Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm a Redneck Woman

So, as I've written before, I've been doing some yoga in the last little bit of my pregnancy. It's really good for strengthening and toning muscles and stretching me out. The only problem is that I've grown out of all of my tank tops that I wear to exercise in. I can still wear B's t-shirts, but they are bulky in the arms and get in the way for yoga. So, yesterday, I find myself at Wal-Mart, shamelessly scouring the plus size department for a tank top when I notice a sign over a small rack that says, "maternity." Great. Who knew the evil empire had maternity clothes? But why shouldn't they? Surely they carry a nice, plain tank top. Oh no, plain is way to much to ask. I had my choice between a grey, "Does this shirt make me look fat?" cartoon character tank, a black version with Betty Boop on it, and a white one with fake air-brushed butterflys and the word "Love" emblazoned on it. Which one did I go with? The butterflies of course. I don't know if I feel like Mariah Carey with it on or Gretchen Wilson, but B laughed at me when he got home yesterday. He called me his little red-neck woman. But it does the job for yoga, and that's what I got it for. Although I don't know if I can put it in a drawer, I'm afraid my other clothes may shun it. Ha.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Here's a Christmas song that I'm guessing you know for you to ponder over the next couple of days. It has taken me by surprise this season. Jesus veiled His glory in flesh and came for us. We are reconciled to God the Father by this mysterious gift.

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

By: Charles Wesley, italic emphasis: mine

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life in Boxes

It doesn't feel like that long since we were unpacking our belongings into the townhouse in Virginia. For some reason it took very little time in hindsight. Now, as we unpack the same house nearly nine months later, it feels like it's taking FOREVER. I have my theories about this. Number one, I wasn't seven months pregnant last time and had not only more energy, but the ability to bend at the waist, which is something I've really been missing lately. Two, we actually own this house and plan to stay here for at least 3 years, so that provides motivation to put more thought into where our stuff "lives." Last, but by no means least, the people we bought our house from were quite possibly the dustiest people alive. It's not just that they didn't bother to dust before they moved out, they may not have dusted for the last several years. So, everything, I mean everything-shelves, cabinets, walls, is having to be dusted and de-cat haired before we permanently place our things where they belong.

This move has been very smooth so far, other than the massive amounts of dust and cat hair the previous owners left behind. We had a carrier move, which means that the Marine Corps paid a moving company pack all our stuff up and move it, and, let me just say, I don't think I could go back to moving myself. Also, the moving truck just happened to show up on the same morning as our closing on the house, which we've been told is no small miracle.

Oh, and we love our new town. It's amazing. The weather is warmer, the people are warmer, and the pace of life is certainly more laid back. The sidewalks may roll up at sunset, but we have found a local coffee shop on the water that is our new home away from home. And at least it's open until 10pm.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Overheard

Grace: Micah, your toenails are so long. You need to cut them or bite them or something!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the Road Again

Our little family is moving again! On Monday morning, movers showed up to our house in Virginia, packed it up in boxes, and left it for some other guys who showed up on Tuesday and put it all on a truck. So far, best move ever in my book. Not only do we get to escape the frigid Northern Virginia temperatures, I have yet to lift a box. (Which is good because I'm not sure that the belly would allow me to lift little more than a shoe box.) We close on our first house on Monday, which makes us homeless for a few days, but fortunately, our destination is only a few hours from our hometown, so we are "home" for the weekend.

Actually, B is down in PI for his first day of real Marine Corps fleet work while the cats, Paco, and I are at "home." I am really enjoying watching Rumor torture my mom's dog, Todo. I make no apologies for my firm belief that cats are far superior to dogs. That's neither here nor there, but it's all I have to report now. I'm sure there will be a lot more soon!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Favorite Things

Since my last post on my favorite things, I've done a lot of thinking about those things and others that I love. And, in an effort to help you decide on Christmas gifts (if you're like me and still trying to decide what to get your mother for Christmas), I decided to post a few more. Here they are in no particular order:
  1. Prenatal Yoga - I told you, this is one of my new exercises. It's a video that I got at Target and it's so relaxing, but I feel like it's strengthening me and helping me become more flexible at the same time. I'm still trying to do some cardio as well in the form of brisk walking and using the elliptical machine, but I have already learned some yoga stretches that are helping me feel less cramped in my own body.
  2. Oregon Chai - If you haven't had this, you MUST try it! I'm serious, this is not just one of my favs, it is B's as well. You mix one part chai, one part milk, microwave, and enjoy. It is the perfect cold afternoon pick-me-up, and it tastes very appropriate for this particular season of the year. I have found the mix (it's a liquid in a box on the shelf) in several grocery stores (in what B calls the "hippy section") and Target.
  3. My Hobo wallet - It is currently in need of repair due to extreme use, but this little accessory is worth every penny. It holds all of my credit cards, money, IDs, and still has enough room for the other random stuff I keep in my wallet (library cards, business cards, Chik-Fil-A coupons, etc.). When we go out for a fancy dinner, I can put my cell phone and key inside and, voila, instant clutch! My favorite feature is the magnetic snap that holds the two sides together with the ID card slots. It makes finding my military ID much easier when driving onto a base.
  4. ID Bare Minerals blush - I bought my particular little pot-o-blush almost two years ago and use it every day. This is the first blush I've ever worn, and I seriously get compliments on it all the time. My particular shade is rose radiant, but there are lots to choose from depending on your skin tone. I really like that it does not look or feel heavy since I'm not a big make-up girl, but it gives this Snow White some realistic looking color.
  5. Til We Have Faces - This is C. S. Lewis' take on the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche and it's hands down my favorite book. I am currently reading it for the third time and it just gets better. My brain works better in allegory than in straight-forwardness, and this story is chock full when seen through Mr. Lewis' eyes. I could write a whole post or even blog about this book, so I'll stop now, I'll just say, read it.
  6. Have I mentioned that I love feeling my little girl move inside me? Well, I do and I can't write or talk about her enough. I just can't wait to meet her. I fell asleep last night thinking about her and I've never even seen her face. This is not something that I can give you a link to, but rest assured, you will see pictures come March.
That's all for now. Again, if you have any favorites or anything to add to mine, let me know. Merry December 2nd.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pregnancy in General

I love being pregnant, mostly because I love the thought of our daughter being here with us in March. In the past, I've heard women talk about missing pregnancy after their children are born, and I may change my tune come spring, but right now I don't think I'll miss being pregnant when she's actually here. Pregnancy is a means to an end. So, I thought I'd list things that I love about being pregnant and then things that I don't love, including things I miss about not being pregnant for your information and reading enjoyment.

First, the things I love:
  1. Feeling her move inside me. I have been able to feel her for about 8 or 9 weeks now and I still get so excited every time. She's getting a lot stronger now too, and while I'm guessing it gets more uncomfortable the bigger she gets, it's not yet, so I just enjoy her.
  2. Not worrying about weight gain. (Or at least having people tell me not to worry about it.) Never in my life has this been true.
  3. Pants that look like real pants, but have tops like yoga pants. I never thought I'd say this, but thank you Lord for elastic waists!
  4. B absolutely has to clean out the cats' litter box because I'm not allowed to. Love it!
  5. God is demonstrating His faithfulness to me through this experience. I am a bit of a hypochondriac and it takes a lot of God giving me faith to place in Him so that I can believe that everything is okay with me and her all of the time. Every time I look down at my rapidly expanding waistline I am reminded of His faithfulness to B and I to bless us with this child. Then I am forced to trust that He is going to see this whole thing through, and I don't mean just until March, I mean her whole life. It's already all in His hands.
  6. In a little over three months, B and I will have a daughter. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. I think that this one counts for all of the rest of the reasons why I love being pregnant.
The things I don't love about being pregnant:
  1. Maternity clothing. Companies are doing a little better these days than in the past, but for some reason a lot of them still think that just because I'm getting bigger, I want to wear big, gaudy prints all over me. I made the commitment before I bought my first piece of maternity clothing that I wasn't going to change my style just because I had to change my wardrobe. And I just miss my old clothes.
  2. No turkey sandwiches. I told B that the first thing I want to eat after I give birth is a Publix sub. While we're on things I can't eat or drink, I also really miss sushi, ibuprophen, red wine (I tried to narrow down the exact kind, but, alas, I miss them all), and unlimited cups of coffee per day.
  3. News flash: it's not just my belly that is getting bigger. For some reason my backside, hips, and thighs want in on the expandable fun as well.
  4. No sleeping position is comfortable. I've tried the body pillow, the between-the-legs pillow and all, and I still can't sleep for more than a couple of hours without having to readjust.
  5. I miss running. I decided to stop after week 22 and this is the longest I've gone since 9th grade without running. My balance is off as she grows outward, and I just feel kind of weird about bouncing her all around in there. If I see someone running during the day I probably get this weird look on my face as I stare at them, longing for those days. I have taken up yoga though. More on that later.
  6. Last and certainly not least is the fact that random people, most of whom are semi-strangers, feel that it's perfectly acceptable to touch my abdominal area. While I appreciate their excitement about my little girl, it's just uncomfortable to be touched by people I probably wouldn't even hug.
All in all, it's a wonderful experience and I would not change anything about it for the world. I'll just be happy as a lark when I can sit and hold my little girl while wearing my Seven jeans again, eating a turkey sandwich and drinking a glass of Merlot, having been on a long run earlier in the day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marine Corps Ball 08

So, B and I went to our first Marine Corps Birthday Ball on Saturday night. Overall, it was really neat. They have a whole presenting of the flags and presenting of the birthday cake thing, which is followed by a speaker. This year the speaker was a three star General (the highest rank in the Corps is 5 star) and he was motivating yet witty and entertaining at the same time. He helped B and I remember our love for the Corps again. Then, there's a meal, which, let's just be honest, was hotel food made for large quantities. I have to say that someone, somewhere probably tried, but it's nearly impossible to make food for several thousand people and it still be good.

The best part of the night for me was the people watching. Because there was a point in the evening after the presentation and meal where it was mostly like prom. Albeit prom with several bars and people in uniform. There were even girls there that had literally had a prom earlier this year. And there were many dresses worn that would have been more at home at either prom or a beauty pageant. There was also the guy who actually hired his date, if you know what I mean. My favorite was the drunk girl who stumbled up to me saying, "Oh my gosh, you're the cutest pregnant lady I've ever seen. Honey, look at this girl, this is what I want to look like when I'm pregnant. Oh, you actually are pregnant, right? Not just fat..." And after several drinks people started losing inhibitions about touching my belly too, I found. I just try to take it all as compliments, but those are also the times when I tell B that I feel a little bit like a show monkey.

All in all, it was a good night. And we ended the night/morning at Waffle House, which is just a great way to end any event in my opinion.

Happy 233rd Marine Corps!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

From the mouth of babes

Mom: Grace, we need to clean out some of your old toys to make room for the new things that you'll get soon for your birthday and Christmas.

[Grace disappears into her room. She reamerges a few minutes later with 3 trash bags full of stuffed animals.]

Mom: What are those?

Grace: Oh, they're my old stuffed animals. They're for the poor people.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Everything gets rearranged

I am glad that I don't know what the future holds. This is a hard statement for me as a semi-control freak to make, but I am reminded almost daily that things never turn out the way that I think that they will (thankfully) and so, I am finding lately that it would cause me a lot more worry to know what's around the corner. My last post was on the day before I traveled to Charlotte to see a very good friend for the week. I was excited about the trip because I love spending time with her, but I was almost mourning that day over having to leave home for four days. I could not at all put my finger on why I was so sad that day about a short trip that I was excited about. Two and a half weeks later as I sit in a hotel near Charleston, I know now why I was so sub-consciously anxious.

My friend and I spent a few days in Charlotte mostly talking and shopping. I'm not going to lie, it's kind-of what we do best and it was blissful. Then we took a trip to my new hometown to begin the inevitable house search. Have I mentioned that B and I are moving from VA to SC in a little over a month? Well, yeah, and we're also seriously looking to buy a house for the first time which is exciting yet daunting. So, we scoped out the area, which is beautiful, and found in person several of the houses that I had seen online. The next day we met with a realtor, who was a nice man but a horrible realtor. I think I'll save that story for another post. The point of this story is that while I'm sitting in his office looking over potential homes, I got a call from my father in law. B's mom had passed away the night before.

She had courageously been battling cancer for almost two years and while her mind was determined, her body was weary. My father in law sounded devastated and at a loss for what to do. I should probably mention that B was out in the field for the entire week on his last training exercise. He wanted B to stay there and for me to not tell him until the next day when it was over. The wife in me had to come out at that point and decide that B would want to know then. So, I spent several hours on the phone trying to contact his superiors and finally got one. They pulled him out and told him what had happened.

The logistical difficulty in all of this was that B's parents live out west and everyone else lives on the east coast. So, after a few days, we decided to fly to GA, spend a few days, and then drive to MS to see B's relatives and meet his dad. From there we drove back to GA, and today drove to SC where we're having a memorial for Mrs. B's mom tomorrow morning. I'm so tired of driving right now I don't even know where to begin. The motherly instincts in me just want to make sure that everyone is doing okay. Selfish Kels just wants to be home. I've spent the night in 5 southern states over the last 2 weeks, not that anyone's counting.

Long story short, I'm glad that you don't know what's going to happen some days when you wake up.

Pray for B's dad, that the Lord would use this in his life to let people love him, but most of all to see the love that God himself has for him. Pray for us, that we can find a house to live in before Christmas.

Oh, and our baby, who I'll just call little E for now, is doing great. She grows every day I think and I love to feel her kicking around. She is already such a joy for me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christmas in October

So, we're already listening to Christmas music. A little early, I know, but we started this week and now we can't stop. I think we're already anticipating that this Christmas season is going to be anything but normal, so we're enjoying the calm, quiet days at home listening to nice, instrumental, yule-tide tunes while we can.

I highly recommend Chris Rice's Living Room Sessions Christmas album. Totally addicted.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Day of Answers

After a summer and almost fall of semi-patient waiting, we got two big answers yesterday. First and foremost, our precious little baby is a girl! The ultrasound technician went through what felt like an eternity of looking at her bones and organs (which was pretty cool) before looking a little closer and telling us that she's in fact a she. And her name is not a big secret, but we haven't discussed internet security for her yet, so just ask me personally and I'll tell you, but I'm not going to put it up here yet. It's pretty though, we love it. During the ultrasound she was moving all around. We got to see her sucking on her hand and even yawning. She's got a pretty round head and full little lips from what we could see too. It just makes me want to see her in person that much worse. The wait is getting shorter all the time, though. I can hardly believe that we're over halfway through this pregnancy now.

Also, in less than two months we will be leaving the chilly VA 'burbs for the lovely SC Lowcountry. We are more than pumped about this, but we are discovering today that the task of looking for and purchasing a house in a place we've never been is daunting. B is currently on the phone getting financial advice and I've been online most of the day looking at house after house. Here goes nothing, I guess. The goal is to have a house to bring our little girl home to in March. I feel confident, albeit picky.

So, there you go. Tom Petty was right, the waiting is [definitely] the hardest part. But it pays off.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Favorite Things

Or, maybe just a few. I've been thinking that several different products have come into my life lately, well, within the last year, that are so amazing, I just really don't know what I did without them. So, if I were Oprah and you were my lucky audience on one particular day, the following are the things that I would give you.

1-A Neti Pot - Now, if you're like me and a religious viewer of The Office, you may remember the Christmas Party in Season 2 where Dwight ended up with the teapot that Jim had meant for Pam and what he planned to do with it. Kind of disturbing, right? Well, not as much as you may think. They actually make little plastic teapot-looking things that you use to drain your sinuses using a mixture of basically salt and water. And, can I just say, don't knock it 'til you've tried it friends. It's the only reason this pregnant lady is breathing right now.

2-Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser - I love face and hair products. I am always looking for the best in both and I wash my face every morning and night without fail. This, although a little pricey, is the absolute best face wash that I've found. It makes my face feel so soft and I have not had a zit since I began to use it a couple of months ago.

3 - Sandra McCracken's new album, Red Balloon - As always, this lady puts out new, refreshing, beautifully written, and heartfelt music. She is one of my all time favorites. On this album she has a couple of songs about being a new mother that express her feelings better than any I've ever heard. Also, she re-does a song that she wrote, but was originally recorded by Caedmon's Call, entitled High Countries. It is about C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce and is beautifully haunting. This is a must listen.

4 - Palladium "Palau" shoes - I stumbled upon these little gems in the clearance section of a huge shoe store in Asheville last month. They are cute, and oh-so comfortable. I had never heard of this brand before, but I imagine that all the rest of their shoes have got to be incredibly comfortable as well. This particular pair just happened to be green and mary jane-like, both qualities for which I'm a huge sucker.

5 - J.Crew Tenley low-heel boots - Okay, so I love shoes and I'm on the constant look-out for good ones because I'm 26 and I have arthritis in one toe due to an injury, so not just any cute pair will do anymore. (How's that for an excuse?) These were quite a find. Not only do I have arthritis from running, I also have large calf muscles which do not permit me to wear just any tall boots. However, these boots come in, wait for it, extended-calf sizes. So, I can wear them without passing out due to loss of blood circulation, not to mention that they are made from buttery Italian leather. As you can imagine, these were all I got from Santa last year. I was a good girl.

6 - Cook's Illustrated Magazine - Some dear friends gave me a subscription to this magazine for my birthday this year, and I love it. The recipes are so well researched and written. I have not made a thing from any of the issues that is not simply divine. I would especially reccommend the Enchiladas Verdes from the July/August 2008 issue. Not to mention that each issue has ingenious kitchen ideas and great product reviews. (Oh, and there are no ads in the whole thing.)

7 - The "This American Life" podcast - I look forward to every Monday, because I know that it will automatically download on my itunes. These are amazing stories from all over the U. S. that are cleverly told and often informative. I love listening to Ira while I cook! The best part is that you can subscribe for free on itunes.

Seven is a good number, so I'll stop there for now. I hope that you have enjoyed this little trip around the internet with me to see a few of my favorite things. Also, I love hearing about other people's "can't live without" products, that's usually how I find mine, so let me know some of yours.

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and brown woolen mittens. Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, these are a few of my favorite things."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heads Carolina, Tails California

I'm on pins and needles, as they say. Any day now we will find out our next duty station. (As an aside, I think that the Jo Dee Messina song from which this post borrows its title was secretly written about how the military decides where to send people.) As the title indicates it could be anywhere from sunny Southern Cal to charming southern South Carolina (not to mention anywhere there's a Marine base in between. And we're not even going to talk about Japan or Hawaii yet). This revelation is of the utmost importance to our little family because of three things. First, it will be the place that our first child is born. Running a close second is that it will likely be the site of our first home purchase. This gal is TOTALLY OVER renting. Over it. And last, it's where we'll spend the next three or so years of our life. Pretty important. Did I mention that we'll more than likely be moving to mystery location number one in December? And we're already over half done with October.

So, yes, on the surface I'm a big ball of worry about this, but underneath I'm trying to come to grips with the fact that I truly believe that God is going to put us where we're supposed to be and nowhere else. I know deep down inside that we are going to be perfectly happy wherever we end up. We'll be together and at least gas is getting cheaper...

"We pack our bags, we board the train for a tour of Saturn's fields;
And we don't know what lies ahead, visions of comfort safe in our heads."
-Sandra McCracken

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No one ever told me

There are some things about pregnancy that you sort of assume will come with the territory. I'm gaining weight, getting rounder, have to use the bathroom a lot more frequently, etc... But there are some things about carrying this child that I would never have guessed would happen. First, sinus headaches. My sinuses have been out of whack basically since day one of this pregnancy. At first I assumed that it was allergies but now I have a serious sinus headache at least once a week. Then came nosebleeds. I haven't had a nosebleed since elementary school, but I have woken up several times in the last couple of weeks with that awful feeling of blood draining down my throat. Also, breathlessness. Although I've never been an elite athlete, I've pretty much been in good shape since the beginning of high school. When I was first pregnant and didn't know it yet, I was still pushing myself hard of the trails and hills around where we live. I've slowed down considerably since then, but I still exercise a good bit. The weird thing is that I get out of breath sometimes just climbing the stairs. It has something to do with increased blood volume and circulation I think.

Other than that, I am not experiencing any stereotypical strange cravings. During my first trimester when I felt sick a lot, there was a lot that I didn't want to eat, but that's just because I was nauseated all the time. Now I feel pretty normal, which for me means that I will eat most anything. I'm not picky. Now, I do crave turkey sandwiches, but I think only because I can't have deli meats.

Well, enough about that. In all honesty, I love being pregnant, especially now that I can feel the baby moving inside me several times a day. It feels like tiny pokes from the inside and I get so excited every time. I love telling B that it's happening and watching his face light up as he says, "Really?" I look forward to the day when he can feel them too from the outside.

Only 10 days until we find out if it's a boy or girl! (I'm such a nerd, I got excited when I saw that October 24th was on the 10-day outlook on weather.com finally this morning!)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

See the Art in Me

We all do it. Don't even try to deny it. I do, you do, even my sweet Grandmother *probably* does. We label each other. The good girl, the bad guy, the handy man, the mommy type, etc. You get where I'm headed. I've been doing a lot of thinking about these labels over the past week and I wish I could say it was because I'm feeling convicted about labeling people, putting them in little boxes. No. It's because I'm feeling very labeled myself these days.

It's a very devaluing feeling when you think about it. You just put someone in a category in your mind before or despite getting to know them, so you don't have to think about who they really are. Instead of seeing someone as a person, we can conveniently see them as a member of a group, real or made-up, therefore assigning them the identity that we want them to have in order to fit into our social frameworks. For example, I find myself at gatherings of my husband's co-workers labeling their wives as "military wives," and, for me, that means a certain set of traits. And, to be quite honest, traits that I feel I do not possess so I must not fit in and I must be different (read: better) than them. Does that make sense? I want to distance myself, feel special in a group that I clearly fit in well with, and therefore I label these women before I even know them. It's sad, I know.

If it makes it any better, I hate labels because they totally get in the way of relationships. When we put each other in boxes, it is convenient but we fail to see one another as fellow human beings with struggles, victories, and needs. Some of the greatest friends I have in this world have lives on the outside that could not look anything less like mine. And this is because we've gotten beyond who we think each other are to who we really are. So I'm no longer a housewife and my friend is no longer a single in the city girl, we're Kels and Bran, and we can talk for hours because we see past all of the divisions of life and really relate to each other as people.

Mostly this is my round-about way of telling you that just because I am not currently working and am expecting a baby, I have not hung up all of my hopes, dreams, talents, and individualism. Life has put me into a joyous position that I could have never dreamed up for myself. I thank God for the blessings that I have, but I have not lost my identity in them. I have the sneaking suspicion that He knows my hopes and dreams better than I and that my life probably won't even resemble something that I could have planned. And I'm guessing that yours won't either.

"Sculpting every move, you compose a symphony, And you plead to everyone, "See the art in me." - Jars of Clay

Monday, September 22, 2008

Moldova, part doi

I'll just start by saying that I have wanted to go to Moldova ever since last summer when my friend, who was the leader of the trip this time, went and came back with incredible stories of the people there. Not to mention that I feel really connected to Eastern Europe for some reason. I keep getting the chance to go to different countries (Czech Republic, Croatia, Moldova, etc.) in that area of the world and I really love it there. And I'll just go ahead and get this out of the way: yes, this trip was particularly difficult for me due to two incidences that sort of "hemmed in" my time there. The first is that, after months of praying, we found out that I was pregnant just three days before I left for the trip, creating in me all sorts of thoughts, feelings, and questions that I had never had before and allowing no time to process these things. Secondly, the "morning sickness" for this pregnancy decided to rear its ugly head on the very day we left Moldova, associating the time there with being nauseated all day every day for me. (Morning sickness, schmorning sickness.) That's why it has taken me a full two months to both process the trip and be ready to write about it, because I had to come home and process being pregnant for the first time in my life. (And thankfully leave the nausea in the first trimester.)

So, what exactly did we do there? We were primarily there to provide instruction about how to put on a summer camp and then serve as back-up during the week of that camp. For the weekend before the camp, we (me and the one other girl and three guys from the U. S.) met with the camp leaders and counselors, building relationships with them and teaching them how we "do" summer camps here. When the students came on Monday, we also tried to get to know them, attending all of the sessions they had, playing games with them during breaks, and teaching English classes in the afternoon. I probably should mention that we participated in their sessions thanks to our wonderful translators, since Moldovans speak both Romanian and Russian, and often both in the same sentence. It was a true joy to get to know some of the students. Those that knew any English at all were pretty eager to talk to us. My personal favorite was a boy named Octavian who came up to me on the first day of camp and said, "Hello. My name is Octavian. My favorite food is Coca-Cola. My favorite drink is pizza." It was fun to sit with him during the week and just teach him words because he wanted to learn. He would point to things and say them in Romanian, then we would teach him the English words.

I also had a great time getting to know the counselors at the camp. They are trully amazing people. Most of them were early college age and were trying against all odds (poverty, difficulty leaving the country, etc.) to get good educations in order to have good professions. Most of all, they showed a genuine love of the Lord in all that they did, sharing with us all that they had even though we have so much more. Despite all of the physical beauty of Moldova, the breathtaking sunflower fields, and Lord of the Rings-like cliffs and valleys, the true beauty of Moldova is the people.

It's always encouraging to me to go to another country and see the body of Christ at work actively there. Whether it's Moldova, Honduras, or even China, it continues to remind me that what God is doing in His redemption of His people is much bigger than me or even the whole scope of what I know.

He is at work and He is trully awesome.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Numero 100

I've seen on other blogs that the 100th post is supposed to be momentous somehow, and this being my centennial, I decided to skip Moldova, Part 2 (it's coming, I promise), and do something a little different. So, this post will, after 99 others, finally explain my blog and give direction for it.

Over the past couple of days, I've been thinking a lot about why I started this blog, due to a very encouraging email that I received from an anonymous reader. "Reasons Why" was initially begun as an outlet for my very first post. In it, I wrote a letter to people in my past at a time in my life when the concept of grace had initially made sense to me for the first time. I knew at the time that I would never be able to get the letter to the people that I had in mind, so I wanted to put it on a public forum so that fate could take it's course and maybe others would read it and be encouraged in their own faith. The blog grew, though very slowly, into an outlet for other things in my life as well, namely, whatever was on my mind at the moment that I felt like writing.

First and foremost, however, I want this blog to be a place where I can be honest about life, what's going on in mine, and how I am thinking and feeling about it. It is my hope that my honesty will enable readers to be more honest with themselves and others. This blog was begun in 2005, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much has changed on the inside and outside of my life since then. (Go back and read some and you'll get a glimpse.) During this time, the major work that I feel God has been doing is driving me to a place of honesty with myself, showing me who I am in Him, and basically, teaching me to be okay with it. Teaching me to like myself for how He made me, and be content in all of the situations in which He puts me. Here, in the almost sunset of 2008, I am just straining my eyes to see the beginning of this truth. Gosh, I could go on for hours, but I won't.

To sum up, God is good. No matter what. I am who I am. I live where I live. I do what I do. And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with me. Because God is good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moldova, part unu

It's been two months since I was there, but I think it's finally time to talk about my trip to Moldova. I realized yesterday while talking to a friend that I have not portrayed my trip adequately even to the people I talk to a lot. So, here's my first attempt at writing about it.

On July 9th of this year, I traveled to Moldova with four other people to teach a group of people there how to run a summer camp, to teach English, help with recreation, and give nightly talks to camp-goers. I hesitate to call it a mission trip because, although we were all Christians going to a Christian camp and it was a trip with a mission, it was just a lot different than mission trips I've been on before. But, in essence, that's what it was.

I guess I should start with where Moldova actually is. It sits in Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, just above the Black Sea. An independent Republic since 1991, it has at times been part of Romania and the former U.S.S.R. The numerous conflicts over the last century in that area of the world has left Moldova the poorest country in Europe. Their major industries are wine making and sunflower product producing. (Which, by the way, makes for breath-taking fields upon fields of sunflowers and grape vines.) The capital city is Chisinau (pronounced like "quiche-now"), and people there live a comparatively modern, urban lifestyle. Outside of the main cities, however, many Moldovans who live in the country draw their water from often-ornately decorated wells and rely on horses and buggies for transportation. As I stated earlier, though, they live in almost constant beauty from the grapes to the sunflowers, to the steady hills and valleys that make up Moldova's landscape.

Many of the campers at the camp we were at came from such countryside. The camp itself was situated on a dirt road about 30 minutes from Chisinau, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Dniester River. The sunsets over the fields there were like none I've ever seen before.

So that's pretty much an introduction to Moldova and my time there. In the next part, I'll talk more about what we did there. It was a wonderful time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Sunday Morning

We were blessed with a trip "home" last weekend. By home I mean Georgia, and by Georgia I mean the most blissfuly wonderful town that God has yet to create-Athens. Despite the 9 hour each way drive and the oppressive pregnancy headaches I cannot seem to get rid of, it was a magnificent weekend. We got to see family and friends. And not just any friends, the friends we spent time with this weekend are the kind that your soul recognizes. The kind you can pick up with at any time on any subject and you know each other, there's no background needed or explanation to be had. Before the move to Virginia, I took these kinds of friendships lightly. Now that I am, and have been pretty much, just meeting new people since May, I relish the kinds of social situations in which I'm not introducing myself and explaining why I don't have a job at present.

On Sunday we got to see an old friend marry a new friend and it was beautiful. But before that we got to go to our home church and it just felt right. The whole weekend just felt like a Sunday morning. You know when you're sitting (or standing) in church and the light is beautiful and you're singing a song that reaches to your core and you just feel the love of God swirling all around you? No matter how dark Saturday night may have been and what transpired there, you just feel forgiven and loved. You know you are home because you belong and are loved in full view all of your deformities and quirks. That's how Athens makes me feel. Well, not Athens, but the people who still call it home and we count as family and friends.

And that's why it would still be the greatest place on Earth, even if it were not home to the greatest football team in the nation (and Barberitos).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So many things that I had before

Well, it's late. And I'm alone. Again. And what do I do when it's late and I'm alone? Sleep? No. I think, but it's more than that. It's more like my mind goes on complete overdrive. It all starts with the reason that I'm alone. My husband is in training for an elite branch of the military, which, although wonderously noble on the outside, it's tough on the inside. I have always been one-hundred percent on board for this pursuit, I just never knew what sacrifices would have to be made on our part. It's like he works for a company that completely owns him and every second of every day. During training, there are late nights (most of them planned, some unexpected) and there are not sick days. There are no personal days for going with your wife to her first ultrasound and there's the big question of how you will be there for the delivery.

I fight it so hard, but I still cry every night that he's gone. (I'm sure that the being pregnant and setting my itunes to Patty Griffin doesn't help the situation either.) And I know that it will get easier. And I rest (albeit struggling to) in the fact that this is God's will for us right now. But this is not what I pictured. Where is the line between wanting to spend my life with my husband and being okay with him being gone so much? I don't want to do life with other military wives, as wonderful as they are, I want to do life with my husband. That's why I married him. He's my best friend. I look forward to the days when I'm not up at midnight wondering if he will get released to come home that night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sisters and Aunts

My little sister Grace is quite possibly the most intelligent 5 year old I've ever met. She is also quite stubborn, so when she makes up her mind about anything, it's pretty much made up for good. One day while Mom was getting ready she was watching one of her "shows" on TV, which is a normal occurrence. The problem was that on this day, Mom was taking a little longer and Grace's show ended and "A Baby Story" came on. Long story short, Grace was scarred, maybe even for life. Since then, she has sworn that she "hates babies" and never wants to get married because she never wants to have a baby. (She thought the baby came out of the lady's leg on TV and assumed that the lady would then have to get stitches.) This was before last Christmas and she has been singing the same tune ever since.

You can imagine how she took the news that I was going to have a baby. The following is an actual conversation between she and Sarah, my other sister. I swear I'm not even embellishing.

Sarah: So, have you heard Brian and Kel's news?
Grace: Yes, and I'm not happy about it. You know how I feel about those...
Sarah: But, Grace, you'll like this one.
Grace: That's what they keep telling me...

Last week she confessed to Mom that she thinks she'll probably become a mom one day. Which was followed by the admission that then she'll probably have to get married one day.

We have a sneaking suspicion that it all has to do with her getting to wear a certain white "bride" dress. But at least we're making progress.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tiny Dancer

If I didn't already believe that God is sovereign and working all things together, I probably would be starting to about now.

Last Thursday, I was finally able to speak to the nurse who schedules appointments for my OB and she was super nice and understanding about my situation. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I still had to go to the little class on Monday to fill out paperwork and have about half of my blood content drawn for various tests, but I was then able to go back on Tuesday (yesterday) for the first appointment.

As it turns out, I am not as far along in this pregnancy as I had previously thought. I am currently at 10 weeks, which makes a lot of sense with the timeline of when I got a positive pregnancy test and when I started to feel sick and tired. The doctor assured me that this is all fine and normal.

The best part is, I got to see the baby! It was so exciting that I laughed and cried at the same time. S/he was moving all around - dancing, if you will. The doctor said that s/he looked perfectly normal and healthy for a 10 week old. That made it feel so real.

Looking forward to March 11, 2009...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Times, they are a changin'

I have tried to like the green template, but I just don't. So, I changed it. Don't worry, you're still in the right place for Reasons Why.

I hope that this one works out better for us.

I feel like an ant

Do you want to hear the most ridiculous story in the world? Sure you do. Well, even if you don't, I feel like "blogging it out," so here goes...

Where do I start? Hmmmmm. Based on certain calculations of events, I think that I am 12 weeks pregnant as of today. Exciting, right? Yes, I am very excited, that is the good news. The bad news is that I have not seen a doctor yet, nor do I have an appointment to do so. Gasp! I must be a horrible mother-to-be. Well, don't judge me so fast, here are my reasons why:

1- I did not have a positive pregnancy test until I was about 7 weeks pregnant. From everything I've read on the internet, this can happen and is totally normal. Thus, delay #1.

2- The positive showed up just three days before I left on an 11 day trip to Moldova. (Btw, I really need to blog about that. It's coming.)

3- Before I left for Moldova, I made an appointment with my primary care physician to see him about getting a referral to an OB. He had no openings until four days after I got home from Moldova. Delay #2. Glad I had a little trip to the other side of the planet planned for that time.

4- After said visit with the primary care doctor (PA actually, but I love him!), the insurance company needed at least 72 hours in which to process the referral. This made me a little impatient, but I kept telling myself that we don't pay a thing for this insurance...Delay #3.

5- Called the insurance company on Tuesday morning to get the name of the OB to which I had been assigned (yes, assigned, don't get me started on that) so that I could finally call and make the magical appointment.

6- I immediately hung up the phone and dialed the number for the OB's office. "Oh sorry, we need 48 hours to process referrals before you can make an appointment," was the unenthusiastic reply of the disinterested person on the other line. Are you kidding me? Does everyone and their brother have to "process" my referral. What does that even mean? Delays #4-6.

7- Fast forward to this morning. I get a call from the office that says I can call one of two of their satellite offices to make an appointment. The referral is finally processed. Hallelujah.

8- I nervously dialed the number for the office closest to my home. Could this finally be it? Would I actually get to schedule an appointment with a real live OB? Not so fast. In so many words I was told that I must attend a class with a nurse and a nutritionist before I can schedule my first appointment. What? What? I uncharacteristically blew a gasket. I told the person on the other end of the phone that this was the worst, most inefficient process I had ever heard of, let alone been a part of. She said that she was sorry, "that's just the way it is." I told her that I am pretty sure I am 12 weeks pregnant and had been waiting for over three weeks to even be able to make this call. Then I decided to apologize. We both settled down and she gave me the direct line of the nurse who does the classes, telling me that maybe I could talk to her personally and make an appointment before I go to the class. This nurse is out of the office until Monday, so please pray with me that it works out that way. I am going to call her at 8 am on Monday, make no mistake about it.

I never imagined that it would take a month to merely make a doctor's appointment.

So, that's the story of why I'm 12 weeks and still don't have a doctor's appointment. It's also the story of why I'm not so sure that socialization of health care would be the best approach in America. And the story of why I feel tiny and insignificant today, much like an ant.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mid-Afternoon Hamburger

Well, actually, it's only half of a hamburger. And, in the spirit of complete honesty, it's a cheeseburger. From Outback. The arresting thing about this reheated half-cheeseburger is that I'm eating it at 4:30 in the afternoon. As a snack. Me. If you know anything about me, the previous post about carrot soup is so much closer than a cheeseburger to my usual culinary choices. I usually eat salads for lunch and, although I'm not a vegetarian, I try to go several days between meals in which I eat meat. So what on God's green earth am I doing eating this as a snack?

To make a short story a little longer, we got a little surprise on Saturday morning, July 5th-we found out that I'm pregnant! B and I are just delighted by the fact and almost a month later, it is finally sinking in that our little family is growing. The only not-fabulous side effect thus far is that I just cannot seem to keep enough food in my body. This child is not even born yet and it is already eating me out of house and home. I think maybe it's so strange to me because before now, I have eaten, well, nibbled really, at food like a bird. So, the portions that I feel like eating now are like Thanksgiving dinner for every meal to me. I give in and eat like this because I have discovered over the last week that if I don't, I end up severely nauseated. Which is pretty much the worst feeling in the world.

I have decided to look at this like a season of my life and not get stressed about eating too much right now. Life will not be like this forever. One day I will again snack on apples as I play with my little boy or girl. But right now, this cheeseburger sure hits the spot!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Carrot Soup


First of all, friends, don't knock it 'til you've tried it. If you're like i was, the thought of carrot soup is not the most appetizing. But my dear friend made some for me one night and it has changed my life and lunches. You see, I love to eat hot things for lunch, which most of the time ends up being soup. Following is the recipe for the most wonderful, beta-carotene-filled soup I've ever tasted. Enjoy!

Meg's Carrot-Ginger Soup
2 lbs. carrots, washed and peeled
1 small lime-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
~2 T butter
4 C vegetable broth
Half and half

After peeling the carrots, cut them into chunks. Mince the ginger. Heat butter in large sauce pan over medium heat until bubbly, then add ginger, stirring until fragrant. About 5 minutes. Then add the broth and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are soft. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. (You may have to do two batches.) Blend batches in a bowl with a bit of half and half using a whisk. Serve hot or cold. I like to garnish with cucumbers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hands and Feet

People who speak truth to you are perhaps the most valuable people to have around. Whether friend, family, or both, you treasure their opinions like gold. That said, it is always a sign to me of these golden people in my life when I want to rip them limb from limb sometimes before hearing what they have to say. Because it's the truth and I want to wallow. For me "ripping them limb from limb" most often looks like me not calling them for ages and not returning their calls when they initiate. It's not that I don't love them or want to talk about their lives, I just don't always want their insight on mine, because, well, I'm often far too content wallowing. And then, one day, stuck in the back of the blackest corner I've been in for a while, there are only certain people who can truly bring me out. These are the truth-sayers, the golden people in my life.

These are friends that always believe even when I can't anymore. Friends that cling to hope with one hand and me with the other while I dangle over a pit of despair. These are the people whose lives I want to exemplify because of their faith in the face of this adversity-fraught life. Sometimes they're only there once and that's enough. Some I have for life; like Brian, Like a Fine Wine, and Citystreams, to name a few.

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

That's Me in the Corner















My lovely sister is in town and we went to see REM last night at the beautiful Merriweather Post Pavilion. It was so much fun! The venue reminded us of Chastain in Atlanta, it was a very good show in a very fun place!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Lovely, Dark, & Deep

If you know anything about me, you probably know I like to run. (If you don't know me, you know now! Ha!) And since I've been giving the new town and even state such a hard time lately on this blog and in general conversation, I would like to write about something I've found here that I am enjoying a lot. On base (which I keep calling campus in conversation, I guess being so used to living in a college town and all) there are incredible running trails. I am talking about miles and miles of well kept and well marked trails. And they are in the deliciously beautiful woodland that makes me feel like I'm in the mountains. Every time I run there I see deer. It feels like real cross country running and it makes me feel alive like nothing else.

So, yesterday, I was running a combination of trails that I had done once before, and getting kind of cocky about my ability to remember which way to go when I unknowingly took a wrong turn. I figured out my mistake when I passed a small building in the woods that I didn't remember. (I take in landmarks very quickly when I run in new places.) The good news was I was only about a half mile in the wrong direction. The bad news was that all of the sudden the sky turned black, it thundered and the heavens poured forth in abundance. In short, I got very wet. At first I was a little frightened about being in the woods alone during a storm, but then I decided to live it up. It was so exhilarating to run straight through the puddles because I was already soaked to the bone. The trails turned into natural little streams since it's so hilly here and I made no effort to avoid them. I finished just as the storm did and I was so thankful that I happened to be running in the woods during the downpour.

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
-Robert Frost

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Are you my home?

There's something to be said for looking down a road and knowing where it leads to. Put another way, it's nice to know how to get to places and it's nice to think you'll probably know someone when you get there. Personally, I am also a big fan of short cuts, or at least ways of getting places that don't include two of the busiest stretches of road in this country (I-95 and Highway 1). That said, today I am in my hometown, namely, Athens, GA and I'm in a sort-of pre-teenage angst about this subject, so bear with. It's the place I put down on forms when they ask for a birthplace and also the place I go on and on about when someone asks me where I'm from. "Have you ever heard of the University of Georgia? It's in a town called Athens and that's where I'm from." That's my usual shtick when I get the "where are you from?" question to avoid being mistaken as being from Atlanta. (Nothing against Atlanta, it just seems that everyone who hears we're from Georgia automatically assumes we're from Atlanta.)

The only problem with being in the place I love more than all the rest today is that it doesn't feel like home. GASP!! And it's because Brian isn't here today. My heart and mind are in two places that are totally and completely geographically incompatible. And tomorrow, when I disembark from the plane that will fly me to Virginia and am back with Brian, I will probably feel as confused as I am now, because God help me if Stafford, Virginia ever feels like home. Something is always missing and I guess it's a little of the feeling that Hal talks about when he calls the Christian life living in the "already and the not yet." And maybe we're not supposed to feel at home in this life, but be thankful for the time we have with who we have it with while we have it. (If that makes sense.) When I step back and look at it, I am so very blessed whether here or there and maybe home is a big meshing of the two.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Little Love


You could say that we were destined to meet. Between cross country meets and camps that we both attended in high school and a boat load of mutual friends, it's amazing that it took as long as it did. But on April 6, 2002, Brian and I were finally introduced to one another by one of said mutual friends at the wedding of other mutual friends. A month after that, we met again at my parents' house because he was mentoring my little brother through a youth group. (Andy always reminds me that B "dated" him first. Haha.) About four months later, we discovered that I actually lived in the exact room in the exact apartment that he had just moved out of when he picked me up for our first date. Then, in October of 2002, he took me rock climbing for the first time. I was terrified at first, but we have been inseparable since that day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Crib


The room just off of the kitchen.
Our room.

The guest room. It came this color and I just went with it.

Rumor's new "spot."

The foyer.

The living room. Complete with new Ikea chair. Love it!

The office.

Another view of the room off of the kitchen. This is my favorite room I think.

The kitchen.

To be quite honest, this post is mostly for my mom. She wants to see pictures of the new place all set up, so here are a few. For those of you who are not her, enjoy also. Love!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Side note

Just so you know, I'm new to the military life. So when I was hearing explosions from some sort of training taking place on the other side of the interstate all day, I thought it was a new speed bump people kept hitting in the road in front of our house. Well, that certainly makes things more interesting.

Now I know why Michael Bluth could do nothing with the orange grove that he bought from Uncle Oscar. Ha.

A Bittersweet Symphony

It’s funny how being in one place makes you understand how you belong to another. Now I’m not talking just about belonging to a place because you are comfortable there, have friends there, and know your way around, I’m talking about having roots somewhere. People my age especially neglect the importance of roots and history. We want to buck tradition and strike it out on our own. In a very bittersweet and timely sort of way, I had my roots and history thrust at me on the very day that we moved.

You see, my Dad’s Dad passed away on Saturday, April 26th, the very same day we unloaded all of our belongings into the three-story townhouse that we now reside in. He lost an epicly heroic battle with cancer and Parkinson’s, but is now in his heavenly dwelling where there is no chemo, no medicine, and most importantly for him (I bet), no walkers or wheelchairs. (Side note, I always cry when I think about healing after someone dies of a terrible illness. It’s what we all long for, isn’t it? To be what we were created to be in the first place. I know I do.) So, long story kind of short, we quickly unpacked a few things so that we could pack again and hop into the car for the 10 hour drive to Dudley, GA, where my parents grew up and where this particular grandparent, Papa, spent the majority of his life. I was able to spend most of the week there with my grandmother, aunt, and the rest of ‘em (as they say) listening to stories about how many people Papa helped without ever expecting anything in return and eating the best food that can be found on this planet. What I lost on April 26th was monumental, but what I gained in the aftermath of that day could be spoken of on the same terms. I had always had an appreciation for Dudley (Population 498) as the place where both of my parents grew up and where both sets of my grandparents lived during my childhood, but now I love it. It’s where my grandma, Meme (Papa’s wife of 52 year – there will be a post on her soon), still lives. It’s a place where pecans can be picked up by the bucket, the peas are to die for, a place where people bring so much food when a person passes away, someone actually brings an extra refrigerator, and a place where you can still charge things to an account that is still maintained and calculated by hand at the local store (my grandfather’s). It’s a place where my roots are.

I was also going to talk about Athens here, but it seems that this post is getting long already. Suffice it to say that right now I feel like a plant that was taken out of the soil I sprung from a seed in and put into a big ugly pot on someone’s front porch that is already littered with other plants in other ugly pots. This is not where I belong. I was just reminded, though, that there is a time to plant and a time to uproot.

Coldplay comes to mind here, “And it’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life…”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rumor's Paradise

Rumor's paradise, his own personal Heaven on Earth. That's what our apartment currently is. Rumor is our curious-to-a-fault orange and white tabby who loves open windows and cardboard boxes. So, right now all of his dreams are coming true as every room becomes filled with boxes that he climbs in and out of, which caused several empty box avalanches yesterday. Also, we have the windows open, so when not trying to be packed alongside our drawer-trinkets, he is happily sitting in the window dreaming of eating the many leaves he sees flying by.

Meanwhile, Brian and I are not having so much fun. We've lived here for FOUR years. That's four years of stuff stuffed into drawers and back corners of closets. I did find my autographed Derek Webb, "She Must and Shall Go Free" CD cover, so it's not all bad. We decided that only CD covers that currently hold CDs or are signed don't get trashed. I guess I'll probably kick myself in twenty years when CD covers are collector's items. Oh well.

Friday is the big move day. I am going to start updating here more frequently to keep you all in the know about our nine-hour-away move and beginning life as a Marine family.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bluetooths

People talking on bluetooths look crazy. Like they're talking to invisible people.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Prone to Wander

Lord I feel it! I was reminded (again) today about the amazingness of grace thanks to my friend Annie. Right now I am slowly but fiercely beginning to realize enormous amounts of fear. Next month we are moving ten hours away from my home and all of the people and places that I know. To add to that, my husband is a Marine, and so even though he was never mine to begin with, I am about to get a rude awakening to how real that is. He does not have orders or plans for deployment yet, but he imagines that it is inevitable in the future given his chosen profession. It is a noble and courageous thing to do to serve your country, but it is nerve-wracking for those at home to think about. Sometimes people say, "Well at least you knew what you were getting into when you got married." Oh no, I did not. My love signed up to be a Devil Dog about six months into our marriage, with my support, of course.

Which brings me to my fear, because life never turns out the way I plan, and I have all of these plans a'brewin' in my head. I too am asking God for big things right now and my old way of belief keeps creeping up and telling me that I have not been good enough to deserve the things I am asking for. But that is what is so amazing about grace-I have never and will never be good enough to deserve anything. Every good and perfect thing in my lift is a gift, IS grace. God's mercy is so deep that He listens to even me and so I can have hope that there is good to come. There is Christ to come and in Him is all good, all abundance. All that I don't deserve but have.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Maddening Crowd

Heaven help us. There are about 3,000 high school students coming to my little place-of-business today. They hope to be "business leaders" in the future, but now they are hormonal almost-adults in oddly-matched suits either from their grandmother's closet, the thrift store, or the junior department at Macy's.

At least I have on a fun shirt today thanks to a rummage in my sister's closet last night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Different Colored Doorways

Well, that was fast. No sooner than I posted about applying for the internship with IJM did I get a pre-fab rejection email. So, that one's off the list. I was sad for about two minutes before I got over it because it didn't feel like God closing a door, it felt like Him leading me down a new hallway that I had never seen before. I am in contact with another organization that does similar work and is based in Washington, DC, and will hopefully be able to volunteer with them while we live there. I really just want to get into that arena, if you will, to meet people who work on the front lines literally freeing people from modern day slavery so that I can do the same. This (and music) is what I am most passionate about. Dr. Kevin Bales, in his book Disposable People, says, "Slavery is obscene." I've never heard it put more eloquently, truthfully, or bluntly. There are mountains of problems in the world, but this one supersedes them all for me. The obscenity must end.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

Monday, March 10, 2008

Feeding time

Do you remember when you were little and your mom took you to the park to feed the ducks? You threw the bread crumbs out and they all swiftly, almost viciously grappled to get the biggest and most pieces. Well, adult conference attendees look very similar when descending on the afternoon break tables. It's the only situation other than the day after Thanksgiving when I think that little old ladies might hurt one another for something small.

Just a thought. And because I am singing this song in my head, "Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, glorious food?" (That one's for Scott.)

Before the Glory, After the Rust

"Reasons Why," the title of my blog, is so appropriate for me on so many levels. It's the title of one of my favorite songs, which is one of my favorite songs because of the words. Namely, "others have excuses, I have my 'reasons why,'" resonates with me because I have this overwhelming fear of not doing the right thing and I feel like I'm always on the offensive, justifying to myself and others why I do what I do. Does this make sense? Next month I'll turn 26, I have a master's degree, and I'm a glorified receptionist. Hence, the constant offensive justification. All through school I was an excellent student, you know, the kind that was going to really do something with themselves. I studied hard and I really cared about what I was learning. And now I'm a receptionist. And really the person I think that I have disappointed the most is myself. My friends are teachers, nurses, doctors, salespeople, planners, real estate agents, and lawyers. And I'm a receptionist.

I'm not going to offer my extensive excuse for this here, although rest assured it mostly involves fear. I'm just going to say that I'm not going to do this forever. In a little over a month we're moving to a new state and I get a new start. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do or what I want to do, but I am determined to do something I like. I have applied for an internship this summer with International Justice Mission, an organization I've mentioned a couple of times, but I haven't heard anything yet. They investigate and intervene in cases of human rights abuse all over the world. A lot of their work happens in southeast Asia with victims of sex trafficking. Pray about that for me, this is an opportunity I've wanted for a while. Also on the list is learning how to play the guitar. The only thing I've wanted to do over the whole span of my life is be a musician, and at a quarter of a century, it's high time I began to do this.

All of this is in effort to be a little more open with you, my readers and friends, so that you know where everything else I write comes from and what my experiences are colored by. I believe in a Sovereign who has put me on this path for His purposes, even though I don't understand. There is just a deep longing in me that's never been there before to do something more than work for a pay check.

The title of this post comes from a Sandra McCracken song called Eve. I think that one line explains where I live-"Before the Glory, after the rust." After the fall. I know there's glory to come, I just live in the rusted world now and it's hard. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about

Friday, March 07, 2008

Christian wins?

As Gob Bluth would say [forcefully], "Come On!" Bravo, Project Runway, could we see something new please? Because I'm pretty sure that last season the mean, goth guy who hated everyone else won too. Everyone else got in trouble all season for showing "the same thing" every week, but did we see anything from Christian all season that wasn't high-necked, ruffled, black, and completely over-the-top? Did the judges even watch Rami's collection on the runway? The man is talented and I'm pretty sure never told a model, "Be really skinny and don't eat."

If Christian is fashion, I don't want it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Filled with joy

There were two very exciting surprises waiting for me once I left home today. One, it was snowing. This may not be exciting to some, but I live in an area that rarely [read: never] sees any snow. And granted, it was just falling, not sticking, but it was exciting all the same. There are 18 foot windows in the lobby where I work and everyone was coming out to look at the snow fall. It's one of the few things that can universally put wonder into the eyes of hardened, overworked adults and that is a beautiful thing to see.

The second thing was an email in my inbox from my friend Callie. Yes, the same friend I wrote about two weeks ago who had been in the terrible car accident. She was released from the hospital last night and is at home. She has a long road of therapy and rehabilitation ahead, but is doing so much better than anyone could have imagined two weeks ago. Please continue to join me in praying for her continued recovery.

"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter,and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.' The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad."
-Psalm 126: 1-3

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tag, I'm It

A while back my friend tagged me in a "write random things about yourself" blog and so, as I find little else to do between entirely random phone calls and questions today, here are 10 random things about me that probably do not know. (Beware: they are trully the first 10 things that popped into my head.)
1) I think that I would be a good spy. I'm small, young, and innocent looking. No one would ever suspect me. (Plus, I have always wanted to escape out of the top of an elevator.)

2) I'm OCD about trash. I cannot eat something and leave the wrapper laying beside me until I get up for another reason. I must immediately throw it away or its all that I can think of. (Monica, anyone?)

3) If I ever have a light-blub in my hand, all I am thinking about is how I want to smash it on a counter.

4) My first post-college job was as a loan processor. A bit of me died inside that year.

5) Celebrity gossip is my guilty pleasure. Gasp!

6) When my brother (who is now 20) was born, I wanted him to be a girl so bad so that we could name him Anna Carrie.

7) I had perfect attendence in middle school (6th-8th grade). There were 8 of us in my school that did the same. A man found out about this and gave us all a new $100 bill.

8) I attribute the above perfect attendence to the fact that I had scarlet fever in first grade. I have rarely been sick since.

9)My husband and I met at a wedding. I didn't give him a second thought at the time because I thought he was way too old for me. We are, in fact, the same age.

10) My mom has always called me the princess and the pea because I am also OCD about sleeping. It has to be dark, quiet, and I must be comfortable. Anything, however small, can keep me up for hours. I've often taken the batteries out of clocks that tick at other people's houses. (Wow, TMI Kelli.) Not to worry, I always replace them and set the time right in the morning.

So, I warned you, it's a random, random list. I'm not going to tag anyone, but I will challenge you to write a list on your blog and post a link in the comments section.

The cat's out of the bag

In January I wrote a post that sort of alluded to my question-mark-of-a-furture, but I am now at liberty to shed more light on the issue. Don't get too excited, it's not a big secret, I just did not want to blog about anything that people I work with do not know. So, here goes.

Last week I resigned my job because we are moving to Quantico, VA in April. As most of you know, Brian is a Marine and this will begin military life for us. He has to go through six months of training in Quantico, followed by two more months of school in Rhode Island. After this, if everything goes as planned, we will have a permanent duty station (which I hope involves the Pacific Ocean) by the beginning of 2009. Which also means that we get to move THREE times this year. And not from apartment to house to another apartment like in college. What I'm talking about is three moves that involve at least three different states. In one year. With two cats and a bird.

People ask me all of the time if I am excited about this. My standard line is, "I might as well be." In truth, I am excited, but I am also scared to death. For all intents and purposes, the city that I now live in is the only place I've ever lived. It's where my family lives, where I got married, everything. So leaving is more difficult than going, if you know what I mean. It's not the new that scares me, it's leaving the old, not knowing what the future holds.

All over it seems like I am being told to have courage, though. My friend Annie's blog, the book that I'm now reading, and lots of other things keep encouraging me to take heart. I am often reminded of a song that I'm sure I've quoted somewhere on this blog before. My favorite part goes, "And you know the plans that you have for me. And you can't plan the end and not plan the means..." (Love some old school Caedmon's Call.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Please pray for Callie

My friend Callie was in a horrible car accident last night and is in ICU at a hospital in Atlanta. She has a broken hip and blood around her brain. The next two days are a crucial time for her. Please pray for Callie, she is a sweet person and a good friend. Callie and I got to know each other through the youth group that Brian and I worked with last year at our church. She's currently in 10th grade and just got her driver's license last month. She babysits my little brother and sister and is the most amazing baker that I know. Her chewy bars will be famous one day.

So, again, I beg that you pray for her for healing. Pray that the Lord would also comfort her family during this time.

"Dear Refuge of my weary soul, on Thee when sorrows rise,
On Thee when waves of trouble roll, my fainting hope relies,
To Thee I tell each rising grief, for Thou Alone canst heal,
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief for every pain I feel..."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Confessions of the selfish

Today, like yesterday, there is nothing going on here except for "escalator maintenance." That means that two guys are in little hatches at the top and bottom of the escalator directly across the lobby from my desk banging away on things. The amusing part of the situation is that they occasionally yell at one another. I don't think that they're friends outside of work. Judging by the events of the last couple of days, they're not really even friends at work. But, oh well.



In other news, I feel like I should come clean with you guys. I was in a terrible mood yesterday when I got off work because I was just brooding. Do you ever do that? Find yourself in the stinky pot and just sit there, marinating in your troubles? Well, if you don't, take it from me, it's terrible, but it's like quicksand because you cannot get out easily once trapped. Most of the time this happens in my mind and I let every little event pile up on top of the last until I feel that I am quite possibly the most horribly dejected human being that has ever borne the misfortune of walking this earth. Vague enough for you? Yesterday my nocuous mulling was the result of jealousy. I sometimes nauseate myself with this. Without going into details, I was feeling insanely overrun by several people in my life who really could have no idea what they were doing to me. What's worse is that I'm sure they in no way were trying to do anything to me whatsoever. So I brooded and I was short with Brian when he came home from work, knowing all the time that the longer I held it in, the more it was going to stink when it came out.



I surprised myself, though, and decided to tell Brian every stupid thing that I was upset over, instead of taking anything out on him. (None of the ill will was bent on him, I might mention.) The thing I was so worried about was that he would look down on me for having such childish jealousy, but he did not. He affirmed me and spoke truth to me and although I am not cured, I felt a million times better after just admitting how I felt. The more I live, the more I believe that honesty is always the best policy, period. And I'm so glad that I have already been made right with God through the work of Christ, because I can't do it on my own.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

With so much deception, it's hard not to wander away

Sometime in 2003 (I don't remember the month), I read an article in National Geographic Magazine that literally changed my life. It was about 21st Century Slaves. Yes, slaves. Like the kind that you thought were done with after the Civil War, when in all actuality, there are more people in the world today who live in slavery or slavery-like conditions than in the 1700 and 1800s. Astounded? That's okay, I certainly was the first time I heard this. But maybe astounded is not so much the word as dumbfounded or indignant. How on earth can we think that we live in any kind of modern world or society when PEOPLE are still bought and sold like pencils, cars, or any other inanimate commodity? And why was I 21 years old the first time I heard about it? Why are we not fighting wars to erradicate slavery? Why is it not the top news story everyday everywhere in the world?

I couldn't get this reality out of my head, so when I went to grad school in 2005, I decided to dedicate what I could of my studies to this subject. For those who may not know, I got my master's degree in Public Health. Instead of a writing a thesis to culminate my degree, I did a semester long internship at a domestic violence shelter and a rape crisis center in northeast Georgia. I also wrote a capstone paper about the myriad of health effects on victims of sex trafficking. This is because most of the modern day slaves are women and children who are trafficked and held for the purpose of sexual exploitation. In layman's terms this equals forced prostitution. Long story short, these people are most of the time destitute, they are tricked into moving to a different country for work, and then forced into sexual exploitation and held against their wills. Often they are broken and brainwashed so that they are bitter and untrusting of those who want to help. Even if released from this hellish "profession," they are scorned by their family and friends because of what they haved been forced to do and left with serious health conditions that inhibit their ability to carry daily living, much less their ability to work.

It would be easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and paralyzed by hopelessness. But we are not left without hope. There are many organizations that work with these victims, such as Free the Slaves, and International Justice Mission. My personal goal is to raise as much awareness as possible about this issue and try to educate people because knowledge is half the battle. Go to the websites above and learn more, or ask me because there is still a lot I haven't written here because of space.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One, but we're not the same

It's hard to write this post today because I'm tired and feeling cynical. But it's been a while and I have a song in my head (as usual) and it relates to today. There is a Bridal show at the "office" today and it has me reflecting on marriage and our society. It seems to me that getting married these days has more to do with "the big day" than with the fact that two people are becoming one. You have to pay to get into this particular show so that people can sell you things like photography, cakes, and ribbons.

When you are planning to get married, people not only want to sell you things, they love to give advice. Some bad, and some good, like, "Don't argue after 9 PM." (Not that we abide by this one, but it sure makes a lot of sense now...moving on.) The one thing that no one told us is that you are still the same exact people at the reception that you were before you ever walked down the aisle. Same sins, same insecurities, same habits. You see, wedding vendors bank on selling "the big day," the fairytale wedding and so forth, with total disregard to the fact that there's a whole lifetime of marriage to follow. No matter how beautifully arranged the flowers are and how many settings of fine china you get, hard times are going to come and there needs to be more to stand on than a diamond you had to take out a loan to get. I'm not saying that everyone is like this, I have just seen a lot of it lately and it's frightening. My husband and I loved each other as much as possible on July 10, 2004, but we had no idea what was in store and we have had it pretty easy. My mom has always said that love is a choice. One day you wake up and the warm fuzzies are gone and you have to remind yourself to choose to love the person beside you, and, what is more, I have to pray to God that He will give me a heart for my husband day in and day out. It is only by His grace we survive, it is only by His grace that we are happy. It is only by His grace that we stand.

I have been given the privilege of walking beside my husband through life. We are truly opposites in a lot of ways, but we balance each other out. He's logical, I'm a romantic. He's rational, I'm, well, the opposite of that. I love the U2 song from which this post borrows it's title. It says, "We're one but we're not the same, we get to carry each other, carry each other..." I think that's what marriage is about. Not stuff.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm Nowhere and You're Everything

"It's way past two and you want me there, but he needs me here so you have to share. I'm cryin' 'cause I'm in love with you, you're cryin' because you have no clue." Don't read too much into this people. These are lines from a Chris Thile song that is stuck in my head a lot. It's a beautiful song that reminds me of the general situation in Jane Austen novels, but I digress. This is not even what I want to write about today, I just have the song in my head and couldn't think of a title to the post.

Moving on. There is a small conference in the building where I work today. They're a nice conference. Sometimes people that are here for conferences are demanding, condescending, creepy, or a combo of all three, but these are just good folks here today. However, no matter what kinds of people they are, weird things ALWAYS happen to me when there are big groups here by nature of the fact that I am the "catch-all" in the building. So when the client walks in this morning with a box of materials that MUST go to the speaker in a certain room during his session, guess who got to interrupt? That's right. The door is at the back of the room so I walk in while he's speaking and as quiet as I try to be, the door makes a lot of noise. All eyes are immediately turned from the speaker, who's still speaking I might add, and onto moi. He keeps speaking and pretends like he doesn't see me for what seemed like a day. Meanwhile eyes go back and forth from speaker to awkward girl in the back holding a huge box. Finally, he motions for me to come forward, and keeps speaking while I carry the box down the center aisle, place it on the back table, and basically run out. Why couldn't that have waited until the break? Oh well, keeps me humble. The older I get the more I fear that I may never quite lose the total awkwardness that has plagued me since adolescence.

In other news, the first real event that I've planned is today!

Monday, January 14, 2008

4,015 Days of Running

Today is a momentous day for me. It's my 11 year running anniversary. Why do I know this? Answer: I have no idea, but like so many random facts that crowd the corners of my brain, I do. You see, I was a very unathletic kid. I played one season of tee-ball before my parents realized that I had much more interest in the ants and flowers in the outfield than I did in playing the game. But for some reason, on January 14, 1997, this unathletic kid decided she had had enough of the sedentary lifestyle, threw away the potato chips, turned off Oprah and decided to join my dad on his almost-daily run. At the time we lived in a neighborhood with a loop that was .8 of a mile. I couldn't run even halfway around. I used to cry and beg my mom to walk with me. But for some reason, I caught the bug and ran almost every day, finally making it a half mile, one mile, two miles. That fall I joined the cross country team at the high school. I was the worst on the team for the first few races, but happy all the while to pull up the rear. Then, one day I just cut four minutes off my 5K time in one race and earned a spot on the Varsity team.

Things kept up like this, little by little I improved. My senior year of high school I was captain of the cross country team. I went to a private school my first two years of college on a cross country scholarship. I am living proof that anything is possible if you work hard enough. The title of this blog is misleading because I haven't actually run every day for the last 11 years. Just almost everyday. My mom used to say, "If Kelli can run, anybody can." My dad said that if you had told him when I was starting high school that I would go to college on a cross country scholarship he would have laughed in your face. And they're not being mean with these comments, it's just the truth.

Now, I love running. People always say things to me like, "I can't believe that you can run that far." But the truth is, I didn't start yesterday. I started eleven years ago and I have worked for every bit of it. I write all of this to encourage you that you can do it. You can start the thing today and it may take YEARS, but you'll never know unless you try.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Into the Wild

We don't go to movies all that often anymore, so when we do, we want them to be worth the almost $10 per person admission fee. In the last couple of weeks, we have been to an uncharacteristically-for-the-Magees large amount of movies. There just seemed to be a bunch that we want to see. I Am Legend was terrible, unless you like zombie films with little plot in which your favorite character is killed. The new National Treasure was great as far the fun, unlikely, historical conspiracy theory movies go. Brian's boss didn't like it because he's a history buff and he called it completely implausible, but I am fortunately not plagued with that much brain-power and I liked it. Charlie Wilson's War is an excellent movie and provides an interesting view of the history of how the Cold War ended and why we're in the mess internationally that we're in now. Plus, Phillip Seymour Hoffman should win an Oscar for his role in the film. He's absolutely brilliant, but that's pretty much par for the course for him. (Side note: see the movie Capote and this movie and think about the range he has.)

But those movies aren't what this post is about. It's about the movie we saw last Friday at the wonderful new independent theatre in our little town called Cine. Into the Wild. It's based on a book by the same title written by Jon Krakauer. It is the true story of Christopher McCandless, who graduated from Emory in 1991, burned his identification and gave all of his money away before trekking across the Western US, mostly by foot, for two years. I remember loving the book when I read it and unlike some books that are made into movie, this one works. Sean Penn directed it and I feel he captured the story on film beautifully. I still can't put a finger on quite why it touches me so deeply. I wept for a while at the end of both book and movie. The story is just so inspiring and tragic at the same time. Maybe it's the part of me that would do the same thing if my family situation was like his was. Krakauer and Penn both relate the freedom that Chris felt when he was penniless and wandering. It's beautiful; I can't quite put it into any other words.