Archive | November, 2008

The holiday weekend

30 Nov

This holiday weekend felt blissfully long and disappointingly short. Long because Friday I woke up and felt like it should be Sunday–but there were 2 more glorious days to go until then. Short because it’s now over.

Yesterday, Travis and I went to Barnes and Noble to look at books. I bought “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose” by Matthew Kelly. I’m excited to read it, but won’t let myself start it until I finish “Knowing God” (which I find very hard to read when I’m sick because when my head hurts and my ears are ringing, I can’t concentrate on anything very deep).

Then we went to the Rec. I had to exercise. I can’t stand sitting around all day “resting.” I feel worse when I do that. So I walked on the treadmill at an incline and then did situps. Today I did one of my Pilates videos. It feels good to be active again (I didn’t exercise at all last week due to being sick).

Last night, we went to the Nutcracker with Paul and Carrie. It was so fun to watch! It made me really want to dance again. The school that put it on (the Boulder Ballet) has a drop-in Beginner’s Ballet class for adults on Monday nights. It’s up in Boulder so I may not do it…but I have definitely been motivated to search more earnestly for an adult class that I can take.

Today I decided to not go to church. I can’t sing (my voice has been coming and going due to coughing a lot) and we were supposed to be working the Toddler room (which I couldn’t because of being sick…though the Lord was very faithful in finding someone to cover for me). I listened to last week’s sermon by John Piper instead. It was good–and it reminds me of how much I miss his preaching. Travis and I continue to try to keep open minds for our main pastor…but more often than not, we walk away from his sermons feeling a little disappointed.

I just love Piper’s enthusiasm, his child-like wonder at the Word of God that inspires me to see it through a new lense. I love how he quotes other Bible verses to show how the whole Bible ties together. I love how he digs deeper and doesn’t just tell us what the verse means but analyzes why the verse means what it does and what that meaning means our relationship with God. I love being challenged to see the Bible in new ways and being convicted that I do not understand the gospel enough nor am I sufficiently riveted by it.

One benefit of this whole being-sick thing is that it has motivated me to take my health more seriously. I have known that I need to drink more water (especially living in CO–I get headaches from being dehydrated frequently), exercise more (I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week), and cutting back on the sweets (at home I do pretty well but at work…) I have been inspired to drink more water, exercise at least 5 times a week, and to really limit my sweets to at most one a day and to make them things that really count (no more Tootsie Rolls and peanut butter cups at work!)

We’ll see how long it lasts…but I’m really going to try!!

Photo Update

28 Nov

Despite my getting sicker (I now have an ear infection!), we had a very good Thanksgiving. As I mentioned before, we went over to my old boss, Carol Ann’s, sister-in-law’s house. Yes, it was a big group but it was a lot of fun. The food was great and we played cards and watched football afterwards. But then I discovered that I was getting an ear infection–and a bad one at that. My ear was throbbing all night (hence my doctor’s visit today for some antibiotics).

But that didn’t stop me from getting up at 5:20 AM to go shopping on Black Friday! I went with my friend Carrie and her almost-2-year-old daughter, Ruby. The first stop we made was Walmart, where I picked up a new DVD player for $35 (because ours has been on the fritz for a long time) and a dustbuster/swiffer/vacuum thingy for cleaning our kitchen floors.

Then we went to the Flatirons Crossing Mall, where I bought these 2 cute things from American Eagle.

A puffy vest--the fabric is so smooth.

A puffy vest--the fabric is so smooth.

 

Long sleeve tee with embroidered detail

Long sleeve tee with embroidered detail

I told Carrie as we were walking in to the store that I love shopping when I actually have money to spend! They were having a Buy One, Get one 50% on all Tops. I asked one of the employees if the vest was included in that sale and he said yes. When I finally checked out (with a different employee), the girl said that the vest was technically outerwear so that it shouldn’t be in on the deal but since I was “braving shopping on Black Friday,” she gave it to me. 🙂

After looking at some tall dressy boots with no luck, we headed over to Panera so Carrie could work a little (she has an internet job that she does 3 days a week from home). I had a chocolate chip bagel and a hot chocolate. Delicious… I heart Panera.

Then we went to the Westminster Mall to go to JCPenney, since they had some really cute boots in their newspaper ad. Carrie bought some white, moccasin-type boots that were super cute but I didn’t find anything that I liked (or thought my feet could fit in–I have very wide toes so the pointy boots are outlawed for me).

After that store, Ruby had had enough so we left. We had been shopping for about 4 hours though so we thought she did very well for having to get up at 6:30 to go shopping.

When I got home, I did some Christmas decorating. Travis helped by putting little screw hooks into the wall. This is what I put up:

Christmas wreath

Christmas wreath

Santa I got from Travis' aunt last year for Christmas

Santa I got from Travis' aunt Terri last year for Christmas

Our little Christmas tree that we bought last year when we lived in an apartment.

Our little Christmas tree that we bought last year when we lived in an apartment. We'll eventually get a bigger one but right now, this will do. 🙂

Our stockings that I decorated.

Our stockings that I decorated. The little santa stocking holders were a Christmas present from Travis' aunt, Cheryl.

The poinsettia plant Travis bought me for our 1 1/2 year anniversary.

The poinsettia plant Travis bought me for our 1 1/2 year anniversary. He knows how much I love Christmas!

Ornaments in the window. I still have to replace the middle one...a couple of the gems fell out (that's what you get from Walmart!)

Ornaments in the window. I still have to replace the middle one...a couple of the gems fell out (that's what you get with Walmart!)

Wreath on the outside door--I'm in love with it.

Wreath on the outside door--I'm in love with it.

Snowman was a Christmas present from Travis' mom

Snowman was a Christmas present from Travis' mom

Nativity set was a wedding present. It's sitting on our kitchen windowsill.

Nativity set was a wedding present. It's sitting on our kitchen windowsill.

Our house decorated with lights

Our house decorated with lights, thanks to my hubby (and YES, it is snowing!!!)

Our garage with the extra lights that we planned to put on the tree in our backyard but couldn't (the back door closes too tightly to run an extension cord through it).

Our garage with the extra lights that we planned to put on the tree in our backyard but couldn't (the back door closes too tightly to run an extension cord through it).

One last thing: I had looked through the Victoria’s Secret catalog and found some boots I liked. I waited until today because I would prefer to buy them in a store, if I could. But after finding nothing I liked, I decided to spring for the boots in VS. They are Skechers so I tried to find them on their website, but couldn’t. I’m thinking that because they aren’t pointy-toed boots, my feet will fit…hopefully!! I bought them today on the VS website. This is what they look like:

I bought the brown ones. I'm excited!! They should get here by Dec. 12th--just in time for our vacation to MN.
I bought the brown ones. I’m so excited!! They should get here by Dec. 12th–just in time for our vacation to Minnesota!

Anyway, I’m glad that even though I’m sick, I’m not just laying on the couch and doing nothing. That is the biggest frustration about being sick: being out of commission for everything. I haven’t exercised all week (though I had dreams that I did and in them, I ended up passing out!)

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!!

Holiday musings

26 Nov

I’m so glad that I have the next 2 days off from work. Not only do I still feel under the weather, there’s not much work to do (can you tell how my job is a rollercoaster–nothing to do one minute, overwhelming the next…don’t even get me started)?

Tonight, Travis and I are getting together with some friends from church for dinner and game night. It is the night we usually have our care group but with a lot of people out of town, we decided to just do an informal get-together. We are having stirfry with (I hope) couscous. Two things I have been craving lately: butternut squash and couscous. I know, it’s weird. And no, I’m not pregnant.

Tomorrow, I plan on sleeping in. Then I will have to cut vegetables for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. We are going to my old boss Carol Ann’s sister-in-law’s house. 2 of my other co-workers (who are married) are coming as well. But we’re not the only ones…there will be 47 of us there. It’s good I grew up with a big, loud family I guess or that might be overwhelming! 

But I still always get a little nervous before meeting a lot of new people at one time. Luckily, I relax after about 10 minutes or so. And if they’re all as friendly and welcoming as Carol Ann, then we’ll have no problem fitting right in!

The day I’m really excited for is Friday though. Travis and I are going to get up early and go shopping for a new DVD player. We saw one at Big Lots for $35 and it’s a VCR/DVD combo, which would be great (we currently have to switch the wires back and forth from the DVD and VCR…yes, I still have VHS tapes. Thanks.) I wish we had everyone’s Christmas list now so that we could do our Christmas shopping when all the deals are going on. But we don’t.

After shopping, we’re going to decorate for Christmas. I already started a little (I love Christmas way too much to have it last for only a month!) but we still need to put up our tree and hang the lights outside. We’re going to decorate our lone tree in our backyard because we look out at the backyard a lot. It’s my family’s tradition that we listen to Manheim Steamroller while decorating for Christmas and opening presents. I told Travis that we must carry on the tradition. Maybe we should start our own tradition as well…something like hot chocolate with a little Peppermint Schnapps? 🙂

Saturday we’re going to The Nutcracker with our friends Paul and Carrie. Our other friend Amy is performing in the ballet, which is the main reason why we’re going. I’m really excited (I love doing Christmas-y things! And I love the ballet!) but Travis wishes we were going to see The Nutcracker on ice. Maybe next year…

Sunday we work in the Toddler classroom again (we did last Sunday too) and then the day is pretty much wide open. I will be baking a cake though because it is Travis’ 24th birthday on December 2nd.

I am very thankful for Thanksgiving and the break that it brings from the daily grind. I am thankful that we decided to say here instead of doing the weekend marathon, driving to MN and trying to see both families. Whew! I get tired just thinking about that. I am thankful most of all for my husband, who makes life just that much sweeter. I am so blessed by him.

Another great thing about Thanksgiving is that it means Christmas is almost here. Yay! It is seriously one of my favorite times of year (and now that I live in Colorado, it may just be my #1 favorite, since the previous #1 was fall and well…they don’t really have fall out here–at least, not MN fall). I love the excitement, the coziness, the family, the cheer, the generosity, the colors, the snow, the cold, the songs, the services. I love that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth because the atmosphere of the season is so fitting. It breaks my heart to know that not every one in the world can celebrate Christmas like we do–and I’m not talking about the presents. I’m talking about the family, the food, the togetherness, the warmth.

Travis and I donated 2 shoeboxes full of toys and school supplies to Operation Christmas Child this year again (though we were a little more prepared than we were last year, when we ran around buying our stuff before church the day it was due). Last year, we got to go volunteer at one of their processing centers in Denver. We missed the boat on that this year, which is a bummer, but hopefully next year, we’ll do it again. 

The Lord miraculously worked it out that Travis and I get to go back to Minnesota for 10 days over Christmas. We’re leaving on the 19th (driving) and coming back on the 29th. Because we want to go to Mexico with my family in March, we were planning on taking a shorter Christmas vacation (I have only 10 days of vacation a year…and I have to accumulate them). But I have 3 holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after). So yay for us!

After hearing tragic stories of people losing their jobs, being foreclosed on, and the other sad things that are happening, I am reminded of all the little things that I have to be thankful for: a roof over my head, food on the table, friends and family who care about me, a loving husband, a job that pays the bills (and is rewarding too!), and most of all, a Savior in heaven and a Father who loves me more than I can fathom.

Beat.

25 Nov

It’s official. I’m sick.

I have a sore throat, a stuffy nose, a pounding headache, and a slight fever of 99.2 degrees F (just so you know, if my temperature had been over 100, I would’ve stayed home for the sake of my co-workers).

While last week, I would’ve been somewhat relieved to be sick (thereby giving me a legit reason to stay home from work where I was doing absolutely nothing all day), this week, it’s just annoying. I actually have work to do and even if I don’t feel well enough to go to work, I have to. Ironic, huh?

I have an hour and a half left of this work day but I can barely keep my eyes open. A night of sickly sleep will do that to you.

But the good news is that last night, I organized my closet (because my sweet, adorable husband put in a closet organizer for me/us–I’ll post pics soon) and I cooked this penne butternut squash dish that I found on the No Slivers Here blog. It was delicious. I would add less pepper next time (it was a little too zesty for me) but Travis loved it (and the recipe made 6 hefty servings, which means plenty of leftovers!)

I’m just bummed that I can’t go to aerobics tomorrow morning (not enough energy) and depending on how tomorrow goes, I may be too sick to go to Thanksgiving dinner. If I stay the same or get better, I’ll be fine. But if I get any worse…I’ll have to eat my feast next week. 😦

B.O.R.E.D.

21 Nov

There’s nothing worse than having nothing to do at work. 

I’ve tried to think of things I could do. Filing? Nothing to file. Organizing? Already organized. Work on the website? Waiting for approval. Work on the postcard? Still waiting on concept. Put address labels on the Thank You cards? Still waiting for the Denver list.

The trouble is (and this isn’t his fault) is that Phil (my boss) has way too much to do. And he is looking for clarification/insight/direction/strategy from Debb and Greg (the VP of Ministry Advancement and the President, respectively), who also have way too much to do.

Ah, yes, the bottleneck. You are back again.

While the idea of having nothing to do at work is somewhat appealing in theory, it is downright loathsome in practice. I see my days tick away, nothing accomplished but sitting in a chair and getting stiff legs. How many blogs can I read? How many times can I change my desktop background? I have even contemplated decorating the office in handmade snowflakes. Hmmm…

My fear when I reach a point like this is that all the things that are bottling up now are going to break loose later. But at this point, I’d welcome a flood of to-do’s. Back in September, I was so busy that trying to stay at 40 hours a week (no overtime pay at our non-profit) became a struggle. We had conference preparations AND a new product launch all happening at the same time. And now? Nada pasa.

We’re kind of in this weird transition phase in the Marketing department. Our director left about a month ago (single tear still!) and then our PR Coordinator just left too (double single tear). Our Marketing Assistant is planning on leaving in January for grad school (though she might still work as a part-time contractor) and our Project/Program Manager only works 2 days a week. Besides me (the Creative Resources Coordinator), there is the Web Guy and our Interim Director, Phil. That is the D2S Marketing Department. Yikes.

What I am really praying for is that they hire someone for some position in the Marketing Department–and soon. I don’t want to be a one-woman Marketing Department. If they don’t hire anyone, I may just threaten to quit as well. We’ll see what happens then.

But at least then I wouldn’t be bored, huh.

Missing Minne-SNOW-ta

20 Nov

Is it really winter? ‘Cause it’s still 70 degrees in Denver. Well, ok, it isn’t 70 today. But on Tuesday, it was 78 degrees here. That’s right–7-8. We actually broke the record by 3 degrees for the highest temperature that was set in 1995.

Until recently, it hasn’t seemed weird that it’s so warm. It’s like an endless August. But then I started thinking about how Christmas is only about a month away.

A month!?!?!?!

Ah, so it IS winter. Well, at least it is somewhere. Definitely not here.

Today it did cool down into the 30s–which, if you ask me, still isn’t winter. A little nippy? Yes. Winter? No.

Last Friday was a glorious day. It snowed. I got so excited that morning that I actually filmed the snow coming down. I wanted to run and play in the sloppy slush. I wanted the snow to coat everything in white until April, when it would make everything muddy and brown. I wanted to be able to wear a wool sweater and a winter coat and STILL be cold.

In short, I wanted Minnesota.

And I still do. Living in Minnesota, I didn’t think I liked it that much. Every Minnesotan likes to think they’re just a little crazy for braving the elements living in the state they do. 60 degrees below zero? You can’t be a pansy to live in a place like that.

It’s no wonder why people stay at home a lot during winter in Minnesota–it’s downright freezing outside most of the time. My hands got frozen so deeply a few years ago that I actually cried when they started to thaw out. (I may have muttered a few choice words as well…)

As a MN resident, I liked to entertain the idea that I really didn’t like the cold weather. Heads down. Scarves covering mouths. Hat covering ears. Mitten-clad hands stuffed into winter coat pockets. Jeans slicked on over long underwear. Boots and wool socks. Boots over nylons with heels to change in to. This is how you go outside in Minnesota. It’s kind of annoying, to be honest. Like when you go to a restaurant, you have to peel 8 layers off just to sit down.

You want to know what Colorado people wear during the winter? Pretty much that exact same thing as Minnesotans do. Only it’s about 40 degrees warmer. 

Most people in Denver only like the snow insomuchas they use it to ski and snowboard. To them, snow is a nuisance otherwise. I was talking to one of my co-workers last Friday when it had snowed and felt myself feeling defensive for snow.

“It’s really not that bad, you know! Once it snows and it’s cleared off the roads and cars, it’s actually quite nice. It makes everything white and pretty and quiet.” There’s a stillness to snow, even when it’s not falling. I loving standing outside in cold weather, listening to the silence…even with the “crunch, crunch” of boots and shoes over the snow, the silence is riveting.    

I thought of the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” today on the way to work. It’s true for me this year. What I wouldn’t give for a great snowstorm. For a white landscape. For a brisk Minnesotan air.

We’re going back to Minnesota for Christmas. I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited for snow in my life.

Divine Courage

17 Nov

When I got home from work today, I made dinner and then watched 2 episodes of The Simpsons, all the while dreading what I had told myself and God I would do today: go talk to my neighbor Patty about what she believed.

I toyed with the idea of just putting it off until tomorrow or not doing it at all. As I was watching commercials of people who were happy and enjoying their life, I felt bitterness in my heart toward God. “Why can’t I just be content in my own little, comfortable bubble? Why do I feel the need to go out there and take risks? Why can’t I just be concerned with myself?”

I had almost decided to not do it but the feeling of laziness and my desire to not spend the whole night on the couch doing absolutely nothing but watch TV made me get up. In an almost robotic motion, I brushed my teeth, grabbed the jelly jar to return to Patty, and walked next door.

God answered my prayers.

I talked to Patty about random things for a little while: her teeth, fish tanks, jelly canning. Then I asked her what I had planned to ask her: “Travis and I were wondering if you and Fern [her mom] would want to come to church with us this Sunday?”

Patty replied that they weren’t really churchgoing people, that church made her uncomfortable, that she had her own beliefs. I asked, “Would you be willing to talk about what you believe?” And she was. I was over at her house for about an hour talking to her about God and Jesus and praying and religion. I was pumped that I had actually done it; but I was also sad when I heard Patty say what she believed. Most of her beliefs she formed herself, through picking and choosing from other religions. Most of it isn’t biblical. But she’s open to talking more about her beliefs! And I have these little pamphlet thingys I got from Campus Outreach that explain things like “Is truth relative?” “Is the Bible reliable?” “Is God fair?” etc. that I think I will utilize the next time I go over to talk to her.

But I’m just pumped that I shared my faith (and explained the gospel at least twice)!! I actually did it! And I know that it was God who enabled me to go over there. I stumbled when trying to explain a few things and was starkly reminded of my lack of memorized Bible verses. But I did it. I was faithful to God’s leading. I am amazed at myself and even more, I am amazed at God. That He would be willing to work with such a coward as me is humbling.

That is the one thing that Patty felt the strongest against: that I shouldn’t feel like I don’t deserve to go to heaven, because (in her words) I do deserve it. She was surprised that Travis felt the same way. I tried to explain to her that knowing I am a sinner saved only by grace and not by anything I have or will do is the thought that gives me hope. I tried to explain that it was a good thing, that it humbled me and made me appreciate what Christ did on the cross all that much more. But she didn’t understand it. It’s one of those things that is music to the believer’s ears but a stumbling block to those who don’t believe.

Just a few reminders to close:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24

“But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3: 23-24

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ…” Ephesians 2:4-5

I wouldn’t want it any other way. Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!