Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{ Ugly-Beautiful }

Where to begin?

Deep breath. In. Out.

The sheer glory of autumn's splendor, the glad riot of changing leaves, is breathtaking. The majesty of the trees in their crimson, gold, and fire-orange garb never gets old, year after year.

On still nights, I can hear the nearby high school's marching band. I'd forgotten how much I love marching bands. I'd forgotten the time, years ago, that two friends and I went to a marching band contest/performance at Qwest Field, and how much I enjoyed it.

Crisp, clear autumn days, edged with fog, tinged with woodsmoke, call me to welcome the coming winter.

I am seriously tempted to buy a salted caramel latte every.single.day. Usually multiple times.

I give in to the above impulse more often than I should.

If you make P-Dub's mouthwatering chicken tortilla soup, please do not substitute flour tortillas for the corn tortillas the recipe requires. I did, because I was out of corn tortillas. In soup, pieces of flour tortilla transform into huge, slimy, nasty, disgusting squares of snot that taste like wet dough. Sooooo nasty. Do not do it.

Jesus is teaching me hard things. Mike and I are doing a sort of Bible study called Redemption Group. I am at a loss to put into words the work God is doing in my heart. Perhaps it's hard to describe because I'm still in the thick of it. He's opening my blind eyes to the truth--about Him and about me. I believe a lot of lies, about Him and about me. Here's a brief quote from my answer to one of this week's reflection questions: What false belief am I protecting?

I am not truly a sinner. I am not completely, 100% sinner to my core. I only sometimes (partially) need Jesus' forgiveness. I don't believe that my sins are truly SINFUL: I think they're excusable, understandable, ok, cute, funny; quirks, not evil. I don't understand myself to be evil.
I believe that I am good and I am worthy of glory and that my image is glorious. I not only think I'm on equal ground with God; I think I deserve to be on equal turf with Him. I believe God is in error when He says all (including me) have sinned and that my salvation is through Jesus alone. What?! Not through me?! I contribute! I contribute to my salvation! If God disagrees, it's because He refuses to look at my "evidence." Not only do I passively contribute (when I don't actively sin), I also actively contribute (when I do good things). Yes, I definitely help Jesus save me.
Oh God, how bitter this is! How full of bile and gall! Sick and twisted-ugly. I have built this shell for years: thick, hard, impervious (often) to conviction. So tight: suffocating, constricting, painful, death-causing. I don't want to face the truth that I am broken, bloody, bleeding, guts spilled, dying, filthy, wretched, covered in vomit and feces and urine, wallowing in the unspeakable horror of my self, NEEDING You to rescue me...so I spin myself a cocoon of lies, inoculate myself against the Holy Spirit with half-truths, spin tighter and harder and closer so I don't see, hear, feall the truth about me. And if I can blind myself to the truth about me--needy! broken! wretched! filthy! evil! NEEDY!!!--I can also blind myself to the truth about Your scandalous grace.

Disgusting? Yes. I'm sorry if that description is uncomfortable: Being confronted with my sin--that I am a sinner who daily offends a Holy God--is uncomfortable, to say the least. It's a new truth for me. Praise God for His pursuit of me, for the layers of sin and idol-worship and me-worship He's revealing and peeling off! It's like breathing deep when you didn't realize you were breathing shallow: In. Out. Relief.

I hope you are all enjoying autumn's splendor and that you can rest in Jesus' pursuit of you, leaning hard into His grace.

Friday, October 7, 2011

{ Weekending }

What are your plans for the weekend?

I have a scratchy throat, so I'm hoping for a sleep-in sort of Saturday morning.
"Sleeping in" is something I'm not very familiar with of late...at least not since last month when Sunday became a 5:00 AM alarm sort of day!

Next I'd like a few hours to read the next chapter in the Redemption Group book, browse Pinterest, and blog. It would be fabulous if someone could bring me a salted caramel latte, too.

My imaginary housekeeper would take care of the laundry {even folded and put away!}, clean the bathroom, vacuum, and do the dishes. This most beloved figment of my imagination would also fix a double batch of the Pioneer Woman's comfort meatballs so I wouldn't feel bad about eating so many in one sitting.

Then, in the afternoon, Mr. Husband and I would do something really fun and romantic and outside our little domestic workaday rut.
Like go on a tour of Theo Chocolate with our friends Luke and Joanna and taste delicious organic chocolates with unusual ingredients like coconut curry or bread or fig, fennel & almond and laugh till one of us girls threatens to pee our pants. And then maybe...maybe...we wouldn't have had enough fun together yet, so we'd go find other adventures in the urban jungle of Seattle and laugh some more and maybe find a brewpub and enjoy a pint.

Doesn't that sound like a good plan?!
And it's actually going to happen--the part from Theo Chocolates on, that is. The reality of my Saturday morning is probably going to involve a lot more laundry, cooking and cleaning than Pinterest and blogwalking, but that's really what we're going to do tomorrow afternoon! {I'm so proud of us! We're not old married folk all the time--though I give people plenty of reasons to think I'm an antique!}

For now, I'm enjoying a mug of hot spiced cider. And I think I'll get a head start on that laundry.

Happy Weekending!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

{ In Which I Reveal My Antiquity }

My husband turned 25 last month. It was a rather momentous occasion for both of us. Twenty-five is a milestone birthday: Quarter of a century, halfway to 50, etc. It's how old I turned just three weeks after we started dating {yes, yes, I'm a cougar}. So now that the fresh-faced 22-year-old man I married is now 25, that means I'm really old. Like, 3.5 years older than he is. {I'm tired. I'll let you do the math.}

As in, so old that I lose birthday presents.

Or wait--did I??

I don't know if it's just me or maybe it's the men in my family, but I have the hardest time buying gifts for my dad, brothers, and now my husband. Usually I haven't the foggiest what they'd like. After much prodding, Mike gave me a list of gadgets he'd like for his birthday and I {of course} waited till it was almost too late to order them online. The package would probably arrive before his birthday, but might possibly get here late.

As long as we've been married, Mike has gotten the mail every night on his way home from work. It's what his dad did and it works for us. As his birthday neared, I started stopping at the mailbox on the way home in case his gift had arrived. Sometimes I'd remember to tell him. Sometimes he'd walk in the front door and, slightly exasperated, exclaim, "Did you get the mail today? Because I stopped and there was nothing!"

His birthday came and went. No package. Crestfallen, I still stopped at the mailbox most days...even if it was late, I wanted it to be a surprise. A surprise that he hadn't shaken for twenty minutes before bringing it in to the house.

Finally, about a week after Mike's birthday, I decided to see if my emailed receipt had a tracking number. Sure enough, it did. I looked up the package.....and according to the USPS, it had been delivered on September 20. Three days before Mike's birthday.

I. Flipped.

We live in a condo. Every unit in our complex has a locked mailbox at a central location. Adjacent to the regular mailboxes is a bank of larger locked boxes for packages. This is the only place the USPS delivers mail to our complex. I was now faced with these possibilities: (a) someone had stolen the package {or the key for a larger box} from our mailbox; (b) the package had been put in a larger box, but the key had been accidentally put in someone else's mailbox and they had decided to keep the package; or (c) the mailman had gone nuts, driven to our unit, placed the package on our stoop, and someone had stolen it.

Two of my childhood friends' fathers work for the USPS. I was not buying (c). But I was totally revved up to chew out some poor, unsuspecting postal worker. They had screwed up my husbands 25th birthday present!!!

I called the post office from which the package had been delivered, but of course the recorded message said they only answered the phone till 3:00pm. It was 3:02.

The next day, work was really busy and I didn't have a chance to call. But I sure wanted to!

The following day was again very busy and I wasn't able to call before 3:00. It was Friday, and as usual after work I went to the grocery store. Back at my car, I unlocked the trunk to put the groceries in and....

......drugstore mailers. Missing-children fliers. A bill. Junk mail. A bubble wrap package. Strewn across the trunk of my car like....like they'd been riding around back there for ten days.

Unbelieving, I picked up the package and ripped it open. Sure enough, the phone accessories I'd purchased for Mike! I don't know how long I stood in the parking lot, holding the package, a cart of groceries next to me. I have no memory of picking up the mail and there being a package. I have no memory of putting a day's worth of mail in the trunk. Why would I put it in the trunk?!! That makes no sense! I have no need to do that. I don't put anything in the trunk except groceries. Why do I not have even the tiniest remembrance of this occurrence?

When Mike got home from work that night, I sheepishly told him of my discovery. He grinned glee at my absentmindedness and embarrassment--I'd been quite vocal regarding the mysterious disappearance of this package. That the package had actually arrived three days before his birthday, I'd gotten it from the mailbox, put it in my trunk {again, why???}, and not only forgotten about it but thought it had never been delivered for the following ten days, is quite amusing. In a really disturbing, I'm-still-in-my-twenties-and-this-does-not-bode-well-for-my-mental-capacities-in-the-future sort of way.

If you see me wandering around the internet looking lost...please take my hand and show me the way back home!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

{ Kaua'i ~ Part IX: North Shore Favorites }

At last: The last of our Kaua'i photos. Friends of ours are on the Big Island this week, enjoying their honeymoon, which reminded me that there are a few more pictures I want to post from our trip. Some of our favorite things from Kauai's north shore, our home-away-from-home for two lovely weeks this summer.

Favorite drinks: The martinis at Bouchons Hanalei, which they serve with the shaker--so you get a good 2+ drinks for the price of one! Note: Mike wants to make it clear that he only drinks girly drinks {such as martinis} when vacationing in the tropics. He wants everyone to know that this is the only circumstance under which it is ok for guys to drink girly drinks.

Favorite dessert: The caramelized banana deliciousness seen above, also served at Bouchons Hanalei.

Favorite stretch of road {for me, anyway}: The tiny one-lane bridges that dot Kauai's north coast.

Favorite beach: Kahalahala Beach, hands-down our favorite stretch of sand on the island. Big waves on one end if you want some excitement; a shallow pool for kids on the other end, and perfect waves for us in between. We loved every minute at this beach!

Looking back at Kahalahala beach from the lava outcropping you see in the photo above

Favorite evening walk on the beach: Dusk at Hanalei Bay, watching the sunset over the ocean as the clouds rolled in over the mountains.

Favorite lookout: This breathtaking vista of the Hanalei Valley was minutes from our condo. On a couple of occasions, the clouds lifted completely and we could see the tops of all the mountains rimming the valley. Stunning!

Favorite beach, take 2: Yes, we went back to Kahalahala. You would've, too.

Favorite beach boy: My husband. Notice how he mixed a mai tai and brought it to the beach in a water bottle. I love that man!

Nine posts, dozens of photos shared, hundreds more tucked away on my hard drive. Mike and I are so blessed that we were able to take this vacation, that we were able to have these adventures and make these memories together. I'm humbled by the Lord's immense grace in giving us the resources to make this amazing trip happen. It was better, I think, than either of us even imagined it would be.
Thank you, Jesus.