Monday, June 29, 2009


We've made a little progress since my long list post. Now we have things hanging on the walls in our bedroom and the office. Without further ado, in case you really do care what my home looks like...

The center frame is a picture of my bouquet. The two on the sides are the actual petals from it; I knew I didn't want to just dry the flowers and keep the bouquet in tact, so this Martha Stewart idea to press the petals and frame them was perfect. I love how they turned out!

The wall hanging is our house-warming present from my mom and sisters. They did it all.

Our pretty blue hydrangeas look great. So do the white ones, but they're not as much fun to take pictures of.

And.... the floors are now a work in progress! Brad and his uncle Greg spent most of Sunday working on them. The picture doesn't do them justice... more will come when they are further along.

I can't believe that this week is already July... not that this is a bad thing. We've done a lot in the last couple of months. As of right now, I think that, when August 17 rolls around, I'll be ready to go back. I love summer, but I do love my job.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes and No

A list, not of overwhelming proportions, not of things I will force myself to do. A list of pure, summertime fun... energy... excitement... longings... expectations... for when lazy days like today are too much for me to handle.

The wood floors still sit in their boxes. (Maybe this weekend, but if not, then for sure two weeks from this weekend.)

The rug, then, is still in the wrapping. (I'm not trying to display it yet, so no worries!)

The pictures still lie on the floor. (They are mostly at least in the room where they will hang. Today we bought picture hangers for one Brad got at Christmas.)

The hydrangeas have been moved to pots in the shade. (I think they look better already.)

One week later...

Grammar Rock came. I reminisced. It's still in the box, waiting for the day when I break it open and dedicate some real time to contemplating how it will help me teach parts of speech.

Our desk from Bethel has been stripped, sanded, stained, and finished. Eight-ish months later. (The drawers, though, need a nice coating of beeswax before we put them back in so they slide nicely.) The office has been painted. In one day, with one gallon of paint.

The crabgrass is thriving in our backyard. Garden beds still wait. We know how to fix the sprinkler system, and my parents' rototiller is fixed again... so someday, when the heat index is under 105*.

I'm three flipcharts and countless hours in to my online summer class.

We watched Justin play baseball. He stole his way from 1st to home. I think he was walked.

People in Lyndon bought our rejects. Now if only I would stop finding more and more things that we should have rejected two weeks ago.

The grass plugs at my parents' house are in the ground.

Harvest is happening, despite the flat tires. On the "new-to-us" combine. On the header trailer. My dad said, "You know what they say. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

Determined to find the inner farm girl (who was never realized in my actual farm girl days), I pulled the header home. Around the Grace Hill Rd. curves.Sounds like summer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Several Stories

What an exciting title! I know, I just can't help myself. At least I have a little alliteration.

Story one:

Sunday night. High school seniors - scratch that, college freshmen. Our house. If it were just the tp, I'd have no problem. But climbing onto our air conditioner to look in our kitchen window, going around back (through the closed gate) into our fenced backyard onto the deck and looking in the sliding glass door... maybe a little much?! Add that to the fact that they've tried to open our car doors (I'm so small-town that I don't lock the doors when it's in my driveway) and walked into our garage (we also leave the garage door open when we're home)... Maybe a little creepy?! Maybe some boundary issues. I don't know what to think... I do know I never would have done it to my high school coaches. Even the one who wants to be a carnie/carney and would just laugh. I've never seen the thrill in tp'ing.

Story two:

I bought a rug. I've been waiting and waiting to buy it (until we have floors to put it on), but last week it was on sale at Target. And, AAA members can get 10% off at Hmm... And, big orders get free shipping, which was a huge plus when I realized that shipping for this rug would be $144, more than I paid for it.

Now look closely at the bag it was shipped in. Just in case you're not catching it, the words on the bag say "REMOVE THIS BAG BEFORE DISPLAYING." Seriously?! I need instructions for that? I've been trying to picture the person who would actually try to roll the rug out onto their floor without removing the bag.

It must be used to ship more than just rugs.

Story three:

Nope, not a hair cut. Just a new style. Maybe. (Excuse the dorky picture; I had to take it myself.) I've always struggled with what to do with my hair. (Feel free to stop reading at this point, as I'm sure that some of you really don't care.) It's not actually curly but not actually straight. It takes work to make it go either way, but I'm still not willing to part with the length - gotta have that ponytail for the really bad days (though I'm thinking about it). In recent years I've gone straight, but I decided that summer would be the perfect time to try something new. So here it is... I got some shampoo and mousse, and even used the diffuser on my dryer for the first time. Not necessarily correctly, but I used it. It looks very different depending on the stage of dry (this is still a little damp). I'm really not sure about this curly thing. Any thoughts?


P.S. Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope that sometimes it's worth it. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

And the winner is...

...the darker wood. It actually ended up a little darker than the sample, but that's okay. We like it, and we'll like it even more once it's installed. For about a week, our rooms were nice, big, open spaces. And, by some strange miracle (called Kilz), the smell is gone! Seriously. Gone. If you've been to my house or seen pictures of the carpet, you know what a big accomplishment this is. Since we tore up the carpet I've wondered if it will ever really go away. The Kilz... All I can say is wow. There just isn't a smell anymore. Now I'm confident that when all the carpet is gone - meaning from the bedrooms, too - our house will smell like us, instead of dog.

Now the living/dining room looks like this (usually without Brad in the picture, though) because the wood floors have to become acclimated to our home. For two weeks. I guess this makes it less likely to expand and contract and be problematic once it's installed. But it's here, and some day soon we'll have floors again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Catch the Spirit!

Okay, I'll admit it. Vacation Bible School (VBS) is one of my favorite things... pretty much ever. I'm not sure if I love-loved it when I participated as a kiddo, but I love-love it now. Two summers ago my job was to do VBS (7 times in 5 weeks) around our church conference with 3 other college students and a retired pastor. That was when I really feel in love.

Last year I couldn't help - something about a wedding that week?! So when this spring rolled around, I eagerly anticipated the Sunday when the announcement for VBS helpers would be made. I was definitely volunteering. This past week I got to lead worship for VBS. Our church, Hope Mennonite, puts on a week-long session with three other Mennonite churches in Wichita: Lorraine Avenue, First Church of the Brethern, and Church of the Servant.

The theme was "Catch the Spirit," and we learned all about the Holy Spirit, from how God sent the Holy Spirit to help the disciples start the church up to the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us now.

Surprisingly, as cheesy as VBS sometimes seems, it made me think a little bit. There was a drama each evening that told the Bible story for that day, and the Holy Spirit was portrayed as an ever-present, albeit invisible, being, rather than something mystical and absent. The Holy Spirit (or "H.S. for short") does things - is a helper and teacher and encourager and mover. Huh. I guess I had just never thought about the Holy Spirit as more than just a part of the Trinity. It was a wonderful week... and I already can't wait to see what happens next year.

"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gray Matters

I just started a new book. Well, about a week and a half ago, I started a new book. It's nonfiction, so I'm struggling even though it's so good.

One Saturday I was wandering around a bookstore, waiting for it to be time to meet Brad and his parents to go to a graduation party. I walked by the religion section and a title jumped out at me. Now, you must understand that the religion section is not one that I would normally be perusing. In fact, the word religion feels stifling to me... I prefer faith. It's less constricting, like the opposite of a boa constrictor.

You Don't Have to be Wrong for me to be Right: Finding Faith without Fanaticism by Brad Hirschfield. He's a rabbi. This book is wonderful.

I haven't spent much time processing, but basically his premise is that we can peacefully coexist, understanding that we all have different beliefs. No one person or religion (ick - that word again) or faith tradition has the absolute, black and white answers to all. Faith traditions do not have to agree... not everything is mutually exclusive. And so on.

It is wonderful to me because I hurt when we tell others that they believe the wrong thing. It tears me up inside when we make the world into black and white, right and wrong, absolutes. Because to me, faith is not about absolutes. It does not speak in certainties but in hope. My faith is about loving and accepting and trying to understand you and your faith (kind of like Jesus, maybe). And my faith does not have to exclude your beliefs. Here are some snippets:

"When faith simplifies things that need to remain complex, instead of giving us strength to live with complexity, when it gives answers where none exist, instead of helping us appreciate the sacredness of living with questions, when it offers certainty when there needs to be doubt, and when it tells us that we have arrived when we should still be searching - then there is a problem with that faith" (Hirschfield 9).

I love this because in the past several years I've come to an understanding that faith is about the questions, not the answers. It is about the journey, not the destination. Faith without doubt is weak. I just love "sacredness of living with questions." I think that we spend too much time looking for the "right" answer or shouting about how we have the "right" answer when maybe we're just asking the wrong question.

What also strikes me about that excerpt is "giving us strength to live with complexity." It's easy to say that I'm right and you're wrong. It takes commitment and patience and openness to dialogue about our faith and our differences... it takes strength to acknowledge and understand that others have a "side" on an issue because they, too, believe. They, too, have faith. (I read that somewhere, although I wish I could take credit for that thought.) It means accepting that I don't have absolute answers, and that's difficult to do.

The problem comes when... "You believe that you have unfettered access to the whole truth, and that your knowledge gives you permission to do whatever you believe is necessary in defense of that truth" (Hirschfield 28).

I'm a teacher. Every single day for nine months I was expected to know all the answers, like "Is there such a thing as ink poisoning?!" I think, though, that my students learned more when I admitted that I didn't know, and we figured it out together. Nobody knows it all. Nobody has the absolute answers. But everybody thinks they do. Closing yourself to other points of view... just won't cut it any more. You have to listen. If you have all the answers, it's not faith, because inherent in that word is belief without certainty.

"Seeking is about realizing that the journey has not ended, but that each place in which you find yourself demands attention and commitment" (Hirschfield 52).

The search goes on forever and ever... Again, faith is a journey.

I don't know if I articulated my thoughts very well (it's kind of late for me!). Believe what you will - I may be sacrilegious or unfaithful or faithless or a doubting Thomas or a bad Christian. But this makes so much sense to me.