29 May 2012

Coming back soon...

I promise that I have not forgotten my blog here. Between the new job and still being at one car, we've had a crazy couple of weeks and have spent only minimal time at home. At the end of the day, I'm very ready for bed...

But things are really good. Chris is done with school for the year; I'm settling nicely into my new non-routine routine at the church; we've done some spring cleaning, celebrated a few birthdays, started up the AC a few times; Chris is prepping for his trip to Nepal with the teens; and I'm awaiting a new camera so I can display the incredible awesomeness that is my new set of matching bookshelves and my newly cataloged library (well, maybe I've made time for that the past few weeks...). More on the last one especially coming soon. When Chris is gone, I'll be sad, but I will certainly have a bit more time on my hands!

See you soon!

10 May 2012

Thursday Thoughts: The Back Door

I haven't been much in the mood to talk these past weeks. As I wrote to one of my best friends in an e-mail, "I've been exceptionally brooding and contemplative lately." It's not necessarily such a bad thing to be there - but it can be to stay there, and so I am attempting to lift a silence that has been partially self-imposed and partially imposed by the requests of others. But, because of this, I've been a bit lapsed and unfaithful in my blogging, and for that I ask your forgiveness.


For almost a year now, we have been praying for some very specific and practical things: a) that God would provide us a way to honor our creditors by repaying our debts, and b) that God would provide me a job, preferably related to my field, so that I could contribute and use what I felt He led me back to school to study with my master's program.

And we have waited, sometimes patiently and sometimes not-so-patiently, for answers to these requests - mostly expecting them to come through the "front door," or to be obvious solutions to such problems.

But, by the grace of God, the answers to these requests have not come in obvious ways. He has shown Himself to be infinitely more gracious and loving in granting answers to these prayers, as well as His complete control over this world, in how He has dealt with us these last 6-8 weeks.

The answer to our first prayer (concerning our debts) came through an unexpected and freak car accident that resulted in our Subaru being totaled. Christopher's interpretation of the whole thing is that God looked at our situation, heard our prayers, recognized that we were too stubborn to sell the car ourselves to get out of debt, and decided to do it for us. In the accident's wake, we have been able to pay off two sources of debt entirely, pay down a third, put aside money for a down payment, and learned that we can live with one car (though it can be a bit tricky, since I work in town and Chris works half an hour south of our home).

Not at all what we would have picked on our own, but incredibly demonstrative of God's grace toward us in our foolishness.

The answer to the second has been a bit more slow to develop. I have been praying specifically that God would have a place for me where I could use my talents and gifting to further the Kingdom or help the little guy (since that's what I felt Him lead me to go back to school for). What's more is that I was hoping to find a part-time job (like, four days a week instead of five), so that I could build in time to work on and complete my thesis (and, consequently, my master's degree).

But all I found when I started looking were full time positions that were not in any way related to what I ultimately wanted to do, so I shifted back toward admin and office work (which has kind of always been a foolproof fallback for me). I was blessed with four weeks' worth of work in September and October and was scheduled to go back after a two-week break, but the project stalled out - in fact, every job I was put up for between then and the recent past stalled out because no decision was ever reached on who to hire. In January, with my gobs of spare time, I decided I wanted to make my time count and serve the body if at all possible, so I started spending my time with a family that is part of our teen family ministry (their oldest kids are teens - they have seven, and their youngest is 3). It turned into a job that lasted, conveniently enough, through last Thursday, when the family left for a vacation.

I say "conveniently" because God has finally found a place for me, and I started a new position with our church on Tuesday.

And while that is a long story filled with prayers, conversations, and seeking counsel, it boils down to this: At every turn, I kept hearing God speak softly and firmly to my heart to "Move forward in faith."

God may not fulfill all of my dreams, but He continues to fulfill some of them and to satisfy my heart at the greatest of its depths. I may not ever be a biological mother to a baby girl or boy, but that doesn't mean I stall out in the bitterness of that reality. At some point this spring, I realized that I want my life to count. I want to be fruitful. I want to further the Kingdom of God.

I want to march onward, to move forward in faith, in all of the things that God calls us to - regardless of what dreams He may or may not fulfill along the way.

It is certainly a back door. After months of waiting for any position to keep me busy, I am humbled and overwhelmed by God's orchestration of events for my life at this time. When I interviewed for a different position with our church, the one that I'm walking into didn't exist. God didn't just find me a place, He made me one where none existed. And it will require faith, as a lot of it is experimental and filled with transition and unknown - but I'm walking forward in the faith that He has called me to walk in, and I'm looking forward to what He does with our body of believers.

And might I mention that I work four days a week? How 'bout them apples?

So there you have it. Back doors all over the place. Hidden blessings.

How beautiful to be reminded that He has not abandoned us, and He never will.

08 May 2012

Treasure on a Tuesday: Christian "Indie"

None of these are truly "indie" in the traditionally independent meaning, I suppose. They are more independent or nontraditional Christian releases, which is why I've labelled them "indie." In the Christian airplay market, most things that don't get play might as well be independent.

Regardless, these are some favorites from the last several years, and for a variety of reasons. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Phillip LaRue - Let the Road Pave Itself (2009)
When I was in high school, there was this brother-sister duo that we kind of listened to called "LaRue," based upon the duo's last name (naturally). Some good stuff, but not necessarily earth-shattering. Enter Phillip LaRue's first solo release a few years ago - something changed in a big way. This collection of songs is honest and raw in a way that few ever are in a culture that often appreciates more polished offerings. Favorite tracks include "Chasing the Daylight," "Sleeping Beauty," "Running So Long" and "Mountains High Valleys Low." This is one of the few recent albums I can listen to from end-to-end, as each track is beautiful and (for most of them, at least) haunting in its own way. "Black and Blue" is about as emotionally wrenching as it comes, questioning God's involvement in the roughest of days. Stunningly beautiful.

Adam Watts - Sleeping Fire (2006)
This guy name Jeremy Camp used to have a drummer named Adam Watts. Watts started releasing his own music starting with 2004's The Noise Inside, and kind of branched off to do more of his own thing. Sleeping Fire is a bit more polished than Watts' first album, and a bit more focused thematically. Many of the songs center on the idea that we're inching our way through life, in faith, and illuminate the humanity in us all that Christ came to redeem. "Invisible Light" is one of my favorite songs, perhaps of all time. I also heartily enjoy "Fly Fall Fly," "Bear With Me," and "Real for Me," and essentially the whole album.

Caedmon's Call - Share the Well (2004)
This is one of those albums that matter. Caedmon's set out on a series of international missions trips that led to the concept for this album. They incorporated native musicians, traditional styles, and global-consciousness into this incredible offering of songs. The band's emphasis that the same God exists over all peoples is humbling in "There's Only One (Holy One)." Christ's sufficiency for all of those peoples is conveyed in the deep-reaching "All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)" and "The Roses." Scattered interludes by native musicians make this a project to listen to in order for full effect, and lead gracefully from song to song. Other favorites: "Volcanoland," "Bombay Rain," and "Wings of the Morning."

Andrew Peterson - Resurrection Letters, Vol. II (2008)
You might ask where the first volume is if you ever start to look for it, but Peterson still hasn't released a first volume to prelude this one. But that's okay. This album stands just fine on its own. For much of our second year of marriage, Chris and I listened to this album as our alarm in the mornings. It is one of Peterson's most polished releases, with great production value and the honest but fine-tuned tracks for which he is well-known. Favorites include "Invisible God," "Hosea," "Rocket," and "The Good Confession (I Believe)." Peterson is a music-crafter. He is one of the many that inspire me to create things that matter, and make me weep when I hear those that do.

06 May 2012

Weekend Workroom: A Little Bit of Everything and a Lot of Rocks

Our weekends have been a bit jumbled lately, as we've sought to keep our lives on track with our one-car status and we've had a slew of events that have kept things interesting. Not much time for crafting (though I'm hoping to change that this week - more in Thursday's post), but Chris and his parents have been doing a lot of work outside.

Two Weekends Ago (April 20-22): Missions Weekend
In preparation for Christopher's upcoming trip to Nepal in June with some of the youth kids, we helped put together and run a Nepalese-style lunch and servant auction for some fundraising (the lunch happens every year - the food styles just rotate). It was a great event, but a lot of work lugging tables and chairs into place the night before, and helping get everything ready to go that Sunday. Overall, raised about $3000 for the trip and went home and slept (at least I think that's what we did).

Last Weekend (April 27-29): Grab Bag Weekend
We were scheduled to go to the regional marriage conference, but decided it was a bit too much to sandwich between the track meet Chris was scheduled to coach on Friday afternoon and the prom that we were scheduled to chaperone Saturday night. But it was a good set of days. I went with Chris to work on Friday and was blessed to be able to do some shopping for things we had been putting off for a while due to finances (more on that in Thursday's post, as well), and then I joined him at the track meet (which I'll admit I actually enjoyed quite a bit, even when I wasn't reading). Saturday morning, we had donuts and spent some time together before doing some more long-put-off shopping, Chris mowed the lawn, and we went to prom. I don't know why any parent in his or her right mind would send a teenager to prom. It was awful. There are not really other words to describe it. But my date was great!

This Weekend (May 4-6): Rock Haul
Christopher's parents came up Friday night, so I spent my day off Friday cleaning the house (mostly because it really, really needed it - it is spring after all). The reason they came up? To figure out a solution for the west side of our house, where Chris found another layer of rock under the ground cover when he tried to clean it all up last summer. With the use of a crazy machine that moves stuff like rock and the creative re-use of old railroad ties, everything is looking much better, and it's not even quite done. More on that will be posted when it's finished at the other blog (http://mercuryreno.blogspot.com).

So, it has definitely been a mishmash around here lately. Lots of things happening with our weekends. And our camera needs to be charged, but we can't find the correct cord, so picture-taking is somewhat limited. What few pictures I take, I have been taking with my phone and sending through my Twitter account. Here are two to note:

Christopher riding with the "Dingo." Yes, that was it's name. No, it did not eat any babies.
Just rocks. But it helped us get our driveway back, and we are very grateful for that.

Completely unrelated to most of this post, but I made two of these roasted red pepper
and Italian sausage pizzas this week. They were absolutely awesome.