Friday, February 27, 2009

30 Hour Famine

If you haven't heard of 30 Hour Famine, it's an awesome experience for youth groups! Basically, the kids get sponsors to go 30 hours without food. They spend those 30 hours at the church doing fun, bonding activities, worshipping, and doing service projects. They are allowed to chew gum, drink water, and drink 100% fruit juice, but that's it! The money goes to World Vision to fight world hunger! The youth at our church take it very seriously. Last year, they raised over $20,000 through the famine! Our teens are amazing, and consider this one of the biggest events in their year (or at least I did when I was in youth group!) Here are some pictures of the famine from 2 years ago (for some reason I couldn't find any from last year). It's such an awesome time for the youth. Not only are they helping others, but this weekend helps them grow so much spiritually!

Here's the One80 Band (my hubby's band!) Leading worship

Here are some leaders...the camo get-ups were part of an elaborate game they played. Luke's the tall one on the right side...I think he looks cute, even though he's a little shaggy with the facial hair!

The kids spend about 4 hours on Saturday doing service projects before they have their fun activity (bowling, roller skating, or a fun game).
And at about 7:00 on Saturday night, the 30 hours are up, and they have a huge "break the fast" meal. Usually they have TONS of amazing food for the kids. It's always fun to share a big meal together after such a growing and bonding weekend. Here's the looong line:

This weekend is the 2009 famine. Last year at this time, I was still a middle school youth group leader. I have since realized that I am just not called to work with middle schoolers. Give me a roomful of 3rd graders, and I can shine. But middle schoolers are like another species altogether. I was asked to be a leader at the famine this year, too. I thought and prayed about it, and realized that God didn't want me to help reluctantly, and with a bad attitude. I told our youth leader, Alex, that I just couldn't be a leader. BUT, I would love to help with anything behind the scenes. He told me that that was actually an answer to prayer, because he needed someone to run the juice breaks, take pictures, and set up and lead a really involved game that the kids are playing tomorrow. (The game is a series of challanges that will help the kids know what it would feel like to be in a third world country. I'm pumped about leading that!)

So although I won't actually be working with the kids much, I will be at the church most of the weekend helping in the background. I'm excited to serve the kids, and to take LOTS of pictures. I am the camera queen, you know ;-)

Last year I had a heavy heart, and NOT a good attitude about helping at the famine. But since I was honest with Alex and told him where I felt more called to help, I'm SO excited about this weekend. I have a great attitude about it, and can't wait to head up to the church in a few hours!

I guess I said all that to say that when we're very involved in church, we get asked to help with a lot of things. But it's okay to say no if you don't feel it's an area where God has gifted you! God wants to use you to bless other people. If you have a bad attitude, no one will be blessed. But if you have a good attitude, you will bless others, and you will, in return, be blessed!

Have a great weekend! Please keep the 120 teens from our church who are doing the famine, and especially the youth leaders in your prayers this weekend. I know when I was in youth group my life was absolutely CHANGED every year during 30 hour famine. I pray that the teens will have a new outlook, and a closer walk with God by this time tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mission: Organization

I've decided that next week I will begin my spring cleaning. I know it won't technically be spring until March 21, but as soon as March 1 hits, I go into "spring mode." Even though it will still be cold and snowy, I refuse to call the season "winter" for another day after February 28!

Today's post is quite boring, but I'm trying to get myself ready for the daunting task ahead of me. Here is a spring cleaning to-do list of all that I hope to accomplish:

1. Clean out and organize refrigerator and all cupboards in the kitchen.
2. Organize attic closet
3. Organize bedroom closet and dresser (again!)
4. Organize hallway cabinets and drawers
5. Organize bathroom cupboards

Considering the fact that we had exactly 6 days in November to move everything we own from our apartment to our new house, which we were in the middle of renovating, EVERYTHING got thrown in closets, cabinets, drawers, and any other available space that wasn't being torn apart and rebuilt! (How's that for a run-on sentence?!) Let's just say that not all of those closets, cabinets and drawers got completely cleaned out yet! I keep putting it off because there's nothing less fun than organizing messy spaces. But it needs to be done! I decided to devote next week to the task
And now since I'm thinking spring, here are some signs that spring is getting ready to make an appearance. If you're from a place like Ohio that dramatically experiences the season of winter, hopefully this list will give you some hope!

-It's 53 degrees at this very moment!

-It was light this morning at 7:10 when I left for work

-Our clocks are scheduled to "spring forward" next Saturday (March 8)

-Easter candy and decorations are out in most stores. Hello, Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans and Jelly Bellies!

-One of my students today said, "Mrs. Wallace, I saw a red bird outside this morning. Spring is coming!" The excitement in his eyes and voice was so precious. I also heard some birds chirping happily last night when I was outside.

-I've seen kids at work wearing their St. Patrick's Day attire already

-Can you say Shamrock Shakes? Not sure if they're at McDonalds yet, but we like to make our own this time of year! Too bad I'm lactose intolerant, and pretty much feel like I'm going to die after drinking one. Every once in awhile, though, it's worth it!

-The air just feels different - I can just tell that winter is almost over. Sure, it will probably still snow well into April here, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm hoping for more warm days than frigidly cold ones from here on out. The earth really IS about to wake up from it's long slumber. We're about to experience beautiful, blooming flowers, bugs and little critters coming out from hiding, rain, rainbows, green leaves, green grass, flip-flops, t-shirts, car windows down, and SUNSHINE!!!

Praise God for His beautiful springtime creation! And for a hard winter that makes us appreciate spring so much!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Brighteners

We all have bad days every once in awhile. Or maybe we're so busy, we feel totally burnt out.

When we are feeling down, we need to take care of ourselves! God calls us to Him when we are weary , and he will give us rest. He can't use us when we are feeling so burnt out that we have a bad attitude.

I had "one of those days" yesterday at work. It inspired me to write about my top 5 "day brighteners." If you need a pick-me-up in your day, or if you just need some alone time to pray and worship, try one of these suggestions.

#1: Take a relaxing bubble bath

I'm talking the whole 9 yards: mountains of bubbles in your favorite scent, bath salts, candlelight, and relaxing worship music playing in the background. I don't know of anything that relaxes me more than this does. You will feel totally relaxed, warm, and comfortable afterwards. This can turn your mood right around!

#2: Take a walk...alone

I wouldn't recommend doing this unless it's at least 40 degrees outside! But being alone out in the fresh air and beauty of God's creation always makes me feel so close to Him! I like to pour my heart out to God while I walk after a bad day, and I always seem to come back with a new attitude.

#3: Go to bed early - with a cup of tea
After a hard day, I like to pour myself a cup of chamomile-mint tea, bring my laptop into my bedroom, and drink my tea while I catch up on my favorite blogs in bed! My cat, Gabby, likes to curl up by my feet, and it's just a cozy, relaxing way to end a hard day. Plus, you won't have any trouble falling asleep after all that relaxation!

#4: Make plans for later

Plan a movie night or date night with your husband, a girls night with your friends, or even a road trip or vacation! I've found that focusing on fun, future plans can help you forget about the horrible day you just had. It gives you something to look forward to, changes your mood, and changes your perspective.

#5: Music!
Music heals the soul, and relaxes you after a long day. If I've had a particularly hard day, I like to go in my bedroom, turn the lights out, lie down, and listen to worship music on my mp3 player. It's like shutting off the rest of the world, and focusing only on praying and worhipping through the music. God WILL speak to you during those quiet moments.

So have you had a busy, hard day today? Try one or more of these suggestions. God wants you to be in a happy mood and in a good frame of mind in order to carry out His will. So take some time out for yourself every once in awhile. Trust me, your family and those around you will thank you for it, because you will be so better able to serve them afterward!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Weekly Splurge

It's that time again...time for my weekly splurge! My weekly splurge is the one or 2 things I buy each week that are totally selfish purchases. Total wants, and not needs.

Here they week 2 splurge picks. Can you tell I was thinking spring today? (Gabby wants the flowers, not the jelly beans. I had to move them to a high spot where she can't get to them!)
Last week I wrote about 5 things that were on the wish list for my home. One of the things on my list were fresh flowers. So that's what I bought with my weekly splurge money today! I also purchased the vase in which they are placed, today. Plus I bought some Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, my favorite kind! Our house will be stocked up with these, brightly colored, delicious treats until at least Easter!

I decided I needed to start adding some springtime items into our home. Mostly just for my sanity! The flowers and jelly beans made me think of spring! And although it's not quite spring yet, it's close enough to start packing away the winter decor and start breaking out the happy, springtime things!

For example, Today I put away my snowman candy dish:
And replaced him with a small, glass canister filled with my jelly beans! The room feels happier already!
That's all the splurge purchases I have for now! Tune back in next week when I plan on buying new towels for the bathroom (we got about 50 bath towels as wedding gifts, but none of them match each other, and certainly none of them match our bathroom!) and possibly an adorable "Better Homes and Gardens" picture frame from Wal-Mart I plan to fill with some black and white pictures. It's hard to be on a budget, but fun to look forward to purchasing little things now. I appreciate things so much more, and really think about what I want to buy, now.

Here's to dreaming of spring :-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Proverbs 31

I decided that today I'd write about my inspiration for all of the changes in my blog and life lately. And that is Proverbs 31. Proverbs 31:10-31 gives all of the attributes of a noble woman. And I so desperately want to be like this woman!
Proverbs 31:10-31
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household, and she does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the award she has earned; and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

What a woman!! I know that no one is perfect, and I will never quite live up to all of those lofty standards. But I would like to devote my life to trying!

I think service starts at home. For me, it is easier for me to serve people who are needy. It is very rewarding, and those people really deserve it. However, it can be more difficult to serve at home. My husband doesn't always notice or appreciate what I do, and sometimes I feel like he doesn't deserve it (which is a bad attitude!) But then I remember another piece of scripture: Colossians 2:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

Oops...I guess I have no excuses, now! God deserves all that I can give, and so much more! So what will I do today to take baby steps toward a more noble and virtuous life? Get to work! Instead of watching TV I'm going to finish the laundry that I've been putting off, clean all the clutter that's lying around the house. I'm going to think of little things I can do to make today a special day for Luke and I. What "Proverbs 31" act will you perform today?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Longer "Becoming Me"

I changed my blog name today! I created a new header and couldn't wait any longer to use it! I'm hoping my page isn't too busy now.

And I hope everyone still knows who I am! I'm Jessica from "Becoming Me", just to clear up any confusion! Ha!

I FINALLY found a website with cute blogger backgrounds! I had just been looking at Pyzam before, and couldn't find any I liked. But I finally found a good website with lots of backgrounds! So I changed that as well.

At least I kept my profile picture the same...that's about the only thing that didn't change though :-) I am planning on keeping the header and background for a long time, and the new name forever! So no more confusion.

So what do you it too busy? Hopefully not...I don't feel like changing it again! lol

Have a great Sunday evening :-)

Answered Prayers

Today was my grandma's 85th birthday! (I thought it was birthday #84, but apparently I was a year off!) She is a special lady, and will soon be living in the back apartment of our house!

Let me explain. God answered lots of prayers at one time last summer! My grandma had been living with my aunt and uncle, but they had planned to move to Virginia. Grandma didn't want to move away from all of her friends (obviously! She's 85!) It just so happens that my aunt and uncle owned a rental property in Damascus (where Luke and I already lived). God gave Luke and I a HUGE blessing, because we bought my uncle's rental house! We live on the top floor and rent out the other 2 apartments. It's been a great situation for us! And that's not the best part. This was also an answer to my grandma's prayers, because now she is able to move into one of our apartments, and doesn't have to leave the place she's called home for most of her life! God is amazing how he works things out sometimes!

For Grandma's birthday, we took her out to lunch. Afterward, we all came to her future apartment for cupcakes! My dad is doing some major renovations in there right now, to make it handicap accessible in case she is ever in a wheel chair. But we ate there anyway, and spent a few hours making decisions on paint colors and decor. Grandma could not have been more excited!

I'm a little nervous about her moving in, because I feel responsible for her. But I'm so glad she's staying here! She is such a Godly woman, and such an inspiration to me!

Here she is about to blow out her cupcake candles...isn't she cute??
She'll be moving in in April or May, and she's really excited. I'm excited to have someone to bring my leftovers to and to visit with when Luke has all of his guy friends over! I'm sure Gabby will be visiting her a lot too ;-) Hopefully grandma will learn to love our crazy cat!

Grandma is picking out all the paint colors and everything else herself! I'll have to post some Before and After pictures. For an 85 years old lady, she has pretty good taste!

Remember, if you have a difficult situation in life like my Grandma did, God can take care of it! And he might bless someone else in the process, too, as Luke and I were blessed through this situation!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Girls' Afternoon Out and New Name Reveal

Today was an absolutely wonderful day! Julie (my sister) is home from college this weekend! I spent the afternoon out with Julie and my mom. We went to a new restaurant in town for lunch. It was delicious, and so cute! Julie is going to school for interior design, and just LOVED the lights there. She stole my camera and took 5 pictures of them because she said she could use them in some of her designs.
It's funny the things she gets excited about! I love her though, and she is my best friend. Can you tell we're sisters? People used to get us mixed up in high school, even though I was 3 years older! (This was before she lost 10 lbs and I gained 20 :-P)
Anyway, we spent the afternoon browsing at the craft store and scrapbooking stores at the mall. We also bought gifts for my Grandma, who is turning 84 tomorrow! We're taking her out to lunch to celebrate :-) Here is what Luke and I got her. We haven't given her any wedding pictures yet!
These pictures were actually taken a week after the wedding because my photographer didn't get any good, formal ones of just me and Luke! (We were a little less than satisfied with her work!) A week after the wedding, right after I got 10 inches cut from my hair, our moms were nice enough to rent Luke's tux again, and we had our friend JC take about 200 formal photos of us, our parents, and grandparents. They turned out great! I guess it's okay that we both have different haircuts than we did at the wedding :-P And don't you love the frame? I thought it was perfect for a wedding photo, and I might buy another one for myself!
Okay, now for my new blog name reveal!

I've been thinking a lot about what I should call my blog because I'm just not happy with "Becoming Me." It's kind of boring. So I decided that my new name will be:

Called to Serve

I feel that God has called us all to be servants. In my life right now I'm trying to stop being selfish, and to do what God has called me to do! This might mean serving my students at work by loving them unconditionally, and helping them with whatever they need. It could also mean serving my husband (and future children) by making a nice, comfortable, inviting home and ATTEMPTING to make good meals ;-) It could mean serving fellow believers by providing a place for fun and fellowship in our home. Or serving non-believers by loving them and witnessing and ministering to them. It could mean serving those in the community by donating, helping at the church, or doing community service projects. But most importantly, it means serving God by giving my life over to Him, and following His will in everything!

I think this name is more fitting for where my life is right now. I'm learning to be a servant, but it's so hard sometimes! However, it will always be totally worth it.

I will officially change my blog name as soon as I make myself a new header! I'm afraid I may be spending LOTS of time on picnik in the near future :-)

Adventures in Entertaining

First of all, let me just say that a middle-of-the-night post is what happens when your friends leave your house at 1:30 AM. We had some friends over tonight, and they all decided to stay late to watch the very last Conan before he moves to Burbank and a new time slot. Being that Conan begins way past my bedtime, I fell asleep on the couch, sitting beside my sister, with my head resting on my shoulder during almost the whole show. Luckily, I think Julie was the only one who noticed. Ha! Anyway, when everyone left, I woke up and now feel totally awake after my hour-long-snooze. Luke is taking a shower, and I figured it was the perfect time to blog since I need to make myself tired again!

Okay, now back to tonight. Every Friday night from 9 - 11, a bunch of the young guys from my church play basketball. I decided that I was sick of sitting at home alone at that time on Friday night, and invited a bunch of girls over for board games. I'm a little embarrassed that our house still needs a little work, so I'd been reluctant to invite too many people over. But I decided that God has called me to open my home for fellowship. I thought maybe we could get a weekly get-together started. I cleaned the whole house from top to bottom and whipped up some snacks to munch on. I set out the board games, popped in a chick flick to play in the background, and prayed that God would use me somehow to serve these women and open my home up to them.

My games were ready to go:
We had puppy chow: Bite-sized pieces of heaven, filling up the bowl I bought as my weekly splurge.
I also made Mexican dip that turned out to be pretty tasty. It had lots of peppers in it. Is there any vegetable that's prettier and more vibrant than a bell pepper?
Here's the finished product. It was delicious! And so simple: a layer of cream cheese, then salsa, then cheddar cheese, and topped off with red, yellow, and green bell peppers.

Here's the whole spread (minus the mini pizza slices I made later!)

Out of the 14 or 15 girls that I invited, 3 showed up: my best friend/neighbor/cousin Rachel, my sister Julie, and my sister-in-law Diana. It turns out that most of the other girls had pretty legitimate excuses, but it was still a little disappointing and discouraging. My mom even showed up and we told her to stay awhile since almost no one else had made it :-P

Luckily, it was a very fun time. And at least 4 girls, including me, had something fun to do on a Friday night when we'd normally be at home without our significant others. I'm not giving up...I'm going to try it again and pray that more girls show up! I would love to start out just hanging out on Friday nights, but eventually grow into a women's Bible study. We'll see what happens.

Here are 3 of the 4 girls who made it: my mom (Ha! I love her, what can I say?) Julie, who is looking a little dazed in this picture, and Rachel. Notice that we are in the attic/Ohio State room. Luke decorated this one, and I pretty much am not a fan. He accidentally put the plastic over the windows this winter BEFORE he painted the brown trim black. The rest of the trim in this room is black and doesn't looke as horrible as this!

Gabby doesn't do well with company. She was POOPED by 9:30, and decided to hide in this bubble-wrap-bag that Luke had lying around for his ebay packaging. Gabby fell asleep in it for about an hour. I think I've written before about how she LOVES plastic bags. Gotta love my weird cat!

After the guys were done playing basketball, they all crashed our party. It was a good thing, though. We played Rock Band, watched some DVR'd Scrubs re-runs, and finished the evening by watching Conan (or sleeping, for me :-P) It was a great night, and it was much more fun than sitting at home by myself!

I pray that God uses our home to bring people in so that we can minister to them and fellowship with them here. This is a total out-of-my-comfort-zone thing, but I've just felt a real calling toward it lately.

Well, I'm officially tired again, and ready to head back into a deep slumber. I don't expect to be up until at least 10:00 tomorrow morning! Is there anything better than a Saturday morning with no obligations? I think not :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Expect Some Changes

I hate my blog name. Seriously. "Becoming Me?" It's incredibly boring and uncreative. Expect to see a new header and a new blog name in March. I'm still playing around with ideas in my head.

That's all I have to say today :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekly Splurge

I have to admit that my posts have been a little on the BORING side lately :-P What can I say, not much has been going on in my life lately! Since not much is going on, I decided to devote my posts to cooking, my home, and other practical yet fun things that I, being a typical newly-wed, am focusing on. At least until my life gets a little less boring :-)

So welcome to the newest addition to my blog: my "Weekly Splurge." Let me explain. Luke and I are trying to save money like crazy as we are following Dave Ramsey's plan. Instead of just spending money whenever we feel like it and not keeping track of what we spend, we have started a weekly allowance system. Since we're trying so hard to save money, our allowance each week for entertainment and extra things is not a huge amount. So now every thing I buy is a little more special to me.

Every week with my allowance I spend a little bit of money on one or two things that are total wants and not needs. I call them my weekly splurges. I've decided to start showing my weekly splurges in my blog. This week my splurge purchases were for my home, as they probably will be a lot of the time. I feel like our house needs a LOT more, it's still pretty bare from when we moved in this past November. Anyway, here are this week's splurge picks (minus all the candy):
I got the wooden, square bowl at Wal-Mart for just over $7. It's filled with all of our Valentines Day candy and cards...those weren't part of the splurge purchase :-) I also got the little country candle at Wal-Mart for a little over $5. My house isn't exactly country, but I'm a country girl at heart, and love to have touches of it here and there in the house. I'm excited about my cheap little splurges, and I'm excited to display them on Friday when I have a girl's night at my house. I'm going to fill the bowl with puppy chow, the most delicious party snack I think I've ever had. And the candle fills the whole house with it's comforting, apple-cinnamon scent. I think I did pretty well for about $12 or $13!


I'm really into the whole home decorating thing right now. So I thought I'd share my house wish list with you as well today! Here are 5 things I really want for my home right now. And they are all things that I could buy with my allowance money, so nothing too huge (I feel a little bit like an 8-year-old using the word "allowance!")

#1: Apothecary Jars
I think they are so pretty, and you can fill them with almost anything! For example:
Misc. Decorative Items:
The possibilities are endless, really!

#2: A picture, sign, or wall decal for above our headboard
Something like this:

#3 A wreath or Swag for my front door
Maybe a little something like this:
#4: Fresh Flowers
I believe that a house should always have fresh flowers. My mom used to be a florist, so I grew up with that philosophy. I for some reason never seem to have them at my house, though! I hope to start changing that soon!#5: A New Teakettle
My teakettle is not cute. I use it at almost every day to make tea, hot cocoa, or freshly brewed iced tea (Iced tea is pretty much all Luke and I drink :-P). I always just leave it on top of the stove since it's used so often. I would love to buy an adorable teakettle and make it a focal point of that part of my kitchen.

How adorable is this one? Too bad it doesn't match my kitchen :-P

This, however, would be perfect!

Hopefully my weekly splurges in the future will include some of these purchases!

Now what about you? What are 5 little things on your home's wishlist?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quarter-Life Crisis

That's what I seem to be having these days. I'm completely questioning my decision to become a teacher.

To avoid an extremely long story, I will just say that through a strange set of events, I have been introduced to the court reporting and broadcast captioning fields. Court reporting is just typing up transcripts of trials or depositions, and broadcast captioning is typing the closed captioning for live TV shows in real time. These sound like really random jobs, but apparently there is a big demand for them right now. They only require a 2 year associate degree, and they pay really well. And it just so happens that one of the few schools that offers these programs is in Canton, Ohio, 40 minutes from my house. AND they offer the programs online! It just seems too good to be true. I honestly would love a job where I don't have to deal with people too much. I'm too much of a people-pleaser, and it makes life miserable! And if I took the broadcast captioning route, I could work from home. This is a dream job for someone like me, who wants to have a few kids someday!

Now I'm not just jumping headfirst into the program and abandoning the whole teaching thing. I've decided I need lots of time to think about this. And to PRAY about this. My plan is to wait to start the program (IF I decide to go that route) next fall. And that's only if I don't get a full-time teaching job for next year (I'm just an aide right now, and NOT really loving it). If I still don't have a teaching job by next fall, and if I still feel this hopelessness and discontentment with where my professional life is, I will jump headfirst into one of the two programs I mentioned, and totally change the course of my career path. If I wait 6 months, I know I won't be making a spur of the moment decision.

I know this post is boring, but the reason I started my blog was to document everything I am going through. And obviously this is a pretty big thing. It's really exciting, and I can't wait to see what happens. It makes it a little bit easier to get out of bed in the morning and head out to a job that seems to be leading nowhere. By this time next year, I'll either be teaching, or about 1/3 of the way through a court reporting or broadcast captioning associates degree program. I feel good :-) I guess this goes along with my New Years resolution to make things happen and be proactive. I'm not going to stay in a job where I'm not content, and have a bad attitude anymore!

Here's to embracing each day, giving God the steering wheel of life, and feeling positive about what the future will bring :-D

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beautiful in God's Eyes

Saturday evening (Valentines Day) ended up being great! My chicken stir fry turned out to be pretty tasty. I was breathing a sigh of relief that evening that I didn't ruin the meal somehow. I have a tendency to do that sometimes :-)

This is one of my favorite meals (It's Luke's all-time favorite). I LOVE all the onions and peppers and vegetables in it. They filled the whole house with their savory scent for the entire evening. I loved it :-)
I even set the table, complete with my nice Mikasa dishes. You know it's a nice dinner when I break those out instead of our Target everyday dishes ;-)

Then we exchanged gifts. This is what Luke got for me:
Does he know me or what?! He told me he was going to buy me flowers, but didn't want to buy them a day early and have them not be fresh on Saturday. I said, "It's okay, Luke. You know chocolate always trumps flowers in my book!" And it does. I would much rather receive chocolate than flowers any day :-)

We had fun going to see a movie, and then when we came home, we watched Scrubs re-runs. I know, romantic, right? Well, to us it is! haha

Yesterday was a great day. After church, dinner at the in-laws, and our FPU class, I received a big blessing! We were still at church after FPU, and Luke went upstairs where the youth group kids were hanging out. He needed to talk to the youth leader who is one of our good friends. Luke ended up getting sucked in by a game of hockey the kids were playing, and he decided to join in. I keep saying that he's 15 at heart :-P While he continued to play for the next hour, I had the opportunity to chat with Michelle, the youth leader's wife.

Michelle is an amazing woman. She's 26 years old, and already knows exactly what she wants in life. She doesn't wear make-up, doesn't get caught up in wearing the right clothes, and just isn't materialistic at all. She and her husband just paid cash for their first house a few months ago. It was a little $7,000 house that was obviously falling apart at the seams. She and her husband are living in an apartment while they completely gut the house and make it their own. They're paying for everything as they go, and making it a long-term project. I just think that's awesome. When they're done, they will have a house without a mortgage while they are still in their 20s! They are just smart people. They eat only healthy foods and they go to the gym 5 days a week because they truly believe that their bodies are God's temple and it's their responsibility to take care of them. Michelle has her teaching license, but has decided to devote her time to the youth at our church instead of teaching full-time. She and her husband are waiting to have kids, because they eventually want to do a lot of missions work. Now is that a Godly woman or what?!

Anyway, I was excited to have the chance to talk to her a lot last night. We talked about lots of things, but somehow got on the topic of my one-year-anniversary trip. I told her that we want to go somewhere, but didn't want to spend a lot of money now that Dave Ramsey has made us feel guilty about spending :-P She suggested that we go backpacking! She and Alex (her husband) have gone a few times, and they love it. It gives them a chance to just be alone in nature, and it's totally romantic. And the best part? You only have to pay for food and gas to get to wherever you're going.

I'm not typically a very out-doorsy girl. But this gave me something to think about! How romantic would it be to just explore nature, just the two of us? We could sleep out under the stars if we want, cook all of our meals over a fire, swim in a lake, just talk for hours with no distractions. The drawbacks, of course, would be the bugs, no running water, and no toilets! I'm not sure that I'm quite ready for something THAT rugged, but we could just go camping somewhere like Kelley's Island, or anywhere else with a big lake. It would be cheap. And for our first trip together (besides the honeymoon), we might go with something cheap. Someday when we've saved up a lot of money we'll go to the Bahamas or on a cruise. But for now, we're trying to save money like crazy, so a nature-filled camping trip might be the way to go. I mean, if you ask me, romance is what you make it. We could still have a great time! And we haven't gotten the chance to use our tent that my parents got us as a wedding gift. This would be the perfect opportunity!

Anyway, Michelle gave me a lot to think about. She is a woman who is truly beautiful in God's eyes (that's also the title of a book I'm reading in Sunday School, and it is what I truly want from life - to be beautiful in God's eyes). I look up to her a lot, and hope to be a little more like her someday!

I will leave you with a few pictures another friend of mine took while backpacking in Colorado. Tell me these aren't just breathtakingly beautiful and romantic!:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm Spoiled

I hope your Valentines Day is going great! Even when I was single, I was never one of those people who hated Valentines Day. I used it as an excuse to watch chick flicks, read romantic books, pamper myself, and indulge in lots, and lots of chocolate and ice cream! So even if you don't have a significant other to share today with, I hope you can find some fun ways to enjoy the holiday :-)

Luke and I had a Valentines Day surprise last night. Our neighbors, Rachel and Jared, are also our best friends! Rachel has been my best friend since we were in diapers - she is my cousin. And although we are polar opposites, we've always been very close. And Luke actually roomed with her husband, Jared for a year while they were both still bachelors. It was just a total coincidence and blessing that we happened to move in almost right next to them! Anyway, last night they stopped by to deliver us a little Valentines Day treat:
Aren't they adorable? Rachel is a regular Martha Stewart, and has been as long as I can remember. I love how they even included our initials :-) I was glad I had baked chocolate cupcakes earlier yesterday so I had something to give them in return!

Then Luke and I found out that we're famous. Not really, but a few days ago I wrote about how a lady from our church went on Dr. Phil to get a makeover. She works at the Damascus Fire Department, which just happens to be right beside our house. The show got a few shots of the fire department, and for about half a second, our house was in the background! So if you watched Dr. Phil yesterday (Friday) you saw our house. I know it's not a big deal, but we were excited anyway! haha

Later, Luke played basketball with some of his friends while I worked on our "Dating years" scrapbook. I only wanted to work on a few pages, but I got carried away and filled up all but 3 pages in the album! Here are a couple pages, just for fun:I know the glare makes it hard to see, but I like the Hershey's Kiss labels that frame the picture. I saved them a long time ago when I made cookies with Hershey's Kisses, because I knew I could use them somewhere!

Then this morning, Luke decided to surprise me by making breakfast! This is the first time he's done that since our honeymoon in July, so I thought it was pretty sweet :-)

He made a pretty big mess of the kitchen, but I think I'll keep him anyway ;-)

Yum...homemade waffles and bacon. He did pretty well!
(the bacon wasn't black, I just edited the photo and that's how the bacon turned out afterwards :-P)

I went to my parents' for a few minutes to exchange V-Day gifts with them. My mom really spoiled us!

She got us a basket full of goodies, and Mikasa serving dish from the Italian Countryside collection! I've been slowly building my Mikasa collection ever since my bridal shower. Can you believe she found this at Marcs for a few bucks?! I was Bed, Bath, and Beyond, they go for $45 each. I was so excited!Here's a close up of her basket. It contained chocolate-covered pretzels, Sweethearts candies, lots of Hershey's Kisses, some adorable candles, and my favorite Mary-Kay lip gloss.
Had to get a close up of the "Cafe Candles." I'm going to display them in the kitchen somewhere, because I think they are just too cute!

My mom is adorable...she loves buying gifts and making them look pretty. That's why she still buys us all Valentines Day presents every year. For my little sister, she bought a plaque that says "Who cares about love? I'd rather fall in chocolate!" I thought it was cute :-)

I'm excited about date night tonight! This post is simply to kill time, because I'm excited! I'm making Luke his favorite dinner tonight: chicken stir-fry. I'm lucky his favorite meal is such an easy one to make! Then we're going to see "He's Just Not That Into You" at the movie theater. I'm pretty excited!

Tomorrow We STILL won't be finished celebrating Valentines Day. Luke's parents have invited us over tomorrow afternoon for a Valentines Day dinner of burgers, and then homemade cake followed by homemade ice cream! Again, we are so spoiled by both sets of parents! After that we have our Financial Peace University class at church. We're ending the day by going to see "Friday the 13th" with some of our friends, because clearly, we will need something like that after all this mushy, romantic stuff :-P

Luke and I both have off work Monday! Yay for me working in a school system and Luke working for the city! We're going to Bob Evans for breakfast. My mouth is already watering!

It's going to suck going back to work on Tuesday, but until then, I'm going to enjoy every minute of this long weekend! :-D

Have a WONDERFUL Valentines Day!!