Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Post.

Well, life is back to normal. And for me, it happens to be a peaceful normal instead of the busy and stressed normal that I used to constantly find myself in. I am SO thankful for that.

My Thanksgiving Day was wonderful! Adam and I spent the day with his side of the family. We don't see the extended side of his family very often so I am always happy when I get a chance to see them and become more acquainted with that part of his family.
We also had a new treat this Thanksgiving. Adam's parents decided to "adopt" two Marines for the day from the base at Camp Pendleton. The city his parents live in puts together a whole event for these young soldiers - most of whom are having their first Thanksgiving away from family. It was so nice getting to know about these boys families and hear what military training has been like for them. That have quite the stories to tell! A wonderful blessing was to discover that both our marines were Christians and it was amazing to hear how God has been working in their lives while in training.

The Day-After-Thanksgiving was wonderful as well. The day-after-Thanksgiving has become a very important holiday in my family. We have TONS of traditions which include (but are not limited to) bagels, Starbucks, Hide-and-Go-Seek at the Christmas tree farm, decorating my parents house, TONS of pictures and filming, first sip of eggnog, teddy-bear ornament name draw, and the list goes on....
We had an amazing day and decided to finish the evening by watching some recently converted-to-DVD home videos. So Fun!

The picture is of me and Adam at the Christmas Tree Farm.

The long weekend ended with the grand finale of my sister's Junior Voice Recital. She is a vocal major at Long Beach State and is So. Incredibly. Talented. She was incredible! It was an hour of music sung just by her (well, one guy sang a duet with her) and she did an amazing job. She sang in a beautiful old chapel in Los Angeles and her voice left me with chills and tears throughout her whole performance. Her encore, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" was dedicated to our grandparents and she left the audience in rapture. I had the privilege of being the recital announcer which was fun until it resulted in my most embarrassing moment EVER. I don't think my cheeks have ever been so red!

All-in-all, an incredible weekend. What is also incredible is that, because of the peace I am experiencing in my daily life, I'm not too sad about watching a holiday pass. It was fun and wonderful and memories were made, but I am also enjoying the quiet and the calm of my daily life. I am thankful that I am learning how to have boundaries and to order my days in a healthy way for myself. That is something I am definitely thankful for during this post-Thanksgiving week.

What about YOU? How was your weekend?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks.

I'm so glad our country has a holiday set aside to express our thankfulness and remember our blessings.

Although the nickname "Turkey Day" has been beginning to take over the name of "Thanksgiving" for this holiday (at least around where I live), the point of today really isn't just to eat turkey. Or ham, or chicken, or pork for that matter.

The point is to Give Thanks.

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men, but be careful that you do not, and leave out the gratitude." E. P. Powell.

Here are some things that I am personally thankful for:

~My husband: He has worked so hard this year and perservered through so much and through everything has developed an even gentler heart towards me. I love him so much!

~My family: It is such a blessing to have both my family and my husband's family all in orange county. We may not always have the blessing of having everyone live so close and I cherish it now while we do have that luxury.

~My home: My home is increasingly becoming a place of refuge and comfort. As construction tasks subside and as my homemaking abilities increase, I am finding more joy in spending time in the comfort of my home.

~Netflix and a Blu-Ray player: While this may seem silly, these two things have given me and my husband so much rest recently, chances to laugh together, and chances to embrace some silly fun.

~Our Christmas Tree: Freshly decorated and amazingly fragrant, our Noble Fir is filling our house with holiday scent and beauty.

~Today and Tomorrow: Thanksgiving and the Day-After-Thanksgiving are two of my favorite days of the year! My family has made an entirely separate and wonderful holiday out of the day-after-Thanksgiving and I couldn't be happier that this time of the year has finally arrived!

~Salvation: My relationship with Jesus and my assurance of salvation is something that I don't consciously say "thank-you" for on a daily basis. However, it is the foundation and center of my life. Everything else that I do in my life hinges on the fact that I am a child of God and have received salvation. This is the true source of all my gratitude.

Enjoy this video of some of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Frozen in Time.

My husband and I had just gotten back late at night from our Friday-night date.

We walked downstairs to our bedroom. I threw my purse on the floor and we flopped on our bed to lie down for just a few minutes before getting ready for bed.

Then, looking above me, I saw two itsy-bisty white spiders hanging from the blades of the ceiling fan above us. And when I say itsy-bitsy, I mean that literally. They were really small - like babies. In fact, they were babies.

I jumped up to squash the two little invaders only to find that as soon as I squashed them two more were hanging down from the fan. Once those were squashed, two more were hanging down. "What IS this????" I shrieked.

"Heidi, look..." my husband said and pointed to a dirty looking streak on our white ceiling. What looked to me at first just to be a streak of i-don't-know-what ended up being at least two hundred baby spiders all crawling in a thick line waiting to take their first little journey-of-life off the edge of the ceiling fan and into my bed!


You all remember the old version of Charlotte's Web where at the end Charlotte dies and then all of her babies are born and then they all fly away off of the barn post and into the wind, right?
Well, that's exactly what these babies were trying to do....except they wanted to fly into my bed!


And, can I just say, I am SO glad we got home exactly when we did, and laid on our beds exactly when we did, so that we actually saw this happening from the beginning?? Can you imagine having two hundred baby spiders jump on you all night in your sleep only to wake up to a nightmare????

Adam started spraying the ceiling with Raid and then they all just started to lower themselves to the floor with their webs and he started spraying the air to kill as many as he could.

We slept on the couch that night.

The following night, I bought Raid bug bombs and before we went out on our Saturday-night date (I know, two dates in a row! I was so excited!) we set the bombs off in each of the bedrooms downstairs as well as our upstairs living area in order to kill every living bug, spider, or other pesky nuisance still living in our house.

What I came home to four hours later interested me.

On our bottom stair-step there was a [sorta] big spider laying dead. It had come out when we were gone and had been frozen in its tracks.

"Interesting to see what happens when I'm gone," I thought.

Then I sat on the couch and saw another spider - only this one was hanging from the ceiling by it's single-threaded web about a foot above the coffee table. This spider had also come out when we were gone and had literally been killed in action. It's position was frozen in time for us to see.

The good news was that I could rest assured that all the creatures in my house were dead - I had obvious proof.
But observing these two spiders that were killed in their track and showed me what they were doing when I was gone got me to thinking:

What if people could see me when I think no one is watching?

What if my secret actions were frozen in time and put on display for all to see?

Would people be surprised? Would I be ashamed?

So since this weekend, those are some things I've been pondering. How would I act if the curtain was pulled back and people saw my secret actions? How would my speech be different if I knew others could hear me? Would my attitude change?

Now, I know we all are human and need to relax once in a while, but just think for a moment. What is the REAL YOU that comes out when you think no one is watching? Because we all know that in reality, someone IS watching. And HE is the one we actually should care the most about.

So, I'm just thinking. Pondering. Hopefully improving some behaviors.

And I'm also reflecting on how grateful I am for Raid bug bombs.

PS...This isn't the only lesson that I have learned from spiders. Read about my other lesson here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thank You, Dad.

As I laid in bed last night, my head on the pillow and my body curled on it's side, I couldn't stop coughing. All I wanted was to sleep and allow the rest to heal my throat but the sinus drainage just would not ease up.

As I laid there, I tried to figure out a way to get the coughing to stop so that I could fall asleep. And as I laid there thinking, my mind was transported to many years ago.

In my mind's eye, I saw a nine-year-old strawberry blond girl, lying on her Ikea bunk-bed with the built-in desk underneath. I saw a six-year-old girl surrounded by stuffed animals and clasping a floppy golden dog and a stiff blue bear and lying on an identical Ikea desk/bunk bed. The whole top perimeter of the room was bordered with kitty ballerinas in shades of pink and grey. The room was lit up by the glow of a fishtank and the only sound to be heard was the rhythmic breathing of the six-year-old and the incessant coughing of the nine-year-old: me.

I'm sure there were many nights growing up when I couldn't stop coughing. But I specifically remember this one. I remember my dad coming in (he always took the late night shifts when we needed something as kids) and propping me up with a bunch of pillows. He said that I would sleep better propped up because it would help my sinuses drain and help me not to cough.

Then he gave me Saltine crackers. I don't remember the exact wording of the reason he gave as to why Saltines work but I remember it being something like, "the crackers soak up the phlegm." He stayed with me while I ate a few and the coughing subsided. After I was settled, he left me with a half-full bag of saltines, "in case you start coughing in the middle of the night."

Then he left me with another goodnight prayer and kiss on top of my head.

So last night, after remembing that night from many years ago, I rolled out of bed. I went to my kitchen and grabbed the box of whole wheat crackers - the closest thing I had that resembled Saltines. Then I grabbed a cushion off the back of my couch and headed back to bed. I propped myself up the way my dad did and I munched a few of the crackers to stop the coughing - and then I munched a couple more because they tasted good.

Within five minutes, I was asleep.

And now,

I want to say thank you.

Thank you, Dad.

Thank you, Dad, for being such a loving, hands-on dad. Thank you for your gentle touch with all your daughters and for being so understanding when we were sick. Thank you for still being that way now. Thank you for your example; it has taught me a lot - especially when it comes to falling asleep with a sinus cough! ;-) Plus so much more.

I love you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Holiday's Have Started!

And in the past couple years, the holidays have flown by WAY too quickly. I refuse to let that happen again. So this year I am being (or trying to be) very intentional in my celebrations.

And perhaps I got a little overzealous - I started listening to Christmas music October 27th. I have NEVER done that before. It has always been a strict rule in my family that the eggnog and the Christmas music stays locked up until the day after Thanksgiving.

Thing is, I'm a married woman with my own little family now and I'm learning that I can bend some rules, perhaps change them completely, as I see fit. And listening to Christmas music whenever I am in the mood, is definitely an awesome choice to make!

So....the holiday season (which, for me, usually starts on Halloween) actually started October 27th - this year's official day of whipping out the Christmas tunes!

While October 27th may be my official holiday start, this year's Halloween fun is not to be glossed over. Now, I know there's controversy over the whole "Halloween-thing." Believe me, I know. There were years where my family didn't celebrate, there were years we went traditional and simply trick-or-treated, and there were years we found "alternatives." But quite a few years ago we decided to just have some stinkin' fun. And this year was no exception. In fact, this year took the cake.

My parents took the whole family to Disneylands Halloween Party. We all dressed up, ate awesome food, enjoyed a totally transformed and mysterious Disneyland, watched a special Halloween fireworks show, danced with Buzz Lightyear and Friends, rode an even scarier version of Space Mountain, and trick-or-treated around the park. Not to mention taking pictures. Lots of pictures.

Here's one of me and my husband dressed up as mad scientists. Yes, I sprayed my hair pink. We had an awesome night, laughed hard, ate way too much candy and didn't get nearly enough sleep that night for work the next day. It was awesome.

Now that it's November, there's a few things I have been doing to cultivate the celebration of Thanksgiving and the cozy autumn season. I've been working on my goal of learning more hymns on the piano and I have started with a few Thanksgiving hymns. I have my fall decorations out - little scarecrows, a fall-colored tablecloth, gourds and pumpkins and indian corn, and candles. Lots and lots of candles.

I really want to embrace this season. I want to smell all the smells and see all the decorations. I want to hear the music and sing and play along. I want to take the pictures and write down the experiences. I want to make memories.

To do these things, I have to be intentional. In the midst of a busy life, Hallmark memories often get swept under the rug. To prevent this, I am going to write a list of experiences I would like to have this holiday season and what I need to do to make those things happen. In fact, I'm making that list as soon as I hit the publish button for this post.

Any ideas for what I should put on my list? Any fun traditions anyone has or fun experiences they have enjoyed in years past?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Unexpected Blessings.

I don't like fighting sickness.

Especially when it means having to cancel piano lessons for a third week in a row with two of the most wonderful little sisters in the world. Not only do I feel bad about holding their progress back another week, but I miss my weekly dose of getting to spend time with them.


I believe God has set aside tonight for me.

On the outside, it looks like a nothing-special-sorta-disappointing night. An evening filled with cancelled plans, a sore throat, an overworking immunity system, stretchy sweats, pony-tailed hair, and dishes waiting to be washed doesn't sound very glamorous.

And it's not, really.

But there are some special things about an evening like this.

A husband needing some de-stressing comes home and puts on his sweats too. Netflix movies give his mind some rest while I relax by writing. A steaming, homeade latte for him while I keep downing cups of hot tea with slices of lemon.

Tonight is a chance for my husband and I to occupy our home. It is a chance to use our home as a place of healing and respite. Tonight we can light our candles, enjoy the Thanksgiving decorations that were put up over the weekend, get cozy in our sweats, and just be.

Just Be.

Even when we aren't in the same room, I enjoy hearing him move around in the other room. I love knowing he is near. I love walking past him and being available for a seven minute conversation before we each go back to what we were doing. I like being able to share a quick-something that we just remembered by talking from room to room. I like being available to live life with him.

So, although it took my body fighting sickness and a night off of school for my husband, we are getting the blessing of occupying the same space tonight and just being together. Together, we are healing body, mind and soul.

And I'm sure that whatever tomorrow brings, we will be better because of tonight.

What are some unexpected blessings that YOU have received lately?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Doing it Afraid.

I make the decision.

I AM going to go.

I start getting ready forty minutes before I have to be there and I leave twelve minutes before 7:00. I sing along to my most recent favorite worship songs on repeat as I drive and follow directions on my iphone.

I pull into the church parking lot and follow the signs set up for parking.

And, right before I open my car door to leave my little, safe, personal world, it starts to happen.

Anxiety - but not too severe. Not what it used to be like in new situations. But still, I couldn't help but be nervous.

I have learned how to control my anxiety in I'm-new-to-this-group situations by pretending on the outside with my actions that everything is fine. I am careful with the expression that my face is showing so that I don't look scared. I try to move in a comfortable manner so I don't look awkward. All the while, my inside is tightening and my hands and face are starting to become warm.

I am greeted by the girl at the front. The first of many ladies I would be meeting.

I follow her directions and walk up the stairs. Everyone in the room is talking in groups or in pairs.

There are three rows of chairs. I quietly sit in the middle row (not too forward to sit in the front on my first time but not too cowardly to sit in the back, either).

When it comes time for everyone to be seated, I am the ONLY one in the middle row. Apparently, everyone else likes to sit in the backrow.

As the worship starts, I try to remind myself that everyone else is here to worship - NOT here to watch the girl in the second row and criticize how she looks when she is worshipping.

The teaching starts. It's a small group that night so the teacher moves us all over to one side for a more intimate setting. I pull out my journal. I NEED to remember all that he is saying...it is so good. However, I am the only one taking notes.

Teaching is over. A girl comes and talks to me before we break off into small group. I really like her and I am thankful we are getting to know each other, but my nervous habits are popping out. Not knowing how much eye contact to give, worrying about the position of my hands, wondering if I am blushing, worrying if I will say something stupid.

Time to go to break off into groups. I follow this girl (who happens to be the girl who greeted me at the door) and she explains how the sessions usually work. The rest of the ladies join us for the open-share group.

Sweet and genuine ladies. Very welcoming.

We head into our share time. I try to give eye contact and use my body language to encourage each speaker. Then it is my turn and I get nervous again. I am much more comfortable encouraging others as they share than sharing what is going on inside me.

I share. The ladies give nods of understanding. The ladies seem to totally understand. But still, when I am done, I can't help but feel that many of the things I said, or how I said them, sounded a little silly.

We pray. That's when I finally feel comfortable. Praying for the lady on my right and I am finally able to speak genuinely from my heart because I am right at the feet of Jesus speaking to Him on this lady's behalf.

We finish prayer. I become self-conscious again.

I walk out and the girl I prayed for walks with me. She shares a bit of her story with me and I learn how much we are able to relate. We get to the door where I choose to head to my car and she chooses to stay and fellowship. I give an awkward "I'll-see-you-soon" and she gives a non-awkward smile and goodbye.

I walk down the stairs, back to my car, and as soon as I get in and close my car door, I feel safe again. Back inside my safe, little, secure world. My own little environment.

I drive home and sing the same worship songs that I sang on the way there and I reflect on my night.

It was a GOOD night. It was where I needed to be. And I am pretty sure it is where I need to continue to be.

I don't want to let my fear of entering into new groups and new environments stop me from fellowship and growth and blessing.

The group was filled with sincere, loving people. The worship leader was genuine. The teacher was loving and an excellent communicator. The share-group was authentic and safe and filled with lovely ladies.

The only problem was that my heart was filled with fear. A fear grown from the seed of self-focus.

My prayer is that as I choose to "do it afraid," as one of my favorite bloggers would say, that I will give the enemy less power in my life so that the Lord will be able to work in my heart and heal me and bless me.

I am thankful for last night.

I am thankful for the fellowship and for what I learned.

I am thankful for how God is healing me and teaching me.

And I am looking forward to the day when I am able to walk into new situations without anxiety. Until that day though, I will do it afraid.

What about YOU? What are some situations that bring out your fears or anxieties? Do you get nervous in new environments?