Wednesday, June 29, 2011

{ My Father's World }

My house is a glorious riot of flowers, remnants of the baby shower I hosted over the weekend. Daisy and rose, giddy with color, vases scattered on mantle, table, windowsill; sun-drenched perfection of Creator's wild imagination.

They are like living things, these colors; lush, vivid, vibrating with joy and and intensity and life: Flowers doing exactly what they were created to do. Hues lush and vibrant: deep orange, perfect pink, yellows and blush and white-fading-to-red. A chorus of pigments, petals and stamens and stalks: praising simply by being.

I snap photos giddy, feel laughter bubble up in my chest as my shutter clicks-clicks-clicks. Like one starving for beauty, I am ravenous, afraid I'll miss some angle of this joy, some perspective of this flower-praise and I don't want to. But I know I will. Simple flowers, Gerbera daisies and spray roses, they are too much for me. I can't capture them fully, can't bottle this unbridled beauty and joy radiating.

But I can soak it in now. I can immerse myself in this moment, this beauty; I can record snippets, each frame a note in the song these blossoms are singing. I search for best light, best backdrop on this gray morning. If I wait for sunshine before I transcribe this refrain, these beauties may fade.

This is my love song to Jesus! The thought bubbles up from nowhere--nowhere? No, not nowhere; this is Truth: This is my love song to Jesus. This is me dancing, delighting, reveling in the gifts He gives me today. This is me accepting with open hands the gifts He offers, offering Him my delight as thank-you. This is joy. This is my love song to Jesus!

This is my Father's world,

and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,

the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world.

O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!
~ Maltbie D. Babcock

*I owe much of my understanding of joy and thanksgiving as an appropriate response to whatever gifts Jesus gives to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Highly recommended!

Monday, June 27, 2011

{ Kitchen }

Drumroll, please!
After owning this condo for almost two years...after being married almost two years...after almost two years of thinking, "I have got to paint this kitchen!!"...after almost two years of being daily annoyed + frustrated at the fluorescent tube light, dimly illuminating the most used room of the house...may I present to you, our newly painted and light fixtured kitchen!

The color is Beryl, from the Martha Stewart Living paint palette at Home Depot. I asked them to lighten it by about 25%, and I really like how it turned out. It's bright and cheerful without being overpowering.
It's also much more beachy than I anticipated! That's not a problem, though; I love beach houses.

I can totally imagine a dusty pink, 1950's-style refrigerator fitting in here...

The "prints" are actually 12" x 12" scrapbook papers that I love too much to use in an actual scrapbook. They are collages of vintage fruit and vegetable crate labels and advertisements for household products. From the clothing and hairstyles, I'm guessing most of them were produced in the 1920's to 1940's. They make me smile every time I see them! On a side note, do you have any idea how difficult it is to find nice 12" x 12" frames?! Really, really difficult!

So there you have it: our {relatively} easy kitchen redo. I'm really, really happy with it. Being in the kitchen is a completely different experience now; it's a happy, colorful place, rather than drab and blah. Having good lighting makes all the difference in the world, too! Now that it's all finished, I can't believe I waited almost two years to pick a paint color!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

{ Come Fly With Me }

For Christmas last year, I gave Mike a flight lesson.
We live in the Pacific Northwest.
For obvious reasons, he decided to wait 'til summertime to use the lesson.
We're still waiting for summer to show up.
In the Lord's good grace, the Sunday in June that we scheduled the flight lesson was balmy, rain-free, and...overcast? Oh well, the cloud cover was far higher than our little Cessna, so we still had a spectacular time!

Mt. Rainier, seen from the runway while we waited for our airplane

Mike could've taken two passengers along for his flight, but chose just to bring me.
I think he was a little nervous that we might both perish during this endeavor.
After all, it was only his third airplane ride.
As he told the flight instructor before we took off, "Why do I need to fly? Everything I want is right here!"
#1 - At age 22, he flew to Idaho to ask my dad for permission to marry me
#2 - Also age 22, we flew to Hawai'i for our honeymoon
#3 - Age 24, he not only flies in a Cessna--he takes the controls for part of the flight!

 Looking over the map with Bubba, the flight instructor.
No kididng....that's really what they call him.

In the back seat, waiting for takeoff

Waiting on the runway to be cleared for takeoff

Mike was a bit leery of this whole idea, from the time he opened the gift certificate 'til {I think} we were actually in the air. I'll admit, I was 50/50 on whether or not to get this for him and thought about it for several days. It's not up his alley--but that could be because he's never had a chance to explore this alley! I figured he'd enjoy it, but I was also worried that he might think it was more like something I want to do {I've flown more than him, but no way do I care to take the controls}. I'm really glad that he was so gracious about this experience, and went ahead with the flight even though it wasn't something he would have chosen for himself. Because, once we were airborne, he had a blast.
At least, that's what it looked like from the back seat, where I was voraciously snapping photos and listening to the cackle of our headsets!

Qwest Field and Safeco Field from the air--hi there, sports fans!

Downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay

The Space Needle, with Lake Union and Lake Washington in the background

Oh Mt. Baker, you are beautiful!

Over Lake Washington

We buzzed around Microsoft for a bit. These are the headquarters buildings, according to my dashing pilot-husband. {Can I tell you a secret? Once Mike abbreviated "Microsoft" as "msft" in a text message. I thought what he meant was "misfit," not Microsoft...after all, you only have to add two letters to get from msft to misfit! So now I sometimes call Microsoft "misfits" instead. As in, "Hey babe, are you still at misfits?"}

Over Lake Union, looking south to Seattle and West Seattle

Hi, Golden Gardens! You're a lovely beach!

Discovery Park, where our engagement photos were taken. I've only been there once, and the park encompasses 534 acres, so it was neat to see it from the air and get the "big picture."

Coming in for the landing!

~ All smiles ~

He couldn't wipe that grin off his face for the rest of the day. I think he enjoyed himself tremendously!
I love you, Michael....merry Christmas in June!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

{ Cake Pops }

For your prayers, comments, and just for being with me in this, thank you.
It's always with a bit of trepidation that I hit "publish" after writing a bare-my-soul sort of post like the last one. A blog is such a public forum, so beyond my control: Every word I write is available for anyone to see. As a girl who struggles with authenticity and vulnerability, who has spent decades trying to convince other people she's perfect, this is a good exercise for me. Nerve-wracking at times, but good. Thank you all for the grace you've extended to me, for reading and responding and being part of this journey I'm on.

For today, I'm moving on to something a little lighter and oh-so-delicious:
Cake pops!

Have you heard of cake pops? Have you ever had one? Ohhhhh mercy, they are good!! A few months ago, one of my coworkers brought in some Starbucks cake pops. I had never heard of such a thing: Little balls of deliciously dense, sweet, moist cake in a hard candy shell, all on a popsicle stick. Yum! I was hooked. I hardly ever go to Starbucks....who am I kidding, I don't go out much period, and I thought these were just one of those amazing little Starbucks-only treats that reminds me why they're the king of coffee shops.

Last Sunday I went to a baby shower, and...what's this? Cake pops! Two platters of them! But not the Starbucks kind. I couldn't find the hostess fast enough to ask her where she got them, and lo and behold: she had made them. I hope my eyes didn't pop out of my head--I can make these? I can have luscious little cakes-on-a-stick anytime I want? Any flavor? Any time? Me? And my new friends cake pops? Yes!!

As a result of this revelation, I've been scouting the internet for cake pops, and you know what? I'm late to this party. Apparently cake pops {or cakesicles, whichever you like} swept the blogging world by storm a few years ago {I've seen a few people credit Bakerella with lighting this fire--you can see her initial cake pops post here}, and I completely missed it. Things are probably better this way, considering that I'm concerned about my ability to fit into my bathing suit next month as it is. But you can bet your boots that once we're back from Kauai, I'll be trying to justify baking up a new variation of cake pops for all kinds of events! Take a peek at some of the glorious, mouthwatering, sweet-tooth-pleasing, eye-candy worthy cake pops I've found: 

The internet is positively bursting with cake pops recipes: Here, here, here, and here {this last is an entire website dedicated to cake pops recipes--be sure to take a look!}, to name a few.

Have you had cake pops? Have you made cake pops? What's your favorite recipe? Any tricks for a newbie?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

{ Trust }

All I have seen teaches me
to trust the Creator
for all I have not seen.
~ R. W. Emerson

For the past few months, I've been struggling with the idea that perhaps I have a skewed view of what needs to happen before I can leave the workforce. Perhaps my list of must-haves that must be attained before we cross that bridge is blatantly wrong. I've spent so much time and energy being frustrated that we're not there yet....trying to figure out why, and what I can do to get us to that point ASAP: Did we do something wrong? Did I take out too many student loans? Should we have just eloped and saved all that money? Should we have waited to get married? Why would God give me this burning desire to be a stay-at-home-mom, and give Mike a deep conviction that he doesn't want his wife to work outside the home, then make it so hard for us to make that happen?

Quietly, a completely different set of "what ifs" has crept into my heart. They won't go away. I ponder them, turning them over and over in my mind, examining from every angle, just as I've done with the freaked-out-stressed-out-oh-my-goodness-why-is-this-so-hard questions listed above. But these questions are different. They're quiet, for one thing: not high-pitched and shrill, hysterically clamoring for an answer RIGHT NOW. They're content to be prayed over, not demanding instant remedy.
What if God is ok with me leaving the workforce even if Mike doesn't have a permanent position at his company?
What if God wants us to trust His provision through Mike's six-month contract, even though there is no guarantee of renewal?
What if me demanding a more long-term source of income is my sin--fear, lack of trust--and not a legitimate reason to extend my career?
What if God is already providing all that we need, and I am simply holding on to my job because I'm afraid it won't be enough--or because His provision is not what I expected or envisioned?
What if I'm holding on to the known and the comfortable, at the expense of trusting God and taking a leap of faith, even though I know in my head that underneath are His everlasting arms?
What if the Lord is already making provision for this transition, swinging this door wide open for us, and I'm still desperately clinging to the doorframe, petrified to go outside because what I see through the door isn't exactly what I imagined? More dangerous, perhaps; more unknown, maybe less of what I call "security" but more opportunities for faith, trust, humility, and selflessness.

As a little girl, I never questioned whether or not my Dad could afford to care for me. I never refused a birthday gift or turned down a bowl of ice cream because I was afraid it cost him too much. I didn't worry that I would bankrupt him, because I never thought about how much I cost. What if Jesus wants me to be that carefree with Him? What if Jesus is providing for us, as competently and cheerfully as our earthly fathers did, just waiting for me to realize and let go of my fears long enough to grasp His hand and run with Him wherever He leads? Even if that means giving up a second income and the sense of security it provides.
What if trusting Jesus--rather than my job--becomes my security?

God has provided for all of our needs and many of our wants thus far. We are definitely sensing Him moving in very tangible ways the past few weeks, as we get closer and closer to the end of Mike's current contract. I'm excited to see how the next few weeks unfold, as I continue to seek Jesus' answers to these questions.

Friday, June 17, 2011

{ Rhythms }

Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed--somewhat curiously, as though I'm making an observation completely unconnected to myself--I've noticed that some good rhythms have begun to creep up in my life. I'd call them "habits," but that's not nearly as cool a word as "rhythms." I'm already 3.5 years older than my husband...if word choice helps me feel a little more hip and less granny, I'll take it! 

What makes this seem almost accidental is that I didn't consciously set out on a course of self-improvement. With our trip to Hawai'i rapidly approaching, I've started going to the gym several times a week. Normally I die of boredom on exercise equipment. I literally feel like my mind is shriveling up and withering into a dry little terd. That, and the fact that it's so dang time-consuming, are the major reasons I've never committed much time to exercise. 

I've really been wanting to read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, and on a whim decided to see if I possess the balance necessary to hold a book and cavort on the elliptical machine at the same time. Turns out that I do. Once I finished One Thousand Gifts, the thought of returning to the gym without a book was unthinkable. I'm now reading Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas and marveling at how quickly I'm making it through a book that has literally been sitting next to my bed since before we got married.

Finding time to read has been a huge struggle for me ever since I started to "have a life" {a.k.a. got involved in the local church and met Mike}. My life BM {Before Mike...maybe I should call it BH, Before Husband, instead?} was that of a voracious reader. I deeply miss that. Books, the beauty and wisdom they contain, are a gift, and I have sorely neglected them. It really bothers me. But where, in the daily grind and occasional chaos of Real Life, do I find time to read?

By accident, I think I've stumbled upon a potential answer: While doing something else at the same time. I trick myself into thinking I'm being productive and thus give myself permission to do something that seems self-centered and non-essential {reading}. Reading and exercise are both activities I want to do, but rarely get around to, because they're not necessary for the workings of daily life. They're at the bottom of the list. But Hawaii = bathing suit --> exercise rises MUCH higher on the to-do list --> I realize that maybe....just maybe...."frivolous" activities are good not just for the coronary arteries and the brain cells and the occasional beach vacation, but the heart and soul too.

Here are some photos I snapped today with my phone from the 8th floor of the new, 10-story hospital tower we just moved into. Aren't the vistas gorgeous?

Above you see most of the "old" hospital buildings. Don't they look insignificantly small from this perspective?

 In the photo below, I've circled a house that I simply love. There are lots of old, beautiful homes in these neighborhoods, and I love a good many of them, but this happens to be the only one you can kind of see from here. {Hint, hint, if any rich relatives whom I am not even aware exist are reading this and pondering whether or not to include me in their wills....I will use any inheritance very wisely and buy us a really beautiful Craftsman home!}

Thursday, June 16, 2011

{ Dahlia Love }

Meet the balcony quintuplets: Left Dahlia, cilantro, Center Dahlia, Thai basil, and Right Dahlia.
Please feel free to join me in guessing what color blooms Center Dahlia will produce--nary a clue yet!

I'll restrain myself and stop uploading photos now. I've had these beauties a week, one isn't even blooming yet, and I've already taken dozens of photos. I may warrant an intervention before the summer ends!

Next up: My happy little cactus and friends.

Monday, June 13, 2011

{ Endings }

Endings tend to sneak up on me. Generally, goodbyes don't take me by surprise; I'm oblivious to a lot of things, but the planner in me usually knows a parting of the ways is coming long before it occurs. Over the years, I've realized that no matter how long I've known about an "ending," no matter how eager I am for it, I'm always taken off-guard by the emotions of it, in the days and moments immediately preceding the goodbye. Leaving my first job to be a full-time college student. Graduating from college. Moving out of the house I shared with three other girls, just before marrying Mike. All were transitions that I longed for with great joy because I really wanted what was on the other side. Each time, I was blindsided by unexpected sadness by the endings that preceded the new beginnings--the unexpected sorrow of goodbye.

So with today. Tomorrow the hospital where I work opens a brand-spanking-new tower. All is flux and change and unknown in my department, from our new phone number (!) to how exactly we'll transfer exams from machines to server. I've been dreading it with an increasing knot in my stomach over the weekend, realizing just how much is still unknown and anticipating really exhausting days of work for the next few weeks at least. But this morning, waiting at an elevator with an echo machine, I was flooded with nostalgia. How many times have I waited, right here, at this crook in the hallway, for this elevator? Hundreds of times. Almost five years, I've pushed machines down these halls, prowled linen closets for pillows, gotten to know doctors and nurses and aides, done echo after echo after thousands of echoes. Literally thousands of echoes!

And tomorrow it changes. There will still be patients on several floors of the old building. Employees will remain {doubtless with some new hires}, though locations change. But this--this is what I've known. This is day in, day out, Monday through Friday, frequent weekends...this is where I've grown up. Here is where I've lived, in a very real sense. I've transformed from fresh-faced 23-year-old university graduate to almost-five-year veteran, one of the "old hands" {how is it possible that I'm senior over four coworkers?!}. From decidedly single, weighted with student loans, and fine with working late {what else was there to do?}, to happily married, debt-free and longing for the day when I can put away my scrubs for good.

So much has changed.

I didn't expect to be sentimental about an old, cobbled-together hospital building. Over the years, as Mike and I have talked and planned for me to transition out of the workforce when we have babies, I've remembered my always-unexpected nostalgia at otherwise happy goodbyes. I've reminded myself that when I leave my job, it will be harder than I expect. I was a little proud of myself for actually have the foresight to recognize this transition ahead of time.

I never imagined that this--another happy transition to newer, bigger, better, state-of-the-art--would poke little holes in my heart, too.

It's not really goodbye; I'll still be doing echoes in the old building, as well as the new tower next door. And this afternoon I started to get excited--really, truly, butterflies-in-the-stomach excited for the first time--about the transition. I even volunteered to do the first procedure in the new cath lab first thing tomorrow morning. This week is still probably going to be rough and exhausting. But it's an adventure--and the best part about saying goodbye to one thing, is that you're saying hello to another!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

{ Inventory }

"The greatest of poems is an inventory."
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

It's been very quiet around here lately. I lay the blame for this at the feet of good busyness {though do I really want to use the word blame when speaking of something good?}. Many times I've thought, "I really want to blog about this!" only to realize that in order to do so, I'd have to cut into already-scarce sleep or say "no" to another opportunity for good busyness. I'm short on photos, too....that new camera Mr. Mike got me for my birthday has been woefully under-utilized. For the first time since I've had a camera, I've been too busy doing to step back and document--which, if you ask me, is a wonderful predicament! As a result, this inventory of Joys That Have Been Filling My Days Lately will be light on the visuals and heavy on the verbals.

: : A wine-tasting bridal shower that wended through downtown Seattle's Pike's Place Market and Post Alley

: : The banjo-playing trio that sang at one of the tasting rooms we visited; they were so good!

: : Successfully painting the kitchen, dining room, and living room over Memorial Day weekend--and finishing the entire job by Monday evening! Many, many thanks to Mike for putting his plans on hold on Monday to help me finish up.

: : Putting a new light fixture in the kitchen. Let there be light!!!

: : Finding a big mirror for the living room wall {within an inch of the dimensions I wanted} at Value Village for $19.95. All the mirrors I've found online and at local stores have been several hundred dollars for the size I want, so this is a total answer to prayer--and I don't even think I need to paint the frame!

: : Planning a joint baby shower for my two pregnant coworkers

: : My first haircut in about eight months. Just a trim, but such a nice change.

: : A new mattress and pillows that are oh-so-comfy. That, and not having to worry about spraining my ankle getting into and out of bed, when "bed" is a full mattress on a queen-size frame, with a large gap all 'round between mattress and frame

: : Cilantro, Thai basil, and three dahlias in pots on the balcony

: : Tiny, colorful cacti on my kitchen ledge and purple violets on the windowsill

: : Mike moving his office back home--we can actually see each other in the evenings!

: : Gary Thomas' "Sacred Marriage" conference at our church last weekend--really, really good. We're still working through the discussion questions, and I'm re-motivated to read his books {I bought Sacred Marriage and Sacred Influence while we were engaged!}

: : Really loving our community group {church lingo for Bible study}. It's comical how many people have the same or similar names. There's Luke and Lucas, three Michaels, and Christina, Krissy, and Kristi. I snapped this photo last Sunday after church. From left to right: Michael, Michael, and Michael.

: : Discovering this lovely musician yesterday, via my friend Andrea. This song has been running through my head literally ever since.

: : Only 31 more days 'til Kauai! Eeeeek!!!

: : Lots of overtime the past week or two. I'm trying to count this as joy because it means more money for {a} Kauai, and {b} savings/Nikki's "early retirement" fund ;-)

: : Impromtpu Friday night happy hour with friends at Epulo Bistro, a darling little new-to-us spot in downtown Edmonds. Love. We will be back!

: : Meeting a friend for breakfast later this morning at our new favorite breakfast spot...speaking of which, I need to get ready!

I promise, I'll be taking and posting photos soon!