saturday

Yeah, it’s been a while — yet again. I just can’t seem to get back into my blogging habit. I certainly have intended it, but those best laid plans…   I’m often (especially in the shower or while driving) composing blog posts in my head, but I never seem to settle down in front of my laptop and actually type. Maybe it’s because I spend all day in front of a computer, and I just don’t feel like it when I’m home. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had a long spell of insomnia that has leaves me crashing around 9 pm every night.

I really miss it. It was a creative outlet for me, along with photography, and I miss both. I’m going to try, try again, dear blog reader (I hope you’re still there!).

I’m enjoying a rare lazy Saturday morning with coffee and my laptop, so here’s a bit of what’s been going on:

~ We moved just across the border (Georgia/Florida) in April, and I’m feeling a bit more settled in these days.  Just this past week I began working in an office here in Florida, which I’ll do a couple of days a week. I’m grateful for that flexibility. I love working in Thomasville, and the drive is a nice commute that gives me time to think and listen to podcasts (more on that later). It makes for long days away from home, however, so yesterday it was so nice to have an extra hour at home before work. I read the paper and did a load of laundry. And I was home just after 5:00.

~ At the end of May, I flew out to California for the second time this year! This time it was for work. I spent a week at Pepperdine University (overlooking the Pacific Ocean!) for trust school. It’s truly a luxury to be a full-time student, so I was thankful for that week away from distractions — a week packed full of classes and study. I took the test Saturday just before catching the shuttle to the airport. And, wonder of wonders!, all of my flights to and from went smoothly and were on time!

~ I’m on day 20 of whole30. It’s been easier than I thought, and I feel pretty good. I miss eating out (it’s hard to find compliant food in most restaurants) and Greek yogurt, but other than that I’m satisfied.  It’s been helpful to have a few friends in the office eating this way, too. I’m hoping that this will help me discover which foods don’t agree with me (please, please don’t be dairy!). You’re not supposed to weigh for the 30 days, but I couldn’t resist hopping on the scales about a week ago, and at that point I’d lost 6 pounds. Not too bad, especially considering weight loss isn’t the goal.  It’s not a diet! 

Some observations:  Soy is in almost everything!! Boiled eggs are a life saver. Having food prepped for the week is key. Living in a town with Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods is very helpful. Summer is an excellent time to do this — fresh peaches, okra, tomatoes, oh my! Cooking every meal leaves a never-ending stack of dishes to be washed, dried, and put away.

~ Just like I’ve been too pooped to blog, I’ve been too pooped to read at night. I did burn through Gone Girl in about three days (what a disappointment: not one likable character), but other than that, I’m just binging on Netflix because it requires so much less mental effort. I’ve got Why We Get Fat on my nightstand, but can only read about three pages before my eyelids start drooping.

~ I had an eye exam a couple of weeks ago, and just as I suspected, my eyes are worse. It’s the most frustrating thing about aging. I’ve always had excellent vision, and now I’m crippled without glasses.

~ As I mentioned, I often use my commute to listen to podcasts. I subscribe to Dennis Prager‘s and, more recently, my son’s — The 365 with Will Malone. Last week’s episode was a conversation with his sister about art and insecurity. It was fun to drive along listening to a conversation between my son and daughter, this time with no bickering! 😉

~ A beloved high school English teacher passed away this month. She really left her mark on so many of us, and she instilled in me a love of diagramming sentences. She was fairly active on Facebook almost up until the end, and I appreciated that she still cared about her students and their lives. I saw her at a football game a year or so ago, and she was so kind and friendly.

~ Paul and I are planning a little getaway for our first anniversary. Time really does fly, and it’s hard to believe that our first year married is coming to a close in less than three months. God has richly blessed us. A second marriage is very different from a first because we’re aware (almost hyper-aware) of pitfalls. That is a grace that keeps us working to move towards each other when conflict arises. It’s not easy, but it’s good.

~ My poor camera sits neglected in a cabinet. I keep thinking I’ll pull it out, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Well, I’ve lingered in bed long enough this morning. We’ve got several errands to run today, and we’re meeting up with family to celebrate Father’s Day tonight. I truly intend to return to more regular blogging.

If you’re still here, thanks for sticking around!

signature

what’s going on

Well, it’s official: I’m a Florida resident again. We moved last weekend, and we’re both still recovering from the total chaos and exhaustion. My office is closed today, so I’m enjoying a day at home to put things in order. I can’t tell you how glad I am about that! When the nest is a mess, I can’t rest. 🙂

Paul and I are so very thankful that the move part is over. God graciously provided excellent weather (sunny and cool), and Paul’s son and three of his friends went above and beyond in heavy lifting and cheerful dispositions. As I shared on instagram, I walked about 9 miles inside my house on Saturday. I’m covered in bruises, and my hands and nails will take a while to recover from cleaning two houses.

But we’re in, even if we’re still digging out.

I’m still working in Thomasville (in a couple of months, I’ll begin working two days here in Tallahassee), so I have the best of both worlds. I’m looking forward to getting to know Tallahassee better, and Paul and I already have a list of restaurants we want to try.

So this Good Friday finds me very grateful — grateful for God’s lavish provision for me. He’s surrounded me with His people and shows me His loving care daily in countless ways, large and small. For me to ever utter a complaint shows me just how desperately my heart needs a Savior, and He has provided!

ephesiansI’ll leave you with this passage on Ephesians 2:4-7 from Sinclair Ferguson’s Let Study Ephesians! – a book I’m slowly working through:

The gospel truly reveals the deepest heartbeat of God towards us. Jesus’ work did not — nor did it need to — persuade an angry Father to love his wayward children. The atonement is not a form of inner-trinitarian blackmail. No: the Father loved us and did not spare his own Son for our salvation (Rom. 8:32); the Son loved us and ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…’ (Phil 2:6); the Spirit loved us (Rom. 15:30) and is not ashamed to indwell and sanctify us.

Why should it be so important for Paul to emphasize this? Because we can misinterpret ‘the gospel’ message to mean that God loved us because Christ died for us, as if the sheer amount of suffering he experienced made the Father relent of his hatred towards us and now begin to love us and be kind to us.

Our spiritual forefathers used to speak about the way Christians ‘live below the level of their privileges’. This is a case in point. If only we would settle our hearts on what the apostle says here about the character of God! Think about these three statements – they merit a lifetime of meditation:

1. God is rich in mercy.

2. God has loved us with great love.

3. God has shown kindness to us which expresses the immeasurable (the word is the root of our word ‘hyperbole’) riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

Grateful!
signature

monday night miscellany

Another collection of randomness:

~ I love me some Dennis Prager. And he’s spot on:

…when Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the United Nations about the threat Iran poses to his country’s survival and about the metastasizing cancer of Islamist violence, he, unfortunately, stands alone.

Virtually everyone listening knows he is telling the truth. And most dislike him for it. Appeasers hate those who confront evil.

~ Sitting is deadly. I was far more active as a stay-at-home-mom/homeschooler. Now that I’m at a desk all day, I’m grateful that my workplace encourages me to move. I have an exercise ball/chair, and we’re involved in an 8-week step challenge that keeps me focused on moving.

~ Confessions of a Kindle Convert. If you know me at all, you know I love books. But I’ll be honest: I need to get rid of many of them. We’re in the thick of moving, and packing and hauling books is no fun at all. I actually uttered these words to Paul yesterday: “I need to get rid of some books.” **shudder**

~ Starve your idols to death.

~ 5 small Georgia towns with great shopping.

~ the audacity:

Forty years of provision, forty years of tangible, edible grace, and what do they have to say to God in response? This: “We loathe this worthless food.”

We loathe this worthless food!

The audacity! The. Audacity. At least when I think these things, I’m savvy enough to couch these emotions in more subtle disgruntlement. “I’m just tired,” “I’m weary,” “It just seems like the onslaught never stops.”

~ Don’t follow your heart:

The truth is, no one lies to us more than our own hearts. No one. If our hearts are compasses, they are Jack Sparrow compasses. They don’t tell us the truth, they just tell us what we want. If our hearts are guides, they are Gothels. They are not benevolent, they are pathologically selfish. In fact, if we do what our hearts tell us to do we will pervert and impoverish every desire, every beauty, every person, every wonder, and every joy. Our hearts want to consume these things for our own self-glory and self-indulgence.

No, our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts.

~ Very helpful, practical info: What to do when your flight is cancelled. We had a cancelled flight last month when fog blanketed Phoenix. I knew our flight was cancelled as soon as we landed in dense fog and I checked my email. I immediately called our airline to get in line for re-booking instead of standing in that long, awful line. Aside from having to wait  a few hours for our luggage to be delivered, all was well.

Well, that gets me a little bit caught up on posting things that have been bookmark-worthy. As I mentioned, we’re in the middle of moving, and I’m just flat out tired and overwhelmed.

May you be less tired and sore than I this Monday evening!

signature

moving

Yeah, I’m moving again. It’s become obvious that as much as I prefer routine and predictability, God has other plans. Paul and I have decided that for financial reasons, it makes sense to move to Tallahassee. That will make me a Floridian again, after having been a legal resident of Florida for most of my adult life. Perhaps a blog title change is in order? I suppose it probably doesn’t matter as little as I blog these days!

We’re living in the chaos of boxes, piles of stuff, and just plain fatigue. We have until the end of the month to move all of our belongings, and I feel utterly overwhelmed. I’m currently very disenchanted with stuff.  Stuff.  Too much stuff. We’ll store a lot of it for the next year, but, still, it’s just too much.

So today is a day for packing, hauling, and cleaning. We’re very grateful that our new landlady is letting us move in early, so we can do it over a couple of weeks instead of a couple of days. We have much for which to be thankful, and we’ll remind each other of that as we’re tempted to grumble in the stress of moving.

Now, where’d I put that ibuprofen?

Exhausted,

signature

in

Well, He’s done it again.

God continues to take good care of me and to love me through His people. Last night as we followed the weather forecasts, my brother-in-law arranged a moving crew with a covered truck. They arrived bright and early this morning, and — low and behold — there was no rain. None all day. My old place was emptied and everything was at my new house by noon. My aunt and uncle drove over from Alabama to help. They, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law all pitched in and had my old place cleaned, and worked magic at my new house — most of the furniture arranged, some plumbing issues resolved, and even some pictures up on the walls. It’s feeling like home.

In all my moves, I really think this one has been the smoothest.

Still overwhelmed — but by His goodness, not my anxiety.

signature

 

moving

Yesterday was the first day of moving over to my new place. Fortunately, it’s only across the highway from where I’ve been living this past year, but it still requires countless trips, lots of muscle, and total chaos at both locations. I took off work yesterday and had good help, and we got more done than we’d anticipated. Today my mom was the only one free to do any work at the new place, but she got a lot of cleaning done. We’re looking at rain tomorrow, so we’re praying that we can get the old place emptied out first thing in the morning. Then I’ll be digging out of the mess at the new place for who knows how long.

I’m overwhelmed.

I’ve moved often, and the exhaustion and mental overload are familiar. Every single time, it looks like I’ll never get the new place put together and feeling like home. But ever single time, it comes together and feels like home. I’m trying to remind myself that right now, with aching muscles, weariness to the point of tears,  and no rest in sight.

And I’m reminding myself that God is good. And His people (my people!) are good. I’m so grateful for all of the help I’m receiving.

Goodnight,

signature

365: the end. or maybe just the beginning…

Today marks a milestone for me. I have finished my goal of taking and posting a photo a day for an entire year. But more than that, it marks one of the most significant years in my life. A year ago today I left Belgium and returned to southwest Georgia, back to my family and the small towns where I grew up.

It has been a year full of new beginnings, challenges, and adjustments. And it has been a year full of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. He has provided for me above and beyond what I could have asked or imagined, and He has shone Himself strong. His mercies really have been new every single morning. He has been my refuge and an ever present help in times of trouble. I can trust Him.

end

I’ve learned so much this year, and I feel more like myself than ever, if that makes any sense at all. One of my discoveries has been the joy I find in taking photographs and sharing them. As I’ve written before, this photo project has been a way to look outside of myself. I’ve looked out and up. And as I’ve done so, I’ve seen beauty in the mundane, and I’ve grown more thankful. I’ve also truly appreciated the kind words of others as I’ve shared my pictures. I really believe this project has played quite a role in my healing this year. (Thanks again, Will, for encouraging me to tackle this project and for your encouragement and advice throughout.)

As this project ends, I suspect it’s another beginning. I have no idea what’s ahead for me in life or with my new hobby, but I have a hopeful heart. And a happy heart.

Glory be to God,

signature

“He is teaching us how to look like him.”

boxingbooksI’m packing up some books this evening, in preparation for my upcoming move, and I came across a well-worn and marked copy of Ed Welch’s Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. I thumbed through it and thought I’d share these passages on perseverance:

If Jesus Christ learned obedience and endurance through what he suffered, why would we expect our lives to be different? Through our struggles and pain, we are being offered perseverance, the character of God. Hardships are intended to give us a spiritual makeover, “that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Therefore, when God encourages us to persevere, he is not stumbling for encouraging words. He is teaching us how to look like him.

————————

Perseverance isn’t flashy. It doesn’t call attention to itself. It looks like putting one foot in front of another. But beneath the surface, where few can see the glory, is something very profound (Rev. 2:2,19). You are becoming more like God. God sees it and he is pleased by it.

Perseverance is more than just making it through life until you die from natural causes. It is perseverance in faith and obedience. It is perseverance in our God-given purpose, even when life is very hard. Perseverance asks the question, “Today, how will I trust him and follow him in obedience?” Then it asks for help from others, cries out to the Lord, and looks for an opportunity to love. It may seem feeble, but our confidence is in the God who is strong. The essence of persevering is trusting or obeying because of Jesus.

 

saturday

Just about every time I look forward to sleeping in a bit, I awake at my usual time — or earlier. This morning my eyes popped open at the precise time my alarm goes off during the work week. Even though I would have preferred to sleep longer, I relished staying in bed for a little while before making tea. And I finished a book in that cozy spot, too.

reading

So after a quiet, slow start, I got to work. Laundry, cleaning, and some packing. Yes, packing. It seems that moving 13 times in 24 years isn’t quite enough, so at the end of this month I’m looking at my 14th move. At least it’s not across an ocean or even across town, but it’s far enough that I have to pack up, have some help, and get it to my new digs. I’m really looking forward to living in the new place but not at all excited about my fourth summer in a row marked by a move.

I had a nice long FaceTime chat with a faraway friend, and we totally forgot to give a shout-out to the NSA!

And then I had a good talk with my son via cell phone, again giving the folks at PRISM something to do. (If you’re looking at something to laugh at in this whole Big Brother issue, follow PRISM on Twitter.)

I did a little more packing, and then Caroline and I went to Grassroots for some caffeine and reading. From there, she drove us to the DMV so she could do a little practice for her driving test coming up soon.

cones

After a stop for groceries and redbox, we’re now at home, camped out on the sofa.

It’s been a pleasant day.

I hope your Saturday has been a good one,
signature