Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun Finds

Hey Friends,

I've found some blogs that are right up my alley and I just wanted to share them with you. Some of these are new to me and some are tried and true, but they may be new to you.

For all of you coupon cutters and thrifty mamas, here are the two old reliable favorites:
  • Money Saving Mom and Southern Savers.  Money Saving Mom has a lot of fun extras besides just couponing, but I like using Southern Savers for my grocery and drug store couponing.  They are both worth adding to your blog reader, because they do not always overlap on their info.

For your home decorating fix, there are a ton of talented women out there blogging away with crafty ideas.  I am still a little torn up over all of the home decor blogs: part of me is inspired, and part of me is envious because they are so talented.  Inspiration wins, though, and I'm constantly bookmarking ideas for my future projects.

Here are my three new favorites:

  • Ana White - I want to grow up and be Ana White!  She lives in Alaska and builds her own furniture.  Now that's what I'm talking about.  Plus she has a brag blog where other like-minded DIYers can share their favorite completed projects.  And she puts all of the plans on her site for her projects.  A whole lotta fun if you love some power tools, I tell you what.

  • kojo designs - two sisters with a fun sense of style.  Pictures on their site are beautiful, and they share a lot of ideas from other bloggers.  I imagine this is what Ana White would do if they took away her power tools and moved her to somewhere with less snow.

  • Maybe the cream of the crop:  Knock Off, I don't know about you, but whenever my mom and I go shopping and I admire some cute little homey trinket, she will take it from me, peer closely at all of its working parts, and declare: Susan, you could make that yourself.  Well, Mom, now that I found this blog, you are so, so right.  I can make it all by myself. I am currently in love with the knock off pottery barn mirror. I can already see one adorning a lonely wall in our basement that is crying out for light to be reflected upon it. Very exciting. 

I'm sure everybody has their favorite cooking blogs too, but here are two that I am really enjoying:
  • David Lebovitz - David is an American chocolatier and pastry chef living in Paris.  I am a closet Francophile so I can get my food and France fix all on one site.  My sister gave me two of his books, The Sweet Life in Paris and a homemade ice cream recipe book called Perfect Scoop, and I am now officially a fan.
  • Another food blog my sister put me on to is Smitten Kitchen.  Deb, the author, has a great sense of humor, great food pics, and great recipes.  Definitely worth putting on the reader.
  • And oh yeah, one more: Of course, I love The Pioneer Woman. Who doesn't? I started looking at her blog for her amazing photography and fun commentary, but I find myself going to her for food inspiration lately as well.  Plus I love her step by step pictures of compiling a dish.  I think Ree can make any food look appealing.  Of the three food blogs listed here, Pioneer Woman would probably have the most food that my whole family would eat.
If you want to be inspired, look at kisses from Katie. This is the blog of a young American woman who has moved to Uganda and adopted African girls as her own daughters. Beautiful.

And last but not least, I have just started checking out a blog website called Blogging with Amy.  If you want to start a blog to supplement your family income, this would be a great place to start.  She's written an ebook about time management which I would read but I don't have time because I'm looking at all of these blogs!

 Now, when you are overwhelmend with all of the inspirational ideas in the aforementioned websites, how do you keep up with all of them?  Well, I've started using SpringPad.  Springpad is basically just a place to keep all of your bookmarks, recipes, ideas and whatever else you want.  I like the spring it button I put on my web browser toolbar.  Plus I like that I can use Springpad  on my desktop and the iPad and still access all my favorite bookmarks from either place.  I'm sure there are lots of similar sites, but I've found Springpad to be pretty darn user-friendly.  If you know of a better bookmarking tool, let me know!

So there you go, friends!  What are your favorite blogs?  Not that I need to read any more of them, but I always like to know! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Journaling - Is that a word?

I had another post all lined up for today, but it dwelt heavily on my sin issues, and after yesterday, I figured I should keep it light. Otherwise I might wake up tomorrow to my Mom standing over me staging an intervention because I felt bad about myself. But don't worry, Mom, I'm ok.

What I love about blogging is having to wrestle with all of these habits/issues/dilemmas in a healthy way. I have lots of thoughts flitting through my head as I go about my day, but when I have to write them down, I have to slow down and be a bit more thorough, following my sin-warped logic to its conclusion. When I realize that what I am typing doesn't make any sense or doesn't line up with what I know to be true, it forces me to mentally go back and search for where I left the path, so to speak.  The same holds true regarding conversations about life, spirituality and matters of the heart; sometimes it takes saying the words out loud to realize they might not be true.  Discussing these things, even if doing so brings out some doubts or uncertainties, is helpful. So is reading your Bible and praying through whatever you're wrestling with.

I envision myself reading this blog as a stranger, and I think about all of the questions or arguments that might come up. I don't always get it right, but at least I'm more mindful of who I am, who Jesus is, and how we relate to each other. It is good stuff, even if it's a little messy. I guess that's why journaling is so helpful; I am just journaling in cyberspace for all who care to join me.  I figure if I'm thinking about it, someone else probably is too, so why not process life together?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I believe; help my unbelief

Today a friend emailed pictures to Justin from our first Sunday morning worship for Grace Church (it was two weeks ago; I should have blogged about it, but I was too busy having a little breakdown. I'll save that for another post.).  He forwarded them on to me, and as I looked at them, all I could think was, "Man, I have really gotten fat."  And it's true.  Since 2008 I have gained thirty pounds, and in 2008, I was trying to lose fifteen pounds, so that is saying something.

Weight loss is always a hot topic for Americans, and certainly for women.  Get any group of females together and eventually, the conversation will find its way to eating, exercising, and different dieting techniques.  This is true even in Christian circles: in fact, a recent study showed that Christians in America may actually be fatter than their non-Christian friends.  Maybe it's just too many potluck fellowships on Sundays after church.  Some folks chalk it up to Christianity being prevalent in the fried-chicken, mashed-potatoes-and-gravy, banana-pudding-eating South.  Who knows.

Body issues and general self-consciousness can rule people's lives.  We live in a culture that esteems slim and trim figures almost as much as we love our soft serve.  Not quite, though; therein lies the problem.

 Anyway, I spend alot of time thinking about my weight.  I think about it when I drink a slim-fast shake, and I think about it when I eat an ice cream sandwich.  I think about it when I exercise, and I think about it when I veg on the couch and watch TV.  I think about it too much. I think.

So what is an appropriate perspective on body image?  Should it matter to me what astronomical figure glares back at me from the bathroom scale each morning?  Well, of course the answer is yes and no.

I can't say I've figured out what I should be thinking about my body, but I believe I've laid some groundwork.

So my answer to the question above is no because:
  •  My self-worth does not come from what pant size I currently wear (don't ask), because my identity is in Christ, not in my own self-discipline.  My hypothetical works of eating healthy meals and logging 20 miles on the treadmill each week can never ultimately satisfy my need to feel good about myself, because there is nothing in me to feel good about. That's why I need Jesus.
  • I was an itty bitty thing when we got married 16 years ago, yet I looked at honeymoon pictures and bemoaned my wide hips.  I don't know that I ever was completely happy with how I looked, and I know now that I can't expect all of my life problems to resolve themselves once I reach my "goal weight." My happiness cannot find its ultimate fulfillment in my appearance.  It won't work.

And my answer is yes because:

  • I overeat.  My god has been my stomach(Phil. 3:18-19) and I have believed myself incapable of resisting the temptation to eat more than is healthy, contrary to what the Bible says.
  • One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control.  As I walk in step with the Holy Spirit, relying on Him to sustain and help me, I have the power within me to control my habits and desires.
  • I Corinthians 6:19-20 says "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."  My body is a gift from God; I want to honor Him by how I eat and how I move and how I spend my time in it.

I have never been able to sustain a weight-loss effort more than a few weeks.  I am pitifully weak when it comes to food. I almost don't believe that I can get in shape now; I feel as if I will be saddled with this extra weight for the rest of my life.  I give up easily.  And honestly, I don't bring it before God that often because I am ashamed that it is such a big problem in my life.  I should know better than that, being a pastor's wife and all, but there it is.

As for how much of body image anxiety should make up my thought life, I would say zero percent.  But it is there, nagging me all the time, distracting me from more profitable thoughts.  So my answer to this is the same answer to pretty much any idol that needs de-throning: prayer and meditation on key passages of Scripture.  I have to remind myself often that God is for me, and that he has set me free from the guilt and power of sin.  My focus will largely be on portions of the Bible that affirm these truths.  And on staying out of the ice cream sandwiches.