Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Thought

How great/funny is this picture?!?!

I know many people who LOVE to read, so more than one person could pop into my mind when I see this picture. But when I came across it tonight, my first thought was "BEKI!"

Here's why:
1. I just came from her house, so she is fresh in my mind (and seeing her tonight made me realize just how much I've missed her!)
2. She was sitting next to me when we listened to N.D. Wilson talk about how he wants to roll around in words like they are leaves. I loved her reaction to that statement, and her husband's response was "I can totally see Beki doing that".....and so could I. And it made me smile.
3. She's just so SWEET! Who wouldn't want to HUG her?!

With Thankfulness

I had another WONDERFUL Thanksgiving weekend at home. It wasn't a typical Thanksgiving (last year was more typical with lots of people home and lots of activity which prompted me to have a "stomach full; heart even more so"), but throughout the weekend I was reminded of the many things I've been thankful for throughout the year:
  • Family: Even though my sisters weren't able to come home for Thanksgiving this year, we've had plenty of weekends together as a family recently. I'm blessed to have a family that I enjoy spending time with, and sisters who are also my friends. I'm grateful for generous, hospitable parents who put up with us, too!
  • Health: A few weeks ago, Dad passed along an email that he described as "sobering". Indeed, it was. He had heard from a woman whose father was also fighting, and still is, a similar cancer to what Dad had. Her father is still receiving chemo each week and has cancer spread throughout his entire body. My sister and I just talked last night about another friend who feels that she may have her final Christmas with her mom coming up because of her mother's cancer diagnosis. In Dad's case, he has been in remission for two years and will have his final PET scan this month, as well as have his port removed (the device they use to administer chemo). Health is something that is often taken for granted until it is gone, but I'm continually grateful for Dad's health, and reminded to keep others who are struggling with health issues in my prayers. Also, since last Thanksgiving, both of my Grandmas have passed away. I'm thankful that they were healthy as long as they were and that I had the time with them that I did. I'm thankful for my Grandpa's health and for the time (like this past weekend) that I can spend with him.
  • Singleness: Admittedly, being thankful for my singleness is a half-truth. This year has been one where I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be the young wife and mother I always thought I would be, which is a difficult/sad reality in my eyes. But it's also been a year when I've tried to choose to not dwell on what I don't have, but what I do have. I have the freedom to travel (Europe and Hawaii this year) and spend time with my sisters, and the time and finances to find ways to bless others in a way that might not be possible when/if I get married and have kids. Making that choice to "take advantage" of my singleness is really why I started my year by writing out core values, and while I KNOW I still have room to improve in my thankfulness for being single, I really have experienced much grace in this area.
In addition to these "big" categories, I was also thankful for time last weekend to EAT, finish reading "The Help" (I recommend), SLEEP IN, watch good football games, work hard at Mom's craft show (though not hardly as hard as Mom worked), play games with my cousins.....etc, etc, etc.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Perspective

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:1-3a

I'm thankful to a girl in my small group who indirectly helped me to look at this set of verses in a way I don't think I ever have (or would have). You know when you've heard a passage so much that it starts to lose it's meaning? (I don't think I'm the only person who experiences that....) Well, I haven't really applied this passage at all recently, but I was grateful to have a friend bring it to my attention.

I've had a few frustrating moments with friends recently (and, I'm fully aware, "frustrating" is just a "nicer" way of saying things like "angry, annoyed, prideful because I wouldn't have done that" or other such sinful attitudes). Mostly things came to a head on Saturday when there was a beastly snow in Minneapolis - bad enough to call a snow emergency - and I was in Chicago while my car sat on the wrong side of the street, about to be towed, all because I hadn't thought ahead. I spent most of the day trying to track down my roommate to tell her where my spare key was, but soon her phone was off, I hadn't talked to her yet...and it was getting late. I needed someone to simply drive to my house, knock on the door, and tell my roommate to move my car. Pretty simple, right?

I've spent numerous nights dog-sitting, house-sitting, baby-sitting, bringing meals and treats, hosting parties, etc......I was positive I could call in a favor from someone. Because I did know the weather was bad, I didn't want to bother anyone who lived too far away, and I certainly wouldn't be calling my friend who is 37 weeks pregnant, or the friend who has a newborn, or the friend who has two kids in bed already.....the list was getting shorter. Numerous texts, calls, and even talking to people live turned up NO ONE who could do me what seemed the be the tiniest favor.

I felt very ALONE. Which strangely made me feel very SINGLE (funny how those struggles sneak up on you). All I NEEDED was someone to move my car....right? Wrong. All I need is the Lord (He is my shepherd, I shall not want). And even if every person I contacted could have moved my car, they can't restore my soul (HE restores my soul). I could have used that perspective while I was throwing a fit about my car (and being annoyed with my friends), but better late than never.......

(The end of the story is that my WONDERFUL accountability partner responded that she was able to do me the favor, even though I didn't end up needing to call in the favor since I tracked down my roommate after 11pm to solve the problem and save me $200)

(OH, AND....after reading this through again, I don't want ANYONE to think that I don't LOVE dog-sitting, house-sitting, baby-sitting, bringing meals and treats, hosting parties.....because I DO! In fact, I feel specifically called to those things in this "season" as a single person [see core values posts], so PLEASE keep the calls coming!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grocery Shopping I'll Actually Do

I absolutely hate grocery shopping. I think I lack “grocery intuition” – I am never able to find the exact product I need and I usually spend countless minutes roaming up and down the rows looking for what I need (or tracking down employees to point me in the right direction). I also have to call my mother at least two times every time I go grocery shopping to ask her exactly where I might find something, never mind the fact she lives five hours away and has never set foot into the store where I am standing.

My deficiency in grocery skills does nothing but encourage my poor eating habits. For instance, when I bought my house, my mom and aunt stocked my cupboards with some staples…..and I proceeded to not set foot in a grocery store for the next four months (my poor eating habits have been well documented on this blog….). I end up eating way too many overly-processed or frozen foods.

This summer I started a new grocery shopping habit. It almost happened by accident: I had an especially busy week and I needed to get food for a weekend at the cabin with friends. My only chance to get to the store was also the night my roommate called to see if I wanted to enjoy the beautiful night and play tennis. Of course, I chose tennis. Later that night, I went online and signed up for Coborn’s Delivers. In a matter of 20 minutes (about the amount of time it takes me to drive to the store and back) I had bought all of my groceries for the weekend! I knew I was onto something….something I would just love! I’ve been using Coborn’s Delivers ever since. Here is what I love:

  • There is NO charge for pick up, and the charge for delivery is only $5.00. At the pick up, you drive over a sensor to alert them you are there, and all of your groceries are loaded into your car for you - never having to leave your car.
  • You can save your shopping lists, so if there are items you get frequently, they will be ready for you to click and buy.
  • One page has a list of all of the special sale items (for example: I would normally have gotten Diet Coke, but I saw that Pepsi products had a great sale, so I got those instead).
  • You can type in any coupons at the checkout screen, so you still are saving if you are a coupon clipper.
  • Many nights after work I am just too tired to make myself walk around the grocery store and stand in line at the checkout. I can go online and shop while I'm in my pajamas watching TV - in about the same amount of time it takes me to drive to the store anyway.
  • You can find specific items SO much faster - just type them into the search box. I wasted at least ten minutes walking around the grocery store last week looking for Rotella (for a delicious dip recipe my sister gave me) and the whole time I was thinking "if I was shopping online I would already be done with this!!"...but I hadn't planned ahead enough to do that.
  • Also, when you search an item (like "pickles"), you get an entire page of results with all of the prices and specials listed as well. More than a few times I've gone with a different brand because of specials that I wouldn't have noticed in the grocery store (though more seasoned grocery shoppers may have noticed them).
All that to say....Coborn's Delivers is my new best friend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Appropriately Named "Fall Back"

I do NOT like "falling back" (setting the clock back an hour in the fall).

Everything about it makes me go "wah-wah".

Dark early. Cold coming. A LOT of cold. For a long time. While it's ALWAYS dark.

"Fall back" is the appropriate name, not just because it is a good reminder that in the fall the clocks go back an hour, but because the whole experience makes me want to fall back.....into bed. And not come out until spring. Well, I would come out for Christmas. And maybe Thanksgiving. There is nothing about "falling back" that seems energizing (as opposed to "spring forward" which is just the opposite.....more sun! more warmth! things are blooming! the world is ALIVE!).

BUT I am forcing myself to find a few things about "fall back" that make me excited:
  • "Fall back" puts me in the mood for basketball. I spent most of my growing up doldrums of winter playing basketball and it is one of my favorite sports. Watching basketball this year will be even more fun since my sister bought Gopher basketball season tickets! We went to our first game tonight and I am excited for many more!
  • "Fall back" means skiing is only a few more weeks away. My sister forced me to get into skiing so that we would have at least one outside winter activity that we enjoyed, and I do very much enjoy skiing.
  • It may be dark and cold, but I'm hoping to take advantage of the lack of outside evening activities to force me into the gym more. Hoping. I've packed on enough weight this summer to allow me to hibernate with the bears all winter, but I really hope to shed some of these pounds.
  • Ummmmm......that's all I've got.
So, happy "fall back". I'm already looking forward to "spring forward".............

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Caught Red-Handed

I have a secret. I don't tell many people...not because I'm ashamed, but because I don't like having to explain myself. See, I know a lot of people who love to read (as I do), and this particular secret upsets them the most.

I'm a to-the-end-flipper.

That's right. I flip to the end of books and read the last page (or more). And I was caught red-handed, by the author of the very book I was reading.

Let me explain.

First of all, I don't read the end of books before I start the book. I've never really understood that. Reading the end of a story where you don't even know the characters or plot would seem very confusing and pointless to me. So I read about 80-100 pages and then I flip to the end. By that point I already know the characters and I have a sense of where the story is going. When I read the end I either think "YES! I can totally see where this is going!" or "HUH? Wow, I can't wait to see how we get there!"

I can't really tell you exactly why I have this habit, but I think it's mostly curiosity. It's also because I have given up on many of the "rules" of reading (like I mentioned in my post about "reader's independence"), such as feeling like you have to finish every book you start, or that you can only read one book at a time. And I enjoy reading the end of books while I'm in the middle of them, so I just continue to do it.

I don't think that I ever "ruin" the book I'm reading. When my sister gave me the book My Sister's Keeper, she made me promise that I wouldn't flip to the end because there was a big twist and I wouldn't see it coming and it was so good and I would just ruin the whole thing if I flipped to the end. So when we were sitting on the dock later that day and I said "Oh my goodness, that is a crazy ending!" she said "You finished it already?!" and I (sheepishly) said "no...I flipped to the end....". And I swear, it didn't ruin the book for me!

ANYWAY. On to the real reason for this post.......

I was reading Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson (which I recommend) and I flipped to the end. I skimmed the final few pages (it's not a novel, so I was just poking around the end of the book) and I decided to read the "gratitude" section. Imagine my surprise when I read the following:

"Thank you for spinning with me, for sharing in the dizziness, and for making it this far. Assuming, of course, that you got this far through the traditional means and not by villainously flipping to the end first. If you are a to-the-end-flipper, then my thoughts about you are dark and my feelings to not involve gratitude."

AHHHH! The author totally called me out! I am the villainous to-the-end-flipper. I laughed out loud. Since I thought this was hilarious, I started to tell people how the author caught me red-handed for being a to-the-end-flipper while I was to-the-end-flipping, and I've been met with much animosity from my reading-loving friends. People are shocked that I would be a to-the-end-flipper (which is why only my sisters have known of this habit until recently).

So, now you know. Don't hate me. And in order for you to not hate me, I will leave you with a few more of my favorite sections from Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl.

"What is the best of all possible feelings? What is the best of all possible things? The best of all possible creatures? Clearly, the best of all possible feelings is the one that comes when the agony of too much time in the car with an overextended bladder has finally been alleviated. Such sweet relief remains unparalleled."

"[My son] cannot think of a way to express himself, and so he takes out the wallet we gave him to hold ice cream money from his grandmothers. He takes out his dollars and throws them in the grass. "They're not important," he says, and shrugs, blinking. He's right. I help him pick them up. Paper and ink are not important. Wealth is unimportant next to souls. So are legs and fingers, all five senses. So is life. But gratitude is all-important. Everything is a gift. Every smell, every second, every ice cream dollar. Gratitude for the whole story, from beginning to end, gratitude for the valleys and the shadows that lead us to the novel's final page. Take a step and thank God, for He holds you in His hand. Never ask to be put down. Never struggle for separation or for worth apart from His gifts. Breath, taste His world, His words, and marvel that you are here to feel the blowing swirl of life. To be blown by it. Enjoy your ice cream."

"And I move on, with the sun on my face. Clouds are growing in the west, glorious clouds piled up with rowdy care and sparked with electric life. I fill my lungs with the world, with this life, with this gift beyond containing. There is only one thing I can say. Thank you. And I must say it with my life. Through my life. To the end of my life. And after."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Neglected Blog

My sister is right. You have to start somewhere.

Though I'm sure nobody is chomping at the bit for me to stop neglecting this blog, I've decided that I do really want to keep blogging, if only for myself. I simply need to make it a priority (I won't say that I don't have enough time, because everyone has exactly the same amount of time, it is just a matter of how you prioritize what you've been given, and lately blogging hasn't been a priority for me). Looking back on past blogs, I'm glad that I have some of my activities and thoughts documented (especially considering my horrible memory), and I absolutely LOVE following other blogs and having a glimpse into the everyday moments of friends and acquaintances (when I read things like this and this and this I get all happy inside), so I would like to do more of that at my blog as well.

I'm going to steal a page from Becca's book and write a few updates in "stream of consciousness" style.

I've been road tripping a lot lately - to Madison for a Gophers game, to Chicago for a wedding, to Green Bay for a Vikings game, to LaCrosse for a weekend with college roommates and their kids....and next weekend is back to Chicago for another Vikings game (and family fun). I've had a LOT of fun, but it has made me a LOT tired. I am SO thankful that I've had a low key week to recover from many weekends on the road, and to prepare for the sprint toward the Holidays!

Speaking of the Holidays, my Holiday activity for the months of November and December will be PINCHING PENNIES. Oy. I didn't find a renter for my house this winter, and that will very much limit my disposable income. Goodbye, hair color. Goodbye, coffee from Caribou. Goodbye, cute shoes and outfits for get-togethers. Goodbye, delivery boy from Jimmy John's.

I'm annoyed that I didn't write a blog about the Desiring God Conference because I really had a great weekend there. The teaching was great and the fellowship (with my sister and her friends, as well as some church friends) was great. Maybe I'll go through my notes and make a post on it (but don't hold your breath).

I haven't felt so great physically over the last month. I got a nasty sickness in California (while there for work) and it just won't go away. Then there's this: I'm not sleeping well because I haven't been exercising. I haven't been exercising because I eat junk all day and don't feel up for it. I've been eating junk all day because I'm too tired and lazy to eat right. I'm too tired and lazy to eat right because I'm not sleeping well. I'm not sleeping well because I haven't been exercising. I haven't been exerci.....THIS, my friends, is what we call a vicious cycle. It must end, but I don't know where to start. OKAY, I DO know where to start, but I kinda don't care right now.....even though I really do care.....make sense? Ugh.

I have approximately 4,582 books I want to read, yet I sit around and watch too much TV. That annoys me.

Also annoying....the Vikings. And that is all I will say about that.

I have a desire for less clutter in my life. I think that means reorganizing some of the areas where I live (I've already started in the basement). I've decided I can't wait for a time when I have an entire weekend to dive into a huge reorganization project, so I just have to do it bit by bit. It may take me forever.

Okay, I have many other little random thoughts, but I am getting bored with this, so I imagine I've already lost any readers that have stuck with this post (or even happened upon this post at all after my hiatus).

Ta-ta for now. Here's to hoping I'll be more consistent in my blogging.