Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seven Wants

1.  I want a brand new fall wardrobe complete with shoes and accessories :)
2.  I want to live in a home in the country with some land so my hubby can become the tree farmer he wants to be, and I can grow pretty and tasty things.
3.  I want to be in shape.  Ugh, I can't think about how long it's been since I've gone to the gym.
4.  I want to have deep communion with God.
5.  I want to see my church grow in unity, faith, and numbers.
6.  I want my very own music studio.
7.  I want to learn to be content in any circumstance in life.  (Ha, my list here doesn't really help with the whole content thing!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Eight Fears

1.  I am afraid of losing someone I love and not being able to bear it.
2.  I am afraid that I will never have a baby.
3.  I am afraid of dentists and dental work in general.  (I seriously need to deal with this phobia!)
4.  I am afraid of being left behind.  See #2.
5.  I am afraid of spiders.  (This fear often is the cause of my sleep-jumping, which I wrote about in my Ten Secrets.)
6.  I am afraid when I am alone at night.  I hate being alone at night.
7.  I am afraid that people won't like me once they really get to know me, that they may like me from afar but find they don't much care for all my flaws when they get close.
8.  I am afraid of making a fool of myself when I am in front of people, especially in performance situations.

I often--and I mean all the time-- quote I John 4:18 to myself.  "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  There is so much hope and grace offered here.  I remind myself over and over that I don't need to fear because God loves me perfectly.  He doesn't let anything happen that He is not in control of; He never uses bad things to punish me; and He is even perfecting me so I can love instead of fear.

Whew, this one was heavy!  Glad to move on from this to lighter topics...wants, places, foods, books, films, songs, and picture.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nine Loves

1.  I love coffee, but perhaps the greater love is really "coffee time."  Nearly everyday, my hubby and I have coffee time together (we even call it that!), usually outside if it's nice, or sitting on the couch if the weather keeps us in.  It's our time to connect before we rush off, pray together, talk about what's going on.  Without a doubt it's my favorite part of the day.

2.  I love a clean house :)  If I'm stressed or upset, a clean house can almost always make life okay.

3.  I love my cat Calla, even though she is quite bratty at times.

4.  I love the fall and all that comes with fall...pumpkins, spice lattes, breads, soups, lovely scarves, cool mornings and evenings, colored leaves.  I really need to live somewhere that gets more than a month of autumn!

5.  I love writing - mostly songs, but also journals, stories, poetry, even blog posts.

6.  I love making/growing/doing something from scratch -- a chocolate cake, a flower (from a seed I planted), a project that is mine from start to finish.  Love it.

7.  I love dark chocolate, especially with sea salt and caramel.

8.  I love my family.  Of course, we all love our families, but I feel like I am the luckiest...three beautiful, fun, amazing sisters; parents who are my biggest fans ever; in-laws who love me like their own; and my sweet husband who says his favorite part of the day is also coffee time with me.  (How great is that??)  I also love those people in my life who have become like family.

9.  I love the Lord, and love that He loves me!  (Wow, three "loves" in one sentence.)  I mean, of course I love God.  He saved me.  But the fact that He loves me?  That I can't get over.

So many loves!  This list could go on and on.  Thanks, Steph, for hosting this.  It's always good to pause and reflect on the good things we have.

Care to join in?  Hop over to Steph's blog.  We'd love to read about your loves, too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ten Secrets

My friend Stephanie is hosting a 10 Day You Challenge.  I've often chickened out of being part of these things, but I decided I'm going to give this one a try!  I'm late on this first one, but I'm still going to do it.

So, ten secrets.  I've been thinking about them this morning and I think I've got it down to ten.  

1.  I sleep talk, sleep shout, sleep scream, and sleep jump, among other sleep activities.  It usually ends at the jumping part because I finally wake myself up there.  Rarely have I ever gone into sleep-walking mode, but I've gotten pretty active even without that.  (My poor hubby is usually the victim of my violence.)  The most recent one was while I was at camp.  I screamed and jumped out of bed, sure that the roof was caving in.

2.  I am a true-blood introvert.  I may fool people because of things I do (like teach) or things I am involved in, but I love being at home, quietly working on projects or music or writing.  I was the kid that wanted to go to her room when she was in trouble; getting sent outside to play would have been the real punishment. (Not that I was in trouble that often.)

3.  For being a former English major and teacher, I am not that big of a reader, at least not of novels.  I have a hard time starting a book, strangely.  Once I begin it, I'm fine, but I always find other pastimes I'd rather do than start that book.  I do best with series because I'm already invested in the story, and I don't have to motivate myself to start the next one.

4.  I don't particularly like movies.  I know I'm weird.  It's kind of like the book thing with me - once I'm into it, I'm fine, but it takes a lot for me to be motivated to start a movie.  And I don't like romantic comedies or drama...they're too draining for me!  I like PG (maybe PG-13 if it's superhero stuff) action, adventure, and fantasy.

5.  I truly enjoy organizing.  I tolerate cleaning, and sometimes find that enjoyable as well, but organizing is fun for me, especially when I buy some cute things to use for the organization project.

6.  I'm a bit of a neat freak with my house, but there are two areas I'm down-right slobbish: my car and my clothes.  No matter how many times I clean them and vow to keep them neat, they just get messy again!  Someone tell me the secret to keeping neat drawers!

7.  I (like Stephanie and many others who confessed after her confession) talk to myself all the time.  Outloud.  Entire conversations.  With me.  I also have done the thing where I'm so involved in my head conversation with myself that I start talking outloud even when people are around.  Oh and I also talk to my cat.

8.  I'm super insecure about my feet.  I've inherited the worst feet genes that not only are unattractive but painful, as well.  I dread summer not because of the clothes or swimsuits but because of the shoes.  Flip-flops and sandals?  I'll take ballet flats and boots, please.

9.  I write songs all the time.  I may not finish them, but I'm constantly writing a chorus or coming up with a melody I like.  I would love to do music professionally, more than just playing for weddings or teaching piano.

10.  If I could go back and study anything, I would study design.  I have no artistic ability (I'm more of a crafter, not an artist), and the only "design" I've done is decorating my house, but I think it would be so fun!

Yikes, re-reading this, I sound like a nerd!!!  I suppose that's why I've kept these as secrets :)  The cat's out of the bag, now.

Want to join in?  Hop over to Steph's blog.  She's already on Day 8, but you can come late with me.  All welcome!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good morning!

Lucky us!  Chels was able to spend the weekend with us in celebration of August birthdays!
Today is Monday, which is the day I (now) have to be my cleaning/errand/planning day.  Since I took that new job at Valley Life Charter School, many of my minutes have gone to getting the beginning of the school-year in order.  This is only a part-time job, ten hours a week, but any teacher knows that things take time to get started, and that's where I am.  I'm hoping that after I get this week finished, I'll be in a good place to (somewhat) stick to the two hours of paid prep time they give me.

I usually give my quick life update on my Tuesday Tidbits, but I am not ready to start cleaning yet, so I'm using my blog to procrastinate and wait for the motivation to come.  First of all, the root canal: Things at the dentist went fine.  I usually have a lot of anxiety, but with some medicinal help and my ipod, I got through it with minimal sweating and heart rate acceleration.  Little did I know that was the easy part.  The hard part came the following week when I found myself in excruciating pain due to another infection!  Yep.  That darn tooth's abscess would not go away, and it seems it became even worse.  Thanks to some heavy duty antibiotics, I felt better by Thursday night, and am doing world's better today.  The main problem now is that these are some crazy antibiotics that kill all the bacteria in your body, even the good bacteria.  As you probably know, we need good bacteria to keep us...um...regulated.  So, my meals for the last four days have been paired with a side of yogurt and lots and lots of water.

Second, work:  My work now consists of my part-time job at VLCS and my part-time job of piano teaching.  I now have eight piano students, my newest being my youngest second cousin.  It's so fun having students who are excited about playing piano!  I feel so blessed to have these jobs, especially with their hours and flexibility, and it's awesome how both of them fit with my strengths.

Third, church:  I always have excitement at the beginning of the school year with the new things going on at church.  This year is even more exciting for me, and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps with each year we're here, we get more and more settled.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to have six little girls telling me how they can't wait for Kids Praise to start up again.  I also feel like this past year Robby and I have sought the Lord's will together in ways we haven't before, praying together and reading Scripture together.  I feel like he and I are more in line with what God is wanting in our lives and are able to accept the "waiting" that comes with being in God's will :)  (Because there always is waiting with the Lord, isn't there??)

Fourth, family and friends: Sometimes I am just overwhelmed with how blessed I am to have our families and friends.  We often feel like we don't get to spend as much time with them as we'd like, with church commitments taking up many of our evenings, but they are still so present and supportive in our lives.  This weekend was extra special as we celebrated my dad's 58th birthday and an early birthday with Chelsea, as well.  (Pictures to come...)

Well, I think taking some blog time actually helped motivate me!  The cleaning doesn't feel quite as overwhelming now.  Happy Monday to you all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Candy Canes in August

Finally the candy cane zinnia has bloomed!  We only got one plant to grow (like the green 'envy'), but it is stunning.  I wish my camera could capture the contrast of the pink and greenish-white better.  So beautiful!

Other exciting bloom news is this "double click" cosmo, our new favorite type of cosmo.  It took these, as well as the special zinnias, longer to finally bloom, but they are indeed worth the wait.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Birthday for the Beebs

The baby of our family celebrated her twenty-second birthday this past weekend!  If, as a sister, I have a hard time realizing she's this grown up, I can't imagine what it's like as a parent!  I feel so lucky to have such wonderful sisters!

Happy happy birthday to you, Beebs!  Love you!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Pictures!

We had a great time with the Gimlin's celebrating at Disneyland!  The day was quite l-o-n-g as Ben and Steph arrived at our home around 4:30 in the morning.  That's right -- in the morning.  We were full of energy though, which waned about 1:00 that afternoon.  You can see the bright eyes we had at our first rides and the sheer exhaustion on our faces by the end of the night.  It was so fun, though, and was a great end to our summer.

It had been about three years since we last went to Disneyland, and a lot has changed since then!  California Adventure is no longer the surfin' California theme but is is the process of becoming a more vintage Mickey experience.  There are a few new rides there, such as a Little Mermaid attraction, the new Toy Story experience, and Goofy's Sky School (the old Mulholland Madness ride).  In Disneyland, Star Tours has received a major redo.  It's now in 3D and has tons of different storylines!  We only went once, but you can potentially go fifty times and see something different each time.  The best part of that ride was when Darth Vader stopped us because there was a rebel spy in our ship.  When the picture popped up on the screen of this rebel spy, it was none other than my hubby!  Ha!  I wish I had been quick enough to take a picture.  It was classic. 

By far the most amazing new attraction is the World of Color at California Adventure.  This was outstanding!  If you have ever experienced the Disneyland fireworks, you know that Walt knows how to put on a show.  Like many people, I grew up with old Disney favorites so hearing all of my favorite Disney songs put to an incredible water, color, and screen show seriously brought me to tears!  (That and the fact that the little girl in front of me was part of the Make a Wish Foundation...yep, I didn't stand a chance!)  If you are planning a trip to D-Land and CA-Adventure anytime soon, make sure you get the fast passes for this show.  You'll get the best seats in the house (which we did not).  

As usual, Tower of Terror took the prize for the best thrill.  I wish we had had time to do it more than once.  The good news for us is this was just the beginning of Disneyland this year.  We got annual passes!  We tried to talk B+S to join in on that fun, but they were pretty sure Ellie couldn't handle a year of Disneyland yet.  Ben and I share a birthday month, though, so perhaps we'll find another reason for the four of us to go again!

Thanks, Mickey, for the great day!  You did not disappoint!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Update on the THNGVBD Day

It has been almost a week since my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, so I thought I'd better update how things are going.

First, I realize I didn't say much about my doctor's appointment, and I know many of you were praying for that visit and have been praying for us as we struggle with infertility.  The appointment was great in many ways, but incredibly hard in others.  The doctor specializes in laparoscopic surgery, endometriosis, and infertility, so it was a blessing to have a good twenty minutes with him just asking questions, sharing our story, and feeling heard.  He was very empathetic and affirmed how difficult a journey this has been for us.  The difficult part came when he said we've done what there is to do, at least up to the point of IVF.  We have even taken the path that he would have given us, the only difference being he would have done the surgery earlier instead of later.  The problem we have is simple: endometriosis has caused a lot of damage, and the damage can't be undone.  No doubt I have had endometriosis since I was a young girl, so there has been about fifteen years that this has gone on.  My surgery in January attempted to clean up some of the problem and put it on hold for awhile, but permanent damage to my ovaries or tubes can't be fixed.  What's worse, there is just no way to know what the extent of the damage looks like inside my ovaries or tubes.

His best guess would be that I am ovulating at least some of the time, and that fertilization could even be taking place, but there is a problem getting the egg from the ovary through the fallopian tubes to the uterus.  Because of this, I could be a good candidate for IVF, the procedure I had ruled out a long time ago due to the cost and issues that come with it.  He also said the doctor I've been seeing is excellent, the best around here, and the only other doctor he'd recommend is at Stanford.  Even this doctor would likely do the same types of things, though.

So...it was hard to hear, but also good to know that the last couple of years haven't been wasted.  I've been seeing someone who is the best.  I've done a good variety of treatments.  And I've hopefully put a hold on the endometriosis spreading.  But I was hoping there'd be some type of miracle treatment, and it doesn't exist.

I can't explain what it feels like to have such a problem with the basic thing that women are supposed to be able to do.  It follows me and my thoughts everywhere.  God blesses us immensely, but my heart still aches, and I wonder how this could ever truly be okay.

There are two huge options before us, and in all honesty, we haven't a clue what we want to do.  We could consider IVF and save up for that procedure, which is anywhere from $13 - $18,000 dollars with zero guarantee that it would work.  (Yep, I'm just putting it out there, so people understand the HUGENESS of this option.)  We could adopt, of course, which is so beautiful in theory but so hard to actually begin processing.  That too would have a cost, but nothing compared to the IVF.  There are other less likely options people have: foster care, surrogacy, not having children, but these don't really fit with us.

You see how overwhelmed we are!  In the midst of processing the facts, we also have to process the options.  And we also have to fit all of this in with the truths of God, that God does perform miracles, that God does have our best in mind, that God is wholly good all of the time.  We have to recognize when to wait and when to act, when to "pray about it" and when to take the step of faith.

Besides that, the rest of that bad day has worked itself out pretty well.  My root canal went wonderfully, and if you know me and the anxiety I have with dental work (another post for another day), you know this is a miracle in itself!  I was able to fix up my real classroom fairly quickly and was happy that I had inadvertently helped another teacher get his room ready.  Our car is running better than ever, and my hair stylist squeezed me in this week, so I'll have pretty hair in a few days.  And on Friday we were able to spend a whole day with our wonderful friends Ben and Steph at the "Happiest Place on Earth" - Disneyland!  (Post to come, but see Steph's post for some great pictures!)  God is good and present even in these small, daily things.

I know we don't know exactly why God allows things to happen to us.  But one of my theories is that difficult things make us "soft" people, if that makes sense.  It makes us people whose hearts are moldable and open to the Lord, whose hearts break easily for others.  Yesterday's church service was so meaningful to me, not because of the music or the message necessarily, but because my heart was broken and God was able to love me and speak to me in that brokenness.  I had more compassion for others because I recognize that everyone must have something in their lives that makes them feel like I do right now.  And I recognize more than ever the desperate need we have for communion with God and with God's people.

So...thank you for being God's loving people to me.  We love your prayers and support, and we look forward to sharing with you how God brings us through this journey and provides us with a family someday.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

I loved the story of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It was one of my favorites.  It begins with Alexander waking up to find he has gum in his hair, and things just get worse from there.  Alexander wishes that he could live in Australia, but at the end of the story, his mother assures him that even people in Australia have bad days.
[Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day]
The last two days have felt like Alexander days for me.  The morning began with a forty minute drive to Dinuba to see a new doctor for all my troubles.  We arrived, took a seat, waited fifteen minutes, then were told that the doctor had to leave for a delivery, at which point we rescheduled, departed, drove another forty minutes, then arrived home.  The day went on and a toothache began to develop.  By evening it was unbearable, so today, after going to the doctor's office for the second time and being told there's nothing new for me to do, I went to the dentist and found out I need a root canal, among other terrible things.

In between the two sad appointments, we rushed my car (which wouldn't start on Sunday) to Tulare to get a new battery, also the second time we had to do that since the first time they were out of batteries.  After the dentist appointment, I attended a three hour planning meeting at my new school...while suffering through the pain from my poor tooth...and found out the classroom I have spent the last week working on isn't even the room in which I'll be teaching.  My hair stylist canceled my appointment tomorrow and can't get me in for another two weeks, and on Saturday, I'll spend my entire afternoon having a root canal performed.

It really has been terrible, horrible, no good, and very, very bad.

But then tonight, as I was staying home from Elevate to nurse my wounds, a new student from church called and said last night he gave his life to Christ.  He said he thought about all the sacrifice Jesus did for him, and he knew he wanted to live for a God like that.  He wanted to surrender it all, and so he did.

My tooth still aches, and things haven't gone as I had hoped or planned, but God is so good.  I don't like or understand the pain in our lives, but I'm reminded that God draws us close in our pain and becomes our mighty healer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Green with envy?

My one and only 'envy' zinnia bloomed last week!  I love green flowers and was so looking forward to a yard full of these beauties, since we planted a whole packet of seeds.  Only one has popped up so far, though.  I'm hoping I may get a few more and am also still holding on for one of the candy cane varieties to show itself.  If it does, you can be sure I'll snap a photo.

Other cool zinnia photos:
A lone orange stands out among the purples -
These guys are over three feet tall!
Purple beauty
I'm not sure how this got into our yard...I'm hoping it still may prove to be a striped candy cane variety, but we'll see.
These we bought at a local nursery, and although the color is pretty, they haven't done as well as the ones we've grown from seed.  Next year, we'll try to get them to grow on our own instead of buying the six packs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tidbits Tuesday

Life at the Feely's Fresh Nest has been busy, busy, busy...hence the lack of consistent blogging.  Here's a little update for my wonderful friends.  More details on these tidbits to come later in the week!

  • I took a part-time position (10 hours) working with the new Valley Life Charter School in Visalia as the Independent Study teacher for high school English.  Being that this is a brand new school and a brand new program, things are chaotic.  But I'm really excited about the vision and potential of this school, which I learned about yesterday at my first orientation.
  • Robby and I spent the last week with our junior high, high school, and a few college students at Centrifuge camp.  I actually went into camp with a much better attitude this year, although the sudden acceptance of the new job had me a bit stressed before we left.  It was an awesome time, and the greatest news is that a young girl we took accepted Christ!  What more could we ask for?!
  • Dave and his wife Jessy, along with Andrea, spent a night with us last weekend for a final visit before the Damon's move to Oregon.  It was short (just one night), but very sweet as we all enjoyed each other's company.  Best wishes to you guys!
  • Kids Praise is getting ready to start up again after our summer break.  I'm excited about a new program I'll be using (last year I had to create it all...) and thrilled to see how VBS has brought families into our church.  I hope and pray that the KP ministry will be one way these children and families can get connected.
  • I made pizookie last night...you know, BJ's amazing baked-cookie-topped-with-ice-cream-dessert!  It was fantastic!  Simply put, I made the Tollhouse recipe, put a heaping scoop into small souffle dishes and flattened it out, then baked them for 15 minutes or so, until the tops were golden brown.  I topped it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream then enjoyed two minutes of cookie/ice cream bliss.  It tasted just like BJ's!  (Or could I dare say even better since my Ghiradelli chocolate chips pretty much can't be beat!)
  • The final big news is we saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 last weekend.  I have so much to say about it but am giving the world time to see it before ruining it for anyone.  Much of it was awesome; some of it was disappointing; but the whole series of it is nearly unparalleled.  
Summer is always exhausting, but it's also a time when we get to see God work in His children and church.  We're looking forward to this new school year as ministries start up again and a routine falls back into place.