Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I Read This Summer

I know, I know.  My posts have been sorely lacking this summer.  My days have been consumed with chasing a toddler and a now mobile infant.  And reading.  Lots of reading!

This summer the kids and I followed the Hubs to Houghton, NY where he ran around like a crazy person shooting and editing videos for his organizations' camp DVDs.  I got to hang out with my kids and another staff members' kid...and read.  I took 7 books with me and finished all of them in those two weeks alone (thank God for Nooks!) while the kids slept and the other camp staff members burned the midnight oil.  It was a tough job, but someone had to do it!

  Since Labor Day weekend approaches (the unofficial end of summer made all the more real for me since my daughter starts preschool in less than two weeks *sob*) I thought I'd share a quick list of the books that have kept me on the couch reading instead of at the computer blogging!

The Hannah Swensen Mysteries.  My grandmother had told me about these years ago.  She said they were good, quick-read mystery novels with recipes included in the book.  I was intrigued, so I found one at the library.  I read it, enjoyed it, and quickly forgot about the series until I was looking to start something for the summer that wasn't too heady, but still enjoyable.  These fit the bill.  The main character is an owner of a bake shop in small town Minnesota (hence the recipes) who has a knack for discovering dead bodies and solving mysteries through her curiosity.  I am sad to say that I didn't try one single recipe from the books!  I am considering trying this recipe since they were said to travel well and send some to a certain brother-in-law who is currently serving his country overseas (but I have to do a test batch first...right?)

The Lucy Stone Mysteries.  I found this author through an anthology of mysteries that included a Hannah Swensen story.  The main character is a mom of four who writes for the local newspaper in small town Maine.  She also solves many mysteries through her curiosity.  I've always wanted to go to Maine, so this was a fun read for me.  I also sympathized a lot with the character.  She has a lot on her plate with a family, job and a dog!

And now, for nonfiction:

This Momentary Marriage.  I finally snagged a copy of this and read it during my vacation weeks.  I wrote a post using an excerpt of the book to honor Hubs on our five-year anniversary this summer.  It was such a convicting yet encouraging read on both the grace and the work that is required of a marriage that is meant to reflect to the world the love between Christ and the church.

The Julie/Julia Project.  I had seen the movie a few years ago with friends.  The book is much, much better and laugh out loud funny (be warned...there is a lot of profanity.  And bashing of Republicans.  But I thought the end result was worth slogging through all that.)

And right now?  I'm reading Saturday Night Widows.  I was a little wary of picking this up because at first it looked really depressing.  It's a book by a woman who lost her husband and was "kicked out" of a traditional grief group.  She started her own group of six widows who met once a month for a year.  This book chronicles their stories and some compelling research she did on grief and coping with loss.  I've really enjoyed it so far and it has made me admire my mother even more for what she went through when she was widowed (Hi Mom!  You did a great job raising me and my sister!)

Welp, there it is.  Now you know what I read last summer (yes, I made that joke.  Just be glad I didn't title the blog post in that manner.) 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy 5 years, Hubs...Cow pies and all!

" You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.  Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved."
-John Piper, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence

  Today I celebrate five years of marriage with the Hubs.  Five years!  It seems like they have flown by, but how can't they with the purchase of a home, a beloved dog (may he rest in peace) and two children later?  We've been quite busy these past few years, so it's quite a shock to be celebrating a milestone already.  I'm blessed to be married to a handsome, funny, caring Christ follower.

But in all of this reflection on the goodness of marriage, I can't help but think about the biggest lesson I've learned in five years of marriage: Forgiveness and forbearance.

In five years, I've definitely learned that you can't change another person, no matter how hard you try.  Hubs will never be perfect, and I've finally realized I'm not either!  And can't I tell you that nothing brings out your imperfection more than adding another human being to your family system?  I remember those hazy few months after my daughter was born.  It was a tough time for our marriage.  So tough, in fact, that we called on a couple we knew for some marriage advice.

That's where I first heard the above analogy.  Yes, sometimes marriage can be like living next to a pile of poo, especially when you are in a physically and/or emotionally trying season.  All you can see are your spouses' faults and his or hers refusal to *fix* them.  And that stinks.  Our friends acknowledged that for us when we came to them for counsel, but they also encouraged us to look at the good in our marriage.  We were invited to see the positives in our life together as much as we could and to deal with the "cow pies" as they came along.  But we didn't have to stay next to them.

I am so grateful to our friends for encouraging us in this way.  I am also grateful that I got to read This Momentary Marriage in it's entirety this summer.   It really encouraged me to see my marriage in a more eternal light as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church to the world.  That is no small order, and I'm sure I will spend the rest of my life with Hubs failing to show the glory of such a picture.  We will probably deal with a lot more poo in the future!  But because we are "chosen and holy and loved" by Christ, we will not wallow in it.  Instead, we will strive to surrender to Christ and forgive as the Lord has forgiven us. 

That, my friends, is also no small order.  But today I am walking away from the compost pile and choosing to look towards the sweetness of our future together and remembering the grace of the past. 

Happy 5 years, Hubs.  I know this blog post is probably more sappy than you would like, but don't worry.  Your card has at least one flatulence joke in it!