Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

**Oops! I was planning on posting our Christmas letter for this year before Christmas for all to read, but I didn't get around to it. 'Tis the season for forgetfulness, I suppose. So before this year wraps up, here is our Christmas letter for 2008**


So far the moral of our story is when life becomes predictable, God turns it upside down… but this is just the beginning!

Christmas 2008 Edition

As of December 17 of this year, Jim and I will have been married for two years. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating our new marriage with you. We have experienced many changes in our life together over the past two years, and we hope to share those with you in this letter.

Jim and I like to say that the moral of our story so far is when life becomes predictable, God turns it upside down! Jim and I experienced this first when he suddenly, and without warning, lost his job last summer. We began a six-and-a-half-month journey into unemployment, exploring career options, and endless questioning. This was a difficult and frustrating time for us in our marriage. Jim’s income had taken care of most of the bills to that point, and with a mortgage and car payment, we didn’t know how we were going to make it on my part-time income. I was fortunate to pick up another position at the hospital and work more hours while starting my final year of full-time nursing school. Needless to say, we were very busy! Adding even more frustration to the mix was that every door Jim approached for employment seemed to close; and worse, slammed. We both felt confused and lacking in direction as to where Jim should go and what he should do.

Despite our frustrations and lack of faith, God was working through it all. He continually provided for us in this time financially, and also through the encouragement from family and friends. Though our monthly income only totaled half our monthly bills, Jim and I were awed and blessed to see those needs met each month. We had many people in our lives praying for us and encouraging us constantly.

In August of 2007, a fellow musician in our church told Jim about an open Minister of Worship position at another local church. Jim visited that church and picked up an application, but felt no real direction as to whether or not to pursue the position. The application sat on our dining room table for almost a month before I encouraged Jim to fill it out. He did, and on the evening of October 31 (yes… Halloween) went for his first interview.

Three months later, in January of 2008, Quinault Baptist Church voted to call Jim as their Minister of Worship and Youth. We are both so blessed to see Jim being right where God wanted him – in ministry.

As for me, I graduated from Washington State University in May 2008 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. I was offered a full-time job in Labor and Delivery at Kadlec Medical Center, where I have been working for the past few years through school. Due to a setback, I was unable to start working full-time right away. At first this was disappointing, but God had other plans for me. Because I was working part-time, I was able to help out leading a group of youth on a mission trip and attend youth camp, which allowed me to participate in Jim’s ministry with him and get to know the youth of our church better.

We were also fortunate to sell our home this past March. We are currently living in an apartment, but will be moving again this February.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tales of Food Processors and Leaky Walls...

In my many years spent gathering wisdom and knowledge (OK, so only 22.5 years!), I have come to decide something: Santa, like God, is more interested in growing you than your personal happiness.

Why do I say this? Two reasons: food processors and leaky walls.

Jim and I came home Monday night from church to notice a puddle on the floor in our dining room. This wasn't terribly odd, as it was nearby where we were taking off our snow-covered boots, but it did seem like an excessive amount of water for a little melted snow and it had soaked through our basket of shoes. So I removed the basket of shoes, put down a towel to dry it up, and went to bed.

Six hours later (when I was leaving for work), the towel was soaked.

Being that I was running later for work and Jim had the day off, I left the towel situation alone. That night I came home from work to find the puddle had grown exponentially and water was running down the wall. And dripping from the window. Not your everyday occurrence, but Jim and I behaved calmly about it and mopped up the mess, laid dry bath towels down along the floor, and placed bowls on the window seal to collect the dripping water. Well, I did behave calmly until I had to take down all my Christmas cards and decorations from a soggy wall!

Twelve hours later, on Christmas Eve morning, we awoke to discover the bath towels sopping wet, the bowls overflowing with water, and the paint running down the wall, along with a sticky brown substance that Jim believes is the insulation from inside the wall.

What does this mean for us? Other than having a soggy wall flooding our apartment that was probably caused by the snow melting off our roof (with plenty more snow to go!), we are guessing we will be moving out quicker than expected as the whole wall will have to be replaced. And we are praying that our microwave does not give out, as it is on the same circuit as the wiring in the soggy wall. And that our apartment does not burn down. And that our wall does not give out. Need I say more?

I really shouldn't give Santa such a bad rap this year. He did bring us many delightful gifts, including a new family of snowmen and a new family of crockpots! However, I did get one gift that I am still scratching my head over: the Food Processor.

(my new food processor!)

Don't get me wrong, I know the food processor is Cuisinart's main contribution to the world of modern cooking, and it is a very delightful machine. I just have no idea how to use it. Or what to use it for. Other than for making delightful baby food, which will not need to be made for years to come. I guess it's time to do some research. Maybe I will be fortunate enough to stumble upon a helpful blog about using the food processor and become as accomplished as I am with my crockpot!

Here's my idea for the Crockpot Lady's New Years Resolution 2009: "365 days of using the food processor". I think it has a nice ring to it.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

League Champions!

Sixteen-plus weeks ago, my fellow-wives and I made a very crucial decision regarding football season: If you can't beat them, join them. So when our husbands formed a fantasy football league, we joined in with our own team to avoid the "Football Widow" phenomenon. Anyone else who is married to a man who loves football knows what I am talking about!

And we didn't just join them, we took it seriously. Before the draft, we studied up on player stats and reviews. We each spent a portion of our weeks analyzing the players on our team to determine the best combination each week. Fortunately, our hard work has paid off: after sixteen long weeks of fantasy football, "The Winning Wives" have won the league championship!

Are the boys sad about this? Of course! They all done got beat by a bunch of girls! Now if we can just get them to pay up our hard-earned money.

Really though, my husband tells me he's proud of me...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"You had me at... 5 hours of conversation!"

You know in the movie "Jerry Maguire", when Renee Zellweger tells Tom Cruise "You had me at hello"? Jim and I were watching that movie the other night, and he leaned over to me at that exact moment and whispered, "You had me at... 5 hours of conversation!".

It's hard for me to believe that exactly two years ago I was getting ready to marry this man. The time has passed by incredibly fast. Jim and I met May 2005, and after repeated encounters, Jim finally invited me out to lunch. After church with his parents. On his mother's 50th birthday. Awkward situation? Yes, but a) I knew his parents and b) I was a poor starving college student who had no shame when it came to free food. After lunch, Jim and I ended up spending five hours talking about everything - who we were, our likes and dislikes, our pasts, and what God was doing in our lives. The latter amazed me - what God was doing in both our lives lined up like two puzzle pieces fitting perfectly together. Jim told me later that he knew that day God had brought me into his life to become his wife. I, being skeptical, took a little longer to grasp the concept.

One year and five days after that fateful day, Jim proposed on bended knee next to the dead roses by the bathroom at edge of the grounds at Maryhill Museum. He swears it wasn't so, but that is exactly how it happened! And six months and seven days after that, we were married.

Two years later, I am more in love with my husband than the day I married him - and better yet, I am more convinced he is the man God had intended just for me.

And Jim, to quote a line from my favorite movie: "To me, you are perfect".

(December 17, 2006)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Confessions of a (Sort-of) Cook...

I have a few confessions to make. A) I have not made a menu in three weeks, and B) I have not cooked in three weeks.

Am I ashamed to admit this? Yes. After Jim and I began our Dave-Ramsey-inspired budget, I began to enjoy putting together weekly menus and making frugal meals that wowed my husband.

And then November came. We spent the first two weeks of the month out of town, and when we came home, I started working full-time. Even with those crazy days, I still was able to keep up with cooking, even though we were not following our menus at all.

The week before Thanksgiving, I began the Great Vomit Marathon of 2008. And my rule of thumb is: Never eat anything you have thrown up. Unfortunately, the GVM began the week I stocked up on groceries and made a whole chicken with the intention of using the leftovers in sandwiches and salads. So once I recovered, I was forced to clean out my refrigerator and throw out everything I had eaten prior to the GVM, which included the majority of the groceries I had bought that week. Somewhere in Africa there are little starving children crying over all that food.

Then December came, bringing with it visiting Grandma Brown's delicious cooking and Jim's busy nights at the church. Any semblance of motivation left to plan and cook was gone. Not only do I not enjoy cooking for myself in an empty apartment, but there was no need with food only a short trip away at the in-laws' house.

Today, however, I have renewed motivation to begin planning and cooking again - a new crock pot! Yes, Jim surprised me today with a new crock pot and fancy travel case (to prevent the Great Halloween Crockpot Disaster of 2008 from happening again!). It is beautiful and shiny... and I can't wait to use it! What should I try first? John McCain's rib recipe? Cranberry-Apple Turkey Breast? Applesauce Chicken? Or should I attempt to resurrect my White Bean Chicken Chili, which for the life of me I can not remember how I made?

My new crock pot also came with a book full of delicious new recipes that I can not wait to try, including a section on desserts. Peach cobbler in the crock pot? Yum!

I think Jim may have given me the shiny new crock pot for purely selfish motives...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"A Christmas Thing"

As many of you know, my very talented and lovable husband is the Worship Minister at Quinault Baptist Church. This is our first Christmas at Quinault, and Jim is hoping to start a new tradition: a Christmas music/drama program. This year he has written, organized, and directed the program himself. The focus of the program is to enjoy a warm family atmosphere while enjoying a fun presentation of the Christmas story and the power of Jesus' Name. And (Bonus!) there will be dessert afterwards.

I invite you to come celebrate Christmas and the true meaning of the season at any of the three (3) performances. They are:

Friday, December 13 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, December 14 at 4:00 PM
Saturday, December 14 at 7:00 PM

There is NO cost for the event - please come and enjoy!