Archive | January 2013

27 and counting

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I like my birthday. Hm, like isn’t really strong enough. I LOVE my birthday. It makes me feel kind of vain since my birthday is basically a celebration of me, but I like having an excuse to do what I want to do, not do what I don’t want to do and get together with people I love to celebrate another year of life and look forward to the coming year.

On Wednesday, I turned 27, and the pit of my stomach tells me it’ll be a good year. Pete turned 28 on Friday, so we’ve gotten to do double the fun stuff!

Here’s the abridged version of what I did on my birthday: got a bunch of Facebook messages, texts, phone calls and well wishes in person — all which gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling; ate lots of good food; worked, but took Friday off; and had the best birthday I’ve ever had on the clock.

Here’s what I DIDN’T do: dishes, cleaning, pack lunches, complain or frown.

Here’s the past week in pictures, in no particular order because it’s too much work to organize them after uploading:

My beautiful bouquet from Mr. Jothen. He's so good at picking out flowers. He even arranged this one!

My beautiful bouquet from Mr. Jothen. He’s so good at picking out flowers. He even arranged this one!

To celebrate both of our birthdays. A yellow cake with chocolate icing on the left and rainbow chip on the right.

To celebrate both of our birthdays. A yellow cake with chocolate icing on the left and rainbow chip on the right.

Amelie's French Bakery in NoDa. We both got the salted caramel brownie. Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!

Amelie’s French Bakery in NoDa. We both got the salted caramel brownie. Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!

Inside Amelie's

Inside Amelie’s

There's so much to look at!

There’s so much to look at!

My family came to visit, and we went ice skating at the Extreme Ice Center near our house. It was Emily's first time!

My family came to visit, and we went ice skating at the Extreme Ice Center near our house. It was Emily’s first time!

All the Facebook wishes made me feel special. =)

All the Facebook wishes made me feel special. =)

At my cubicle

At my cubicle

What a handsome husband I have. We went to Zink near SouthPark for part of the Queen's Feast (Restaurant Week) and had a 4-course dinner with champagne. Pete wasn't feeling well, but still took me out. A trooper.

What a handsome husband I have. We went to Zink near SouthPark for part of the Queen’s Feast (Restaurant Week) and had a 4-course dinner. Pete wasn’t feeling well, but still took me out. A trooper.

I took this from the car because it was really cold outside. There was a red carpet (OK, a rug) leading to the front door.

I took this from the car because it was really cold outside. There was a red carpet (OK, a rug) leading to the front door.

A couple of doodles from my co-workers inside a birthday card.

A couple of doodles from my co-workers inside a birthday card.

Celebrating with some of the ladies at work. My favorite ice cream!

Celebrating with some of the ladies at work. My favorite ice cream, mint chocolate chip!

My meal at Zink. Trout and a shrimp dish with rice and tomatoes.

My main course at Zink. Trout and a shrimp dish with rice and tomatoes.

Being silly at lunch. Elizabeth looks ticked off, and I was apparently very happy.

Being silly at lunch. Elizabeth looks ticked off, and I was apparently very happy.

Jessica didn't want to look short beside me.

Jessica didn’t want to look short beside me.

Me and Tameka, who took a break from her meeting to come see me!

Me and Tameka, who took a break from her meeting to come see me!

Burning my birthday cake candle while baking our birthday cake!

Burning my birthday cake candle while baking our birthday cake!

Sweet cards (and a decorated envelope) from the best co-workers ever.

Sweet cards (and a decorated envelope) from the best co-workers ever.

Double the yummy smells.

Double the yummy smells.

Tickets to go see "Wicked" in March! This will be a late birthday gift for both of us, purchased with Pete's birthday money because he's too stubborn and loving to buy something HE wants with his portion. I bought a new comforter with my half.

Tickets to go see “Wicked” in March! This will be a late birthday gift for both of us, purchased with Pete’s birthday money because he’s too stubborn and loving to buy something HE wants with his portion. I bought a new comforter with my half.

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Sins of an elementary school kid

It was a long time before I confessed to my mother that I used to steal Blow Pops from my first-grade teacher, Ms. Glandon. I sometimes wonder if Ms. Glandon knew, but was too occupied apprehending boys who took their shoes off in class to deal with my thievery. (You do, after all, see more signs requiring shirts and shoes than those warning customers not to steal bubble gum-filled lollipops.)

Blow Pops

Ms. Glandon wasn’t my favorite teacher. She once made me put a “W” by my name in the grade book for taking too long to answer her question in class — it wasn’t because I didn’t know it; I was just that shy — and another time gave me the “W” (meaning “warning”) for writing my name in pencil on the bathroom door. I don’t remember which girl tattled on me, but I was P.O.’d. It was pencil, and I even erased it.

Maybe that’s why I resorted to taking treats out of her bottom file cabinet. I knew where the Blow Pops were because every week, she would open the drawer and pull out a handful for the lucky kids who spelled the bonus word right. The bonus word was always bigger than our regular spelling words, but lucky for me, I was a good speller. (I briefly wanted to be a meteorologist because I could spell it and because I liked putting the laminated, velcroed sun on the felt board during weather time.)

Eventually, I found that a weekly Blow Pop was not as satisfying as a daily one, so I devised a plan. I waited until Ms. Glandon got the last of the bus riders in line, then hid behind the long counter at the front of the classroom ’til she filed them out and turned off the light. Then I snuck into the drawer and picked out a watermelon Blow Pop. (Warning: If you’re a teacher, be sure you lock up your valuables, especially around those who get a “W” in the grade book.)

Sometimes, the drawer would be locked, but usually not. Typically, the only thing that kept me from taking one was if she was out of watermelon and grape. I wasn’t about to waste my time on sour apple. When Mom started to ask where I was getting all the Blow Pops, though, I figured I should scale back.

That wasn’t, however, the end of my mischief in Ms. Glandon’s class. I also remember one spelling test where she asked us to spell January. Well, being my birth month and loving my birthday, I knew good and well how to spell it, but I also knew that there was a piece of paper taped to all of our desks with each month written on it so we could write the date properly. Unfortunately, we all had a cardboard shade on our desks, the kind with three sides so no one could see our answers, kind of like a voting booth. I waited until no one was looking, then slid the cardboard forward so I could see the piece of paper. Yes, I spelled it right! (Like I didn’t know.) …

kid with glassesIn third grade, I’d moved from robbery and cheating to denial. I remember having an eye exam that year with all the other kids in school, and the optometrist told me I might need glasses. (Sorry, Mom, I never told you this. I feel it’s safe now that I’m out of the house.) I thought my vision was fine and didn’t want stupid ol’ glasses, so I kept it a secret between me and God.

“All right, God, you don’t force me to get glasses, and I’ll repent of all those Blow Pops I took. Besides, I like Tootsie Pops better now. … Thanks for creating Tootsie Pops. Amen.”

(I eventually had to get glasses anyway and spent my freshman year begging for contacts.)

rabbit's footBy fourth grade, I’d met a girl named Lindsay. I was jealous of her long, blond hair, so one day I took the purple rabbit’s foot off her backpack at the cubbies and put it in my JanSport. I mean, that’s the logical reaction, right? (Side thought: Who decided to cut off the feet of small animals and dye them various colors to make key chains that would adorn children’s school items?) I actually felt bad for that one because she was nice. I think I gave the rabbit’s foot to Emily.

After that, I think I mellowed out, or maybe that’s the year we focused on the 10 Commandments in Sunday school.

 

Resolve

I don’t remember all the New Year’s resolutions I’ve made over the years, but I know I rarely keep them. I resolve to do things like work out at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes, then I decide one week that “The Bachelor” is more interesting and there it goes.

Or I say I won’t cuss for an entire year, even under my breath, but let’s be real. Driving in Charlotte is like wading through piranha-infested waters while strapped to an elderly sea turtle. You can’t get anywhere fast, and everyone is out to kill you.

But in 2012, I stuck with it. For 365 days, I kept my resolution, even when I was tired, even when I was out of town, even when I wasn’t in the mood. I did it in line, at home, on my lunch break and sometimes just before midnight. I followed a chronological reading plan and read the entire Bible (with notes!) for the second time around.

Here’s what I learned. (And some of this is repeated from Facebook if you already saw my post):

1. Humility is hard. I like to think I’m not a proud person, in the sense of unhealthy pride in who I am or what I do, but the truth is, there are times I feel that “better than you” attitude creeping in. In my better moments, I realize that I’m not above anyone else, that I have my own countless flaws and hangups, and that God doesn’t love me more than the next person because I don’t do this or that. But sometimes that mental check is nowhere to be found and I find myself getting judgy. I was reminded this past year to look at the plank in my own eye before criticizing the speck of sawdust in someone else’s (Matthew 7:3). And trust me, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to be reminded.

2. Loving difficult people isn’t easy, either. People annoy me. They test my patience, they say mean things, they’re selfish, thoughtless and messy. I’m talking about the woman at the cash register who clearly hates her job and acts like it’s torture to ring up my 5 items. She complains about being there while I’m standing in front of her, her eyelids are heavy with boredom and she mumbles the total of my purchase. I’m talking about the Facebook friends whose immature posts consist of pet peeves, complaints and snide remarks for that certain Facebook friend to see — all misspelled, of course. And I’m talking about that socially awkward person at church who can’t take a hint that it’s time to end a conversation and always talks about the same things. … So how do I love them? First, see #1. I also think it’s funny that I constantly pray for patience, but when God gives me a chance to exercise that patience, I’m gritting my teeth behind the wheel, trying not to roll my eyes or wishing I could tell someone to shut up and get away with it. And so God continues to give me opportunities, setting the perfect example of patience. I even started telling Zoey that patience is a virtue when she tries to wiggle through the door with wet paws before I have a chance to dry them off. We’re learning together.

3. Sometimes I want to reap God’s blessings without spending time with Him. Do you ever pray for something over and over or ask God why something is happening, but can’t remember the last time you thanked Him for His already infinite blessings or even glanced at a Bible? Do you ever ask Him to speak to you without taking some quiet time to reflect on what He’s saying, or without reading His Word? I’ve heard pastors describe the Bible as God’s love letter to us, and after reading it cover to cover twice, I think that’s exactly what it is. I don’t completely understand every word, and some of it is hard to get through (*cough* Leviticus), but when I was done on Dec. 31, I was overwhelmed by His love for me. I wouldn’t think of asking a friend for a favor when I never talk to her or haven’t seen her in ages. So why is it different with God?

4. No one else and no amount of stuff can fulfill my life like He can. This has probably been the hardest lesson for me to learn. It’s not easy to be disappointed by those close to me, or to feel like I have no one who understands. Even if I knew someone would understand, there’s no way I would tell them everything that’s on my mind. But God already knows, so I don’t have to explain. I can scream in the car when I’m frustrated or stand in the bathroom with my face red, tears running down my face and my nose running and know that He hears me, sees me and cares. When I feel like I can’t take it anymore, I’ve learned to pray. It’s not usually an eloquent prayer, but more of a plea to take my worries and insecurities away, help me see where I’ve gone wrong and to please make me feel whole. I’ve learned to talk to God like a friend and not a grandfatherly figure who floats around the universe. I’ve learned that it’s OK to say, “How long do I have to endure this?” or “Why won’t you intervene?” He already knows what I’m thinking anyway. I’ve also learned to follow up those questions with, “What can I learn from this?” and “How can I glorify you in this?” Even a great job, a closet full of clothes and a wonderful husband just can’t give me the deep comfort God can. And that’s the way an all-powerful, omniscient Lord should be.

5. Mend relationships. How can I say I love God when I’m not loving another person He’s created? Another person, I might add, who is also in His image. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” How we treat others reflects what we think of God. If I owe someone an apology, I better, in my mom’s words, “Make it right.”

6. Revelation is one crazy/awesome book. Just in the past few months, through Sunday school and my own reading, I’ve started to understand Revelation. The main thing I get out of it: God wins. It’s not that I didn’t know that before, but with so many terrible and depressing things going on in the world, that really stuck out to me. Those who follow Christ are persecuted now and will continue to be, but man can do nothing to come between us and eternity in paradise. Our bodies will die, yes, but only to go onto eternal bliss. (Also, at the end during the battle between good and evil, I pictured a white-haired Gandalf riding down the hillside on a white horse. I love “Lord of the Rings” so much.)

7. I don’t want a stagnant faith. Too often, people say they believe in God, but you’d never know by the way they speak or act. They say they are Christians, but nothing sets them apart. Or maybe they talk and act like Christians most of the time, but when it comes to sharing their faith or standing up for it, they are apathetic, stale, lifeless. I’ve been there, and I don’t want to go back. My current job has been such a blessing for me in this area because it’s reignited my passion for Christ. I love what John 10:10 says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Abundant life, here I come.

Bible passage