Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homeowner Once Again!



My husband Eric & I have (finally!) bought our first home in WA state, a cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house in Marysville, about 1 hour north of Seattle.  This little house is a tremendous blessing, and we are SO grateful!  We had financial help from family members for the down payment and some appliances (the house needed some appliances).

This picture is the low-slung exterior of our new home.  You can't tell from the picture, but the white trim needs a good scraping and re-painting, and the same is true of the front door. 

The wood gate to the right of the house leads to the our side yard which opens up into our back yard.  Our pup Levi LOVES having his own yard again! 

Here's the view from just inside the front door, looking into the rest of the house:


So yes, you can see almost the entire house from the front entryway, but it's a perfect size for just my hubby, me, our 53-pound pup, and our little ferret. 

We've been working on getting boxes unpacked, settling in, and doing some little projects on the weekends. 

Some small projects we've tackled: 

1.  New kitchen cabinet hardware
2.  Fixing & re-attaching kitchen drawer front
3.  Installing sturdy coat hanger in entry hall closet for winter coats & gear
4.  Hanging pictures
5.  Placing vases, books, and decorations on high ceiling shelf (shown in picture above near the ceiling)
6.  Hanging new bathroom mirror as seen below: 






So that's what we've been up to recently!  We're so thrilled to have our own space again, and to be homeowners again!  We're no longer "debt free" because we have a mortgage now, but this was debt that we gladly took on! 

I'm always looking for cheap, DIY house renovation tips, so if you've got any to share, feel free!  Thanks for reading! 


Friday, December 20, 2013

Restocking my Etsy Shop with Knit Items!


It's been too long since I've posted here.  Life has been so busy:  my husband has been working full-time for several months now and we finally bought our first house in WA state!  It took almost 6 months for us to secure a loan while being crushed under a mountain of ridiculous paperwork and red tape.  Then we searched for affordable houses for another several months, so overall it took around 1 year to secure a loan & find an affordable, appropriate house for us. 

We're giddy with happiness and feeling incredibly blessed by God. 

We're still settling into our small, 660 square foot house, and it feels amazing to finally have a place of our own. 

I've also been knitting like crazy, re-stocking my Etsy shop with made-with-love knit items like coffee cozies, scarves, baby blankets, & baby hats.

Please check out my Etsy shop here and keep in mind my knit items make great stocking stuffers, Christmas presents, and party favors!  And they're very affordable  :) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

God Expects WHAT of me???



A pervasive thought has been gnawing away in my mind for the last week or so, so I thought I'd share it here with you. 

The idea is this:  when I'm going through the worst days of my life and enduring more than I ever thought I could bear, this is the time where the Lord wants to see the most growth out of me; it's exactly the time when He wants me to spend the most quality time with Him, and He desperately wants to help me persevere through this time of trial.  Did you get that?  God does not want me to simply survive or just barely make it through this time of tribulations "by the skin of my teeth" or something like that.  Oh no.  The Good Lord wants me to thrive; to experience continuous growth and have overflowing joy at all times, never succumbing to my mind-numbing circumstances, but rising above them, victorious

Honestly, this sounds ridiculous most of the time, like God is asking too much of me.  Sometimes I feel like it's all I can do simply to survive the day, dreading the new dawn, full of the same old troubles.

But dear friends, there is something better out there for me, and for you.  It's true that this whole 'thriving through trials' thing sounds too far-fetched to be doable, but it is doable with God's help.  You are capable of ending each day with a sense of valid accomplishment.  Maybe not a sense of "I did everything perfect today", but at least a sense of "I did my best today and allowed God to really fill me and it was a successful day because I spent it in constant communion with Him" sort of day.  And that's a successful, productive day; a day you can be proud of.  No matter what else you get accomplished (or don't), a day spent with the Lord is never a wasted day.

Here's one of my favorite verses, and it speaks to the heart of this issue:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

Did you catch all that?  Is this verse speaking of just surviving a period of trial and pain in your life like you're a shipwreck survivor clinging to a floating piece of the ship's hull as you're being brutally tossed about by merciless waves?  Far from it!  This wonderful verse says it's possible to have real and lasting JOY as we face various troubles!  And it doesn't leave us hanging as to the reason why we can have joy.  It goes on to explain how it's possible to experience joy in the midst of horrible times:  because these terrible trials are testing us, yes, but they're also doing something amazing.  These tumultuous times are doing something inside us:  they're forming us into newer, stronger people of faith.  Times of trial, when we have to have blind faith in God and press on ahead without knowing the outcome, those times are supposed to be teaching us that God is very good and that He truly has our best interests in mind, all the time, even if we ask Him for something we really want and His answer is "No."  

That process of learning to trust God completely, all the time, is what growing your faith is.  And not allowing your circumstances to control your emotions?  That's called perseverance.  Don't allow your circumstances to cause you to doubt that God's still in control, He loves you desperately, and He's forming a Master Plan concerning you, that will help you grow into a more mature and complete Christian and person, a person who looks like Jesus Christ.  

Sounds good, right?  Because what this world desperately needs is more people who act and love like Jesus.  And when your faith is unshakable, you'll have the peace of Christ covering your mind, and you'll have the joy of the Lord shining from your heart.  You'll be complete, as the verse above says.  And that's the "abundant life" that Jesus says He came here to give you.   

And don't it sound fabulous?   

Friday, July 26, 2013

Christ Has Forgiven the Inexcusable in Me



Image from www.CrossWalk.com--

Boy, this quote from C.S. Lewis sure strikes a chord with me, considering all that I've been feeling lately.  This concept is something that I definitely believe, but that I certainly need to work on living my daily life like I believe this.  It's easy to forget, and hard to put into practice.  

Because if I truly believed that Christ has truly forgiven the utterly inexcusable in me, it would completely alter my life and how I interact with, think about, and pray for those around me.  I would see them as Christ sees them; blemished children whom He longs to bring into His embrace and bathe them clean in His love.  And it would be natural and appropriate to forgive them.  

Check out a great article from Jen Wilkin about forgiveness here--http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/full-forgiveness.html

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How Dare I be Angry at the Lord

image credit:  Hannah at www.beautifullyrooted.com

 So after that last incredibly raw post a couple days ago, I feel I need to clarify some things, or at least begin to work through some issues with you, my faithful readers, at my side.

First of all, yes I'm angry about my current life situation.  Sometimes this anger is directed toward a specific person because of something they said or did (and usually this same person has said or done this same exact thing a million times before).  But that doesn't make my response of anger toward them correct or even justified.  Maybe they were just having a bad day, like me.  Or maybe they didn't sleep well last night and are cranky.  Or maybe we were having a bit of miscommunication.  Whatever the reason, being easily irritated is NOT the key to a successful resolution of the problem.  Being irritable and angry does nothing for me but allow me to continually choke on the noxious fumes of my own smoldering.

With the revelation of the Holy Spirit, (whom I can hear speaking to me a lot clearer once I shut up--imagine that!) I've decided to immediately start praying for the person who is about to annoy me.  This goes for anyone and everyone in my life.  So the next time I'm in traffic, obeying the laws and being courteous to other drivers and some jackass cuts me off without so much as a sideways glance to make sure he's not about to kill me, I'm going to say a quick mental or verbal prayer for him.  Maybe he has a family emergency and that's why he's rushing home.  Who knows.  And that's the point.  I don't know what's going on in peoples' lives, but the Lord does and He asks me to treat them like I want to be treated; to LOVE them.  And getting irritated and complaining about traffic the entire way home is NOT loving the other drivers and it's NOT the kind of person I want to be.  I'm not a complainer by nature (I don't think!), but I've become one, especially about certain things.  But I do not want to be a complainer.  That's not me.

In my opinion, a complaining Christian is a Christians who has taken their focus off of our Lord Jesus and put their attention onto themselves and their "troubles."  A complaining Christian is someone who has forgotten how amazingly and utterly blessed with are to be children of the Most High God, and how good God is and how He has provided for us more than we need.

So I'm going to pray for people instead of getting irritated by them, and this will take my focus off of myself (it should never be there in the first place!), and place it on God and that person.  That's where my focus should be.  On the Lord first, then on others.

But often I think I'm angry with a person, but really I'm angry at God.  And how dare I be angry at my wonderful Christ, who has saved my soul, blessed me with so much, and given me a good life to live.  How dare I.  It's incredibly impetuous and self-righteous of me to be angry at God! 

So yes, there are plenty of times when my anger is directed at someone who I think deserves it, but of course in reality does not.  But then there are plenty of other times when I'm just angry at life; at the world; at myself; and at the Lord.  This verse comes to mind from Job, when Job tries to question the Almighty about His plans for Job's life, and Job realizes he's so inferior to the Lord:   

"The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
    Let him who accuses God answer him!”
 Then Job answered the Lord:
I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
    I put my hand over my mouth. 
 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
    twice, but I will say no more.”
(Job 40: 1-5, emphasis mine)

 See?  How dare we throw a temper tantrum like spoiled little brats whenever something God has ordained for our lives doesn't go the way we wanted it to! 

Am I saying that it's wrong or inappropriate to question God and ask Him to reveal the work He's doing in your life?  No!  It's fine to ask God what's He's doing and to prepare you for His plan.  It's another thing, however, to get bent out-of-shape or get angry at Him when it seems like His plans are interfering with yours.  He's the Lord God Almighty; the Creator of the Ends of the Earth, and you are....not.  I am not.

I've been put in my place, and it's exactly what I needed.  Thanks be to God that He still loves us even when we're messy, or crazy, or wounded, or lashing out, or depressed, or devastated.  He breathes life into us and makes us whole, if we let Him.  I'm going to work together with Him to help cleanse my heart of negative emotions that shouldn't be in there, just like the verse in the picture above.    
Click here to read a great article about Anger Management from Hannah, a blogger over at "Beautifully Rooted".  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How dare I?

My wonderful husband Eric has gotten a job in a machine shop making airplane parts.  He works hard but plays hard too:  he works 4 ten-hour shifts and gets Fridays off to spend with me.  I LOVE that I get to have 3-day weekends with my hubby!

God has blessed us with extremely generous family, whom we've been living with for the past (almost) 2 years.  These last 2 years has been undoubtedly the worst and most painful of my entire life.  I've endured terrible heartache, enough to suck me down into the pit of sorrow and question my purpose in this glorious life.  I've been broken-hearted by boyfriends before, and I thought that was rough. 

But these last 2 years has been insane.  After living here for 1 year and Eric still job searching and coming up empty, one thing became painfully, unmistakably clear:  this time of trial would not end anytime soon; it indeed was only just beginning.

Yes, it's been nice to get to know my in-laws probably better than I ever would have if we didn't share a house with them.  And yes we've had some memorable and fun moments as a family unit.  And yes, I don't have to cook because Eric's mom cooks most of the time, and she's an excellent cook.  And yes, we've gotten to know our adorable niece because she's over at the house all the time.

But those "nice" aspects are also part of the problem.  Eric & I's guest bedroom we've been living in does not have a locking door.  Let me say that again:  Eric & I's bedroom, where we sleep, stay up late reading, and get intimate in does NOT have a lock on the door.  Now, Eric's parents have never just barged in on us (thankfully, because they'd get an eye full!) but still it's so unnerving to not even be able to lock the world out of our single room when we want to.

And the adorable niece?  We love her (and her parents) to death, but it's difficult having them in our house all the time.  And now that Eric's gone in the evenings at work, there's just the grandparents, the grand-baby, the grand-baby's parents all as one cute family unit, and then me as the awkward 3rd wheel that doesn't have anything to talk about because all they talk about is the baby.  And all they do is sit around and stare at the baby.  So I frequently escape upstairs to the computer (hence this post) to escape the craziness, the grandparents' over-bearing-ness of their grand-baby, and the 2-year-old temper tantrums that inevitably ensue.

For example, today they arrived at around 11am, and it's past 8pm now, and they're still here.  They're still here and the baby has been screaming for the past 20 minutes.

And I find myself frequently close to tears while trying to live here, in this crazy house, and I feel a general sense of despair when I think that, even with Eric working full-time and me working part-time, we still may not have enough money to finally get a place of our own.

It's tough; it's so incredibly horribly tough.  And I've tried to put on a brave, patient face for the family and watch my manners, so I don't shoot some snarky comment at them.

But I've kept my mouth shut, because I remember the various Bible passages that warn against having a quick and mean tongue, such as in Proverbs 29:20--"Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them."

If I were to speak my mind (which is sometimes full of bitterness and anger), I might feel a momentary release of pent-up energy, but I'd certainly be injuring someone I care about and should be respecting with my words.  So I never say anything.  And I shouldn't say anything.  

Quite often I find myself bitter, enraged, desolate, depressed, anxious about the future, and hiding from my family when I should be interacting with them.  I observe how my niece's parents are raising her and I have the audacity to mentally chastize them about their techniques.  How dare I?!?  I mean, really, how dare I think such self-righteous thoughts!  They've been doing this "parenting" thing for over 2 years now, where as wait, how many children do I have?  Oh that's right; zero.  I do work with children, and have worked with children for ages, so I know tons about their developmental stages and how to care for & nurture children.  But I am not a mother.  And even if I was, I have no right to judge anyone who is a decent parent, which they are.  I may inwardly chuckle at the way they try to do things with their kid sometimes, but they're good parents and I don't recognize that enough.

There's a lot that I need to change about myself and to work on, obviously!  I need to stop with the self-pity, release my anger to the Lord so He can dissolve it, and cast all my cares upon Him and beg Him to imbue me with more patience to wait upon Him, because I desperately need it.

I need Him in His entirety, to cleanse me in my entirety.  All my brokenness, all my anger at my life not turning out the way I wanted it, all my anxiety that these horrible times will never end, and just the fact that I get annoyed so easily by everyone around me.

I'm a mess!  What a beautiful mess I am.  Who knows?  Maybe Eric & I will be forced to live here another (God forbid!) two years.  That's not likely, but I'm not God, and no matter how much I want to force Him to bend to MY will for once in my life, He will not.  And how dare I offer Him anything less than my utter and total relief and gratitude for all that He has done in my life.

After all, Jesus Christ saved me while I was still a sinner.  As the "Sidewalk Prophet" song says, "I am the nail in your wrist; but You love me anyway.  I am Judas' kiss; but You love me anyway."

Here's the music video for this amazing song: You Love Me Anyway    

An angry, embittered, hopeless, shrunken woman is NOT who I want to be, and it's NOT indicative of the "abundant life" that Jesus speaks of giving those who love Him.  So I'm working on inviting God into the most deep dark places of my heart and mind, and granting Him full access to cleanse and heal my inner-most parts.  I want to be an optimistic, hopeful, inspired, Spirit-filled woman who lives an adventurous, expansive life of romance and contentment. 

I believe that this journey with Jesus is an adventure for the soul, and I'm going to try to enjoy it a bit more. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can It Be True????

Hello faithful readers,

Guess what???? I've lost 10 pounds since I began power walking for 40 minutes most every day in January! You heard that right, folks!

Ten. Glorious. Pounds. Lost. By me.

I'm beyond thrilled. I'm ecstatic! You know how fitness experts always say that once you begin working out hardcore, don't be surprised when your weight number on the scale stays the same, or even increases? They say not to freak out if the number on the scale doesn't decrease right away, because you're building muscle, and muscle weighs more than fat. So I suppose it makes sense if the number on the scale doesn't decrease right away. But it had been between 4 and 5 months for me.

I've been power walking most days of the week for 40 mins each time since at least January, possibly earlier, and I'm JUST NOW seeing legitimate weight loss.

I had been noticing for awhile that the muscles in my legs seemed to be getting stronger and more defined, and that's because I was building muscle by all that power walking. And strong muscles are a GREAT thing, but what can I say? Perhaps I'm a bit vain, but what I'm most thrilled about is that number on the bathroom scale going down.

I'm losing REAL fat, for the first time in almost 5 years!!!!

My goal weight: 155 pounds
My current weight: 198.5
Starting weight: 208
Pounds Lost: 9.5

I've been aiming to eat around 1,750 calories a day, limiting my sugar and increasing fruits & veggies, and power walking 40 mins at an intense pace.

I've been losing around 1.5 pounds per week, and I hope it continues! Praise The Lord for FINALLY experiencing healthy weight loss!