Monday, February 28, 2011

Books for February: When A Nation Forgets God and Redeeming Love

One of my goals is to read at least one book each month.  I overachieved this month and read two books, and here is what I think of them.

When A Nation Forgets God by Erwin Lutzer

This is a short but well-written book discussing the similarities between the political environment of Nazi Germany and the current political and social environment of the United States.  In concise chapters, Lutzer discusses what happens when a nation silences the church, lets the economy rule, allows the media to control beliefs, and other issues that led to the demise of Germany and, apparently, are also present in our current society.

This book was very manageable and readable (great for me who rarely has time to just sit down and read for hours on end) and yet it really got me thinking.  Plus, I learned many things about Nazi Germany that hadn't "clicked" with me before. And, I also appreciated the matter-of-fact tone and avoidance of sensationalism or conspiracy theory.  While Luzter is not afraid to discuss the similarities between Nazi Germany and the United States, he doesn't assume that the US is necessarily doomed to the same fate.  The purpose is not to frighten people into fatalism but to inspire boldness and courage to stand for the truth of the gospel - while we still have the freedom to do so.

Recommended? Yes!  In fact, I want to read his other book, Hitler's Cross, to continue to learn about the role of the church during this dark period of history.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

In this re-telling of the biblical account of Hosea, the prostitute Angel finds unconditional love and, ultimately, faith in God, through the obedience of her faithful new husband Michael.  Set in the somewhat-mythical "Old West" of Northern California, Rivers paints a vivid picture of God's redeeming love towards the lost.

Thoughts: Let me just say that I am not a fan of Christian fiction.  But I started reading this book at the G's house and had a hard time putting it down.  Could it be possible that Francine Rivers is actually, you know, a good Christian author?  So I humbled myself and checked it out from the library and spent the next few weeks reading.

 At first, Rivers takes the very difficult subject of prostitution and handles it quite tastefully.  I was shocked that something of such "adult content" could actually be written about in a way that didn't make me stop reading.  The book had interesting characters, the intentional parallels between the story and the book of Hosea were insightful, and the predominant "Old West" feel didn't seem to dictate too much of the story.  At first.  Then Rivers took it into her head to write about 200 pages too many and, in my opinion, the story flopped.  The characters became boring, the scandalous scenes became more graphic and disturbing, and by the end I felt as though I had just finished watching some odd combination of Christy, Dr Quinn, and Little House on the Prairie...all with an R rating.  I'm not sure how closely Rivers wanted to follow the story of Hosea, but I do think that there was a major discrepancy which needs to be noted: in the story, Angel is repeatedly touted as a victim of her past and the adults who destroyed her.  In the Bible, God uses the prostitute in Hosea as a picture of Israel - who was so totally and definitely not a victim but played the harlot after other gods by her own choice.

Recommended?  Probably not.  The book has potential, but I don't think I could say, "You've got to read this."

Here comes March with more books in store.  I already have a new cookbook waiting at the library.  Does that count?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How We Got Engaged

Note: This is very long.  But just humor me, okay?

Two years ago today I was very, very tired because I had stayed up into the wee sma's getting engaged to Stephen P.

(Today I am very tired for a rather different reason, but suffice to say that it has something to do with the resident Inexhastible [she must have read OMF in the womb] and her assumption that she is exempt from sleeping for any length of time whatsoever.)

But anyways, two years ago (such a long time!) was the momentous, night.  The story, for those of you who haven't heard it, or who need a refresher, goes something like this:

I suppose I should start at the very beginning.  Steve and I met at an alumni banquet at Cornerstone Bible Institute.  He was part of the visiting alumni and I was running around as a student doing various things to help pull the banquet off.  We chatted briefly and I, in a regular huff about Young Men in General, decided that I really didn't care two beans if this guy was talking to me.  I was sick of trying to pretend to be somebody I wasn't, so I just laid out all of my interests/dreams/beliefs in a matter of about 10 minutes and thought, Well, buddy, take it or leave it.

He took it.

Steve went back to Modesto, CA, and I went back to Nebraska.  We spent the summer sending epic-length Facebook messages, chatting until ungodly hours of the night, and generally getting more "in like."  I went back to school in Hot Springs and Steve went to finish his bachelor's degree at Calvary Bible College in Kansas City. (Little did I know that part of the reason for choosing said college was because he would only be twelve hours away from me instead of twenty-four.)  He came up to visit me at school in October and we proceeded to be horrifically awkward around each other and not talk for a few days.  That was retarded and tear-inducing ("I knew he was a jerk!" I kept saying to myself.)  But then we got over that stupidity and had a loverly 2+ hour talk about how we wanted to get to know each other better.

And we did.

We started talking on the phone and after each conversation was cut off at the blasted curfew of 10pm, I would lay in bed for hours freaking out about how much I loved him and how horrible it would be if he dumped me.  He came to my house for Thanksgiving and survived my family.  I banged my head on the bathroom wall every night after our discussions because I knew that I couldn't live without this guy.  I went to California for New Years and survived his family.  (And the beach.  If I couldn't marry into property, at least I could marry for location, right?)  We became "official" at Denny's at 3am while eating some horrendous potachos dish which I had to pay for with my last $8.  We went back to his house mutually elated (whilst our stomachs waged war against the potachos).

We texted.

Yes, I started texting because of Steve.  I became very adept at it in a very short amount of time.  And we were always grammatically correct in our messages, which thrilled me to no end.  We texted all day and all night and got very little sleep or homework done.  In February, we texted about Steve making a quick trip up to my house for a long weekend.  He was rehearsing for the role of Frank Butler in the college production of Annie Get Your Gun, but he could leave after rehearsals on Friday night and then we would have all of Saturday and most of Sunday together.  Brilliant plan!

Then things got interesting.

On the long anticipated weekend of great joy, my dear mother had to have an unexpected minor surgery.  Clara and I went home a day early to help out with the Heathen, and it was a good thing, too, since the minor surgery turned into a major issue which sent Mom to death's doorstep and back.  So with Mom and Dad at the hospital dealing with that trauma and me holding down the homefront with the kids, here came Steve with his long-time buddy Justin to spend the weekend.  And it was not the chillaxing time that we were anticipating.

On Saturday morning, Steve and I went to visit the parents at the hospital and go grocery shopping and escape the general chaos at home.  (Side note: While I was driving along, Steve said, "Can you drive with just your left hand?"  I said, "Well, of course I can!"  And then he grabbed my right hand and held it for the first time and I almost rear-ended the car in front of us in my shock. The end.)  While we were at the hospital (and unbeknownst to me), my dad cornered Steve in the hallway and told him that he and my mom totally trusted him and that he could do whatever with me.  Meaning that he had permission to propose.  Or something like that.  We went back to my house, prepared a huge dinner for the fambly and friends who had been invited over, and kept small children from killing each other or Justin.

Was I stressed out?  Absolutely.  My mother had almost died.  The heathen were out of control.  And I was totally falling apart in front of the guy I wanted the most to impress.  It was a horrible evening, during which I spent a quantity of time hiding in the bathroom crying.  The heathen didn't go to bed until after 11pm and Justin was snoring in the recliner.  Steve and I were sitting on the couch, staring at absolutely nothing after the insanity of the day.  I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and like a complete failure of a girlfriend.

Then he said, "Let's go outside."

Now, folks, let me remind you that this was February 22.  It was cold.  There was frost on the front deck.  But I said, "Sure," and quickly bundled up.  We stood out on the deck, shivering and looking at the stars and talking for a while.   And Steve said, "You know, I just think we should get married."  And I said, "Okay."

Thus, we got engaged.  That was it.  We spent another good two hours outside in the blessed stillness of the early morning, snuggling up on the porch swing to keep each other warm and talking.  It was splendid and I was too happy to really comprehend what was going on.  I wanted to stay up all night and never stop being with each other.  The next day (or rather, later that morning) was church, but we went to the hospital to talk to Mom and Dad while Clara, Justin, and the heathen did the spiritual thing. So with Mom looking rather green and hooked up to various and sundry wires, we made a list on the hospital white board of pros and cons of wedding dates.  We decided we just couldn't wait a whole year and wanted to get married that coming July - on my parents' anniversary.

Steve said, "So, do you want a ring?"  I always thought that gaudy engagement rings were not my type, plus Steve didn't have any money whatsoever (I had to buy our lunch again).  But I did want something to show that I was engaged, so we went to Alco and bought one of those silly $10 fake diamond rings.  It was pink and the fake metal turned my finger green.  But I wore it very happily for the next five months.

There you have it - the extended tale of our engagement.  It still makes me laugh and feel all giddy again to think about it.  I knew that we were right for each other when we got engaged, but little did I know how perfect we are for each other.  I can't imagine life without Steve and I'm so blessed to be his wife.

End sappiness.

Monday, February 21, 2011

About a HarriEd (with videos)

Here is a post all about HarriEd.  This is for the grandmothers, the aunts and uncles, the surrogate aunts and uncles, and any of H's other fans.  It is also for my memory, which seems to be fading since I kept telling Harriet that I was making pears for her when it was very obviously a bunch of peaches that were simmering away in the Le Creuset saucepan.  I'm pretty sure that she has nursed the brain cells right out of me...which makes her a smart little stinker, that's for sure.

What has HarriEd been up to lately?  Our days generally go something like this.

Get up: H gets up around seven each morning and is unusually perky and smiling for about fifteen minutes.  If her mommy and daddy prefer to not be perky and smiley and, instead, snuggle up with one another, this fifteen minutes is shortened significantly and H gets grouchy.  She then gets changed and dressed and ready for the day.  Harriet plays in her exersaucer while I make breakfast.

Eat breakfast: She has been eating. a. lot. of. food.  I made some homemade baby oatmeal for her (super easy and cheap) and when it is cleverly disguised behind pears or peaches, she will eat it without a second thought.  I always think, "Oh, I accidentally made too much," and almost without fail she proceeds to gobble up the entire bowl-full.

Play: It becomes obvious as to why H has to eat so much when she starts to get down and dirty with her toys.  Harriet has a box of toys which are Safe for Infants and she usually spends a good chunk of her day sorting through them for little things that are Not Safe for Infants.  Usually she will give up the search and content herself with trying to pull the tags off of stuffed animals.  Yesterday we had a little game going in which she held up the plastic lid from the baby food container and I made her stuffed sheep toy butt into it.  This was apparently the most hilarious thing that had ever happened.  She also really likes to look at books and, even more so, chew on the pages.

Nap:  Harriet often takes her morning nap in the Sleepy Wrap because, frankly, I still have things to do and it's just easier to have her nap whilst I unload the dishwasher or fold clothes or do my Bible study, and so on.  Her morning nap is still her longest and most consistent nap and usually lasts over an hour.

Eat lunch:  After waking up and getting acclimated to the world again, H gives another solid go at an early lunch of sweet potatoes or more oatmeal and pears.  Then she keeps herself occupied in the highchair while I eat my lunch.

Backpack time:  Sometimes Harriet likes to play after lunch, but often she ends up riding around in the backpack while I work on sewing projects.  This is a Very Happy Time since she gets to be intimately involved with whatever mommy is doing, and she can pull mommy's hair and chew on her necklace, and she is riding around higher up than everybody else.  Except for her daddy.

Nap: For the afternoon nap, H nurses to sleep on our bed, and then I either sneak away or lie next to her and read.  Depending on how much sleep I got the previous night, I will sometimes sneak a little nap in, too.  Harriet will sleep by herself in bed for 45 minutes exactly.  Then she will wake up completely (none of that half-awake stuff for her) and have to be quickly made to go back to sleep.  If I "catch" her before she is sitting up and ready to go, I can usually nurse her back to sleep for another half hour or so.  It just depends.

Play/Backpack/Snack:  See above.

Play with Daddy:  By the end of the afternoon, Harriet is tired of playing and shows this by clinging desperately to her mommy and wanting to nurse continuously.  This is when her mommy nurses her and then hands her off to her daddy.  And Harriet doesn't see her mommy for about an hour (hooray for the wellness center!) and realizes that life is perfectly fine (even fun) with daddy.

Dinner/Bath/Bed:  Harriet usually hangs out with us while we eat dinner.  Sometimes she takes a bath after we eat and on other days she just gets her pajamers on.  Then she amuses herself with us for the remainder of the evening, usually telling us stories and making us laugh with her silly expressions.  Since our floors are all hardwood, Harriet tends to slide around on them rather than scoot.  She can go from being on her stomach to sitting up to being back on her stomach again with great dexterity and skill.  Thus she manages to get where she wants to be.  She still pulls herself up whenever the opportunity comes her way.

Then she goes to bed, all snuggled up with us, and I pray that she will sleep longer than an hour before waking up.  That's one thing that we are going to start taking drastic measures about: Harriet does not need to nurse all night long.  And her mommy has got to get some sleep.  But that's another story for another day.

We love Harriet so much and can't imagine life without her.  As she continues to grow and develop she gets to be more and more fun of a person to be around.  She's a curious, delightful, sensitive, darling little person who is growing up awfully fast.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Online again, working out and eating healthily, a small rant, sappy movies

We have the internets again!  I think that it will be a Very Good Thing since Steve starts work tomorrow at Wal-Mart and I don't want to be lonely.  Plus there's a lot to do with the Etsy store these days.  There's nothing like a bright and sunny craft room to make the inspiration flow quite fast and furiously.  It's probably a good thing that HarriEd clamors for attention so loudly or else I would lose all track of time and never come back from the sewing machine.
H likes to chase the toys around the tub.

So, yes, I am back online.  I must admit that I was unprepared for the rush of PMS-induced emotions when I got back onto the social network scene yesterday and suddenly felt guilty for not getting my kid to sleep through the night, or for feeding her baby food from a jar, or for failing in posting pictures of her regularly, and just the general busyness that being involved in a hundred other lives via LiveJournal and Facebook tends to create.  Normally it's a good thing that I'm grateful for, but I guess I kind of got used to being Just Us at home without the perceived input of others and the pressure to be involved.  It reminded me of two things.  First of all, input from others is valuable and I need to be involved with other people.  Without it I become increasingly introverted and selfish and less likely to ever want to talk to anybody but Steve.  Second, I have to stick to what I believe is best for my family and my baby and our particular situation.  Comparing parenting skills with others and feeling like a failure isn't useful when I'm really NOT a failure.  And I need to remember that I will think irrationally and hate the whole world when the hormones are wonky.  That's just a fact.

The queen upon her throne in which she is toted about for significant parts of the day.
This week has been a renewal of my commitment to good eating habits (one carb-ish meal a day and the rest consisting of protein and vegetables) and to exercising at least a half an hour a day.  I am very grateful for the discovery of another free week to the wellness center coupon and so I have been spending time down there each evening.  I went to 3-2-1 class totally cold turkey, having no idea what a 3-2-1 was, and learned that it was interval training set to music.  And that my jump roping skills seem to have vanished.  Last night was another round of Zumba toning, and once again, I cannot move this morning without some exclamation of "Ouch!" or "Ahhh!"  But it's good, right?  I think so.

One thing that I've noticed lately is the preponderance of folks who "hon" Steve and me.  It's not just the 50-year-old ladies at Panera, either.  It's the high schoolers checking me into the wellness center.  I mean, okay, I know that I look like I'm an insecure 14-year-old (although I daresay that a haircut would help that problem a lot), but I successfully birthed a child for Pete's sake!  I am not your hon, hon.  Between the endearing remarks of the general public and the vast quantities of Chick-fil-as, I think we've moved too far south.

(But it could be worse.  Yesterday Steve and I did a short worship service a the nursing home, and one little lady asked Steve if I were his mother.)

Ahem.  Steve got me Roman Holiday for Valentine's Day.  That is my favoritest Valentine's Day movie - ever since Amy and I found it on sale for $2 at Wally World during many moons ago.  Steve and I watched half of it on Valentine's Day and finished the rest off last night while HarriEd slid around the living room floor on her bottom.  That movie never fails to completely sap me out.

I think I want to be Audrey Hepburn.

So back to the gym I go....

Just kidding. :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Scatteredness of Me

So this will be a quick, bulleted, disjointed kind of post.  I'm at the library and Steve is doing laps with HarriEd around the science fiction section - and I don't know how long she'll last.  I'll give a snippy-snappy little update on things:

  • We currently have a car!  To make a long story short, we found out about a Toyota Avalon in super-good shape with low mileage (for its age) that was owned by a couple who go to Levi's old church in Springfield.  (There are lots of other small world connections, but I won't dive into that right now.)  The car is really great for our needs right now and the owners said that we could use it until they get back from their trip and we figure out our money situation.  Praise the Lord!  Having a vehicle makes such a difference.
  • Steve had a job interview on Friday that went really well.  It was at a refrigeration manufacturer about an hour away, and even though the distance is a bit of a bummer, he has the chance to get some really good hours, benefits, AND if/when we decide to take more classes at Covenant, the job will only be about 20 minutes away from the school.  So that will be handy.  Now we're waiting to hear back in the next week or so.  I'm praying that he gets a day shift instead of swings. :-)
  • I was so grateful was Tessa was able to drive up from St. Louis yesterday to spend an afternoon baking cookies and making Valentine's Day crafts.  How fun to have a kindred spirit to talk with!  The cookies were a disaster (a tasty disaster, no less) and the crafts didn't get done...but we were talking and that was splendid.
  • I was able to set up my sewing machine this week and after a trip to that blessed place Hobby Lobby, I have been having so much fun.  Between sewing, pink nail polish, and two girly movies from Steve, I'm beginning to feel my feminine side revive.
  • HarriEd is a character.  She continues to devour pears and spit out bananas and demand to be the center of attention at all times.  Or else.  She is very close to crawling, which both amazes and terrifies me.
  • We need to get internet soon.  Or I need to get organdized about writing posts and saving them.
  • The End.
  • OH!  The husband is writing on his blog again.  (And I help because I'm the midnight brainstormer.)  Check it out here: Coffee Steve

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pictures of the House

 Here I am having survived the stupid snow storm which prevented me from getting online and uploading pictures,  but allowed me to have lots of time to organize the new place.  That's why you are seeing these pictures of a moderately tidy home instead of a sty.

Here is an album/slideshow of the house.  I don't have any pictures of the living room or the bathroom yet, but I'll update this album when I do.  You can click on the slideshow to go to the online album if you'd like.

We're still waiting on a job and a car.  Snow slows things down considerably we are realizing.  Not that we haven't been in snow before...we just haven't had to do Major Life Things in the snow.  Folks hither and yon are being very generous and sweet.  God is faithful in taking care of us.

HarriEd has been the crankiest little creature this week.  Maybe there are more teeth on the way.

And one more thing: I miss the internets.