Monday, May 31

Long Weekend

3 day weekends are glorious!  No pressure to get the chores done on Saturday since you have an extra "non-Sabbath" day to take care of things.  You can stay up late Sunday night knowing that you can sleep in the next morning.  Ahhh...

Bruce has been getting over a nasty little bug, so our original plans fo the weekend were thwarted by that.  No dinner with Scarlett, and no lunch with Scott, Tara and Breanna.  Very disappointing.  But the poor man was SICK!  No need to spread all that around.  We "chillaxed" together, watching movies, napping, etc.  We did a bit of straightening too, though more is to be done.  I do not understand how two people can make such a bunch of clutter!  I remember the early days of our marriage where I was actually a militant neat freak.  Somehow, I lost touch with that part of me...  I wish that girl would come back maybe once a month for a deep-clean.  Or just long enough to hire a maid...  :) 

Today was a really good day, though when I first got up, I felt as though I was getting sick.  A nice shower took care of that ickiness though - thankfully.  Church was just patriotic enough not to be cheesy.  Before the sermon, we watched a short video about the veterans who have fought for our freedom.  It was quite moving!  It reminded me of Memorial Days when I was a kid - we'd go to the county courthouse to watch the parade.  I didn't really understand it all then, but I am mindful of it now, just probably not enough... 

Tonight we had a red, white and blue dessert social at church!  Oh how I love summer fruit!  I brought a big bowl of watermelon - thankfully there is some left for me to enjoy tomorrow.  I also allowed myself to have 2 star-shaped cookies, which were really, REALLY good.  Someone even brought some blue-colored milk...  Ha ha! 

I wonder what adventures are in store for us tomorrow.  Bruce plans to mow the yard.  Eww.  Maybe I'll get crazy and decide to put away all that laundry.  Bruce asked me to create some art for his office at the church, and I am eager to start on that.  I have been doing some stitching this past week, but I itching to get my hands on some collage papers.  We will see...

Wednesday, May 26

He's Got The Whole World...

I was talking to a friend of mine today, and she mentioned that she’s been kinda down lately. Life has changed dramatically for her over the last several weeks, and while the changes are mostly wonderful, they are still changes… and sometimes those are tough to deal with no matter what they are.

I remembered a verse that my friend Kris sent me when, as I was dealing with a cruddy day myself, I asked for some encouraging reminders of God’s love. I find myself returning to it over and over…

Deuteronomy 33:27 - The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.

When I first read this verse, it seemed almost trite, or too simple – something that I could have read and not really absorbed. But when I thought about it for a bit, I realized a few really cool things using good ol’

Eternal = ceaseless, not subject to change
God does not stop. His love and care and concern for us are continuous and forever. And ever. And ever. And NOTHING can ever change that. He is ALWAYS the same.

Refuge = a place of shelter, protection, or safety
For some reason, this word always prompts the visual image of getting caught in a rainstorm and running inside somewhere to take cover. The kind of place where it’s warm and dry, where you kinda sigh in relief once you get there – and hopefully there’s a pot of fresh coffee brewing. And you know you’re safe. And you just feel mmmmmm…That’s the kind of refuge God is for us – a place where we can come in out of the rain and just cozy up to Him and let Him protect us.

Everlasting = forever
See Eternal above. Do you think God used “eternal” and “everlasting” in the same sentence for His own benefit? I think He was trying to stress to us that He means He is serious when it comes to ALWAYS being by our side – even when we don’t want Him there…

Under = beneath and covered by
I am slightly embarrassed to say that I, in all of my English major glory, never realized that “under” was two-fold: beneath AND covered by. So, the interpretation of the latter part of this verse is basically, “His everlasting arms are beneath and covered by you.” So the picture here is not so much that he is beside us, but that he is literally beneath us, supporting us, sometimes even to the point that He is covered up so we don’t see Him. But He is still there, lifting us up. Disney put out this cartoon - it might have been Fantasia, that features a hippo in a ballerina costume dancing with a crocodile.. and she fell on top of him, and it was all he could do to push her back up again. I guess it might not be that dramatic (or that terrifying for God), but it gets the idea across. Ha ha!

I wonder why it’s so hard to trust Him when he reminds us again and again that He’s got our backs.
I wonder why we are fearful to give things over to Him when he proves Himself over and over.
I wonder How many times I should have thanked Him and didn’t…

Tuesday, May 18

Poor Jack

Check this out...(Click here)

Poor Jack.

For 8 years (that’s right – 8 YEARS!), he painstakingly put together that enormous puzzle. I wonder how many hours it took. I wonder how many times his wife yelled at him to get it off the table. I wonder how many times he thought about giving up but didn’t. And then just as he is nearing the end, when he thinks the puzzle is finally finished, THERE IS ONE PIECE MISSING! How can this be? Where did it go? Was it the dog? Was it the vacuum? Was it even in the box at all? (Tell me that wouldn’t be a temptation for a worker at the puzzle factory! Heh heh!) How does he feel now that it’s all over?

I wonder how many times God looks down at us and thinks, “Poor .” We painstakingly put together the perfect picture of our lives – our futures, our job situations, our marriages, our children, our financial situations. We work towards our goals tirelessly, checking off each completed goal as we pass it, for as long as it takes. We clutter our minds and hearts with nothing else but what WE think our lives should be, never giving up on our goals and eagerly anticipated the pretty picture that eventually will be before us.

But then at the end of it, we sit back to survey all of the glory we have put together for ourselves, with a sigh of relief, ready to gloat in the glory of all that is us, with a sigh of satisfa…wait! THERE IS ONE PIECE MISSING! Was it the dog? Was it the vacuum? No, my friends – It was never in the box at all. It’s the God piece that’s missing, because we didn’t ask Him to be a part of our puzzle. And without that piece, our puzzle is no good at all. It’s incomplete. It’s not the pretty picture we hoped it would be, with that one hole glaring up at us. And everyone can see that, and everyone knows that we are incomplete. And all that work was for nothing because we never bothered to ask God to be part of our puzzle. And He would have jumped at the chance to be part of it. He would have been so happy to be a part, and He would have made our puzzle so beautiful, and so perfect, and so complete. If only we had asked…

Poor Jack indeed.

Monday, May 17

New Arrival

I have a brand new nephew!  Isn't he precious?

Jacob Michael Belland arrived on 5/14/10 at 6:23 AM.
8lbs. 3oz. 21 1/4 inches

Congrats, Jimmy and Ronnie!

Thursday, May 13


I feel so antsy today! Not sure why, or what to do about it. I thought maybe there is too much going on in my mind, in an attempt to settle down, I will talk to all of you here… So prepare for 10 items of complete and utter randomness!

First – the oil spill is freaking me out. Have you guys been following that story at all? If you haven’t even heard of it, where have you been? There is currently an eruption of black sludge rushing from the ocean floor off of Louisiana – it could be the most devastating U.S. oil spill EVER. Check out this satellite image of the spill…

Disturbing, no? What about this VIDEO?

Now, I don’t understand exactly how these oil wells work, and it seems that each attempt at fixing the leak has been a great idea – just unfortunate that they didn’t work. So, yeah, it worries me a little that our shores might soon be covered in black oil. Even more terrifying is the thought of what I might have to soon pay for gas for the truck…

Second - I really need some new shoes. And I hate the thought of it. I hate shopping for shoes. I hate paying for shoes. I hate trying to figure out what shoes I need. I wish I could just go barefoot everywhere (ok, maybe not a public restroom).

Third – My sister doesn’t call me anymore, and it’s starting to annoy the fire out of me. She claims that it’s because she is so busy working, but she also knows I worry about her, especially when I don’t hear from her. So, sister, if you are reading this, CALL ME!

Fourth – This is day 3 of my diet, and I have stuck like glue to it. Yay me!! That might not seem like much to some of you, but trust me, that is big news. Ha ha!

Fifth – My husband is amazing. I LOVE how we laugh together! I wouldn’t know what to do with one of those “serious” relationships. And I love how hard he tries to please me and others – sure he tries my patience sometimes too, but he has such a very good heart.

Sixth – I am addicted to the song Hey, Soul Sister by Train. Cassidy and David got me hooked, and now I can’t stop replaying it, especially here at work. But some of the dancing in the VIDEO is odd.  And so are some of the lyrics – what’s all this nonsense about his “untrimmed chest?” I did not need that visual, thank you very much. But it’s a fun little ditty, just the same.

Seventh – Have I mentioned how excited I am that it’s almost time for peaches, plums, and watermelon?

Eighth – I have decided that I need to start collecting jewelry. Not gold or silver or diamonds (well, maybe diamonds), but fun, crazy stuff with matching necklaces and earrings. Maybe I’ll even start wearing bracelets! Folks around the museum have all these cool, artsy-looking pieces, and I admit that at times I do covet them…and I consider snatching them off of their necks and ears. But I refrain – OF COURSE!!! Oh, Bruce will not be pleased.

Ninth – I’m pretty obsessed with the book of Esther right now. Esther is one of those stories I learned back in Sunday school and then kind of forgot. So I am studying it again, and it’s amazing! I LOVE how there are strong women in God’s Word. I must remember that in those moments when I am feeling weak.

Tenth and final – I am hankering for some type of a trip – badly! I am hoping that by this fall, Bruce and I can finally afford a little romantic getaway. And maybe a BIG trip for our anniversary in January…. We both want to go to go out West!

Hmm…I still feel antsy. Maybe I had too much coffee… :)
What’s going on with all of you?

Tuesday, May 11

Biggest Loser

I just know that somewhere inside me there is a skinny girl…or at least a skinnier, healthier girl. She used to be here, wearing shorts and tshirts and cute summer dresses, coming home from work every day to do Tae Bo for an hour, walking the dog, etc.  But somehow, over the years, she disappeared. 

Today I began my quest to find her again. Hopefully, eventually it will feel more like a lifestyle change than a diet. That’s the idea anyway.

Posting this on my blog is not easy for me. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. But I am also hoping that it will give me a sense of accountability, which I definitely need. It’s funny to me how I can be embarrassed to post this and yet I also know that you all have seen my “no-I’m-not-preggers” belly and my fat butt (or my “booty shelf,” as I call it). Hmm.  Seems to me the embarrassment, had it come a LOT sooner, could have prevented some of the issue.

Ahh, if only hindsight wasn’t always 20/20!

I’ll be doing the Eat-to-Live program, for the most part, which is vegan. Mostly beans, veggies, fruit and nuts. Very limited starches. No meat, cheese, etc. I’m not supposed to have any dairy, but at this point, I will continue to use FF half and half in my coffee – that’s the only vice I will continue to enjoy, at least for now.

How did I choose ETL? It was recommended to me and Bruce a while ago by Alan and Melody, who have been following it closely for a LOOOONNGG time, and they have had great success and look and feel amazing. I’ve also been feeling prompted for the last 2 months or so to go a more Earth-friendly route, specifically animal-friendly. Not sure why. But it has been at the forefront of my mind for a while, and I am feeling like I should not ignore that.

Exercise, of course, will be incorporated too, of course. Probably just walking initially, with some weight training. My chestal-region has never been built for running, so that’s out, but I would like to do those elliptical machines eventually. And maybe try Zumba!  The college girls say it's a blast! 

So, everybody, please DO ask me how I am doing in the losing weight process! – Seriously! It will help me feel accountable, but it will also encourage me! And heaven knows I can use some of that too! Can’t we all?

Monday, May 10

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and in honor of that, here’s a list of 20 of the favorite memories I have about my Mom:
  1. Going to Friendly’s restaurant
  2. Watching her make Kringle
  3. Coming home from elementary school and finding she had made big chocolate chip cookies for our afternoon snack
  4. The way she made holidays seem so special
  5. Visiting model homes with her, just to dream
  6. Her cooking lessons and recipes – to this day, they are still amazing!
  7. How she could balance that tight, tight budget!
  8. Waking up in the morning as a child and finding a brand new Barbie waiting for me
  9. Her willingness to put us through private school
  10. Coffee talk!
  11. All things Norwegian
  12. So many shopping trips!
  13. The moment when she told me that one of the last goals she had was to make sure I graduated from college (I did!)
  14. The way she looked on my wedding day
  15. Reminiscing!
  16. Hearing her stories about Daddy
  17. Coming downstairs and finding her on the loveseat drinking coffee and reading from her pink Bible
  18. Her love for the dog, even though “she never wanted one”
  19. Seeing her loving on her roses
  20. The way other people loved her

I love you, Mom, and I miss you!


Thursday, May 6

Decisions! Decisions!

Cassidy, our adopted daughter and one of the college students who will graduate this Saturday, is facing a dilemma. She has been accepted into both the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the University of Charleston. Wilmington would be a bit less expensive, not to mention a bit closer to her boyfriend (and us!), but Charleston is a place where she has been dreaming of living. So for Cass, it’s a decision of being wise fiscally so she and David can both benefit later on or checking off something on her bucket list.

Truly a matter of mind vs. heart.

Why are decisions so tough? Why are we so scared to make them? HOW do we make them? A Google search about decision-making produced a ton of articles, all providing assistance in the decision-making process. I liked this one:
By Donald Latumahina, January 18, 2008

In the last few months of 2007, I needed to make a difficult decision. It was difficult because the options had equal risks and benefits. Furthermore, the decision greatly affected how my career would do in the years to come. Taking the wrong decisions means I would spend years of precious time in mediocrity.

Essentially, the options are between:
1. choosing a commonly-followed way, or
2. pursuing my own dream.

At a glance, it seems clear that I should pursue my own dream. But, after considering the risk, it was not that easy to make a decision. The risk was obvious: If I followed my dream and fail, I would lose the opportunity of having a good, “guaranteed” lifestyle, and end up with an under-average life.

After struggling for months, I finally made a decision: I would take the risk and pursue my dream. It was a difficult decision to make, but I learned a great deal about how to make such decisions in life.

Here are the lessons I learned on making difficult decisions:

1. Tune out outside noise
One of the main reasons it was difficult for me to decide was people’s opinions. Not surprisingly, most of them advised me to follow the “proven” way. Of course, they did it sincerely to help me, but it made me difficult to listen to my own heart.

While we should always be open to people’s advice, at the end we should follow our own heart. To do that, first of all we should tune out outside noise. Don’t let what other people say confuse you.
2. Go where your passions unify
One sign of the right way to follow is the unification of our passions. While we know that we should follow our passions, sometimes we come into situations where different passions conflict with each other and make it difficult to decide.

In such cases, we should go where our passions unify. Think of your passions as streams of river. Rather than thinking about which stream to follow, why don’t you follow the big river that unify those streams? It takes time to find what the big river is, but it is worth the effort. For career-related decisions, my post on career tips might be helpful here.

This lesson helped me make my decision. By pursuing my dream, I have many passions of mine involved, while if I choose the other option, I have only a few passions involved.

3. Connect the dots
One other way to know where to go is by connecting the dots in your life. Look at the events in your life, especially the recent ones. Can you see certain patterns in the events? Can you see where they are pointing to?

The events that happen in your life often give you clues of the way to go. By connecting the dots, you can see what the right way is.

4. Seize opportunities
Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like opportunity. They are rare, much rarer than you think… Nassim Nicholas Thaleb in The Black Swan

Continuing the lesson on connecting the dots, sometimes the events in our life give us a unique opportunity. They may open a door which normally wouldn’t. As Nassim Thaleb said above, opportunities are precious. So, if you find such opportunities, go and seize them.

5. Stay true to your heart 
At the end, it all comes back to your heart. Which way do you think will make you stay true to your heart? Our mind often rationalizes things, but our heart can’t be tricked. If a choice makes you feel that you miss or deny something, there’s a good chance that it is the wrong way to follow. 

Sometimes you already know which way to go, but you have doubts to actually choose and follow it. There is always fear of the unknown, and it’s not easy to overcome it. Here are some tips to help you:  
  • Remember that your time is limited - Our time on earth is limited. So don’t waste the precious time by doing the wrong things, especially if you do that to meet other people’s expectations.
  • The regret is in not doing - The regret is not in failing, but in not doing. You might fail, but the important thing is to give it a try. You can always learn from failure.
  • Don’t wait until the situation is perfect - Perfect situation will never come. There will always be something that makes you want to wait again. As I said above, your time is limited, so don’t waste it with not doing.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risk and be different - People who dare to take risk and be different are those who will change the world. They are the history makers. There is quote I love by George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Good stuff, right?  I also found this quotation, which I LOVED!:

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. ~Author Unknown

So will it be Wilmington?

Or will it be Charleston?

I know what I would do if I was Cassidy…
But what about you?  What would you do?

Tuesday, May 4

Why do I feel like this week has been a whirlwind when it's only Tuesday?

My friend Gerry is living in Italy.  While she's there, she is capturing all these great moments via photography and writing, and is sharing them through email with a group of us here in the States.  Some of the things she has written about in her emails are simple, everyday things - like hanging laundry - but she is taking the time to recognize the beauty in those things.  It kind of inspired me to open m eyes a bit more, or at least to make more of an effort.  Here's what I've "seen and heard" lately:

Our dog Dixie had to get stitches in one of her paws today.  $300 dollars later, she emerged from the vet's office hopped up on pain meds and anesthesia, sporting a bright red cast on her foot and one of those Elizabethan plastic cone collars.  Poor thing couldn't even get in the door.  Pathetic and funny at the same time.  Upon further inspection, I noticed that her red cast also has a bright yellow lightning bolt running down the side.  How adorable!  And how touching that the vet's office would take the time to make the cast look a little more fun.  Is it weird that I am jealous of my dog's cool cast?

We went to Lexington Barbecue restaurant tonight with 6 college students and Keith and Leslie.  I'm not a pork fan, but it was good.  Bruce, on the other hand, would eat pork at every meal of his life if I would let him.  He even got these nasty looking (and smelling) things called "pork skins" - which is basically deep fried pork skin.  Disgusting, right?  Well, Bruce loved them, and so did a few of the students.  I much preferred the hushpuppies.
Bruce and I watched the movie The Informant tonight.  Best line: "When polar bears hunt, they crouch down by a hole in the ice and wait for a seal to pop up. They keep one paw over their nose so that they blend in, because they've got those black noses. They'd blend in perfectly if not for the nose. So the question is, how do they know their noses are black? From looking at other polar bears? Do they see their reflections in the water and think, "I'd be invisible if not for that." That seems like a lot of thinking for a bear."  Ha ha.  I sure do like polar bears. 

Did you know you can make decent s'mores in the microwave?  I actually think I might prefer them this way.  And I really love how the marshmallows poof up when heated.  Makes it easier for me to mush the chocolate down into the middle where it melts into the ooey-gooey goodness.  I wonder if it would be bad for me to have another one...

It's almost time for bed, so I will forego the additional s'more.  I am looking forward to my bed.  I have this lavender pillow spray from Bath & Body Works.  I sprayed it on my pillow last night, and I really do think it helped me sleep better!  It's quite relaxing!  Highly recommend it.  I am looking forward to that, and to cuddling with Bruce.  Those last few minutes when we're sort of talking, sort of falling asleep are precious to me.  So peaceful...  Night-night!