Company Girl Coffee 2.26.10

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Oh dear. Is it Friday already?

Then again, what am I talking about? I have been up for hours. Rory decided that today would be the perfect day to get up at 4:30. Four thirty. In the morning. Despite my best 'let's be sleeping' campaign, she proceeded undeterred. And in border collie language, undeterred is best translated as barking one's fool head off until one gets what one desires.

In this case, 'one' desired a romp or two outside. (At 4:30am. In the 20 degree icy weather.)

Have I mentioned that we live in an apartment?

So wait. It's Friday? Ok, fine. I believe you. Maybe I should make some tea. With honey. Honey makes everything better, am I right?

So what's been going on with you this week? I have nearly nothing to report. Much to no one's surprise, I have been sick again. Being sick is SO lame. I have a doctor appointment today to figure out why the heck I have been sick on and off with the same thing since approximately November 10 (the day we arrived in Colorado). If he tells me to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids and run the humidifier, I might cry. Because I've been doing that, and I'm still getting sick.

I did manage to find my sewing box, which means I've been working on a couple of small projects that I should have finished...oh...last summer (Hello, Kim!). And I made some good headway on the quilt I started last fall (my first quilt!). For those of you who are curious, it's a 9-patch of batik prints. No sashing. Just chaos, colorful chaos. It was inspired by my love of batiks, a stack of 20 or so fat quarters of batik prints that I'd received as  gift (thanks again, Cathy!), and the chaos that was my life last fall. I probably won't get photos until it's finished and we can go outside. Anything else wouldn't do these prints justice!

Ok, now that my brain has turned on, I can get to the think-y part of what I wanted to share today.

Last week I posted about Lent and how I don't have a good understanding of it. Since then, I've found a few interesting reads online. I'll share those with you here, because a few folks expressed interest in learning more about Lent:

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship had a really interesting thought on Solemnity and Lent.

Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience (if you are a Christian and you don't read this blog, I would highly recommend you DO) has had some interesting posts about Lent. See here, here and here. The last link contains a suggested reading list for Lent.

Elizabeth Esther wrote here on fasting and its significance, and why she practices Lent.

And our very own Coffee Girl, Cari, offered me this link on one man's thoughts on some "less traditional" Christians coming back to the practice of Lent - in short, I agree with him that it is a very good thing.

If you've come across any other blog posts about Lent or fasting or anything related, I would love it if you shared with me!

Now I'd like to ask something of you. Compliance is optional! But if you don't mind, would you say a prayer for my husband today? Part of his new job entails putting together a new, third service. The church staff, along that line, thought it would be good to hold a (new) Wednesday night service during Lent, to sort of 'test the water' so to speak. And Brian has been putting these services together. The first service, on Ash Wednesday, went well and was very well-received. This week's service didn't go as well. In short, he is feeling discouraged right now, and he is tired. I'm not complaining and neither is he. He's just feeling very discouraged and dealing with pressure and frustration right now.

No photos this week, because I'm cranky and I don't feel like messing with them :) BUT, to make it up to you, here's a video of the dogs - and Rory's enormous grown-up teeth in her tiny baby mouth!



Brian and I have never exactly had 'much money.' We don't have much disposable income and never have, and rather than living an inflated lifestyle using credit cards, we just don't do a whole lot of things that cost money. One of the things we don't do is eat out much. When I was working and Brian was in school, we still ate at home most nights but that doesn't necessarily mean what we ate didn't come from a can or a jar or a box. I wanted to make a change to that, but I just didn't have the time and energy to make a meal from scratch every single day. So when I quit my job and we moved halfway across the country and I decided to be a housewife and eventually do some work from home (all in like 2 months), one of the things I wanted to focus on immediately was making good dinners every night.

I've done pretty well for the most part, I'd say, and I am really proud of my efforts to cut WAY back on our reliance on pre-packaged foods and reducing like whoa the amount of chemicals and preservatives and how-do-you-pronounce-this foods. I never bought into the idea that low-fat and fake processed foods are better for you - I just use less of the good stuff. (I'd rather have a tablespoon of real butter than a tub of Smart Balance.

In that vein, I have begun to think about how to augment the actual healthful factor of what we're eating. (Because homemade pizza is awesome, but it's still just pizza.) Introducing new vegetables, seasonings, cooking methods, etc. It's been fun. And it's been really cool too - I am so much less intimidated by 'real cooking' and a lot of things that would have put me off a year ago are now on my list of things to try. I've started with some really basic things - like making bread from scratch, experimenting with home-made chicken broth, and making cream sauces from a roux and even making Chinese and Japanese sauces (like teriyaki and plain stir fry brown sauce) from scratch. 

So when I saw a recipe for a healthy healthful corn and potato chowder, I made immediate plans to bookmark the site. And then I read the ingredients list, and stopped short. Ingredients included canned corn, canned brand-name chicken broth, Velveeta, bacon bits, and fat-free half and half. (And potatoes of course.) I reeled.

First off, I'm not sure how a cream and cheese-based potato soup could be called healthful (although it could easily be called AWESOME). But really...I don't see how something with Velveeta in it could ever be called healthful. Bacon bits aren't real food either (unless you crumbled up half a pound of bacon in a jar too). And I've already mentioned how I feel about fat-free stuff.

Certainly this recipe is less-bad-for-you than if it were to come from a calorie-laden restaurant vat or a tin can that you dilute and heat up in the microwave. But to me, there's a big difference between less-bad and actually good. Maybe Velveeta, mass-produced chicken broth from a can, and pseudo-meat are a step in the right direction, but they in and of themselves do not a healthy life make.

Maybe I shouldn't publish this opinion. I don't necessarily have room to talk, and my eating habits are far from great (I might have had 2 miniature York peppermint patties while writing this). But can I be the only one to raise my eyebrow to this notion of healthful eating? Is this recipe really what we think of as a good food decision? I don't know. Maybe. But maybe not.

E-book Review: Simplify

My husband and I live a fairly low-maintenance life. We avoid credit card debt, we cook at home the vast majority of evenings, and we talk about ways we can cut back at home and give more to our friends, church, and community. I work from home as a freelance editor and Brian pays the bills with a "real" job as an associate minister. We get by just fine, and we are pretty happy.

Unfortunately, though, we have a lot of stuff. And this bugs me. I always wanted to pare down and simplify, but I never actually did it. I used to think I didn't have the energy - and in part, this was true. But moreso, I didn't have the know-how. I had Flylady and Rachel Anne Ridge from Home Sanctuary to help me limp along - and these ladies are tremendous help - but for the longest time, I never felt that solid, resounding click that I needed to gain some real momentum.

In September of 2009, I discovered the Becoming Minimalist blog, and I found what I think of as 'real life minimalism.' There are minimalists (like Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars and Leo Batauba of Zen Habits &c.) who are so inspiring and impressive, and then there are other minimalists. Minimalists for the rest of us. Minimalists for people like me. Becker calls them "rational minimalists."

Brian and I can't live with 100 things or fewer without harming our life work - which is ministering to people. I mean, we could, but it wouldn't be an effective choice for us. Our home needs to feel welcoming, comfortable and inviting. We as a couple do not get that vibe from bare-bones living.

Additionally, I like to see beauty and sentiment when I look around my home. I love my MacBook, but I'm not going to hang it on the wall and feel better for it. It'd take a strong arm to make me part with our wedding portrait or my great aunt's lace doilies. Stark walls and bare, purely utilitarian elements would suck the life right out of me. 

But flat surfaces? Yes, please. Counters with room to do food prep? Yes, please. Limited but sufficient options for mugs, or sheets, or photo albums? Yes, please. That's the kind of minimalism Joshua Becker writes about at Becoming Minimalist. So when Becker mentioned on the blog that he was offering advance copies of the e-book for review, I jumped.

This where my comments on Simplify come in. Becker wrote this e-book in the same vein that he writes his blog. Which is to say, it is personable, transparent, and accessible. In short, I think this is a great e-book for people like me.

Simplify sets out 7 basic principles for becoming minimalist. Each principle is fleshed out with personal stories from Becker, questions to consider, and bigger ideas to ponder. Numerous benefits of minimalism are spelled out, similarly to those on the website. Becker also provides his family's process for uncluttering and breaking free from the desire to buy and buy and buy, which can be helpful if you're new to those games. He suggests tips for time management, prioritizing, and attacking every angle of 'minimalizing' your life. Overall, the material is compelling and direct without being preachy or stand-offish. If anything, it's encouraging.

My favorite line from Simplify comes from the chapter on Principle #5, Persevere: Stop trying to impress others with your stuff and start trying to impress them with your life.  

Really, is there anything more compelling, and true, than that?

Let's face it. Not all of us can quit our jobs, pack all our stuff into a box, and move to New Orleans on a whim. Not all of us want to be able to do that. The choices the Beckers make are significant, but they are realistic. I never balked at something Becker suggests, the way I balk at the idea of tracking (and listing!) the exact number of my possessions, or living from a back pack, or making my guests stand or sit on the floor because I don't want two more chairs in my living room. There's nothing wrong with those lifestyle choices, but they would not be right for me. And Simplify makes that ok.

Simplify doesn't disappoint. It's practical, it's accessible, and it's real. If I had a hard copy, I would claim that I couldn't put it down, but instead, I will tell you that I didn't watch the Olympic ice dancing because I wanted to finish reading Simplify instead.

If you are like me - you want to simplify your life but you need something to inspire you to quit thinking about why you can't, and start the process of becoming minimalist - you will benefit from reading Simplify.

**Note: all links to Simplify are affiliate links. Should you purchase the book, I will receive a commission.


Company Girl Coffee 2.19.10


It's Friday! Time for another Company Girl Coffee. I've got a nice mug of green/white/peach tea (it's REALLY GOOD, I promise) and there's snow on the ground and the dogs are going crazy. A proper Denver morning in February, if you ask me.

Eli says a proper morning begins at 10am, no more of this 5am business.

This has been kind of an interesting week, what with Lent beginning and all. Brian has been ordained for all of 3.5 months and on Tuesday he went and got himself his first collared clergy shirt to wear to the Ash Wednesday service. YOW. I'm still getting used to this Pastor's Wife (PW) thing, but seeing him in the same shirt the 4 (four!) pastors at my home church wore every single day was a little...odd.

I've thought more about Lent this year than I have in years past. Growing up, I went to a Lutheran church that wasn't exactly oppressive, but very steeped in doctrine and kind of strong-willed in a socially conservative way. In other words, there was a definite right and wrong way to live. And one of the right things to do was give up something - something significant - for Lent. You weren't bad if you opted out, but you were very very good if you opted in. The problem was, I don't remember receiving much info on why we were making a sacrifice. I got that Jesus fasted for 40 days (and the guy who actually fasted for Lent became a small-time celebrity of sorts) so we should give up something too, but I didn't learn much beyond that. Lent in my childhood was essentially a competition to see who could 'give up' the best.

It should be no surprise, then, to learn that when I went to college (and started going to a very different kind of church) I never really 'did' Lent. Now, at age 26, I am finally a part of a doctrine-oriented church again, and I have come back to the practice of Lent. I hope to learn more about this part of our spiritual journey - really experience it the way we are intended. If you know of any great reads on Lent, or fasting in general, I would love to hear them in the comments!

We have had an extraordinarily busy week for us, with meetings and activities every night Sunday-Thursday...and then watching the Olympics after that keeps us up even later. (We don't have a DVR.) I am tired; Brian is exhausted.

Tonight, we sleep.

Rory says sleep is for the weak and that she would much rather be chewing on this blanket here. Because that's what is supposed to be going on at 6am on a Friday.

A couple knitting updates:
I realized sometime in the past week that the fun stripey socks I'd begun required more yarn than I had for the project. So...I've finished one of those and I have found some more of the yarn second-hand (it's discontinued). I'm hoping to get that yarn before the end of Feb, so I can finish up this second sock and have some fun new foot-sweaters.

In the meantime, I decided to start a shawl I've had my eye on for many months. It's more or less a triangle shape, knitted in three 'stages' of sorts. I've finished the first stage and I'm in the transition part to the second stage. This is my first real actual lace project with real actual lace-sized yarn. I'm pretty stoked about it. I might be able to finish by the end of the month, but it might take me a little longer than that. We'll see.

Beginning stages of lace. It's much bigger now.

So tell me, what are you up to this weekend?


Finding your purpose

Rick Warren, author of the whole Purpose-Driven series of books/journals/CDs/DVDs/lectures about the purpose-driven life, church, youth, family, marriage, sibling rivalry, used car dealership, and other what-have-yous, really tapped into something when he released his first of the montage, the Purpose Driven Life. It resonated with so many people for a number of reasons, but I like to keep it shallow here at Chez Duckling (not actually trueand I'm going to go out on a limb (also not actually true) and suggest that a big reason why Warren's first Purpose book did so well is that people are searching for their purpose.

Finding your purpose, waking up with a sense of purpose, getting all your stuff done with a sense of purpose, living with purpose, strikes a chord for many of us. A lot of us haven't found our purpose - or purpose, yet, and we look at those around us who are living their lives with meaning or intention and wonder how we can get that.

I don't speak from experience, of course, as my life is veritably riddled with purpose (NOT TRUE), but I know many of you out there might be wandering. Maybe you went to nursing school with the idea that you wanted to help people, but you haven't figured out what kind of help you can best give.  Maybe you're like me - you're good at a lot of stuff and there are many things that capture your interest and even hold it for a while, but really you're just floating around waiting for something interesting to happen.

A while ago I came across an article at Lifehacker that got my attention. The title of the post is Discover Your Life's Purpose in Around 20 Minutes - Or Not. It got MY attention, anyway. Essentially the premiss is, ask yourself what your life purpose is, and keep answering it (on paper) until you elicit an emotional response (you cry). Could be a cool little experiment.

Now, I really thought about this challenge a lot. I though and pondered and wondered, but I never took a good chunk of time to sit down and come up with response after response until I really got to the heart of it. But I did do a lot of reflecting. What were some of the things I did as work - not as fun - that brought me the most joy, the most satisfaction? And time after time, I came up with answers like 'reading Tamara's thesis' or 'editing/designing/formatting the newsletter' or 'writing that interview story about the girl who started the campus fashion magazine.' I used to think this meant I should work for a newspaper, or even a magazine, as a copyeditor. But some of my most unhappy times were in newsrooms and computer labs. This got me to thinking about becoming a freelance editor. Maybe, just maybe, that's my life's purpose. From a professional standpoint, at least.

Usually when you discover your life's purpose, you jump in because you can't wait to get started, right? Well, not in my case. I sat on the idea for months. And then I found out I was moving halfway across the country, so my husband could begin work. That's when I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could do this freelancing thing. And then I got bogged down in the details. It wasn't until I spent an hour talking to a life coach that I got really motivated. She encouraged me to jump in, get started, and work it all out as I go. I didn't need a map or blueprint or outline just to get started. She encouraged me to build a website quick, promote it quick, and go from there.

So, I've taken some proactive steps. I built a professional editing website. I've got a stack of library books on the ins and outs of a web-based business, how to start them in Colorado, &c. And this has been fulfilling so far, but I'm at the very beginning, and it isn't quite 'doing it' for me yet. There's still a long list of things I need to do to get this idea really off the ground. For now, each small step makes a difference and is satisfying. But is editing my true purpose? I don't know yet. It really might be. I'm willing to give it a shot.


bragging on him

You guys, I have the best husband. Here's how we celebrated Valentine's day, a day early:

Saturday morning we were both beat from staying up watching the Olympics opening ceremonies late into the night. I got up around 7 with the dogs (apparently they were beat too!) and decided I was too tired to be up for the day. So I collected the pups and we went into our room - where the dogs usually aren't allowed - and the 4 of us cuddled for a few hours. It was really cute - Eli is a pro at settling into a pile of blankets and Rory even managed not to fidget for up to a minute at a time. That was something I couldn't pull often - we're pretty set on not letting dogs in the bedroom. But it was a really nice special occasion.

I ended up giving Brian his present while we were all cuddling, because I couldn't wait. It's a universal remote. I know, exciting, right?  Well, we juggle 4 remotes (5 if you count the one for the stereo) and he's been wanting one of those Harmony (read: $$$) remotes for months now. I read a bunch of reviews and found that some people who do get the Harmony have some serious complaints, and I ended up getting the (much more affordable) one that some former Harmony users switched to.

We got up eventually and started poking around for food. Brian put in the movie Troy, which we had been talking about watching a little while earlier, and he played around setting up the remote.

After Troy, we went out to lunch. Brian didn't tell me where we were going, so I dressed in a medium-nice-casual kind of outfit - a maroon jersey knee-length dress, black cardigan, and my boots. Turns out I was really overdressed for where we went - a subversive Mexican-ish place (more like Q'doba or Chipotle) called Illegal Pete's, over by campus. We'd never been there before, and it was great. Not authentic Mexican, but really good. Kind of an anti-establishment choice for Valentine's day, but that's how we roll.

We were near the church and Brian said he needed to swing by, so he dropped me at the Sunflower market so I could pick up some produce and coconut oil - and Girl Scout cookies - and he went to the church. When he picked me up, there was my present! He'd been collecting small things for me that he thought I'd like - two boxes of tea and a mug with Van Gogh's Starry Night on it (he'd heard me mention that I like that painting), a giant kiss, and a hand-made card saying he's hunting down a used copy of Spanish language Rosetta stone for me to get ready for our trip to Guatemala this summer. (I'm sure he'll be using it too!) What a surprise! We aren't really big on Valentine's day, so I was shocked! In a good way :) I'm really looking forward to reclaiming the Spanish language.

The rest of the day was pretty low-key. I had some kind of weird stomach/headache thing  (I was really dehydrated) so we just chilled and watched the Olympics (and I inhaled a bunch of water). Brian caught up on some work and I did some knitting. Not exactly an evening filled with romance, but that's not our style anyway. It was nice to have some down time together. I sure love my hubby.

Do you celebrate Valentine's day? How did you spend your weekend?


Company Girl Coffee 2.12.10


Happy Friday, everybody!

I'm afraid I'm not facing this particular Friday with the kind of pep I usually have. I'm still sick - and it's been almost 2 weeks. I am really tired of being sick. I'm not as sick, but still enough to be prevented from normal activity levels. I feel like I'm behind on everything. This bout of illness has made me really really grateful for having a husband who provides enough for us that I don't have to work outside the home. As much as I sometimes struggle with being 'just' a housewife - not even a mom - I really am so grateful to be able to have this time to build a home-based source of income without having to worry about the finances. We might not be able to save up for a home as quickly as I would like, but that's ok. The work I'm doing now will pave the way for me being able to stay at home if/when we have kids. That's worth delaying the purchase of a home, in my book.

Speaking of books! I had the pleasure of working with fellow Company Girl Cari on a book she's now published. And girls, it is AWESOME. Cari has such great insight on the topic of friendship, and it was such a pleasure to work with her...She has a real heart for women's ministry and I'm so happy to have learned about her work. Cari posted an excerpt from the book here - please have a look and leave your thoughts in a comment. You can buy a copy of the book here. I would really encourage you to do so - it's really really good. And I'm not just saying that! There's nothing in it for me at this point!

And of course - if you are in the market for an affordable editor - might I suggest me? I do just about everything - including blogs. And I'm still running a special - mention why you hate Duke and I'll cut you a deal. Seriously!

I don't really have a whole lot to report - I haven't been up to much in the past two weeks...including (excluding?) the Small Things - meaning, I haven't done many. My mom and her husband came and went - and I was an invalid for the majority of their time here. We did make a nice trip up to Boulder before they left. I found a mirror in the art coop that I fell in love with immediately (too bad it's $770) and some prints by Karla Gudeon that were so wonderful I was afraid to look at their price tags. We had some good times at the Redstone Meadery (mead, like what they drank in the middle ages - it's like wine but made with honeyed water instead of grape juice) and at the Celestial Seasonings factory (if it could be called a factory). I discovered that I like mead a lot more than I like wine (I don't really like wine that much), and I love the African teas that Celestial makes. In fact, I'm drinking their pomegranate rooibus tea right now. YUM.

I finished those two socks I was working on weeks ago, but I haven't managed to send them to their new owner yet, so I can't post pictures. I worked on a shawl but I drastically underestimated the amount of yarn I had, so the shawl is 'hibernating' until I can afford to get about $50 worth of yarn (so...maybe this summer?) I made a funny neckwarmer with a mustache embroidered over the part that sits just below the nose - Brian hates it, but I think it's hilarious! If he sighs at it one more time, I might have to put it in my moribund Etsy shop. I'm currently working on some socks for me. 

The Olympics start tonight! I love the Olympics and I especially love the opening ceremonies, with the torch and the parade of nations and all that, so I'm really looking forward to this evening. Does anybody remember the opening ceremonies from Torino - with that mob of people moving around in the shape of a skier? That was so fun. We'll see what Vancouver comes up with!

I hope you all have a great weekend and you aren't stuck with the sniffles like me!


take out da funk...pleeeeease

So. True story:

Two Saturdays ago, Brian came home (a couple hours later than planned) from a conference in Nashville. There was some doubt as to whether he would make it home, as there was a giant snowstorm making its way across the country and it was expected to hit Nashville about 12 hours before Brian's 5:30am flight. We didn't know if flights would be running that early in the morning after a big snow - which we all know the South is generally not equipped to handle.

He also wasn't sure if taxis and shuttles would be running at 4am, as there wasn't a way to predict the road conditions. But, it was imperative that he be home because he was being installed the next day. And you kinda need to be present to be installed...at least in the Presbyterian way of doing things, you do.

Someone suggested around maybe midnight (yeah, people were up then) that he go ahead to the airport, while taxis and shuttles were definitely still running. So he did. And what this meant was, he essentially pulled an all-nighter. And then he sat on a plane for 6 hours.

What does all that mean?

He came home sick. And a couple days later, I got sick.

Only, his sick went away in a couple days. Mine is STILL HERE and I'm going on day 9. I spent the majority of last week stuck on the couch, moaning and coughing and wishing I could breathe. Yesterday (Tuesday) and today I seem to be somewhat better - I can manage to care for the dogs (mostly) and I can breathe out of at least one nostril; my appetite is starting to show itself again, and I only cough a little bit. I can more or less function, as long as I get enough breaks. But I still feel pretty yucky.

The posts you saw last Wednesday and again on Monday were written days in advance - I had scheduled them over the weekend while Brian was away (and I wasn't sick!), and I was surprised both times a new post from me showed up in my reader. I have consumed more nyquil in the past week than I probably have in the entire span of my life prior (don't ask me about the fear I get every time I ingest it - how long is this crap going to stick around and screw things up, and there HAS to be something less bad for the body! I just don't have the energy to figure out what that might be.)

I would never describe myself as a 'healthy' person - especially after moving to Denver. I catch a new cold pretty much every time the season changes. I've been a little bit sick on and off since moving here - adjusting to the altitude and the new rhythm of life has not been easy for me and I've probably been 'sick' as much as I've been not-sick. It's been a long time since I was as sick as I am now, though. I had the flu once, senior year in college and I missed about 4 days of classes. So that was...5 years ago. (I AM SO OLD.) And I'll get some nasty bronchitis every other year or so, usually between February and May, but nothing to take me down for more than a week.

My nose is raw. My chest and back are sore from coughing and sniffing. I have a major dehydration headache, despite pumping the fluids nonstop. I can only focus my eyes for a minute or so before I have to rest them (I've been writing this post for 40 minutes already). I've had nausea for days on account of all the mucous making its way down, despite my frequent blowing and hacking. The dogs have un-housetrained themselves because up until yesterday, I just don't have the energy to take them out every time they beckoned.

For some reason I feel the need to share this with you. Maybe I'm tired of being miserable by myself and I want some sympathy. Maybe this is an attempt to be open/honest with you. Maybe I just want to share what's really going on in my life right now. Or MAYBE I'm out of pre-written blog posts and I want to stick to the schedule but I have no brain power to write an interesting post!

Stay healthy, folks. The alternative is not fun.


how do you, how do you sleep

A few days ago I was having a bad morning. Brian was out of town, for one. And for two, Rory decided to get up around 4:30 instead of her usual 5am or later. And I mean, 5am is hard enough for me; 4:30 was making me angry. Really angry. (I might have told her to shut up.)

When I'm tired, some old joint injuries come back to haunt me, and I have been tired every single day for months. Since November 24, to be exact. As I lay there, alone, all I could feel was the lumpy pillows and my aching shoulder and hip. I couldn't get comfortable! And the more I tried to get comfortable, the worse I felt.

To make matters worse, one line from the refrain of some stupid pop song kept running through my head (see: title of this post). The song, if I understand it correctly, is written from the viewpoint of a guy who has been dropped by his girlfriend like a hot potato, and in the chorus he is confronting her about it a year later. How do you sleep - as in, how can you sleep at night. You're smart, you get it.

Those moments, struggling to sleep, trying not to hate the dog, and not being able to shut the song off, were not my best. To distract myself from my misery discomfort, I began thinking of all the different ways I've slept in my life. I've generally been a side sleeper for as long as I can remember, with several attempts to become a back sleeper thrown in for good measure and to appease my chiropractors. The back sleeping never really caught on - you can't curl up that way! I've found recently, though, that when I am hurting (on any given day it's right hip, right shoulder, or mid-back) I am most comfortable sleeping on my back. Even better if I have some heavy blankets, including one electric one to keep everything warm.

Brian is one of those contortionist elbow-in-every-corner sleepers, so it's easy to get comfortable on my back when he's not around and I'm not getting jabbed by an errant knee. When he is around, sleeping straight on my back is asking for trouble. And bruising. Usually I'll give in to the angles and try to cuddle - married life and all - but this doesn't always lead to feeling rested.

So I'm curious - how do you sleep? Do you have any tips for getting back to sleep after being rudely awoken by a spoiled border collie? Do you get jabbed and poked all night too?


a church dissolving isn't always a bad thing

When I was in college, and for a couple years after college, I attended a small community church in Durham, NC. At the very end of 2006, the leadership team called a congregational meeting - I don't remember if they called it an emergency meeting or not, but the feeling was definite one of urgency. We learned then that our pastor had been offered and accepted a (really cool) position with one of the big churches nearby. It seemed to be clear it was the right move for him.

The thing was, we as a church had been struggling for a while, financially and maybe to an extent relationally. There weren't many of us (maybe 50? 60? regularly? I'm bad at guessing numbers) and for whatever reason, we weren't really growing. Long story short, we were about to become pastor-less, and we had no money to hire an interim or even to conduct a search.

Within a couple of weeks, it became clear that the church as we knew it was going to close. Some folks decided to find a new church home, and others decided to band together and explore the options for moving forward (things like relaunching, finding another small, like-minded church to join and strengthen, partnering with a church plant coming to the area, etc).

This was the next in a series of events that 'freed' me to leave Chapel Hill and go do something else. (I moved to Richmond and got married, in case you were wondering.) Our last Sunday together was one of both sadness and celebration. Almost like a happy funeral. You know the kind.

Whenever people ask me what drew me to Richmond (or ask for "our story" which, it occurs to me, I don't think I've ever shared here...), I recount some back story. And my church dissolving is a big part of that story, as it was the last tie keeping me in a town when I didn't necessarily want to stay, otherwise.

Anyway, the back story goes something like this: I was living in Chapel Hill. I'd graduated 2 years earlier and I was ready for a change. Within a couple of months, I learned that my lease, my job, and my church would all end by July 2007. Everything that had kept me in Chapel Hill was about to be gone, and I was ready to go somewhere else and do something new.

I've noticed that people seem to react strongly to the church closing element. I don't know if it's because of the highly sensationalized splits we hear about, or the sad image a lot of folks might have of a dusty old church drying up and withering away, or maybe the unusual (but very interesting) idea that something dramatic happened and everybody quit. No matter what, there is almost always a question, and the assumption that something 'bad' happened is present 100% of the time.

But that's not how it was. Not really. I mean, people were unhappy with the situation. Discussions were tense. No clear option to move forward presented itself. Nobody wanted our church to end, and there was certainly some frustration and even anger to that end. But really, there was nothing to be done about it. People didn't shout and slam doors. There wasn't a mass exodus. And what brought us to our end wasn't drama. We - or at least many of us - accepted the circumstance, chose to spend what little time we had left together, and in the end, celebrated what had been. (That was my experience, anyway.)

When all was said and done and I was sitting alone in my apartment dealing with the full realization that I would never go back and I would never see many of those people again, I cried. It was hard. It was really hard. And while I do like being a part of this church here in Denver, I'm not sure I'll ever be in a church as deeply meaningful as that little church in Durham. I had been part of a real church family there. They had loved me and supported me during the worst years of my life. They accepted me unflinchingly when many of the people in my life were demanding I be different. I haven't found that in another church.

So, this particular church closing was not a bad thing. It was sad, yes, but not bad.


The Installation

What do plumbing, software, and Brian all have in common?

They have to get installed!

Yesterday at 4pm, Brian's installation service took place at our new home church. This is some kind of Presbyterian formality that I don't quite understand yet, but basically the idea is, he is officially official now. (The Senior Pastor kept saying Brian was now 'riveted' to the church - I guess they want him to stick around a long time too!) Brian received his M-Div last fall, he was ordained on Nov. 1, and he began work at Wellshire on November something. November 10, I think. (I was too busy unpacking boxes to look at a calendar.) Anyway.

So he has been working at the church for about 2.5 months now. He has served on staff as their Minister of Youth, Young Adults and Alternative Worship. Staff meetings, pay check, the whole enchilada. But the installation is his formal beginning, I guess. Like I said, I don't understand Presbyterian ways yet.

HOWEVER. I am so proud of him. He had to overcome a lot to get to where he is today, and we are so happy to be here. (Except between the hours of 5 and 7am, for me. These are consistently unhappy for me. But this has more to do with Rory than with Denver or the church. I'm just not a morning person.) (Actually, speaking of Rory, we kept her up late again last night and she let me sleep until 6 today!)

Originally my mom was going to get in Saturday, but the giant snowstorm hit Raleigh about 6 hours before they were scheduled to fly out, and they didn't get in until Sunday evening. Just in time to watch Carolina suck it up lose to Virignia. (Virginia?!?!?)

The cake, however, did arrive. And we got all the leftovers. So please, come have cake. We have plenty.