Friday, July 29, 2011

Bri & the Cutie Pie

When Brian comes home from work, he puts his bag in the closet, kisses me hello, changes out of his restrictive work clothes (somebody tell me how wearing khakis and a polo is uncomfortable? -but I digress), and then lays on the floor wherever the dog is.

It's just his way of unwinding.

Sometimes he freaks the dog out a little bit, but Bo always relaxes at some point.

But then sometimes, Bo's had enough. "Gettin' up now, Brian."

Let's play with that squishy face- shall we?


"Roll over, Bo!"


"Come ON..."

And he does it!

Two peas in a pod:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I love about not having any kids right now.

I think everyone knows how much I'm looking forward to being a mom. (Yes, God knows, too, don't worry. Haha.) But today I thought I'd go in a direction that's a little bit different. Who knows how long this season of life will last? Until it ends, I am determined to enjoy it!

Can I just tell you ten things that I love about not having any kids?

1. Sleeping in on Sunday! When I was growing up, Sunday was NEVER a sleep-in day. (To be fair, I never considered 7:30/8:00 AM to be "sleeping in" though.) A Sunday at our house starts with a peaceful morning of sleeping 'til 7:30, then leisurely taking the dog to the lake and enjoying our coffee together while talking about the upcoming Sunday school lesson. Usually we're good with the coffee - maybe I'll make some eggs or something if one of us wants more food - but I never have to worry about making a big breakfast. Around 8:40, I start getting myself ready (just myself!) - then it's out the door at 9:00 for a relaxing drive to church. Let's contrast this with the reckless rush and constant frustration of Sunday mornings at my childhood home, shall we? My mom was (and still is) very organized, so I blame the chaos on all of us dang kids!

2. Enjoying my hot cup of coffee, from start to finish, with NO interruptions. None! Ditto with devotions, movies, phone calls, shopping trips... etc.

3. Everything takes just as long as I want it to it take. For example, this blog post has taken me about two days to finish. I just kept getting distracted by... well, what I wanted to be distracted by! (Facebook, conversations with Brian, another trip upstairs to raid the kids' Wednesday night class candy stash.) For another example, if I want to take twenty minutes to get ready, I can do it in twenty minutes. I don't spontaneously poop or vomit all over myself on my way out the door. Score!

4. Sometimes, when I realize I'm out of an ingredient for dinner, I hop in the car, drive to the grocery store 5 minutes away, buy it, and make it home in under 20 minutes. Probably not going to happen when I'm toting a baby around!

5. Lack of debilitating constant guilt. (Cue dark music: dun dun DUN.) I struggle with feeling guilty about a lot of things, some of them legitimate and some of them probably ridiculous. I believe it will probably worsen when I start raising kids. Sometimes (for some trite examples) I raise my voice at Brian, or get burned out on eating healthy and consume junk food all day. When these things happen I feel bad, but I know I'm just hurting myself (or Brian, but he can handle it). I like to think I will never do those things again once I have children. I'm sure I will, though, and then where will I be? Apologizing incessantly to every breathing thing in my house and paying penance for days! Want a ticket to that carnival?! I'm not looking forward to that.

6. The possibilities of the future. I definitely want children, and I'd have a few as of last year if that were an option. But now is obviously not God's time, and I don't know when that's going to be. Until then, I will enjoy dreaming about what may come down the pipe in a future without kids. Maybe we'll move to Dubai or Bahrain so Brian can work a contractor position overseas (he assures me that this isn't going to happen but I'm trying to illustrate a point here). Maybe we'll start our own business together. Maybe I'll finish my cross-stitch project. And then there's that other thing - dreaming about the perfect child. Mine is a fat, little, easygoing, bald baby who rarely cries, is not very mobile, and grows into a docile child that asks cute questions and never acts defiant or overtired. Until I have my real baby, I'm going to enjoy the dream one.

7. Fall doesn't mean 'school supplies!' For most of my life the approach of fall has always filled me with sadness and dread... a new school year. But for the past few years, all it's meant is a long-anticipated break from the hot weather and a chance to lay out on the hammock at night with Brian. Oh yeah, and the approach of Thanksgiving! My birthday! Hunting season and trips up north to see family! You all know how much I love fall! And I love it even more when I'm not worrying about how to get the best discounts on binders and glue sticks.

8. I cleaned the upstairs floor a couple weeks ago. It's still perfectly clean. No one's been up there.

9. Weekends are blissfully relaxing. Quiet... low-key... sometimes I have nothing. to. do. I have to find things to do! I love that.

10. I only miss my family 85% of the time. If we had a baby down here in NC, and our families were still all the way up in MI, I'd miss them 100% of the time. I'd grieve for the lost Sunday dinners, the Mother's Day brunches spent with both grandmas, the cute moments enjoyed only by Brian and me... and no one else. I'd be frustrated by the limitations of Skype. I'd dread the long car trips (which are fairly easy for now, but will be much longer and more arduous with a baby in the backseat). I'd worry that the close bond I shared with my cousins wouldn't be enjoyed by my kids and their cousins. I'd miss my family 200% of the time - 100% of now and 100% of the future. (Don't try to make sense of that... I get it, don't worry.)

But for now.... eh, all they're missing is Brian's farts and my griping!


P.S. But you'd better believe that when I see a positive pregnancy test, all these things will go flying out the window. I'm reeeeeally looking forward to having a little one... or seven.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Be like a tree...

During my devotions recently I've been following a plan to read through the Bible in one year. Each day has me reading a different part of Scripture and even though I don't follow the plan exactly (sometimes I will skip a section or read twice as much as the day allots for another section) I enjoy being encouraged in different ways each week.

Today I continued reading in Jeremiah. It always amazes me that even in the midst of pouring out judgment on Israel and Judah for their wickedness, God still shows his faithfulness to them. In Jeremiah 17:7-8, God interrupts his descriptions of upcoming judgment and says, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

This really spoke to me because in the middle of July, it's hot. It's always hot this time of year but of course, every year feels like the 'worst yet.' Most of the country is sweltering right now and we are definitely in that crowd. Not only is it hot, it's dry. When I look out of my windows, I feel so sad to see my trees and shrubs just wilted in the blistering sun. Even with regular watering in the morning, they just languish in the heat of the day. Of course, I can walk inside and relax in the AC, but my plants are stuck out there and they look so sad. Every year I long for fall, when rain will come and my plants will look alive again.

But down by the lake near our house, the alder bushes at the edge of the water never languish - they are always green and full. It could be 120 degrees for all they care... unless someone comes by and hacks them off at the root with a chainsaw, they are going to be absolutely fine.

Lately I have been feeling a little bit of the 'heat' of life. No great trials or tribulations... just burdens of worry that I've been carrying. Worry for friends, family, our future, my own personal desires... I never considered myself much of a worrier until I realized that recently I've been wilted from constantly pondering these things in my mind. (And constantly thinking of something is not considered 'prayer.') When I'm grouchy to Brian or when I find myself dealing with inner anger, I can definitely assume that I'm carrying these burdens on my own... and that I'm not putting forth much fruit at all.

But what is the cure for this? Nothing but trust. Trust is the way to put my roots in the water... to always be fruitful no matter the season. I'm sure this is a life lesson I will have to learn every 2.5 weeks for the rest of my time on Earth, but I want to start practicing now... practicing giving these things to God. He knows where we will be and what we will be doing a year from now... He sees the loved ones and friends I am concerned about and He loves them more than I do. Nothing escapes His sight. He knows the desires of my heart before I even speak them. I don't have to worry about telling Him what I'd like, over and over and over again. I can just focus on submitting to His will and setting my burdens at His feet.

It is so wonderful and freeing to live for a greater purpose than myself. And what a mighty God we serve!


Friday, July 22, 2011

A fairly embarrassing moment, for your Friday pleasure.

I stepped into a Bath & Body Works last Saturday in between trips to the craft and hardware stores for VBS errands. The sign on the Bath & Body works window advertised a 50% off sale, and since I love their hand soap I'm always looking for a chance to stock up.

It was a tiny store with one (visible) staffer working the busy counter. As I walked in, she called out rather loudly, "HI! Can I help you?" I shook my head and smiled. As I made my way around I noticed, to my dismay, that the sale wasn't a 'deep discount' sale but instead a 50% off new fragrances sale. (That's pretty good, I guess, if you're looking for the latest and greatest fashion in the scent world, but I was just looking for some super-cheap soap to stick on my bathroom counter. We haven't been washing our hands at all since I've run out. It's been months!)

As I began to leave I saw a display that looked to be debuting a new summer fragrance. At the top sat (what I thought was) an antibacterial hand-sanitizer. Its bright red "TRY ME" sticker reminded me of all the places I'd been that morning - and what a good idea it'd be to clean my hands. So I picked up the bottle and gave a generous squeeze. After only seconds of wondering at its strange, sticky texture did I notice that the tester was a bottle of hand soap.

Six thoughts raced through my mind:
1. Crap! I have soap all over my hands!
2. Crap! This isn't one of those Bath & Body Works that has a sink!
3. What the heck? Don't hand soaps have a pump top?! Why the squeeze bottle?
4. Who would put the tester sticker on a thing of SOAP?
5. Who's the dummy here? Bath & Body Works or me?
6. Did anyone see me do that?

As if in answer to my last panicked thought, the cheery sales clerk yelled, "CAN I HELP YOU FIND SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR?" Several heads turned my way and I felt as though I'd been caught stealing a body spray. Wiping the sticky mess from hand to hand I said, "No thank you!" and as quickly as I could I pushed my way out of the store leaving quite a sticky door-handle behind me.

One thing I can attest to is that that soap does not need water to make your hands smell great. Mine were sticky and fragrant for the rest of the afternoon.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just call me Nervous Nellie! Or maybe Prayerful Patty.

Our trip to Montana is coming up quickly... we leave in a matter of weeks. I confess I am definitely bringing it before the Lord in prayer, which is not something I usually do before any other 'vacation' (not considering the prayers for safe travel made hastily in the car or on the plane). Why? I'll tell you why:

1. First of all, I'm nervous about whether I'll be able to keep up. Brian keeps dosing me with dire warnings about 'breaking in my hiking boots' and 'getting in great shape' for the hike. We found out that we'll be heading to the mountains instead of the foothills (we'd hoped for the latter), which means the terrain will be much rougher as we walk all day long looking for elk. I've never been on a hunt like this and the last thing I want to do is slow Brian down.

2. I'm worried that I won't enjoy it. We'll be bathing in a river, going to the bathroom in the woods, eating beef jerky and granola bars for ten days straight, and sleeping in a tent. I love camping, but I've never camped quite like this. I'm committed to NOT complaining, but I don't want to give off a vibe of misery.

3. The main reason I'm praying for this trip is that, unlike another vacation that simply involves relaxing, this trip comes with a pretty big goal: kill an elk with a bow. Of course, I'm not doing the killing, but like any wife of a hunter knows, it's a pretty gloomy cloud that descends when the game is not making itself available. Brian is an excellent hunter, and I've told him that if we come home empty-handed it certainly won't be for lack of trying and preparation. BUT if we come home empty-handed, it probably won't be a pleasant flight. Please, Lord, send us a big bull!

4. I'm also praying diligently because, as our plans develop and grow, I'm discovering that I'm not just a tagalong on this hunt - I'm going to be the other member of (as Brian said earlier this morning) a "Call & Stalk Tag Team Duo". This involves me learning how to make a variety of realistic elk sounds using a funny little mouth whistle as well as intuitively knowing when to use which sounds. In addition, I'll need to ensure I'm the right distance away from Brian as he takes his 'shooting lane', crawling on the ground if necessary to remain out of view while also trying to sound like an angry mama cow/endangered baby/horny mating elk (depending on the situation) at the same time. While this all may sound exciting and challenging to someone more inclined to kill stuff, I'm just sitting here in awe of all the possibilities I'll have at my fingertips to screw up the entire hunt. I'm feeling a distinct lack of, oh, ten years elk hunting experience or so.

5. I have no idea what I'm going to wear. Isn't this always a woman's dilemma? Except in this case, I'm not concerned about fashion as much as Brian's offhanded comment that I could 'borrow' his clothes. Am I really going to be trekking over hill and dale while swimming in his camouflage? Yikes!

EDITED to add five things I am LOOKING FORWARD TO!

1. Enjoying some gorgeous scenery and taking pictures with my awesome new camera.
2. Having the opportunity to visit a new place and have a new experience!
3. Hopefully seeing some friends - spending time with their family and new baby.
4. Spending an extended length of time with Brian - he works a lot and it will be wonderful to be with him for two uninterrupted weeks.
5. Having an opportunity to bond with Brian in a totally new way. I've never been a part of his hunting experiences (other than helping butcher the animal after the fact) and if it does go well, I think we will have some pretty awesome stories to talk about for quite some time!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Last night I taught another preschool lesson for VBS. I’m enjoying it so much – I love that age. I love how innocent they are – at three, four, five – how easily they’re entertained, how eager they are to please you, how captivated they are by a cheap, simple prize from the prize chest at the end of the night.

As I drove home I kept thinking about my sister, at three years old, with wispy blond hair and a loud little voice that spoke words I had to interpret for everyone else. She came with me to spend a couple nights at my friend’s house while my parents traveled out of town for the weekend. My friend and I were nine, and she was an only child, so before splitting off by ourselves to play I wanted to make sure Erin had something to occupy herself. I led her to my friend’s room to show her the toys she could play with, and I vividly remember watching her as she sat down in rapturous awe of my friend’s dollhouse. It was one of those pastel-colored big plastic models, complete with lots of rooms and furniture – but no dolls. My friend hastily searched but found only a pen shaped like a leprechaun – a cheap little thing that didn’t at all fit the dollhouse – but Erin took it hesitantly and experimentally walked the leprechaun, once, up and down the dollhouse staircase. Her face fell as she realized it wouldn’t be much fun playing with an ink pen in that beautiful dollhouse. She politely gave the pen back to my friend and went about rearranging the dollhouse furniture instead.

Something lit up within me and I felt I HAD to find the dolls that went with that dollhouse before another minute went by. I told my friend that we weren’t going to play anything until we found those dolls. I searched through her toy boxes and underneath her bed until I found the mom, dad, and kid – perfect. Erin was thrilled. She played with that dollhouse the entire weekend, and since I didn’t want to leave her alone, I played with her too.

Last night, a little boy in my class reminded me of that memory. He was new to VBS, and no one knew his family – he’d just been dropped off the last couple of nights. His mother seemed very nice when I met her, but some of the things he said and did seemed to indicate that his home was fairly broken. This little boy was a ball of energy and couldn’t stop moving, dancing wildly during the VBS songs as the other kids clapped their hands. But during craft time, he sat still and labored intently over his craft, carefully selecting alphabet stickers and squeezing as many letters as he could onto his bookmark. Even when the other kids had completed their craft, he worked diligently. When it was time to go to snack, and he had fit as many lines of letters as he could, he proudly held it up to me with big eyes and asked, “What’s this say?” I read off the jumbled nonsense as best I could, then I laughed and told him, “Those words must be in a different language!” His eyes shone with pride. Later, he asked me quietly, “Will you get mad at me?” I assured him that no, I wouldn’t get mad, but he continue to ask worriedly. Finally, he crawled up on the pew beside me and cuddled into my side, glued to me for the rest of the night.

For some reason, he reminded me of the memory of Erin’s disappointed face at seeing only the leprechaun-shaped ink pen instead of dolls. And as I drove home with my neighbor’s two beautiful kids sitting next to me in the truck, I couldn’t get that memory out of my mind. I just felt heartbroken. When I got home, I went to the bathroom to take out my contacts and brush my teeth for bed, but instead I leaned over the sink and inexplicably, I just started sobbing.

When Brian walked into the bathroom and stared in utter confusion at my swollen, mascara-stained face, I couldn’t quite explain why I was crying. I mean, I knew why I was crying, but telling Brian that I was 'heartbroken for the children' just wouldn't have made sense to him. I just felt so anguished at the idea that little ones, at that very moment, were crouching in fear, being beaten, or miserably hungry.

The memory of my three-year-old sister encompasses, to me, all the sadnesses and disappointments children should feel – missing toys, ripped books, tangled doll hair, and not finding a motorized kids’ Jeep by the Christmas tree. It breaks my heart that there are children suffering things that no one should endure. And I know that this question has been asked a million times, but: why, Lord? Why are innocent children given by God to people who terrorize them or sent to people who can’t take care of them? There is horror everywhere in this world, but the idea that so much of it is inflicted on innocent little ones just makes me so confused and angry. I hate this world, and I hate the things that Satan does. I wish Jesus would come back. I just long for that so badly.

And I just don’t know how to conclude this light-heartedly. I thought I needed a good night’s sleep, but I still woke up heavy-hearted. I suppose that this morning, I am simply more determined to make the rest of VBS fun for the kids and take comfort in the fact that Jesus is coming. If he tarries, I will raise children who feel safe and reach out to those who might not.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sister Joy

Our church back in Detroit sponsored several missionaries. One couple, Brother John and Sister Joy, worked in the Philippines. They had devoted their lives to ministering to Palawan and Manila and to working in their home church in Elmira, NY. Their visits to our church were accompanied by amazing stories of victory, of God doing incredible miracles. They spoke of meetings with hard-hearted, antagonistic government officials whose hearts God miraculously softened and whose minds were changed to the point of promising protection to the work they were doing there.

Most recently, this couple turned their focus to the small children they would see in the market. These children, orphaned or abandoned by their parents, would make pennies selling plastic bags to tourists who were shopping for souvenirs. John and Joy worked tirelessly to establish a children's home (Door of Hope Palawan). Despite seemingly impossible obstacles, God used them to build this beautiful home and provide loving care for these kids. Together, Brother John and Sister Joy have done so much. But there is still so much more to be done.

Sunday night, on a flight back to the Philippines, Sister Joy fell asleep and she didn't wake up.

I knew her only from the visits to the church and the letters they wrote to update us, but I will never forget Sister Joy. She had a huge smile and a sweet voice. She loved her husband so much - that was clear. She was a woman of God and laid her life down for her children, her family, and the work that God had called them to on the mission field. She was warm-hearted and wise, and I wish I had known her better.

It shocks me that someone can be here one moment, and gone the next. We truly are like grass in the field. Sister Joy spent her life for Jesus and I would guess she has no regrets.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I dumped the contents of my brain out like a box of blocks, and here you go.

Wednesday randoms:

- Should I cut out caffeine? I love having coffee in the morning and I wouldn't even mind switching to decaf. Only problem with that is, Brian won't switch with me and I don't want to make two miniscule pots of coffee, one after the other, so that we can both be happy. I drink about 3 cups a day. I'm pretty sure that's too much. Is it too much? EDITED to add: Yeah, I probably should ditch the coffee.

- How great is it that Amazon Prime (free two-day shipping for its members) offers free trials? I signed up to bring a pound of GREEN sprinkles (yes, just one color) for a theme snack for VBS next week. It was something I thought I'd have to search for all over town, but voila! Amazon had them! And they are shipping them to me by tomorrow! Yay for saving myself an errand!

- My dog is quite the ladies' man. Perhaps it's because of his respectful demeanor or his handsome face, but he's got four or five lady-dogs around the neighborhood that just love him. This morning on our jog, like many other mornings, one broke free of her yard just for Bo and joined us on the rest of our run. (I don't know those neighbors... I'm starting to suspect they may not have a good fence?)

- TELL ME: How does this work? Obviously, eating organic, locally raised chicken is the best option in every way other than its hardship on my grocery budget. It costs at least five times more than conventional grocery-store chicken and it's less convenient to acquire. So here's my question: is eating NO CHICKEN better than eating conventional chicken? (I'm thinking mainly health reasons here... I can get over the guilt, as terrible as that sounds, of the chicken farm horrors.)

- Why won't it rain?

- I was thinking about getting this:

...but Brian said no, because it would kill the grass and look terrible. Then I told him that sometimes, people sell honest-to-goodness real used pools on Craigslist. Sometimes people buy a house with an above-ground pool that they don't want, and then they SELL the pool on Craigslist for super cheap. I saw one the other day for $200! It looked brand-new. So I told Brian this bit of information, and this is what he said: "Honey, if you want to buy the pool, drain it, dismantle it, and install it in our yard, you can have one." I asked him if he would build a deck around it for me, but he said probably not. Haha! What a proposition! I'm really going to have to think this over for quite some time!

- Someone found my blog googling this: "what my crazy wife did to a friend in a hammock after a party."

- I love coffee. If I have to say goodbye to it, I'm really going to be sad.