Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been in hiding for a while.  No good reason...just didn't have much to say (for once!) & very little time to say it in (which means I'd get my post all goofed up anyway).

But it's Thanksgiving.  And that means I have a lot to say.  And a lot to show you.  Fasten your seat belt - I'm going to blow your socks off!  I have never uploaded this many pics to a post before ever in my little bloggy life.  Thanksgiving deserves a little wow factor, don't you think?

I haven't been posting daily what I am thankful for, not even on facebook where it is so easy to jot down a little blurb.  I have so enjoyed reading all the other thankful statuses, though.  I've just been ruminating on all my blessings, enjoying them in my head & trying to order them up so that I can share them in a way that makes sense *grin*  Here we go!

I thank God for saving my soul.
I don't know where I'd be without Him.
I have a sneaking suspicion it would be
somewhere with locked doors & white jackets.
For reals.

I am thankful for God's Word.  It is a treasure.
And I am thankful for the many good books that help me to study my Bible.
This year I read two books,
"Choosing Forgiveness" & "Choosing Gratitude"

I thank God for Michael. 
I didn't know what this kind of love would be like,
 but it's very, very good. 

My family.
What a beautiful, crazy, wonderful mess we are.
I wouldn't trade any of them for all the riches in this world.

Every once in a while I get a little panicked. 
The world is a disaster zone -
economic crisis, revolution, war, orphans, terrorists...
Then I witness moments like this -
four little girls singing their hearts out with love for Jesus.
And I have hope.
Thank God for hope.

Thank God for home.
A place for the sunlight to stream in.
A place to create - ornaments, sewing projects, what-have-yous...
A stocked pantry with more food than we should eat.

Thank God for our truck.
It was a desire of Mike's heart to have a truck.
It was a need.
Here is our answer to prayer.
Thank God for meeting our needs & satisfying our desires.

Thank God for my job.
This is my little lab office - the laminar flow hood where I draw doses.
I'm grateful I have a place to work & a reasonable amount of skill to do the job.

Thank God for technology.
I love my iphone.
I love my ipod.
My iphone helps me stay connected & entertained.
My ipod keeps me company on the many road trips I take for work.

Thank God for friends.
And we are talking the good kinds of friends -
the kind that will tell you when you look pretty but also
tell you when you act ugly.
Iron sharpening iron...

I thank God for my health.
There are days when I feel 'off' but I am a healthy girl.
I thank God that I can get out & run & get this happy glow.

Thank God for flowers.
Their beauty is beyond comparison, and such variety!

Thank God for dogs.
Especially Coco.
Where else can you get such unabashed adoration?

Thank God for my G's.
These two are cute, wise, fabulous, & they love God.
Thank God for a heritage in my family that honors Him.

Thank God for a quiet place of refuge - our cozy bed.
It's an excellent place to escape to.

Speaking of escape, thank God for good stories.
There's nothing quite letting the words of a story
create an entire universe in your mind.

Thank God for coffee & the gift of a coffee grinder.
I love me some hot brew; it always hits the spot!

Thank God for functional plumbing & hopefully the end of our disastrous sewer saga.
I hope I have learned to be thankful for clean water & properly flowing pipes.
It's not a small thing.
Thank God for air conditioning.  This old window unit isn't pretty, but it came
with the house & it works like a champ.

Thank God for the seasons.
I like to gripe about winter.
But the truth is, it if were gone for good & never came back,
I would feel like my world was missing something.
So I'm grateful for the changing of the seasons.
I am grateful for the full color illustration it presents of the Lord's faithfulness.

It probably seems goofy, but I thank the Lord for this file box.
It wasn't expensive.
It isn't fancy.
But it allows me to keep my sanity in a clutter challenged home.
And for that I am grateful.

This is a pic of my migraine eyes. 
This summer I looked like this A LOT.
It was hard for me to deal with.
And yet I thank God for it because that crazy cluster of awful headaches
caused me to learn many things about my God.
He is good all the time.
He will not leave me alone in my suffering.
He has a purpose for all that He does & allows.
He will provide what I need in every situation.

As I was drawing up my list of gratitude, I had to include many more things...
*my church & faithful pastor
*my country - what a blessing to be free! 
*opportunities to grow & be stretched - October Unprocessed & the Indy Mini come to mind
* colors my every day, filling my mind with happy thoughts & drawing my heart to God's
*imagination, the ability to dream, pretend, make believe
*opportunities to serve, to give, to help, to live outside of myself
*safety from day to day

There's no doubt the blessings have been flowing down on my life.  I cannot live one day without praise to the Lord for all He has done for me.  And I feel challenged by all of this goodness.  Did the Lord give me salvation so that I alone could enjoy it?  Did He give me peace, joy, love, a warm home, financial stability, a family, & so many other things so that I could thank Him & then sit back to soak up the enjoyment?  I'm starting not to think so.  These blessings are not meant to make me comfy & cozy & set me up for a nice little life.  No.  I'm thinking the Lord has blessed me so that I can learn to share those blessings with others.  Share the Gospel.  Share the fruits of the Spirit.  Share the financial blessings, the warm home, learn how to be family for someone who doesn't have much to think about.

And finally, I'm thankful for each one of YOU.  A big, warm, Thanksgiving hug goes out from me to you.  It means so much to me that you would choose to read my blog - there are zillions of other blogs out there that are more consistent, more entertaining, that have better pics, more profound or funnier thoughts, & way better giveaways...& yet here you are.  You're the best.  Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is my sister Beth's birthday!

Beth is just 21 months older than me.  She's been my best friend my whole life long (except for a little while in the junior high years when the hormones were running high & we both hated the whole wide world).  I'm so grateful that the Lord put her in my life.  She understands me, she makes me laugh, she teaches me stuff about the world & about God & about everything.  She even reads this blog!  I wouldn't be the same person without her.

I like her so much I'm going to make her a cake. 

Happy birthday, Beth!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Unprocessed - A Wrap Up

Well, my first adventure with October Unprocessed has come to an end.  It was an interesting experience.  I definitely think I have learned a lot.  I also think I cheated.  A lot.  As in at least a little bit every day.  However, I can truthfully say that for the entire 31 days I did not partake of these processed foods:
*non-dairy coffee cream
*boxed cereal
*salad dressing
*soda (or any other processed drink or drink flavor packet; it was all tea, coffee, milk, or water)
*processed cheese
*seasoning packets
*fast food
*rice/pasta preseasoned packets
*canned soup
*the good candy from my mom's pumpkin dish (think Snickers, Reeses cups, Hershey's Miniatures, Skittles, etc.)

And I could probably list some other things but that's all I can think of right now.

Some of the things I learned:
~ grating your own cheese is no big deal; then you don't have to worry about all the weird stuff they put in there to keep it from clumping
~ I used to think that giving up cereal would cause me all sorts of problems, i.e., I love cereal; what could I possibly eat instead??  Cereal has lots of fiber; I need lots of fiber to survive!
The truth is, there are lots of other things to eat besides boxed cereal.  Most of the month I ate baked oatmeal but I also had lots of smoothies.  Both of these alternatives were high in fiber & I suffered no adverse effects *ahem*
~ I really love smoothies!  I'm not super adventurous with my ingredients but if you combine kefir, a little juice, frozen berries, spinach, & flax seed you're good to go!
~ I love natural peanut butter.  I will not be going back.
~ I had to be super intentional about meal planning & snack planning.  This type of eating does not happen naturally in our society, sad to say.  Therefore, before grocery shopping I had to be really organized about what I was hoping to eat & then I also had to have a bit of a Plan B in case something that I thought was unprocessed was actually processed or just unavailable.
~ Canned beans are not a necessity.  Soaking & cooking dry beans is no big deal.  Once again, I have to be organized because soaking & cooking the beans takes a lot more time than cranking off the lid of a can.
~ It is very difficult to buy canned tomatoes that don't have stuff added.  In fact, I was only able to find one brand that didn't have additives.  This really makes me even more determined to have our own garden at some point & get into canning our own tomato products.
~ Condiments are tricky substances.  We have a lot of work to do in this area. 
~ I got tired of water.  For the first time in my life I could hardly make myself drink it.  I was really surprised by this because I drink water more than anything else.  And all month long I continued to drink coffee (although I never really did get used to using real cream in my java).  But I didn't have any, not even one little slurp of diet soda.  I'm not a big time soda drinker, but I do like to have a couple every week in the evening.  Of course this was when the water just didn't cut it.  I tried a couple of different teas thinking that they would satisfy the craving but this just let me to discover that...
~ I do not like hot tea.  Period.  I tried & tried to like it but it just doesn't work.  If I am sick I might sip a cup of hot tea but that's it.  I will not try to continue to convince myself.
~ I didn't really miss salad dressing.  There were several other easy options - I used my own combo of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, & spices, salsa, or cottage cheese.  Easy & yummy.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something there too but this is getting long & I wanted to wrap up with some honesty. 

Today is the first day off of the challenge & this is what I've eaten so far:
Luna Bar
coffee (with nondairy creamer & raw sugar)
salad with romaine, spinach, Parmesan cheese, carrots, celery, & Catalina salad dressing
applesauce (homemade with nothing but a few splashes of cider added to it)

So I'm definitely a hybrid eater.  Some processed & some unprocessed.  In a big way I need to inventory our pantry, freezer, & fridge to see what we have that should just be tossed & what we can finish up & just not buy again.

This challenge has been thought provoking & I hope life changing.  For me it's all about making the baby steps, especially since Mike has to be on board with something this huge in our lives.  I've done a lot of research this month.  I've read a ton of interesting blog posts.  Together Mike & I decided that we would rather buy local as much as possible, buy organic when we can, & pay our grocer rather than our doctor.  It's going to involve training our taste buds to like things that taste a little different.  It's going to involve adjusting our budget.  It's going to affect where I shop, what recipes I use most often & how we plan our time (because I will be spending more time in the kitchen).  But I think those are all good things.

What do you think?  Are you impressed by my partial, failure ridden success *grin*  Are you motivated to make any changes?  Do you think I'm a crazy nut?