Friday, November 28, 2008

This website is great for editing your photos without the cost (for basic level) and space consumption of a regular photo-shop.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Plans, Prayer Update, Recent Happenings

Steve and I went for a short bike ride today. As we were crossing Willamette University's courtyard, I heard someone practicing the Nutcracker Suite on a flute. Thanksgiving is almost here and the chaos of Christmas shopping has begun. I'm really glad my side of the family decided not to do tangible gifts, but rather enjoy the present of presence while we're all together for the first time since our wedding. I can't wait to see my mom and dad, my sisters, my brothers, and my nephew who is growing up too fast entirely!

I'm very excited that my friend Ricci Brinkmann will be flying all the way from Germany to help out at camp and share Christmas with my family, including Rachal Siler - who is practically my sister. I'm really excited to see the rest of the Siler family in Westby and to see some old friends at camp while they are counselors for Winterama! We found out that Ray and Kelly will also be in the area at the same time we are! Good to know we'll have some Oregonians out there to make us feel at home! :)

Yesterday (Friday), Steve and I made our final 2008 trip to Portland to see my doctor. She said everything is looking pretty good. I have a phone appointment with her on January 6th to set up the radioactive iodine procedure. It's an outpatient procedure with some special precautions. I basically have to stay away from people for 4 days, but then the radioactivity will start to decrease pretty rapidly. It is assumed that I will be diagnosed hypothyroid 2-3 months after the procedure. God is really opening up doors through both my doctors and my chiropractor. My chiropractor said he has some connections and will ask a doctor specialist he knows if she has any suggestions regarding organic thyroid hormone replacements. I would love to go the organic route if possible, since our bodies are organic to begin with. However, we'll opt for whatever is safest and healthiest in the long run. Thank you so much for your prayers! They have given me such peace and calmness throughout this whole experience.

After the appointment, we were able to hang out with Ray, Kel, and Hadley, which was a lot of fun. They have a beautiful home, and they are an awesome family! I love watching little kids when they are exploring the world around them. They're so resourceful and ingenious! It's pretty entertaining, especially when Ray put the spaghetti server in the back of Hadley's pants and Hadley spun in circles, like a dog chases its tail, trying to get his toy back. So cute! If you guys read this, thanks for the visit! It was great seeing you.

Strange Oregon Fact: There are bushes that bloom in the Fall! There is a bush outside Steve's parents house with pink flowers, and we saw a bush with white flowers and a random red hollyhock at Bush Park. How weird is that?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

House Becoming Home

Finally starting to feel at home in our little corner of Salem. I have an incredible family! Steve and his dad made a mantle for above our fireplace in about 30 minutes, and Steve finished sanding, painting, and mounting it last night. Awesome!

We also made a trip to Ikea, which Steve now loves and can't wait to go back to when we have more fun money and a bigger vehicle! Yay! He picked out a cool pitcher, plate racks, and a picture, and I found the closet organizer I'd been looking for. So happy!

Pics soon...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Fun!

We dressed up, but no trick-or-treaters knocked on our door! What's with that??

I was a fallen angel (good, but clumsy).

Steve was the Dread Pirate Roberts (Princess Bride).


I bit the bullet. Yesterday, I stood at the front of the church and my father-in-law announced that I wanted to be baptized and become a member of the church. It's been a long hard struggle for me. It is not the same denomination(s) I have grown up with, and there are a few small things I disagree with, but not so much as to cause any hard feelings in my heart. I gave a short summary of my testimony, and shared how the Lord had lead me to this decision.

I had many Saturday and Sunday nights where I would pour my heart out to God with many tears, feeling angry, sad, confused, and lost. Part of me wanted somewhere to belong and a place to fellowship with other believers, and people to share my gifts and talents with. Another part of me wanted to condemn the practice of a closed table, requirement of membership to serve, and the prohibition of alcohol and taking communion with other churches, but I love my husband very much and these feelings made a large riff between us spiritually. It's not that Steve pushed me away or refused to accept me as I was, but that I didn't feel as though we had ever experienced true spiritual oneness. We were separated in our worship anywhere. As a member, Steve wasn't allowed to participate in the Lord's supper at my church, and as a non-member, I wasn't allowed to take part at his church. I was surprised how much that affected me after we were married. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't immediately know it was me.

After experiencing the first breaking of bread as an outsider, I got up as soon as it was over and left as quickly as I could, fuming. I barely talked to Steve the whole drive to his parents. I practically kicked him out of the car and left him there, while I drove to a park and cried for a long time. I called Steve once I didn't feel like I was going to explode into flames. I didn't want him to worry about me, and I wanted him to know that I love him and that I was working on saying "I'm sorry". We talked for a long time. I was angry at God for bringing me here under these circumstances. I was angry at Steve for being Baptist. I was angry at myself for having these thoughts and feelings and not wanting give up my convictions. For weeks I prayed for God's will in my life and my marriage. I then knew, beyond a doubt, that I was supposed to be baptized and join the church. However, my flesh was still prideful and I put it off for another month or two. I was scared to admit my disobedience (not being baptized when I was younger and knew what the Word said) and show my need for a church family. God prompted Steve to talk with me a few times, his patience and gentleness breaking through my anger and selfishness. God led my mother-in-law to have a casual conversation with me and I became comfortable enough to tell her what I felt God wanted me to do. She talked to Robert, and then we all had a conversation in their living room.

This all worked together to get me to the front of the church... I was shaking with nervousness, but trying to be brave and say what I needed to. The night before, God laid this passage on my heart, and it is what ultimately gave me courage to do what I had to:

Lamentations 3:19-33, 38-40 NIV

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.

29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.

30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?

39 Why should any living man complain
when punished for his sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.

I had complained to God that I didn't deserve the death of my sister, moving so far from my family and friends, or having to sacrifice my prideful opinions of my former churches and pastors, self-righteousness, and distaste of denominations. God basically replied, "You don't deserve what I have blessed you with: a beautiful home, wonderful friends, loving in-laws, a compassionate and caring church family, and a ripe mission field for which I have prepared you for all of your life having given you talents and wisdom. What do you have to say?"

I can say nothing, but that God is perfect in all ways and all things, and I am to be nothing, but his humble servant whom he will exalt in due time. I am thankful to learn this in my younger years, gaining wisdom and skills I can pass on to my children and others as the Lord uses me.
I'm so immeasurably blessed with reasons to be joyful in all circumstances. Praise God!