Reflective Meandering

Thoughts on faith, people, politics, travel, and transition.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

Growing up, my mom would make stuffed bell peppers on occasion; this is my spin-off of her recipe…

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Cooked White or Brown Rice

1/2 Can of Corn

1/2 Can of Black Beans, Drained

1/4 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs

1 Egg

1 lb of Lean Ground Beef

5 Bell Peppers

1 Small Gold Onion

1 tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Cumin

1 TBSP Garlic Salt

Optional Toppings: One Packet of Velveeta Cheese Sauce or your favorite grated cheese

Instructions:

Cook the rice first and allow it to cool.

While the rice is cooking, cut the tops off of 4 bell peppers and clean them out, then place small cuts in the feet of the bell pepper, which will allow excess fat from the beef to drain while cooking. Set these 4 bell peppers aside and chop 1 bell pepper and the small onion and place what you’ve chopped into your mixing bowl (once chopped these can be sauteed and allowed to cool before adding to the mix, but that’s not necessary).

Put 1/2 cup of the cooked and cooled rice into the mixing bowl; add the ground beef, followed by the chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, bread crumbs, the egg, and the cans of corn (drained) and black beans (drained and rinsed) and mix everything together with your hands. Then, stuff the 4 cleaned bell peppers with this mixture and place the bell peppers in a 9×9 pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until cooked well. The time may depend on how large the bell peppers are, and thus, how thick the meat mixture is.

Immediately after removing from the oven and checked to make sure the meat is cooked through, add the cheese topping.

Hint: The remainder of the corn, black beans, and rice can be heated for side dishes.

Side note: Fresh avocado would also pair nicely with this dish.

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Late Again

The hubs and I are different in a lot of ways, but one of the most profound is in how we view time. I don’t like to be late. I was raised in a military home and was taught that you’re not on time unless you’re five minutes early. The hubs is Latin American. If you know anything about these two cultures, the military culture and the Latin American culture, you know they deal with time VERY differently.

So, needless to say, time is one of the biggest things we argue about. He is late home from work and I have dinner on the table, or has told me multiple times that he is leaving work, only for me to find out that he ended up in a conversation with his co-workers that held him up, you name it, if it’s about time and tardiness, we’ve argued about it.

Side note and confession: the get-home-time-problem is probably exacerbated by the fact that I am home alone all day and cannot wait until the hubs gets home so that I can share in life, communicate, laugh, and cuddle. We are borderline co-dependent in that way.

At any rate, just last night, after Life Group with other married couples from our church, we were talking about last Friday, and how I could be more patient with the hubs in his lateness and how he could be, well, more on time. It was a wonderful conversation where I felt that we really committed to meet in the middle, to compromise.

And, less than 24 hours later, Satan brings our differences to the forefront yet again.

He texted me in the afternoon that he would leave at 6:30. That’s a relatively normal time. I wasn’t prepared for normal though, because he’d told me he would be late coming home this week. So, I hopped in the shower and quickly started dinner. It was about 6:55 pm when I put the chicken in the oven. It only takes 30 minutes to cook.5 minutes later, I got a text message saying his boss diverted him for 30 minutes and he was running late. Then, I got another text at 7:30 pm. He had been diverted by another co-worker and then a call from his brother and he was just leaving. He would be home an hour later than anticipated by his text just a few hours earlier, and dinner would be cold.

Didn’t we just talk about this? Didn’t I just tell him how it makes me feel when he reschedules on me multiple times? I texted him that he made me sad and went into our room to cry. I went into our room to mourn the days that I felt like I mattered, like I was important, and like I was at the top of his priority list.

Then, I thought about grace.

Boy do I hate being gracious. How many times had the Lord been gracious to me, giving me what I hadn’t deserved? How many times have I been commanded to forgive my neighbor? Seventy times seven? For the same thing? Over and over again? Ugh! While I had no desire to forgive his untimeliness yet again, I realized 1. I do not help our situation by sulking, 2. I can only hope for as much grace as I’m willing to give, so I need to learn to give it in abundance (I need it in abundance!), and 3. I am commanded, not encouraged, to forgive. Commanded. Seventy times seven times.

Fine. Today, it is my turn to forgive and forget, to show a little grace to the one who matters most in my life. Today, I’m not going to go for a run right when he gets home — I’m not going to pout or sulk. Today, I will love the hubs like Jesus does. Hopefully, I can learn to make grace my go-to reaction, rather than one I have to work so hard to arrive at, but until I do, thankfully, the Word is hidden in my heart to remind me of that which God commands of us for our good.

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On Death and Dying

A friend of mine, Tim, passed away last week. He was a giant in the faith. Tim didn’t have his Masters of Divinity, nor was he the pastor of some mega-church. He was three classes away from earning his Bachelor’s Degree; but, he lived like Jesus; he was a giant in the faith.

I first met Tim when I was in college. He and his wife were the leaders of my Sunday School class. He had a passion for sharing Jesus with others, for both evangelism and discipleship, and he was such an encouragement to me as I ventured off to law school. In fact, Tim and his wife brought my brother and a few other friends to visit me just a month after law school started, for my birthday. They drove the church van for about seven hours and they came for no other reason than to love on me.

I remember during that trip, Tim’s wife gave me a bracelet. I told her I liked it and she took it off of her wrist and told me to have it. I was baffled, and after urging her to keep it, I finally accepted it and vowed to pray for Tim and his wife every time I wore it, as they were trying to conceive. I had never been so devoted to a request for prayer. When they conceived their first-born boy, I felt a special connection to him. After all, I had prayed for him so fervently. I would go back to that Sunday School class every time I went home for the holidays and I was always encouraged by Tim and his wife.

I graduated from law school and not long after that, Tim, his wife, and what was now their family of five (they had two more boys), relocated. Lots of folks ask you to visit, but when they asked, I knew they meant it. I visited two Christmases. I loved spending time with their family. There was so much love and such a completeness to it. Tim and his wife perfectly balanced each other and their boys are the sweetest. I cannot imagine a more adventurous, loving family.

Over the years, Tim and I talked about opening a Christian school, he picked my brain when his church was considering new bylaws, and though we didn’t talk a whole lot, I always knew I could count on him and his family, and I sure hope he always knew they could count on me.

In May, his little family drove about nine hours, as Tim’s wife stood beside me as one of my bridesmaids in my wedding, and their first-born was also in my wedding. A year earlier, I had visited with Tim and his wife at my brother’s wedding. Tim had recently been ordained and actually officiated at my brother’s ceremony. They are like family.

The hubs and I were looking forward to Tim and his wife visiting us in our home in December. The afternoon of Tim’s death, I was texting his wife about our plans. I was so excited to host them, but that won’t happen, as Tim is now with his Lord. He died unexpectedly. Even after an autopsy, we don’t know the cause of death. Apparently, God was just ready for Tim to come home. But, we miss him here.

The hubs and I flew to be with his family during their grieving. When we were out to eat and running errands, I would look around thinking everyone in town should be grieving this loss. He was a great man who loved so, so well. Oscar de la Renta shares Tim’s date of death. My Facebook newsfeed was full of posts about de la Renta, but it should’ve been full of posts about Tim. ABC News and CNN should’ve been publishing about my friend’s death.

Tim’s family was blessed by the visitation. I didn’t want to see Tim like that, laying there. I wanted to remember him full of life, and I didn’t want to say goodbye, as I know I’ll see him again one day. Nevertheless, we went and the hubs and I spent most of our time watching the boys. They are so smart and their mommy was so wise to tell them that their daddy loved them and is in heaven, even though his skin is still here. Tim’s four year old would at times exclaim, “my daddy is dead and I miss his hugs and kisses.” At the funeral the next day, a slideshow of photos of Tim was playing on a television that was propped on a box about a foot and a half high. After almost everyone had left, and the seven year old thought nobody was looking, he went up to the television and watched as the photos scrolled, gently touching the screen where his daddy’s face was pictured.

My heart broke. It still breaks.

Tim is happy though. He lives on in his eternal home. He is reaping his reward for a life lived well, a life devoted to Jesus and those Jesus loves. I don’t think he would come back to this world, riddled with death and disease, if he had the option. Heaven is that sweet. However, his wife said something profound to me. She said, given the choice to stay or go, he would’ve stayed. I think she’s right.

Tim was a provider; he wouldn’t have chosen to leave his wife and children. He chose them every.single.day. He wanted nothing more than to love the Lord and love his family well for as long as he possibly could.

Tim was the complete opposite of Brittany Maynard. She scheduled her death – it took place on November first. While she wanted to die with “dignity,” in her own time, Tim was the type to live with dignity, and he did just that until his last breath. While Tim is now more aware than ever that our Creator God rules the universe and determines our steps and numbers our days, Brittany looked at a calendar and chose her date of death.

While I know that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts, I cannot help but to be completely frustrated by the fact that Tim couldn’t choose to live more than his short 36 years, and I couldn’t be more frustrated by the fact that the laws of Oregon gave Brittany Maynard the choice to shorten her life.

Our public policy should encourage and value life, not death. And, as Christians, we should acknowledge that the Lord determines our steps and our days, not us, and frankly, not even our doctors. We will be in a sad state of affairs when we forget that our suffering has a purpose. Brittany’s suffering has a purpose, greater than anyone can think or imagine right now, and the suffering of Tim’s survivors has a purpose that provides us hope in our time of grief.

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I Lost Something

Sometimes, I wonder if I know who I am anymore. I feel like when I got married, I lost a part of myself. I don’t know when exactly it happened, or what part of me I lost, exactly, but I’m not the same.

Honestly, I feel more like the little middle schooler I once was, with little control over my life and what happens therein.

I feel unheard and misunderstood and worst of all, I’m at a point again, where I don’t know what to do about it. I want to stomp my feet, scream, and otherwise throw temper tantrums because I’m so utterly exhausted from it all. I’m tired of having to explain every little thing. I’m tired of having to argue every little point. I’m just.plain.tired. 

It’s not like my schedule is busier; in fact, it’s slowed down quite a bit since the nuptials. I’ve always managed my time better when there was more to manage (explain that phenomenon!), but I think it’s more than that. I lost a part of who I was because I was an independent professional woman. No longer am I independent. No longer do I have a job in my profession. 

As it turns out, my identity was a bit more wrapped up in what I did than I realized. I thought my identity was grounded in my relationship with Christ. Turns out, I had built my identity on shifting sand, and that sand is no longer present in my life so my whole identity feels like it’s crumbling apart.

I have to rebuild, but I’m too tired.

And, I’m to exhausted from being jealous that the life of the hubs hasn’t changed all that much at all. Jealous of my husband! I’m not sure I would’ve believed our marriage counselor had she even suggested the possibility.

But, he sleeps all night, well. It takes me hours to fall asleep as I listen to him snore and talk in his sleep, and feel him kick his legs. I was a single person the last night I got the kind of sleep I watch him enjoy. So, in the mornings, after he leaves for work, I sneak in a morning nap, 2-3 hours of uninterrupted sleep! But, then I feel guilty that I’ve slept the day away, and at night it becomes even more difficult for me to drift off, so the cycle of insomnia continues.

Don’t even get me started on his work day. There was a time when I lived alone and worked by myself for a small organization. Oh how I wished for a little bit of drama in my life. People warned me not to get a roommate and not to wish for their job situations, but how I longed for a story to tell. I feel a little like that now. Like, things wouldn’t be so dramatic with the hubs if I had a life outside of him. He comes home from work and sits down at dinner to tell me about his interactions with all of these folks that he’s worked with for awhile now, and while I try to listen, engage, and live through the emotions with him, sometimes, I’m just jealous. I can be introverted, but I’m an extrovert too, and oh how I miss a little office get together, working with a team to accomplish a common goal, and even being refined by the people I worked with. It wasn’t perfect, but it was somehow edifying.

Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. It’s not even meant to be lived with just one other person. We were made to live in community. Iron sharpens iron, and so must we pursue community.

Tomorrow, I begin again (for about the 14th time) the job search. And, perhaps I’ll also start to look for places to volunteer. There’s something about helping to meet the needs of others that puts my own into perspective.

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Suicide

Yesterday, I learned that a kid died. He didn’t have cancer, or a disease, or die in a car, plane, or train accident, he took his own life. Suicide.

I’ve had a hard time processing his death. I didn’t know him, but I am an acquaintance of his father. I sat under his father’s teaching. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that his dad loved him dearly – he talked about that boy all the time. From an outsider’s view, his family was involved in his life and cared for him deeply. He was a handsome 15 year old. He played football and had a steady girlfriend. The day he took his life he tweeted “So happy rn.”

What causes a person to take his life?

Like a lot of pre-teens, there were times in my childhood when I wondered whether everyone would be better off if I were dead, times when I imagined a world without me and thought my family and friends would be better off in that world. But, I never actually attempted to take my life and thus, I cannot imagine what brings a person to do so.

Over time, I learned to hate the idea of suicide, even advocating against euthanasia. I remember a few years ago talking with a few friends about whether we would want to live with a terminal illness or would prefer death. My friend said he’d drive his truck over a cliff instead of dying without dignity, having a disease claim his mind or body. But, our bodies and our ends are not our own. God has lessons. God has lessons for me and the people around me as I struggle through life, whether with health, pain, diabetes, or some other disease. There is purpose in that struggle. It sucks, but there is a reason for it and those reasons are so much bigger than we can even imagine.

In Isaiah 55:8-9, the Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

It sucks, sometimes it sucks big time, but the struggle is not in vain and the struggle does not define us, our relationship with Christ defines us. In our times of desperation, I know it’s difficult to remember, but, even then, God has not forgotten us. Luke 12:6-7 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN MANY SPARROWS!

You have so much value not because of how you look, or how talented you are, or what other people think of you, but because you are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

The Lord told the Israelites, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13. He was referring to a specific promise here, but the same rings true for us. He has great plans for each of His children, He desires an intimate relationship with each of us, a relationship cultivated through prayer. Cry out to Him in your desperation. He wants to direct us through His written Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you are considering suicide, I beg you to please reconsider.

One of the reasons I wouldn’t even consider euthanasia is because there’s something especially devastating about a person choosing to leave her loved ones. If death steals me in the night, that’s one thing, but I will fight it. I will fight for life with my loved ones, and not as much for me, for I know that Jesus has gone to prepare a wonderful place for me, but for my family.

People have chosen to leave me, from best friends to boyfriends, and there’s something that affects us deeply when a person chooses to leave. I don’t want suicide to be my legacy. I want to be remembered as a fighter. You can fight too, whatever you’re going through, you can fight until you no longer have fight within you.

Never. Give. Up.

It may feel like rain today, but the sun will shine again. Until then, “run with perseverance the race marked out for [you], fixing [y]our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3.

It’s a tragic and difficult world we live in, but we have access to the One who has overcome the world, we have access to His power and goodness.

Choose life; choose Christ; choose to run with perseverance.

But, don’t run alone, talk to someone. It may not feel like it right now, but people love you; lots of people love you – people you’ve never met and people who have known you a lifetime. People want to know your struggles; they have struggles too. It’s okay to share you fears and your thoughts with the people who are investing in you – teachers, preachers, parents, or older siblings. If you are considering suicide, tell someone, anyone. Give someone the chance to love you back to a desire for life, because YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

You matter, and you are loved. Please, choose life.

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The Origin of Hope

Awhile back, my pastor did a series on believing the Lord. He would ask, every week, whether our lives conveyed that we truly believed God’s Word. I really began to struggle with the series. I do believe in God. I do believe that His Word is infallible and inspired by Him. I believe it, but I’m not so sure my life always reflects that I believe it.

I distinguished for myself a difference between trusting the Lord and believing what He says is true.

I believe that what He says is true, but I stink at putting my trust in God, hoping in Him. This became so very clear to me after the hubs and I got back from our honeymoon. See, before our wedding, I quit my job and moved my things to the hubs’ place, now our place. I traded in my litigation attorney card for a stay-at-home wife card.

I expected the transition to be difficult. We discussed my apprehension about this transition during pre-marital counseling, but having that discussion didn’t make it any easier. I’ve been a working girl for a long time. From babysitting and cutting grass to my first real job in 10th grade, I’ve had an income for a very long time. God provided it – the income and the opportunities that brought the income – but, in my heart, I treasured having earned that income, and those jobs. So, what do I treasure now that I have neither?

Right now, I’m just a wife; I don’t even have a child to tend to. I sit at home every day, between runs to the grocery store, and write blogs, look up recipes, look for new jobs, clean, and cook. I consider my wifely duties, serving my husband, my job right now. However, I’ve also burdened the hubs – unbeknownst to either of us – with being my hope and satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, husbands have a role in encouraging their wives, and the hubs is fantastic in so doing. Last night we had a couple of friends over dinner. Multiple times the hubs told me how wonderful the house looked and dinner tasted and how great I was at entertaining our company. He has been so encouraging about my work around the house and having dinner ready and I feel so blessed to have married a man who so appreciates me and my contributions to our little family.

The problem is, I don’t value what I’m doing as much as he does, but still, I put the burden on him to make me feel hope and satisfaction in the fulfillment of my duties.

He is so gracious and appreciative, but I find fault in that he’s not satisfying my every desire for communication, or social interaction, or some other need-of-the-moment. I’ve made him my one hope and both, fortunately and unfortunately, he cannot satisfy my every need.

The hubs is an amazing man who is doing an amazing job providing for us while I am out of work, but I have put a burden on him that is not his yolk to bear, and that he is not capable of carrying – I have looked to him to be my hope. However, it is God’s burden to bear – He wants to be my hope.

Romans 5:1-6 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Paul, who wrote Romans, also wrote in II Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

My hope and encouragement can and should be sought in God. He is the one who is faithful to complete every good work HE begins in me. Philippians 1:6. He has written me love letters that I could read time and time again. He wants to hear from me every minute of the day (and He won’t interrupt with kisses!).

My husband is so sweet and a most amazing man, but he can’t lift the loneliness that sets in while he’s at work, or remove the burden of my heart from being a financial drain (no matter how many times he sweetly tells me not to worry about the finances, that’s his job), or otherwise make me feel hope and satisfaction in my every day. Really work and winning cases couldn’t either. I had moments of satisfaction that eased the pain of seeking self for satisfaction, but it wasn’t the kind of true satisfaction and peace that I have experienced during times in my life where I’ve been completely focused on the will of the Lord and on having His eyes and seeking His heart. There’s a hope and satisfaction that only comes from seeking the face of a holy God who sent His only son to die on a cross so that I could be sanctified and could live in a relationship with Him, the Big Guy, God.

The hubs can’t be here 24/7, and getting a job won’t cure the lonely heart I feel during the lull of a slow day with few errands, BUT seeking the face of God will. May we ever be faithful to seek Him fervently.

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Newlyweds

When we were prepping for our wedding, folks would ask me what I wanted or how they could help and I would often joke, “I’m not sure, I’ve never done this before.” I thought I was done saying that after the “I do,” but boy was I wrong.

Not only had I never planned a wedding before, but I’ve never been married before, I’ve never had a male roommate before (I’ve never shared a bed with a female every night, for that matter!), I’ve never been out of work before, I’ve never lived in the big apple before, and I’ve never tried all of that at once before. This whole marriage thing is something that, truth be told, I was a little nervous about, and truth be told, is not easy.

I knew that it was gonna be tough going into it though. It seems like everyone we talked to about marriage told us how great it is and how hard it is, and everyone was right on both accounts.

I knew from the day that the hubs and I started dating (for the second time) that I didn’t want to be married to anyone else, ever. I knew that he was The One. He was made for me: he compliments me in every way, he is patient with me, and loves me like I’ve never been loved before, but there were moments, passing moments, when I thought that maybe I just shouldn’t get married at all.

I knew even before we were engaged that marriage would be hard. After all, I am Type A. I like what I want to be done, done, done my way, and done in my timing. I’m selfish, opinionated, and passionate. I want to be lead, but I also like to run the show. I want to be cared for, but I am also independent. I like to hang out with folks, but I also like to be by myself. I like to be taught, but I question everything and like to learn things for myself, too; and, I’m always right. I joked with a friend the other day that when I first started dating the hubs, I took him on a roller coaster ride that now he gets to ride for the rest of his life.

I was scared to get married because I knew my faults and was unsure that the hubs would want to look over those for the rest of my life, and frankly, I was scared how the Lord would use our marriage to sculpt me into a better person, to glorify himself.

I may be quirky and difficult, but I like me. I am self-aware, but I’m also confident. I was told by more than one person, and read from more than one book, that God uses marriage to sharpen us, to mold us, to change us, and I didn’t want to change; I still don’t. But, you know, God has ways of nudging us to follow Him, even when we don’t want to. (Watch this little girl tell Jonah’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4VrujheblY)

The fact is, only having been married for a month, I’ve seen God work to grow me in His truths. Instead of embracing the opportunities He’s provided me to practice being patient, I’ve chosen to become easily hurt and angered; instead of responding to the hubs in kindness, I seethe and recount his past wrongs; instead of being grateful for his willingness to work long hours to provide for us (remembering that I’m without a job), I am jealous of the time he spends at work and with his co-workers. See I Corinthians 13, this is not love. I am derelict in my duty to him, to protect our relationship and to foster trust, hope, and perseverance… and, I’m only one month in!

I feel like the folks C.S. Lewis discusses in The Screwtape Letters, here’s an excerpt of one in which I identify qualities of myself in the woman the demon is being educated on how to effectively tempt (remember when reading that it’s a letter written from one demon to another, and the Enemy referenced is actually God, or the Holy Spirit):

The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished-one day, I hope, will be-to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile “Oh please, please…all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast”. You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it”. If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.

The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly”-because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as “the days when you could get good servants” but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn’t mind what she eats herself but “does like to have things nice for her boy”. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years. The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished-one day, I hope, will be-to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile “Oh please, please…all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast”. You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it”. If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.

The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly”-because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as “the days when you could get good servants” but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn’t mind what she eats herself but “does like to have things nice for her boy”. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years.

You would think having read letters like the one from which I pulled this exceprt, I’d be aware of the work of the true enemy, and would be on guard to combat his efforts with true love. Perhaps one day, but since I’ve been so ignorant of Satan’s efforts, today, I’ll cook the hubs dinner and when we sit down to eat, I’ll seek his forgiveness for neglecting to love him well. And, knowing that this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do so and probably won’t be the last, in humility, I’ll thank him for loving me so well and for allowing the Lord to work in my heart, instead of working to change me himself.

I am so blessed to be loved by a man who loves Jesus, and we are so blessed to know that we aren’t only accountable to each other, but to our Lord as well. There is so much security in having a marriage with a foundation that doesn’t move, the foundation of Christ.

 

 

If you don’t know Jesus, all you have to do is seek him. Those who seek him find him. After all, he came to make a way for you – God gave His only son that we might live in eternity with Him.

 

 

 

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Ireland, a Most Colorful Country

We did it! We got married; and, we went to Ireland for our honeymoon!

Ireland is so beautiful and the hubs did a great job planning our honeymoon and driving me all around the country to see the gorgeous landscapes and historic castles. I just enjoyed the ride.

(Who knew the English, Spaniards, and Vikings all wanted to take over Ireland at some point, and who knew the lineage of Vikings in Ireland are identified by their red hair and a long second toe!?! Well, the last bit may have been made-up by our tour guide at the Dublin Castle, but it’s fun to think about being a Viking.)

We literally travelled all over the little country, the hubs driving the whole time. He was so glad that we didn’t get a stick-shift car, and we recommend, do not gift a stick-shift car. We really thought about it a lot, especially considering most of the packages include manual, not automatic, cars. However, we weighed the pros and cons: I couldn’t drive a manual, limiting our driving options, we knew that Ireland was a hilly country, and we figured that learning to drive on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car were enough transitions without also learning to switch gears with the wrong hand. Turns out, we made the right decision. I never had to drive (though that’s certainly something to consider for those who want to enjoy the pub scene a bit more than we did); however, the hubs got tired of putting the car in park and drive with his left hand – I did help with that – so, switching gears would’ve gotten exhausting for him. Without having to switch gears, he ABSOLUTELY LOVED driving us around Ireland, particularly along Conor Pass (check it out!).

Two things helped with that love of the drive: first, we got a diesel car; and, second, we got wifi. The diesel cost extra, yes, but we drove around for hours, every.day. It was so nice to not have to worry about filling the gas tank every day. We spoke to some other folks at the Bed and Breakfasts we stayed at who warned us to fill up before arriving at small towns and before it got too late, but we only used about a tank and a half of gas our whole time in Ireland, if that.

We always use our iphones for gps state-side. We had planned on an add-on of gps upon arrival because there was no navigation included in our package and we’d heard horror stories about poor directions in Ireland. Well, instead of the gps, we decided to go for the wifi in order to use the maps systems we’re familiar with. We asked the Hertz guy a number of times whether we’d have wifi throughout the country. He confirmed that they had good coverage. And, we did. We lost coverage a few times, but once the maps system has uploaded the route, it’s cool. That said, the directions system didn’t work like it does here. While the route was uploaded, most of the time we had to refresh to get our location, rather than having the tracking like we do here. Even so, we think the wifi was the best option. We would use the wifi and our iphones for navigation to and from each of our destinations, but the great thing about the wifi is that it’s so small it fit in the hubs back pocket or our backpack. So, even when we were walking around a town, we’d take the wifi in case we were curious about a restaurant and wanted to check Yelp or we didn’t know what a term meant and needed to look it up. It was so worth the $7 or so a day.

That said, we did also think the signage was pretty great. There were multiple signs with the cities we were driving to, and that told us how many kilometers we were from the city, just like in the states. We even came upon a few touristy signs that caught our interests, like some signs for a chocolatier that we visited and from which we purchased little white chocolate lambs. Yum!

Speaking of driving around all day, the days are so long in Ireland’s summer. One night the hubs and I discussed whether it ever gets dark in Ireland in the summer. It was so bright, even at midnight, which is really nice when you’re touring around at night wanting to see views. HOWEVER, everything closes early. Everything. Coming from the states, our appetites had jet lag. Our entire week there, we ate both lunch and dinner late. Twice we almost missed dinner, having to check at a few restaurants to find one serving food after 10pm. Whoops! Thus, be sure to keep an eye on the time to avoid missing out on important things, like food! Of course, Pubs are open later for drinks, if you’d like to make a meal of Guinness.

We had some favorite spots along our tour: The Dublin Castle, not so much for the outside, but the inside was GORGEOUS and the tour was very informative. Sky Road, outside of Clifden, Ireland, provided a drive with very pretty views and a few places to stop along the route that were breath-taking. I loved all of the wildflowers along our drive in Clifden and throughout the country. I also LOVED the Kylemore Abbey, one of my favorite spots-it was beautiful and so were the gardens. The Cliffs of Moher are a no-brainer, with water so blue, cliffs so high, and grass so green, it’s one super touristy spot that we didn’t want to miss, though we did avoid the Blarney Stone and the likes. Conor Pass was an exhilarating drive (it’s one lane!) with pretty views, in fact, the whole Dingle Peninsula offered beautiful drives with sights of the bluest water that I thought could only be found in the Caribbean. Last, Kinsale was a super cute little town with it’s own little castle and a few forts to explore as well. We had a chocolate cake here that was to-die-for; I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant for you. Sorry!

One little warning for you: I was experiencing high glucose levels, but couldn’t figure out why. But, the day before we left I noticed some little dots on my hands. They looked like ant bites. A few days after returning, they were all over my hands and had spread to my elbows. I did a ton of web-surfing and eventually wen to the doctor to have him confirm what I suspected – I had scabies. Apparently, scabies isn’t so rare in Europe, especially the more rural regions. The Castle that we stayed in had a parrot, I don’t know why, but of the four places we stayed, that’s where I believe I contracted it, based on the timing of the appearance and all. The hubs never had any symptoms. I’m not sure I would’ve either, pre-diabetes, but now I’m immune-compromised and my body has a hard time fighting off infections and mites. All that to say, wash your hands regularly, particularly if you stay in any farmhouses or other places with animals, as the mites generally don’t live for more than 2 days without a host. And, if you contract scabies like I did, wash your clothes and linens and get an over-the-counter 1% permethrin lice cream, use it like a lotion, from the neck down, and leave it on your body for eight hours (over night). Do that twice, a week between the applications, and you’ll be good as new.

Overall, it was a wonderful honeymoon and I enjoyed the adventure, exploring with the new hubs. I hope you enjoy Ireland, too!

 

 

 

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What a Day with Diabetes

Holy crap, I never want to take a corticosteroid again!

I have Type 1 Diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was 26 years old. I’ve had family members with diseases, but I never understood their struggles until my diagnosis. There’s something inexplicable about facing an incurable disease, knowing that it’s not a cold that you heal from – you’ll never heal, you’ll never get better.

You think you understand as you watch someone else struggle with a silent incurable disease, but a part of you sometimes wonders if it’s in your loved one’s head, or if he/she is exaggerating for attention, or why they can’t just come to terms with it, at least I did. Then it hit me, and years later I admit that it may be silent, but it’s ever-present, sometimes I do want attention and people to feel sorry for me, most of the time I have come to terms with having to take at least four shots a day, more if I want a snack that has carbs, but there are days, like today, that are just an awful reminder that I’ll never again be the whole carefree person I once was. 

I call it my manufacturer’s defect. 

It drives me crazy when people flippantly refer to getting diabetes because of eating a candy bar. If you know anything about diabetes, you know that they don’t really know what causes Type 1 Diabetes, but they do know, for both types, people are genetically predisposed to it. At any rate, it’s affected my life in pretty significant ways. 

On a normal day, there are only minor adjustments – I don’t leave the house without my glucose meter, I give myself a shot every time I’m going to eat something with carbohydrates in it, I give myself a shot every night before bed (and despite what the docs say, the shots do hurt, and in fact, they often leave quarter sized bruises on my thighs and abdomen), that sort of thing, but there are other adjustments as well.

I don’t think I had as many episodes of the common cold or flu in the first two and a half decades of my life as I’ve had in the years since my diagnosis. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. I am immuno-compromised. It requires a delicate balance to not live life concerned with catching everyone’s colds, and to be vigilant with taking care to avoid exactly that.

I also attribute my excessive sickness of late to an inability to create Vitamin D, also a side-effect of the Diabetes. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been seriously Vitamin D insufficient/deficient, and Vitamin D is important to immune health. I take a supplement, but sometimes I forget. I hate the idea of regimen – having to take the same pill or shot at the same time every day. It almost gives me the feeling of claustrophobia; but, I’d probably stay healthier if I committed to Vitamin D in a more serious, regimented way.

Perhaps if I’d been more serious about taking my Vitamin D and washing my hands and avoiding the sick, and, and, and, I wouldn’t have gotten sick almost three weeks ago, and if I hadn’t gotten sick, it wouldn’t have developed into bronchitis, and if it hadn’t developed into a nasty chest congestion that I just couldn’t kick, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor and gotten a prescription for a corticosteroid that has knocked my blood glucose levels off the map.

If you’re not aware, for a health adult, your blood glucose (bg) numbers should be between about 75 and 130. I have to correct my bg if it hits 150 or above, which means I have to take a shot. When I first started taking the corticosteroid for bronchitis, my bg hit above 300. Crazy!

Now, high bg isn’t just a number. BG levels impact everything! Too high and you feel hot, lethargic, irritable, and so on, not to mention the long-term effects of high blood glucose levels. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you haven’t see a billboard or heard a radio ad about needing amputation because of diabetes?!?) If bg is too low, I become mentally foggy, cannot concentrate, become physically shaky, and risk coma. Balancing bg is very important!

So, after about 4-5 days of not being able to get my numbers down, I stopped taking the steroid. I’d been told it would have an effect, but I didn’t realize the seriousness of that effect. I stopped taking the steroid 4 days ago, but the high bg levels remained. Today, at lunch, I overcorrected and my bg fell to 54.

Again, blood glucose numbers are not just numbers. Your bg affects everything! 

I rushed to get a yogurt to pull my numbers back up, but that takes time, and you have to be careful not to overcorrect in the other direction. Balancing the highs and lows of diabetes is thus, emotionally and mentally taxing. I humbled myself and e-mailed a couple of co-workers and asked them to pray for me. My God provides a peace that passes understanding and I left work for additional test strips. I’d run out with so much additional monitoring. 

At any rate, I guess the point is, if you have diabetes, remember that you’re not alone in your struggle, I’m with you.  Remember to avoid corticosteroids at all costs when possible. Remember that this manufacturer’s defect is temporary – one day you’ll have a glorified body. Be thankful for the reminder that this world is not your home (if you’re a Christian). 

For those who know someone with Diabetes, be patient, be supportive, and be ready to provide hugs at the end of days that are emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing on your friend or loved one with Diabetes.

 

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Misinformation

There are few things that frustrate me more than being lied to, but one of those things is when my friends and family are lied to.

I can’t stand it. I’m sure it has something to do with my sense of justice, but I’m also sure it’s related to my thirst for knowledge and my feeling that knowledge empowers people to make better decisions that improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

I believe that the people of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer were lied to. Actually, I know it for a fact. The legislature of Arizona passed a bill regarding religious liberty, and somehow, somewhere, someone began to call it an anti-gay law. It’s not. I read it.  In fact, SB1062 is here, you can read it too. It doesn’t mention gay, lesbian, bisexual, sexual orientation, homosexual, or anything similar. It simply does what the federal government has done for years through similar legislation.  I can’t think of a single reason that it shouldn’t have passed, and it did pass, it passed the State House and the State Senate. Then, it was sent to Governor Jan Brewer for her signature, and all hell broke loose.

Liberal media outlets began reporting it was an anti-gay bill and the NFL threatened to find another location for the Super Bowl if Governor Brewer signed the bill and even Former-Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain came out against the bill, though it wasn’t evident that either of them read it. Even a group of lawyers from the University of Virginia, a group that included folks who support same-sex marriage, sent a letter to Governor Brewer supporting the bill and emphasizing that much of the hoopla surrounding the bill was misinformation.

I’m convinced that only the devil is more capable of misinformation campaigns than the radical homosexual activist movement (“rham”).

Rham isn’t the group of gays and lesbians that simply want to be left alone to live their lives without persecution because of their sexual orientation; rather, rham is the group, like the ACLU, that actively seeks out and proud homosexuals, and awards them with a trip to NYC, if they’ll let the ACLU use them as plaintiffs to pursue litigation to overturn marriage laws and amendments. Rham is the group that fights laws that protect religious liberties and wants to force Christians to photograph, bake for, cater, host, and dj same-sex weddings. Rham is the group that, though freely admitting that sexuality is fluid, pursues legislation that prevents parents and children from seeking therapy that would help a child to identify as heterosexual. Rham is ruining my beloved country, saying sexual freedoms trump religious liberties (which, by the way, are protected in the First Amendment).

The people were lied to and both the media and politicians were complicit in the lies. This, this is why we have such an abhorrent culture of distrust. This is why people must become committed to educating themselves rather than relying on others to educate them. This is why the Arizona bill should’ve been signed into law.

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