Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The seemingly natural instinct/desire to make my house a home

You know it's kinda odd, Ive lived away from my family's home for about 7 years now, and in all that time I never really focused on making my living space homey, for lack of a batter word. Sure, I would coordinate colors when I bought things for my bedroom or whatever, but I think I always felt like I was passing through, like I was on somebody elses territory maybe- the college dorm, my grandma's house when she was in the nursing home, I had room-mates, etc. I'd set up my space to be functional rather than warm and welcoming.

Now that I am married, its been kinda a turn around. Pretty much immediately I wanted to do everything I could to make our apartment warm and inviting. I want colors to coordinate, I want things to seem warm, fresh and attractive. I try my best to keep it clean, but that isn't always good enough, the mess seems to get away from me sometimes.

 Whats strange about it is not the act of making the house "cute" but the feelings I have surrounding the issue. I feel duty bound to do it. Like, it says something negative about me as a woman and wife if I don't try to make my home a space that my husband and guests will love to be. Yet, its not a fear or obligation that keeps me cleaning, sorting, organizing, decorating; rather, I get a sincere JOY out of making my house look nice.

We are on a very tight budget and we are trying to keep out possessions to a minimum since we plan to move when our lease is up in about 6 months. As a result any beautifying has been a very sloooooow process. Unfortunately, my husband does not see the value in making the place look nice and any attempts I have made to express to him why I feel the NEED to make it homey have fallen on deaf ears so I feel silly trying to do much to help it look better. However, for my birthday my dad sent me a gift card to a big, evil box store for 40 bucks. I decided to use it to buy a few things Id been desperately wanting to do. I got area rugs for the bathroom, a pretty shower curtain, a step can for the bathroom (we have not had a can in there since my dogs would get into it) and some curtain rods to hang some curtains that somebody gave us in the living room. I got some good deals and even had 3 dollars left over. As soon as I got home, I set up the bathroom. It looks AMAZING! I love it! Then I put up the curtains. They are about 6-8 inches too short for the window, but whatever, I'm okay with it. I think it looks nicer than just the mini blinds we had for privacy.

I'm pretty handy and creative, so I have made a few things around the house and plan to make more/improvise more. For example, we have this tacky lamp in the living room that I would love to decoupage over or something, and I want to paint some art for the very, very blank walls. This place could be nice. Ive also been going through tons of our stuff and getting rid of what we don't need. Mike made enough money selling his extra instruments on craigslist to buy a new computer that we have been needing. Ive given things away on Freecycle and we are dropping off a box at the salvation army today. Theres still more to go through and get rid of. We don't need all the clutter! We sold all out coffee tables, end tables and bedside tables for $20 on Craigslist because those things are just a magnet for clutter. The place looks a lot better without them. I gotta figure out what to do about papers, those are my other big clutter problem. We have a file cabinet, but we still seem to amass a LOT of papers....

Proverbs 31:27-30
"She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness,
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
'Many daughters have done nobley,
But you excel them all'
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD,
she shall be praised"

Oh boy, I still have a long way to go to be like the woman in the 31st chapter of Proverbs! I especially need to work on the idleness, I spend way too much time on the computer. But I want to set these things as my goal, and I feel like it is my calling to minister to my family (which right now consists of just me and my husband) and I feel making my house a home is one way I can do that.

Anyways, I just thought I would share about this strange new experience of decorating a home and the joy it brings me. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this? It makes sense to me, I think God made women to be homemakers, so I can see why he would give us that desire and instinct. Its kinda cool.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Spiritual drought, at Christmas none the less?!?

I don’t know exactly what has been going on lately, but I have really been having a hard time connecting with God lately. When I pray, I have a very lonesome feeling not much different than when I’m talking to a wall. I want to skip church (but haven’t been) and reading my Bible, although it seems like a good idea, just hasn’t been happening as much as it should. I just feel so, disconnected!

It doesn’t make sense because I know Jesus is what my soul needs. It feels confusing because even as I look forward to the celebration of Christmas, I can’t pull myself out, and prayer hasn’t helped yet. I was skipping around my apartment the other day after M and I put up our tiny Christmas trees. My dogs looked at me funny and I just told them that there was no way they could understand the JOY, and HOPE that is intrinsic in Christmas. Christmas is celebrated at the time of year when Jesus was most likely conceived within Mary by the Holy Spirit. Mid to late December is also the darkest time of the year. So God, who IS light, came to us in human form during the darkest part of the year. The child would grow into the man that would be crucified for our sins, so that WE….so that WE could have a relationship with the almighty God, the maker of the universe. How cool is that????

So then, why am I disconnected from the God who would do that for me lately? I have a few ideas…one is that I have anger, resentment and rebellion in my heart. I don’t want to get into the specifics, but suffice it to say that sometimes, when we are Christians, we think our good behavior, our ability to follow rules (even when done with the truest of intensions) sometimes causes us to believe that we should be spared certain turmoil in life. HA! Imagine that? We think we are so holy that we can somehow opt out of the difficulties of life. It’s laughable when I put it in those terms. But I think that is what has happened to me…and that is basically the sin of pride. So I have the normal (and less-than-normal) hurts of life come along and I feel HURT. But then PRIDE steps in and we add on top of that HURT feelings of ANGER, RESENTMENT, and REBELION and NO WONDER I am feeling disconnected from God! I think I *just* figured out my problem…why didn’t I write this out before?

Thank you Jesus, for your mercy and grace. I know you hate pride. Please teach me to accept what you have for me with humility and joy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

God is giving us plenty of practice with the "in sickess and in health" part of our vows

Well, it started the last day of our honeymoon. I got SOOO sick! My husband drove 8 hours straight through from our honeymoon to our hometown instead of staying the night over in another state like we had planned. We ended up in the ER that night when we couldn't get my fever of almost 104 to break. I had a really bad kidney infection which had me out of commission for a while. Just two weeks into our marriage I got to learn that my sweet husband is a VERY good care taker.

Unfortunately, I kept getting sick! Just a few weeks ago I posted on facebook how sweet my husband was for staying up with me all night, rubbing my back and getting me everything I needed- all the night before a big exam at school. I really am blessed by him.

Well, now its my turn! M is soooooo sick. It came on like a cold but got worse and worse/ He missed school today and I finally had to take him to the VA hospital to get checked out...it turns out my sweetie has a bacterial and viral infection as well as a double ear infection. He's miserable. The doctor gave him several medications and instructions to do several things...So I have been trying to take care of M and do all the things on the list. It said he needed HOT fluids, so I bought him teas, apple cider and things for me to cook as soup. Check! It said he needed yogurt, So I got him some Organic dairy yogurt (Hubby's lacto-veg, not vegan like me and the dogs) as well as some soy yogurt. Check! It said to keep the house humid, so I bought and set up a humidifier. Check! It said he needed a special pediatric nose spray so I drove to three pharmacies around closing time in the dark till I found it. Check!

I was feeling so terrible having to drive around to so many different stores to get all this junk! LOL. I just wanted to be home with him, rubbing his back and magically making him feel better. :-(  Anyways...I just made him some "Feel Better Miso Soup." I figure if the probiotics in the yogurt are good then Miso  must be good. I actually halfway feel like his being sick is my fault cus I have been meaning to make Miso Soup to help boost our immune systems. I just haven't till now. Uggg.

Z's Feel Better Miso Soup

6 cups water
2/3 of a block of firm, organic tofu cut into small cubes
2 cups frozen veggies (Actually I prefer fresh veggies always but this is faster to free you up when you or your honey is so sick)
2 cloves of garlic, minced.
2 cups of cooked organic brown rice
1 heaping tablespoon of VegSal
2 tablespoons of Organic White Miso

Add first 6 ingredients to a pot and let simmer. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add Miso paste in small increments so it mixed in easy. DO NOT ALLOW THE MISO TO BOIL. Serve hot.

I just feel terrible seeing M so sick. Hes really bad. Im happy though that I can try to help him feel better. I want to take good care of him! He's such a blessing to me.

Okay..now I have to go cuddle with my man. Later!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I got married...

I have taken a looong hiatus from this blog and you may wonder why. Well, the day after my last post, I started dating the man I would end up marrying. I was not looking to date and I certainly was not looking to get married at this point in my life, but sometimes God has other plans for us. Looking back at the last year+ of my life, its pretty clear to me a now that God was preparing me for marriage- I just didn't know it at the time. So I have known the man who is now my husband for over a year, I'll call him "M". He was in the co-ed Bible study at church with me. Its a fairly small church but we have a good number of people in the 20 something age bracket. Anyways, I could tell the story some time if anybody is interested...
Our wedding was June 28th- it was beautiful, emotional, wonderful, spiritual, homey, everything-I-wanted despite being imperfect! My husband and I are absolutely in love and its been wonderful to start this journey together. Now my husband and I are getting used to being married and despite all our premarital counseling, its been a shockingly challenging adjustment! I'm blessed to have a strong Christian woman as a mentor in the absence of my own mother to help me and encourage me along the journey and that is really helpful. I'm realizing more and more that don't know everything I need to in order to be the godly wife I so desire to be. Thankfully my husband is extremely patient with me and we both try to be gracious with one another as we figure things out. :) I think I'm surprised at what a challenge the transition is. I thought that since my husband and I love each other so much, since we both long to put God first in our lives and frankly, because we both tend t be so easy going that the transition would be a easy one...boy was I ever wrong! Now, I don't want anyone to get the impression that anything is WRONG, certainly its not. Its just that neither of us have ever been in this position before and there is a lot to learn. I'm sure anybody who has been married knows what I'm talking about. :)
So far, in the first three months, some of my/our biggest challenges have been:
  • Scheduling! Even though I put nursing school off for a year to be able to be at home more, we have a LOT going on. My husband is a full-time student (He's on the GI bill since he's a veteran so he is paid for being enrolled in school- that's where most of our income comes from.) I still go to school part time and work THREE part time jobs. Then we are very active in our church and at the end of everyday sometimes we can hardly drag ourselves to bed, never mind go on dates! I cannot IMAGINE if I was juggling nursing school on top of all of that.
  • I've become very emotional and sensitive. I try not to be overly so, and I never used to be but sometimes I just get hurt so easily by comments my husband makes that really shouldn't bother me so. I'm not sure why this has happened. :-/ My husbands a pretty wonderful guy and doesnt make especially hurtful comments, so I don't know what my problem is.
  • Learning to communicate tenderly even when I'm in a terrible mood. As a single person I could have taken some time to myself to calm down, and center myself- even when I lived with many other people. I now have to learn how to communicate in an appropriate way when my husband very much wants to be cuddly with me and I'm trying to DO SOMETHING and am feeling very agitated. This happens quite a bit and its tricky to navigate. Its taken me quite by surprise because I've never really considered myself as snappy before. I've hurt his feelings a number of times and its blown up into an argument on more than one occasion. :-( I can see that this could really become a toxic trend if I don't learn to break it!
  • My husband has had a really hard time adjusting to life with two large, active dogs. I had two Queensland heeler crosses before we got married and they are now living with us in our less-than-700 square foot apartment with us. Ive had dogs all my life so its not a big deal to me. Although he likes dogs, he never had one before and I think he is suprised by what a handfull they can be. Its been a rough change for all of us because of this, but things are getting better.
  • As a Christian couple who was seeking to honor God with our relationship, we saved physical intimacy for after the wedding...Having this new dynamic in our relationship is both wonderful and challenging. I'm OBVIOUSLY not going to share any details here but I do want to say that although I am SO HAPPY we waited, there have been a few times where I have asked God if having us wait is supposed to be some kind of joke. There are so many aspects to adjust to as a married couple and for me, this is one of the most difficult components for some reason. I don't know very many women who had to learn to integrate this part of the relationship AFTER marriage. Most people I knew handled that challenge at a different times in their relationship than right after the marriage and sadly, there have been times I have envied them for being able to break up the many challenges into smaller chunks. I'm terribly ashamed to say that I have even questioned whether I would advocate to my own children "waiting for marriage" considering how challenging that it is....But in my heart, I KNOW that God's plan is absolutely the best plan and even though it comes with added challenges, I think my husband and I did it the right way. I also know in my heart that I could not have handled the emotions that come along with this part of a (marriage) relationship without the absolute assurance and confidence that I was with the person I would be spending the rest of my life with and that it was pleasing to and blessed by God. I also trust that it will continue to work itself out and that God will give us the grace to learn from it and grow together. I will absolutely advocate to my children to save physical intimacy for marriage.

Okay, now some of the TREASURES of our first three months of marriage:

  • Waking up to each other every morning and enjoying coffee with the person I love most in the world. :)
  • I've been sick a few times in the past few months, first with a kidney infection and more recently with a stomach thing and my husband was SOOOOOOOO sweet and tender to me. Truly the servant leader he's called to me. It touched my heart deeply.
  • Having somebody there to share our struggles and disappointments with. The other day I was feeling extremely down because of a test grade I got and my husband was so encouraging and really made me feel better.
  • Having somebody there to share victories with. My husband got an amazing grade on a test for a subject at school he had really been struggling with and it was wonderful to be excited for him and proud. He worked really hard to do that.
  • Our (almost) daily Bible studies together. Its wonderful to be growing closer to our savior as we are growing closer to each other. We have also started attending a new couples small group at church called "Love and Respect." Its supposed to be very good and we are excited about it.
  • I LOVE cooking for my hubby! It makes me feel all girly and domestic and capable. Feeding people healthy, yummy vegan foods is my love language!
  • Being called "Mrs. C_____" by the kids during the summer VBS program!!!! :-D
  • Reading Dave Ramsey's book "the total money makeover" and making a goal together to get out of debt together (and stay debt free) putting it in place and in just three short months paying off two debts and anticipating having the rest paid off by next September!!! (We both had a few small loans before we got married for school stuff and we had to borrow a little money for the apartment we are renting but we are paying that off TODAY and we paid off our wedding rings last month!)
  • Despite it's challenges, the physical intimacy as well as the emotional and spiritual intimacy is absolutely a blessing to our marriage.
  • His willingness to sell his truck so I could go to nursing school, my willingness to put nursing school off a year to focus on our new marriage. We both grew to respect each other a LOT from that week.
  • Not having to say "Good night and good bye"at the end of the day and just being able to say "good night" as we fall asleep in each others arms.
  • His protectiveness over me, his calling the cops when we had reason to believe I was in danger because of a situation at work. And his subsequent refusal to allow me to walk the dogs with him at night during that time because he wanted to keep me safe. <3>
  • His playing the guitar for a concert of one- me.
  • The way he looks at me when I'm looking scrubby- like I'm the most beautiful creature in the world
  • Our camping honeymoon and the dreams we share of living in the country one day.
  • too many more to list

So, I'm a happy girl, but I'm definitely a spiritually and emotionally GROWING girl. Haha...I guess now I can start to record that journey!