October was too short…

Life is too short to ice cakes; cakes are good without icing.
Life is too short to read all the church periodicals.
Life is too short not to write regularly to your parents.
Life is too short to eat factory baked bread.
Life is too short to keep all your floors shiny.*

October was too short.  Time passed so quickly this month– so quickly that I just couldn’t keep up with all our happenings here in real time and I must confess I’ve felt a little guilty.  [smile]  But October was too short… Full of little anniversaries of our first date and first kiss and bigger celebrations like my 30th birthday and our first wedding anniversary, October is already a busy month in our household, but happily we added a bit more hustle and bustle with a record total of 7 overnight guests this month (my parents and our seminary friends), the wedding of dear friends in Georgia, and of course Halloween.

Life is too short to let a day pass without hugging your spouse and each of your children.
Life is too short to nurse grudges and hurt feelings.
Life is too short to worry about getting ready for Christmas; just let Christmas come.
Life is too short to spend much money on neckties and earrings.
Life is too short for nosy questions like “How do you like your new pastor?” Or—if there’s been a death—”How is he taking it?”

October was too short.  The busyness of October bubbled over into our lives at work as well.  At the beginning of the month, Caleb celebrated his first baptism and we welcomed four new members to “The Church.”  What an exciting Sunday!  That evening at the prayer class I’ve been teaching, I had a hard time focusing our discussions because so much joy was spilling over from the mornings activities.  [smile]  “The Church” is slowly growing and we are blessed to bear witness.  This was my first full month in my new job with Appalachia Service Project and essentially I spent the whole month establishing and living into new routines.  Since October 1st, I have made trips back to each of the centers in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  I have loved discovering how I am being called to be present for these young adults who are serving in these centers.

Life is too short to be gone from home more than a few nights a week.
Life is too short not to take a nap when you need one.
Life is too short to care whether purses match shoes or towels match bathrooms.
Life is too short to stay indoors when the trees turn color in fall, when it snows, or when the spring blossoms come out.

October was too short.  The most brilliant transformation during the month happened to the mountains.  Slowly the greens of summer have been replaced by the yellows, reds, deep purples, and oranges of fall.  It’s really been quite a spectacular show!  We’ve tried to be intentional about using down time to take in the colors as much as possible.  We’ve taken long drives, biked the Creeper, and spent mornings just sitting by the great floor to ceiling window in our living room.

Life is too short to miss the call to worship on a Sunday morning.
Life is too short for bedspreads that are too fancy to sleep under.
Life is too short to work in a room without windows.
Life is too short to put off Bible study.
Life is too short to put off improving our relationships with the people we live with.

October was too short, but I don’t feel like we’ve let it pass by without taking in the fullness of this very special month.  So I didn’t write about it all until now… at least I have the memory of having lived this October in a way that I can happily proclaim with orphan Ann-(with an)-e Shirley that “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!”

-Margaret

*Poem by Doris Longacre, the author of the Mennonite cookbook More with Less and the book Living More with Less.

11 Questions: Do the people I’m surrounded by bring me life?

There is no more denying it… I am about to leave my twenties behind and journey into a land unknown, a new decade.  In 11 short days, I will be 30!  [wince… I mean smile]  Truthfully, I’m not very worried about turning 30.  I love my current life situation and when I look toward the future I am excited about all the new adventures waiting ahead.

That being said I am still a bit sad about leaving behind my twenties. I’ve loved being a 20 something.  I’ve felt more comfortable in my skin… more empowered… more inspired… more excited about the future… more in love… and mostly more me in this decade than any other. [smile]  I don’t think when I turn 30 any of these feelings will magically disappear, but I feel a little of the sadness I felt when I was leaving behind high school for college or college for the wide world.

The whole big birthday coming up has me in a mood for reflecting and a few months ago I ran across an article from Relevant online that provided the perfect inspiration.  It’s a list of “11 Questions Every Twentysomething Should Ask.”  Follow the link for the full article.  So for the next 10 days (while I’m still a 20 something) I’ll try to answer a question a day.  The first one is easy:

“1. Do the people I’m surrounded by bring me life?… Are your friends anvils tied around your ankles or jetpacks helping you fly? Your life will resemble the lives of your closest friends—does that fact excite you or freak you out?”

The answer is a resounding “YES!”  I am incredibly blessed to have many intelligent, kind, faithful, and all around good people who are my friends.  Their drive is inspiring.  In terms of friends I’ve hit the jackpot! [smile]  And my closest friend/husband well, he’s just the bees knees.  Daily I am amazed by the blessing of living with him and learning from him.  Today is actually the second anniversary of our first date.  October 1, 2011 was just about the best day of my life because I began a conversation that has really never stopped.  [smile]

So yes my friends bring me life and that life is full of peace, hope, passion, service, joy, and love!  Friendship like that is the greatest gift.

-Margaret

From our table to yours

We have finally gotten back in the routine of menu planning!  Yahoo!  [smile]  Perhaps you think my enthusiasm a little over exaggerated, but menu planning is something that really works for us.  By mapping out at least what we plan to eat for dinner, we are able to stick to a grocery budget and watch our waistlines.  [smile]  I will admit that we don’t always stick rigidly to our plan, but knowing that we have the ingredients on hand for a few specific meals during the week really takes the pressure off the late afternoon dinner decision making.

Since we’ve started back our menu planning process, Caleb has been encouraging me to post a few of our favorite go to recipes.  Particularly because a couple of them have come up in conversations he’s had with friends who read my musings and he’s promised that they would show up.  [smile]  Below is one of our all time favorite super easy dinner recipes and the other is a new treat we’ve been making lately to celebrate the changing season.   Hope these inspire your dinner plans for the coming weeks.

“Easy Stuffed Baked Potatoes”- I usually serve these hearty stuffed potatoes as the entree with broccoli as a side.

Lightly coat 2 baking potatoes with olive oil and coarse grain sea salt.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.  While the potatoes are baking, combine one can of black beans and one can of original Rotel (canned tomatoes and peppers) in a small saucepan.  Cook on low until black bean mixture is simmering.  Remove potatoes from oven and top with black beans.  May garnish with sour cream/Greek yogurt and/or shredded cheese.

“Oven S’mores”- It is very possible that everyone has been making s’mores like this for years, but it’s new to us. [smile]

Line baking sheet with tin foil.  Place half graham crackers on tin foil.  Top with mini Hershey’s chocolate bar and 2 marshmallows.  Broil on high.  Don’t leave these to sit in the oven.  Watch them and remove from oven when marshmallows have reached desired done-ness.

-Margaret

Blue butterflys on my nose…

Soaking in the sunshine.

Soaking in the sunshine.

We made it down the Creeper Trail with no flats, no blowouts, no injuries.  Well no injuries to our party of 6.  We did witness a emergency rescue of a woman who ran off the trail and into the creek.  It was pretty scary and a good reminder to wear a helmet and pay attention while riding.  Aside from witnessing the emergency, the day was a beautiful combination of sunshine, solitude, fellowship, butterflies, and ice cream.  [smile]

About halfway down the trail I was addicted.  Could you blame me?  We were riding thru some of the most beautiful scenery; it was downhill almost all the way; and did I mention the butterflies!  [smile]  A butterfly actually flitted by slightly grazing my face.  It was the exact blue of my bike.  Below are the promised photos from the day.

With our "hosts" Ernie, Gail, Vickie, and Gary

With our “hosts” Ernie, Gail, Vickie, and Gary

We started our ride in the rain and rode into the sunshine.

We started our ride in the rain and rode into the sunshine.

The bikes lined up and ready to go.

The bikes lined up and ready to go.

Finally a picture of the two of us.  I'm thinking this is a contender for our Christmas card! [smile]

Finally a picture of the two of us. I’m thinking this is a contender for our Christmas card! [smile]

-Margaret

Be our guest: A top 3

We are thrilled to have guests at “The Parsonage”!  My parents arrived late afternoon yesterday and are with us through tomorrow early afternoon.  We’d love for them to be able to stay for church, but as my dad just moved to a new church it’s still a little early for him to take off a Sunday.  Still having Bill and Sue visit for even a quick trip is a real treat!  [smile]

I only have time for a quick post so I thought I would list the top 3 best things about having weekend guests:

  • #3:  The house is super clean.  Even though we’ve not completely finished decorating, I wanted to present our new home in the best possible light to my parents so we spent yesterday cleaning top to bottom.  I love waking up in our clean house and knowing I don’t have think about cleaning anything for a few days.
  • #2:  We get to be tour guides and tourists in our own town.  I love the opportunity visitors provide to drive around and explore where I live.
  • #1: Finally, I love getting to have real, in person conversations with people I love.  The telephone is a marvelous invention, but nothing beats a conversation across the table with someone.  Plus actually being together means I get plenty of good hugs from Mama and Daddy.

Gosh I miss living closer to my parents, but I also love having a house they can now visit.

-Margaret

Visitors

The Front Porch Visitor

The Front Porch Visitor

Don’t have a lot of time to reflect this morning.  I am currently waiting for 2 members of the church to show up to help me de-wallpaper and paint the master bath.  Today will be my first foray into painting and I must admit that my excitement at the thought of an updated bathroom is tinged with some apprehension.  Luckily my visitors/volunteers have years of experience under their belts so I’m in good hands.  [smile]

In the process of finishing all the tidying up this morning before the parishioners arrive I ran into another visitor on our porch. Isn’t it a marvel what we encounter in this beautifully created world?  After snapping a pic, I quickly moved our unexpected guest out of harms way.  Can you spot him in this photo below?

I spy...

I spy…

Hope you experience the joy of the unexpected today.

-Margaret

 

Growing in Gratitude: Hospitality [New Home Week, Day 1]

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Amazingly enough given how small our seminary was Caleb and I managed to only take 2 classes together during our 3 years there.  The first was “Church History 2” before we began dating and I hate to admit that I don’t remember him being in the class.  I sat in the front and can be fairly oblivious to a lot of things when I’m in scholar mode.  [smile]  The other class was “Hospitality” during the semester that we were engaged.  I can’t quite imagine a better class for the two of us to be in together while dating and through our engagement.  Not only was our professor, Dr. Amy Oden, simply a fantastic teacher, but cultivating a welcoming and hospitable home is something we both desired/desire for our marriage.  In class, we discussed the broad themes of the importance of preparing our spirits and spaces to welcome; of how genuine hospitality may be at times risky and is self-sacrificial; and how hospitality is modeled on God’s divine, triune nature.

Dinner on the Grounds

First Sunday’s Dinner on the Grounds

As wonderful a class as it was however, there is only so much you can learn theoretically about hospitality before practical experience must come into play.  Over the last seven weeks of transition into our new home, Caleb and I have been the recipients of such gracious hospitality that I feel like my understanding of what it means to welcome and receive people in love has been stretched by leaps and bounds.  [smile]  There really are too many people to thank us for making us feel at home and welcome during our transition so I’ll just list the top 3 below:

  • We are grateful for the hospitality of our parents, Raymond, Lisa, Bill and Sue.  We’ve been alternating time between both families for about 6 weeks now and our parents have been so understanding about our need to go back and forth.
  • We are grateful for the hospitality of the parsonage committee and the volunteers at the church.  We had church volunteer at the parsonage from last Wednesday thru today cleaning the parsonage and preparing the space for our arrival tomorrow.  As a PK I have lived through a number of parsonage horror stories and so I had prepared myself to move armed with cleaners and mops in hand.  [smile]  Thankfully we have had the exact opposite experience!
  • We are grateful for the hospitality of the church on our first Sunday.  We were embraced yesterday with such care and love.  My heart is full.  After worship we were treated to a wonderful spread and celebrated “dinner on the grounds.”  We were also “pounded” or showered with housewarming gifts.  Aren’t southern church idioms charming? [smile]

Today I am thankful for genuine hospitality.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret