. This is fitting, if you knew my grandmother or know my family - we have a song for everything.

One beautiful thing about hymns is that they express, in poetic terms, deep, rich theology. The hymn that has echoed in my heart this week is "Crown Him with Many Crowns". The line that I have been meditating on? 

Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but it's own. 

If there is one thing I can say about my grandmother, it is that she heard that heavenly anthem, and for her, it drowned out all other noise. Her whole life reflected that, from her love, to her devotion, to her strong faith. I can only hope that I can find the discipline to turn my own ear to heaven in the way that she did.

Then, I received news that a friend of mine lost her baby shortly after his birth. And in my heart, God put the same music. Because when we face pain beyond comfort, when we have no answers, when there are not words to express condolence, this is the promise we have; heaven's music, God's love, drowns out all our earthly sorrows. That, dear ones, is God's promise, and believing it is faith. Though we cannot comprehend what may pass in this life, God promises us that his love is bigger. We just have to believe. 

And when I waiver in my faith, may I remember to follow the next lines of this beautiful hymn...

Awake, my soul and sing of Him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King throughout eternity. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The baby

I hope you all understand that I simply could not blog the past 14 weeks.

Being pregnant has completely taken over my life. There is no life apart from Zofran, daily prayers to make it, and being sick as a dog. Therefore, there was not much to blog about until we shared our happy news with the internet world.

But this is what you need to know about my pregnancy -

-For all my Wisconsin friends, I'm sorry, but this baby will be a Colts fan. You can be angry or sad, but know blue & white are way cuter colors than green & gold. Also, we live in Indianapolis, and well, when in Rome... also, I don't stand a chance against Robert on that one.

-But do not worry - this baby is definitely part Wisco! When I'm so sick that I cannot keep anything down, the 2 things I can always eat are Culver's French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. 

-For my coastal friends who may think it's really lame that we are raising a good old Midwest family, take heart. I'm a Midwestern product, and we are friends. There's diversity in who each one of us is and is not. And also, I'm going to enroll this child in San Francisco Urban 2034 to be roommates with either Bridget's daughter or Nicole's son, so this child will have perspective.

-For those of you who may remember that I'm not really a fan of children, nothing has changed. We are just hoping we like this one. As we were telling people about my pregnancy, by far the most common reaction we got was, "Really?" with the implied "you guys?". I guess maybe we shouldn't have made such a big deal out of how much we really didn't like children. People weren't surprised, like, in the happy, birthday party way. It was more, as one friend said, total shock and awe.

-On that note about children, this child already has the world's best cousins. As long as this child doesn't cross our niece, that is.

-If someone could invent a cure for "morning" sickness, I think I would give them this baby's college fund. I really, really would.

-Health coach is probably one of the worst jobs to have when one is pregnant. Not because of the content of the work... But it's my job to help people lose weight, while I'm showing up every week looking bigger with no explanation.  It's a relief to tell people I'm pregnant, not just getting fat. And that I have an excuse, and they don't.

-We have been given so much love, help, and support these past several weeks. I am already overwhelmed with the love that there is for this unborn baby. We are very blessed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When dead isn't good enough

I haven’t known what to say about the George Zimmerman case. It’s hard, like looking into a fish tank that isn’t clean and trying to figure out what’s there. A lot of murk and dirt. I haven’t known what to say about Trayvon Martin, and about the resounding in my ears of the implications of this for young black men.

There are a few things that are clear – we don’t get the luxury of passing judgement, or of ignoring some greater lessons that can be learned.

I’ve had a few times in my life where I have made myself the minority. I have never felt relief like I did in coming home after being abroad for 6 months in places where pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes made you stand out. I remember the relief that I was no longer gawked at, no longer approached for no reason, that I could slip into anonymity.  I remember applying for jobs over and over again with my current employer, being told I was an excellent candidate, and all but being told I was going to be passed over because I was a white girl. I don’t complain about it, because I still have a place of privilege. I’m aware that really, I have nothing to complain about.

Trayvon Martin’s story is sad, it’s heart breaking. But so are the other lives I’ve seen lost over misunderstanding, judgment and bias – whether for racial reasons or others. I’ve seen people all but witch hunted by the church to the point of total desperation. I’ve seen 3 lost that we are never getting back, because, like Trayvon, they’re dead.

My husband has what I call a True North. His sense of black and white (not in a racial way, mind you) and right and wrong are buried deep within him. His appreciation of life is simple and very content. It’s something I am often jealous of, to be perfectly honest. He doesn’t lay awake at night, plagued by the gray. He hears facts or ideas and responds logically – I cry at the heartbreak. He often has strong answers, I often have nothing but more questions.

This is my challenge to us, especially those of us in the church, we have to accept that finding an answer really isn’t enough. Finding a Scripture verse isn’t enough, I mean, Satan found Scripture verses to make a case, it’s not exactly some deeply pious act.

I hope this case has made you wrestle with your response to many difficult issues. What makes you uncomfortable? What gets a rise out of you? What do you hate? What do you neatly push under the rug?

How do you find love? All those verses we quote, and ideas we find, Jesus told us that none of them matter if we do not love. That’s a startling thought. My well-backed, Bible-based, foundation of a Law is totally meaningless if it isn’t summarized in grace and love. The other thing we learn is that our ideas are completely meaningless - the word James uses is “dead”- without some works to act it out. I’ve come to believe that dead isn’t good enough for me. If dead were good enough, Jesus could have stayed in the tomb.

Every day, I am glad Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb. But every day, I face a new challenge to be brave and strong in ways I don't think I have in me, to struggle with issues I can't make sense of, and to choose the harder path. Every day, I face a new heart break and a new hope.

Friday, June 14, 2013

a bitter glory

Some times, I do not think I pray very big things. Some times, I do not think I ask for all that much from God.

Some times, I get the impression God does not really care what I am asking for, but he does care about my best interest, and his plan. That is hard to swallow.

I have recently had a small dream, a small prayer, a hope, taken away from me. It wasn't even something I had outright asked God for, it was something I always assumed would be there. Those roads were closed off to me, as the song says, while my back was turned.

When it was taken, I was crushed, and a part of me felt a little betrayed and more than abandoned by God. Thankfully, some wonderful sisters in Christ from my church held my heart close to theirs and said - "Cry out. He can handle it. Ask the questions. Let your heart break. He will not leave you."

So I did. I sat on the floor and cried. I cried praying at night with my husband. I ran hard and harder, looking for some peace. I shut my Bible. I opened my Bible. I shut it again.

Strange things started happening. It wasn't big, it wasn't small. As I turned to God and said, "Anything but this," he turned to me and said, "But this, this is for my glory." I have had so many blessings poured out on me over the past few weeks and every single one I was willing to give back to God for what he had taken.

God was not interested in negotiating this-blessing-for-that-one with me. He is patient. He is kind. He did not turn from me in my distress - he handled my crying, my brokenness. But he did not budge.

The more I resisted, the more glory I saw around me. A bitter glory. A glory despite my pain, a glory that still included me, while I was still hanging out on the floor.

In it all, the more glory I see, the more I see of Him. The more I see of him, the better I do at accepting his plan while dealing with my hurt. The more my bitterness turns to praise.

I don't quite understand it. I can't really wrap my head around it except for this one thing - grace. Grace to love me as a daughter when I'm broken. Grace to work with me despite my resistance. And grace to pull me forward into a place of glory.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Twinkle, twinkle cupcakes

(clearly, Duff could have done better)
I get asked to make desserts a lot for events. I make some pretty delicious stuff, I'm not going to lie. I do my best to make it a little pretty, but I'm not Duff from Ace of Cakes.

So when I was asked to bring a nursery-rhymed themed dessert to a baby shower, I sort of panicked. If you say, "Hey, it's a red/black/white theme", I can work with that. Black & white polka dot cupcake wrappers, red sprinkles - no problem. But this one really left me stumped.

To complicate it, this shower is for one my dearest friends in the whole world, and probably my oldest friend. We've known each other for, well, over 20 years. Not going all out was not an option. However, I am not artistic. I make tasty treats... but I cannot draw a stick figure.

"How I wonder" was the theme of how I was going to pull this off
After considering my options, I went with Twinkle, Twinkly cupcakes, because I thought they'd be easiest to translate into reality. The cake I used is a "homemade" white cake with a sprinkles, since I know how much the mom-to-be loves candy. With light blue frosting, silver and gold star sprinkles, I knew I would not have to roll out fondant stars, mold chocolate into shapes, or take too long to assemble. I decided to make cupcake toppers to make the theme very clear.


The credit for the toppers really needs to go to a very kind friend from church who makes cards. She lent me her punches for circles and stars and even threw in glittery paper. All I had to do was assemble.

Looking at it all now, I'm pretty proud. And mostly, I cannot wait to celebrate this new life with my friend. Their story of adoption is so close to my heart, and I feel like we have prayed for years for this - it is amazing to see the fruition.

Recipes -
The cake recipe is Recipe Girl's White Wedding Cake, with 1 cup of rainbow sprinkles thrown in. I know the "base" for this a box mix, but let me explain 3 wonderful things about this recipe. (1) due to the stabilizers in the box mix, this cake travels really well  (2) it makes 36 cupcakes, a great amount  (3) it tastes really good.  http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/03/16/white-wedding-cake-cupcakes/

Frosting was a basic vanilla buttercream with normal blue gel food coloring. Go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/quick-vanilla-buttercream-frosting-recipe/index.html if you need a recipe to follow.

I found most my star sprinkles at Joann's or Michael's. Some times I order large quantities online.

The results?
Not too shabby for a girl who can't draw stick figures!



Monday, May 13, 2013

Why I run - Mile 3

I could tell you I run for health benefits, but that would be a lie.  I run because, in running, I am able to process, clean out my head and heart, and exhaust myself like I cannot do with anything else.

Mile 1 is just a warm-up. Music jams, I find my pace.
Mile 2 is a pace-setter, and discipline.

But mile 3 is gold. Somewhere as mile 2 morphs into mile 3, everything becomes crystal clear for me. If something is bothering me, I find my peace. If I am overwhelmed, I find strength. Somehow as I hit mile 3 everything I doubted becomes resolute faith. In mile 3, my soul remembers that God is faithful when I am not. In mile 3, nothing seems as big as it did when I was in mile 1.

I want to hear God in big, loud ways. I look for God in the the strong wind to knock me down, in the earthquake to shake me up, in the fire to light my soul. I want God on my terms. I want my life on my terms. But it is never that way, and it is never good that way.

I find Him still and small and in a quiet voice along mile 3. I'm not sure why I can hear this better between miles 2 and 3 and not at home, not sitting at a desk, not in my own time to think. Maybe it's the only way I can quiet down my inner voice, exhaust myself enough to listen, or maybe it's simple so free of distraction that I find it.

But there am I, running and hitting mile 3, and I hear God say, as he did to Elijah,

"...there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah {Chrissy}?” " 1 Kings 19:11-13

Some times he is asking me why am I drowning in a problem. Some times he is asking me why am I in a place of sadness, joy, or bitterness. More often than not, He is reminding me of why I'm here to begin with - to find a way to worship.

He always meets me when I come to Him on his terms.

Oh, and for the record, anything after mile 3 is pure work. Just craziness.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

All about my mom

I have a very distinct memory of my mother, my sister, and me the first Christmas I viewed my mom as also a friend and as well my mother. We were in California, in our family's condo, for Christmas. I mumbled something to my sister about some boy asking me out, someone they all knew (the horror of dating someone they approved of). I told my sister how I had uncertain feelings and on that, I had turned him down.

Across the room my mom overheard just a snippet and called out to us, "Who asked you out?" 
"No one. I don't want to talk about." 18 year old Chrissy said. 
"You'll never guess!" My sister taunted. "It was X!"
"You said no?! Why? X is great!" My mom chimed in.

They continued to tease me and prod me about this for quite some time. I remember how casual it all was - my parents were no longer panicking at the thought of me dating. I was a grown-up, past those "dangerous teenage years", and my mom wasn't stressed talking about this. My sister felt it was low key enough to include my mother, to rat me out. Sisters have a strong bond, and part of this is that you never tell Mom and Dad ANYTHING. However, this wasn't something we had to keep secret.

In that moment, giggling and joking together, I got a look at the beginning of how great it was to be an adult with my mom. She still cared about me, she still supported me. She would many times after that moment still help me up on my feet, dust myself off, and move forward. She would hold me when I sick or had a broken heart. But now my mom is one of my greatest friends, a relationship I cherish. There were moments when I know she clung to me when I didn't deserve it, and to think through it all, at the end of it all, she lets me be her friend... it's pretty cool.

You hear that? Moms are pretty cool.

Happy mother's day, Mom! I love you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Promote what is kind

Earlier this week, I walked into the clinic break room, ready to heat up my lunch. As always, the TV was tuned to the news, where they were discussing what to do with the Boston Marathon bomber's bodies. A conservative, Christian co-worker loudly remarked we shouldn't care. She said they deserved nothing, she spewed out hateful words towards them, their families, and the dealings with their now corpses.

Then, something amazing happened. Another co-worker looked right at her and said, "Honey, God may not have been in what they were doing, but he is not in what you are saying right now." My co-worker tried to argue her point, about how evil they were, about how they deserved to be treated like dogs, etc. etc. and my other colleague would not budge. "Coming back with hate is not accomplishing anything", she concluded.

I'm not debating calling that which is evil by it's name. I'm not debating the tragedy of what happened. But I will not debate that in that one moment, the Church did not stand for hate or unkindness within it's own Body.

 Peter struck out with a sword at Jesus' arrest, and in his mind, he was justified. But justice by our definition alone is always off. Jesus' response is simply summarized here in Luke 22:51: "But Jesus said, 'No more of this.' And he touched the man’s ear and healed him."

It is easy to cast hate, violence, evil thoughts towards things we find unfair, the things we find ugly, or things that hurt us. What an amazing reminder for me this week that promoting kindness should always be my first thought, even when it's unfair. Isn't this the harder path? To always respond in love? Isn't that the path Jesus showed us?

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8

"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'"
Romans 12:19

Friday, May 3, 2013

and then Justin Timberlake wrote that song

{written on the 20th anniversary of the passing of my paternal grandfather}
Did you ever feel grateful our generation's Justin was Timberlake and not Bieber? Who would have ever thought JT was actually kind of ok, all things considered?

In the past couple of months, I've felt like our youth is sort of slipping. Not like Robert and I are getting old (though I will not comment on how I fall asleep at 9:30pm regularly), but how I can feel our 20s ending. Robert had his gallbladder out. We are making big life/career decisions. We aren't buying time like we used to. There are realities to this stage of life, good and hard ones. One of the hardest ones, for me, was the cancer diagnosis of my only living grandparent.

My days with her are ending.

I am no stranger to death, or even death before it's time. So even I am surprised by how hard this reality is for me, though my grandmother is in her 80s. This has all been swirling around in my head, emotions I couldn't quite pin down. Then I heard the new Justin song "Mirrors" for the first time with this introduction - he wrote it about dealing with the reality of losing his grandparents.

Boom. Crying in the car over a Justin Timberlake song. If you hear it, it sounds like any other "baby I don't want to lose you song"... unless you know that's what it's about. Then you'll cry in your car.

Every once in a while, when we meet success, when we do something big, when I hold my niece or nephew, when we sing a hymn, when I see the laughter in my sister's eyes... I feel my grandparents who have already passed. Not in a creepy ghost way, but I am aware that in no small way what I have is possible only because of their hard work and sacrifice. I want to call my Grandpa Young, have him be proud of the financial stability Robert and I have worked for, have him know we bought our first home together before 30. I want to take my Grandma Young shopping, and see how her taste and love for the expensive has come right out in us. When we sing in church, I want hear the booming voice of my Grandpa Milt, echoing the prayers and praises of saints for generations. I want them to know how grateful I am for what they gave us. I want to make them proud. And I don't want to let go. If I'm honest, it's a little intimidating to feel like I'm about to press on through this next stage.

'Cause I don't wanna lose you now
I'm lookin' right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I'll tell you, baby, it was easy
Comin' back into you once I figured it out
You were right here all along

It's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn't get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it's clear as this promise
That we're making
Two reflections into one
Cause it's like you're my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me
"Mirrors", Justin Timberlake

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Holy Grail

I wrote previously about our quest to find a low carb pizza crust. {http://chrissysdullmoments.blogspot.com/2013/04/2-crust-bake-off.html}
 I had not been able to make any real progress here. In a moment of complete determination  I read through several recipes, blog posts, reader comments, etc. to find the "key" to making a really good low carb pizza crust.

Friends, I have found our Holy Grail of pizza crusts. My main qualifications were...
-low carb
-soy free
-not more complicated to make then what I was currently doing
-not full of hard-to-find, expensive ingredients
-not require equipment I don't have

As a bonus? THIS CRUST IS VEGGIE BASED!

It's a tiny bit complicated to make, but if you follow this girl's blog post (read it all the way through first), it isn't too bad at all. She does a great job of explaining it. Per reader's comments and my own preferences, here is the recipe I used...

1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower - should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Few shakes of Penzey's pizza seasoning
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese + mozzarella cheese (we don't love parmesan cheese, so I put half of the 1/4 cup of parmesan and filled up the rest with mozzarella)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon almond meal or gluten-free pizza mix (she says this is option, I recommend it to soak up moisture)

The blog: 

I followed her instructions very carefully. I heated my pizza pan in the oven, since I don't have a pizza stone. I generously greased the parchment paper. I had 3 cups of processed cauliflower "snow" and I recommend going this route. I don't know how little pizza she eats, but 3 cups made a crust just barely big enough for Robert and I to share. I plan on making a bigger one the next time. Maybe we just eat a lot, who knows? But I could have had another slice, since there is a lot less to this pizza then a traditional pizza.

Other tips...
Once my crust was ready on my pan, before the first baking, I patted it down with paper towels. I gently pressed them over and over on the crust to soak up extra liquid.

I baked it the first time until it was good and brown. My middle could have stood a little longer. I was worried about burning it, but upon seeing the rest of the crust while eating, it would have been fine.

I used the convection function on my oven for about 6-7 minutes when I baked the crust the first time. I think this helped to crisp it up evenly.

Robert said this was the best low carb crust I have made yet! This made me extremely happy, since 1) soy flour isn't cheap 2) we can both eat this crust 3) it is cauliflower based. WIN!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Let's shove it

My sweet friend wrote about body image today. It really made me stop and listen. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm a health coach - I talk to people all day about weight loss. I go home - my husband is knocking it out of the park with his own goals, with me researching and cooking every step of the way to help him.

I currently have 3 work out DVDs I am rotating, along with the AFAA's posture exercises, along with my running/ellpitcal. I just finished reading "Wheat Belly" and "Why We Get Fat".

I had a moment last night when I was hungry, and between the workouts and the books and the everything, I felt paralyzed about trying to think of what to eat.

Yes. Paralyzed. Not so much in "this is going to make me fat" as it was, "everything is going to kill me - there is nothing I can eat right now." I think ate some chocolate.

It's easy to get worked up. It is good to be reminded that God designed us, and that what matters the most isn't how high I can rock star jump, how many carbs I didn't eat today, or why I cannot for the life of me get my minutes per mile any lower.

What matters is that He has chosen me.

When Rick was living with us, I was making us late one time when we were trying to leave for a family event. I think I had 20 outfits spread across the bedroom. Rick asked Robert what the hold up was, to which the answer was, "Chrissy cannot find anything to wear." I corrected him with, "No, everything I try to wear makes me look fat." Rick asked me a very simple question,
"Doesn't everyone coming to this thing love you?"
I became paralyzed again, and I answered, "Um, yeah sure."
"Then why does it matter?"
I left with whatever outfit I had on.

Rick was and is actually very active about reversing women's poor body images. In the most non-creepy-way ever, he would cut right through whatever it was that day and get me to just let it go. He will tell any of his female friends to shove it when they tear themselves down. Robert is a great husband and really tries to get me to stop picking at myself, but some times, I feel like he has to, you know? Like your mom has to say your piano solo was the best at the recital. Between Rick's positive attitude and his cooking, I gained 8 lbs when he lived us for - for real. He told me all the time to gain about 10 more, ha! He moved out and I lost it and then some more, but now I'm stuck at this point - the paralyzed point - and I think, "Maybe we need to take it down a notch."

I need to remember that what really matters is that everyone who is showing up in my life loves me, especially the One who made me, who loves me more than I could ever imagine.

And guys, let's shove it. Let's stop tearing ourselves down.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I love being an aunt more than anything - no really.

This weekend we will celebrate our nephew's fifth birthday. {Don't ask me how it's possible. Just don't}

Five years ago, I became an aunt for the very first time.

Honestly, I love being an aunt more than anything. I love my job. I love being a health coach. I have awesome friends, and I love being with them. I love our church, I love being part of the body of Christ. My sister, my best friend, I could spend days with her on end and love it. I love cooking for people. I love making people laugh.

But I love being an aunt. The only thing I may love more is being married to my husband. But as I told him when we met, I was an aunt first, and it's hard to let go of your first love. {This is a joke - how my nephew had my heart and Robert had to be second. Anyone who knows us knows that my husband is always my first priority, I'm the luckiest to have him, and I love him more than anything}

Everything about my nephew and niece just... just... fills my heart. Even when they drive me crazy. Even when they scream so loud that I think it caused hearing damage. Even when my nephew threw up in my house, or my niece screamed at the sight of me because she wants Robert, not me. I could not love it more.

I gave up trying to rotate this adorable photo
Becoming an aunt changed everything for me -- it was the first real thing in my life that made me think, "I've got to get my act together and be responsible." It was the first thing that took away my need to be selfish {don't worry, I'm still selfish}, that turned my priorities upside down, that bonded me closer to those around me in a way I could never imagine.

 Becoming an aunt was a huge act of sanctification in my life.

And so as I go to celebrate our nephew's fifth birthday, I am thankful. I am thankful God chose to use Abram's being knit together to knit together some redemption in me. I am thankful that I was inspired to be a better person. I am thankful our God uses the everyday things - your sister having a baby - to change our hearts and to make us reflect Him all the better.

I am thankful for the way my niece looks up at me when I grab my keys and says, "But I want to stay with you!" I am thankful for the way my nephew crawls into my lap and puts his face very close to mine to tell me what he's most excited about.

Happy birthday to our laser-loving, scheming, negotiating, light bulb-breaking, joke-telling, convinced-he-needs-a-gold-platted-grappling-hook-more-than-anything-for-his-birthday nephew.




Monday, April 8, 2013

Pizza dough

Pizza night is a ritual in our house, and every Friday I make homemade pizza. If you are a guest in our home, I make you pizza, too! Homemade pizza is my favorite thing to eat, so when we got married, we decided to make it a weekly occurrence.

Now that we are eating low-carb and grain free, it's been challenging. In order to support my husband's commitment I have faithfully made him a low-carb pizza every week starting in February. The easiest way I found was a soy-flour crust. Since soy and I do NOT get along, I've also been making a normal crust for me and calling it my "one big cheat" a week. However, it's a lot of work to make 2 whole crusts. This week, I tried making an almond flour crust. I really should have taken a photo!

My sister let me buy some her almond flour so pizza crust was the first thing I was excited to try! It was pretty good. It doesn't quite taste the same as that yeasty-goodness of normal pizza crust, but it didn't taste "like a vegetable" and I could hold it with my hands, which is an accomplishment if you've ever baked anything grain-free.

I've found a couple more recipes that I'm excited to try -- and I may need some judges to help me determine the best one!

So why grain-free? We are both eating low-carb for weight loss and health. Whatever you probably know about "low carb" or "Atkins", throw it out the window. We eat plenty of vegetables and I eat fruit, though in moderation. We have both lost quite a bit of weight without having to count calories or increase exercise. The most challenging part of this is the first 2-3 weeks. Once you get into a routine and find what works for you, I don't find it any harder than eating "healthy". My biggest change was givnig up all those easy, processed goods and candy I bring for snacks and lunches. Now I bring nuts and half a Larabar for a morning snack, and I have a string cheese and some raw veggies for an afternoon snack. This is much, much better than some sugar-filled yogurt, granola bar, etc. I cannot believe how many veggies I eat now and how lazy I was before with my eating!

The best parts of eating low-carb and grain-free? I am not hungry, and when I am, I am usually filled easily with a simple protein shake or snack. No more counting down until the next time to eat! I have way more energy. My middle and belly, the place it's hardest for me to lose weight, has shrunk quite a bit! I've gotten to my current weight before when I've lost weight, but this is the only time I've gotten my core this small. Surprisingly, it's also pretty easy to stick to, unlike some other very restrictive diets. It's not without it's challenges (like the vegetarian wedding we went to this weekend), but I'm also not going to freak out if 10-20% of the time I let it go so I can have a fun time somewhere.

I never, ever thought we'd be "those people" who do things like "not eat processed goods" or avoid gluten or wheat. I also never thought we'd be able to lose this much and feel this good and be able to sustain it. So... success!

For the almond flour pizza crust I tried, go to...
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/863932-almond-meal-pizza-crust

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Battle of the cosmetics

For my birthday, my wonderful sister gave me a gift that every girl loves - cheap cosmetics. Who doesn't want to try a new blush? So, I excitedly started wearing Elf blush in tickled pink.

I liked the blush so much that I decided to do a little experiment with my daily staples - my foundation primer, and my foundation. My face can shine through anything, and I have an odd undertone that is tough to match. I have tried so many combos of primer and foundation - pricey brands like MAC, Mary Kay, Clinique; cheap brands like Cover Girl and Physicians Formula. I really only have one that kinda works. That's Estee Lauder Idealist primer with Estee Lauder Double Wear Liquid foundation. I'm pretty happy with it on a daily basis, but I still get some shine through, and it's so expensive. 
Primer -  $60
Foundation - $25
Total - $85

So I bought the Rimmel #2 Face Primer/Mattifyer and the Elf Flawless Finish Liquid foundation.
Primer - $6
Foundation - $6
Total - $12

The result? It's almost the same. I do like the expensive stuff a little better, but the cheap stuff works. The drugstore combo gives me a great finish and it lasts pretty long. If I blot mid-day, it does 90% of what EL products do. So... that means I'd be willing to pay 10% more to get that extra 10%, but let's say I'd be willing to pay 15%.. that's $13.80, so I'd be willing to pay $14. Not $85. I LOVE the EL products, but... for $12? Elf & Rimmel will do. 

Do you have a cheap product you love? Or an expensive product you'll shell out your kidney for?

By the way, if you love natural products, check out my friend's Etsy shop {www.etsy.com/shop/SimplyBeautifulBandB}. I use her nighttime face oil and it's lovely. Definitely worth every penny, especially since profits go to benefit orphans.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jesus, friend of sinners

It's Holy Week, so I'm not fighting about anything on facebook. I am not going to blog about gay marriage. I am going to blog about my conversation with my husband last night.

"Does gay marriage affect me?" I ask Robert, as I'm brushing my teeth.
"What are you talking about?" He asks. Then I remember that I'm the news correspondent in our family and quickly update him about what's going on in the world and on facebook.

{We didn't get a good answer to that question, by the way. We talked it over and went through a lot.} 

Robert is reading through the Bible right now with a group of men at church, led by our pastor. He is right in the worst of the Old Testament right now - judges, sin, punishment, demolishing of nations.

I'm reading a Bible study about revival in your heart with our women's Bible study. I'm in the middle of studying God's holiness and my heart. I'm in the middle of reviewing the message on the cross.

Image Copyright Cory Schoolland,
used with permission

This was not the most conducive background for a debate about gay marriage, the state, the church, etc. While Robert is talking about God smiting Israel, I'm talking about personal repentance. So we didn't get anywhere other than discussion, which is not a bad thing. I was thinking about that juxtaposition, what Robert's reading and what I'm studying, and I realized, it's not by accident. It is what everything is about.

What a strange overlap, no? That sin is so severe. That we are all so broken. That we actively choose to wander in the dessert over obeying and loving God. That we are eternally doomed to destruction because of our actions. That is the horizontal line of the cross. We are broken people. That horizontal line is pointing right at us, people.

Then there's Jesus. Jesus who came to fulfill the law so we could be relieved of it's burden. Jesus who looked at the "church" of the day and confronted it. Jesus who said that we are to serve and be poor and get dirty and love more than we are comfortable loving. Jesus, who endured a painful, shameful death... for me. That is the vertical line of the cross. We are broken people, and Jesus saved us anyway. The line, it's coming right down to the lowly and undeserving.

John 8 tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. I am the Pharisee, eager to condemn and act righteous, and I want to have something to call "wrong" so I can see myself as right. I am the woman, caught, shamed, sinful, both deserving of my punishment and so desperately in need of grace.

What does Jesus say to me? Two things.

1. Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.
2. Neither do I condemn you, now go and leave your life of sin.

What does this show me? 1 - I need to fight for justice. I need to be more loving in the way I view other people. I need to put down the stones.
2- I am wretched, and Jesus saved me. He calls me to so much more than a life of sin or a life of stone throwing.

I don't know what this means for you. I'm not judging your responses to issues at hand or your convictions. I only know what it means for me. I only know that those 2 statements are very convicting and seem like an impossible challenge. I only know that, as Easter, approaches, I will only have one prayer, one praise. The praise of salvation. The prayer for more love, more of Christ in my life.

"Oh Jesus,
friend of sinners,
break our hearts
for what breaks yours."
- Casting Crowns

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I've been out of college for over 6 years? no way.

If you don't know this, I didn't have exactly a stellar time at my alma mater, Wheaton College. It's too long to write about, so I won't. I will summarize by saying this - it was a dark, difficult time for me. The one bright spot in my college career was when I chose to leave for a semester to do an urban studies program via Westmont in San Francisco. A big thanks to Matt for getting me to do that, btw. The friends I talk about "from college" are 90% from that one semester. {I don't tell people that because it's kind of embarrassing, but I digress}

Regardless of the pain, discomfort and depression of my college years, I am thankful every single day for the education I received. With each passing year, I realize what a true, precious gift it is. As much as going through the Survey of Old Testament for 3 hour blocks in a night class made me truly understand the suffering of Job, at least I surveyed the Old Testament. As much as New Testament felt a little tedious at times (I mean, 3 of the books are the same, people, and you have to talk about it over and over and then contrast it with the one that's different, it gets old), I remember so much of what we learned. I remember professors who had devoted their lives to studying specific materials coming right out and saying that had totally different views on topics from what I had ever been taught (mind blown, right?). I remember learning how to read texts, how to study, how to pay attention and take it seriously. I remember being stunned in a Survey of Calvin History & Theology when I read about how Calvin lived in poverty and with daily taking of the elements. I remember memorizing Scripture in Spanish and having to understand it's new implications, because not all the words are the same.

I remember Urban, that semester in which everything about faith seemed to change for my college years. I remember feeling hope again. I remember learning how to hear, to learn, to love and advocate for the less fortunate and hated. I remember being pushed beyond my limit in what I thought about hard work, faith, culture, values, and friendships. A part of me believes I would 100% not be able to do my job today if I hadn't been prepped for that type of environment in that semester. What I do requires both an attitude of openess and being willing to say "I'm game" (#urbanjoke) and to deal with the hard realities out there. And when I see an argument about faith going on today, I write on my professor's Facebook wall for the name of a book we read because it changed my life and I need to share it with friends. I'm grateful I read it 5 years ago, not 5 months ago. I'm grateful other professors and friends start chiming in immediately with the title and author.

Would I do it all again? Would I choose, knowing what I know now, to go back and undo and choose differently for that time in my life?

I'm not sure. But I can be thankful. I can be thankful everyday that what they taught me informs my faith and life today. I can be thankful for the gift of those professors, for the moments where God chose to speak to my heart & brain (#wheatonjoke), and for the moments that made me into who I am today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How did it go..?

Not too long ago, I wrote about my sick grandmother, about how inspiring she is
 
She and my mom came to visit last week, and I've had quite a few people ask me how it all went. I know they just aren't asking what we did, I know they are feeling out for how we are handling the fact that she has cancer and she only has a limited time left on the earth.
 
A good friend asked me this "How did it go...?" question, and this is what I wrote her back.
 
It was wonderful to have them - I felt like I was begging them to come back, which made me feel like such an adult. Like I realize how precious this time is with them, how fast it's slipping away. On Friday night, I sat with an asleep Abram in my lap at the restaurant (some things never change ;) ) across from my grandma and I wanted to stop time. She's dying, it's real. Abram is growing up, one day he won't fall asleep in my lap. I wanted to hold onto the moment so desperately, but I knew it was sand slipping through my fingers. I know I may not have many dinners left sitting across the table from my only grandparent, holding my already too big nephew, watching my husband play with my niece who is obsessed with him. I wanted to find the cosmic "pause" button and hold it all too tightly. It will all change, and sooner than I care for. Sorry, I sound so depressed and I'm not... it's just... how it is. I'm not ready for her to be dying, but I know all at the same time it's not something I can do anything about.

I did talk to my grandmother a little about raising 6 kids before there were even microwaves. I mean, how can you raise 6 children without even having a microwave?!?!?!?! She said it didn't matter, she still uses a pot to heat things on the stove. She talked about how wonderful it was, to have them in her life, how she just got them one at a time and figured out how to do it one at a time.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Let's read some books

I love to read. Robert has needed more "study" time due to some things he is doing at church and some tutorials on investing he's been doing, so it's been giving me more reading time {that, and remember how I said I was going to freak out less about cleaning the house? more reading! less cleaning!}.

What have I been reading?
Lord, Change My Attitude - Bible study by James MacDonald
We did this study last fall in women's Bible study. I was very nervous about joining the women's Bible study at church {if you don't know why, just talk to me for about 10 minutes some time and you'll understand why I may not exactly be a cookie-cutter women's Bible study participant}. I am so, so glad I sucked it up and joined! This study pushed me, convicted me, and brought us together as a group in amazing ways. It actually changed the way I thought and acted in my life. That's a good study.

The Shack - William P. Young
I am way behind the trend on reading this book, and I'm 99% finished. I really like it!


A Year of Biblical Womanhood - Rachel Held Evans
I knew I was going to like this book when I saw that the author went by Rachel Held Evans, and when a friend of mine blogged about how much she liked it. This book was very challenging and very comforting all at the same time. Parts of Rachel's experiment and convictions really made me want to be better, to seek God more in areas of my life. Parts of Rachel's experiment had me wanting to shout for joy, to remember that I'm not the only one who thinks/believes/is led in certain ways. When you are a childless young woman living in the suburbs of the Midwest, some times you really question the things you learned back in college, living in San Francisco, or being a missionary in Mexico. What seemed so obvious and real in those scenarios (not to mention Biblical and Spirit-filled) often can appear extreme, crazy, and unaccepted by the majority here. This book gave me some hope, and Rachel blogs, so I can continue to be challenged and comforted!

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World - Joanna Weaver
As part of another women's group at church, I am reading this book. I don't have anything negative to say about it, and I hear and see the author's heart on every page. I'm just having a really hard time connecting with it. I like her point -- that we need to find intimacy with God and worship and service from there... but there are times when I feel like it's so touchy-feely, as well as so responive to a problem I believe the church-created. If the problem is part my heart and part communal, it does me a lot of good to fix my heart, but then what? If my heart is right with God and now I look around me to see a system I cannot engage in because it emphasizes the problem.. what do we do?
 
That's it for now. What are you reading?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home is where the heart is

Friends, did you know that Robert and I have had a crazy 3 years of marriage?

When we got married, we happily resided on Stockard Street, and our plan was to pay off the house and a buy a new one in about 5 years.

A few months after we got married, Robert switched jobs. A couple months after that, SWC asked us if we would consider moving to Nashville as they had a big need, and Robert needed experience to get ahead. Knowing it was temporary and the right move career-wise, we agreed.

We moved.
We still had our house and were in the middle of an awful real estate time.

With one income (Robert's) and lots of prayer, we signed a lease on a rental house in Nashville. God provided a job for me immediately. A job I loved, and a job that provided me with so much experience and direction for my next career step. With what we had, we paid our rent in Nashville and our mortgage in Indy.

Our rental house in TN was small, funky, and the deal of the century. While it was far from ideal long-term (the elliptical was in the living room, it had 1.5 baths, the bedrooms were tiny!), it was perfect for a temporary house for a young couple and a sweet dog (Otis loved his 2 acres with forest). We'd walk down the small, windy country road, drenched in sweat in April in TN, planning trips home to Indy and talking about what was next.

God provided the best renters ever (my parents!) after a couple months of dual house-paying. When they moved out, the house was in perfect and better condition than when we left. A few months after they moved out, we moved back to Indy. When my parents left, we put the house on the market. We moved in, unpacked as little as possible, kept the house on the market, and walked through probably 100 houses (I'm not exaggerating! We had a spreadsheet). After 3 months, we got a rent-to-buy offer, but she had to have the house in 4 weeks.

If you've walked through 100 houses and not found one you'd buy and learn you have 4 weeks to find & close on a house, you will think "no way".

My brother-in-law called us and said, "I have a house - you need to see it". We walked into the house on Camelot House Way and put in an offer a few days later. Since we were buying from a builder, they were motivated to close quickly and pushed us through. Since I was just working part-time since coming back from Nashville, we had to qualify for our home loan while having our other mortgage all on Robert's income. We got approved. Don't ask me how. We moved a lot of money around to a lot of places and prayed like crazy, and we closed. Don't ask me how we saved enough for a down payment while paying a rent and mortgage and moving (Dave Ramsey?). We just fought and we just did it.

Just over a year ago, we moved into our home and our renter moved in the old house. For about 6 months, things were fine. Then things were not fine, but we made it. We saw God's provision in so many areas. We never regretted moving into our current home, as it was clear it was where we were supposed to be. We put the house back on the market this fall, got a cash offer, and closed yesterday!

So, for the first time a in a long time, the Bracks have just one house to think about. When I look back at each of those moments, I see God working. I have a friend whose family has had some crazy medical issues. Every time she starts panicking about one, she hears God say, "Really? How many times have I provided for you in the worst medical situation possible? You are still going to worry?". That's how I feel about our housing situation. I saw time and time again that we had direction, provision, and no reason to panic.

And now, it's over. And now, we face what's next, whatever it may be.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day - Letters to the Editor

Robert reads every post I write, though I'm not sure why. Probably because he needs to know how much smack I'm talking about him in a public forum.

He read my last post, and he did not think it was accurate. It's our very first "letter to the editor"! So, I am going to ammend my original comment... And no, he was contesting the actual conversation, because that did happen, but my summary:

"People wonder how two people who do not see eye-to-eye (always) in politics can be so happily married. This your answer. We never actually get around to discussing the issues."

Robert would like you to know that this is a false statement. What I meant and probably should have said was...

Some times, we get so worked up and take ourselves so seriously, it's good just to laugh, find joy, and remember that life and God is bigger than us or our views. It's good to remember that, even though we may disagree, we are all human and have much in common. It's good to remember that, at the end of the day, Jesus isn't checking my voting record but my heart and my faith.

In our house, we do talk about politics, and our various views on them. We don't always see eye-to-eye. We don't mind talking to our friends about this, hearing their views, disagreeing or agreeing with them. Discussion, learing, cognitive development all are welcome! I'm a bit of a news and political junkie, so I am frequently updating Robert and asking other people what they thought about this or that. Robert would like you to know that we do discuss the issues, and we do take them seriously.

But we laugh a lot, too. And we only take ourselves so seriously. And we always, always try to find love in our thoughts, words, responses, and views (try, not succeed). Happy Valentine's Day!

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
 Colassians 3:14

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The political take

Everything you need to know about our family.

The scene - Robert trying to find a show to watch, as well as checking to make sure shows are recording.

R: What? Why are there no shows on?
C: The State of the Union.
R: Oh, okay. Wait, what's this? The Westminster Dog Show? REALLY?!
C: That's your choices, honey -- State of the Union or Westminster Dog Show.
R: That's not fair.
Turns on State of the Union
C: I wonder what the green lapel ribbons are for...
R: He supports Irish breast cancer.
C: I don't think you meant to say that. I think you mean awareness. And they are in honor of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

People wonder how two people who do not see eye-to-eye (always) in politics can be so happily married. This your answer. We never actually get around to discussing the issues.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Bod Pod: It's better than you think

When I went to the Bod Pod, I wasn't happy. That was Monday, January 14.

Today is Saturday, February 2.

I've lost 4.3 lbs (I'm putting the .3 there, it counts).
I am happy today.

I cut out so much sugar. I can't even tell you. And I'm not talking candy. I'm talking anything on a nutritional label that says "sugar". By far, the hardest thing is my coffee in the morning. I don't add anything to my coffee besides 1% milk, which has 11g of sugar for 8 oz (I don't use 8 oz). I have tried cutting it with unsweetened almond only to realize... it's awful. I'm still working on that. For the record, I like creamer and half and half even less (I'm a total freak). I've made peace with protein shakes.

I went from trying to catch my breath doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD to being pretty good at Level 2 and able to do Levels 2 and 1 together. My speed is up 20% on the elliptical. 

I feel really pretty good. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished, and it's given me a whole new perspective on what being truly committed health-wise means. I'm not saying that I'm going to do this forever, but I will say this -- I listen to people all day long tell me they are committed and want this and... they don't do it. I saw it. I wanted it. I became committed, in a fairly radical way {for me}. I watch people every day choose to eat and sloth themselves into the hospital, one step closer to their death bed, and it's changing me. 

You can change, too. That's what I say back to people all day long. It's never too late, you are never too far gone, and you have a thousand choices every day. You can change, too.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lord, unto me

When I wrote earlier this week (it feels like forever ago) about finding God's faithfulness in things I worry about, I didn't leave it there. 

I decided to pray more. No, for real, I'm not just saying that. Inspired by a quote my Aunt Susan shared with me, I decided to make a calendar of all my biggest worries and commit a day to pray for them. 

"Worship and worry cannot exist at the same time in the same heart. 
They are mutually exclusive." Ruth Graham.

I said, okay, replace worry with worship.

Yesterday (and in the days before), only days after this, we received quite a bit of good news around the Brack house. Frequently our less-than-dull-moments tend to err on the side of just straight up bad news. 

We found out that my grandmother's medication is working! Though it is clear that there is no cure for her cancer, she is well again like she hasn't been in years. I hate to call cancer a blessing, but they found so much of what was ailing her, and they were able to get her on medications that allow her to eat, which allows her to restore her energy, which has apparently made her become much more like her old self. 

We got an offer on our house that needs to be sold! There could be a light at the end of our tunnel with moving, living in multiple places, paying all over the place for residencies. 

Robert's job got some good news, too. It's too detailed to explain, but at least the company is moving forward in ways we were promised when we moved to Nashville for his career.

My sister and her husband got some excellent news about their newest business project. It's not my information to share, so I won't, but let me tell you, it is praise worthy!

Rick and Emmett came over last night, too. Originally, we scheduled this night as a good-bye, knowing Emm was going to have to go back to his mother's after his {all too short} month here in Indy. Again, it's not my story to tell, so I won't... but he's here for now. He's not going back for quite some time -- longer than that if we can help it.We all were so ecstatic.

When Emm walked over to the place where we used to keep a big bin of toys, he looked up, both bewildered and hurt and said, "My toys?!"

In that moment, I saw God's faithfulness. I saw how Emmett remembered us, remembered his place in our lives, and had some type of expectation that he was provided for and loved. 

In that moment, I saw myself, looking up, totally bewildered and God saying, "Hey, it's okay, I just had to move the toys upstairs." Well, metaphorically. 

All I hath needed, thy hand hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness
Lord, unto me.

PS: I'm still doing the prayer calendar. Want to join?