Sunday, June 29, 2008

Husband Experiments

Sometimes I like to conduct experiments...on Greg. Here is my latest one.

I begin humming or singing a song when I am around him. Just a couple lines here and there throughout the day. Something catchy, and upbeat.

And then I wait to see how long it takes...

Until he (without realizing it) starts singing the same song. And then I proudly declare...Transfer Complete! One song downloaded from my head to yours!

I think I have successfully downloaded 3 songs so far.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Table Talk

Here is an actual conversation from the other night.

*As a disclaimer, we are not planning on having kids just yet...and we don't know how many, if any, God would choose to bless us with.

Greg: What would you say if I quit my job and went to work for United Way?

Me: Um, did you still want to have four kids?

Greg: Four is kind of......A LOT.

But five is a much more round number.


Greg: Oh you know, it just sort of gets lost in the rounding. It's like "How many kids do you have?" ... "Oh, four or five."

ps - Lauren: don't get too excited just yet. Greg and I haven't agreed on 4. I know you and I sort of entered into that little "pact", for family-expansion purposes...but maybe we should think about lowering the quota. I mean, we have both married into mid-sized families. No need to start populating a small country with Kimmels and Matterns running around everywhere. But then again...we could have the Christmas we always dreamed of.

How do I know God's Will?

This is a question we have all asked. How do I know God's will for my life? Am I in the right job? Am I doing what I am called to do? Do I need to pick up and move to Africa?

The Bible is clear on God's will in some areas. His moral will, for example. He has given us commands. We clearly know his will for us in moral situations. We know we should not lie. We should not worship anyone or anything besides the Lord. We should not speak badly of others but build each other up. We know His will for us in these areas.

We also know His will for us in a general sense.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thes 5:16-18.

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified." 1 Thes 4:3a

But these don't speak to any specific situations which involve non-moral decisions. Decisions that do not have a right or wrong answer, but as our Pastor puts it, a right or left answer. Should we live in this neighborhood, or that one? Should I work at this company, or a different one? How are we to know? I have often wondered these types of things. Scared that I am possibly missing out on God's will for my life. I ask God to speak clearly to me because I am not really sensing His leading. Do I just choose one? Is there only one outcome which is God's will for me, and if I don't choose it then I am not in God's will?

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Rom 8:26-27

After studying these verses in my Romans Bible study, God really started to teach me what they meant. For the believer, the Spirit is praying for us, when we do not know what to pray. Even though I do not know God's specific will for my life, that is OK! The Spirit does know it, because He is the Spirit of God. And if He is praying God's will to GOD, then that prayer will of course be answered. How encouraging is that! The Spirit is praying God's specific will for me and His prayers are always answered.

In the study on these verses suffering was also discussed. My human reaction to suffering is to get out of it. To pray for healing. To pray for the suffering to be over. And that is not wrong. Jesus Himself prayed 3 times for this cup to pass from Him. BUT, He prayed for God's will to be done. In His heart, He desired God's will more than wanting the suffering to pass. He made His requests know to God as we are instructed to do. But we know that suffering is sometimes God's will.

Suffering could be for the purpose of correcting. When we have fallen into sin.

It could also be for the purpose of sanctification, or spiritual growth. Paul says that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.

It could be for the purpose of bringing glory to God. If you are sick and God heals you, it brings many to people to prayer, and God gets praise and glory for the healing.

So when we suffer, maybe we should be asking God to give us grace to endure, since we know sometimes His will is for us to suffer (which we know works for good). Paul had a thorn in his flesh (which we are not exactly sure what that was). He prayed for healing from God. God's answer? My grace is sufficient for you. I pray that my faith would be solid so that when I do experience deep suffering, I am able to have this same mindset, and not just my human reaction of wanting out of suffering. I want God's will done. I may not even be able to express that. But I can rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to express what I cannot, and is praying that very thing.

Bottom line is, we don't always know how to pray. We don't know when to pray for healing and when to pray for grace to endure healing. But the Spirit of God that lives in believers knows exactly what to pray, and is helping us in this weakness. How amazing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wanted: Fisherman

6'0" with brown hair.

Can be seen around the Galleria area catching dime-sized fish.

On Wednesday nights.

Have you seen him?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Work in Progress

Um, is the header showing up enormous? I thought I fixed that. Not sure what is going on....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I love You, Cookie Scooper

Tuesday night I discovered the awesomeness of the cookie scooper. Look what it did for me.

No more battling with spiky uneven lumps of dough. Those days are over my friend. From now on it is only smooth balls of gooey perfection right in a row. Cookie scooper, why did it take us this long to become friends? You are now top ranked among my kitchen gadgets and get a front row seat in the utensil drawer.

*Only drawback: No more residual dough accidentally dropping in between the rows for me taste :( Oh well. There's still the bowl.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garage Sale: Office Style

This week at work we are shuffling cubicles. They are rearranging the seating so that departments can sit together. Things got crazy after the merger, so now they are organizing the seating chart. With everyone packing up their workspaces in boxes for the move, it was decided that we would have a 5th floor garage sale. Any supplies you don't want you can place in the designated room, and you can go shop around in there and take whatever you would like. You know you are a grown up in the real world when you get overly excited about office supplies. Is that a three-tiered inbox I see? You mean you are getting rid of that sweet stapler? What model is that? The super-stapler 3000? I'll take it. Suddenly all of my office supplies seem inferior. I want bigger and better. Who cares that I already have 15 bic pens in various colors. I'll fight a co-worker for that snazzy gel roller with the comfort grip. Why is your white out mouse so much cooler than mine? I'll trade you 5 boxes of medium binder clips for your highlighter-stickynote-combo pen. Who knew life at the office could be so much fun?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Family Fun-Pack

This has been a fun-family-filled weekend. Friday afternoon we headed to Waco to hang out with Greg's family. I am blessed by his sweet family. I have such wonderful in laws! I will show the highlights in pictures:

-We worked our way up to becoming guitar heros

-We were persuaded to wait another few years before having children

Just kidding :) Hollyn is precious and we look forward to having a few of our own one day if God chooses to bless us with children. But babies sure are a lot of work! She has wonderful parents though who love her and are so patient in caring for her. Here are some cute pictures of her. I can't believe how much she has changed in 2 months.

Doesn't look like she has skipped too many meals! How cute is she?!

-We went fishing with Greg's dad and brother

We also had some delicious food, played some games, and watched Greg's brother play endless jokes on his dad. We left Sunday morning, came through College Station (whoop!), and went to Grace Bible Church. We got home just in time to do our weekly grocery shopping trip and prepare dinner for my family. My parents, my sister, and soon-to-be brother-in-law came over and we ate and played games to celebrate father's day. I must say I have the greatest Dad :)

And the celebrations did not end there. Today is Greg's birthday!!! Happy Birthday Love! He is reading His bible while I write this, then we are going out to eat. (Well...I finished this post a little later). I would write 26 things I love about Greg for his birthday but that would be way too long for a blog, so I'll stick with no particular order.

1) He is so humble. He never boasts, doesn't claim credit for things that go unnoticed, and always gives others the benefit of the doubt.

2) He is very clean. How amazing to be married to a man who is so neat!! He is way neater than me. You will never find a towel or clothes on the floor. And he makes the bed every day. I really appreciate it.

3) He makes me laugh constantly. Singing in the shower. Making weird noises. Dancing when he thinks I'm not looking. Making up unusual non-real words with more than 10 syllables. That is Greg. And I love it.
4) He is frugal with money. I tease him all the time about being cheap. I mean, is it really necessary to not only use a plastic grocery bag for lunch sack, but the SAME plastic grocery bag every day for a whole week? Thanks Greg, for not wasting our plastic bags. :) But with all the teasing, I do appreciate how he stewards our money.

5) He is really really good lookin. See?

6) He reads the Bible every day. Never skips. I unfortunately had many skipped days before we got married. Due to laziness, putting it off until I was too tired, etc. Since we have been married I have been 10 times better because of his example of discipline in reading. Marriage is so good for sanctification.

Greg, for all these and a million more reasons, I love you. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Going Green?

This past weekend I was tempted to buy these.

Reusable grocery bags. They had them on display right when you walk in to Kroger. 10 for $10. I paused. And considered. Should I do it? Would that make me hippy-bag-woman? Or just cool friendly environmental girl? Just think how many plastic bags I would save over a lifetime! We do put our plastic bags to use currently though. Greg and I use them to pack our lunches in instead of brown lunch bags which is probably going to save us at least $3 over the course of a year. But of course we accumulate way more bags than we could possibly put to use, so many end up just going in the trash. That wouldn't be the case if I had reusable grocery bags. But would I actually remember to bring them to the grocery store and use them, or would they just end up unused in the back of a closet taking up room and reminding me of a time when I wasted ten dollars? I decided to hold off on them for now. But I can't guarantee that I will be able to resist the urge to buy them next time I go to Kroger.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wifeology 101: Cooking

Since becoming married, I have tried out a new thing: cooking. I have never really done this before. In college I never ever cooked. I survived on easy mac extreme cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. Really. Ask my roommates. Oh and sometimes lean pockets. But they always burned my tongue.

Post college life didn't get much better. I was just never motivated to come home from work and spend an hour fixing a meal for one. Plus I didn't ever have any essential ingredients on hand. Casey and I usually ate dinner at different times, so we sort of did our own thing. Casey really liked to cook, and was good at throwing things together without a recipe and it turning out great. While I was inspired by her ability to cook, it still didn't result in action for me. I continued to eat easy mac, and would also add to the dinner rotation the slightly more sophisticated scrambled egg toaster sandwich. I would also often times resort to the classic bowl of cereal. I think I could eat cereal for every meal. It is so good. My current favorite is vanilla cream frosted mini wheats, now only available in the Kroger select brand. I think Kelloggs has stopped making the vanilla cream. And trust me, it IS different from the regular frosted mini wheats.

When Greg and I were dating, we began cooking together during the week. For a while we were cooking once a week. It was fun finding recipes, learning together, and saving money from going out to eat. I also began a series of Tuesday night "cooking lessons" with my parents. I would go over to their house once a week and they would pass down their cooking knowledge to me. It was so fun.

Since we have been married I have been enjoying learning to cook. I am not the best, but I really have had fun finding recipes and trying new things. I am learning though that it takes a lot of planning. We do all our grocery shopping on Sunday. Because I mean really, is there any other option? How else to you maximize the lifetime of your fruit? Bananas go bad so fast! And there is a very small window of yellow to green ratio that I will eat mine. I think 70/30 would be optimum. Anyway, so by Sunday I have to know what I will be cooking on which nights. Then I have to figure out what should be frozen, what can survive until the designated day, which vegetables will go bad first, etc. After-work activities such as bible study also have to be factored in. That day has to be deemed a leftovers day because it is too much chaos to rush home, cook dinner, shove it in our mouths, and run out the door in time for bible study. I am not very good yet at remembering to prepare for dinner by doing things like thawing chicken, or pre-marinating. For example tonight we were supposed to have grilled chicken. Oops. I forgot to thaw the chicken and had to run and errand after work so by the time I got home there was just no time to start from the beginning. Oh well. It's a learning process. But I enjoy it and it makes me happy to know I can help prepare meals for our family....even though it is just a family of 2 now. Hopefully one day I will have more little mouths to feed.

I need more recipes though. Sometimes I will search forever on the internet and not decide on any recipes because certain ingredients scare me. So if anyone has good trusted recipes, please pass them on. And just to let everyone know, I don't do ALL the cooking. Greg is really sweet and cooks some too. He makes really good steak and his marinated chicken always comes out way better than mine :) I wish I had started on the whole cooking thing a long time ago.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mmm....Smells Like Egyptian Cotton

Tonight I caught Greg spraying himself down with our Bed Bath & Beyond linen spray.

Can I blame him though?

It just smells so good.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ask Hank

If you don't already listen to the "Bible Answer Man" radio broadcast I would highly recommend it. It is on from 5 -6pm (CST) on FM 100.7. It is broadcast across the U.S., so for those of you non-Houstonions, you could probably catch it on a different local station. Hank Hanegraaff is the host of the Bible Answer Man program, and also president of the Christian Research Institute. Greg told me about this program a while back, and I have enjoyed listening to it for many months now. From what I can tell, Hank gives very scripturally sound answers and teaches truth. Listeners call in with a wide variety of questions which Hank answers, or sometimes he will have theme weeks where a certain religion or cult is discussed, or cultural trends in religion that go against the word of God and how to discern between true and false teachings. Many questions on there I wouldn't know how to answer so it has been very beneficial to me. Questions range from "Where did Cane get his wife?" to "How can we believe the word of God is truth?" to "What are the biggest differences between Catholics and Protestants?", and everything in between. And it comes on at a great time - right when most people are in the car driving home from work. If you want to know more, go here.

If I were to call up Hank, here are some things I would ask him.

1) When Joshua sends the 2 spies into Jericho (Joshua 2), why was it ok that they stayed at the house of a prostitute (Rahab)? Consider Proverbs 5:8 which warns not to go near the door of an adulterous woman. (Although this book of the bible had not yet been written at the time of Joshua).

If Greg was sent on a spy mission and came back and told me he stayed at the house of a prostitute, boy would we have words! You mean you couldn't find ANYWHERE else to stay? You just HAD to stay in the home of a scantily clad woman?

Maybe the answer is that they didn't sin in this action because in God's sovereignty the Holy Spirit led them to that house because she would be used in God's plans to deliver Jericho into the hands of the Israelites. Or maybe they did sin, yet God still used that to accomplish his purposes. I'm not sure.

2) When Jesus casts the demons out of the man "Legion"(Mark 5), and sends them into the herd of pigs, what caused the pigs to run off the bank and drown in the lake? Was it the demons that did this to the pigs in order to cause destruction? Or was it God that did this to "punish" or show power over the demons by destroying the thing in which they inhabited? If the answer is the demons, it is of course still within the confines of God's sovereignty who must have allowed that to occur since no demon could trump God. I just don't know.

3) When God promises to punish the descendants of Eli forever for the sins him and his sons by cutting off all his descendants in the prime of their life, to where there will never be an old man in their family line (1Samuel 2:30-33, and 3:11-14), is this curse still in effect? Or did this stop after the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Then this also brings up a whole other set of questions regarding punishing children for the sins of the father. How will these descendants be punished in light of Deut. 24:16? Achan's children were also killed for his sin in Joshua 7. Perhaps they had known about Achan's sin and concealed it.

These questions aren't that deep, and knowing the answers are not essential to understanding basic Christian doctrines, but I was just curious. They are questions that have come to mind from what I have been reading in the past weeks and months.

I have however, realized that I am lazy with my mind when using it for spiritual matters. I come across questions like these but am not diligent in putting in the time and effort required to research answers, and just end up forgetting about those questions. There are many wonderful teachers and Bible scholars out there who have devoted their lives to the study of God's word. We should take advantage of those resources and work hard at understanding the scriptures. Of course we should always test people's interpretations in light of the scriptures, as no man is infallible. Not all things we will find answers to. But we should use our minds to glorify God as we put it to use in the study of His word.

If you have any answers or thoughts on those questions, please comment!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cooking Time!

Even though it is only Tuesday, this week has felt pretty long and busy. Not a bad busy, it has been fun busy, but I am pretty tired tonight. Oh and speaking of tonight, it is my best friend Lindsay's 2 year anniversary. Happy Anniversary Berrys! Anyway, last night my mom and I went to a cooking class at William Sonoma - it was her Mother's Day present. I got this idea from a post on my friend Abby's blog. Thanks Abby for the great idea!! We had so much fun. There was a guest chef from Bucca di Beppo that demonstrated several delicious Italian dishes. We ate on and off for about 2 1/2 hours. Whoa. I was so full afterward. And this is not exactly what I would call "cooking light". One dish called for a pound of butter. A pound. Great. No wonder why restaurant food tastes so good. I wish I did not know that. I wish I could eat in blissful ignorance, savoring my butter sticks disguised by a bit of chicken on the side.

Sidebar: Greg and I have been married three months now :) He is so sweet. And he smells really good. And he gives really nice hugs. Except when he then decides to ninja chop me mid-hug while spinning around and making crazy sounds with his mouth. What is it about guys that make them want to use their best American gladiator move on you? I can't tell you the number of times a day I get fake ninja chopped.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Do we love the gifts or the Giver?

I listened to an awesome Piper sermon a couple days ago. It was on Romans 8:14-18, specifically about our inheritance. As children of God we are co-heirs with Christ, and Piper lists 3 things that will be part of our inheritance: The world, God, and glorified minds and bodies. (For more on this sermon go here).

While the sermon was about our inheritance, the thing that stood out to me most, was Piper talking about gifts from God. God has blessed us with so many gifts. But if we love and exalt the gifts more than God, we will be guilty of idolatry. We are all guilty of this. The purpose of God giving us gifts, is not to bring us joy. That may happen, and yes God wants good things for us, but God's ultimate purpose is not our joy. It is His glory. When God gives us gifts, it is that we may see God's goodness in the gifts, rejoice in Him, which then becomes an act of worship. Do we worship God when we receive a gift? Or do we delight in, exalt in, and rejoice in the gift, without adoring the Giver who is far greater than the gift? So why do we pray for more gifts, when we are not responding to God as we ought now with all the gifts we have already been given? Why should we pray for more gifts - jobs, family, health, financial stability, etc, when the ones we have already, have not resulted in overwhelming love and adoration for our Father, but instead love and adoration of the gifts themselves? Do we love and desire and hope in God more than things? More than spouses? More than children? More than relationships? These questions have been so challenging and convicting to me and I pray that they would do more than stir up conviction in me. That they would cause me to recount that good gifts that I have been given, thank and praise God for them, and worship Him all the more.