Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Long Weekend

We took a long weekend this past weekend.  It. Was. So. Good.  Can I stress that a little more?  SO. GOOD.  So. Good. Like, do-we-really-have-to-go-home? kinda good.  

We left Thursday night.  I got a SUBSTITUTE for Friday.  Which meant Thursday was my Friday.  Awesome sauce.  Because I was seriously done by Thursday.  It was one of those weeks.

We took our time getting to Richmond, stopping in to see a good friend in Stauton along the way.

On Friday, we slept in.  Well, by slept in, I mean Patrick slept in.  I slept "later than normal," but got up to lounge around, drink coffee, finish my book, and watch TV.  So, really it was just as good.  We meandered to lunch around 1:30 and then slipped in Barnes and Noble for a good long while to check out books and read magazines.  We are nerds, I know.  Don't judge.

There may or may not have been a much needed afternoon nap to recover from all the activity of getting up and dressed and reading books.  It was rough, you know.

We stopped by the mall later on that evening and wandered around.  Someone was really happy with our trip to Brookstone.  Yes, the shoes are off. 

We had pizza for dinner and made our way back to the hotel.

Saturday was really hard on us, what with sleeping until 11:00 and having no where to be and all...  :)

We met Betty Cabell for lunch at Can-Can.  We caught up on all things running and lip liner and new hair colors and our foster parent news.  It was excellent.

And then, I went shopping.  Because my husband is wonderful and loves me very much, he sent me to the mall on my own (instead of coming along and whining and rushing me).  It was fabulous.  I went to Ann Taylor Loft four times, because I could.  I tried on a million things in H&M and bought nothing, because I could.  I got starbucks and sat at a table by myself for a few minutes, relishing the glory of alone time and not having to answer to a million 14-year-olds calling "Mrs. Herndon" for the 400,000th time.  It was lovely.

That night we got sandwiches and DQ blizzards and watched the Vols get crushed by Alabama (sad face). 

On Sunday, we made a stop by Trader Joes, our favorite, and headed home.  We got a bunch of stuff accomplished around the house, which made us feel like rockstars, especially after spending the whole weekend being lazy. 

Overall, it was a fabulous and much needed rest.  We are so easily pleased.  We were happy just to be away and to be with each other.  We are not sure how much of this precious alone time with have left in our future, so we are reveling in every. single. minute.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Because we all need more blogs to read...

I'll admit, I'm a little addicted to my Google Reader.  Blogs have become my magazines in many ways.  They are what I look to first for inspiration for our home, recipes, and projects, and many that I read center around only those subjects.  I skim these quickly when they are in my reader, mostly scanning for gorgeous house pictures or yummy recipes.  There are some great ideas out there! 
But there are a handful of blogs that I follow that I pour over.  Many of the women whose words I read often do not even know how their thoughts and voices on this daily walk of faith, have helped me find my own.  They have inspired me to reevaluate the way do daily life, the way I keep my home, and the purpose behind all of it.  I wanted to share some of those with you all in case you, like me, need a little daily dose of distraction encouragement today:

Handmade Recess - I love this series she is doing now on Deliberate Joy. 

Life in Grace - Edie and her family recently lost their family home due to a tragic fire.  She is now sharing the rebuilding process.  Edie's theology and faith inspire me.  She's so spot on all on the time.  And she has the most beautiful new home!

Whatever - Meg is a stay-at-home mom and a photographer.  She is so real, and that's why I love reading her blog.  She shares her struggles with everything from fixing dinner to hard questions of faith in a way that is so easy to relate to.  She's also very crafty, and I am not.  She is inspiring.

Small Notebook - I'm not sure of Rachel's faith, but I appreciate her perspective on life.  As someone who struggles hard with the sin of materialism, Rachel is so encouraging on the topic of simplifying your life.  She talks about everything from simplifying your wardrobe and your home, but also includes really great discussion on simplifying relationships and family life as well. 

And finally, because she is hilarious...

Big Mama -  I love how she writes.  I love how her words drip with sarcasm and dry humor.  But she is also a woman of faith, which is very evident in the way she orders her days and seeks to be a Godly mother to her little girl.  I love how she finds humor and joy in the small things!

Hope you enjoy these reads as much as I do! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Savoring Saturday

Today was so good.

And on the topic of hurrying, we did none of that.

We spent the day slowing down, relaxing, and savoring each little bit of time spent together:

-Sleeping until 9:30 (late for me!) and slowly sipping a warm cup of coffee.

-My awesome husband scheduled me a surprise professional massage. I didn't even know I needed this.  I found out that I desperately needed it.  It was amazing.

-Having lunch together down on the market.

-Catching up on a little missed TV.

-Watching the Vols play and snuggling with sweet nephews and niece.

-A spontaneous late-night venture to our favorite mexican restaurant in town.  Chatting and laughing and catching up over chips and salsa in our private little booth.

-Finishing a good book while curled up in my warm bed.

-Anticipating worshipping my Father in the morning.

I can't imagine a better Saturday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Hurrying and Joy

Lately I have found myself in hurry mode.  I find myself, at the very least, in a mindset of rush, rush rush --hurrying to get to the next thing.  And to what end?  I then find myself at "the next thing" and there I am rushing again onto the next, and so on and so forth.  A couple of years ago I was confronted on this issue by pastor and author John Ortberg in his book, The Life You've Always Wanted.  I found his words on the same subject in an article that I came across today.  See if this sounds like you too:

Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?

Long pause.

"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life," he said at last.

Another long pause.

"Okay, I've written that one down," I told him, a little impatiently. "That's a good one. Now what else is there?" I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.

Can I get an amen?  I mean, surely I'm not alone in this, right?

But here's the deal:  I think that when we live life in this mindset, we deprive ourselves of joy.  In fact, I would venture to say that this is surely a tactic of the enemy to steal the joy from our lives.  When we're always moving on to the next thing, then we are not really in the moment.  Our eyes are not focused on what the Lord is doing right now, right here, and so we miss some things. Ortberg says that, "the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them."

I have found that the things that bring real joy in life are in the little things--the random moments and conversations where we stop and laugh with people.  Or stop and really find out how someone is doing.  Really doing.  Or stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  When we are in hurry mode, these are the things we miss. 

In his book, Desiring God, John Piper says that "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with Him."  So really, when we miss these moments of joy because of our need to get to the next thing, we are not just missing out on joy but we are ultimately stealing God's glory.  Friends, this is why hurrying has to be a sin.  This is why we need to, as Ortberg says, "ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives."  This is why we need to deliberately slow down.  In the slowing down, we will deliberately cultivate joy.  We will see what God is doing and we will be able to give him the glory that He is due. 

It's not easy; that's for sure.  I have found that I have to purposefully, in the moment, slow down and actually say to myself, "Savor this." 

It means that everything you have planned for a day may not get done.

For me, it means building five minutes of downtime into my lesson plans so that I don't spend  every single moment of class hurrying through content to beat the bell. 

It means that I have to stop living for 7th period and start living in the moments with my students in every class.  Even on a Monday.

It means focusing intently on enjoying and savoring time spent with my husband as just the two of us now and not letting my impatience to have our boy with us hurry these moments by.

It has meant fasting from magazines and blogs and facebook on occasion so that I don't get caught up in what others are doing so much that I begin to compare and hurry our life along to match theirs.

Sometimes it means getting in the slow lane at the grocery store on purpose, just to practice the discipline of "ruthlessly eliminating hurry."

What about you?  Is hurry a struggle for you?  Can we make a small commitment to one another to slow down a little more and savor the little moments where real joy can be found?  I need a little accountability here.  To God be the glory and for the sake of our joy in Him!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Good Day and A Recipe

This has been a lonnnnng week.  As in, I thought yesterday was Thursday and today was Friday.  It was a rude awakening.  And it has been busy.  Something to do almost every night.

But today was just one of those good days.  It was one of those days filled with small things, but all the small things just seemed to add up perfectly.

(Maybe it was the second cup of coffee?)

We have officially started Romeo and Juliet and I got through my lesson perfectly in every class today for the first time all year.

I decided to give up and just laugh with my crazy 6th period instead of trying to make them stop talking.

An out of the blue heart-warming conversation with our boy after school.  He is requesting a lime-green bedroom.  He said, "The minute you guys are able to come get me, I'm ready."  And then I melted into a puddle on the floor.

I had just enough time to grab a power nap before heading off to the JV football game.

I spent the evening enjoying time with my cheerleaders and being silly with them.

And finally, a student that I was SURE hated me and my class and was going to give me the cold shoulder for the entire school year, saw me walking by after the game on his way to the locker room and yelled me name so loudly and started waving that the whole football team turned around and started waving too.  I am calling that a small step for man, and a giant leap for teacher-kind.

And now for a recipe.  The biggest indication that my life is starting to spin crazily out of my control is that I stop cooking, grocery shopping, packing lunch, and generally anything that has to do with preparing food on a daily basis.  Chicken nugget day is a saving grace in these moments.  But yesterday I made a pot roast.  And it was dang good.  I got this out of Southern Living magazine last year, which my grandmother gives me regularly.  God bless my grandma.  She is awesome.  This is really easy and you can do it in the crockpot!  I have been making it for a while now.
1 package fresh mushrooms
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 3-4 lb. roast (I used sirloin, but I think you could use any beef roast)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can beef broth
1 envelope of french onion soup mix
Put the onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Then layer the mushrooms. Set the roast on top of all that. Sprinkle the roast with pepper and the french onion soup mix. Dump the tomato sauce and the beef broth in and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Ok, this next part is optional but it takes the whole thing up a notch: When the roast is done, take it out and put it on a platter or something. Cover with foil to keep it warm. Into the crockpot with all the juices and mushrooms and onions, put 3 Tbsp. tomato paste and 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning. Mix 2 Tbsp. cornstarch in 2 Tbsp. water. Add to crockpot. Stir it all together and cook it on High for 30 min. It makes this awesome gravy/sauce with the mushrooms and onions in it to pour over the roast.
The first time I ever made this for dinner I served it with mashed potatoes and peas.  You should absolutely do this.  It will make you feel like a rockstar.  And the leftovers are even better.  It will make chicken nugget day look like chopped liver! 
So, here's to a good day, pot roast leftovers and all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


We spent last weekend cleaning out our junk room.

Actually it is Junk Room #2.  It's the worse of the two.

It's the kind of junk room that you literally open the door, throw whatever you have in your hand that you don't have any place for in the rest of your house inside, and close the door really quickly so you don't have to look at the mess for too long.

It's the room in which we ran out of paint in the midst of the paint job three years ago and never finished.

Junk Room #2 is slowing becoming an office.  Slowly.

That's because Junk Room #1 is slowly (even more maybe even just in thought so far) becoming a bedroom.

Junk Room #1 is also affectionately known as Patrick's office.  If you have ever been to our house, you might also know this room as "The Noah's Ark Room" because it was once a nursery to the previous owners.  There are big, weird animals painted on the walls.  I think they will seriously creep out a teenage boy.  I mean seriously they creep me out just a tad. 

We have also decided that this may be the kick in the pants we needed to put in that second full  bathroom in the basement that we have been talking about for four years.  Which means moving the laundry room out of that space, which means maybe moving a wall to create a laundry space somewhere else.

And then my head starts to spin.

And I start to think that maybe we really have gone and lost our minds.

We spent a date night tonight having dinner at Chik-Fil-A and walking around Lowe's looking at new interior doors and bathroom sinks.  I reminded Patrick that our soon-to-be foster son may be at the Homecoming dance with a girl this very moment and that all situations that fall under that category will henceforth be his area to patrol once this boy is living in our house.  I just don't know if I can handle those conversations.  This is all becoming a little more real. 

It becomes a little more real when this kid, who last year I barely knew, comes in each morning and sits by my desk and tells me about his day.  Or checks in with me before heading off to football practice in the afternoon.  Or looks back at us from the sidelines to see if we're there on Friday night.

And so we do the only thing that we know to do, which is to begin to ready our house and rearrange a few rooms. 

But really, it is only metaphorical for the rearranging that is happening and is going to happen in our lives--happening in our minds and hearts already.