Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bugs in Our Rice

I know, it's disgusting, it's traumatizing, but it's true. Creepy crawlies invading a box of instant rice could happen to anyone. But to me it symbolized one thing: poverty.

Something happened last week that I haven't shared with you. Phil and I came into this marriage with high expectations for our financial life. We want to honor God with what we have. We want to view money the way He views it--as a gift from Him that we need to spend thoughtfully. We want to spend according principals we find in the bible, and wise counsel from smart, older friends. So a few days ago we sat down and hammered out a budget. That means that for the past month or so our spending has been unbridled, sporadic, willy-nilly. Most of what we had is gone. Don't get me wrong, we're not starving (or actually eating the rice with bugs), and we even had enough to buy our books for school. The point is that we were irresponsible and greedy. And if it weren't for a turn of events, we probably wouldn't even have noticed.

Philip was due to receive a financial aid check at the start of school that's lofty enough to cover rent, books, food and then some. That check went MIA. It was stuck in limbo, pending the review of documents he turned in--months ago!  We believe that God in, His sovereignty and grace, orchestrated this to help us grow. Sure, it was painful at first. After awhile, though, we realized that God wasn't willing to just leave us in our decaying way of life. Instead He used this situation to grab our attention, and help us remember our initial plan about money. Because of this, we took a second look at our hearts and at our finances.

For me personally, that revealed that I had been missing out on the love God had been lavishing on me because of a constant desire to have more. Everything in this apartment is a direct result of generosity. Friends, family, coworkers gave us all our furniture (hand-me-down, but still nice quality). Our whole apartment is stocked with cooking gear, appliances, decor, totally from the hands of friends as wedding gifts. Phil's dad was openhanded enough to let us "go shopping" in his pantry. (That is incidentally how we ended up with the old rice that had bugs in it--but still). The night ended with Philip and I sitting on the floor holding each other and worshipping God, singing the song, "How He Loves." That morning before I left the house my prayer was, "Give me Your eyes." In a way I never expected--or really wanted, to be honest--I got a glimpse into the way He sees things. Everything is backwards! Instead of wanting to be richer or have nicer things, I can be overwhelmingly thankful for everything that I have because, in truth, I don't deserve it.  I pray that we might keep our eyes on the Kingdom of God and see things the way He does.  For me, that changes everything.   

What changes your perspective?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What the Magic Bullet's Churning out These Days

I picked up a lot of things last summer in Costa Rica: a University of Costa Rica T-shirt, some Costa Rican Slang , "Pura Vida!,"  a sweet tan...Okay maybe not that last one, but it WAS the rainy season so my Irish/German heritage is not entirely to blame.  I also picked up a delicious smoothie recipe. In Costa Rica things are all natural. And I don't just mean they use sugar instead of splenda. Food is simple, a few ingredients and lots of fresh fruit. Most fruit smoothies I found there were mainly fruit, ice, and water--maybe a little sweetener. Of course that didn't stop me from finding one that made my personal nutritionist Tracy Johnson Hare squirm. Okay, so she just cut off the ice cream I was scheduled to get later that day for eating all my carrots at lunch. Anyways if you have a blender or a magic bullet like me, throw these ingredients in and get your fruit serving for the day. Maybe just skip the ice cream later. This recipe feeds 2 adults or 1 teenager and tastes like apple pie, yum...

Please excuse our kind-of-ugly newlywed couch.

One chopped apple (the smaller the pieces the better)

Two scoops of vanilla ice cream

4 cups Milk

 6ish ice cubes

1 "dash" of Cinnamon

2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar (optional!)

*If you want to go a little healthier use vanilla yogurt of the ice cream.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Leaving the Harbor

A ship is safest in the harbor, but that's not what ships were made for.

Philip and I went to our neighborhood picnic yesterday. It felt awkward, as we seemed to be the only ones there who didn't bring a kidlet or two. We live in graduate and family housing but they should really call it husband, wife, and 2.5 kids housing because that's 90% of our neighbors. The other 9% seems to be international students attending grad school who keep to themselves because they're always studying, studying, studying. All of this leads to us feeling a little out of place sometimes. There are definitely perks: I'll never have to smoke second hand marijuana, or be kept up by loud gangster music like when I lived in the dorms.

As we ate our free food in the grass--not mingling--this couple singled us out. They sat right next to us and started asking us questions. They seemed genuinely interested in getting to know us; they didn't just talk about the weather or the traffic that's returned since school started again. Like us, they got married young. They didn't have kids and they'd been married four years. As we shared our aspirations to someday be teachers in an impoverished community, the man shared this quote with us. He asked us if we went to a church in town, and we shared with him our place of worship. We parted ways and will probably never see them again.

I went home and burst into tears, "We should be more like them." As people who love Jesus, that's more what we should be: friendly, caring, reaching out to others even if it seems a little awkward. But we're just young and scared and, truth be told, we have no idea what we're doing. Phil calmed me down and explained that they are older than us and have been married a lot longer than us. He believes that our marriage will be a lot better in four years. And that the way we reach people will be a lot better in four years. Our goal is to keep growing--for the rest of our lives.

I suspect that the couple has no idea they impacted our lives. They motivated us. They inspired us. They helped us to be honest about where we're at, but press on towards growth.

mama marchand’s musings


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Mom, cute little old ladies, and God:

I annihilated a hymnal. I'm sorry. But I used it to make this:

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a...bulletin board! That K stands for kind, kool, krazy ksassy (silent k), okay there aren't that many adjectives that start with K. Most of all it stands for KATIE. My friend Katie Anthony turned 21 while I was on my honeymoon. Instead of sneaking alcohol back across the border for her, I decided to make this. Katie is a music major who happened to be my roommate last semester, and my bridesmaid this summer.

My inspiration was this how-to. I modified it a little by using a bulletin board instead of a canvas. I thought this way it would be cute and functional. I added some buttons to the tops of push pins using my new hot glue gun.

I know, I'm going all domestic--me the wrestler girl. My high school self would put me in the cradle. I kind of like it.  I'm definitely amateur status but crafting is a fun, creative outlet. 

What projects have you been working on lately?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A (not-so-deep) Thought for Thursday

mama marchand’s musings

I am linking up with Mama Marchand today.  Hopefully she won't mind the fact that my thought isn't nearly as deep as hers usually are.  Philip once said that he thinks I eat more ice cream than all other foods combined.  We bought one of those industrial sized ice cream tubs for our freezer.  In vanilla.  With toppings.  Yum.  I actually ate ice cream twice in one day--yesterday.  Don't judge me.

What simple pleasures are bringing you happiness lately?  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gleeview: Acceptance

Do you ever feel like an outsider? Like you don't quite fit in. Sometimes I feel like one day at school they passed out a "How To Be Cool" handbook--only I was absent that day. I think this is why I find Glee so appealing. Sure I watch it to hear great music, see sweet dance moves, laugh at clever jokes. But really what keeps me coming back to to catch every episode is that I can relate to characters that feel like...losers.

The problem Glee presents is that we are all different, we all feel like losers sometimes, and we all need complete acceptance. I wholeheartedly agree with the legitimacy of this problem. What I can't quite track with is the solution Glee offers up. Glee seems to sing and dance, "If we all just quit picking at each other's lifestyle choices, and just approved of whatever works for each individual, this problem would no longer exist." Or "Just accept yourself, and one day the world will accept you too."  True, there is value in accepting yourself and others.  It just never seems to be enough. 

In my experience, the cross is the only source of true acceptance. Only at the cross does the God of the universe say, "I know firsthand what you've done. I'm experiencing the pain and suffering your mistakes caused right now. But I love you 100% anyways. The pain of losing you would be worse than the pain of the cross. I'll pay any cost to restore you to myself."

This is coming from someone who tried every other source she could think of to find a solution to this problem. Before I turned to the Gospel my list of other lovers included popularity, resume-building titles, and the attention of men. None would satisfy. I tried positive psychology, self-help books, journaling, the works. Nothing helped me to see myself as valuable, loved, and worth knowing. Nothing short of Jesus.

We did nothing to deserve his love, in fact we did things to disqualify us from his love but he still chose to love us relentlessly. That's the only thing I can count on when I start to feel like I'm just not cool enough.

What helps you find acceptance?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree with me or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Candy to my eyes

One of my favorite things in our apartment--and not just because I'm an English nerd--is our bookshelf. It's just a cheap $20 borrow-a-power-drill-from-grandpa-so-you-can-build-it-yourself sort of thing. We bought the purse and shoes I wanted this bookshelf on a Target gift card and to me it spelled one thing: blank canvas.

Old books, candlesticks gifted to us (candles coming soon?  I kind of like them without what do you think?)

A picture I love (from an old National Geographic).
Something the hubs brought into the marriage that I think is kinda cute.

A picture frame I used at the wedding + leftover invitation paper + a page ripped out of an old hymnal (My mother would scream!)

We're working the finishing touches on the rest of the apartment.  Will post as soon as we're finished!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Husband is Grizzly Adams

Or Bear Grylls. Or Chuck Norris. We went camping this weekend, and although the trip probably disqualified him for the boyscouts by lack of preparedness, he saved the day time and time again.
There's one thing you need to know: Philip is an avid outdoorsman, and Chelsea simply is not. Don't get me wrong I love nature. I prefer beautiful scenery like it is at Ross Point Camp--a block away from KFC and a mile away from Starbucks. Philip's never paid to camp, and he pees outdoors recreationally. This was our first try at compromising a camping trip that we'd both enjoy.

Night #1
9:00 PM We arrived up North.
9:03 The woods become Creepsville in the dark.
9:15 We find a campsite.
9:16 We realize we forgot a flashlight.
9:16:30 I start bawling.
9:20 Philip begins setting up camp by the light of my van's headlights.
9:22He discovers we have only half of the correct poles along with some poles that go to an old garden arch.
9:30 Using the butt of his ax, Philip smashes the ends of the arch poles until they fit into the tent poles. The tent won't stand with the strength of the poles alone. Philip busts out some rope and ties it around the tent and to cement blocks/logs/whatever we can find around us until the tent stands...sort of.
9:45 I discover a broken zipper on the tent door, and a gaping hole near the bottom of the tent. I bawl yet again, "I can't believe you brought us this tent."
9:50 Philip chugs a caprisun and using the empty container and some bandaids from the first aid kit we mend the hole.
10:00 I close the tent door using spare ponytails.
10:15 We head to bed--early.
THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT I have several scary dreams that translate into doing strange things in my sleep. Poor Philip.

The Next Morning
Philip, "What do you want for breakfast?" We'd packed eggs, bacon, potatoes, onions, etc. and a camp stove to cook it on. Oh wait, we forgot the skillet. "We can at least have hot chocolate." Oh wait we forgot the water. "How do S'mores sound?" S'mores=the breakfast of champions.

We didn't bring any firewood but scavenged for it instead. Next thing I know I see Phil carrying A WHOLE TREE towards our campsite. I'd like to report that he ripped it out of the ground with his bare hands, but that wouldn't be very green. Nah, he found a fallen tree and brought it back to chop up and burn to cook our hotdogs. Our futile attempts to find firewood that would actually burn we resorted to burning kindling, the one piece of spare firewood our neighbors left behind the day before, and the "Bear Warning" signs we found at other campsites (let's hope no one got eaten by a bear on our behalf). These things don't last very long in the fiery inferno so this looks like Philip frantically gathering and dumping kindling into the fire as fast as he can while I try and get the hot dogs roasted before it burns to smoking embers.

We had a few successes on this trip: seeing buffalo up close (Philip thinks it's strange that I'm more afraid of bugs than I am of buffalo), going on a hike around the lake, laughing like third graders. But it was all that didn't go as planned that made the trip really memorable. Here's to compromise! Here's to S'mores! Here's to memories!

What last minute summer outings have you been on lately?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I do love you

Our good camp friend Brandon Wheeler wrote us a poem as a wedding gift.  He once wrote me a poem about breaking my arm (against a wall while playing kickball), and at Ross Point he's known for his famous poem-for-cookie deal.  But this one is serious, beautiful, and seriously beautiful.  It's written from the perspective of Philip and I to each other.  Enjoy!

There must be a God
And I know it's true
I can see his love
When I look at you
He must have a plan
For this road called life
Since he brought you here
And put you by my side

My arms are holding you
They'll always hold you up
Even when your strength
Is just not strong enough
What tomorrow brings
Only Heaven knows
But I will stay with you
Wherever life's road goes

Now I've never been as sure
Of anything before
And I'm loving every moment
Here with you
For better or for worse
Are now so much more than words
And I pray that every day
God lets me prove

That I meant what I said
When I said that I do
And I mean what I say
When I say I love you

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