Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Domestic Goddess, or Martha Stewart Wannabe?

My first attempt at cooking a whole roast chicken:

I'm pretty sure I'm meant to be a stay-at-home mom at some point in my life. I love to be domestic and set up house; something about it makes me feel useful and happy. And while I usually cook big meals from scratch (or close to it), I have never actually tried to cook a whole chicken... my idea of cooking chicken is thawing out a frozen chicken breast and using that. I'm actually really grossed out by the idea of raw chicken (reminds me of a bad food poisoning incident a few years ago) and touching it gives me goosebumps.

So yesterday I bought a whole roasting chicken and decided to conquer my fears!! I found a great recipe for honey mustard chicken in a magazine where all you have to do is sauce the chicken and throw it in a crock pot for 4 1/2 hours. Easy enough, right? WRONG. I did not realize that "saucing the chicken" required me to stick my hand between the chicken's meat and the chicken's skin, and stick my hand in it's butt to marinade it! Gah! It was so gross and awkward, and I can't believe I actually made it through, but I now have a sauced chicken roasting in my crock pot! I'm so proud of myself! Let's hope that my first attempt at a roast whole chicken turns out well (I'm sure H will let me know lol) and that I have somehow overcome my fear of raw chicken-- or at least squelched it a little bit!

My domestic goddess training is coming along nicely, I think... now all I need is a sewing machine and I'll be on my way! (Martha Stewart would be so proud of me, hahaha!)

Update: 4:45pm

It cooked so long that it's literally falling apart and off the bone (so it doesn't look like a chicken...lol) and it tastes AMAZING! So proud of my first attempt at being a true domestic goddess!! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Opening Doors

So for the past 3 months I have been attending Dayspring Assembly of God, and I absolutely love it! This church and the pastoral staff there are so spirit-filled, and I know that this is the church that God has called me to. I feel so connected to God's presence when I am there, and I can't wait to come back to BG in the fall so I can continue attending church there. Unfortunately, until today, I haven't really felt connected to anyone there. It's not because of the church, but because I tend to get shy (I know, right?! Me shy? But when I'm alone in a new situation I can be really shy.) and I don't go out of my way to meet new people at church. I've been praying a lot about finding a church family there and maybe getting involved in a ministry there, and today I had the opportunity to do both!

Today after the 11am service, they did something called "Pizza with the Pastors" where they provided lunch for new families of the church and you had a chance to meet all of the pastors and fellowship together. I almost didn't go, because I would be going alone and I felt out of place, but I went anyway and I'm so glad I did! I met Pastor Dave Thompson and his wife at lunch today, and they asked me to sit with them so I wasn't sitting alone. Dave is the youth pastor at Dayspring, and he and Kati were so nice to me! They were surprised to hear that I grew up at Ravenna Assembly of God, and it turns out that they are good friends with Cornell and Kristen (my high school youth pastor and his wife) and we got along really well! They introduced me to Lisa, who is a director of creative arts and drama, who was really excited to hear about my background in theater and asked me to potentially get involved in that ministry in the fall when I move back. Pastor Dave also mentioned something about possibly getting involved in the youth ministry as a youth leader in the fall, and Kati took down my contact info to pass along to the girl who leads the young-adult/college ministries. I feel like I'm finally starting to find a church family and way to get involved in a church ministry! Maybe this is God's way for me to lead and do something life changing for Him! I feel so good about this! But now I'm really sad that I have to leave the church for the summer in just 5 short weeks! More excitement for me to come back to in the fall, though! :) Just one more door that God has opened for me!

And the job hunt continues, as well. I put in an application at Sylvan Learning Center back home in hopes that I can get a summer job there--just something to pay the bills this summer, hopefully. Also, I've got job fair coming up after Easter (April 13) and I have 6 interviews lined up there, plus the application I've put in for Ottowa Hills and Fostoria. Hopefully SOMETHING will come out of this!! I want so badly to find a job for the fall, specifically in Northwest Ohio, because I want to stay close to H and because this is where I feel like I'm being drawn to set up shop permanently. I'm just going to trust God to know the desires of my heart on this one and make it work for me! Today at church, Pastor Scott said that we can't receive God's gifts if we don't ask, so at the alter call today I went up and had one of the prayer team members pray for a job for me. I feel completely anointed by God and know that He will lead me to the perfect teaching placement. I also know that because I'm committed to following His word and delighting myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart-- which happen to be staying in this area to teach, preferably at Fostoria. Just gotta keep praying and putting my applications out there!

Home for Easter in 5 more sleeps--- looking forward to a chance to go home and spend some time with the family. :) And, as usual, things with H are going so well!! We had our first date Friday night, and it was fantastic. I have missed just spending time with him, especially because he is my best friend. It feels so good to just talk and joke and reconnect with him, and I am thanking God every single day for bringing him back into my life. It feels so good to be that giggly silly girl who is crazy in love again!!

Life is good, and God is opening so many doors for me, and I'm so excited to see what He has behind each one!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter Eggs!

Today, Mel and I colored Easter eggs!

I love to color eggs at Easter-- it's one of my favorite traditions! We thought it would be fun to color eggs together and celebrate since we won't be spending Easter together. Mel is getting baptized here in BG the night before Easter (she has been going through Catholicism classes since before Christmas) and I'll be back home with my family that whole weekend, so we decided to do our Easter eggs early. It was fun, and even at 22 and 23 years old, we can still enjoy the simple pleasures in life!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kids Do the Darndest...

Oh second graders are a handful! Today I subbed for a second grade teacher, and it was a lot of fun but a little crazy. First of all, I walked into the room and it was so visually stimulating--colors, shapes, posters, information EVERYWHERE! It was so bright and colorful, and it made me realize how boring and drab high school classrooms tend to be. No colorful bulletin boards, no fun posters, nothing that keeps you looking around and excited about school. Boring posters, no colors, sterile. It just makes me want my own classroom even more! Hoping I can go shopping with Mom this summer to pick up some things from the teacher store to make my classroom exciting and fun.

So second grade. Wow. The kids are so well trained to come in, put their things away, turn in their homework folders, pick up the morning exercises (math and language arts), do their work, and then read silently until it's time to go over their work. I was completely blown away by this! I mean, of course you have a few students who need redirected once in a while to stay on-task, but for the most part these kids were so good about doing what was expected and stayed focused on their morning routine. These are eight- and nine-year-old's, and yet my fourteen- and fifteen-year-old's can't seem to remember what time to show up to class, let alone what to do once they get there! And staying on-task while working quietly and independently? That's a joke! I was so impressed by these kids. It was actually a lot of fun to work with younger kids for a change, and they were great for me. Lunch was a little crazy, though---sitting with a group of 8 eight-year-old boys was a little more than I could handle lol!

I spent the afternoon acting as an aide for a little first grader who is diagnosed with mild-functioning autism. He was quite a handful, and I can't imagine being an aide every day for 30+ years. It's not that I don't like to work with kids who need the extra assistance that an aide provides, but I just don't have the patience or the heart to be able to do that every day. I have worked as an aide at a few different schools now, and it's always an interesting experience. I wouldn't say it was ever "bad" but it has made me realize that I would burn out very quickly doing it all day every day. I know that I shouldn't look at these students as "different" or feel like I need to give them pitty, but sometimes I see these kids and my heart just breaks for them. I don't know that I could do it every day for 30 to 35 years, and I have so much respect for the people who do.

What I find interesting is that we as adults tend to feel pity, discomfort, and awkwardness around people with extra needs or who are different, and yet this student's classmates accept him and include him like nothing is different or wrong, and without question. They know that he has special needs in the classroom, but that's not how they define him or look at him--they seem him through eyes of acceptance and friendship. These little first graders can look past differences and past his obvious "problems" and see him as a friend and as a normal classmate. It's mind blowing that these young kids, who have not experienced the world's biases and prejudices, can do what some adults who are much more "mature" can not. And maybe it's because these kids haven't encountered true social bias that they can do this. But how sad is it that we as adults are creating an environment where kids are learning to go from accepting to prejudiced instead of the other way around? It breaks my heart...

I want to raise my future children in an environment that realizes people's differences and needs and embraces them instead of judging or avoiding people because of it. I want to believe that my kids will not go from accepting to prejudiced, but will set the example for others no matter how old they are. And most of all, I want to raise my kids in a world that reflects these values. Sadly, I feel like this last one is impossible sometimes... But I refuse to give up on these wishes for my children, and I refuse to let the world's biases and prejudices get in the way of raising respectful, accepting, and inclusive children! Jesus said "let the children come to me" because He loved them--not just the ones who were mentally capable, or behaviorally acceptable, but ALL of the children.

40 more sleeps until I move home. I'm excited to have a summer to relax and prepare for what will be the start of the next chapter of my life (and to not have to worry about rent or groceries or laundry!) but the idea of being away from H for that long is not as exciting. It's not that I can not handle that kind of separation--I mean, I just worked through 4 months without him (okay...maybe that wasn't my best example of surviving without him lol!) but as we work daily on rebuilding this friendship and relationship, the idea that we have to do that through phone conversations only is what I'm not finding to be so happy. Some people have made it very clear that they are not happy about us working things out and getting back together, and I respect their opinions. However, I will not be doubting this choice or allowing someone else's opinion to change mine. After literally months of prayer, I truly believe that God has brought us back together. "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart; commit yourself to Him and He will do this" Psalm 37:4-5. I have literally given up everything to God and chased after Him with a passion I haven't felt in years, and He truly did bless me with my hearts greatest desire--to be with the man I love in a mature, strong relationship. The people who matter most in my life see how happy I am, and how much I believe that God has blessed me with this and will continue to bless our relationship together as we put Him in the center of it, and those are the people who support me in this. Those are the people who God has put in my life to be my support system, and those are the people who I choose to continue to surround myself with. Those are the people who I thank God for daily!

It feels good to trust Him and know that my life is so much better because of what He is doing in it! And it feels amazing to know that the second most important man in my life (sorry, a girl's daddy always comes first!) is just as determined and focused on creating an amazingly strong relationship and future together as I am. Life is good again. So so so good. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

100 Books!

Alright, since I am going to be home all summer, I am setting a goal for myself-- I'm going to read like CRAZY!!! I found Newsweek's Top 100 Books and my goal is to read as many of these this summer as I can! I have read a lot of them, so I will consider those already crossed off the list, but the ones I haven't read I will tackle this summer. I figure a lot of them are adolescent/high school classics that I can teach, too, so it will give me a jump start on potential readings for my classes in the fall.

Here's the list (I'll update this page throughout the summer as I read them!):

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
2. 1984 by George Orwell
3. Ulysses by James Joyce
4. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
7. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
8. The Illiad and the Odyssey by Homer
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jame Austen
10. Divine Comedy by Dante
11. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
12. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
13. Middlemarch by George Elliot
14. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
15. The Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Sallinger
16. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
17. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
18. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
19. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
20. Beloved by Toni Morrison
21. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
22. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
23. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
24. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
25. Native Son by Richard Wright
26. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
27. On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
28. The Histories by Herodotus
29. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
30. Das Kapital by Karl Marx
31. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
32. Confessions by St. Augustine
33. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
34. The History of the Peloponesian War by Thucydides
35. The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien
36. Winne the Pooh by A.A. Milne
37. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
38. A Passage to India by E.M. Forrester
39. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
40. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
41. The Bible
42. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
43. Light in August by William Faulkner
44. The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
45. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
46. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
47. Paradise Lost by John Milton
48. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
49. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
50. King Lear by William Shakespeare
51. Othello by William Shakespeare
52. Sonnets by William Shakespeare
53. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
54. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
55. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
56. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
57. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
58. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
59. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
60. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
61. Animal Farm by George Orwell
62. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
63. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
64. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
65. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
66. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
67. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
68. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
69. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
70. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
71. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
72. All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren
73. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
74. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
75. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
76. Night by Elie Wiesel
77. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
78. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
79. Portnoy's Complaint by Phillip Roth
80. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
81. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
82. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
83. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
84. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
85. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
86. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
87. The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
88. Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao Zedong
89. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James
90. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
91. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
92. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes
93. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
94. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
95. The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
96. The Wind In the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
97. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X
98. Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey
99. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
100. The Second World War by Winston Churchill

Blind Faith

Well, the nanny job did not work out. The woman was extremely nice, but I think the language barrier was going to be a problem, especially since I don't speak Lithuanian, so she decided to go with a close family friend who does speak the language. Maybe that's okay though-- it gives me the opportunity to continue subbing in the area, particularly at Fostoria, which will hopefully lead to a full-time position in the fall. Just going to keep putting out teaching applications and trusting God to lead me to the job that He wants me to fill.

My brother came to visit me last week while he was on leave from the Army. It was great to see him and spend time with him, but he brought up an interesting point-- how can I have blind faith? I had never considered the term "blind faith" before JP brought it up, but it definitely explains what I've got. I have gotten to a level of faith and trust with God that is so beautiful! It really is a blind faith; I know that I don't have to worry about anything because God is taking care of me! As long as I do my part, God will provide-- I'll turn in my teaching applications and God will provide me with a job in a school where I can do great things in His name. I'll continue to tithe and God will provide me with financial blessings as I need them. I will focus my relationships around Him and God will provide me with a beautiful and mature relationship. When something comes along that causes a roadblock or a challenge to me, I send it up in prayer knowing that when it's in His hands, I have nothing to worry about. JP tells me that he's jealous that I can have such strong blind faith, and that he doesn't understand it. I've tried explaining: when the Creator of all things has my life in His hands, who/what do I need to worry about or fear? I wish I could explain it better, but sometimes the amazing things God does in my life can't be put into words--the joy and amazement I get from Him is indescribable!

Speaking of relationships...
H and I sat down last Friday night and had an extremely long conversation (lasted almost 3 hours!) about our relationship past, present, and future. I have spent literally months in prayer about him and about us, and this is truly where my blind faith began. I continued to pray and believe that if God wanted us together, then in His time, He would make it happen. I didn't worry about it, and I didn't stress over whether or not it would happen, because I knew that if I wasn't meant to be with H that somewhere out there God had a man who was perfect for me, so what did I have to worry about. Blind faith! So after months of prayer (including "if he's not meant to be in my life, God, then get him completely out of it!" but 4 months later, he is still a prominent part of my life and not by my own prompting) and waiting and living in His word, God has connected us again. I truly believe, based on God's covenant in His word, that if we focus on our relationship with God and follow His commands, He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4-7). Being in a mature relationship with H is definitely a desire of my heart (a BIG one!) and I believe that because I have so diligently committed my life to God that He is now rewarding me! Praise God!

Now, don't jump to anything, because we certainly aren't. We realize that there were a lot of things off about our relationship the last time we were together and that was a HUGE part of our conversation on Friday as well as the subsequent conversations since. We have decided that any future relationship between us needs a firm foundation in both friendship and in Christ, and we are working on that daily now. We are both choosing not to see other people right now as we work on our own relationship, and we are taking it slow--so slow, in fact, that we aren't even going to hang out or see each other until August when I move back. That's 5 months of praying and waiting and rebuilding before we even attempt to take the next step. He has done a lot over the past 4 months to prove to me that he is ready to be an adult and be on the same level as me, and has even decided to join the Army to create a plan and some stability for his/our future (please keep that in prayer!). I will continue to pray and trust God to lead us both down the right paths of this relationship and make us strong together in His name. Once again, I'm giving this up to blind faith and putting it in God's hands, because I truly believe that God has it in His plans for us to be together.

On another note: Moving home in about a month and a half for the summer. I'm excited about getting out of BG for a while, going home and not worrying about bills, getting some quality family time in, and having a chance to lay by the pool all summer with mom! However, those pesky loan payments are creeping up and sometimes it's so hard to get that fear out of my head. I have been working hard on saving my money up from subbing this semester, but I am still so worried that I won't have enough for one loan payment, let alone 2 that I'll have to pay before my first teacher salary paycheck comes through in the fall. I'm also worried that I won't be able to find a job this summer back home, which will put a cramp in being able to pay loans and my credit card bill all summer. I know that I can't rely on Mom and Dad to pay it for me, one because I'm an adult and I need to become financially independent, and two because they can't afford it either, so I worry about that often. I need to just trust God that because I have been faithful about tithing, it will be okay. I think I need some blind faith about that...

Jehovah Jireh means "God will provide" so I will turn my prayers to Him. Psalm 111:5 says "He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever." God has promised me (His covenant to me) a future that will prosper me and give me a hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and because I fear Him, He will not forget that covenant. God will provide, I just need to trust and have faith.