Monday, July 26, 2010

Acceptable Gifts - Looking forward to Christmas. In July.

Daniel and I have a shopping game. It's what we call "acceptable gifts," and though is a bit of a joke ("acceptable" usually being a gross understatement, when we're salivating over something), we both have a running commentary on them. For instance, I know that anything from ThinkGeek.com will be sure to make him smile (he's told me so), and he knows that he may purchase anything within reason or my size from Anthropologie and I will glow with uncontainable joy (I've told him so). Those stores are on our list of acceptable gifts. We have wish lists on Amazon, too. And Etsy.com. And the occasional odd humorous idea in random boutiques or chain stores. We simply say, with a laugh or a grin or a really earnest puppy-dog eyes kind of face ... THIS is an acceptable gift. And then we share a secret smile. We're not assuming to read each others' minds. We're letting each other in on the secret desire. We're setting each other up for success, by letting the other person know that we love something, and if they want to one day buy a random present, it would be great if that something was considered. We don't ASK for that gift. We don't DEMAND it. We don't even EXPECT it. But just FYI ... if it comes up ... honey, I really like this. This would be an "acceptable" gift. Just like a trip to an exclusive resort in the Bahamas would be an "ok" trip. Or a million dollars would be "a little" money. Or a Sequoia tree 12-ft across is "kinda old."

So that's a human relationship, but what can we give the Heavenly Father? What's acceptable to Him? After all, we celebrate the birth of Christ and His love in providing a way to salvation for us. How do we express our love to Him for this? Does God have a list of "acceptable" gifts we can offer to him? Yes, but they are all for his glory. None of them are like our peer-to-peer gifts. The gifts we can give him are only as a result of what He has already given us. (I John 4: 9-19). According to John Piper, "[t]he only gifts that we can bring Jesus are gifts of praise, thanks, longing, and neediness."(From an online excerpt from the audio of "Can we give anything to Christ?" on December 26, 2007.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Everything seems possible on a Friday evening

Friday evenings are my favorite times to spend with my husband. We can go out and have an adventure or stay home and have a quiet evening of cuddling on the couch while catching up on older seasons of our favorite TV shows. We've gone to Subway, and we've gone to Sperry's on Friday nights. We've gone to movies and we've gone to theater. We've gone shopping, and we've gone running at the YMCA, but no matter what we do, typically we do it together.

I love Fridays because even if we stay up late, we can stay in bed late the next day without missing too much of our precious weekend. I love Fridays because it is such a great feeling to get through another day at work and then leave and know the next 48 hours are exclusively yours before you have to prepare to go back to work again. I love Fridays because Daniel usually telecommutes, and he's home at the same time as I am. We don't have to wait that extra hour to see each other. I love Fridays because the rest of the weekend is still ahead of us and everything seems possible.

Have I mentioned I love Fridays?

'Cause I do.

What do you love about Fridays?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fear and Risk

I realized recently that when I am afraid to fail, or look foolish, or simply embarrass myself, I don't risk anything at all. The result is I get stagnant in whatever aspect of life that is concerned. It could be my faith, my marriage, or my career. The bottom line is: if I don't risk anything, I might not fail, but I certainly won't grow.

This has become all too apparent in my personal relationship with God and my commitment to a life of discipline. I am ashamed to admit that I don't read my Bible, memorize scripture, meditate on scripture, or even pray as often or as fervently as I should. I'm afraid of trying so hard and falling that much more on my face. Perhaps that is where I should be, though ... on my face before the Holy and Living God, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. Even if it takes tripping to get there.

In other parts of my life, I would rather give in to feelings of discouragement or an attitude of lackadaisical defeat. Yet it is in those very parts that I most long to grow and gain respect. It's just the fear that holds me back. Fear of being "found out", and of "not being good enough." Who am I kidding? Nobody is ever "good enough," and I don't mean just spiritually. I've found myself constantly falling back on these old, familiar fears as an excuse to not pursue things. I'll never eat healthy all the time. I'll never lose the weight I gained in college. I'll never excel at this or be recognized for that or overcome this other thing. So ... I don't try.

Well, I'm finally moving past that, little by little. A conversation with my husband last night about the correlation between the fear of failure and the limitations of personal growth lit a spark in my mind and it must have caught fire, because I did something risky today. Something scary. Something I didn't know I would even try to do until the opportunity presented itself. Something that could potentially lead to a lot of growth in one area of my life in which I have always had an aptitude. Something that could blow up in my face, melt into nothingness, or even ... God willing ... open a door I thought had closed long ago.

I admit it: I'm a bit afraid. I took a risk; I made some mistakes, but I also reached out of my comfort zone toward a goal. It was a pretty big risk, for me, and as a result the growth pangs have already begun to burn into my subconscious.

Here's to risk. And fear. And to growing pains.

And here's to God's will. And searching and praying and waiting for it to be made clear.

Here's ... to life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Praise of KitchenAid Mixers - And Mother-in-Laws


A couple of nights ago, the sleek white practically brand-new KitchenAid my mother-in-law gave me produced the most beautiful fluffy, perfectly mixed mashed potatoes. Not since I first was introduced to this method of amazing fluffiness in my grandmother's kitchen (also the result of a KitchenAid, although I believe hers was a dingy green), have I had this kind of potato, milk, garlic, and butter tasty goodness from a kitchen I stood in while it whipped. I was a proud, proud cook, especially when my dear husband agreed with me that they were, in fact, amazing.

Thanks, Momma B!

And thanks, also for sharing the handed-down tip from your own mother-in-law, Nanny B, for the secret magic ingredient for the BEST mashed potatoes: about a tablespoon of sugar. It perfectly brought out the natural sweetness of those Idaho spuds.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Redirection

A lot has been happening in my life as of late. A lot has been on my mind. I feel like I'm in the middle of so many changes that I can barely keep up with them, let alone how I feel about them. They're mostly happy, sometimes stressful. (Hello ... not knowing if we're going to be charged anything for the old rental unit or not.)

RubyRed has gone through so many life stages since I began writing. Part of me wants to write it all out and learn from it. The other part of me just wants to move on and start something new. I don't know which part will win out. I've not exactly updated this blog regularly in the past few months.

Something that has been really on my mind a lot of late is fixing up our new home and making truly OUR home. We are blessed to have a landlord who is okay with us painting rooms and landscaping our little patio, so we have a lot of leeway to make our mark. I've been hunting down decorations, and furniture, and DIY solutions to our small-space organizational needs. It's invigorating, and something that I heard in a sermon at the church we've been attending lately woke me up even more to the fact that our home ... our little sanctuary from the world ... can be something we use to glorify God and to allow Him to work his grace in our lives. I don't feel guilty for focusing on my husband, our marriage, and our home. In fact, I think that's exactly where God wants me to be. That is amazing to me--the very things I most love doing, namely, finding pretty things, decorating, planning home improvement projects, learning new cooking techniques, and focusing on reaching out to friends and family, are the very things God wants me to do, provided I put Him above them all.

I still want to write; I still want to have a business. I still even want to blog. My direction and importance on these things has simply shifted, and I find myself at yet another crossroads. I'm not sure where it leads, but I know I want to take the road that God guides me toward. I want to grow. I want to fall deeper in love with Him. I want to strip my mind bare of the distractions and press toward the goal. Like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, I have come face to face lately with just how ugly my sins and self-reliance are, and how they can trap me in their scaly green points. I want to tear away at them, but only Aslan can truly tear the flesh off and make me new. And that hurts. Deeply. Becoming new is painful, terrible, and terrifying. But it is worth it.

I am already His. And now, I am His all the more.

I don't even know what this will mean for the blog or my life, and I know this may not all make sense to anyone other than me, but I am stepping out into the future. I am willing to be used. I am so excited to be who I am and have my talents be used for something big.

Bring on the claws.

I'm ready to be molded, Lord.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Enjoying the New Blogger Capabilities

How long did it take to give us new options for backgrounds? Years? Yes, that's correct. Years.

I'm lovin' this.