Monday, December 29, 2008

I should be cleaning...

I really hate when people avoid things that need to be done, but I have to admit I'm one of those people when it comes to overwhelming projects.

I am off from work this entire week, and I have a few daunting tasks that I'll eventually guilt myself into getting done. For right now, I still haven't showered for the day and I've only accomplished one load of laundry (that has yet to be transferred to the dryer), one load of dishes in the dishwasher, and created more of a mess on the floor of my 2nd bedroom than previously existed. I'm clearly avoiding my mental to-do list.

I might need to write it down or type it out.

I have so many projects I need to do, and I'm in the mood to purge my apartment of the things I don't need anymore. I take after my grandma Shirlye in that I hold onto anything that has any sentimental value, memory, or tradition. I have a hard time getting rid of things. I'm ready to purge, clean, organize, and sort. I feel like when my home is clean and organized, so is the rest of my life.

My projects are going to be these this week:
  • Sort through old paperwork, bills, etc. and find a filing system that will work for me
  • Reorganize my kitchen cabinets
  • Purge my closets of the plenty of clothes I DO NOT wear but think that someday "I just might need..."
  • Go through all of the stuff that is taking over my 2nd bedroom and throw things away!!!
  • Put away my Christmas tree :( (maybe...I might try to keep it up a little longer...)
  • Organize and utilize the recipes that are not in cookbooks I've collected in one kitchen cabinet
  • Sweep, mop, dust, vacuum, etc. (typical cleaning)
  • Clean out the bathtub and scrub the kitchen floor (which happen less than they should...)
  • Redecorate my living room getting rid of red & green accent colors (not from Christmas, but those have been my accent colors for a long time) and bringing in brighter colors--orange, yellow, and green. and maybe turquoise.

I clearly have a lot to do. I'm just not sure where to begin. But I've begun getting out all of my paperwork and filing folders to attempt the first task on my list. Right now it's all on the floor.

Any suggestions for organizational methods? I might have to go through some RealSimple magazines to find ideas.

Clearly I have a lot to do...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2 years.

A lot can happen in 2 years.

People grow up. People change. Some might fall in love and get married within 2 years. Some have babies (or maybe two) in 2 years. And sometimes things don't seem to have changed much even though they have.

Just today in the backseat of the car, my 5-year-old niece Maddy asked me, "Do you miss Papa?" out of the blue. We weren't talking about him, nor did we see any fire trucks, and we were probably just singing along to the Jonas Brothers in the car. But something triggered this question in her mind...maybe some innate reminder, maybe she somehow knew...that tomorrow marks 2 years since her Papa, my dad, has been gone.

I turned to her and said, "Of course, I miss Papa...but he's in heaven now."

Her response wasn't quite what I expected: "I bet he's mad..."

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"Because it's probably not fun in heaven. If he's sick there by himself there isn't anyone to take care of him."

So I explained to her, amidst her many questions about fairies flying in heaven and thinking that you just lay in bed sick in heaven, that it's a good place. (Because she last saw my dad in the hospital, she has a hard time comprehending that heaven is not a glorified hospital.) I tried my best to assure her that Papa is happy there and that he's just waiting for us to join him there someday. She asked about Papa Don's wife (my grandma) being there, and I let her know that it's her Papa's mommy, my Grandma Mary, and that she's taking care of Papa there. They're both there having fun and waiting for us.

It's an interesting thing to think about what heaven must seem like to a 5-year-old, or even a younger child. I remember the morning that my dad died wondering how Cory & David were going to explain it to Maddy's 3-year-old little self. They told her that Papa went to go be with Jesus. Her response was this: "I don't like that Jesus..."

We had to laugh a little, even amidst our sadness. It was hard not to want to feel the same way. Though she didn't and still doesn't quite understand who Jesus is, I pray she'll come to know that Jesus came to give us a hope that we can cling to even when we don't want to like our reality.

When you go through a loss, even if you love Jesus, it's hard for some not to blame Him and to understand why God could take someone you love out of the world. But in all things, good or bad, there is a purpose that we cannot understand or comprehend. And we wait in hope for the day when someday our lack of understanding combined with our faith will become knowledge and sight.

So as tomorrow marks a reminder that someone I love is no longer in the world, I also remember that there is a heaven we long for, a purpose I cannot understand, and a hope I can cling to even when it doesn't make any sense. There is a place we can look forward to...where there is no more pain, no more crying, no more hurt, and maybe, just maybe...there are even fairies flying around.

While 2 years have gone by both quickly and slowly at the same time, life is much different. I've learned a lot, maybe haven't changed much, but I am surprised by the peace I've had that I don't understand and the hope that constantly sustains.

And I know this:
Heaven is only something we can imagine in this life, and at that, probably far from its glorious reality, but I'm certain that it's going to be good...with or without fairies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

-ings list

It's been awhile since I've made one of these lovely little dangling participle lists, so here's what I'm up to:

Eating--Vienna Finger cookies and leftover chili from last night. And some fresh walnuts...

Reading/Finishing--a great little novel by Laura Dave called London is the Best City in America

Listening--just downloaded today the album Advent Songs by Sojourn (my favorite church in Louisville) for FREE on Noisetrade. You should check it out--there are tons of great indie artists and others who are willing to share their music for free as long as you share it with other people!

Looking--for the last few Christmas presents I need to get for my mom and sister

Wondering--how warm it's going to be in Cancun or Aruba or the Dominican Republic in January when I go there to celebrate NYC (New Year's Caribbean...though in late January) with Faith & Becka...

Waiting--for lots of things...I'm always waiting.

Praying--for Ben Towne and his family in Seattle, who continue to watch his 3-year-old body suffer through a horrible cancer that somehow has yet to steal his joy. Read their journal here...

Planning--our annual HS Girls retreat, Awaken, at LCC and getting excited about it!

Loathing--this cold weather. And wondering why I still live in Illinois? I keep getting great books from people around the country and I'm able to share books I don't really want/need anymore. And the best part is--you only pay for the books you ship out, but you get the ones you want for free! I'm awaiting the arrival of He's Just Not That Into You...which I feel I need to read these days. And looking forward to the movie coming out in February!

Mourning--that I just finished Season 4 of One Tree Hill and don't yet have Season 5. But I'm sure I'll find it online :-)

Avoiding--lots of little projects around the apartment that I need to go do...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A few weeks ago I was reading through Hosea, and for some reason kept reverting back to the same verse over and over again. Hosea 10:12 reads:

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

I had memorized it, repeated it to myself, planned on doing a devotion on this, and changed my mind at the last minute, because I couldn't figure out how it was yet to play out in my life. That "break up your unplowed ground" part kept haunting me, and I couldn't figure out what my unplowed ground was. I think I'm starting to dig.

If you've read my blog before or know me, you're probably well aware that we're approaching the 2 year anniversary of my Dad's death. It hardly seems like it's been 2 years, but then again sometimes these 2 years feel like forever. And this time of year, though joyful for most, can be difficult for some who are grieving. Don't get me wrong, I still love Christmas and I still get excited to listen to my Christmas music and drive around to look at Christmas lights and love that magical, whimsical feeling that comes in this season. (Except for the cold...which I think is absolutely anything BUT magical.) But it hasn't been the same for the past 2 years. It's harder (not impossible, just harder...) to find reasons to be thankful in the midst of loss, and it's hard to celebrate when you feel like there's someone missing out on the celebration.

As this 2 year mark approaches, we're beginning to dig up some truths in the circumstances surrounding his death, which is bound to be a difficult and long road ahead. We're finding ourselves in the beginning stages of a lawsuit that will hopefully uncover truth, answer questions, and give our minds some peace and resolution. We know that no lawsuit, no amount of money, and even no apology from doctors who may or may not have been negligent in his case will bring back my dad. But we do know that the truth can set you free, and in this particular case, the truth might just bring solace and peace and freedom in that way.

So we're digging.

And tonight, after a long day of being in Chicago, I just happened to sit down to relax and catch up on my regular blog-reading, and found a couple posts from 2 friends, completely unrelated to one another, with which my heart resonated. Christine and Chantell have had this similar struggle in the Christmas season to truly celebrate and realize what hope Christ brings, is, has been, and will always be, but they reminded me tonight of these very truths.

Christine, in the midst of decorating her house and seeking that whimsical feeling we all long for amidst the twinkling lights and that cozy feeling of Christmas, felt that something was missing. She reminded me tonight with this post that it's the Word becoming flesh that we all seem to be missing.

Chantell, while celebrating the life of her grandmother, now mourns the loss of her granny's life here on earth as well as the earthly life of her daughter Regan, who passed away earlier this year. It seems that when loss rains, it also pours. There is so much sadness sometimes, and grief can be overwhelming. I realized as I read this post of hers that our gratitude for Jesus, simply, should be just as overwhelming. HE IS HOPE. There is no other hope.

So tonight, after I read these two friends' thoughts, I realized that the unbroken ground I needed to dig through was simply to get to the heart of Jesus. My unbroken ground was dirt that had hardened, my heart that had hardened, with complacency, apathy, and lack of gratitude. It is HIM that I have not recognized. I haven't been thankful for HIM. And tonight I am getting out my shovel to break past that hardened ground and find the heart of Christ in the softer soil.

And so I will continue to dig...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

I really love my Christmas tree. In fact, for the past 2 nights I've slept on my couch (not that I don't already love to for the fact that it's so incredibly comfy!) just so I can lay and look at the pretty lights and ornaments sparkling in the corner. There's just something about having a Christmas tree in my living room that makes it so much more comfortable, takes me back to my childhood and traditions and memories, and leaves me in peace and wonder.

I remember decorating the tree when I was little, with some of those old Avon and Hallmark ornaments that used to be collectibles, and some ornaments that we made at the church Christmas night, and one in particular that I remember my friend Bo giving me when we were probably about 7. It's a little elf man whose legs curl up under his arms and when you pull them out he looks like a jumping elf. Kinda strange, but the memory is still there.

We'd usually decorate the tree with an old Christmas record spinning under the needle, usually Kenny Rogers Christmas or Amy Grant or the Chipmunks. I miss that old record player. Boxes of decorations and ornaments would be strewn about the living room, pieces of silver tinsel mixing in with the carpet, and lights all tangled up. Maybe we'd have just baked some cutout cookies with the powdered sugar & milk icing (with red and green food coloring) and sprinkles, or some wreaths made out of marshmallow, Corn Flakes, and Red hots as the berries...

We used to buy real Christmas trees until one year when we awoke on Christmas morning to presents covered in sap and little spiders stuck in the sap all over the place. Needless to say, we took the tree down that day and my parents bought an artificial tree probably the next day for future years. (That happens to be the tree i now have in my living room, I believe...)

I have always been one for tradition, and this year I think a new one began. Kate started "The Great Ornament Exchange" on her blog and about 80 people around the country, mostly complete strangers, participated in this opportunity to exchange ornaments and little notes with one another. I just sent mine off yesterday to someone in Oregon, and I received mine today from someone in Massachusetts. How fun that complete strangers are brought together over Christmas ornaments?

And I must say a heartfelt THANK YOU to Jenn Z. for sending me not one, but TWO great ornaments that look beautiful on my tree, along with a great little book and a note! How thoughtful! Here are the ornaments she sent me:

And here's my colorful tree in its entirety...with the flash.
And speaking of color, though completely unrelated, here's a long overdue picture of me and my darker hair. It's not all that dark, really, but a little reddish. And still a change :) I already need it cut and possibly a touch-up on color. My hair grows like a weed.

Back to the Christmas trees...I hope yours offers you some peace and wonder. Take a few moments each night to just sit and stare at it. Maybe sleep in your living room with the lights on one night, just for the fun of it. And enjoy the treasures of each ornament, each tradition, each Christmas memory.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I Need Africa...

If you haven't read my post from last week, you might be wondering what I'm talking about when I say "I need Africa more than Africa needs me." So read on, and check out the Mocha Club website to find out more as well. They are launching a campaign to help move our hearts "from pity to partnership" with Africa. Check out their page for more info on this new campaign launch!


When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. “I am needed here,” I think. “They have so little, and I have so much.” It’s true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in the people. It’s a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day. [read more]

Also, if you need any great gift ideas for someone and would like to support the Mocha Club in the process, check out these great new American Apparel (super soft) t-shirts for the campaign!