Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last Chance Picnic

The big boys still had a day off for Thanksgiving vacation yesterday.   And, we had beautiful weather here in Pennsylvania.  

So our day consisted of haircuts for the boys, bike/scooter riding at the park, lots of outside play, and a picnic!

I figured this was probably the last chance in 2011 for the boys to eat their lunch picnic style.  Sure makes clean up easy too!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Did It!

Well, I did it folks!  I ran my first 5K!  I met both my goals too.  I wanted to run the entire thing if I could and not walk any part of it.  Check!  And, I wanted to come in under 45 minutes.  Check again!  You'll have to read on though to see what my actual time was.

I was so nervous when I got up on Thanksgiving morning.  But, I knew there was no turning back.  And, it was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day.  My in-laws kept the middle two boys - Charlie and Edison.  And, John and I brought Wyatt, our oldest, and Joseph, our youngest along.

The run began at 9:00 a.m. but we wanted to be there by 8:00 to check in.

The Turkey Trot was being held at my alma mater, Millersville University.  The little college town also is home to my high school alma mater, Penn Manor.  The high school campus and college campus are pretty much right next to each other so heading in to the run really was a walk down memory lane.

We checked in at the University gymnasium.

Me and my boys!

I mentioned that it was my sister who originally asked me to run this 5K with her.  And, that her friend, Missy, was the one who asked my sister.  Well, my sister bowed out when she realized it was probably going to be more than she could do in one morning (she was also hosting our family Thanksgiving meal).  But, Missy was still running.  I found her and her stepson, Jake, while we were still in the gym.

I felt a little better once I saw a familiar face.  The campus was hopping with 5K runners and many of them were quite a bit younger and fitter than me.  There were a lot of people there who I could tell took running very seriously.  I had lots of nervous energy and waiting for the start time was hard.

Finally, the crowd started making it's way out to the starting line.  I had no idea what to expect.  I didn't know if they would tell us where to stand.  But, we pretty much just all clumped together & waited for the air horn to blow.

 Missy & I waiting expectantly

And, we're off!

Can you find me in the crowd?

Missy and I started  out together, but we both agreed to move at our own speed.  Missy quickly pulled ahead and out of my sight.  I knew that I had to pace myself.  And, the run started out going slightly uphill.  If I would have tried to keep up with the crowd I would have quickly run out of energy.

So, I moved slowly, but consistently.  I wasn't at the tail end of the pack, but I was certainly toward the back.

John got this picture of me at one of the points along the path.

I tried to concentrate on my own running and not be distracted by what was going on around me.  I also tried not be discouraged by the fact that the people who were mixing walking and running seemed to be going faster than me!  And, there was a dad running with a little girl who appeared to be about 5 or 6 and they consistently stayed well ahead of me.  

I kept telling myself 'slow & steady wins the race'....well, maybe it doesn't win the race, but it does finish the race.

There were also people stationed at the one mile and two mile marks calling out our time as we went by.  At the first mark, I remember thinking "I've only gone a mile?!"  Again, I tried not to let it discourage me and I just kept moving.

The run ended coming around the track in the University stadium.

Coming in the home stretch.

Almost there!

Wyatt told me my finishing time was 39:28.  Hmm.  I look awfully close to the line here.  Maybe it was more like 39:27?

My men were there to congratulate me at the end.

Would I do it again?  Well, Missy has already told me that there is Jingle Bell 5K coming up in December.   We'll see.....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tomorrow's The Day!

Yes, I know.  It's Thanksgiving tomorrow..  

But, it's also the day of the 5K Turkey Trot I'll be running.  Eeek.

image found here

I think I'm ready.  On 2 different occassions I went around our block (which is slightly more than 3 miles).  I ran most of it both times, with a few walking intervals.  Our block is anything but even.  The first part of our block is down hill and then there are a few spots where I'm going uphill, way uphill (that's where I did my walking).

The map for the 5K looks like it's going to be a fairly flat, even running path.  It's in a little college town (my alma mater actually), so there shouldn't be too many hills and valleys.  And, I'm fairly certain I won't have to dodge horse manure on the road (like I do now).

image found here

Soooo I'd like to try to run the whole thing.  But, I'll certainly walk in parts if I need to.  And, I'd like to try to finish in about 45 minutes.  That's about how long it took me when I did my block & that included walking segments.  

I'll let you know how it goes...

Oh, and by the way, I'll be doing this on my own.  My sister, who originally asked me to join her in doing it, bowed out.  She has a legitimate reason.  She's hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house, so she's going to be a bit busy.  Anyway, I'm a little nervous about running alone.  But, it's not like I'm going to feel like talking, right?

Wish me luck!  I'll try to imagine all of you cheering me on.
image found here

A Prayer

I start to pray,

'Lord forgive me for patience that runs too thin

my body that is so tired

my will that is so weak.'

But then I remember that He already knows I am


What he offers to me is not condemnation but instead he offers

His peace
His strength
His will.

So often I get caught up in the guilt I feel over my failures,

When always His hand is extended in Grace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I know I frequently write about my struggle with contentment.  Especially contentment with our home.

 In comparison to 'American standards' our home is small.  And, for a family of six many would consider our home entirely too small.

Our home is old.  I actually prefer older homes.  But, it also means that many things need fixed.  There's a lot of cosmetic work that could/should be done, but the practical & functional stuff comes first.  And, there's a lot of that work too.

I sometimes wish we had more space so my boys could spread out more, that we wouldn't always feel like we were on top of each other.  I wish we had more space so that I could entertain more and that our guests didn't feel like they were on top of each other. 

I dream about my dream home - and old but refurbished stone farmhouse with original hardwood floors, a large eat-in kitchen + a dining room!, plenty of bedrooms, a living room AND a family room, acreage.  

But, I was reminded again recently how very much we have.  In fact, we have more than enough.

This past weekend was our annual missions conference at church.  As missionaries from around the world came to share how God is moving in each of their areas, I was challenged.  In particular, one missionary's presentation challenged me.

A minister in India (and a native Indian himself), he spoke briefly and then had a video presentation which showed the people of the village in which he worked.  His ministry works with orphans, lepers & the sick, the impoverished.

One picture has stuck with me.  It was taken in the inside of a hut - the typical dwelling for a family in this village.  The floor was a dirt floor.  The hut was the size of my living room (which is small).  Thin sleeping mats were being rolled out on the dirt floor.

And that affected me deeply.  I tried to imagine that setting if I went to India to visit.  Could I sleep on those thin mats on a dirt floor inside a crowded hut for a few days?  I could hardly imagine.  But, this is life for the people in that village.

I thought about my own bed & it suddenly seemed to me that my bed would be like sleeping on a cloud in comparison.  

My home is huge & luxurious.

How dare I complain or lament that I don't have enough?  How can I say 'Why don't I have a bigger house like so & so?'?

We don't even know what we have!  And, what we have is so very, very much.

I am thankful.  I am thankful for all I have.  And, I am thankful that God is gentle with us.  Despite our tendency toward ungratefulness, His Spirit speaks to us tenderly....reminding us of all we have.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do You Have A Suggestion?

For Christmas this year we would like to get my oldest two boys their first 'real' Bibles.  They've outgrown the children's storybook Bibles and they need something that they can take to Sunday School that has the Bible in it's entirety.

We realized it was time when our one son mentioned that they sometimes do 'Sword Drills' in Sunday School where they try to find different verses as quickly as they can.

I would like something that is a large enough print for them to be able to easily read it.  And, it would be nice if it still had pictures or illustrations here and there.  Do any of your children have a Bible that is easy for them to use.

I would love any suggestions you may have.....

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm A Fake

I went to my Momsnext meeting today and by the end of the morning I was feeling low.  I couldn't figure out what had me down.  But, then it came to me.  I felt like I was fake.

Me!  The one who laments the fact that so many feel the need to wear a mask and won't make themselves vulnerable or real.  Well, guess what?  Me too.   I, in fact, wear many masks.

1.  It's easy for me to banter back and forth on Facebook or on blog comments.  In real life, I struggle for words.  I feel awkward and unsure of myself.  Conversation doesn't always come easily for me.

2.  I don't have it all together.  I've been posting quite a bit about my weight loss and running, some (long awaited) home improvements, etc.  On the surface it might seem like I've got it together.  I really, really don't.  I'm still the gal that never invites people over to her house because I'm afraid it's too small, ramshackle, or cluttered.  People's opinion of me might be influenced if they see where I live.  I'm also the gal who has struggled with my weight all. my. life.  It's takes an awful lot to motivate me to try to be healthy.  And, even now, I ask myself 'How long will this latest health & fitness stage last?"

3.  I'm really bad at nurturing new friendships.  I've been part of my mom's group since my oldest was a baby (he's 8 now).  There are so many women in the group who I'm drawn to and feel a connection to.  Yet, I haven't taken steps to develop those relationships into deeper friendships.  I haven't been able to make myself vulnerable enough to try.  After 8 years, why not?

And, I guess I felt so bad by the end of the morning because I realized 'Maybe I have been fake.  Maybe I haven't been real enough. '  I guess it's an even easier thing to do in this age of technology.  

Anyway, do you ever feel like it's easier to be confident, witty, etc. when you sit behind a computer screen than it is in real life?  Or are you the same in person as your bloggy/facebook persona?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I really didn't want to go running today.  It's cold.  I felt like I was catching a cold.  I was tired.  I just didn't feel like it.  And, I'd already been on a 2 day running hiatus (Tuesday I was prepping for Charlie's birthday party.  Wednesday it was raining.) so it was even harder to drum up any motivation.

Then John came home for lunch and asked me why I wasn't in my running clothes.

"I'm not going today.  It's cold."  I said.

He motioned up the stairs, "Go change into your clothes & go on your run."

I just looked at him.

"This is the week you're going to want to try to go the whole 3 miles around the block if you're going to be ready for the 5K, " he said.

"Oh. OK."  I quickly went to change.  He gave me the motivation I needed when I didn't have any of my own.

I didn't have time to go around the block today.  John had to get back to work earlier today.   (For you city or suburbanite folk, a country block IS 3 miles.  Seriously.  We checked the mileage on a drive around the block.)  

But, I did still reach a running milestone.  I went a total of 2 miles.  I ran the entire first mile (down to the stop sign...yup it's one mile to the stop!) and then ran the second mile (coming back up the road) with 4 short walking intervals (I saved the walking part for the uphill areas).  

And, I feel really good.  Tomorrow I won't be able to run because I have a meeting over lunch.  But, Saturday my goal is to go the whole 3 miles!  I know that once I go past the stop sign and start going around the block there's no turning back.  But, after today I feel pretty confident I can do it.

You know whenever I used to see people running I always would think they looked so strong, fit, dedicated, and confident.  That's what I'm aiming for!  Strong. Fit. Dedicated. Confident.

Today also marked the 10th time I've run since I started 2 weeks ago.  Not major for folks who run regularly, but for me that's huge!  And, I've lost 4.2 pounds since I started running. So, it has jump started my metabolism and gotten the scale moving again.

And, I'm so thankful for a husband who motivates me even when I'm not feeling motivated!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charles Lincoln

Happy Birthday Charles Lincoln!  You were almost my birthday baby.  We missed sharing a birthday by just 2 days!

I can't believe you are four already.  Look how much you have grown.  You are my sweet boy and I love you so much!

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nothing Too Heavy Today...I Promise

Well, after my series of posts last week on doubt and faith, I figured today it was time for something a bit lighter.  Not to mention, writing those heavy, soul-baring posts was pretty draining.  It was good though to be able to put all my thoughts (well, not ALL, but many) in one spot.

Sooooo, yesterday was my birthday....the four and the one.  Yup.  41.  I really wasn't thinking too much about it in the days leading up to my birthday.  Just another day.  Plus I found this little saying which I thought was a good reflection on why we really should celebrate (instead of lament) each year we are given...

Still, I struggled a bit more with 41 than I thought I would.  I was in a 'woe is me' state for a while.  But, I eventually snapped out of it thanks to my dear hubby who got me a couple lovely gifts (cordial cherries!  and a decanter).  And, then he took me out to dinner at a lovely restaurant.

AND, I was able to wear a pair of size 12 jeans for the first time since I've lost weight.  (I'm still more of a 14 right now, but this pair worked!)  THAT was a thrill.  So, before we went out we had to take a few pictures.  (After all I was all dressed up in size 12 jeans & I had makeup on and my hair down!)

One other note from our birthday dinner:  If a waiter in a fancy restaurant tells you that the venison in their one dish is marinated for 2 days, then slow roasted for 2 days and that it doesn't taste gamey at all and just falls off the bone, take that recommendation with a grain of salt.  

I'm still not sure why I ordered it....after all since I'm married to a hunter we eat venison (or as we say, deer meat!)  more often than beef anyway.  But, I guess I wanted to see what a fancy restaurant was capable of.  Needless to say, it was good (the sauce was especially delicious) but it wasn't amazing (and certainly not worth the amount of money they charged for it).  I have to say that I have prepared venison at home that was more tender.  Just sayin'.  

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to a fabulous week!

Friday, November 11, 2011

That Thing About Faith...Seeking Revelation

(This is a continuation from the last 2 posts I wrote about doubt.  You can read the first one here and the second one here.)

"Why does the fact that faith is hard to accept logically become the end of the argument rather than the beginning of  something different?  In fact, maybe the more we let go of our secure grip on what makes sense, the more vibrant our faith will become." 
                     - John Wilkinson in No Argument For God....Going Beyond Reason In Conversations About Faith.

The verses in Isaiah that I found began to speak hope to me.  Even though I still hadn't found all the answers to the questions raised by doubt, I took hope that God wanted to be found, to be understood.  He didn't want me to remain in a place of darkness.

I longed for glimpses of God to fuel and strengthen my faith.  They came to me slowly, sometimes barely perceivable.

Bits of faith came in the form of...

A bird I noticed out the window while I was washing dishes causing me to ponder the wide variety we see...not only in birds but in all the earth, all the animals, all the plants.

The sweet-tartness of a juicy pear.  The many flavors, colors, smells that come to us in so many forms.  If evolution were true, why would we need such variety?

Evolution tries to say that all we see came from one living cell that somehow emerged out of nothing, out of a void containing no life .  And, that cell supposedly became all that we see today through millions of years of change and adaptation.  How is this theory, this story any less ridiculous than what atheists claim our story of Creation to be?

I still felt like I was taking a step forward and several steps backward on various occassions. Like a fighter struggling to rise to his feet, my opponent kept knocking me back before I could gain my footing.

Too often to count, I'd be at church engaged in worship, feeling the presence of God when a single niggling doubt would creep in and whisper, "What if all this is made up?  What if it isn't true?  Do you know how ridiculous you all look?".  I would try to squelch the thought before it could fully enter my head, but the damage was already done.  My spirit of worship was replaced once again with a spirit of doubt. 

Other crazy thoughts continued to assail me.  Things like, "If God isn't real, I'd never even know I was wrong to believe in Him.  There would be no 'after death' moment of realization.  One moment I'd be here and conscious and the next I'd be gone with no consciousness that I had even left...there'd be no consciousness at all."

Doubt tries to latch on to faith with jaws that will not come loose, shaking and shaking that faith until it goes limp.


"God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it."
 -1Corinthians 11:16

Even though my faith still floundered, God was faithful.  He continued to speak in that still, small voice.  And I started to see Him again.

My children.  This love I have for them.  It's illogical.  It's beyond reason.  It is more than a chemical reaction.

The many emotions I feel.  The way my heart is stirred by certain music.  The way my soul rises up at the beauty of a perfect Fall sunrise.  This is all beyond reason.

One night after the children were all tucked in bed and sound asleep I was downstairs in the bathroom getting myself ready for bed.  One of my children cried out in terror in their sleep calling for me, 'Mom?  Mom?  Mommy!'  I wanted to run to my child, but I wasn't able to immediately run out the bathroom door.  And in that moment, God spoke to me 'Just as your whole being longs to run to your son, my whole being longs to run to you when you cry out my Name terrified that you are alone in the dark.'

Revelation doesn't always come all at once.  Sometimes revelation comes slowly, our faith reawakening as even the small and mundane show themselves to be part of a more intricate plan.

Did I have all the answers to the questions I had been asking?  No.  Sometimes the questions don't have easy answers.  Some remain a mystery.  Still there is benefit in asking those questions.  It causes us to seek Him, to press in closer to the mystery.

Doubt does not let go easily.  This is still a journey I am on.  I do believe that I've been under spiritual attack.  But, I've wondered 'Why now?  Why at the age of 40...well into my spiritual life?'.  It occurred to me, that now that I have four young boys that we are raising to become strong men of God, the enemy has a good reason to try to take out the faith of the mother.  

What I have taken so far from this whole experience and battle with doubt  is this...

 - This is a journey no one can take for you.  You can read all the apologetics, articles, books that you can find.  And they are good resources.   But, in the end this is a heart issue between you and God.  And, only His Spirit can provide the revelation you seek.

 - Doubt will not let go if you try to ignore it.  Push back.  Face it head on.

 -You are not alone.  You are not the only Christian who has dealt with crippling doubt.   We don't like to talk about it.  We keep our spiritual Sunday best in place when talking with other Christians.  One of the most healing moments for me came when one Sunday our pastor, who was speaking about putting on our spiritual armor and the shield of faith, said that the spirit of atheism and doubt wants very much to shoot blazing arrows at us that will not just wound, but burn and consume.  Then he asked how many people had ever asked themselves if 'this whole God thing was just baloney'.  Almost every single hand in the congregation went up.  Even my father in law who was visiting with us that Sunday at church and who I consider a strong, spiritual man raised his hand.  It truly helps to realize you are not the only one.

 - God is above reason.
   Faith is...." 'not of the senses', something that exceeds the grasp of human sense organs and the reason that is fashioned from them.  Simply put,  sense and reason are only one slim pathway of what can be known.  Just because faith doesn't reside completely in this pathway doesn't make it a fairy tale."   - John Wilkinson in No Argument for God

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways."  This is the Lord's declaration.  
"For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8,9

 -You may not be able to convince your atheist friends and family.  Chances are good you won't.  Only the Holy Spirit can bring revelation to a heart and a mind that is closed.  Pray, pray, pray that God reveal Himself to them.  

 - Explore Who God is.  One of the things I started doing when I was questioning the character of God (see my questions from yesterday's post regarding the OT God) is to start looking for every single verse in the Bible that contains the Lord's name and to copy that verse into a notebook....starting from Genesis and working my way on.  I'll admit I didn't get too far, but this is an exercise I want to continue.  Because I believe God wants to be known as fully as possible by us.

Finally, these are 2 of my favorite quotes of all time.  They resonate with me and encourage me to continue my journey of faith....

"I believe in the immortality of the soul because I have within me immortal longings....Faith, the spiritual strong searchlight illumines the way, and although sinister doubts may lurk in the shadow, I walk unafraid towards the Enchanted Wood where the foliage is always green, where joy abides, where nightingales nest and sing, and where life and death are one in the Presence of the Lord." Helen Keller

-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Thanks for sticking with me through this series of posts.  I know this was a heavy topic.  But, it is one I really felt I needed to share.  God bless you on your journey!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

That Thing About Doubt...continued

(You can get up to speed by reading yesterday's post if you haven't already.  I plan to be as honest as possible in writing this series and I don't intend to gloss over the questions I was struggling with.  It is not my intent to cause anyone else to start doubting, but it is my hope and prayer that by the end of this I will have written words that would encourage.  If you have ever doubted, you are not alone.  Please stick with me through to the end.)

The interactions I had with my atheist friends had planted seeds of doubt.  At first I was bothered because I wanted desperately to know how to counter their arguments and attacks on faith.  What would get through to them?  Then, as I started to research ways to enter into a logical, rational debate, I started to ask questions I had never asked before.

How do we know the Bible is the inspired Word of God & not just a bunch of stories collected from ancient peoples?

How did the writers of the Bible know what to write?  How did God communicate His Word to them?

Is the Bible truly inerrant?  Or did the writers misinterpret things in their own human-ness?

The seeds were starting to sprout.

Some more of the questions I was asking.....

How do we know the Creation story is accurate as written in the Bible if no people were alive to witness it?

Did Creation occurr in the literal 7 days or was the word 'day' used figuratively in the Bible account?

What about scientific evidence for the theory of evolution?  How does a Christian answer that?

I started buying books on Christian apologetics.  But it seemed like each question I tried to answer opened the door to half a dozen more questions.  And, oftentimes the books I was reading glossed over the answers.  They didn't answer them in the depth I was longing for.

Even if I could get past the 'scientific' questions, other questions started bothering me on an even deeper level.

What about the God of the Old Testament?  Why does He seem so different from God as we know Him as revealed in Jesus?

Why did God seem to command war, death, and destruction in parts of the Old Testament?

Why did God command that ALL inhabitants of certain pagan cities be destroyed by the Israelites?  What about the babies and the children?

This one had me stuck for a LONG time.  As much as it still disturbed me, I could kind of grasp destroying those old enough to choose their sinful lifestyle.  But, the children!  That didn't coincide with the God I knew, the God I worship.  My mother's heart cried out in protest.

And, what about grace?  What about the grace that I knew?  My 20's were a dark time...one in which I made choices that would have condemned me if I had lived in the age of the Old Testament.  I would have died along with the other sinners.  Does God love us more now, have more capacity for mercy than He did then?  If He couldn't or wouldn't extend grace to them, then maybe He hadn't really extended it to me.  Maybe I wasn't understanding grace at all.

What about those who have never even heard of God?  Are they condemned?

What about those who grew up in a culture where they were taught to believe in another religion (just as I was taught about Jesus) and it's all they've ever known?  Are they condemned?

What about those whose hearts are good and who long to do good but they just missed the mark when it came to Jesus?  Are they condemned?

These questions plagued me.   I couldn't let go of them.  I wanted answers.  I needed answers.

I began searching online for answers to these questions.  Surely I wasn't the only one who was asking them.   Surely after thousands of years of theological discussion and searching, somewhere there had to be an answer that made sense to me.

And, while I did come across some good discussions and found some food for thought, the matters still weren't settled in my heart 100%.

This doubt was affecting my everyday life.  I was distracted, irritable.  My mind was constantly mulling over all the questions, all the many ways people had tried to answer them.  When I read stories from the Bible to my children, or tried answering questions they had about God I'd find myself wondering if it was really all made up.  After all, some of those Bible stories really do sound far fetched.

I began trying to spend more time in the Word.  I was praying.  I was seeking.  And,  far too often I felt emptiness and silence.  I wanted God to speak to me .  I wanted revelation.

I tried talking with my husband.  "Haven't you ever wondered if it's all real?  If God really exists?" I'd ask him.  

"No.  I've never questioned it.  I've never doubted it."

"Really?"  I would ask desperately.  "Haven't you ever asked any of these questions?"

"All Creation itself is evidence of God.  I believe His Word.  That's enough for me."

And, it's true.  My husband is the sort that once he believes something to be true, there is nothing that will sway him or make him change his mind.  He remains steadfast.

And I envied that about him.

God, why do you hide yourself from us?

If Your love, your Plan of salvation is supposed to be easy enough for a child to understand and believe, why am I struggling so much with so many questions?

Around this time, I came across some verses that started speaking some spiritual healing into my heart. 

Isaiah 45:18-19
"I am the Lord and there is no other.  I have not spoken in secret from somewhere in a land of darkness.  
I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.'
I the Lord speak the truth."

Isaiah 46:8-10
"Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago,
I am God and there is no other.
I am God and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times what is still to come.
I say 'My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.'

What I began to take from these verses is that God wanted to be found.  My seeking, my questioning was not fruitless.  It did not have to lead to darkness.  Instead, if I held on to my faith,  my seeking could lead to revelation.

(More to come about that path to revelation in my next post....)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

That Thing About Doubt

Back in July I wrote two posts, with the intent of writing a third, on the subject of doubt.  You can read them here and here.  I had actually originally named the posts 'Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?', but I went back and changed it to "Dealing With Doubt" because that was at the core of what was on my heart.

As I mentioned, I intended to come back and write a third post.  I imagined a nice, neat post where I summed up the thoughts & issues I had been struggling with and then wrapped it up with some practical ways that I conquered the big ol' baddie of Doubt.

But, I couldn't bring myself to write that post....because I couldn't seem to get past my own doubt.  Everytime I thought I had my head and heart in the right place and that my faith was back on track, I'd hit another pothole that sent me hurling head over heels into that dark, dark place of doubt.

Now, let me catch you up here a bit.  The doubt I'm talking about isn't 'doubt that God is in control' or 'doubt that God really loves me' or 'doubt that God really has a plan for me'.  This doubt is something a whole lot more destructive and dark.  This doubt is the doubt that God even exists....that ANY of the Bible is true, that ANY of what I've based my life on is true.

And, that's a very dark place indeed to be.

It all started with some interactions I had on Facebook with a friend who is an atheist.  I talked about that here.  First, I was shocked to learn how many people I know have no belief in a God...at all.  Second, I was shocked at how angry they are at Christians...and religious people in general.  Third, I was shocked by what an arsenal of intellectual arguments they have.  I felt completely unprepared for the interactions I had.

I suppose I was rather naive.  I had always assumed that atheists were a few cynical, grumpy college professors tucked away in their musty, stuffy offices.  I hadn't rubbed shoulders with a 'real atheist'...or so I thought.  I had always pretty much assumed that everyone believed in something and that it was just a matter of pointing them to Jesus.  Like I said...naive!

And, I hadn't exactly been consistent in my reading of the Word and prayer life.  I've used the busy-ness of motherhood and overall exhaustion as an excuse for that.  And, to be completely honest, it's much more interesting and seems so much more relevant to read blog posts from other moms than to read the Bible.  God's Word, written so long ago, and read by me hundreds of times over the course of my lifetime wasn't speaking to me the same way as things written by women I felt I had things in common with.

I was spiritually depleted.

And, it was about to get worse.  

(So, apparently I have the start of another series here.  I will continue these thoughts in my next post...)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This Is the Post Where I Cram A Whole Bunch of Stuff Into One Post

 Sorry I couldn't be more creative with a post title.  Really, I think it's the best description for what this post is going to be...a mish mash of a whole bunch of stuff.

I've been feeling really lazy about blogging lately.  I just can't seem to get my head in the game.  But, let's get started, shall we?  And, remember, it's pretty random.

1.  I'm STUCK in my weight loss.  Part of it is my own fault.  I've been using weekends as an excuse to indulge a bit more than usual.  It's just really hard to eat healthy all the time.  But, it's also true that I definitely feel the difference when I'm not eating as well.  Anyway, I've been going back and forth with the same 3-4 pounds and I just can't seem to get past the 165 lb. mark.

2.  I am still running.  Well, I should clarify that I've run about a total of 4 times since I started last week.  It would have been 5 times, but yesterday when I went out for my run I experienced the same problem that I experience when I...ahem...cough or laugh too hard - so much so that I turned around and came back.  Thanksgiving's not that far away & running a 5K is seeming more and more of a challenge I'm not sure I'm up for.

3.  Have I shown you what my kitchen/dining area is looking like since we got our new floors?  I'm slowly working on some improvements. 

My refinished chairs are in place.  I'm still working on my parent's old dining room table.  I'm almost done but keep running into set backs.  I had hoped to have pictures this week.  But, I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer.  (P.S. This picture doesn't show our radiator back in place.  My husband was kind enough to clean it and repaint it before plumbing it back in.)

I'm showing this picture because the lower cabinets that used to be beside the stove are now out beside the refrigerator.  We need to cut the counter-top to size to fit it's new location.  That project is still on hold.  I also wanted to show you this because my goal is to switch the locations of the fridge and stove.    Oh, and I still want to paint my cabinets...probably an off white or cream.

Woops.  This picture is blurry, but here you can see our new island.  I think I told you all about that here but I hadn't shown you a picture of how it looks in the house.

Also, I found these stools at a place called Burlington Coat Factory...actually they have a whole bunch of discount home goods items, clothes, etc.  These were the floor model, the last they had in black so I was able to get them for a discount.  You can also see that we are still living with an unfinished wall where the stove currently is.  It's been that way since we did the floors.

What you can't see in this picture is that there are overhead cabinets the stretch from the stove across the island.  Since the island is a true island now and you can go around all sides (as opposed to beforehand with our cabinets, they stretched all the way to the stove) I would like to take out the upper cabinets so we can actually walk around it.

4.  We made & canned applesauce this past weekend.  Actually to be completely accurate my husband did the majority of the work.  I helped out a bit, but this was really his project.  And, I'm so amazed because he can work so fast!  A project that would have taken me all day and into the night took him a total of about 5 hours.  And he had the boys involved!   

The following pictures from the day's event will show a bit more accurately what my kitchen looks like on a normal basis....well used!

Note those upper cabinets.  They really need to go.

Boys taking a break...sitting on the radiator I mentioned.  My children are constantly moving around our kitchen chairs.  Do yours do that?

I think we had a total of 24 quarts and 8 pints.  

The man responsible for the day's success!  Good looking AND good in the kitchen.  What else could I ask for?

5.  I hope you haven't gotten tired of my ramblings and all my pictures yet.  Because I've got more.  This week I made Pumpkin Yum Yum Cupcakes.  If you've never had Yum Yum Cupcakes before you must have them!  I will post the recipe I have for the original Yum Yum Cupcake in another post (Really, how much can I cram in one post?!)

But, this is a variation....

I'm sure that by now just about everyone has heard about the super simple recipe you can use to make pumpkin cupcakes.  Take any box cake mix in your choice of flavor (I used spice) and a can of pumpkin and mix them together.  And, that's it!  No additonal ingredients.

The batter will be a bit stiff.  Go ahead and put that into your lined cupcake pans.

Now for the Yum Yum part.  Take one 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese, 1 egg, and about 1/2 cup of sugar.  Beat that until smooth.

Then stir in about a cup of chocolate chips.

Dollop that mixture on top of your pumpkin mix.  This recipe is actually for 24 cupcakes.  But, I only had 16 liners & I really don't like cleaning muffin tins.  So, I just made mine extra big.  The boys appear to approve.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Yum!

6.  I talked in this post about the fact that I love raising my boys in the country.  Well, I suppose the same holds true for my animals.  What would my dog & cat do if they didn't have the ability to explore as they please?  I might get some people mad at me on this one....but I don't think animals are meant to be kept inside all the time.  They need some freedom.  It's harder and harder for folks to do though as our homes & lives push in closer and closer to each other.

Abbey was exploring the field behind our house.  Notice the black dot?  She started running toward me as soon as I came out side.

And, she's still running.

Good dog Abbey!

7.  My last thought for the day....My husband recently bought a tractor.  No.  We're not farmers and we don't live on a farm.  And, yes, his dad already has several tractors (my in-laws also do not live on a farm).  But, tractors are in their blood...as they seem to be for most of the men in this family.  And, John really wanted a tractor of his own to tinker with.  It's an old Deutz (the tractor of choice for our family).  I couldn't tell you the year....50's maybe?  But, my husband is just as proud as can be.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I know it was an uber-long post.  I hope you have a great day!
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