Friday, March 25, 2011

a peak into my gratitude journal this week ...

Gifts # 1383 - 1410

- the sunset filling my rear-view mirror on my way to work
- my sweet husband making dinner
- the beginning of my tulips poking through the ground
- folding laundry
- a summer schedule that has me all excited about all things summer
- living near a park
- greeting Christopher when he comes home
-  the way Loki shakes when he is wet
- clean sheets (and, yes, the heated mattress pad that is still on)
- opening up windows briefly
- getting good sleep
- tea. It seems that every month I renew my love affair with different teas. I hope the ex-es don't get jealous.
- our fridge stocked with fruit
- almonds
- learning during lent
- examining the way I spend my time - in order to spend it the way I want
- warm showers
- cold glasses of water
- pajama days ... and knowing that those are okay (when you work your entire workweek in three nights, they are also needed)
- playing Carcassone on the floor with Chris, shooing Loki away when he threatens to wreck havoc on our cities
- a new toy for Loki = hours of entertainment
- a little bit of over time at work (by the way, we are WAY ahead of our savings goals so that is just icing on our already really yummy cake)
- the whirl of my sewing machine
- my head full of ideas for things to make
- an invitation to join a group of friends
- Loki learning to obey at obedience school
- a lunch date with my love on the calendar for Saturday
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Letters ...

Trying something new today ... my spin off (i.e. copy) of the blog Today's Letters.

Dear Loki, I have loved spending today with you but you must be kinda tired because it is 2030 and you are in bed. Was it doggie school/training this morning, the bike ride this afternoon or the beautiful walk in the park this evening?

Dear pad thai, you were marvelous when my hubby made you for me on Thursday and today you reminded me of him. Thank you.

Dear quilting retreat (last weekend), I am glad that I decided not to quilt as I don't think all the "pressing" is for me. However, I came home with my head exploding with gift ideas and have already begun making them. Do you think now is a good time to tell my hubby that I want to quit my job and try to make a living at craft fairs? 
Eva's finished quilt and Michelle's blocks all laid out! 
Dear game night in Rochester ... um, enough said? You were the end cap to a wonderful weekend with wonderful friends. Thanks for the yummy food (Mom B), the laughs and the confirmation that friendships can withstand distance. 

Just in case you were wonder what our faces look like, I cropped it.
Eva is perfect, I am pouting (?) and Chinwe ... is just Chinwe. =)
Ian, I didn't mean to crop you out, you are just too tall. 
Dear this afternoon, it turns out that sewing, chai tea from Teavana and the play list from this blog makes me really happy. 

Dear Mom, thanks for my second sale on etsy! (and for calling me five time before making your purchase). Thanks for encouraging me this weekend in my creative pursuits; looking forward to sewing with you soon! 

Dear Baby Girl Lopez, I hope your mama is busy helping you get into the world because I want to met you and give you some cute things! 

Dear little bro, this weekend you sent me an e-mail where you referenced P90x and Parks and Recreation, you texted me during your first Trader Joe's experience and you played in a gig at Dunn Brothers. Proud of you and wish I could have been there. 

Dear Spring Break, I'm kinda baffled by your existence but I do hope that everyone enjoyed the break from school. Next year though, if you could kindly give me a little more time with my hubby, I'd appreciate it. While I am glad that he could spend time with family and friends, he is obviously missing from most of the above and I am looking forward to him coming home tomorrow. In the meantime, our apartment kinda looks like me bed, so maybe I should get to it. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Joy. (okay ... miscellany joy)

"Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life. and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy."
- Ann Voskamp, "One Thousand Gifts"

I cannot tell you how much I love this book. I am reading it the second time with my pen in hand, underlining and marking. I would quote all of it for you but that would be time consuming and probably a breach of some copy write laws so instead, I highly encourage you to buy a copy, or get one from the library, or ask me for mine. =) 

Christopher and I made our monthly MN road/visiting trip last weekend.  We spent a night in Rochester and a night in Hastings and saw many (notice (ahem, Ann) that I did not say "all") people that we love.  We arrived in Rochester just in time to be part of a surprise birthday scavenger hunt. Chinwe's reaction to finding us at Caribou is possibly the highlight of the trip month. And, Chinwe, if I was a crier, I would have cried too. It soon became apparent that it was loads of fun participating in said scavenger hunt, and it was a neat way to see a bunch of friends. And I love that it was personalized and so thoughtful. Seeing my friends happy and loving each other makes my heart happy. 

We ate out more times than we have all year (it seems). For a couple on a pretty stingy restaurant budget, that made for a nice weekend. My parents took us and my bothers and John's girlfriend to a fancy tepanyaki place (the cook-your-food-in-front-of-you-place) which was sooooo good and really fun. 
I'm sorry mom, that I didn't take any pictures of people ... 
A few of the guys at work have been scraping off our cars before we leave -- and one of them brought me a Shamrock shake the other day too. I'm pretty sure that qualifies them for coworkers of the year or something. In fact, I have been encouraged about several things that are happening at work. I know that I have people have been faithfully praying for me regarding that and that answer to prayer has not gone unnoticed. 

I went out to coffee with a friend and her two year old girl this week. And, earlier this week, I met Christopher at school for dinner and we were joined by a few of his classmates and a professor. Let's just say that there was a point in that conversation where I decided not to even try to look like I knew what they were talking about. Afterwards, Christopher noted that the man who I probably viewed as a ... umm ... interesting, somewhat-funny, Santa look-alike professor is a fairly well-known author and theologian. (He also has a wikipedia page.)

I put fresh sheets on our bed. And this is what Loki promptly did. 

I could babble on and on about this little guy, but maybe I'll save that for another post!
I got honey dip doughnuts for my honey AND from my honey. 

The sun is shining, the snow is melting into pools trapped under ice (I am fascinated by this). The weather is perfect for a simple hat for me and Loki's doggie jacket and a walk into the park next to our complex. My sister in law bought something from my etsy shop, encouraging me to finally pack up and send some things to them. Ocean upon ocean miles away, two kids are growing up and the glimpses I get from the internet makes me happy and, kinda, proud. 

Last week, during a discussion with Christopher about how we enjoy doing P90x 3 - 4 times a week and the balance about not doing it every day, we decided to try to do it every day for a week every month. Yeah ... I'm not sure how we got there either. But this is day 2 and I am already reaching for the advil ... oi. Tonight we went to a planetarium show and craned our necks to learn things about the sky above. And we spent the  two hour round trip ride talking about intimacy. And then we drank hot chocolate and watched tv in our jammies. Whatever I do, whether it be sweating it up, relaxing or learning something about the universe, it is better with him. =) 

So, there you have it - miscellany joy-gifts # 1356 - 1382.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed weekend. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

About: learning contentment

For many years I have thought that I have lived while waiting for the "next big thing." Job. Trip. Weekend. Relationship. The excitement and preparation of the future overwhelmed the days before it. Several times I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be present more -- to not simply wait for what was coming next. I worried that I would miss out on now, always hoping for the future ... looking for something else that I could not define.
The change has come gradually. Gradually over the last year or so I have been learning about contentment, and in turn joy. I attribute a few things to this change.
I have been married for a little over a year and I have been accepted in a way that I have never before been in my life. My feelings. My likes and dislikes. My habits. My thoughts. I have been challenged to make myself known by a man who accepts what he finds out about me. And so, in kind, I also have been identifying and accepting myself. God's love is reflected to me through my husband and that has changed how I view who I am.

I am learning that I am enough, a truth that allows me to accept who I am but also the disappointment and pain that sometimes comes. And joy. When I free myself from being something or someone else, I open up to what is already there.
I have been counting my blessings. In the practice of gratitude, I have found life. In the small, every day, seemingly mundane things I have found joy. I no longer look ahead to find fulfillment. Instead, I see the excitement of the future as well as the beauty of the present, the two blending and moving together in such a way that sings to my soul. And, sometime in the last year, the practice of gratitude, became a habit. It is a gift; little snapshots of everyday gifts ... a movie reel of blessings. I also think that by being content in the present, the past and the future will have the appropriate meaning - memories and excitement will blend with the beauty of everyday, strengthening both.
And now I believe that life is less about seeing the whole world and more about seeing my world.

As Paul wrote many years ago, contentment is learned. And today I am thankful for that lesson. (Blessing #1355)

Philipians 4: 11 - 13
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.