Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We've Moved!

Josh and I are now blogging at:  www.joshandsara-marie.com

I hope you'll join us there! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pulling a Haman

*This post got saved in my drafts back in November and never posted.  Sorry for the delay!  New posts coming soon. :) <3 


The small group that I'm a part of is reading through the book of Esther.  It's a pretty great book.  It's a good story and it's also challenging.  Interestingly, God isn't mentioned directly at all in the book.


While I was preparing for the lesson this week,  I got really fixated on Haman.


If you're not familiar with this story, there's this guy, Haman and he hates this other guy named Mordicai.   He hates him so much (mainly because he won't bow down to him or honor him)  he's planning to kill him.


 Mordicai helped foil a plot against the king a few months ago and when the king found out about it, he decided that Mordiacai should be honored in some way.  He happend to ask Haman what he should do to honor someone who has helped the king a lot.


 Haman assumed the king was going to honor him so he came up with this AMAZING  plan for how he wanted to be honored.  It involved things like wearing an old robe of the kings, being paraded through town on a horse while someone yelled something like, "this is ____ whom the king wishes to honor!" and more.  Pretty big deal.


So, Haman tells the king all of this and the king told Haman to go, find Mordicai and make all this happen.


Haman is seriously ticked off.  Seriously.  He does it even though he doesn't want to because he doens't want to go against the king and a billion selfish reasons.


Full passage found here (totally check it out):  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=esther%206&version=MSG


Selfishness is kind of Haman's theme.  He was second in command but he still wanted more power. He wants to over throw the king, he wants to be honored and a big deal, he wants to get more, more, more.


We decided at bible study, that there is such a thing as "Pulling a Haman".  It started out that pulling a Haman  could just be when you assume something that's awesome is for you, just because you're you.


Example 1: On Monday, Josh and I were with my family sharing a meal.  We were at Mom and Dad's and while we were sitting there, I noticed in a pile with my mail were two new DVDs.  DVDs I would love to own- How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Because my family knows how much I love Christmas and because it was in my mail pile, I assumed they were for me.


 I waited patiently for my parents to tell me they were for me, getting more and more excited (Like Haman!).  Near the end, my mild mannered and super cute dad, held up the videos next to his face and said, "See what I got? I'm trying to rebuild the collection. All the other videos were VHS.".


Then, I didn't feel excited!  I felt a little bitter! (Like Haman!)  My mind automatically scanned back to the last time I remembered watching a movie with my dad- I'm pretty sure it was either "The Day After Tomorrow" three Christmases ago or!  "The Princess Bride" even longer ago.   Then! I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I didn't feel instantly happy for my dad (unlike Haman!).


Afterward, I started to process the whole thing.  It was eerily similar to an incident Josh had on Friday.  It involved him assuming that something was for him that wasn't actually for him and then being sad.


Really, neither one of us had any really good reason to think that the gifts were for us.  We both just thought we were getting gifts because we were loved and awesome.  We were just being selfish, assuming things were for us.  *Sigh* We've got a lot of growing to do!


Interestingly,  a friend of mine, Jon, had this to say about Haman 


"Hmm. . . in Jewish tradition, as little breath as possible is wasted on Haman. Rabbis try to read the passage of Esther with the name of him and his sons in one breath so as not to waste two breaths on them. A traditional Jewish curse (not about Haman, but it fits here) is "May his name be forgotten."


But, part of me wonders if we really do want to forget him.  One of the great things about the Bible is how you can read it and see how things "happen for a reason".  You see everything from how so-and-so had to marry so-and-so for Jesus to be born or how once city had to demolish another city for something else to happen, etc.  Anyway.  





Thursday, October 8, 2009

Got Fruit? (There's a point, about halfway down the page)



The lyrics are great, if you don't want to watch.. LYRICS 


This somewhat cheesy music video has a song that I really like in it called, "Got Fruit?".  It's all about the different fruits of the spirit (as found in the Bible, book of Galatians, 5:22-23).  
The FOS  is 


love, 
joy, 
peace, 
patience, 
kindness, 
goodness, 
faithfulness, 
gentleness 
and self-control. 


 Nine. There are nine of them.  Some translations may word them differently, arrange them differently, but there are nine (9!!) of them.  Unless, you're a shower curtain from Meijer.  Yes, I said a shower curtain.  


I found a curtain at Meijer a couple weeks a go that had similar colors to our bathroom and had a square pattern that would go with the square pattern on our rug.  Here's the big picture:

Sorry about the poor picture taking.  I'm not the best, but you get an idea.  Cute right?  FOS themed, with a supporting verse paired with the different fruits.  


Well, don't read the verses too closely.. especially the one that lists the fruits of the spirit:

Joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith.  That's SIX! Only SIX!  


What the heck?!  Where is quality control in all of this?  Did their design team get lazy?   Imagine the uproar if a periodic table was printed and sold missing six elements.  OR!  What if the alphabet was missing six letters?  If Harry Potter had six words missing per page?  If popular music was missing lyrics!


I got a heretical shower curtain.  Or, at the least an uneducated shower curtain.  


Anyway,  I've been thinking about the FOS a lot.  Joyce Meyer has a really good way to explain the FOS.  She said, that all Believers have the FOS inside of them.  (Hard to believe sometimes, especially when thinking about myself!)  She said however, the FOS are kind of like a picture taken with a disposable camera.  You know the picture is in there, you just have to  develop the film to see it.


We need to develop the fruit that is inside of us and then it'll show on the outside.  Makes sense.  Just because we're save and now walking with the Living God doesn't mean that we've got it all together, that our character flaws are magically erased, that we never sin again, that we never say an unkind word or think an unkind thought.  There might be some things that improve right away, but for most things, we're going to need to work at them. We're going to need to be disciplined.  


How do we develop our FOS?  How do we improve on those 9 things?  How do we become more God-like? 


I think what it comes down to is making a decision.  Deciding to change, to improve to be more Christ-like.   I'll write more about decision making in another post.


Ephesians 4:22-24 says, 


"But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

When we decide to put off our old, sinful life and take on new life in Christ, we are deciding to work on our less than holy parts.  Maybe this means stopping yourself every time you have a negative thought and looking for the joy in a situation.  Or maybe it means improving your self control and not wandering to the fridge when you're bored, buying every new CD or video game, every latest fashion.  Maybe it means waiting on God to show you His way instead of you pushing ahead without patience.  It could mean any number of things.    

Wow, what a high standard to live up to.    Don't get too stressed out about it though- 


Matthew 5:48 tells us to "be perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect" or 


"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."


What is intimidating about these translations is that it makes it sound like if you were hard, you're going to arrive at perfection.  Truth is, we won't be perfect until we're either reunited with God in heaven or Christ returns to us here on Earth.  


I read once that in the original translations, the verse reads more like, "Be in the PROCESS of perfection, so you may be more like your Father".  


That's a little more manageable to me, keep moving, keep processing, keep growing. It doesn't mean we can't work toward irradicating as many of our less than Godly parts, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to a higher standard, it just means that we're not going to be perfect until Christ returns.  


I think of a few practical ways we can be developing more Christ-like character, our FOS.  


1. Be aware of where your short falls are in the FOS arena.  Know what you need to be working on.  I'm sure if you just read & pray through the passage and think honestly about yourself with each word, you can come up with your strong and not-so-strong areas.  


for fun:  a FOS quiz. :) http://christianteens.about.com/od/christianliving/a/FruitSpiritQuiz.htm 


2. Ask people who know you well and know at least a little about your walk with Christ what they think you should be working on.   Maybe talk to your small group, a pastor you know, a mentor, or just a close friend.  Get an honest outside opinion.


3. Read supplementary books or Bible studies. Topics like holiness, purity, character development, fruits of the spirit,  etc. would be good subjects to check out.  I'm sure a quick Amazon.com or google search would be.. fruitful. :) ha! 


4.   Read, read, READ your Bible!  What better way to find out how to be like God than to read the instructions He gave us?    Maybe start with the New Testament epistles (letters).  Try Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans!  All great starts to learning about Godly character.  I can't emphasize the importance of digging into the Bible.    


Some online resources to help you read the Bible more are:


www.biblegateway.com  


and


http://bible.christianity.com/



Both free, both easy to use at work or home or anywhere.  Let me know what you think.


Wow, long post and I feel like I've only gotten to the surface of a huge topic.




One last thing,  some friends and I are doing this thing called "The Proverbs 31 Challenge".  


Brandon pointed out that there are 31 days in October and there are 31 chapters in Proverbs.  The book of Proverbs are a bunch of ideas on how to live a good life, little sayings that are meant to guide someone to live a healthy life.  I guess a modern day proverb would be, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" (Don't get me started on what I think about THAT!)  or "Misery loves company".  I don't know why I thought of two negative ones. :P  


Read one chapter a day and you'll be done with the whole book by the end of October!   Sure, it's October 8th, but it's not too hard to catch up, even if you read two chapters a day.  The chapters are easy to read and understand (I recommend the Message translation and the New International Version if you're worried about not understanding).  


Let me know if you want to do the challenge too. We've set up an email address that anyone can email to share their thoughts on passages, encourage each other, ask questions, etc.  It's pretty exciting!  




Thumb Woes

Awhile back, I posted on facebook that it looks like I may end up needing to have my left thumb nail removed.  Random, I know.


Last year, I was attacked by a dog.  It didn't end up being that bad because of some training I had that taught me how to react if a person bit me.  I, somehow in the middle of it all, remembered this little tidbit and got my hand away from the dog fast.  


The dog mainly got my thumb and the inside of my hand.   Here's a low quality picture of part of my thumb:



I ended up going to University Health Services (I was still working on my MSW at the time) and having them look at it. I didn't need stitches for either side or down farther on my hand so it was basically keep it clean, change the bandages, etc.  No sweat.


Well, the thumb nail bed must have been destroyed in the process because this is what my thumb looks like now:



And



Kinda weird, gross, and cool all at the same time, right??


It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't hurt ALL the time.  Hot water, cold water, pressure, nail polish (which is pretty much a must because of how messed up and flimsy the nail is), hand holding, etc. all suck.


So, I saw my family dr. a couple weeks ago and she said she thought my two options were most likely:  1. take it off so it never comes back  and 2. take it off so it might come back and see what happens!


She offered to "numb it up" and take it off right then and there, I politely declined and asked, "Doesn't one NEED their thumb nail?!" and she replied that eventually the skin would get hard and leathery and it would most likely be okay. Ick.  


I'm seeing a specialist on the 13th to make a game plan.  


Initially, I was a little freaked out by my dr.'s  gung-oh nature with just taking it off then and there.. and then I was reminded..


In undergrad, my right thumb nail somehow got a flesh eating bacteria in it.  Gross right?  It was also the same time I discovered I was allergic to Neosporin.  Random, right?  Anyway, the Dr.s there thought they'd take my thumb off at the knuckle so that it would demolish the bacteria, etc.  I ended up *begging* for more time and the bacteria was obliterated by medicines and my thumb nail, which I was told would never grow back, has come back in just fine and looks amazingly normal.


So, I guess, if I came to grips and accepted that I might lose my whole thumb, I think I can come to grips with losing just a nail.  


I'll let you know what ends up happening, and you KNOW there will be pictures.


Like the popular Kuntz family saying goes, "It is what it is".  




*special thanks to the husband for teaching me how to use digital macro on his neat camera. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Work from home Monday!

I usually avoid scheduling things on Monday just so I can have the luxury of working from home. Mondays usually involve a lot of emailing, phone calls, and such for NLC.  It also involves laundry,  dishes, and odds and ends around the house.  I like work from home Mondays.  

One of the odds and ends today was putting up bird feeders and taking down some of the hanging plants.  Our Bleeding Heart made it a long time (even frosted at least once!) but it has been sent to the back porch and has been replaced by a suet bell.  The cats are overjoyed at the appearance of the bird feeders.  In a small defiance toward my father :), I  like to leave the feeders up all year round.  He firmly believes that bird feeders are only for fall and winter or the birds will get lazy during the summer.  We just haven't had  them up lately because our previous ones got destroyed by squirrels and chipmunks.

I got a new feeder, inspired by my friend Alison, for Josh.  It's supposed to be squirrel proof (a "squirrel buster") but it's not working.  The squirrels and chipmunks cleaned it out last week faster that I could even fathom.  It is supposed to work by having a cage around the actual area that the seed is in that is weight sensitive.  If something heavier than a robin gets on the cage, it is supposed to drop down a little, sealing off the seed access points.  My hope is that the chipmunks and red squirrels who currently weigh to little to trip the cage will now be sufficiently overweight after last week's buffet.  We'll see.

We had a visitor last week!  Our friends Jim and Alison went on a vacation and their fur baby, Lloyd, came to stay with us.  He's super cute and we had a lot of fun with him.  I'm sorry this picture isn't better. :)  Josh took his camera and his awesome pictures with him to work today and I didn't get a chance to snag his card.  This picture, unfortunately looks like something I might send J&A to get ransom money. :P


Josh and I try to be "eco-friendly" in life.  For lots of reasons.. God gave us the Earth and has asked us to take care of it, we have to live here, and (maybe to us most important?) one day our children will have to live here and we want them to have a safe and healthy place to grow and thrive.   

We do things like take reuseable bags to the grocery store, try to buy things only in containers that can be recycled, recycle just about anything we can, "compost" in the backyard (currently involves us just chucking things into the tree line. :)), unplug things we aren't using, use the heat and AC minimally and never when we're not home, if we're buying coffee from a coffee shop, we only buy if we bring our own mugs (that are made from recycled #5s!), I try to buy only organic meat and eggs for my husband, I'm a vegan, our cats use compostable/recyclable litter, we have biodegradable garbage bags, we have a water efficient shower head, etc.  We try to do practical things. Things that people wouldn't even notice and that they could easily do themselves.  

We've been talking lately about stepping our game up by doing some "Vermicomposting" or worm composting.  It involves creating a habitat for worms and then adding food scraps from your garbage to this habitat.  The worms don't actually eat the waste, they eat the bacteria on the garbage.   Things they are given are mostly food scraps like fruits and veggies, but I've also seen them eat paper plates (not that we use those..), egg shells, and tea bags.  They can handle just about anything that isn't glass, metal, rubber, etc.  Pretty neat.

Since it's getting colder, we'd have to put our setup in the basement and Josh isn't thrilled about the idea.  We may wait to start up when it gets warmer out.  From everything I've read though, if you keep the box properly oxygenated and the worms healthy, it's supposed to be really low odor.   

Anyone out there have any experience with this?  

I'll try to post again soon.  I've gotten a lot of questions about New Life, doulaing, and some other things.  :)  

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life Together-- Better than Ever!

Hi Friends,

Sorry for the delay in posting!  Life has been to the fullest.

We've been busy, but that's not new for us.  :)

There have been some big and exciting changes I'll give you 4 items. :) 

1. My amazing time with the Dover Family came to an end.  Wow, one of the toughest decisions I ever made was to transition away from working with adorable, amazing Ella and her awesome family.  However, God is faithful and if I follow where  He leads me, I will be rewarded and  my family and I will prosper. 

Where is He leading?  It's hard to say. Right now I'm working as a "volunteer" for New Life Church. I work about 25-30 hours a week (super busy because of all the new students!) and I love it.  It's a great ministry for me.  I coordinate all the programming for "Phase 2". Phase 2 is the programming and services for grad students, working singles, young professionals, etc. Basically anyone who isn't in undergrad and doesn't have children. We're not exclusive though, :) We welcome everyone.   I love that I get to meet with people to talk about their spiritual journeys, introduce them to the God that I love and serve, and discipling people to continue to grow in their relationship with Christ.  It's pretty great.  I also love the work I do for small groups and for the P2 large meeting.    

I've also been fortunate to support two different women through Doulas Care. 
I love working as a doula and it's such a privilege to be a part of their pregnancy, labor/delivery, and postpartum time.  Every birth, is a miracle.  It's hard to be a part of a pregnancy or birth and not believe in an intelligent Creator.  Just leaves me breathless and in awe every time.  

2. Josh's job is going great.  Work has been a little slow but it's still there (Technically this isn't a change).  He got some SUPER exciting news this week- he'll get to go visit the actual boat that he build a 1:1 scale model of!  He'll be making 2 trips to Norfolk to see the boat, do some work on it, etc.  I'm really proud of him.  He's worked so hard on this project and has just done great things.  Yeah husband!  

3. We adopted 2 cats!  We had the intention of only adopting one cat, however, the logic of 2 cats keeping each other company, the cute over load factor, and the fact that the adult cats were "BOGO" :), we couldn't resist!  

a. Zippy!  He's thirteen, a big guy and solid black with huge yellow eyes.  He lives up to his name.  He may be elderly (roughly 82 in human years!) he super playful, adventurous, and demanding (attention, food, etc).  Last night I got home from the hospital super late (at a birth) and I found Zippy on the bed staring at Josh while he slept, waiting for any sign that he might get pet at sometime.  :) He's a fan of catnip, maybe more than just a fan.  He took a little longer than Posey to warm up to his new home, but it was understandable; he had lived with the same family for all of his 13 years until they were evicted from their home and he had to go to the shelter.  He's doing great now.




b. Posey!  Posey 7 seven, very petite, and is a frisky kitty.  She loves to play with.. anything.  She's adorable; multi colored, seems to be missing about 2 inches of her tail, and is deaf.  We didn't know she was deaf until recently.  She was at the shelter as a stray so they just gave her a name.  We thought she wasn't answering to her new name because she wasn't used to it, so we were yelling random names at her and waiting for her to respond to one of them.  We started noticing small things- she didn't come to us even if we were shaking a can of treats, she didn't respond to whistling, snapping, "here kitty, kitty"-ing, etc.  She was immune to things like my hair dryer, the washer/dryer, music at obscene levels, AND on a  hot day, we even found her sitting directly in front of a noisy box fan basking in the breeze.   


Anyway. They're super cute and I hope we can provide them with the home and love they deserve.

4. Random event update!  We've been fortunate to get to travel some, we went to St. Ignace again for Labor Day, and this adventure included a short stay at a B&B that was completely off the grid!  It was powered by a 10,000 watt (? kwatt?) windmill and batteries.  It was neat.  We also took the Buick down a couple of two-tracks, through  some no-tracks that were so small that with the windows down we both had bushes coming into the car, and through some canyons.    We got to go to Cedar Point with our friend Stephanie  and ride some awesome rides!  While we were there, we also got to go to a Family Force 5 concert (!!) and a TobyMac concert (!!!!!!).  It was an awesome day.  Phase 2 has had some rockin' picnics and we've met a lot of new people.  This Sunday, we're going to a combine derby with our friends Erin & Justin and Erin's parents. :) That will be a blast too.

Married life is going great!  We love it.  It's work, work it takes a lot of time, but it's also fun, a great representation of God and His love for us, and a million more things that I never expected.  




Thursday, July 23, 2009

update, food, and the 4th. :)




It's hard to believe we've been married for almost two months!  What a ride.  It's been amazing and difficult all at once.  However, even on our hard days we still manage to have fun, still be madly in love, and have the confidence that we're going to make our marriage work (till death do us part!).

We have one more wedding celebration to go. We're not really sure what's going on.  We have to be to Jackson by 2 for a "lunch", with our photo albums in hand.  

Speaking of food, many of you know that both Josh and I love to cook.  :)  Here are some of our latest creations. 

First!  Josh and Sara-Marie's 4th of July 
Pie (these pictures don't show the blueberries, but this pie is full of them (makes the pie red, white, and blue :)).  This pie is totally vegan.  Graham cracker crust, vegan cream cheese, strawberries, blueberries, and a homemade strawberry jam on top.


Next up, a salad.  
 


This is a massive omelet I made Josh for breakfast one day.  It's so big because I used my small magic pan (Berndez!) and I whipped the eggs a little too long. :)  



This is a quinoa, tofu, and mixed veggie stir-fry.  I used a garlic vinagrette to cook the veggies in. 



Last,  a fun dinner for two.  We ate this meal off of a cooler facing the "woods" behind the house. :) Pretty silly.  BBQ chicken (I made a homemade bbq sauce), the fun salad, peas with mushrooms and garlic sauce, and fries. :) 



  Josh took most all of these pictures, especially the artsy ones. :)  He's quite the shutter bug.  

Fourth of July was fun.  Since Josh and I weren't together last year, this was his first experience.  He was allowed to join me in my favorite 4th of July task-- organizing the antique tractors for the 4th of July parade!  My sister, amazing sister, is the parade director for the Hanover-Horton 4th of July Parade.  She's been doing it for years.  She's got it down to an art.   I think Josh had fun.  He got to tell everyone where to park and where to get info about different things.    I did most of the registering, explaining, and telling tractors when they could join the parade.  Josh was super useful and videoed the parade for my sister.  

Here are a few pictures. 












Josh was pretty fascinated by the horses. :)  

It was a great weekend.  We drove 484 miles.  Up to Cadillac to see the Sergent grandparents and then down to Horton for all the 4th festivities.  

Love to you each!