My husband's in seminary (grad school for pastors) and in a few months, he is going to begin his ministry, which means that WE are going to begin ministry. This is concerning to some people who know me, because I have a very well-documented case of an under-developed empathy muscle. And apparently you have to have empathy for people when your husband is a minister. Standard-issue Christianity suggests that we are to love everyone; pragmatic Christianity takes a more narrow approach, meaning that Pastors And Their Families are supposed to love and care for everyone.

Usually I'm not too concerned about failing to live up to the expectations that I will be gracious, always ready with the right encouragement and the right attitude. I do the best I can, and that's the best I can do, right? Fine.

I need to be in the habit of caring for people, even if they have clearly not cared for me. Jesus 101, right there. And I fail.  On an embarrassingly consistent basis.  I am indifferent.  And I don't know how to change.


a little tuesday bulletproof-positive-attitude

One of my favorite bloggers is Kal Barteski, of LoveLife fame. She's a Canadian, and she has found a way to take -45 degree weather in stride while she's many-months pregnant and tooling around with a 1-year-old. What's not to adore?

She's an artist/designer, on top of being an overall inspiration. And today she shared something with us that I thought was too awesome to pass up.

You probably won't regret checking it out, here.

I find it particularly meaningful as I spend my days working at Virginia's capitol.


Blanket's done! What's next?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present to you my new pride and joy, that afghan!!

It's done.  I love it.  Soft, squishy, warm without being too heavy.  There's nothing more to say.

(If you've read the last entry, you know I was debating whether to charge on through and finish it, which I expected to take forever, or to keep dawdling on it and do smaller projects in the meantime.  After much consideration, I decided to just go for it and finish.  And THEN I did some measurements, and realized I was   a l m o s t d o n e   with it, so of course the choice was obvious.)

Here are the specifics:  Knit Picks Mix&Mingle kit in the Emerald Isles colorway; pattern is Knit Picks Colorful Waves Throw.  Neither the kit nor the throw seem to be available anymore.


to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

You weren't my candidate.  I'm not particularly pleased that you got elected, because we don't see eye-to-eye on much, seeing as I'm more or less a libertarian and you're more or less a socialist.  But you're my President now, and it's my civic duty as a Christian and as an American - as your constituent - to voice my opinions and instructions to you.  

So, I'll leave you with the infamous words of my college drumline instructor...


We both love this country.  I just hope you are more right about how to run it than I am.




Manic Monday #151

From the Manic Monday site:  

What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are sick?

Live in PJs.  And eat cereal.  And watch bad movies.

What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?

Winter 1998 - Austria.  It was so cold, and there was snow everywhere, and mist in the valleys.  It was crisp and sparkly and I will never forget it.

Do you listen to music or talk radio in the car?

Music.  I'm ok with talk radio if it's on, but I won't seek it out.  


oh yeah...the white elephant game...

You know those white elephant games that some groups of fun-loving people like to play?  Where everyone brings a gag gift, and you go around the room taking turns either picking from the pile of gifts or stealing from someone who's already opened one?  

Last month, Pap911 had a big white elephant game as a holiday fundraiser.  I was fortunate enough to get to play.  And I wanted, from the get-go, this pillow that was blue with a brown/white papillon embroidered on the front.  It goes well with the furniture, the dog reminds me of Eli, and I figured that someone would pick it before me, which would mean that I could steal it.  Bonus!  because I love stealing.

Someone did pick it before me, which means that I ended up stealing it, and I blamed Eli for making me do it.  This led to some humorous photo-edited banter, the pinnacle (in my opinion) of which, I thought I would share with you:

Brian informs me that this is NOT FUNNY, but I think it is, even a month later.

Note:  I took the photo but didn't edit it to add the pillow and the words.


limited word supply

Do you complain too much? I do. It's too easy to see the negative things and let them crowd out the good ones. 

This morning, out of nowhere, I was reminded of a personal essay I once read. It was written by a mother with a husband and some kids. I don't remember the story, just that due to some ailment or event, the woman had temporarily lost her ability to speak. The only way she could communicate with her family was by writing.

Sometimes I think it might be good for me if I could only communicate after some deliberation. It really makes a difference when you see your words in writing, before being able to deliver them.

If I had to look at each harsh word I said about my fellow drivers, or each criticism I offered my husband, or each complaint I had about something at work, before showing it to anybody, I probably would end up NOT showing it. Self-censoring at its best! I might be motivated to offer more grace, more kindness and encouragement, or just not say anything.

The woman in the essay had this same experience. Each time she wanted to snap at her husband or kids, she had to do it on paper. Having the chance to cool off and think through her responses instead of reacting rashly, in the heat of the reaction, led her to be more aware of her tongue and make different choices. When she regained her voice, she remembered the lessons she learned.

If you had to write down everything you wanted to say, what patterns do you think would jump out at you? How do you think your communication would change - if at all?


the everlasting knitted gobstopper of a blanket

(A disclaimer:  my apologies for the awful photos.  My head is exploding from sinus pressure and there isn't any good lighting to be found, anyway.)

I've already mentioned before that I am a monogamous knitter - meaning that I only like to have one project going at a time.

I don't like the multi-directional pull that I feel when I am working on more than one project - I feel as though I'm overcommitted and always behind...meaning, I would be done with this scarf already if I hadn't started that pair of socks, how much progress could I have made on this sweater if I didn't work on that hat for a while, blah blah.  

With that said, I have a confession: I have been working on one project, on and off, for 2 years. This project has been cast aside for many smaller projects. I have NOT been monogamous to this project.  It's been in and out of 'hibernation' - meaning, in one of those plastic square sacks that sheet sets come in - since October of 2006 or thereabouts.

It's a blanket, made from a bunch of different yarns. I love it! I like the design, I like the mix of textures and the colors, I like that it is intended to be my special blanket, made out of my own love for myself.  Back when I was nursing a broken heart, I needed something like this project to work on every day, to encourage myself and work love and healing into every stitch.  Original estimations indicated that I would finish it right around the time I expected my broken heart to be mended.

So much for that!

I have dealt with an inordinate amount of guilt over not finishing this afghan.  But it's just so big! And it's been two years, and judging from my yarn supply, I'm only barely more than halfway done! Working on this blanket, though enjoyable, feels like I'm going 35 in a 65 zone (right lane, of course) and everyone is zipping right on by.

I am in the process of deciding what my strategy for finishing this project should be. I can put the pedal to the metal and vow not to work on anything else until I've finished it, and work on it steadily for the next couple of months, or I can continue to take up smaller projects while I finish it, thereby dragging the process out even longer. Now that it's so big, it's not really portable, which is another factor, because when I'm not knitting on the go, I feel like I'm wasting time. 

And so, I deliberate.  And in the meantime, I knit.

Do you ever feel unfinished-project guilt?

Please Vote!

Click on the photo above to visite Care2's website. This vote is cast for my animal rescue of choice - Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption. This is a national rescue based in Marietta, GA. We rescue papillons from atrocious living in puppy mills (through personal relationships with millers or by attending dog auctions -- a warning about the auction video: the first minute is informative, the video after the first minute is disturbing) and find adoptive homes for the cute little critters.

If you're interested in adopting an animal as a pet, check out your local animal shelters or find a breed-specific rescue. It's easy - check out petfinder.com or just google '(breed name) rescue' and you'll find results. Rescues are good because you'll often pay less for a rescue dog than you would in a pet shop...and lots of rescues have puppies! Puppies in most pet shops do not come from humane conditions, and purchasing them there isn't 'rescuing' them at all - it's making inhumane conditions profitable.


the importance of having the occasional fat day

I am not skinny. I'm not sure I ever was skinny, apart from the first half of my freshman year in high school, when I was so anxious about being in a public high school that I kinda lost my appetite for everything. I remember coming to grips with the need for me to eat a freakin cheeseburger when I revisited my private school and one of my teachers literally dropped her jaw when she saw me. Not a good feeling, for a girl who had been raised to have a healthy body image, who knew there was such a thing as 'too skinny' and that there was nothing wrong with being 'normal.'

I'm not sure I ever will be skinny. Most days, I'm ok with this. I'm not fat, though by some definitions I would be considered obese, technically.

I prefer to think that I navigate the waters of chubby, pudgy, thick, curvy, and occasionally 'oh my God I just ate a plate of Christmas cookies for dinner.' Being skinny isn't a goal of mine right now, although I do have my eye on developing healthier eating habits and finding the way to muscle through some kind of outdoor activity even though it's 20 degrees.

I'm sometimes startled by photos of myself, where I have evidence that the pudge is creeping further than I would like. You see things in photos that you don't see in mirrors. It's easy to look at a photo of a larger-than-life you and lapse into a mental maelstrom of criticism, discontent, and even hatred. Who among us hasn't done this? There's another way you can go, too, I've noticed. It's the comparison way... "Well at least I'm not as big as [insert name here], I think I'll go partake in a congratulatory carton of ice cream."

Sometimes these snippits of realism lend themselves to fat days. And you know what? I think the occasional 'fat day' is ok. They can be motivating when you need a kick in the pants to reminder yourself not to eat brownies for breakfast four days in a row. They can make you feel like a 'normal woman' - whatever that means - because we all have them. And if nothing else, they can be another opportunity to show yourself grace and acceptance.

As far as I can tell, there are two important things to keep in mind when you're having a fat day. One is to shelve the criticism and keep the door closed on things that might cause your self-esteem to plummet. Stay away from the scale. Don't put on the trippy high heels that make you feel clumsy. Dress comfortably, but keep the cute factor intact. Be NICE to yourself. Don't torture yourself.  And for the love of Pete, don't wear control-top tights....

The other point is this: let the fat day be a DAY. Just one. If you're having a fat week, or a fat month, or a fat LIFE, there's probably a bigger issue at hand. Find something small you can change, and change it. For me, the small thing in the past couple of months has been having ONE of something. It's saying, that cupcake was amazing, I think I'll bask in the glory of it for a while, instead of saying, that cupcake was amazing, I think I'll have another.  It's a small lifestyle change, but it's doable, and it's kept be from ingesting thousands of calories over the past while.  Put down your favorite self-flagellation tool, and be proactive.

This is something I have to keep in mind this time of year.  What with all the talk about resolutions and losing weight and diet plans and gym memberships, in contrast with the leftover candy and creamy soups and pervasive darkness, and 'spring break in Cancun' season just around the corner, and all.


2008 Books

About a year ago, I decided to keep tracks of all the books I read.  This was part of an unrealized attempt to make a complete list of all the books I've read in-and-since high school....I think I'll settle for "books I've read in-and-since 2008."

I am shocked, amazed, and astounded to share with you that I read 34 books last year.  34!!!  I don't know how that happened.  Four of them are young adult literature, and I didn't include the childrens books.  

I've put a star by my very favorites.  Here they are, in reverse order of their appearance on my night stand:

And there are a couple of books that I might have read in 2008, but maybe it was 2007.  These are Crooked Little Heart and Blue Shoe, both by Anne Lamott.


One-word Resolution

I've recently come across a blog, called CLUTCH, meant to encourage and uplift the wives of ministers.  Brian isn't a minister yet, but he will become one this year, so I counted myself as 'close enough' and subscribed.

The first posting I read was called One Word Resolution.  It posed the question, what character-related trait do you want God to develop in you this year?

Most of the replies were discipline.  Is this surprising?  Not really...we live in a very chaotic world, and as wives and mothers and part of a ministry team, we face a lot of demands - often, messy, disruptive demands.  Discipline is essential for anyone who doesn't want everything to fall apart.

My answer is:  order.

I am not good with order.  It's not that I lack the discipline to be ordered - I have it.  What I lack is the ability to establish the order in the first place.  My thoughts are not ordered, nor are my home, my car, my practices, my work...   I need to find, construct, and promote order.

I also find it meaningful that what I most need right now is order, and this is the year that I will be joining the Presbyterian church - perhaps the most ordered people that exists!


Favorite Photo of 2008

From the Shutter Sisters website:
"I spent the last couple of days browsing through my personal photo folders and reflecting on this past year. And I thought it would be great if you could share your favorite photo for 2008 with a short comment about what this past year has brought into your life, as well as your hopes and your dreams for 2009."

With a renewed interest in photography simmering, I thought this might be a good way to start off the new year.  So here it is, my favorite photo from 2008.

We loved this beach, which was in a town called Kailua on the northern part of Oahu.  I loved capturing this quiet moment where Brian was stomping in the surf, oblivious to everything but the sand and the water.

Resolutions for the New Year

I'm not big on Resolutions, especially general or complicated ones.  I like them to be specific, and I like them to be realistic.  Some years, the only resolution is to survive intact.  I didn't make any last year.

The thing is, I don't really rely on a new year to set a new goal.  I like to incorporate changes and adjustments as the need, and my ability, arises.  So these are the things I would like to get jump-started early in this new year.

1. Find balance and satisfaction at work
2. Get a few things organized (specifically, my camera equipment, our toiletries supplies, our linens situation, and my yarn stash)  
3. Be more active, and include the dog (this pertains to #1)
4. Join a knitting group
5. Continue decluttering 
6. Take more pictures
7. Introduce a modicum of menu-planning

Do you make resolutions?  What are some things you would like to change, or incorporate into your life?